Modern Yet Traditional British Countryside Wedding

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I’m so excited to be sharing the story of Harry and Megan’s wedding with you today. I’m absolutely loving the aesthetic which took advantage of the British countryside setting with beautiful wildflowers and a stylish colour palette. 

Already legally married, Harry and Megan had a wonderfully personal blessing on 3rd August 2019 at the church near Harry’ parents’ farm which hosted a fabulous four days of festivities. Megan is American and so there were lots of guests from across the pond, it sounds like the blend of cultures made for a really fun time. Look out for some fun nods to British and American celebrities including our couple’s namesakes too! 

Our pair were absolutely made up with their photos from Georgia Rachael and we’re big fans too, thank you so much for sharing with us Georgia. Harry and Megan’s day was also captured on video, a big thank you to Dynamo Ultima for allowing us to share.

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The Proposal

I wouldn’t call it a “proposal”. On an unsuspecting Tuesday night in Portland, OR, USA we were having dinner, soon after we had moved in together. Harry’s line of questioning became more and more serious and inquiring about our life and future together. We had only been together for about 16 months, and the reality was that Harry’s American contract was coming to an end in approximately nine months. Because his visa to live and work in the US was sponsored by his employer, it was likely that he would have to move back to the UK, and we would either have to endure a long distance relationship or come up with another solution.

Deciding to get married in order to remain together in the US was perhaps the easiest decision either of us has ever made. Six weeks later we were married in a small civil ceremony in Portland with Megan’s family present, and Harry’s family present via video conference. We knew from the start that wanted to have a big wedding celebration in England with all of our family and friends present. Then began the intercontinental wedding planning!

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The Vision

We wanted our wedding to have an elegant and understated English Countryside vibe. Over 60 guests travelled from the US to Norfolk for the festivities and over 125 total from the UK and Europe so we wanted to make sure the atmosphere was authentic to the setting. We added a few intentional British details such as vintage tea cups for the cocktail hour, white bunting everywhere (Americans don’t do bunting), bell tents for accommodation, that gave it a distinct and understated “Secret Garden” feel.

On the Thursday before the wedding we hosted a rehearsal dinner for 60 people, a typical American tradition, serving spaghetti Bolognese prepared by our mothers and many helpers. On the Friday we had activities planned for folks as they arrived including a bike pub crawl, trip to a local castle, a tennis tournament, and a lot of helping with set-up. Most people chose the pub option. On Friday night we hosted a casual barbecue with sausage baps, halloumi kebabs, and salads. Saturday was the big day! Sunday we invited all guests to return to the marquee for bacon baps and bloody marys.

I gravitated toward anything with brightly coloured wildflowers, avoiding adding much colour to the décor that wasn’t natural flowers or gold accents. Adding subtle (and not so subtle) hints of our American and English roots, we had flags and national figures sprinkled throughout the event. At the end of the day, the most important thing to us was that it be a good party, and represent our love for one another and our friends and family.

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The Planning Process

I thought planning a wedding across the pond would be easy. I have experience with 900+ person events, I had a year and a half to do it, and I had great partners in crime to help in England. It was much, much more difficult and stressful than I could have imagined.

To start, I started with a theme I thought I loved, then realised as we attended numerous weddings over the year that it was going to be cliché and predictable by August 2019. So I pivoted from white and greenery to colour and wildflowers. Once I had made up my mind on theme, the next challenge was communicating with vendors with an eight hour time difference. Our vendors were generally great to work with, but email exchange takes twice as long when you’re on opposite schedules. Also, props and décor was much cheaper to buy in the US, so I had to figure out what I could bring over and what I needed to hire in England. It all became much trickier than I had anticipated. International travel with four heavy suitcases and a wedding dress is not easy, but in the end we managed it and everything got to the farm when we needed it.

We had mountains of help from both of our family and dozens of friends who arrived early. We owe everything to the generous and supportive community we have surrounding us. Particularly Harry’s parents and family for tirelessly preparing their farm for the wedding and hosting 40+ tent camping guests, my mom for managing rehearsal dinner prep, and my sister Lauren in particular who did all of our fancy lettering and designed our invitations, among other things, and Becca for being our floral mastermind. Also, our wedding party who helped so much with set up and prep. We’re so grateful to everyone who contributed so much to making it perfect.

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Budget

We had a budget, then we went over our budget. There were certain things we were willing to splurge on knowing that so many of our friends were spending so much to travel for our wedding. I ended up doing quite a bit of panic purchasing and hire because I wasn’t quite sure how much or how many of things we would need. I guess it’s a casualty of creating a three day wedding venue out of a field.

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The Venue

Three days of events and activities were hosted on Harry’s parents’ farm which offered space, hospitality, and the most incredible flower garden and orchard. The gorgeous medieval flint stone church where we held our blessing ceremony was only a hop and skip down the country road (Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Redenhall). Having the wedding on the Blandy farm allowed us flexibility to dream big and create our own reality for the weekend. It also allowed us to party until 6am when the sun came up!

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Your Outfits & Accessories

My wedding dress is from BHLDN, called the Beloved Gown. It was the absolute perfect dress for me, comfortable, chic, elegant, simple, and apparently unexpected. (Everyone was expecting me to wear a glittery, poofy, princess dress!)

My veil was also from BHLDN, called the Ambrosia veil. My sandals were hand made in Santorini Greece and purchased from Mago Sisters on Etsy.

My pearl earrings and necklace were a gift from Harry’s mum for our first wedding in Portland. My engagement and wedding rings are from MiaDonna, a Portland based jeweller who used lab grown diamonds which have no ethical and fewer environmental impacts. (Yes it’s still a real diamond!) We are quite obsessed with MiaDonna at this point, lucky for me!

Harry’s suit was rented from Moss Bros and his tie was hand made by my mother. Hot tip for anyone planning an intercontinental wedding – suit styles and fabrics are not universally available in the US and UK. Harry ran into challenges in trying to match a US bought suit to his groomsmen in the UK. He ended up being a standard size and renting, which was not his first choice.

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Beauty

Hair was done by the lovely Maria Kontos @beautytranscends

Makeup by Clare Read

Both of these amazing women were recommended to me by my sister in law and travelled from London to be our beauty queens.

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Groomsmen

Suits were rented from Moss Bros.

My mother hand made the ties for each groomsman, Harry, and our Dads. We chose the “Strawberry Thief” design by William Morris from Liberty fabrics and my mom painstakingly hand stitched each tie. They turned out absolutely gorgeous!

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Bridesmaids

My bridesmaids were asked to choose their own dresses based on the criteria of it being white, lace, and somewhere between thigh length and tea length. Several of them chose dresses from Nordstrom, Lulus, and ASOS.

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The Readings & Music

We worked with our Vicar, Tim Rogers, to create a beautiful blessing ceremony that honoured the commitment we had made to each other a year and a half prior to our “Wedding Day”

Entrance of the Bride – Trumpet Voluntary, aka the Prince of Denmark’s March
Hymn – Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Bible Reading – 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7,13
Poem Reading  – I carry your heart with me by E.E. Cummings
Hymn – Give Me Joy In My Heart
Hymn – Praise My Soul the King of Heaven
Exit Music – ‘Hornpipe’ from the Water Music – George F. Handel

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The Flowers

The flowers are by far my favourite part of our wedding, and they were DIY!!

We ordered flowers from The Flower Monger, who did a great job of helping me choose which flowers and how many based on our décor plans and budget. They made it incredibly easy, inexpensive, and delivered our flowers to the farm two days ahead of time.

All flower arrangements were created by one of my best friends, the talented Rebecca Melvin, with critical assistance from bridesmaid Amber and Harry’s Aunt Alice. At one point, Alice brought a load of fennel and other fresh cuttings from her home garden which completed the look we were trying to achieve. Vases, bottles and many props were hired from One Curious Dream who were absolutely lovely to work with. I still dream of the flowers from our wedding. It’s hard to describe how perfectly they match by dreams!

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Your Photographer

I can’t give enough praise to our incredible photographer!! The incomparable Georgia Rachel. We felt absolutely comfortable with her and we knew she was a true professional, but also extremely easy going. I don’t feel like I saw her for most of the wedding, but she got beautiful shots of everything! She was very incognito! We are completely floored by the photos and can’t stop looking at them.

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Your Filmmaker

We were lucky to have two of our best friends join us who own their own creative studio. They are talented in many ways, and we knew that they could capture the energy and beauty of our wedding. Lexi Smith and Cody Cheng own Dynamo Ultima and are dynamic and talented van lifers.

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The Details & Décor

Harry’s mum made nearly 100 meters of white bunting to hang around the gardens which added a festive vibe. There were cardboard cut-outs of the Queen, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Prince Harry and Meghan. We also had a few of the queen’s corgis.

Harry’s mum and Aunt Emily made a gorgeous cheese table. We had a gin and tea cocktail (which was a huge hit!!) served in vintage tea cups for our cocktail hour.

One fun detail, Harry’s mum had been collecting ladies wedding hats for over a year leading up to the wedding. On the night before the wedding she opened somewhat of a hat hire shop in her sitting room. All of the American ladies who had never worn a wedding hat were able to pick one out for the wedding. It was good fun.

A final crowd pleasing detail was that we ordered 20 pizzas from a local kebab shop to be delivered at 10pm for the evening crowd to have something to munch on.

At the end of the night, many guests only had to walk out to the field and find their tent before crawling into bed.

We had dozens of people say it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding! Gather and Feast, Linda and her team created a delicious Mediterranean meal for dinner with pulled lamb shoulder, chicken thighs, and Persian salads. Brownies and cake for desert. Also, traditional British canapés were to die for.

I would be remiss to not mention our AMAZING band! The Debbie Boyd Band played an acoustic set for our cocktail hour, and absolutely brought the house down for evening dancing. They were so good, read the crowd, and were just lovely to work with.

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The Honeymoon

Because we spent two weeks in England for our wedding (and because Americans don’t get much holiday time!) we have to save up holiday before we go on our honeymoon. We’re planning trips to Japan and perhaps Patagonia in the next year to celebrate our marital bliss.

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Memorable Moments

Our three year old niece, Olivia, was our flower girl. She forgot to throw petals while walking down the aisle, so when she got the front, she spent the rest of the ceremony throwing petals on the back of my dress. When we got to the ring exchange, she yelled, “go Megan go!” which was welcome comedic relief.

One of my favourite moments was when we walked out of the church and inadvertently led a parade of 150 guests down the country road to the cocktail hour. It was the moment all of our post ceremony stress melted away and we started to really have fun.

Harry’s most memorable moment: During the evening dancing the DJ played ‘History’ (One Direction) and all the British guests went wild while all the Americans looked completely bemused as they hadn’t heard the song before and then the roles were reversed when ‘Friends In Low Places’ (Garth Brooks) was played next. You would think that the US and UK shared all their music but clearly some songs just don’t translate!


Our favourite part of our wedding in general was how well everyone from the US, UK, and elsewhere all got along and became fast friends over the course of the weekend. Everyone was on such good form and created the most joyous environment you can imagine. It was loads and loads of fun!

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The Cake

The beautiful cake was made by Harry’s cousin, Molly Metcalf, who is starting a custom cake business! It was lemon and elderflower – gorgeous and delicious! She used edible flowers and flowers from our arrangements.

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Advice For Other Couples

Keep it simple – pick a few things that will make a big impact and put your time and money into doing those things well. Details are important, so focus on a couple of key details that guests will notice and don’t stress about doing everything on Pinterest.

Get a live band – having a live band playing the hits really brought the energy and excitement to a climax. It’s just not possible to do that with DJ.

Plan multiple days of events so guests have time to get to know one another. That was definitely the secret ingredient that made our celebration so fun and memorable.

Harry’s advice for other couples: Store all your booze in the same place! We had split out 1/3 of our beer into various fridges to keep it cool, however the message didn’t get through to the evening wait staff. At about midnight they told us we were running low on beer so the guests switched to other drinks (don’t worry, we didn’t come close to running out!). No one thought to check if they were correct and in the morning we found a whole stash of undrunk beer. 

Finally, have a receiving line! We hadn’t intended to greet everyone as they entered the cocktail hour, but we’re SO glad we did. It took us about 20 minutes to greet 150 guests and it was so important that we got to see and give a hug to every single person at our wedding. If we hadn’t intentionally done that, we would have never spoken to even half of the people at our wedding. It’s so important to take a moment with each person.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Photography
Georgia Rachael 

Videography
Dynamo Ultima

Table settings and props
CMA Hire
 

Catering
Gather and Feast  

Band
Debbie Boyd Band   

Prop Hire
One Curious Dream  

Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous wedding with us Harry and Megan, what a lot of hard work went into make it such an incredible few days! Rachel x

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