A Relaxed Homemade Farmhouse Wedding

Nadine and Simon were married on a beautiful October day last year, at the gorgeous venue of Donington Park Farmhouse

They wanted a fun and relaxed day, full of their personality, which they stamped all over with their crafting skills. After a tricky dress search Nadine looks amazing in her Maggie Sottero design, and i love her bright pink bouquet. I so love the shots of these two in the fields… just beautiful.

Thanks so much to the fabulous HBA Photography for sharing their work with us today, here is what they had to say about the day;

“Those of you who know us by now, know that Park Farmhouse in Isley Walton is where Ben & I got married – so it’s always fab to go back there again. Donington Park Farmhouse is right on the Derbyshire, Leicestershire border not far from East Midlands Airport and it has a great feel – very welcoming and quirky (you can have your meal in the old pig sty!) 

Anyway when Nadine originally contacted us she was really nervous about her photography (and really worried that it would rain all day) so we arranged a meeting at the venue to go through everything. On the day they soon relaxed and I think you’ll agree that they make a visually stunning couple and despite the fact that it was the middle of October we had a beautiful day and that allowed us to spend lots of time with them in different locations around the venue. 
They had a fairly small budget so had done a lot of the decoration and details themselves, but they did a wonderful job nevertheless.

To top it all off they are such nice people – clearly they are meant to be together!”


Names…. Nadine and Simon

Wedding Date…. 15th October 2011

The Proposal…. Simon proposed to me whilst we were on holiday in February 2011. We had gone to Dahab in Egypt on a diving holiday. We were very excited about the holiday as neither of us have travelled much and we wanted to see more of the world. We almost didn’t get there when it snowed dramatically overnight and we couldn’t get to Manchester airport. We had to turn back half way there and missed our flight.  I was in tears as we drove home, but I can’t imagine how Simon must have been feeling. We actually managed to find flights the next day from London though and our very good friend, and wedding cake maker extraordinaire, Holly drove us down and so we managed to get there in the end! Simon managed to wait all week before on the last morning producing a laminated sign (UNDER WATER!) which said ‘Will you marry me?  ‘ I made the scuba ‘okay’ signal and we then celebrated with a strawberry milkshake in the bar.

The Vision for the day…. We knew we wanted something with a fun and relaxed feel to it, nothing too stuffy or formal. I had visions of some kind of English country fair or tea party so that was the feel we went with. There was no strict colour scheme or whole day theme but it came together really nicely with floral bunting, old family tea cups, vibrant roses in a mix of colours and jam jars filled with all kids of sweets. The day itself was just FUN, from beginning to end.

The Planning process…. Our planning was fairly fast paced; Simon proposed on the Sunday and by the Wednesday we had booked our venue and registrar. After that, things all seemed to sequence themselves and get done without too many hiccups. Because in wedding terms this was last minute (just under 8 months) I knew we had to act fast to secure things we wanted. There was never a  moment in the 8 months where we weren’t planning something, but the jobs just seemed to work themselves out one after the other so it wasn’t particularly stressful. The ‘to-do list’ on the fridge was being constantly updated but ticking them off was very satisfying!

Budget…. We didn’t have a very big budget, but we were enormously lucky as my parents offered to pay for the venue which was our biggest individual expense. We then paid for the rest but as we did it as we went, it didn’t seem to be too difficult to afford. We didn’t have any extravagancies and tried to pay things off early if possible in order to spread out the last minute costs. In the end we managed it without finding ourselves in debt or pushed too far, but that was definitely due to the generosity of my parents and one or two other kind individuals.

The Venue… I couldn’t find a venue I liked available in Sheffield where we live so I looked further a field. Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel was perfect for us as it had the laid back country side vibe we were definitely after. Shelley and Emma were incredibly helpful throughout the whole process, from showing us around, answering my frequent emails, helping with guests and then enabling the day itself to run smoothly. The feedback we have had from guests about the venue has been incredible; I would whole heartedly recommend it as a wedding venue.

The Dress + Accessories….. I wore a Maggie Sottero dress called Odessa and a beautiful lace, crystal and pearl head piece. I also wore a full length veil with sparkly scalloped edges, although not for long, and had a little fur shrug for later on in case it got colder. In the end, we had the most glorious weather and so I didn’t really need it but I will be wearing it in December when we have a second reception in France for my French relatives.  I got a dramatic pearl and diamante necklace and bracelet from John Lewis and my parents bought me some gorgeous real pearl and diamond earrings to go with them. However, my FAVOURITE outfit detail was my shoes. I had seen a pair of Irregular Choice shoes in an old wedding magazine and I had my heart set on them. However, when I look for them, they were no longer  being made or sold. I scoured ebay and eventually found them in my size and bidded like crazy. They are stunning; white with red heart print and a little red bow at the back of the heel.  I got my hair done at a local hairdressers in the morning but did my own make up. I chose to do my own due to not having the budget to pay for a make up artist but in the end I was really pleased with this decision. I practised quite a lot and went to a few make up counters for advice. I was really pleased with the result on the day.

Finding the dress…. Finding the dress was a nightmare. It was the only part of the wedding planning process which I found quite stressful. The problem I had was that I didn’t have a CLUE what I wanted to wear. For example, I would try on a beautiful slinky number and thing it was stunning but then a part of my would be wishing it were a ball gown. But then I would try a big fantasy ball gown and I would be longing for the elegance and simplicity of the sleeker dresses. If a dress was sparkly I’d want something matt. If a dress was simple I’d miss the sparkle. My best friend and I went dress shopping one afternoon in Leeds. I’d looked up wedding dress shops and made a couple of appointments. The first ones were thoroughly uninspiring and I think we had had enough when we went to our final one. We found ourselves outside the Caroline Castigliano boutique. In my wedding dress naivety, I hadn’t realised this was one designer’s shop so we were thoroughly unprepared. We were greeted by a lovely lady, given a glass of wine and a talk about the Castigliano ethos. I tried on the most INCREDIBLE dresses, fell in love with one of them and walk away with the price jotted on a pretty card. As I took a peek, I told my friend to keep walking… the £5000 price tag was DEFINITELY over budget! I eventually found my beautiful dress in Blushes, Sheffield. I turned up feeling frazzled on a Friday afternoon and explained my predicament. Nicola, the wonderful dress lady, listened and picked out two dresses for me. One which was very much like every other dress I had tried and dismissed (and had taken to calling the ‘genero-bride dress) and another which was totally unlike anything I had tried at all. That one was Odessa. It wasn’t an instant thing, but it intrigued me and the more I stood there in it, the more I liked it. I returned again with my bridesmaid to see it and found I didn’t like it any more. In a panic, I needed my mum’s opinion so she flew over from France to help me choose. This time we had the shop to ourselves, Nicola pinned me into the dress precisely, and I fell in love properly. I altered the skirt shape slightly by adding a couple of underskirts as I wanted a little more volume but once that was done, it was amazing.

Groom’s attire… Simon picked his own suit on a shopping trip with his best ‘man’ Gez. He knew he wanted something grey, 3 piece and stylish. He found a Jasper Conran suit in Debenhams which he looked INCREDIBLE in. He told me that because he wasn’t allowed to see my dress, I wasn’t allowed to see him in his till the big day, and I’m really pleased he did. It was a real highlight of the day, seeing him waiting all suited and booted and looking gorgeous. He got some lovely shoes from River Island and decided to buy two shirts as it was such a long day; he thought he might like to swap later. One of his shirts was from Jeff Banks and the other was from George at Asda. They were both white with a slight pattern within the material. He found himself a self tie cravat and handkerchief in a pale dusky pink online. As a wedding gift to him, I bought him some personalised cufflinks with a photo of his band’s album cover which I gave him on the morning of the wedding.

The Readings + Music…. We had two readings. The first was The Owl and The Pussycat, read by my university friend Catriona. We knew she’d read it well, being a primary teacher, but I don’t think either of us had expected the performance she gave. It was so theatrical and just amazing!! It set the tone for both the ceremony and the whole day. The second reading was an extract from The Little Prince read in French first by my mum Martine then in English by Simon’s mum Christine.  This was important to us as we got both of our mums involved and I got to have my French side reflected early on in the proceedings.

Whilst the guests were waiting and mingling, we played the Amelie soundtrack by Yann Tiersen. I loved the French feel to it, and its just gorgeous background music. I came down the aisle to Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. It’s just such a beautiful song. After choosing it, my ballet teacher also chose it by coincidence for us to do a performance to so I had wondered if hearing it over and over might ruin it. Thankfully, it didn’t and it was the perfect choice. We left the ceremony to Bruno Mars’ Marry You; totally cheesy but fun and silly. Just what we wanted.

Music was important to both of us and we wanted to have some live performances during the day. Before we sat down for our dinner, Simon’s band mates Liv, Carl and Darren did an acoustic set which was both touching and funny, especially the unexpected wedding rap!! Then, as a complete surprise to me, Simon joined them to play Skinny Love with my friend Alice singing. It was beautiful – another highlight to my day. In the evening, my little brother Philippe had put together a wedding band and we had two sets lead by Liv and Alice where they definitely wowed the guests. For the rest of the evening, we had spent HOURS putting together iPod play lists using our own choices, and once from the guests’ RSVPS which kept the dance floor full all night.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. I had one beautiful bridesmaid called Jodi. Jodi and I met aged around 4 years old at a ballet class in my home town of Bingley. We then had an intertwined childhood where we would bump into each other occasionally at Brownies meetings or when we were both gala queen attendants aged 9! On our first day at secondary school, we found ourselves in the same class and we have been best friends ever since. We went shopping for her dress together and we had no preconceived ideas of what to get. I didn’t mind what colour, shape, length or fabric, I just wanted Jodi to feel good about herself. She tried a lot of stunning dresses in Coast and then we flicked through photos of them whilst we had some lunch, holding them next to a picture of my dress to see what worked! The end result was a stunning Grecian style deep pink dress. She looked simply flawless on the day.

The Flowers… Choosing my bouquet was an easy decision. I knew I wanted a big ball of roses in a variety of pinks, tied up in a yellow ribbon. I went to a florist in Sheffield called Orchis, because a friend of mine had had her wedding flowers made there. She also made our button holes; matching roses with ivy and eucalyptus leaves, and a smaller version of my bouquet for Jodi too, only in one colour. The rest of the flowers were done by my mum and Jodi. We filled teacups with rose heads and decorated the ceremony room with yet more roses, in pinks, yellows and orange. One of my favourite details about the flowers was that I had my grandmothers’ wedding rings attached to the ribbon. It was lovely to have them there all day. They reminded me of the people who never got to see me get married but played such an important role in my life.

The Cake… Holly, a very good friend of Simon’s from school, made our cake. We told her we wanted a big cake where the layers were different flavours (and no fruit cake) and that was it. She produced the most unbelievable cake in the world. It was bright pink and yellow and stood four tiers high! Not only did it look incredible, it was also the best tasting cake I’ve ever eaten! There was a chocolate ganache layer, a lemon layer, a Victoria sponge layer and a carrot cake on top. We still have some pieces in the freezer to defrost and enjoy on special occasions.

Your Photographer…. We chose HBA Photography for a couple of reasons. Firstly they themselves had got married at our venue. This was really important to us as they would know what would make good settings for photography. Another important reason was that they offered a package which we could afford and gave us the rights to the digital copies of the photos. Whilst we would have loved to have a stunning photo album created by them, we really couldn’t afford it so this was the perfect option for us. Because I was feeling anxious about having my photo taken and looking good on my wedding day, I contacted them and asked if they could meet up with us before the big day. We met them at the venue and they instantly put my mind at ease. We had a good chat and walked around, looking at photo locations. On the day itself, they arrived early and instantly started taking photos of me getting ready and the guests mingling. After the ceremony they whisked us off for our couple shots into the field apposite the venue where we got my favourite pictures of the day. The variety of locations in our photos makes them very special to me. They then worked through the group shot list we had prepared. Throughout the day they were professional yet enormously friendly and helpful. We certainly couldn’t have asked for more from them. The resulting photos are breathtaking. I find myself looking at them and not believing they’re my wedding day sometimes! Ben and Hannah are incredibly talented and just seriously lovely, and were one of the best decisions we made.

The Details + Decor…. One of my favourite details was the hand stamped ‘eat me’ tags on the jam jars and the name tags for all guests. I bought a cute little heart stamp to cut out little hearts in the corners which I loved, and some yellow gingham ribbon to attach them to the jars and sweets for the name tags. I loved the teacups we put roses in too. They were my dad’s auntie’s and so my parents brought them over from France especially. They looked so beautiful. I spent months trawling ebay for paper rose garlands and vintage style bunting to decorate the whole venue which gave the perfect shabby chic feel. I also found lots of different fairy lights which we wrapped around anything we could find! I found some wooden cut out signs that said ‘Welcome’, ‘Love’ and ‘Dance’ which I placed around the venue too. I really liked the idea of including photographs into our day so we made two washing lines of photos of our childhood with heart shaped pegs to hang up in the bar area. We had a wire photo tree (another ebay find!) with photos of all our grandparents and parents on their wedding days so we could include them on our day.  I had also got my heart set on having a photo guest book, so our amazing friend Mouse spent the day harassing people to take their photo and print it off for our book.  The result is such a fab memory book with the most lovely messages from people.  All in all, it was just a hotch potch of bits and bobs collected randomly over the months which seemed to work well in the end!

The Honeymoon…. We returned to Dahab for another week’s diving holiday. We invited the friends we’d made the first time back as well and we had a wonderful week, teasing them about gatecrashing our honeymoon! We’re also planning a trip to Thailand in April so we’re counting that as our second honeymoon!

Memorable moments… The whole day!! Meeting Jodi and Gez at 6.45am to go to the hair dressers and having a fab girly morning, my dad coming to see me once we were ready, giggling my way down the aisle, seeing Simon waiting for me, Catriona’s Owl and the Pussycat reading, Gez, our best ‘man’ producing the wedding rings from her cleavage. The confetti moment! Alice singing Skinny Love with Simon playing. A seriously unbelievably moment was during the speeches (which were all outstanding) Simon doing a mock-ending and then pretending he’d forgotten something then saying he never wanted me to be disappointed now he was my husband, and bringing out a massive ‘piece montee’ the French profiterole tower as I’d said all along I wanted one but I didn’t think we could have one! We had a magician called Benoit who came and did magic in the afternoon, stunning us all, the sunshine – unexpectedly hot for an October day. Having a wedding hack (a football game Simon’s friends play at any occasion) in the afternoon, suddenly realising all the evening guests were arriving and the party building momentum, the amazing live music sets in the evening, learning and performing a funny first dance to ‘I wanna be like you’ taught to us by my fantastic ballet teacher Emily. Dancing with my big brother and being swirled around so violently my dress needed to be re-hooked up afterwards!! The balloon cage which released hundreds of balloons during the live music. Going back to our room to find my best friend Jodi had decorated our room with petal confetti, heart bunting, a bottle of bubbles and alka seltzers for the morning! Having the best day of my life with all of the people I love around me

Advice for other couples… HAVE FUN! Seriously, it’s meant to be a fun day so try and relax and enjoy the whole thing. Don’t worry about doing what you think you should do, go with your heart and gut instinct. I don’t let anyone tell you you can’t plan a wedding in 8 months!!

Credit where credit’s due….

Venue:  Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel http://www.parkfarmhouse.co.uk/
Photographers: HBA Photography http://www.hbaphotography.com/
Dress: Blushes Bridal Studio 1 London Road  South Yorkshire, Sheffield S2 4LA
0114 276 7908
Shoes: Irregular Choice http://www.irregularchoice.com/ (but bought on ebay)
Cupcakes: Fancie. http://www.fancie.co.uk/
Flowers: Orchis http://www.orchisfloraldesign.com/
Magician: Ben-Z http://www.bzmagic.co.uk/
Hair: Hairport 44 Borough Street  Derby DE74 2LA
01332 850 203

Thanks so much to Nadine and Simon for sharing their gorgeous wedding with us today xoxo Lou

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  • Beautiful wedding, congratulations. I always find the best part of these blogs the brides story of how she found her dress. I am a bride to be currently struggling to find the ‘one’. Like you I picked fault with every style and every thing I wanted in a dress still isn’t good enough when I try it on. I think it’s the designer in me naturally wanting to change everything. I am now contemplating having one made but at £2000+ it will be well over budget! Reading this blog gives me hope that I might fall in love with a dress I didn’t expect to – so thank you for sharing your story! I am going to carry on looking. It does turn in to a bit of a slog doesn’t it haha? xx

  • thanks so much girls…. and good luck @Sam …. keep going :-) you know what sometimes i wonder if there is such a thing as ‘the one’ i don’t think i found it anyway :-) as long as you feel a million dollars thats all that matters xxx

  • I absolutely love everything (especially the venue) im getting married there may 4th 2014, its just an amazing venue, love it.
    Love the photo’s, the photographer did a really good job so will definately be checking them out :)

  • These wedding photos of Nadine and Simon are to perfection! Sweet and delicate. The bride’s fully bloomed roses bouquet is ever so lovely, I like her shoes too! The setting and backdrop is beautiful as well. The live music is also a good addition and had surely livened up the occasion. Very pretty wedding!

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