We’re being transported back to those lovely Spring days this morning, to April in fact and the pretty pink nuptials of this gorgeous pair.
Holly and James were married on the 23rd April 2016 and hosted their reception at The Court Lodge Black Barn in Kent. They wanted to include their love of the outdoors and nature, hence the cute felt animals, relaxed style blooms and guest appearance by their horse Keefe.
Holly wore a fishtail lace Enzoani gown with cosy fur jacket and pale pink heels, James donned a vibrant blue suit, tan shoes and fun bow tie. Didn’t they look just fabulous? Oh and one last shout out for the cake, you are going to adore it’s tower of sponges and lashings of buttercream. YUM.
Thanks to White Stag Wedding Photography today for sharing these sensational shots with us.
THE PROPOSAL | James proposed on 9th December 2014 at our home… I arrived home late from the stables to a bunch of flowers and amazing steak dinner… so guessed something might be going on! He bought a huge home made chocolate cake in for dessert, and in the top was the ring! Unfortunately it was huge, so I had to wait 2 weeks to wear it… so we kept the news quiet until then. I later found out that he had bought the ring a couple of months back and it had been hiding in our bedroom all the time!
THE VISION | Neither of us really had a vision in particular… We both have a love of the outdoors and nature so just kind of ran with that idea. It was important to us that everyone had a lovely day and that it was very personal to us.
Mostly we just wanted a big celebration with all our favourite people.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We absolutely loved the planning process, it was so much fun, putting a day together that was just all about the things we love! I work as an event planner, so I think this helped in that it wasn’t so daunting having to do everything ourselves.
We booked the venue in early January, and didn’t do an awful lot for a few months after. The venue was literally just a barn (nothing else included and no wedding coordinators etc) so we just started making lists and plodding through booking the necessities – photographers, caterers, flowers, cake – and bought bits and bobs as and when we saw them and it all kind of fell into place.
BUDGET | We had a budget and we saved hard and stuck to it (pretty much). It’s very easy to get carried away, so it’s worth having a spreadsheet and keeping it updated so you have a constant grasp on what has been spent and what you still need to pay for. There’s a horrible moment about 6 weeks before the wedding date that everyone starts asking for final payments… our bank account went from very healthy to very empty within about 3 days! It was so worth it though.
THE VENUE | We looked at lots of venues (country houses, golf clubs, marquees), none of which fitted in with the country themed vision that we had. Then my mum found the barn online and we popped by on the off chance on the way back from another venue viewing. It hadn’t been used all winter, and was full of dead leaves and cobwebs. I walked in and just knew it was perfect (not just because they said we could bring our horse!), but I think James thought I was mad! It doesn’t have a licence for the ceremony, so we had a wander up the lane to the church and by utter fluke the warden was there and showed us around… and we were sold. It was all perfect and only 3 miles from home! I think we booked later that day.
We had the barn from the Thursday evening to decorate, so our very clever friend Lawrence came and put all the fairy lights up for us and had made an amazing sign to go above the bar. We were there until about 10pm that night and back again the next morning with the bridal party to decorate. We actually had a really lovely day on the Friday decorating and it was nice to involve everyone. We walked up to the church for the rehearsal and then had a pub dinner afterwards.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Dress was a fishtail shape with lots of tulle from Enzoani, with blush pink shoes from Phase Eight, a beautiful freshwater pearl bracelet that my parents gave me, a cute little heart bracelet that my bridesmaid Holly made for everyone that came to my hen do, perfectly matched pearl earrings from James and a necklace that everyone thought was a family heirloom but actually cost £12 from John Lewis! I had some sparkly flat Toms that I changed into when the heels became too much!
FINDING THE DRESS | I really didn’t enjoy dress shopping. I had quite a definite idea of what I wanted (minimal lace, fishtail, no sparkle, strapless) however still tried on every style imaginable more in an effort to humour everyone else than anything else. One shop out of the 7 or 8 that I went to actually told me I would never find a dress! I was also told a few times that 10 months in advance was cutting the time lines quite fine. Oops!
Needless to say I did find a dress… the first one I tried in the last shop I went to, and then it all became enjoyable again!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | James picked a bright blue 3 piece suit from Moss Bros at Bluewater. He has a friend that worked there that got us an amazing deal. We had originally considered tails, but didn’t think it fitted with the barn venue and looking back at the photos the suit he picked was perfect.
James was certain he wanted a bow tie instead of a normal tie, so having hunted high and low we ended up having them made by a company in Denver, Colorado to make sure they were exactly what he wanted. We sent over fabric samples of the bridesmaids dresses and suit so that the colours could be matched perfectly and they sent back designs for us to choose from. It was a great way of getting something truly individual. The best man, my dad and our usher all had the same and James’ was slightly different.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Our very close friend Katie did a beautiful and very well practised reading in the church for us. It was a poem that James had read at a wedding a few years ago and really liked called “on your wedding day”.
We went for the traditional bridal/wedding march and church bells and had two hymns “lord of the dance” and “guide me o thou great redeemer” which was also sung at the Royal wedding. We deliberately picked quite up beat hymns that we thought everyone would recognise, and it paid off because the majority of our guests had a good old sing along!
We created a playlist of our favourite songs to be played throughout the day, and my parents booked us a Ceilidh band for the evening, which was fantastic.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We had four stunning bridesmaids – my besties Clarrie, Holly and Alex and James’ lovely Goddaughter Kaylea. They were all fantastic and looked amazing. They also all looked after us both throughout the day, which we really did appreciate.
It was important to me to get a dress that everyone was comfortable in, as the girls are all very different. We did consider them all having slightly different styles/colours, but managed to settle on something that was the same for everyone and they all looked so lovely. The dresses were from Monsoon, and heels from Dorothy Perkins. We bought them all (and my mum) the same flat shoes as me for when the heels were too painful!
THE FLOWERS | We didn’t have an awful lot of interest in flowers until the wedding planning… James still doesn’t, but I became slightly obsessed, especially with looking at bouquets on Pinterest! My bouquet in particular was something that I wanted to be perfect… our lovely florist Jo had to suffer me picking flowers that were out of season and find an alternative and when she delivered the bouquet in the morning it was just perfect, even the flowers she had warned might not be possible were in there. That was the first time I cried on the day!
Flowers at the church were fairly minimal, and as our food was in huge crates at the reception we didn’t have floral centrepieces.
We did decorate the barn with a lovely milk churn full of flowers and also a blue enamel jug that’s been in the family for years that Jo filled for us.
We dotted around a few kilner jars, which my mum painted, with flowers in them too.
Jo also made an incredible willow heart to go behind the top table.
Button holes – again we wanted something fairly rustic, James is an avid allotment grower, so we included some rosemary in the mens buttonholes. The ladies corsages were attached by magnet so as not to damage their outfits.
THE CAKE | Our cake was a four tier sponge with 2 lemon curd and 2 raspberry jam and butter cream tiers. It was pink to go with our colour scheme and we had our cute little mouse cake toppers made to match. It tasted incredible… we saved the top tier for my birthday a few days after the wedding and it was still amazing!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Picking our photographers was fairly easy… we looked at lots and then came across White Stag and immediately loved their style. We wanted natural photos. Not lots of posed group pictures where you can’t really see anyone’s personality. Plus it was a cold day so karting everyone outside just would have been a complete pain. We also didn’t want photographers to be walking around asking people to pose.
Catherine and Andy captured every guest perfectly and really caught the laughter and feel of the day in their photos. They are so natural and exactly what we wanted.
It also helped that by complete coincidence our bridesmaid Clarrie had picked them for her wedding so we got to know them in advance.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We had lots of little personal touches. James made our favours which were sloe gin and tomato chutney. Our stationery – invites, place names, order of service etc were all made by a close friend Jenny and again were very “us”.
My mum made our amazing table plan from corks – it looked fab next to the bar, she also wrote out the blackboards for the drinks list, and all the little signs that we had dotted around. My dad found some wallpaper that looked like wine bottles that he used to decorate the front of the bar, which looked great.
Our table centrepieces were little felt animals that we had made especially, and matched the cake toppers. We named our tables after woodland animals and each table had a felt animal… they were so cute and really different.
We also put a little basket in the toilets with paracetamol, blister plasters and other bits and bobs for people to help themselves to. I think this was appreciated by our guests.
For the food we didn’t really want a three course meal to be served to everyone as we were going for a more informal feel, so our caterers put together a crate of food for each table and everyone helped themselves – it included hot and cold items and went down a storm. We also couldn’t pick a dessert, so alternated between two around the table and this allowed people to share/swap. Both provided a talking point on tables for tables where not everyone had met before.
My parents had booked us a classic Land Rover Defender as the wedding car as a surprise, which fitted so well with the day.
THE HONEYMOON | We had a week at a Sandals all inclusive resort in Grenada. It was amazing. It was so lovely to finally relax and reflect on everything.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Making our vows.
Not being able to look up at Katie during her reading for fear of all of us crying.
Dancing all night to the Ceilidh band.
Laughter and tears during the speeches.
Seeing our horse Keefe waiting for us as we came out the church.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Make it all about the two of you, it’s your wedding. Don’t do things because you feel you “should” if you don’t see the point, then don’t do it.
Don’t get stressed about little things on the day. No one apart from you will notice them, just enjoy!
Lots of people told us that they hardly saw their other half on the day of their wedding and to make sure we spent some time together. We did manage to spend quite a lot of time together and chat about the day as it progressed which was lovely, so make time for this.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | White Stag Wedding Photography
Flowers | Moody Blooms
Animal centre pieces/ cake toppers | Sweet Art Felts
Make up | Talitha Gadd
Hair | Jess Ovenden
Venue | Court Lodge Black Barn
Band | Ceilidh Tree
Cake | All Shapes and Slices
Catering | Larder Craft
Bow ties | Knotty Ties
Didn’t that just look really very lovely?
Holly and James, thank you both so much for sharing your wonderful wedding story today xo Lou