Jennie and Dom married in September at Lyde Court, Herefordshire, beneath hop covered barn doors. They wanted their wedding to be personal with good food and a Ceilidh.
Their day was a real family affair, with loved ones helping to create their wedding. From the home made knitted ties for the guys, to the cake and hand embroidered napkins.
Jennie looked gorgeous in her lace dress with corsage detail and beautiful hairpiece in her chic cropped hair, while her favourite girls wore pretty floral dresses. Oh so lovely.
Thanks so much to Albert Palmer for sharing his brilliant imagery with us today.
The Proposal… Dom decided he wanted to propose while we were on a sailing holiday with my family last summer. But a couple of weeks before I got offered the chance to go to New York with work to collect an award, so ended up not going to the first part of the holiday. Dom and my family sailed from Devon to France, Dom had the ring, and the French champagne, but no-one to propose to. My dad says he got the ring out to show them during a sail, at which everyone screeched at him to put it away safely until they were back ashore. I joined them in Weymouth. Dom came to meet me at the train station with the ring in a backpack, but said our walk back from the station complete with seagulls eating out of bins wasn’t quite the vibe he wanted to go for. We went out for a lovely seafood meal with the family, then headed back to the boat to go to bed. As we were getting ready for bed, Dom said ‘I just can’t wait anymore!’ and pulled the ring out of his bag. He couldn’t get down on one knee for lack of space so we were squashed side by side on the bunk. The ring is by British designer, Alex Monroe – the band is gold and cast from a real twig! We had the French champagne for breakfast!
The Vision for the Day… We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have our wedding in a barn. I’m not sure where the idea came from but we wanted it to be informal and a blank canvas – a setting that was beautiful but simple and natural. We both love to be in the countryside and going to festivals so I think we had that kind of relaxed celebration in mind. We wanted the day to be really personal to us and for it not to feel like we’d just ticked a load of boxes. We knew we wanted good food and a ceilidh.
The Planning Process… I took most of the responsibility for planning – although we chose everything together. I bought a few wedding magazines at first, and took lots of advice from my friend who had just got married, but there wasn’t really a structured approach!
The Venue… The first thing was to find the venue. We went to see about six or seven in total – all barns. Dom is from Cheltenham, my family’s from Newport, and we live in Monmouth, on the border of England and Wales, so most of the venues were around those areas. Lots of the barn venues are in the Cotswolds – we did see some nice ones but that ‘Cotswold’ tag does mean paying a lot more. Several of the barns we saw had been barns originally, but then had been turned into venues, with immaculate plastering and no room for creativity. One even enthused that you couldn’t even tell it was a barn from the inside. No thanks! When we got to Lyde Court we were shown around by Gary, who’s in charge. The barn was built in the 17th Century, and it’s part of the Duchy of Cornwall estate. They’d only just started doing weddings and hadn’t even got a ceremony licence yet. They’d had his daughters reception there and then decided to change their business from antiques storage (in the barn) to hosting weddings and other events there. When we asked what decorations we’d be allowed, Gary said the walls had been hammered into for hundreds of years so we could do what we liked. A highlight was when he showed us the hoard of mismatch antique chairs and sofas that we could use as we wished. The registrar had said they could get a licence to get married under the barn doors. There is also a beautiful wildflower garden in front of the house. Gary was just so enthusiastic about all our ideas, where so many other places had seemed very prescriptive – and the place had so much character and history.
The Dress + Accessories… Buying the dress was a complete accident. I was shopping in Cardiff with my sister Lucy, mum and auntie when we were passing a bridal shop – Timeless Elegance – in one of the arcades. We thought we’d pop in and have a look. It was the first dress I put on – they all cried. I tried on some more and went to another shop. We went and sat in a café to think. We decided we had to go back and get it – nothing else had come close. I never thought I’d go for something so MASSIVE! Considering we had this idea about a very relaxed day where nothing was too overly ‘weddingy’, I had picked the biggest white dress imaginable. The shape was just perfect for me – I loved the lace detail – and it was fun!
When I had the dress on I knew I wouldn’t really need much to accessorise it. I knew I didn’t want a veil – it didn’t have any meaning for me. I also didn’t want a lot of sparkle. I didn’t want a colour scheme as such – all my favourite pictures on wedding blogs were ones with a palate, rather than a single colour. I looked at a lot of headpieces, but eventually decided to have one made by a Devon – based costume jewellery shop. We’ve been going to Dartmouth for years on family holidays, so it seemed right to have something made there. The ladies at Ethera were fabulous – they emailed me the step-by-step progress of piece, I could choose the shape, whether I wanted real pearls and what colour Swarovski crystals to go for. That was a hard choice – but I went for peach. It was even more beautiful than I could have imagined!
My shoes (Dune) were one of the last things I bought. My sister found me a pair of vintage lace gloves, which I wore when we started the dancing. My earrings were simple pearl studs to reflect the pearls in the hair band. My dad chose a vintage gold pin as my ‘something old’ which I pinned to my dress.
Groom’s Attire… We knew we didn’t want a traditional morning suit – it was too fussy and the shape doesn’t suit Dom at all. He tried on a LOT of three piece grey suits, but we kept coming back to Reiss for the slimmer fit. We’d seen knitted ties around, and my sister Emily (a knitting whizz) suggested she should try making one. She tried in yellow first, and donated a few knobbly prototypes to friends. We eventually settled on the dark green. She bravely decided to make six – one each for the groom, best man, ushers and our dads. It took her pretty much the whole year to finish them. It sounds incredible, but each one has 18,000 stitches! Dom’s shoes, like his suit, are something he will hopefully wear for many years. We chose tan-coloured Hudson brogues. Dom wore a white shirt, and bought matching braces for himself, the best man and ushers.
The Readings + Music… Dom chose a piece of writing he’d come across in his youth work studies, called ‘On Becoming A Person’ by Carl Rogers. It was read by Holly, one of my oldest friends. “I believe it will have become evident why, for me, adjectives such as happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable, do not seem quite appropriate to any general description of this process I have called the good life, even though the person in this process would experience each one of these at the appropriate times. But adjectives which seem more generally fitting are adjectives such as enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, meaningful. This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-fainthearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting thing about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming.”
Before the ceremony Hannah and Emily offered to play a few tunes while people were coming in. We also had my mum’s friend Lol playing traditional folk tunes on her harp for the drinks reception. Our music later was a ceilidh by the Much Ado Band, before my carefully crafted iPod play list.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… Having my three sisters as my bridesmaids was never really optional. I’m the oldest and first to get married, none of them has ever been a bridesmaid before. I had planned to take them out to lunch to ask them, maybe get them a card, but by the time I’d had that thought they’d already appointed themselves. I also chose Nichole, my best friend from university. I was her bridesmaid last year, and I knew she’d be brilliant.
The fabric for the bridesmaids’ dresses was one of the first things I chose. I decided early on I wanted floral dresses and a simple shape. We struggled to find one off the rail that would suit everyone’s shape and wouldn’t be too short, so decided to have them made. I chose cotton with a yellow rose design and a simple pattern with a capped sleeve and nipped in waist. The green ribbon band idea came later as we were getting the dresses made up – the girls felt it needed something so we picked out the green colour from the pattern of the dress. I found a dressmaker in Cardiff who made them for us. I went for nude shoes… there would be more colour in the flowers, so just wanted to keep it simple.
The Flowers… I found it quite difficult to vocalise what I wanted when it came to flowers. I love yellow roses, so these were always going to be the foundation. BUT I wanted the look to be mismatch, natural, like a swathe of colour from an English country garden. Emma Webster is based in Monmouth, where Dom and I live. I’d just seen her shop and as soon as I started talking to her, I knew she’d be the right person – and wouldn’t be afraid to go for it. She sent me away with scrapbooks and post-its (so much better than trying to describe colours or flower varieties!). I also made a floral Pinterest board to show her. She came to look at the venue and advised on a budget. As she is clearly the expert, after I’d shown her what else we were doing, and after a few key ideas, I’d be happy for her to just do her thing.
What an amazing job! I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make those choices for myself. It was actually lovely not knowing exactly what my bouquet would look like until the day – I didn’t want to have specific expectations about how everything would be. The flowers were stunning, and my bouquet was also filled with bunches of fresh mint, so smelled amazing too!
The corsages for the groom, best man, ushers and dads were all different, and I let Emma choose those too. I’d seen Dom’s dad’s sunflower and loved it so it was a lovely surprise that Dom had gone for my favourite one too. The hops arch around the barn door really helped set the scene for the ceremony – it was a decision the florist took quite late because we weren’t that confident it wouldn’t rain, so there was every chance we’d have to move everything in doors at the last minute! It’s the first thing I saw as I rounded the corner to walk down the ‘aisle’. The pots of lavender, heather and herbs that made up the table decorations along with the flowers not only smelled and looked wonderful, but our guests were able to take them home afterwards .
The Cake… My mum’s been taking sugar craft classes for the last couple of years – not just in anticipation of the wedding! She’s always baking and cooking, so it’s probably been a given from birth that she would make my cake. She learned to make amazingly real-looking roses over a number of months and perfected her sponge mix so it would stay moist for a couple of days. Again I gave her a fairly free reign with the cake – as long as it wasn’t fruit cake! Lyde Court has a cake ‘log’ which they found in a river and dried out. This was propped up against the wall and decorated with ivy.
Your Photographer… Like the florist, we wanted a photographer who’s got their own style. Lots of our friends take lovely pictures and have great cameras, so we were looking for someone whose pictures had something special about them. Albert Palmer’s sense of light and storytelling is incredible – we just came across his website and loved pretty much every single image. He only took a limited number of formal photos on the day, which appealed to us, and he did an engagement shoot with us beforehand, which was a really nice opportunity to get to know him, and get used to being photographed! Looking back through the pictures, he’s caught the little glances and moments that really take us back to the day – we can’t stop looking at them!
The Details + Decor… There are many details that we slowly put together over our 18 month engagement. Everyone tells you it’s really stressful organising a wedding, but I couldn’t disagree more! You get to pick all your favourite things! It was nice to do things little by little as ideas came to us.
We had a fingerprint tree as well as a guest book, and Dom collected fallen branches from a forest near our house to suspend photos from. We had pictures of our parents’ weddings and lots of fun times we’ve had since we met. My mum made some floral bunting and strings of padded hearts with buttons, while my nan hand-embroidered a hundred napkins as wedding favours. I didn’t tell everyone what to do or make, we just had input from everyone who wanted to do something. My sister, Hannah, made the invitations. Dom’s mum and sister are hairdressers, so we asked them to do my hair, and the bridesmaids’.
We bought little toys and games for the children’s wedding favours, and as soon as I suggested finding teapots from charity shops, people were dropping them off every week! I’d been a flower girl at my auntie’s wedding when I was about two, and – as she constantly reminds me – I shouted ‘mouse’ all the way through her ceremony because she’d given me a little mouse in a dress to keep me quiet. So for her wedding favour I left a little toy mouse at her place setting. Our place settings were clothes pegs, pegged onto the wine glasses. We totally did not anticipate the amount of ‘peggy fun’ this would result in! Each table was named after a hill near to where we’re from. The top table was ‘Kymin’ – the hill above our house in Monmouth. Dom made the table name holders from old bedslats and twigs.
The Honeymoon… We had ten days in Italy, starting in Rome. We hired a car and drove to Amalfi coast. The highlights were the wonderful food and the day we spent at Vesuvius and the Herculaneum. I also thoroughly recommend Ischia, an island off Naples – such peaceful beaches and amazing food. We stayed in several different places, including a converted electricity store overlooking the sea.
Memorable Moments… The first dance was a total surprise. We’d just planned to lead the ceilidh dancing, but as it turns out, family and friends had been practising ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – the song I’d put on the play list as our last dance, and a song we both love. They had a giant song sheet with lyrics for everyone to sing to, and Emily had even learned to play the trumpet especially.
Advice for Other Couples… A lot of people seem to think there are rules when it comes to weddings. People you’ve known your whole life will come out with these ‘facts’ about weddings that they’ve never mentioned ever before, and you for some reason need to adhere to. I think our day still had a fairly traditional structure, but we were able to do the parts that were most important to us exactly how we wanted and that’s what made it special. I’d also say don’t be afraid to get family and friends involved – it doesn’t matter if you don’t have total control over everything, it means much more that everyone played a part and it’s SO much more fun that way!
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Venue: Lyde Court
Dress: Timeless Elegance Bridal
Dom’s suit: Reiss
Dom’s shoes: Hudson Shoes
Bridesmaids dressmaking: Glamorgan Tailoring, Cardiff
Florist: Emma Webster
Photographer: Albert Palmer
Caterer: David Bennett at Taste
Band: The Much Ado Band
Such a meaningful happy day. Thanks so much to Jennie and Dom for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou