By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Happy Monday WWWers, I hope you had a truly lovely weekend. To begin the week I have a delightful celebration to share with you that made me feel all warm and happy inside.
WWW readers Rachel and Jon hoped for a rustic country barn wedding with an informal and intimate atmosphere, how perfect does that sound? They chose to hold their day on Friday 8th May 2015 at Bartholomew Barn in West Sussex.
Think natural DIY décor, relaxed flower arrangements and bell tent accommodation. The bridesmaids wore fabulous navy frocks from Warehouse teamed with vibrant yellow blooms, which popped beautifully. Bride Rachel donned the ‘8596’ lovely lace Justin Alexander gown with fur stole while the gents wore grey suits from Next. Such a stylish day.
Many thanks to the wonderful Hayley Savage Photography for sharing these glorious images.
THE PROPOSAL | 7th October 2012. A surprise picnic on a beautiful sunny autumn day at Portchester Castle, the place where my parents were married 35 years previously. I had spent the weekend with a friend and Jon was due to collect me on the Sunday morning to take me home but instead my ever so dependable dad turned up, quoting essential home DIY as the reason why Jon couldn’t be there. However, instead of being taken home, I was driven to Portchester Castle where Jon appeared at the gates dressed in a suit and tie, with a bouquet of flowers for me. From here Jon led me to a secluded spot where he had laid out a wicker hamper picnic for us, complete with deckchairs, strawberries and champagne. Jon proceeded to get down on one knee and popped the question, to which my answer was of course ‘yes’! After the picnic, we decided to pop into a pub for a celebratory drink, only to find that Jon had secretly arranged for all of our close family and friends to be there for a surprise engagement party. Suffice to say, the boy did good!
THE VISION | We knew straight away that we wanted a relaxed, intimate and fairly informal wedding. With this in mind we decided to go for a rustic barn style wedding, with an English country garden feel to it.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We were fairly relaxed until we booked our venue, but after that it was all systems go! From the start we had a very detailed ‘To Do’ list with and a date by which we wanted to complete each item. This took such a big weight off our minds as the amount of things to do can be so overwhelming. By focusing on a just couple of things each week, it really helped us to feel in control of our wedding and took any stress away from us.
BUDGET | Enough to have the wedding we dreamed of!
THE VENUE | We fell in love with Bartholomew Barn the moment we walked into it. We were blown away by the stunning countryside setting, its intimate feel, and the owner Frances, who was so laid back and accommodating to our needs. Having already visited several different venues, we knew straight away that it was perfect for us and we booked it there and then.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was a fitted lace dress by Justin Alexander, teamed with a vintage looking hair piece from Ivory and Co. My super talented hairdresser created a 1920s looking style for me to complete the look which I absolutely adored. For jewellery, I wore my late nan’s silver bracelet which my great grandparents bought her for her 21st birthday, together with a blue diamond Tiffany bracelet, a present given to me on my hen do from my future husband and my bridesmaids. My shoes were a pair of Nine West sparkly silver peep toe heels. I knew that my feet weren’t going to be on show on the day so I steered away from the traditional bridal shoes and went for a pair that I could wear again and again.
FINDING THE DRESS | My mum and two of my bridesmaids came dress shopping with me. Three trips, five shops and 30 dresses later, we found ‘The One’! I was originally interested in having a 50’s style three quarter length dress and had found a beautiful one online, however, after trying it on in the shop, I realised that this style wasn’t right for me. I eventually found the perfect dress for me at Creatiques in Southsea. I fell in love with the detail on the back of the dress and, having just had a baby a few months before, I appreciated the figure that it created for me!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | In line with the informal feel to our wedding, we didn’t want traditional morning suits. Jon went on a rare shopping trip with a couple of his groomsmen and found a smart light grey slim fitting suit with a matching waistcoat in Next. We had already chosen the navy blue bridesmaids dresses by this point, so their suits were teamed with white shirts and navy blue ties.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | My bridesmaids and flowergirls were first to walk down the aisle to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo. I wanted something a little more traditional for my entrance, so my dad and I walked down the aisle to ‘Canon in D Major’ by Pachabel. Once pronounced man and wife, we walked back up the aisle to ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow. Jon and I have seen Elbow live and this song means a lot to us, so it was an easy choice to make.
We had two readings during the ceremony. ‘I Was Meant For You’, read out by Jon’s usher (my brother) Graham, and ‘The Only One For Me’, read by Clare, my bridesmaid. Both poems are very sentimental and the words really resonated with us, so as soon as we found them, we knew they were the right ones for us.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I am lucky enough to have four gorgeous ladies in my life, Clare, Lucy, Kate and Bec, who all mean the world to me and who I wanted to be there by my side on our special day. I wanted them to wear a dress that they felt comfortable in and that they could wear again, so we went for a navy blue dress from Warehouse, teamed with nude heels. The dress had a lace back which matched perfectly with my dress. We also had two beautiful flowergirls – our daughter Alice and our niece Maddison, who wore cream lace and tulle dresses and cardigans/boleros, teamed with ballet style pumps from Debenhams. They definitely stole the show on the day!
THE FLOWERS | We wanted a ‘just picked from the garden’ look to our flowers and our florists understood exactly what our vision was. Our bouquets were a mix of Rosa ‘Norm Jean’, Rosa David Austin ‘Patience’, Rosa Spray ‘For Good’, Craspedia, Lavender, Sweet Peas, Veronica, Tanacitum Daisys, Dicentra Spectabilis ‘Abba’, Rosemary,Thlaspi, Jasmine, Pieris and Eucalyptus As a special touch, I had pearls from my late nan’s bridal headdress entwined into my bouquet as my ‘something old’. It meant a lot to me that I had a memory of my nan and her wedding to my pops, with me on the day.
For our table centrepieces, we collected a number of jam jars in the lead up to our big day and decorated these with ribbon, twine, raffia and mini pearls. We didn’t want a specific colour scheme for everything so we went for a Cath Kidston feel, with blues, greens, pinks and creams.
THE CAKE | Our cake was created by my cousin, Andrew Edwards, as a wedding present to us. Andrew is a chef at a top hotel and is an expert at making beautiful and delicious desserts. We gave Andrew a very brief idea of what we wanted (‘not a traditional wedding cake’) and then left him to do what he does best! To our delight we had three different flavoured sponge cakes on the day, white chocolate, double chocolate and raspberry sponge. In our experience, wedding cake often gets left or taken home at the end of the night so we served these as our dessert as we wanted Andrew’s hard work to be enjoyed by all of our guests. There was only enough left over for Jon and I to sample a small piece of each flavour the following day. Perfect with a cup of tea and stretchy trousers!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was the very talented Hayley Savage. We wanted someone to tell the story of our day in photos, and capture the small but special details that made the wedding ours. Hayley did just this. She blended in with the guests on the day and was so easy to work with (even with Jon and I not being naturals in front of the camera!). Having beautiful photos was really important to us and thanks to Hayley, we have gorgeous photos which captured every step and element of the day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The barn was so beautiful that it really didn’t need much adding to it. However, the small details that made it our wedding were really important to us so we spent a lot of time creating décor which personalised the day for us.
A designer by trade, Jon took the lead on creating the wedding invitations and the table name tags. My mum was really pivotal with helping me create a whole host of decorative items for the day. We made our own bunting to hang from the wooden beams and fabric hearts which were hung on the aisle chairs during the ceremony. My dad, not wanting to be left out, made our wooden table centrepieces for the jam jars to sit on, in addition to the wooden ladder table plan. Together with Jon, they made the wooden lawn games sign, and the direction signs which led our guests down to the barn on the day. One of my bridesmaids and I also spent a whole day making double raspberry marshmallows as our wedding favours.
On our guest table, we used the wicker picnic basket that Jon used when we got engaged to collect our cards. We also had photos of our parents on their wedding day displayed. Both our parents have had very long and happy marriages so we wanted to include a snapshot of their day as a nod to the secure family upbringing we had, and the hope that we will be just as happy as them.
As the weather is so unpredictable, we also bought a wicker basket and filled it with blankets to keep the guests warm during the chilling evening.
Whilst making everything took time, it made our day so personal to us, so looking back we are glad that we spent so much time on all the little touches.
THE HONEYMOON | We went on a mini moon to Centre Parcs with our daughter Alice, spending time going for woodland walks, cycle rides and swimming. After the build up to the day, this was some much needed relaxation time. We are also going on a Mediterranean cruise in August, again as a family, but we are treating this as our honeymoon as we’ll have the opportunity for the two of us to visit various cities such as Monte Carlo, Rome and Florence alone whilst Alice is entertained by family and friends. We are saving our dream trip to the Maldives for our 20th wedding anniversary (once the children have moved out of home!).
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The whole day was memorable, but if we were to pick out our top three it would have to be the relaxed and fun morning spent getting ready with our close family and friends, me walking down the aisle with my dad and Jon watching us and our little daughter walk down towards him (a few tears were shed at this point!), and Jon and I saying our vows to each other, which essentially was what the day was all about. We were also advised by friends to take a step back throughout the day and take it what was going on around us, so we made sure we did this. Rather than being swept up by the day and not having any time to take it all in, we managed to capture plenty of memories for us to talk about for years to come.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Enjoy the build up to your big day and focus on what is important to you. We included a lot of small details in our wedding which probably wouldn’t have been missed, but they meant a lot to us so we invested a lot of time in the ‘added extras’. Also, be prepared! We aimed to have everything ready for the wedding two weeks before, so the last couple of weeks leading up to the wedding were left free for the last minute things that we couldn’t have prepared for in advance. This meant that we actually had a really relaxed build up to our big day as everything was in place well in advance. I’d definitely recommend being organised to avoid any stress in those final weeks!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Hair | Mark Searle Hairdressing
Makeup | Bobbi Brown (but applied by my bridesmaid)
Dress | Justin Alexander 8596, Creatiques, Southsea
Flowers | Passion Flower (jam jars) and The Flower Studio (bouquets and buttonholes), Portchester
Cake | Andrew Edwards
Photographer | Hayley Savage Photography
Venue | Bartholomew Barn, Kirdford, West Sussex
Caterers | Good Taste Catering
Bar | Hampshire Bar and Events
Bell Tent Hire | Beautiful Bells
Car Hire | Petworth Private Car Hire
Accommodation | The Halfway Bridge B&B, Lodsworth, West Sussex
Band | The Indie Killers
Oh my, utterly gorgeous.
Thank you so much Rachel and Jon for sharing your lovely wedding story with us xo Lou
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