James and Jo’s wedding celebrations are a meeting of style and substance, love and laughter, and of relaxed vibes. It’s a wedding I have really fallen for thanks to their non stuffy vision and cool planning ethos. It was all about what would be remembered post wedding for them both, so the photographs, food, drink and music became their top priorities. Chris Barber Photography was on hand to capture the whole affair and these images are just sublime, I cannot thank Chris enough for sharing them with us today.
James and Jo tied the knot at Walcot Hall on the 18th August 2018, the venue suited their preference for a day in one place and the turquoise ballroom stole Jo’s heart. I can see why, it’s just beautiful! Not to mention just how stunning the outdoor ceremony location was. Wow. Onto the outfits, because well, they are just gorgeous. Jo donned a lace and tulle Kula Tsurdiu gown with crown headpiece, the bridesmaids were in dove grey and James and the gents looked dapper in grey suits and coordinating ties. So stylish!
Flowers, cupcakes and garden games galore. What a delight!
We went for a walk at Wollaton Park in Nottingham, near our home. I don’t think James had a huge master plan, although I definitely inadvertently tried to sabotage any plan he did have! He suggested we sit on a lovely bench, out of the way and in the sunshine – to which I replied ‘why, I’m perfectly fine walking’. And then when he did persuade me to sit down, I thought he was being oddly quiet (anyone who knows James knows he can talk for England). So I was filling the silence with chatter about absolutely nothing, when he got a ring out of his pocket and said something like ‘I wondered maybe if you might marry me?’.
My response was to burst out laughing and then ask if he was joking…I promise I was happy though!
We then went home where I couldn’t even have a congratulatory glass of prosecco as I was running a half marathon the next day.
The ring was actually shaped like a dinosaur – he says he didn’t trust himself to choose something I’d actually like, so I got to choose my own engagement ring after we got engaged. Considering my actual ring isn’t a typical ‘engagement’ type ring, as it’s got three hexagonal garnets and is quite unusual, he was probably right..!
I don’t know if we ever had a specific vision, but it all came together in the end. We wanted to focus on the things that you remember after the wedding – so the photography was hugely important to us both, plus the food, drinks, and the music. We wanted a day that reflected the things that we both love, rather than doing things for the sake of tradition.
The Planning Process
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never
been a girl with a dream idea of a wedding in mind, so planning it all was a bit intimidating at first! Once I got into the swing of things though I really enjoyed it. Luckily, we’re both pretty relaxed and there weren’t too many stressful moments. Other people are the most difficult to organise, with the most stressful part being last minute guest list changes.
Everything when it comes to weddings is more expensive than you first imagine, that’s all I’m going to say!
Your Outfits & Accessories
My dress was from Kula Tsurdiu, a tiny, beautiful boutique in Nottingham. It was based on one of their styles but with some tweaks to make it exactly what I wanted, lowering the back and adding layers of a peachy/champagne lace between the ivory. My main criteria was that I could dance, eat, drink, and be comfortable all day – I am not the bride to be corseted into her dress! Kula made me the most gorgeous swishy elegant dress that ticked every single box and I couldn’t be happier.
I wore a beautiful bespoke crown from Mignonne Handmade, which was a big indulgence for me but really added that finishing touch that made me feel like a ‘real bride’, I think. From the beginning I knew I didn’t want to wear a veil and the only time I’ve had one on was at my hen party, under duress!
My shoes were the most beautiful shell design flats from French Sole, but I ended up changing into my Birkenstocks after a couple of hours and never changed back – whoops!
James hired his suit from Moss Bros, a grey-blue three piece, and a dark teal blue tie and pocket square from Swagger & Swoon. His shirt was TM Lewin and shoes were Clarks.
I did my own make up after a cancellation from a make up artist, which basically gave me the excuse to invest in lovely new products. I’d recommend it to any bride, actually – I felt so much more like myself!
The bridesmaids and I had our hair done by Valerie from The Big Hair Day, and she did a fantastic job.
We wanted the ceremony and reception all in one place, and as we’re both from the Midlands (me from Leicester and James from Wolverhampton), but have family and friends all over the country, we wanted somewhere vaguely in the middle. So pretty open criteria!
I think I knew I wanted to get married at Walcot Hall the second I saw their website. It is the most gorgeous country house but what we loved about it was just how relaxed it feels. We looked at a couple of other venues and while gorgeous, they were pristine and perfect and just not ‘us’. But Walcot is wild and beautiful and has the most incredible grounds, and that turquoise ballroom just stole my heart.
We loved the fact that we could basically do what we wanted when it came to food, décor, and where we did everything – we had exclusive use of everything but the main house from the Friday to the Sunday, which meant we had plenty of time to set up and nothing felt rushed at any point. There’s tons of accommodation, including the most amazing glamping with a gypsy caravan, yurts, a shepherds hut, and so much more. We had a get together the night before at the accommodation our parents stayed in which was brilliant, because we could speak to most guests before the day itself, family and friends could get to know each other, and it just took the pressure off of our wedding day.
The Walcot staff were just amazing at every step of the way. Every time I thought of something that needed doing, I’d look round and it was already done. Caitlin was calm, reassuring and supremely organised, with great ideas and solutions to any small issues that came up.
The Readings & Music
Music was important to us and we spent many hours, mostly on car journeys, debating the song choices. I walked down the aisle to re: stacks by Bon Iver, then we signed the register to Be More Kind (Frank Turner) and For the Longest Time (Billy Joel). Our exit song was Come and Get Your Love by Redbone – this was by far the most difficult choice but we were very happy with it, it summed up the post-ceremony mood perfectly!
We only had one reading, read by my beautiful friend Emma: All I Know About Love by Neil Gaiman. It was just perfect.
The Details & Décor
I made lots of signs to go around the venue, which was a project I actually loved doing despite not being the most crafty person in the world.
Our tables were named after different sweets – think Cola Bottles, Fried Eggs and Starmix – and we had a jar of the corresponding sweets on each table. We’ve both got a sweet tooth and it was a really nice touch, we put a paper sweet bag on every place setting and the kids (and a fair few adults) took on a sweet trade after the meal – Giant Snakes were a high value choice!
We bought loads of games for guests to play on the lawn during the reception which went well. We’ve got some fantastic shots of flying pigs as people played the blow up Giant Pass The Pigs game!
The bridesmaids wore gorgeous dove grey multiway dresses with a tulle overskirt from Victoria Lou Bridal. I loved that they could wear them how they wanted to suit their own style, as they are all so different!
The Groomsmen wore Moss Bross suits, and their own shoes and white shirts. There was a bit of drama with our dads who didn’t seem to realise that they should get a cufflink shirt (I was under the impression that was normal for a wedding…perhaps I am the one in the wrong for not specifying?)!
Knowing absolutely nothing about flowers and it never having been a priority, I shocked myself when I absolutely fell in love with ours. Barney and Victoria from The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court did the most amazing job, particularly given my vague brief of ‘greens, whites, maybe some blue or purple…something loose and wild looking’!
We had cupcakes from Jessica at Homebird Treasures. They were amazing.
Chris Barber was our incredible, fantastic, brilliant photographer. I am someone who hates every photo of myself, and James generally has an inability to smile in photos, so we knew we wanted someone who took candid shots, documentary style, not too many staged or posed photos. Chris was one of the first photographers I found and after that nobody else would do, I knew he was the person to book.
Chris has this incredible ability to really capture the moment without you even realising he is taking a photo. Almost every photo shows someone laughing and that was exactly what we wanted.
We spent 4 nights in Majorca on a very last-minute deal in the week after the wedding. Initially we weren’t planning on going anywhere due to funds but I’m so glad we did – it was lovely to spend some proper time together, going over everything and relaxing together.
Oh there were so many! Climbing on top of a tractor for photos…James taking out three people’s pints with a mis-thrown frisbee…being pelted with confetti from our very enthusiastic guests…the Labrador nearly gatecrashing the ceremony only to be pulled back by very sheepish owners…so many funny, emotional, heartfelt moments.
The speeches were amazing. We had five – my dad, my mum, me and James, my best friend, and the best man. It sounds like a lot but everyone kept it short and entertaining and I’m so glad we had everyone – there was a real balance with stories from both sides and I was so proud of my mum who I never thought would go through with it.
Our first dance was very much not the traditional slow song – we went for ‘Once In A Lifetime’ by Talking Heads, which our brilliant band Candy and the Sound learned for us. A particularly memorable moment was the chants of ‘one more song’ as their set came to a close – I think we got three ‘one more’ out of them, including a repeat of the first dance, before they finally had to finish for the night!
For me my most memorable moment was rounding the corner to walk down the aisle – I don’t usually cry when I’m emotional but I felt the biggest sob trying to escape, and the biggest bubble of elation at the same time. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed with emotion before.
James has two most memorable moments: the build-up when everything stopped and then the music started before I walked down the aisle, and when we managed to take five minutes away from everything, after the band started, and sit outside and just be alone and chat about how incredible the day had been.
Advice For Other Couples
Enjoy it and genuinely don’t stress about the small details. Focus on what is most important to you when you start planning and work on from that, and try not to get bogged down in other people’s opinions – we had loads of people tell us that our wedding was really unusual, but suited us, and that was the goal!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Chris Barber Photography
James and Jo, thank you ever so much for sharing your special wedding story with us here at WWW xo Lou