WWW readers Michelle and Ross tied the knot back on the 24th August 2013 and they chose the Briar House Barns, East Sussex as the venue for their reception. With a vision of a relaxed and informal day, they chose all of the elements that would represent them as a couple. Including their favourite food, drink, music and people… perfect!
They had a vibrant yet chic pink and purple colour palette, with lush blooms, pretty fashion choices and bold lighting.
Michelle looked gorgeous in a dress by Nicola Anne that she purchased at bridal boutique Isabella Grace, while Ross opted for a grey three-piece suit with lilac cravat. Oh so lovely.
Thanks so much to the wonderful Hannah Mia for kindly sharing her photographs with us.
The Proposal… We were in St. Helier, Jersey, for the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August and Ross had organised a special meal for us on our last night away. We were getting ready in our hotel room when he proposed; it was the most perfect moment with just the two of us together.
The Vision for the Day… We wanted a relaxed, informal, day that reflected ‘us’ and we chose a brand new reception venue that allowed us to tailor everything the way we wanted with no set packages or formalities as standard. We wanted our favourite food, drink, music and people in one room, what more could you need?!
The Planning Process… Having been together for seven years, we both agreed that we didn’t want a long engagement so it took us just under 12 months – we got married exactly a year to the weekend that we got engaged!
The Venue… Our service was held at The United Reformed Church in Crowborough, East Sussex. My parents, Sister and other family members have all been married at this church and my Grandparents’ ashes are buried in the garden so it holds a very special place in our hearts.
Our reception venue, Briar House Barns, was a complete blank canvas and set in the middle of the countryside in Rotherfield, East Sussex. It was so new in fact that we were the first wedding to be booked there and the venue still wasn’t 100% finished two days before our big day! We definitely took a huge leap of faith when we booked our date – the barn itself was still in all of its industrial farmyard glory (think lots of corrugated iron and concrete – there was even a tractor parked inside) but the setting was beautiful and we could see so much potential and it definitely lived up to all our expectations on the day.
The Dress + Accessories… I wore ‘Beatrix’ by Nicola Anne, a lace over satin gown with a sweetheart neckline and Chapel length train. The original dress had a large silk bow detail on the waistband but I had this altered to just a simple silk belt with an embellished brooch to add a bit of sparkle. I wore a three quarter length veil with silk piping and my shoes were cream leather peep toes by Carvela.
My bracelet and earrings were by Chez Bec (borrowed from my Sister Nicki who got married the year before me) and my hair piece was from Etsy. We also had my Mum’s silver cross pendant (a gift from her parents which she wore on her own wedding day) attached to my bracelet. It felt really special knowing she had worn the same piece of jewellery on the day she married my Dad.
Finding the Dress… I found my dress in Isabella Grace in Tunbridge Wells, otherwise known as bridal heaven! It was the second dress I tried on (and the only shop I visited) so the whole process was pretty seamless from start to finish. I had been feeling a bit nervous about the whole ‘being the bride’ thing but the Isabella Grace team were incredibly professional and friendly and put me completely at ease.
Groom’s Attire… Ross and his Grooms Party wore grey three-piece suits (hired from Austin Reed in Tunbridge Wells) complete with pale lilac coloured cravats and pocket squares to match the colour of the bridesmaid dresses – they were a handsome bunch!
The Readings + Music… Our talented friends Chris and Tyson provided the music for our service, singing an acoustic version of Ben Howard ‘Only Love’ as I walked down the aisle and a medley of Christina Perri ‘A Thousand Years’ and (trust us on this one…) Chris’ own version of Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ while we signed the register. They sounded amazing and lots of our guests commented on how the song choices added personality to our service.
We had two readings during our service, ‘1 Corinthians 13’ read by Ross’ friend Jimmy and an excerpt from ‘A Bridge Across Forever’ by Robert Bach, read by two of my best friends, Hayley and Natalie.
We hired ‘The Hype’, a brilliant three-piece party band from Brighton, to play at our reception and they performed an acoustic version of Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love’ as our first dance.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… I had four wonderful bridesmaids, my Sister Nicki, and friends Lauren, Claire and Jordonn. The girls were brilliant, not only in organising me an epic hen weekend, but because of all the love and support they gave to Ross and I through the planning process and on the day itself. As I’m sure many brides will know, finding bridesmaid dresses (in the right colour) to suit four different individuals can be a nightmare. After lots of searching, we found style ‘D586’ by Alfred Sung in a colour called ‘Jubilee’. We teamed the girls’ dresses with simple pearl accessories and they carried bouquets of massed Gypsophila and Sweetpeas with little sprigs of Gypsophila in their hair – they all looked absolutely beautiful.
The Flowers… Our gorgeous flowers were created by Katherine from Florist in the Forest. We wanted a rustic relaxed feel to tie in with our countryside venue and she didn’t disappoint. My bouquet was a mixture of pink and purple flowers with green foliage and the Grooms Party had Thistle and Lavender (to represent the Scottish and English sides of our families) in their buttonholes. Katherine used massed Gypsophila to tie to the church pew ends and created us the most stunning pedestal arrangements in the same colours as my bouquet.
Our pedestal arrangements from the church were transferred onto milk churns at the reception venue and we had vases of flowers and lanterns adorning the large windowsill at the front of the barn. Our table arrangements were made up of posies of flowers in different sized vases and bottles, interspersed with tea lights in silver mercury holders.
The Cake… We ordered an iced three-tiered cake from Marks and Spencer and then our amazingly talented bridesmaid Claire decorated it in individual handmade sugar paste roses, beading, flowers, lace and ribbon – it was a work of art. We were so impressed with the end result and still can’t thank her enough for the time and effort she put into making it perfect for us.
Your Photographer… Hannah Mia – after spotting Hannah’s work on WWW, we knew we had to book her as our photographer. We had an initial Skype conversation to talk about our ideas for the day and she made us feel like we were in very safe hands. Her natural, documentary, style captured the mood of our day perfectly and on top of all that, she was brilliant to work with.
Your Videographer… We hired Maple Productions to capture the key parts of our day and they edited the footage into a wonderful seven minute ‘highlights’ film. We both felt quite emotional the first time we watched it; the day went by in such a blur so it felt amazing to be able to relive it all over again.
The Details + Decor… Transport: We decided early on that we loved the idea of driving ourselves from the church to the reception venue and our friend Liam kindly let us borrow his swanky convertible for the journey. It was the perfect way to have a few precious moments to ourselves and gave us the chance to regroup before the reception started.
Favours: Instead of buying favours for everyone, we decided to donate the amount we would have spent to Parkinsons UK, a charity incredibly close to our hearts as my Mum was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease a few years ago. We gave each guest a small card explaining what we had done with a little blue charity badge – it was really touching to see so many of our guests wandering round with the badges pinned to their outfits.
Stationery: We were incredibly lucky to have all of our stationery designed by our uber talented friend Alex. Our Save the Dates, Invites, Order of Services and Wedding Breakfast menus featured a special ‘Michelle & Ross’ logo with an intricate swirled pattern around the edges. We hand tied our invites with twine and added little luggage labels, hand stamped with our initials, before tying them up. Alex also designed us a large poster for all of our guests to sign (instead of a guest book) which we’ve had framed and put up in our hallway. We also put together a Mr & Mrs style quiz for our guests to complete during the wedding breakfast which Alex art worked into A4 quiz sheets for us.
Handmade touches: My bridesmaids and I had a ‘creative’ get together decorating numerous jam jars (to hold candles/flowers), constructing a card post box, table plan, photo board display and delicately unfurling lots of paper pompoms. It’s amazing what you can do with a trip to Hobbycraft, a few glasses of wine and a lot of patience!
Wet weather contingency: I’m sure I’m not the only bride in the world that has obsessed about the weather forecast in the run up to their wedding day! Once we knew heavy rain was forecast, I was especially worried as our venue was in the middle of nowhere, down a (muddy!) country lane, and we had planned so much of our day around being outside. But, despite all of the worry and frantic last minute umbrella buying, we can honestly say it really didn’t matter – ‘some days you just have to create your own sunshine’ – and we certainly did!
The Honeymoon… A wonderfully relaxing break in Mauritius (a gift from Ross’ lovely parents).
Memorable Moments… Too many to mention but one of our favourites was when Ross’ Mum surprised us with a rendition of Robert Burns’ ‘A Red, Red Rose’ in the evening with our band – she wanted us to have a special nod to Ross’ Scottish heritage and no one (not even Ross’ Dad) knew she was planning it – there were lots of tears at this point!
Advice for Other Couples… Decide early on what’s really important to you both, and then try not to lose sight of that during the planning process (easier said than done at times!) We kept reminding ourselves that saying ‘I do’ was all that really mattered to us and all of the other stuff around it was just the icing on the cake.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Reception venue |Briar House Barns
Dress | Isabella Grace
Flowers |Florist in the Forest
Photographer | Hannah Mia
Videography | Maple Productions
Caterers | Amuse Private Caterers
Stationery | Alex Griffith Graphic Design
Thanks so so much to Michelle and Ross for sharing their wedding story XOXO Lou