WWW readers Collette and Andy tied the knot in May, holding their day at The Barns Hotel, Bedfordshire. They wanted their wedding to represent them as a couple whilst being rustic and home made.
Collette and Andy decorated the barn in a plethora of gorgeous touches, from fairy lights to DIY flowers. I so love the rustic cake, home made signs and the super stylish couple of course.
Thanks so much to Shears Mockford Photography for sharing their images with us today.
The Proposal… We’ve been together for 9 and a half years and actually knew each other in secondary school. Three years later I was looking for work in my gap year before Uni and Andy was running the bar I ended up working at. After getting to know each other, trading music, and with numerous hints from colleagues that “something” is sure to happen, we went on our first date.
It took Andy 6 years to pop the question! A year before our holiday to San Francisco Andy was planning his proposal. This involved digging out old photos of us, and having to take new photos, each of which had the shape of a letter in – so that once bound in a photo book in the correct order spelled out the words “will you marry me?” All that was left for Andy to do was smuggle the book and engagement ring to San Francisco then sweat it out until the right moment. I knew something wasn’t right with Andy all that day (he claimed it was just jet-lag) but never guessed what he had planned. He walked us to a secluded spot between the Golden Gate Bridge and water bank and popped the question by giving me the book – just in time, as minutes after saying yes (and drying my eyes) a policeman showed up to move us along as we had been trespassing on private land!
The Vision for the Day… We knew we always wanted a personal and romantic wedding in an informal setting – nothing too strict or standard, where our family and friends could just go with the flow and enjoy all the personal details surrounding them. All we wanted was for people to come to our wedding with their first thought being ‘this is obviously Andy & Collette’s’.
The one thing we didn’t envisage was rain – and there was plenty of it.
The Planning Process… We started planning 15 months in advance had a lot of fun making and collecting all the bits and pieces to make the day reflect our personalities. Although we were conscious of how much there was to do, I wouldn’t say that it was incredibly stressful – I really enjoyed putting everything together and the control freak inside me was in her element. We ticked the most important things off the list early on – the venue and photographers. Everything else followed naturally and we had pretty much everything decided and booked 6 months before the big day. The remainder of the time was spent collecting and putting together the homemade items.
Budget… We had a reasonable budget but wanted to stretch every penny as far as possible. I’m such a bargain hunter and wanted to make sure I was getting a good deal for my money. There were certain things we definitely didn’t want to do on a shoestring such as the photography, venue and food, but everything else was open to bargaining. I designed the invitations and all of the stationery myself so was able to save a fair amount there by only having to pay for printing costs. A lot of the decorations and personal details were handmade so there was money saved there too. Ebay and charity shops were our friends during the planning, lots of the little touches such as photo frames and teacups were found there.
The Venue… Every time I’d see a lovely wedding venue in a magazine I would tear it out and add to my scrapbook, and when looking back through the cuttings our preference became apparent! So our search for a barn began. Although we live in Brighton and have done for almost 6 years, we wanted to get married somewhere near our home town of Luton where it would be easier and more central for our guests to get to, plus it was the place we met and grew up. There are a few barns situated around the area, but The Barns Hotel in Bedford won it for us. We had never seen a barn with such character and original detail (13th century). It definitely had the wow factor the first time we walked in, and I could clearly imagine how beautiful it would look with all of the decoration I had in mind. The size was perfect too, despite the barn seeming large with its high ceiling, the thick wooden beams gave it a cosy and intimate feel. We couldn’t see ourselves getting married anywhere else, so we went ahead and booked it. A bonus for choosing The Barns Hotel was not only did we have a beautiful barn for our wedding, but also a hotel within the grounds to accommodate our guests.
The Dress + Accessories… I wouldn’t have felt comfortable spending an ‘average’ £1000 on a wedding dress so decided £500 would be the highest I would want to go. I had my dress custom made from an online boutique, so never actually tried it on until it arrived! Although a bit of a risk, it meant not having to spend ridiculous prices, and I could have it altered if necessary and still come in under budget. I was so pleased with the quality of the fabric and the detail that had gone in to making it – which was another risk having not seen it first. My headpiece was handmade by Andy’s mum, shoes bought for me by my bridesmaids (including matching flats for the evening), and my ring was from from Etsy, engraved inside with the wedding date.
Finding the Dress… I knew I wanted tea-length and I knew I wanted lace. But from all of the window shopping I had done nothing really stood out, and everything seemed to look the same. I started searching online instead where I could type in exactly what I was after. I came across Inspiration Bridal – an online dressmakers with a great selection of vintage inspired dresses. I spoke with the owner who was incredibly helpful, took details of every single measurement of mine and got to work on my perfect dress.
Groom’s Attire… I would say the groom was more picky that the bride when it came to clothing… Andy isn’t one for tradition so a 3 piece suit with tails was out of the question. He wanted an Edwardian-type look. Each part of the groom’s attire was mixed and matched from different places – Gentleman’s Emporium for the waistcoat and necktie, Darcy’s for the shirt and ‘high-stand detachable collar’, and M&S for the cords. The shoes were the hardest find as he wanted green brogues which we finally found from John White. There was no uniform look for the groomsmen – each of them had a different colour suit and a white shirt but wore matching paper buttonholes made from vintage comic books bought from Etsy and had matching woollen ties.
The Readings + Music… To go with our romantic and informal theme, we had an acoustic guitar accompanying our ceremony. A selection of our favourite songs by The Shins were played as our guests were being seated and I walked down the aisle to ‘Kiss Me’ by Sixpence None the Richer. Andy’s sister read the poem ‘He never leaves the seat up’ by Pam Ayres and whilst signing the register we had our guests sing along to ‘All you need is love’ by The Beatles. We walked out to an acoustic rendition of the Super Mario Bros theme tune (Groom’s choice!). Our first dance was to ‘Something Changed’ by Pulp, and the most memorable song of the night was for the final dance – ‘Only you’ by Yazoo.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… I had 4 beautiful bridesmaids – 3 of my oldest friends from school, and Andy’s younger sister. It was an easy decision to make, and they were all so supportive and excited to be a part of the day. We started planning outfits straight away. Luckily we all have good taste so were in agreement with everything. I didn’t want matching satin bridesmaid dresses, firstly because it would be too formal, and secondly because the girls are different shapes and sizes – I wanted them to wear something they each felt comfortable in and could wear again. So instead we picked a colour palette and based the dresses, shoes and accessories on that. Everything was from the high street – Warehouse for the dresses, Accessorize for accessories, and Debenhams for the shoes.
The Flowers… We didn’t want formal flower arrangements, and didn’t have a particular wedding colour, so all flowers were bought the day before from Sainsbury’s (I knew my 5 years’ worth of Nectar points would come in handy). We separated the flowers into the 100 jars we had hand-decorated and placed them along the aisle, onto the tables, the bar, the floor, and anywhere else they would fit! Me and my bridesmaids saved some of the flowers to make our own bouquets the night before the wedding.
The Cake… I was so pleased with our cake, it was one of the best things about the wedding. We got an incredible deal, not only budget-wise, but Gemma who made it was brilliant. She was recommended by a friend, and had only gone into the cake business a year beforehand so she was up for a challenge and exceeded expectations. We wanted a ‘naked cake’ but had noticed they had become quite popular – which is why initially we has problems – companies seemed to be charging more than what they would for an iced cake. The second problem was that everyone was fully booked, despite it being 6 months ahead. This was where Gemma saved us! I showed her examples of other naked cakes I had seen and she totally understood the style of what we wanted. It was her biggest cake to date, and everyone complimented it. It tasted amazing too, it was made of chocolate, red velvet, lemon and vanilla sponges, sandwiches with jam and cream and hand-decorated by Gemma with fresh fruit.
Your Photographer… Being interested in photography ourselves, it was one aspect of the wedding we were really picky about and didn’t set a strict budget for. The most important thing for us was to find the right person who understood exactly what we wanted. We were looking for relaxed, informal, documentary style photos, nothing glossy, that would fit with the rustic theme of the day. We originally started looking at ‘alternative’ and ‘vintage’ wedding photographers thinking that would be the best fit, but during our search for someone local, a particular website caught our attention – shearsmockford.com. It was the striking image on the homepage which encouraged us to find out more, so we continued to look through their website. Shears Mockford, Perry and Paul, are a duo – a great selling point for us. With 2 photographers you really feel you’re getting a good deal, plus there’s the advantage of your wedding being shot from 2 different perspectives.
We appreciated that these guys didn’t have one strict style of photography – they’re not limited and can achieve a broad range of styles. This meant our options were open should we change our minds about the style we wanted at a later stage.
The Details + Decor… If we were to describe the décor, it would be probably be rustic-vintage-English-countryside-tea party…
For the personal, handmade items we made, the list is almost endless… 100 metres of floral bunting, framed photos, hand painted wooden signs, ceremony booklets tied with twine, a ‘seating for eating’ table plan made from a pin-board, photos of friends and family pegged around the barn, a DIY photobooth with props, decorated glass jars and bottles filled with flowers, teapots for centrepieces, vintage fabric hankies, heart-shaped confetti, a freshen up basket for the ladies loo, and a box to hold the wedding rings.
Oh and the best bit – every guest had a teacup and saucer as a take-home favour, filled with Brighton rock, fudge and our personalised tea bags.
We had to hire a company for the fairy lights, and they hung the bunting for us too! It would have been something we’d do ourselves but health and safety got in the way as the barn was way too tall for us to be climbing up.
The Honeymoon… We spent 7 nights in Santorini and can’t recommend it enough. It’s the prettiest place we’ve ever been. We tend to go on holiday to cities where there is so much to see and we tire ourselves out, so for our honeymoon we definitely wanted relaxing. We’re not one for beach holidays, so Santorini was a perfect balance of sightseeing and relaxing by the sea.
Memorable Moments… The best moments for us were saying our vows, my dad’s speech, and watching family and friends laughing and dancing the night away.
Advice for Other Couples… Do things for yourself on the day if you want to! I’m a perfectionist so found it hard to leave things, such as decoration, to other people. I wish I had spent 10 minutes away from everyone to apply some of the finishing touches myself.
Plan as far ahead as possible because on the day you should be relaxed and ready to take everything in.
Always have backup umbrellas.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Photos – ShearsMockford – http://www.shearsmockford.com
Venue and food: The Barns Hotel – http://www.barnshotelbedford.co.uk/
Lighting: Partylights – http://www.partylights.co.uk/
Cake: Maisie Moos – http://maisiemooscupcakes.co.uk/
Ceremony Musician: Alastair Beveridge
Dress: Inspiration Bridal – http://www.inspirationbridal.co.uk
Wedding rings: Pieces of Indigo on Etsy – http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/peacesofindigo?ref=l2-shopheader-name and Silver Sparrow on Etsy – http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SilverSparrowDesigns?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Shoes: Red Herring at Debenhams – http://www.debenhams.com/women/red-herring
Bridesmaids Dresses: Warehouse – http://www.warehouse.co.uk/?lng=en&ctry=GB&
Groom’s shoes: John White – http://www.johnwhiteshoes.com/
Buttonholes: Dana’s Paper Flowers on Etsy – http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DanasPaperFlowers?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Stationery: All designed by Bride
Oh such a pretty pretty day. Thanks so much to Collette and Andy for sharing their gorgeous wedding with us today XOXO Lou