Avatar for Louise Baltruschat Hollis

By Louise Baltruschat Hollis


Red, white and blue was order of the day for Amy and Stephen who held their DIY wedding at Upwaltham Barns in West Sussex. They homemade such a beautiful wedding, with so many details i’m not sure i have the space to mention them all hehe. With pinwheels, collected coloured glass, wooden signs, twine and bunting all making an appearance.

Amy looked stunning in a figure hugging dress with chic up do, while Stephen wore a pale grey suit with red accents. I love his mismatching groomsmen and i have to mention the super cute flower girls too. Adorable.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Funky Photographers for sharing her images with us today.



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The Proposal…. We met when I was 19 and Stephen was 21 in a seedy night club and so to follow suit of our very unromantic first meeting our proposal was equally unromantic! We’d known for a good few years that we would be together forever so it was always a case of when rather than if. I am the worlds worst person to buy for and I hate surprises so I helped choose my ring before Stephen even got the chance to propose. I had always wanted an emerald ring like my mum’s and found the perfect design and so after several subtle hints (emails with direct links and repeatedly showing it to him on the computer!) he bought it. So then I just had to wait! Low and behold on Christmas morning 2009 Stephen rolled over in bed and presented me with my much sought after ring asking me to marry him. No down on one knee or huge fancy proposal, just a simple, unromantic and familiar moment that I wouldn’t have had any other way.

The Vision for the day….  Unique, Comfortable and all about us.  I’d never had a true vision for my wedding from an early age with regards to colour schemes, dress, favours etc but I’d always known I wanted to create a day that was unique to us and full of character. From the moment we were engaged I became obsessed with wedding mags and blogs and it didn’t take long to establish the kind of look I wanted to go for. I’m a bit of a Union Jack addict and we have several be it on mugs, rugs, pictures or cushions dotted about the house. I’ve always loved the bright contrast of red, white and blue and given my family are avid Chelsea (blue) supporters and Stephen is a huge Southampton fan (red and white) they just seemed to fit perfectly. I am quite a creative person and my Mum can pretty much make anything so I was very keen to go for the DIY look, I wanted all our guests to see Me&Stephen in every little detail of the day. Over all we both always felt very uncomfortable with the ‘traditional’ wedding format and really wanted to be sure our guests felt at ease and a real part of  our special day.

The Planning process…. Planning my wedding became a lot longer process than I had originally intended as after getting engaged at Christmas I found out I was pregnant in the February and so had to swap wedding mags for baby mags for a time! I’m a terrible procrastinator as well and being creative in nature much preferred the mood boarding and designing of the day rather than the hard graft of actually booking things and budgeting! The only thing we actually booked relatively early was the venue. Everything else happened all within a month or so of each other after several panicked moment s of ‘Oh my god we’re getting married and I’ve booked nothing!’ I always joke that my wedding was planned entirely via Iphone as I never seemed to have time for phone calls or to get on the laptop. In fact if I hadn’t been an iphone user I’m not sure we’d have even made it up the aisle!

Budget…. Never really had a set budget as such. We always aimed to keep things reasonably low, making things where possible rather than buy, endless charity shop trawls and the like. I think we came in at around £22,000 in the end though so all the cost cutting I thought I was doing didn’t really pay off! I guess maybe we’d have come in at ALOT more if I hadn’t though! We were extremely lucky in that my amazing parents footed the bill. I have no idea how but they managed to make my dreams come true.

The Venue… Upwaltham Barns in West Sussex. It was the first venue we went to see and when we got home we just couldn’t stop talking about it. It was so beautiful and yet you still feel at home and comfortable there which was the exact feel we wanted for our wedding. It was a reasonably blank canvass as well which appealed to me, I didn’t want to be worrying about whether the bridesmaids dresses would clash with the carpet and the like. It has a separate ceremony barn  and a barn for the reception and we had sole use of the venue all day. They have an incredible in house caterers that were a huge help to us in the last few months especially. I was all over the place by this point and without Helen from Nibbles2Nosh holding my hand through the final details I may well have cracked. They were fab on the day too, our guests couldn’t compliment the food or staff enough.

The Dress + Accessories….. I wore a San Patrick dress called Eresma and a handmaid headband I found on etsy that was called Marion which is my mum’s name. I had my shoes made for me as I’d fallen in love with some gorgeous crystallised Louboutins that unfortunately were way out of my budget so was so pleased to find a company on facebook that were able to make me a very similar pair at a fraction of the cost. I loved loved loved them but with a 6” heel I’m afraid they were ditched very early on in the day in favour of a more comfortable pair of blinged up converse.

Finding the dress…. Was not as fun as I’d thought it would be! Having had my little girl I gained a few pregnancy pounds that I never quite shifted so was somewhat larger than I had been when I first started looking at dresses in magazines. I knew I wanted to wear a mermaid dress as I loved the shape and look of them on a curvy figure but was willing to try on anything that caught my eye as I know so many brides who have said they ended up in something completely different to what they had first thought. However on my first trip to a bridal shop I came away very disgruntled after being told so many times that I couldn’t try on a certain dress as at a size 14/16 I would never fit into it and constantly being told I needed to wear a shawl or a bolero to cover up my large arms, not what you want to hear as a blushing bride to be! So when I walked into Hayley Elizabeth in Farnborough and was treated completely differently I must say it was a huge relief. Not only did the amazing staff allow me to try on the dresses I had wanted to try in the previous shop they managed to get me into a size smaller than the ones the other shop had told me I’d never fit into. They were so lovely and helpful and I finally started to enjoy the whole finding ‘the one’ process. On originally spying my dress I wasn’t massively bowled over but on trying it on I did a complete turn around. It gave me that curvy figure I so wanted to show off  and was still to my eye unique enough to be ‘me’. I immediately felt special and when I tried on my veil with it I finally felt like a bride. I had another  dress trying on appt for the following day but I ended up cancelling as after spending  the whole night thinking about Eresma I felt like I’d be cheating if I tried on any more… it was the one!

Groom’s attire… Stephen is a sports coach which means he spends his days in sportswear and so the thought of dressing up in a morning suit terrified him! So that coupled with the fact he wanted to keep in tune with our laid back feel meant he decided to go for a more casual light grey Italian suit from moss bros, although it felt very smart to me having never seen him in a suit before. I’d seen a picture in a magazine of a groom in one colour suit with his groomsman all in another colour and Stephen loved the idea. It really made him stand out as the groom and gave the guys a quirky look. Stephen being a saints fan went for a bright red tie and given his best man, usher (my brother) and my Dad were all Chelsea fans it was only fitting they wore navy suits with Chelsea blue ties. We wanted them all to feel comfortable and so they all chose their own suits with the best man Max and my brother in slim fit suits from Burtons.  The choice to wear converse came from some pics I’d seen online when looking for my own bridal converse. We thought they would be great to add to the casual feel and add another real colour pop. They looked fab on the day!

The Readings + Music…. From the off we knew we didn’t want a boring ceremony. I’ve sat through to many looong ceremonies and equally to many blink and your over ones. One of the themes we had running through the day was ‘All you need is love’ so it was only fitting that I walked down the aisle to the original Beatles track. Our exit song was ‘You make my dreams’ by Daryl Hall and John Oates. We wanted something upbeat to match our happiness at having finally tied the knot and I LOVE this song! Our first reading was read by my mum and was the unusual choice of an extract from Phil Collin’s hit ‘Groovy Kinda Love’. Stephen and I bonded very early on in our relationship over a mutual love for the wonderful Phil, something not too common in your early twenties and so we had to have him involved in the day! It definitely  brought a few laughs to the proceedings! Stephen’s Uncle Paul read our second reading ‘Love’ by Roy Croft. I’d spent many hours trawling through the internet to find a reading we both liked and that wasn’t overly slushy or dull. When I came across ‘Love’ it just fitted us and our Journey as a couple perfectly. In religious ceremonies the guests often join in with hymns and being that we were having a civil ceremony I still really wanted to do something that our guests would be included in. I had envelopes placed on every seat with ‘Dont open me yet…’ written on them. I asked the registrar to instruct the guests to open them during the ceremony and inside there were lyrics to ‘Que Sera sera’. It was so fantastic to see the smiles on everyone’s faces as we sang along and they really got into it! It was the best part of the ceremony! We decided to include our own vows as we wanted to make our important promises to each other in front of our family and friends. It gave what had been a rather laughter filled ceremony a touch of real romance and love as we cried our way through our very personal vows. I’m so glad we did it.

Beautiful bridesmaids…..  I had one bridesmaid, Stephen’s sister Sam. She looked amazing in a royal blue floor length dress that we got from ebay then my mum customised it adding all the flowers to the shoulder strap. I had 4 flower girls including my beautiful little girl Isla-Brae. They wore a gorgeous little dress from monsoon called ‘Bridget’. My mum customised them again adding a little under skirt and a royal blue satin sash. The girls wore ivory shoes  from John Lewis and to make her that little bit special Isla-Brae had her own beautiful red shoes from Debenhams. My little darlings looked stunning on the day! I made them each a bracelet in blue and red beads with their initial on to take home and remember our special day.

The Flowers… Gill from Flower sensations too was so lovely and helpful. She worked so hard to help create the lovely flower arrangements using all the blue and white crockery and blue glass my mum and I had been collecting for the past year. I’d approached a few florists at wedding fayres but when I’d detailed my vision for the day a few had looked at me as if I were mad. Gill understood what I was looking for and was such a pleasure to work with. I absolutely loved my red, blue and white bouquet which had a locket attached that had a picture of my Grandad inside who passed away when I was ten. Luckily I’m a sucker for gypsophelia and carnations which really helped keep the cost down!

The Cake… It fell to my incredibly talented mummy to make our incredible blue, red and white version with anemones (flowers I love but couldn’t have as out of season) and awesome haribo hearts. I never doubted how amazing it would be as my mum is so talented but it really did take everyone’s breath away on the day! It was so unique and beautiful!

Your Photographer…. Our amazing photographer from Funky Wedding Photographers was by far the best money we have ever spent. She was simply amazing from start to finish. Not only did she provide us with the fun, funky and beautiful wedding photos that we wanted, she also was such an amazing help on the day. She arrived early and helped set up, stayed late to make sure she got all the shots she could and even provided us with a sippy cup when we realised we had forgotten Isla-Brae’s! She was truly amazing and I don’t know what I’d have done without her! Her unbelievable talent speaks for itself in our amazing photos and I would recommend her to anyone! We will certainly be going back to her for some family shots really soon!

The Details + Decor…. The details and decor were probably the thing I had the most fun designing. My obsession with all things wedding and wanting everything to be personal meant ALOT of time attached to wedding blogs, magazines, google and pinterest. I found so many ideas that I loved and then tried to tweak them a little to make them our own. So much time was spent on ebay and charity shops collecting all the blue and white china and glass for the centre pieces and the red and blue glasses for the tables. Once we’d finally had those it was back to the charity shops searching for fabric for the bunting my mum made. We decorated the barns with the white bunting my mum made and had red, white and blue circle paper fans and flower lanterns hanging from the beams. We used frames for our table plan but tried to create a bit of a twist by having them all on a table with a blue linen cloth and ribbon draped over to create a union jack underneath. The adult place names were all hand printed onto luggage tags by me and tied with red and white butchers twine. We made pinwheels for the childrens place names and I also created individual fun bags for them all to keep them entertained throughout the speeches. We used a wooden telephone box (that I use for my spice rack!) and hand stamped cards with A&S on them then asked guests to fill in the cards and put them in our telephone box (like they used to back in the day!). We also had the more common thumb print tree that I personalised by drawing a silhouette of Isla-Brae holding some balloon strings and asked guests to put their thumb prints on to make balloons. We of course had to hire a red post box for all our cards! We created a ‘British’ themed photo prop box and even had a life size Queen Elizabeth cut out to pose for photos. My amazing uncle made us several wooden signs with ‘All you need is love’ on and another amazing uncle made our incredible sweet cart that was a huge hit on the day! I spent a long time trawling adds until I managed to find a second hand football table with blue and red players which was great fun in the evening. Outside we had red, blue and white ribbons hanging from the railings along with 2 union jack deck chairs for people to chill out in. As we didn’t have favours we gave away several things on the day including home made confetti, ribbon tied tissues, flip flops for aching feet and pashminas for when people got a little chilly, we even had union jack umbrellas ready for the rain that thankfully never came! I realised half way through planning the decor that there was just so much preparation that would need to be done on the day of the wedding and that coupled with the fact I didn’t want to be up a ladder on the day of my wedding meant I needed some help. I really wanted all the decor to be a surprise to all my family after all the hardwork I’d put in so didn’t want to ask them. After a little scouting a came across Stacey-Marie from Cherry Topped who are a wedding planning company. After an amazingly detailed chat with the wonderful Stacey-Marie she agreed to come and set everything I had collected up for me on the day. I was so lucky to have someone I trusted and who really got my ideas for decor to help, I’d have never managed it and would have been so stressed that morning without her!

The Honeymoon…. We are off to Egypt in February.

Memorable moments… Having a near panic attack in the bathroom after Sam my bridesmaids dress split! Luckily my mum managed to fix it but poor sam couldn’t bend down all day for fear of it splitting! My nanny coming to the rescue when nobody could do my dress up, I nearly got married with it un done! The speeches, there were so many tears and laughs. They were just brilliant! Having  a quiet moment to ourselves away from all the celebrations. Was  amazing to reflect and realise we really were man and wife!

Advice for other couples… Make sure you get an amazing photographer. I look back on our photos and my heart skips a beat! Don’t be bogged down with traditions and the ‘right’ way to do things. It’s your day and so if you don’t want to stick with the standard then why should you? Remember that things will be ok on the day even if the minute details aren’t perfect. So much time went into creating the different parts of our day but even though some small details went array the day was amazing! Take some time away from the madness just the two of you on the day. You will so appreciate that time to reflect on all the amazing things that have happened.

Credit where credit is due…

Hair by Emma at Look fantastic Horsham  http://salons.lookfantastic.com/salon/horsham

Flowers by Gill at Flower Sensation Too http://www.flowersensationtoo.co.uk/

Photography by Hannah at Funky Photographers http://www.funkyphotographers.co.uk/

Decor Set up by Stacie-Marie at Cherry topped http://www.cherrytopped.co.uk/

Wedding Dress (Eresma by San Patrick) at Hayley Elizabeth http://www.hayleyelizabeth.co.uk/

Venue- Upwaltham Barns and Caterers Nibbles2nosh http://www.upwalthambarns-weddings.co.uk/home.html


Grooms Suit http://www.moss.co.uk/?s=googleppc&gclid=CKjku6SohLUCFe7MtAodKi0APQ


What a brilliantly crafty wedding. Thanks so much to Amy and Stephen for sharing their day with us XOXO Lou

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Barn Wedding

Monsoon Flowergirls

Moss Groom

Multicolour Wedding Ideas

Upwaltham Barns Wedding

West Sussex Wedding

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  • Avatar for Katherine Ashdown Photography

    Katherine Ashdown Photography

    This is gorgeous, I love a red white and blue wedding!

  • Avatar for Lou


    thanks so much Katherine 🙂 me too xxx

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