We’re halfway through January already!? Can you even believe it? If you are yearning for warm weather, light evenings and fun times then let me bring that all to you and more with WWW readers Hannah and Josh’s wedding celebrations. They were hitched on the 29th September 2018 at The Barn at Upcote in the beautiful Cotswolds. A rustic and relaxed day ensued complete with some brilliant entertainment for their guests, there was laser clay shooting, live music and a photobooth to name a few.
The countryside was also at the heart of their nuptials and influenced their rustic chic décor. Using wood, hessian, twine and flowers, they decorated the venue beautifully. There was wooden signage, a lovely wooden ladder seating plan and log slice centrepieces. Just lovely. Gypsophila was used heavily, which added a softness to the decorations along with plenty of greenery and pretty florals.
Hannah and Josh’s dog donned a bow tie and joined the couple for their portraits with Siobhan Beales Photography. Too cute! Aren’t the images just stunning? We are so thankful to be sharing them with you today.
Josh surprised me with a trip to Bruges for my birthday in February 2017. After telling me to get glammed up for an evening out, he got down on one knee. We’d been together for nearly 11 years, so I obviously said yes! Josh had chosen a beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring without any help from anyone and managed to get it to Bruges without giving the game away! The rest of the night was full of happy tears and fizz.
We always wanted a countryside venue and an informal, relaxed feel to the day. The emphasis was really on making the day fun for everyone.
To fit in with the countryside venue, we wanted the decoration to feel natural, so we used lots of wood, twine and hand-gathered flowers.
We agreed that we would try to do as much of the planning and organisation of the day ourselves so that family members could just enjoy the build-up to the day.
The Planning Process
We booked the Barn at Upcote almost exactly a year before the big day. Josh plans events through his job so he initially took the lead and made sure we had booked all the big things such as catering, floristry and the band. Once these were done, we were able to relax for a few months before starting to put the finer details together.
We of course had the dreaded wedding spreadsheet which allowed us to plan out what needed doing when and how much we were spending. It became really useful during the last month to make sure none of the little things were missed. We also used our Pinterest account throughout the process for inspiration on the look and feel.
We knew that we wanted to get married somewhere reasonably close to where we live in Oxfordshire and that we wanted the ceremony and reception to be in one place.
As soon as we visited the Barn at Upcote, we knew it was where we wanted to get married. It was in a rural setting and there were several different barns you could use. All of the buildings were beautiful and the main barn was perfect for the ceremony and wedding breakfast. The layout provided great flexibility whatever the weather as guests could move between the various barns and not get cabin fever from staying in one place!
Your Outfits & Accessories
After initially buying quite a traditional wedding dress with a very full skirt earlier in the year, a niggling doubt got louder and louder as the big day approached. About 6 weeks before the wedding I decided to look for something else. Miraculously I found a dress I loved in the first shop I looked in! It was the Liliana dress from Phase Eight. I instantly felt more comfortable with the style and I absolutely loved the lace and bead details. As it had a lot of details, I kept the accessories very simple – no veil and some beautiful earrings from Liberty In Love. I wore navy shoes from Boden – flat because I wanted to be as comfortable as possible and because I’m nearly 5ft10!
Josh wanted his suit to be less traditional and in keeping with the rustic feel of the venue and the day. From an early stage it was decided that it would be a tweed suit but instead of the more commonly seen brown and green shades, he opted for navy. Finding the right suit was a quick and drama-free process and on a shopping trip to London he very quickly settled on a 3-piece lamb’s wool suit from Walker Slater in Covent Garden. This was worn with a woollen burgundy tie, pheasant pocket square and dark tan brogues, capped off with sausage dog cufflinks (one of several sausage dog items as we are the proud dog parents of our own!).
I wanted very natural make-up as I wear very little generally and I wanted my hair to be up with a braid incorporated somehow and some flowers. I used two of the venue’s recommended suppliers (Wedding Paint and Juliet Draper Hair and Make-Up Artist) as I could immediately see that they could do exactly what I wanted. I had trials with both of them beforehand and was thrilled with what they did. On the day, they were both amazing – arriving in plenty of time, helping everyone stay calm and using their years of experience to provide lots of useful tips for the day. Both my hair and make-up stayed perfect for the whole day.
I had two bridesmaids – my sister and my best friend from school. I always wanted my bridesmaids in navy, which meant we had a lot of choice! We eventually settled on a maxi dress with lace detail at the top from David’s Bridal.
The Readings & Music
We wanted as many of our family to be involved in the wedding day, so we asked Josh’s sister and my brother to do the two readings during the ceremony. We were happy for them to choose their own readings if they wanted to. Hannah’s brother is in a band and chose to read the lyrics from one of their songs, Wooden Star, about companionship. For Josh’s sister we picked “What I learned about love, I learned from my dog” – another nod to our life with our gorgeous little sausage dog!
I walked down the aisle to Glasgow Love Theme by Craig Armstrong – a song I’ve always loved, and one many will recognise from Love Actually. We walked out as a newly married couple to (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson.
The first dance was Do You Remember by Jack Johnson. A song that really reminds us of the beginning of our relationship.
When attending other weddings, we’ve always loved the atmosphere a live band creates. We picked Renegades of Rock who had a lot of great songs that we love dancing to on their playlist. They did two 1-hour sets during the reception.
Apart from not wanting roses, we didn’t mind which flowers we had. We wanted flowers which fitted in with the country, rustic theme and with hints of blue and burgundy to fit in with the colours the bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen were wearing. We used another one of the venue’s recommended suppliers, AQUA Wedding Flowers & Events, as we knew Jo was very familiar with the venue and all the photos we’d seen of her work looked amazing. The bride’s bouquet, buttonholes and centre pieces were a mix of astilbe, astrantia, veronica, lisianthus, gypsophila, thistles, stocks, wax flowers, delphinium and foliage. The bridesmaids had bouquets of gypsophila and there were jars of gypsophila dotted around the venue to tie it all together. They all fitted perfectly with the venue and I’ve dried my bouquet so I can keep it.
The Details & Décor
The décor was intended to be rustic and natural with a lot of wooden details, fairy lights and jars with candles or flowers in. To fit in with the venue we also incorporated some farm-themed items like a pair of wellies filled with flowers and a pitch fork sign. We wanted as much of it to be homemade as possible – Josh’s dad created most of the wooden items, we used an old ladder for our table plan and my uncle wrote our table plan, menus and place names. It all worked really well together and it was amazing to see our vision come to life.
To keep our guests entertained during the drinks receptions we had some lawn games, like a giant noughts and crosses, and laser clay shooting. The laser clay shooting was a massive hit!
In the evening there was a firepit with blankets for people to wrap up in, marshmallows for toasting and giant sparklers. We also had a photobooth – I’ve always loved them as a wedding guest and it’s great to look back at all the silly photos and see guests having a great time.
Finding navy tweed suits for hire which would match Josh’s was a tricky task. We decided that it would be best if they were slightly different and we came across the Vintage Suit Hire Company. They provided a fantastic service, couriering the suits to and from us as part of the package to save having to drop them back in branch, especially useful as we were heading off on honeymoon after the wedding.
We also wanted the groomsmen to be slightly less formal, so they wore navy waistcoats and jackets, burgundy ties and navy chinos. We received lots of comments on the both the groom’s and groomsmen’s suits.
We searched through loads of photographer websites and really liked the style of Siobhan’s wedding photos. From our first meeting we felt confident that Siobhan would capture the day perfectly – she seemed relaxed and helped us work out timings which would allow us to spend as much time as possible with our guests. On the day, Siobhan was truly amazing – she was so relaxed and friendly that you forgot to worry about having your photo taken. She went above and beyond to catch an amazing range of photos and even accommodated our dog in our couples shoot!
Our package included a pre-wedding shoot, and this was great – we got used to having our photo taken and got to know Siobhan better.
We have been very greedy on this front and are having 2 honeymoons!
The week after the wedding we had 5 days in Rome enjoying all the sights as well as all the pizza and gelato that we could manage.
Our ‘proper’ honeymoon is in February when we will be spending 2 weeks exploring Sri Lanka.
The whole day was perfect from start to finish and we wish we could do it again!
We both agree that the first time we saw each other before I walked down the aisle was really special.
Two more comical but memorable moments were walking into the wedding breakfast to ACDC and one of the groomsmen providing a spontaneous light show by lighting 40 sparklers at once! Don’t try this at home!
We weren’t worried about following the tradition of the cake cutting so we were able to pick exactly what we wanted. We’re regulars at a local café – Hunters Cake Café, Witney – as they have the most delicious homemade cakes. We picked five different flavours to give our guests some choice – Oreo, Biscoff, lemon and poppy seed, Victoria sponge, and toffee apple.
Advice For Other Couples
Build in time during the week and the day itself for you to stop and take it all in. We had quite a long gap between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, and then again between the wedding breakfast and first dance. This allowed us to savour everything and to chat to all our guests without feeling rushed.
Don’t stress in the lead up to the day about details. Everything comes together smoothly around you almost without you noticing. The suppliers are so adept at their areas of specialism and everyone wants it to be perfect for you and will pull out all the stops to ensure it is.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Siobhan Beales Photography
The Barn at Upcote
AQUA Wedding Flowers & Events
How very gorgeous! I just love all of the stylish outfits too.
Hannah and Josh, thank you ever so much for sharing your wedding story with us xo Lou