WWW readers May and Adam are with us today to share their joyful and bright wedding day, which was held on the 11th August 2018. They knew they wanted a barn reception and The Barn at Gilbert White’s House in Hampshire fitted the bill perfectly thanks to it’s magical character and beautiful meadow. They really decorated the venue beautifully too with rustic wooden signage, a crate table plan, hanging florals and terrarium centrepieces. Hints of copper were also used as an accent with the metallic hue used in the wonderful marble wedding cake and on the place name cards. Their main colour throughout though was in the fabulous orange roses from May’s parents’ garden. The bouquets in particular were just incredible. To add to the divine colour scheme, the bridesmaids bought their own muted grey dresses, which I am sure you’ll agree looked gorgeous on them.
May looked so beautiful in her chosen gown Alan Hannah’s Dinah, which was altered just perfectly for her. I just love that she chose a floral crown to coordinate with her amazing bouquet too. Adam and the gents wore blue tweed suits teamed with burnt orange ties and pocket squares for a really modern timeless style. So stylish.
Their whole day was really relaxed and centred around their loved ones, which has all been captured by the wonderful Carrie Lavers Photography. We really are so thankful to be sharing these amazing images with you all.
Adam proposed to me in his favourite place – Sweden. Being a massive petrol head, he was considering dropping to one knee on a rally stage. Luckily, he decided against it and with the help of his best friend, Robin, he planned a picturesque proposal on top of a mountain, Tossebergklaten, in front of a beautiful lake.
I had my suspicions in might happen and remember feeling like a nervous kid with stage fright. Robin, who was with us, offered to take our picture from the mountain’s highest point. I noticed Adam was suddenly very nervous and was holding something in his pocket. A typical bossy teacher, I told him to take his hands out his pockets. But I was immediately rendered speechless as Adam dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. Robin caught the whole thing on camera. Of course, locked in a true bromance, I had to take a picture of Adam proposing to Robin as well – talk about third wheeling.
Adam and I knew we wanted a really relaxed wedding. We aren’t ones for fancy food and formalities. We knew we didn’t want anything to “weddingy”, “pretty” or “matchy” – an old barn with lots of wild greenery was top of our venue wishlist.
Perhaps the most important thing for me was to be married in my family church. I had always imagined a wedding with bold, bright florals and our wonderful florist, Julie, captured this perfectly. I still maintain her flowers on the day were some of the most stunning arrangements I’d ever seen – not that I’m biased.
Adam is mad on anything Swedish and is very close to his best friend’s family. We knew we wanted to tie in a Scandinavian feel with lots of natural wood and muted grey and gold tones to compliment our bold flowers. Adam was adamant about having a motor sport influence, so in the spirit of compromise, our table names were named after rallycross tracks. These were a bit of a talking point as some of these were near impossible to pronounce.
The Planning Process
We opted for a long engagement so we had the flexibility to save for what we really wanted. We started off with the “big stuff” like the venue, flowers and photographer and were then pretty relaxed about doing the rest. Instagram was probably our biggest planning tool – it was great for helping us to figure out what we did – and didn’t want.
We had a real “as and when” attitude which for us, worked really well. I made sure we had a list of stuff to achieve each month and kept a track of the spending so we didn’t get overwhelmed.
Neither Adam or I are massively “handy” but we wanted to have some unique and homemade influences in there. We collected and painted loads of jam jars in a bright copper to offset our flowers. I became a complete Etsy freak, but managed to pick up some great finds – our recycled copper place card holders were my absolute favourite.
The Readings & Music
One of my favourite things was picking the readings. Being an English teacher, I wanted to sneak a bit of my favourite book, Jane Eyre, into the service. I selected two short passages of Mr Rochester’s words to Jane. These were read beautifully by two of my close friends. One of Adam’s groomsmen, Dan, read Colossians 3 12-13.
We really wanted to avoid the awkward bit at a wedding where no one knows the tune of a hymn and just makes it up, so we opted for rousing hymns everyone knows like ‘I Danced in the Morning’. As well as traditional entry music of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’, we selected Ludvico Einaudi’s ‘I Giorni’ when we signed the registers.
One of my brother’s best friends, Emily Denton, is an amazingly talented musician, so she did a beautiful acoustic set at the barn. She performed a mixture of original material and some of our acoustic favourites. This was so personal and one of my favourite parts of the day.
We never really set a strict budget but were resolute about not coming out the wedding in debt. We knew what we could save and were lucky to have help from our family which we were so grateful for. We certainly didn’t want to go mad – however, it was important for us that we had the wedding we wanted without too much compromise.
We had the essential wedding spreadsheet that I religiously used to do all the costings, however, about two weeks before the wedding, I did turn off the totals column to stop myself feeling sick.
Adam and his best man, Robin, opted for blue tweed suits from Moss Bros with contrasting grey waistcoats and groomsmen were in navy tweed suits. All the guys had burnt orange ties and pocket squares from Next; these worked really well with our orange roses which were a central feature of the bridal bouquets. The groomsmen and our dads all had copper tie pins which we had bought them prior to the wedding.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Without sounding weird, I didn’t want to look really bridal. I knew I wanted a simple dress with a low back but was quite open-minded. I visited a few bridal boutiques and it didn’t take long for me to realise I didn’t suit anything with lace.
When I visited Boo Bridal in Hartley Whitney, I was feeling a bit downcast about the whole dress situation having not found anything that really suited me. One of the girls picked out the Alan Hannah Dinah dress for me because of its simplicity. I tried it on and my reaction was “I like it but…” Immediately, Ben, the dress genie, was there with his pins and clips manipulating the dress into something I fell in love with.
I was lucky to know Ben and Adrien, who at the time were setting up their own boutique, Nortier Shallow, as they had altered bridesmaids dresses for two of my best friends’ weddings. They became my saviours and friends as they turned a dress that was “alright” into a low backed fishtail dress that was just perfect and actually made me look somewhat elegant. Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the whole planning process was my visits to their boutique.
The only addition to the dress was a bespoke rose gold belt from Etsy. For jewellery, I wore a simple rose gold chain and a pearl pendant Adam had bought me a few years before.
The hardest part my outfit was the shoes. Heels weren’t an option for me after knee surgery. After ordering and returning every pair of ASOS bridal shoes, I opted for a pair of blush pointed flats from Dune with rose gold studs. They were reminiscent of the Valentino shoes I had always dreamed of but could never wear with a dodgy knee.
Having shorter hair, I was limited with style choices so I wore a floral crown made with a mixture of foliage and roses from my bouquet. I loved it so much – even if I did end up fishing greenery about my hair for a good few days after the wedding.
From the outset, we knew we wanted a barn wedding. We looked at a few places but were a bit put off by being told all the things we couldn’t do. When we went to look at the barn at Gilbert White’s House and saw it was pretty much a blank canvas, we were sold. For me, the rolling meadow that stretched in front of the barn was just the biggest selling point.
I was starting to feel a bit like Katherine Heigl from 27 Dresses having been lucky enough to have been a bridesmaid for four of my closest pals, so for me it was really special to be able to return the favour. I had a great mix of my gal pals including my best friends from school and university and my lovely sister in law, Zoe.
The most important thing for me was for my bridesmaids to be comfortable throughout the day. Given the fact the all have very different styles, I wanted to embrace this – and limit the stress – so the girls picked their own dresses. This was actually a life saver as one of my bridesmaids, Vicky, was actually 6 months pregnant by the time our wedding came round.
We simply agreed a budget and a colour of a muted grey and off they went. I didn’t see all the dresses together until the morning of the wedding; it was such a lovely surprise to see all the bridesmaids look absolutely stunning but totally embracing their own style.
Our cake was made by the lovely Maxine from Cake the Biscuit. She created a beautiful tiered cake which was made up of our favourite flavours – lemon and carrot. We kept it simple and went for a striking copper central tier which was offset by a grey and white marbled base. As cliche as it sounds – it really did taste as good as it looked.
Our florist was the Queen of Blooms, Julie Johnson, from Orchard Flowers. As soon as Julie offered me a fairy cake on our first meeting I was sold. Not to mention, from her portfolio, you could see her floral arrangements were so personal and seemed to perfectly suit each couple’s individual wedding.
We knew the flowers were going to be our main decorative feature and Julie was great and really helping to focus our choice. I just knew I wanted bright and wild and to somehow haphazardly incorporate my favourite orange roses from my parents’ garden. Julie created a stunning floral cart wheel that was suspended from the beams of the barn ceiling and a backdrop made from foliage and ribbons that hung behind our top table.
Julie went over and above to source our terrarium table centres and fielding my probably strange request for flowers in my bouquet. We had so many compliments on the flowers and I think it is quite possible I was equally in love with both my bouquet and new husband.
The Details & Décor
Our primary decoration was our flowers as we really wanted to showcase Julie’s work. We decided to keep things simple so as not to detract from the old barn and it’s stunning grounds. We opted for suspended fairy lights from the ceiling, along with a miss match of photo frames holding our favourite photos of us and our family. Having lost my Dad quite young, having my favourite photos of him nearby was a really special way to include him in the day.
We organised our crate style table plan and some additional signage through the lovely Laura at LulaBee who saved me from any sort of creative disaster of trying to make stuff myself.
Our wedding stationery was a real labour of love for one of Adam’s good friends who is, luckily for us, a superbly talented graphic designer. He created us a beautiful botanical template on a pale grey background which ran throughout our orders of service, invites, and table plan.
I naively thought that all wedding photographers were pretty much the same but pretty quickly realised how wrong I was. I stumbled across Carrie’s Instagram page instantly saw what I was looking for – something unstaged and atmospheric. Being possibly one of the least photogenic people this side of the Atlantic, I was pretty nervous about the whole posing for pictures thing, but our engagement shoot in the New Forest with Carrie was like some sort of Hollywood film shoot with a rainbow and wild horses, yet we were both completely relaxed.
We received our photos and an amazing montage on a gloomy October day which had been pretty miserable for us both. To be able to relive the wedding and see the love and care Carrie had put into each shot really lifted our hearts. The photos were just stunning and Adam maintains Carrie was the best wedding decision we made.
We spent a glorious week on the Almafi Coast straight after the wedding, eating our body weight in gnocchi and pizza. We have both always wanted to visit South-East Asia so are planning a trip to Vietnam in March to eat yet more food.
Two days before the wedding, my younger brother, Hugh, called me to say he was stranded in one of the remotest parts of Pakistan and wouldn’t make the wedding. He had been trekking the Himalayas and his flight home was cancelled. Being so close, we were both devastated. At that moment, l couldn’t have cared less about rain, table centres or bridesmaid dresses. It really put into perspective what was important about our day – family. By sheer luck, he managed to bribe his way on to a plane out of Islamabad. He arrived about an hour and a half before the wedding, looking pretty dishevelled. It was the best wedding present having him there. I have never hugged anyone so tightly!
A highlight for both Adam and I was our best man’s speech. Being Swedish, he’d never been to an English wedding and was quite nervous about his speech, but it was honestly the most funny and heartwarming speech we could have asked for. The best part was Robin and his family singing a Swedish drinking song before Adam and I had our heads blown off with a massive shot of schnapps. Let’s say a few expletives followed.
The food from our caterers at Clementine Catering was flipping fantastic. Not being lovers of ‘posh grub’, we opted for an afternoon tea and a barbeque which went down really well. We later learnt one table went through 5 stands of sandwiches and cakes! They laid on the best scones and brownies we’d ever had.
Being really particular about my makeup, this should have been a really hard decision. But, thankfully, Katie from Beauty Infinity made it a no brainer. I got to know Katie as she had done the wedding makeup for three of my own bridesmaids, Bex, Michelle and Lois. Not only did I love the bridal looks she created for my friends – having had her done my makeup as a bridesmaid, I knew I didn’t need to look anywhere else. I loved Katie’s laid back approach, the fact she totally got the fact I didn’t want the glitzy bridal look, and more than anything, the fact she had become a friendly face and loved a good gossip!
Advice For Other Couples
Don’t get bogged down in the Instagram weddings – plan what you want the way you want regardless of what anyone else, or the internet deems as #weddinggoals.
After learning my brother was probably going to miss the wedding, I realised that all the stuff brides put so much of an onus on mean naff all in the grand scheme of a day which is about you and those you love the most.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Carrie Lavers Photography
Hair & Makeup
The Barn at Gilbert White’s House
How very lovely.
May and Adam what a pleasure it’s been to share your fabulous wedding celebrations, thank you both so very much xo Lou