WWW readers Paula and Rob wed at California Barn in Swanage on the 27th May 2017. Having taken care of the legalities the week before, they were free to plan a DIY day, which was so completely them. A hand fasting ceremony conducted by a dear friend and assisted by their gorgeous son set the tone for the day and Paula’s Brazilian heritage made a few appearances during the proceedings.
Paula ended up with her dream dress after some nifty sample sale monitoring, doesn’t she just look beautiful in her Charlie Brear number? Rob kept the shopping process simple by going into Reiss and coming out with a suit!
With the help of lots of willing and talented family and friends, they made almost everything themselves and the whole day looks like superb fun! Rob used his connections to source a very substantial bar and Paula had been busy collecting jars and bottles to fill with the absolutely beautiful mixture of flowers. I love the idea of including herbs in the arrangements and filling your day with a memorable scent.
Aren’t these images from Louise Griffin Photography just fabulous? Sit back and enjoy, just make sure you don’t miss the happy couple’s marquee entrance – amazing.
THE PROPOSAL | Rob proposed during a romantic dinner in Richmond to celebrate my birthday.
He first presented me with a pink bunny plastic ring which our son Oscar got out of a kinder egg a couple of years earlier. At the time Oscar handed me the ring and said “Now you can marry daddy”(Aww). I had no idea that Rob had kept it all this time, so it was a total surprise! I loved it and would have been happy with that one alone, but he also gave me his mother’s engagement ring.
THE VISION | We both just wanted a rustic, DIY, laid back party to celebrate with our friends and family, just an excuse to get lots of lovely people in one place and have fun. We also wanted it to do as much of it ourselves as possible, with the help of friends, both to keep costs down and to make it more personal.
We kept the official ceremony separated and got married at the registry office one week earlier.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We booked the venue and marquee first, then planned all the rest in a very laid back manner, but it got a little manic towards the end.
I’m not working at the moment so had plenty of time to plan, however we did have a house renovation going on in the middle of all this, which in hindsight was a very silly thing to do.
BUDGET | Around £12-15k
THE VENUE | From day one we knew we wanted a venue where we could stay a few days before and after the wedding to get things done and take them apart without stressing about time constraints, and somewhere our friends could camp so be there a little earlier to help us and we could also continue the party next day. We decided on a long bank holiday weekend.
One of our friends suggested California Barn in Swanage, Dorset. It was exactly what we were looking for, with the added bonus that Swanage had been the destination of our first weekend away some 8 years earlier and we love the area.
It had a big barn to accommodate ourselves, our family and some friends, a beautiful garden for the ceremony, a couple of fields and an original late 19th century shepherds hut, which we used as our wedding suite. (even though there was no toilet! Very romantic!). The owner, who lives on site, was amazing. She is very involved in her local community so she was great at suggesting caterers and suppliers. Best of all, she is very laid back and let us do pretty much and we wanted to do.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I wore a silk slip and lace overlay from Charlie Brear, which I purchased in a sample sale on their flagship store.
Shoes: I bought a pair of electric blue suede heels which I wore to the registry office a week earlier, and planned also planned to wear on the big day, but then realised it just wouldn’t work in a field, so I had a last minute rush to the shops and ended up getting a pair of gold leather wedges from Dune. I was glad I did, they were super comfortable and I managed to dance until 4am in them.
The hair comb was made of dried flowers and I purchased from the same supplier as my bouquet.
The beautiful gold plated drop earrings were borrowed from my best friend and she bought them from a jewellery designer in Brazil. I also wore a gold plated bracelet from Oliver Bonas.
I did my own hair and makeup.
FINDING THE DRESS | Very early on my Pinterest research I came across these Charlie Brear bridal separates and fell in love with them, but thought it was a ridiculous amount a money to spend on a dress. So I was hoping to get something from a vintage bridal shop or the high street. I tried that without success for a while but when I found out Charlie Brear was having a sample sale I booked myself in, headed down all by myself and hoped my dream dress would be available – and it was! I bought it there and then, even though I had no one with me to offer advice.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Everything from Reiss. In typical Rob fashion, he went to one shop and bought the whole outfit there and then.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We asked our friend Rebecca, who is also a talented actress, to be our celebrant, and the only brief we gave her was that we wanted something very informal, like a handfasting ceremony. She completely rose to the challenge, as we knew she would. It was a very beautiful and touching ceremony, one of our favourite moments.
We had our son come up and help tie the knot at the “handfasting moment”, which was lovely to get him involved.
We had our own personal vows and the reading was Ann Gray’s “Love, Listen”, which we chose from a shortlist of poems given to us by Rebecca. It was totally perfect for us, as it reflects our more mature love and approach to our relationship. It is beautiful.
I entered the garden with my dad, who finally conquered his fears and took a long distance flight for the first time in his life, all the way from Brazil.
The entry song was supposed to be The Ramones “Baby I love you” , however after a long wait at “the aisle”, I discovered Rob had simply forgotten to download it, so it ended up being The The’s “This is the day” – which we had planned to play later.
We had Talking Head’s “This must be the place” for our first song. Rob always loved the song and we had danced many times in our living room after a few drinks or at parties we held. We had decided long before the wedding this would be our first dance song if we ever got married.
We also had our friends and their band from Cornwall play a set of bossa nova music. It all was sung in Portuguese, which sounded beautiful in the lead singer’s (our friend Lucetta) English accent, and she even learned a whole new song just for the occasion. They were brilliant and set the mood perfectly for the party.
A friend of ours offered to DJ and he did it for the entire night, which was pretty impressive.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I didn’t want any bridesmaids as I never planned on anything traditional. My best friend Ana was my unofficial bridesmaid though, being a massive helper during the whole process and she was literally everywhere on the day, even doing my hair at the last minute
THE FLOWERS | I wanted to have seasonal, locally grown flowers and a wild and informal look, without spending a fortune, so I decided the best way would be to find a Dorset flower farm and arrange the flowers myself. After a bit of research I found the amazing Lizzie from Puggs Meadow Flowers. She was brilliant and delivered the buckets to our barn the day before. I couldn’t be happier with the result: a beautiful mix of flowers, foliage and some herbs which all looked and smelled wonderful. I had a team of very helpful friends and we made all the arrangements the night before.
The dried flower bouquet, buttonholes and hair comb were all purchased from The English Flower Farmer on Etsy. I wanted something non- traditional and I loved the look of it and the fact I could keep it forever.
THE CAKE | Our naked cake was made by Love Cake cafe in Swanage – a delicious Victorian sponge with Raspberry jam filling – simply the best sponge cake I have ever had.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I found Louise on a wedding blog and really liked the natural, informal look of her photos. She is lovely and fun and left everyone at ease. She really managed to capture the feel of the day, and we’re very happy with the natural and relaxed shots of our special day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Almost everything was DIY. We hired the marquee, portable toilets, hay bales and the hog roast caterers, and did pretty much all the rest.
Rob is a lighting technician working in big events so that was obviously very handy. He took care of all the lighting in the marquee and the main field and also sourced a bar and DJ booth from his friends in the business.
For the tables I bought and collected various bottles, vases and jars for the flowers. I got hold of lots of baby food jars and decorated with fabric trimmings and lace to be used as tea light holders.
The hessian runners were bought cheaply online and a dear friend made all the wood slices for us to be used as table centres and brought them all the way from his home in France.
The napkins (all 100 of them) were made by mum in Brazil and brought over. I bought the fabric in London, in 5 different prints, and sent them to her in Brazil, as I wanted to choose the prints and colours. She also made trimmings with leftover fabric and I used them to tie the cutlery and name tags.
I bought all the bunting online and a friend made lots of flowers from tissue paper which we also used to decorate the marquee.
I also bought some old lampshades from charity shops and revamped them with some fabric and trimmings, and made a few decoration hoops with ribbons which I placed by the fire outside.
For the seating plan I bought a mounting board from an art shop and displayed on an easel I found on the street. It was all handwritten by the lovely best man. He also made the wood pallet timetable for us.
We had a local restaurant/caterer provide the starter of pate and artisan bread and hog roast for lunch. A couple of friends used our barn kitchen to make a vegetarian pie and middle eastern snacks, which was all incredible. For evening food we had a huge cheese celebration cake from M&S which lasted for days.
Two lovely friends acted as our barmen and made caipirinhas for pre ceremony drinks, which was a really nice touch.
At night we had a big fire outside the marquee.
THE HONEYMOON | We couldn’t find enough time or energy to organise a honeymoon on top of everything else, so we are now going to Sardinia in August.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Lots of them .
Our ceremony – done in a beautiful way by our friend and our son Oscar helping tying the ribbons during the hand fasting.
Our first dance – a completely impromptu and fun boogie to the sound of Talking Head’s “This must be the place”.
My mum and dad dancing around the pole.
The best man’s speech and also Rob’s try at Portuguese during his speech – which none of the Brazilians understood a word!
Seeing friends from different parts of the world, one of Rob’s friends surprised him by turning up the night before all the way from New Zealand.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Be true to your own style, and only do the things that are important to you. It is easy to get carried away with all the things the wedding industry makes you believe you need.
Get help from your friends – it makes it all more personal and memorable.
Make it last more than one day if you can possibly can. One of the highlights for us was getting friends around the fire the day after and having a impromptu small party that went on until the early hours again, laughing at all the shared stories from the wedding night.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Louise Griffin Photography
Venue | California Barn, Swanage
Marquee | Collins Marquees
Band | The Radio Rio Quartet
Flowers | Puggs Meadow Flowers
Bouquet, buttonholes and hair comb | The English Flower Farmer
Dress | Charlie Brear
Shoes | Dune
Groom | Reiss
Rings | Bride – Goodman Morris, Groom – Moon & Star, Richmond
Invite and poster artwork | The Darling Paper Company and printed via an online printer
Bunting | dotcomgiftshop
Thanks ever so much Rob and Paula for sharing your fun and love-filled day with us. Rachel x