A Laid Back Make Do Wedding

west sussex barn wedding - Debs Ivelja Photography http://www.debsivelja.com/


WWW readers Andrew (Woody) and Sarah decided to hold their beautiful wedding day at Coombes Barn, West Sussex. It was important to them that their day was relaxed with a make do feel and some home made touches.

Sarah told me; “I found WWW and other blogs so helpful in giving me ideas and so much more fun to read than magazines. I also loved to see how each wedding suited people so perfectly –there were ideas that I saw that I would think, I would love to use for our wedding but they wouldn’t have suited us.”

With a 1940s/1950s feel to the day Sarah found a beautiful tea length dress by Amanda Wyatt which she teamed with a birdcage veil, while Andrew donned a traditional three piece suit. I love the pretty blooms, the Choccywoccydoodah cake and the pastel pom poms.

Amazing. Thanks so much to the wonderful Debs Ivelja for sharing her photographs with us today.

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The Proposal… Woody proposed to me while we were on holiday  in Tenerife. It was our first proper holiday since coming back from travelling a couple of years before so we were happily sat there watching the sun set when Woody surprised me by  popping the question!

The ring is his mothers’ engagement ring, she died when he was 9 so it is such an honour for his Dad to give it to him to give to me, it made me feel so special and is much more meaningful to me than a new ring.

The Vision for the Day… We had quite a few inspirations for the day – the first being that we wanted the whole feel to be relaxed and laid back, this was a day for all of our friends and family to enjoy and share with us this special occasion. We both had visions of some sort of barn/ building with a pretty out door area where people could go (of course it would be sunny on the day, there were no thoughts of rain, or people being stuck in one place for the whole thing!).

I love the 40s and 50s, so a lot of my inspiration came  from that. It was a bit of a mix, so my dress and look was probably more  40s/50s Hollywood glamour, but the overall look of the venue was more 40s/50s general, we wanted it all to look very home-made and almost a make- do feel  and the flowers to look as if we had just walked out into the fields around the venue and picked them.

The Planning Process… The planning process was very laid back, we got engaged in the September, booked the venue in the October and then did really nothing else until the March of the following year, so the main bulk of the wedding was planned in probably 4 months. Woody’s step-mum also helped us out by making some enquiries and booking appointments for the flowers, cake, DJ and hotel which helped us a lot.

We wanted to keep the laid back vibe of the day throughout the planning process and try and enjoy all of it, as people kept telling us that it goes by so quickly!

Budget… We started out with a budget of £10,000 which we quickly realised would not get us very far at all, so pushed it up to £15, 000. In the end it worked at about £16,000 so not too far out which was good!

The Venue… Coombes Barn, Church Farm in West Sussex

Coombes Farm is a beautiful farm with rolling fields and barns which had that laid back feel that we were looking for. We had a marquee in a barn which did require a lot of imagination as when we first viewed it the barn was empty and had little children playing football in – all you could see was breeze blocks and corrugated steel walls – not quite what we had in mind, but by looking at photos and just the beauty of the farm itself we knew that we could make it work.

The Dress + Accessories… My Bandeau Bird Cage Veil and Comb Hairpiece were both from Lily Bella online. I actually ended up getting all of my outfit apart from my dress online. I’m not a great fan of clothes shopping and find it much easier online – if you have an idea of what you want you can get straight to it!

The Dress –is an Amanda Wyatt dress from a 50’s inspired range, it almost matched exactly the picture of the dress that I had in mind, it was perfect!

I have to mention my hair – this was actually extensions as I’d had really short hair for the last 7 years and decided I wanted to grow it out for the wedding. It wasn’t long enough for the style I was looking for so I found extensions that nearly matched my hair colour and then found Rachel at Powder Beauty in Brighton, she did absolute wonders with my hair, and it looked exactly as I wanted it and really made the look!

My shoes were ones that I found online – I had a picture of what I wanted and these almost fit it perfectly, and they smelt of cherries!

My necklace and earrings were both from Ebay – I spent hours searching the internet and a few antique fairs and then found these and fell in love with them – the earrings were clip on ones which I was initially worried would stay on all day but they lasted beautifully.

Finding the Dress… I only went on 2 trips to find the dress, one to Steyning and Brighton with my friend Chloe and the other to a little shop just round the corner from where I work. I already knew what style I wanted, I wanted a 50’s style with a pulled in waist and full skirt, but not an ankle length dress. A lot of shops when I described the look I wanted only really had the ankle length dresses but this wasn’t the look I wanted, I had done the typical thing of getting an idea in my head and not wanting to waiver from it! I tried on some beautiful dresses and found one in Steyning that I loved that had the full skirt and a tulle top – it looked very Audrey Hepburn-esque but it just didn’t have the wow factor.

One  lunch break I popped out  with Chloe to the dress shop around the corner  and tried a few more dresses on – none of these were the right style, there were all too modern and not what I was looking for. I did see one just at we were leaving that looked like it was more what I was looking for and I showed it to Chloe.

I went away with this as an  idea and just searched online and found the Amanda Wyatt 50’s inspired dresses – these were the styles that were very similar to what I had in mind and as luck had it the wedding dress shop around the corner from work stocked some of them – the one I bought was the one I had picked out as we were leaving! I went back once more tried it on and out down a deposit on it – I knew it was the one!

Groom’s Attire… We had just the groom and his best man, so they were in matching suits – I left the choices to the boys and they  went with a fairly traditional three piece charcoal wedding suit with a silvery checked waistcoat and a light purple cravat, all hired from Six in Reigate – they looked very handsome!

The Readings + Music… We had actually got married the Wednesday before at Oakham registry office which is where my mum and Dad got married (my mum died 8 years ago, so I wanted to do something to feel close to her as part of the wedding) so we had a blessing ceremony performed by Woody’s Uncle.

We had Pachabel’s Canon in D playing for me to walk down the aisle to. We then had a reading of the two lovely dinosaurs by our friends Sarah & Dilukshi followed by the blessing and then a reading of Touched by an Angel  by our friend Chloe to finish. We walked back out to an instrumental version of all you need is love by the Aramis String Quartet.

The music for the meal was a playlist that I had put together of 40s and 50s big band music to keep the atmosphere relaxed and laid back. We had a DJ for the evening so everyone could have a good dance! We would have loved a band but our budget didn’t quite stretch to that and to be honest the DJ did a great job and everyone had a great time in the evening.

Beautiful Bridesmaids… My 4 year old niece was my flower girl.  She looked so beautiful and was absolutely brilliant on the day. We weren’t sure whether she would walk down the aisle on her own in front of us on the day but she did it brilliantly with absolutely no hesitation!

We didn’t have any adult bridesmaids in the end, I would have loved to have had my sister and friends Chloe, Sarah and Dilukshi but very early on I decided that if we could not afford to buy the girls dresses, hair and make-up etc then we wouldn’t have any as I didn’t want to have to ask them to pay for any of that themselves. They were all amazing though and acted as bridesmaids organising my hen party, helping me with plans and readings etc.

The Flowers… Our florist Jenny was amazing – I had no specific colour scheme in mind, only pastels and my brief to her was I wanted the flowers to look like we had walked out into a meadow and picked the flowers that morning and put them all in used jam jars. I put together a scrap book of all of my ideas so the second time she saw us I had a lot of material to show her.

The flowers on the day blew me away, they were even more beautiful than I could have imagined and to top it all off, we have over 70 jam jars of flowers to take home at the end of the day, it was a great reminder for the next week or so at home of the day.

The Cake… Our cake was an all you need is love cake from Choccywoccydoodah – we had to have this purely because this is our motto in life, all you need is love nothing else matters!

It had been my dream cake since I first went to Brighton and saw the Choccywoccydoodah shop, I have always been obsessed with their cakes. We debated over it long and hard as it was so much more than we wanted to spend on the cake but decided to go along and have a chat with them. We made an appointment, going along with Woody’s Dad and Step-mum and my friend Chloe and within the first 5 mins of being there in a room full of all the amazing cakes all 5 of us were convinced that we just had to have it, seeing the cakes close up and realising what a piece of art they are meant there was no way we could say no!

Your Photographer… The wonderful Debs Ivelja – I could not recommend her more highly to anyone! Debs was absolutely amazing, she stands out as the friendliest and loveliest person we met throughout the whole process. We really felt that Debs was there to be a part of our day and not just to do a job.

Her pictures are absolutely amazing, every time we look at them we can’t believe how well she captured the day and how beautiful the photos are – thanks Debs!

The Details + Decor… The beauty of the venue is that the marquee was a blank canvas, so we did a lot of the décor ourselves. In keeping with the laid back make-do theme, I made tissue paper pom poms that hung from the ceiling at various points and behind the top and side tables and

I decorated a table for people to leave any cards/ gifts with a ‘MR and MRS’ letters with vintage material, an old radio and photos of Woody’s mum and my mum. We used old postcards of Brighton and luggage tags for people to write any messages on and peg onto our message board.

We wanted to make sure that people had plenty to eat and lots of fun so also had a good old sweetie bar and also had some props for photos – I would have loved a little tent photo booth with my Polaroid camera for people to use but our budget didn’t stretch to that so we used a little table with a picnic hamper full of silly hats and glasses etc and a little sign. It was great as by the time the evening came round the hats started doing the rounds of the tables and you would just randomly see someone walking around or dancing with a sailor hat or big comedy glasses!

Because the outdoor area was so beautiful we knew if the weather was good everyone would be out there a lot so we decorated it with bunting and lots of little candle holders and hanging ornaments. We weren’t allowed glass or any candles on the farm, so had to be careful with what we used so we had the battery operated tea lights in all of the candle holders and when the sun went down Woody went round turning them all on and they looked so amazing.

We hired an ice cream van for an hour while we went and had our photos done which was a great idea, it was the perfect day for an ice cream and because we were close to the seaside it seemed very fitting. It was great to see everyone all dressed up wandering around with a 99 in their hand.

We made a lot of the little signs and bits and bobs as well, so there was a very homemade feel to the décor. I did have to rein myself in with the décor as it is very easy to get carried away and take on too much.

The Honeymoon… We had a ‘mini moon’ straight after the wedding, spending a couple of days in a little tree house near to Tunbridge Wells and then 3 days in Brighton staying at the Hotel Una – we love Brighton so much and do spend quite a lot of time there. It was so great just to be able to spend a few days there relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere after the whirlwind of the wedding. Our friends and family very generously gave us money towards a honeymoon abroad which we are looking to get booked next year, once we decide on a location, we just can’t decide!

Memorable Moments… The whole day – just everything about it was amazing! If we had to choose, it would probably be when we went off to have our photos, Debs and just let us have a chat and some time on our own, while taking some amazing photos! I remember looking across at all of our guests having an ice cream while we were off and thinking how perfect the day was!

I think for Woody, the evening would definitely be a highlight too – it was great to spend the evening dancing and smoking cigars (for the guys) and just enjoying the time with them

Advice for Other Couples… Enjoy every minute of your wedding including the planning as it goes by so quickly. Also to make sure that you do splash out a bit and if you really want something go for it as you may not ever get the chance again!

Credit Where Credit is Due…

Ebay! – www.ebay.co.uk

Photography: www.debsivelja.com


Accessories: www.lilybella.co.uk

Hair: www.powderbeauty.co.uk

Flowers: www.jessicasdesignerflorist.co.uk

Venue: www.coombes.co.uk

Marquee: www.findonmarqueehire.com

Shoes – Lady Dragon by Jason Wu for Melissa Shoes online

Catering: www.caterers-kent.com

Suits: sixreigate.com

Cake: www.choccywoccydoodah.com

Minimoon: www.hotel-una.co.uk

Ice Cream: sirsofteefrostee.wordpress.com

Utterly beautiful and that sunlight?! Swoon! Thanks so much to Andrew and Sarah for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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