I do love a cosy Autumn celebration, especially when involving village halls, festoon lights and plenty of DIY to boot.
WWW readers Sarah and Nathan were hitched on the 24th October 2015 and held their ceremony at Poppleton Tithe Barn followed by a big party at Haxby Memorial Hall, York. their wedding ethos was pretty simple, “a party which happened to involve us getting married”, I think that’s always a really sensible and fun way to approach wedding planning. They also wanted lots of cake, dancing, food and fun all round. YAY.
One of my favourite touches has to be asking the children to be bus conductors, they looked as though they were in their element. Sarah and Nathan also complied their own party play list for a really personal set of tunes and found baby photos of each of their guests for a unique surprise. I just have to say that Sarah looked amazing in her custom frock too, I am loving her mustard cardie, too sweet.
Andy Gaines, thank you so much for sharing these breathtaking images here today.
THE PROPOSAL | 06-02-15, Rydal Water, The Lake District (although almost accidentally in a car park in Ambleside).
N: We had a long weekend away in a cottage in The Lake District. I attached an extra name tag to our dog asking Sarah to marry me. Despite forthright instruction to “adjust Lily’s collar” several times, Sarah managed to remain oblivious to the tag and the fact that I had my hand gripped on the ring box in my pocket for 5 hours.
THE VISION | A party which happened to involve us getting married. Cake, dancing, food, fun for kids and adults.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We knew we didn’t want a long engagement, and we loved the idea of getting married in Autumn, so got our venues booked pretty quickly. That left about seven months to get everything else arranged. It was pretty constant – evenings and weekends of spreadsheets and DIY.
THE VENUE | We’d looked online at lots of places around York which were licensed for wedding, but soon realised we didn’t want the restrictions many imposed. We wanted free reign over food and decorations, so decided that a village hall was most suitable for the reception; and wanted somewhere characterful for the ceremony. We saw Poppleton Tithe Barn on a wedding blog and fell in love when we visited. We then found Haxby Memorial Hall, which had the space and facilities we needed.
The barn is beautiful, though not licensed for legal ceremonies, and has a great outside space too. Staff at the hall was so helpful throughout the process. We were very happy with both choices.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress – designed and made by Nathan’s mum, Michelle.
Shoes – Shoes of Prey. Finding shoes was one of the bigger challenges – I knew I wanted bright shoes which I could walk in, but I couldn’t find any to fit the bill. Nathan eventually found Shoes of Prey where you design your own, so we created the perfect pair of low heeled mustard shoes.
FINDING THE DRESS | S: I was very lucky in that Nathan’s mum is a dressmaker who at that time ran a wedding dress shop, so when she offered to make my dress, I gratefully accepted. I’d never liked the idea of wedding dress shopping and I wanted to feel as much like me as possible on the day. Imagining what I wanted was easy, describing it was hard. other than knee length and lace. The finished dress was even better than I imagined and Michelle totally got my vision. I didn’t stop twirling!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Suit from Topman, Shirt from Reiss, Brogues from Office, Tie from Mrs Bow Tie.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Restrictions on the barn meant we couldn’t play any music other than acoustic, so our amazingly talented friend kindly learnt our requests on the piano. She played Au Revoir Simone – Take Me As I Am as the processional, and we walked back up to Life’s A Happy Song from The Muppets.
We had two readings – both by our close friends. One was Love is a Temporary Madness from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, and the other was the lyrics from Love is Like a Bottle of Gin by The Magnetic Fields.
We wrote our own vows and we’re so glad we did. It meant they could be personal and meaningful, and we think our guests were surprised at how emotional they were. Our celebrant, Georgina, was brilliant in encouraging us to say what we want and tailor the ceremony to how we wanted it.
All the other music throughout the day was put together by Nathan (S: Which he started as soon as we’d set a date). He loved the idea of playing music that means so much to us to friends and family. We hired the equipment and just plugged a laptop in, meaning the disco could be altered as we went along.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We decided against having bridesmaids/best men/ushers. We did have our dog, Lily, as ring bearer though. She got overexcited and joined in the applause at the ceremony by jumping up and barking along.
THE FLOWERS | S: Like the dress, I knew what I imagined – nothing too formal, lots of jars and bottles filled with spring-like, garden flowers. The main issue here being we were getting married in October! I went to Flower Style in Driffield on the recommendation of a friend, and Susan did a brilliant job of transforming that vision into reality.
THE CAKE | Why have one cake when you can have twenty four? The tradition of cutting the cake wasn’t something we were bothered about – we were definitely more about the eating. Sarah and her Mum made about 14 cakes between them, and there were lots of family and friends who also kindly contributed. It was the dessert for the meal, the buffet and we still had some left! Sarah also panicked and ordered 72 Krispy Kreme donuts at the last minute. 24 cakes, 72 donuts. Oh, even more for tea and cake at the barn after the ceremony too.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Ah, Andy.
Andy Gaines was the photographer at our friends’ wedding a few years ago and we knew we when got married we had to have him there. We made sure our choice of wedding day was one when he was available.
We love his use of negative space, how he captures emotions and creates captivating shots. He has an uncanny ability of being everywhere without being noticed, and make every shot look like it’s had hours’ worth of thought put into it – all the while looking completely natural. We’re very proud that Andy won a Fearless Photographers award for his picture of our first kiss. Although his fearlessness was more evident when he laid down in the middle of a busy York crossroad in order to get a photo of us on the city walls.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We did most of the decorations and detail ourselves with plenty of assistance from friends and family. The invitations were based on our favourite film, Amelie. We took photo booth style pictures wearing Zorro outfits holding a chalkboard with the date. We then tore the photos up and stuck them back onto card with the details of the day and link to our wedding website.
The barn didn’t need much decoration inside. We dedicated our evenings to the making of different-coloured cardboard hearts on sticks for the grass outside. We, with a lot of help from Sarah’s mum, bought and borrowed vintage china cups, saucers, plates and cake stands and used these throughout the day – for serving brews and cakes/biscuits after the ceremony at the barn, for the meal, cake table and evening buffet at the hall.
We hired an old-fashioned double decker bus to transport guests from the barn to the hall. As we wanted photos taking in the centre of York and wanted to keep our guests occupied whilst doing so, we sent the guests off on a guided bus whilst we frolicked around The Minster and walked along the city walls.
We wanted to involve all the children we knew would be at there, so we made bus tickets and gave them ticket inspector badges and hole-punches so they could act as bus conductors for the guided tour. They loved it, and diligently insisted no-one was allowed on the bus without a ticket.
In the hall, we had some festoon lighting, hung strings of colourful origami, and had giant balloons. The tables were set up bench-style in rows and covered with hessian runners, confetti and flowers in mix-and-match jars and bottles.
One of the best, but certainly most time consuming, things we did was the table plan. We secretly sourced baby photos of all our guests. A few proved a challenge but in the end only a few people were in on the plot. One of our highlights was seeing people’s faces as they puzzled how we’d got their photo.
We put together a quiz for before and during the meal, with questions about us and some general knowledge. We also bought lots of board games from charity shops and put these out as an option for both the children and adults. Hungry Hungry Hippos was a particular hit!
We both have a very sweet tooth, so we had to have the most extensive sweet table. Buying the goods, we were almost literally like kids in a sweet shop.
We hired an open air vintage-style photobooth – the horse’s head went down a storm.
THE HONEYMOON | Nathan had just started a new job so had to go straight back to work. We went to Denmark and Sweden in the February and ate lots of pastries.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | S: Saying our vows – I had been so nervous about saying them in front of everyone, but in the moment it felt like only Nathan was there. Both finishing our vows on the same Parks and Recreation reference (I love you and I like you) independently was pretty special.
Sheer excitement at being in the centre of York in our wedding gear with a big balloon, and somehow not feeling at all self-conscious.
Standing at the end of the hall together watching everyone enjoying themselves.
N: When Sarah walked in and I, despite generally being an emotional black hole, found myself welling up – something which didn’t subside for the next 30 minutes, and resulting in me hiding behind a screen mid-vows.
Everyone’s faces when they clocked that we’d acquired a baby photo of them.
Dancing uncontrollably with Sarah to some of our favourite songs as if no-one else was in the room.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Make it personal to you – you don’t have to have all the usual wedding traditions to make it feel like a wedding.
Book a good photographer – the day goes by so quickly, you’ll be grateful afterwards.
Keep a surprise or two back for guests – it was amazing to see their faces when they saw the baby photos.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE | We couldn’t have done it without an amazing army of family and friends who helped before, during and clearing up after. Far too many to name, but they know who they are and how grateful we are that they helped make our day so special.
Photography | Andy Gaines
Bus | York Pullman
Caterers/bar | The Striped Pig
Flowers | FlowerStyle
Dress | Groom’s mum
Bride’s shoes | Shoes of Prey
Sound system/festoon lighting hire | Wedding Venue Lighting
Photobooth | Booth Revolution
Celebrant | Georgina Pugh
What a fun celebration.
Sarah and Nathan, thank you both so much for sharing your wedding story here on WWW today xo Lou