WWW readers Matthew and Claire chose to marry on the 31st May 2014 at Ratsbury Barn in Kent followed by a reception at The Bell. They kept to an ethos I really admire, to use as many local suppliers as possible.
With a blue colour scheme they opted for pretty blue florals throughout and vibrant cobalt frocks for the girls. The bride and groom looked effortlessly stylish in their chosen attire with Matthew in tweed and Claire in lace. I love their home-made stationery and the delicious array of cakes. Scrumptious.
Thanks so very much to Emma-Kate Photography for providing the stunning imagery today.
THE PROPOSAL | Matthew and I had already been together for over 10 years, we met at school so I guess you could call us “childhood sweethearts”. So the proposal wasn’t exactly out of the blue, but was wonderful nonetheless. We had a really great weekend at the beginning of December, and when Matt suggested a walk around Bewl it seemed the perfect way to round off a lovely weekend. Having walked around the quiet end near Ticehurst for a while we sat on a bench and looked at the sunset on the water. Matt got down on one knee (in the mud!) and proposed, presenting me with a beautiful bespoke ring that he had designed himself. We celebrated with a bottle of champagne in the local pub.
THE VISION | There are a few things that were really important to us – we wanted something really relaxed, rustic and comfortable; we wanted it to be personal, so lots of DIY touches and we wanted to use as many local producers and companies as we possibly could.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We decided fairly early on that we wanted a rustic and vintage theme, and everything else followed. Against lots of advice, we didn’t settle on a specific era, deciding instead to just concentrate on ensuring that everything was classic and timeless
THE VENUE | The venue for our ceremony was Ratsbury Barn – a beautiful 17th century timber framed and thatched barn in Tenterden, Kent. It was the perfect rustic setting for our wedding and with really pretty gardens for the drinks reception afterwards.
We had our reception at The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex. The Bell was refurbished about 3 years ago and it’s now a cool and quirky pub with lovely, local food and a really great atmosphere. Plus, unlike some of the other venues we looked at, they were pretty laid back about us calling the shots – there were no tick-lists of options.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was made by Augusta Jones, bought from Abigail’s in Headcorn, Kent, along with my tiara. I went for a pretty classic A-line dress in an ivory colour with a beautiful lace overlay and lace trim. It was flattering and really comfortable, plus the lace gave it that vintage feel.
My shoes were bought online and were Rainbow Club shoes customised by Perditas Wedding Shoes. Ivory to match the dress although I’m now looking forward to getting them dyed so that I can wear them again, as a nod to the wedding I’m going for the same bright blue that the bridesmaids wore.
My earrings were really special as Matt brought them back from Afghanistan when he served there in 2013. And I had a silver locket which was also really important to me as it held a picture of my dad who passed away in 2010.
FINDING THE DRESS | I was pretty nervous about dress shopping and I didn’t really know where to start. I went to a few wedding fairs whilst planning and came across the lovely ladies from Abigail’s. Not only were they genuinely lovely, immediately putting me at ease, they were also really knowledgeable. So I made an appointment and with my mum and sister in tow, we went to look for the perfect frock. The only thing I had already decided was that I wanted lace. Tina expertly guided me through a variety of styles and in the end she picked out “the dress”. I felt slightly silly and uncomfortable in some of the initial dresses I tried, but when I put my dress on I knew it was the right one straight away.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Matthew and I had a number of conversations about what he should wear. Matt knew he didn’t want anything too traditional – no tails! And nothing that looked too much like a business suit. With the rustic venue and the vintage feel, we decided to look for something tweed. This idea certainly raised a few eyebrows when we mentioned it to parents, perhaps with pictures of game keepers coming to mind. By pure luck we found the perfect shop whilst sheltering from the weather on a trip to Edinburgh. Walker Slater have a store on Fulham Road in London which we visited, choosing a 3 piece tweed suit for Matt and matching jackets, waistcoats and ties for the best man and Matthew’s father.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | The music was really important, our gorgeous barn venue really lends itself to a string quartet. Penshurst String Quartet were absolutely fantastic. They kept our guests entertained throughout the afternoon with a really nice blend of classical and contemporary music. We had Canon in D for my entrance, Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol for signing the register and All You Need is Love by The Beatles for the recessional which really sounded beautiful. They played a mixture of classical music and 30s and 40s tunes out on the lawn afterwards.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Our colour choice was a vibrant “cornflower” blue. We were fortunate to find (in the sale!) a classic style knee length dress in Coast which perfectly answered the brief, suited both of my bridesmaids and most importantly – they both liked it! It was really surprisingly easy!
THE FLOWERS | One of Matt’s childhood friend’s mum is a local business owner and florist and she kindly agreed to do the flowers for us. I had a hand tied bouquet white roses, sweet peas for a little light fragrance, cornflowers for some vibrant colour and eryngium for a softer blue and an interesting texture. The bridesmaid bouquets matched but were tied with white ribbon instead of the blue on mine. Button holes were small white roses and eryngium.
We had wooden chairs for our guests at the wedding ceremony venue, I wanted to make sure that there were flowers for the end of each row. To satisfy the budget, colour and also to add some scent we had gorgeous bunches lavender tied to the end of each row, this was sourced by the florist from a farm in Sevenoaks, Kent.
The flower arrangements for both of the venues were really relaxed and informal in style, mainly arranged in large glass Kilner jars with some raffia tied around the top. The flowers were mixed English, seasonal flowers with blue as the predominant colour.
We also had some large lavender hearts with ivy and other greenery to decorate the wrought iron bars in “The Stable” at The Bell.
THE CAKE | In the spirit of personal and DIY, I asked my sister to make the cake. After a few trials, we settled on a selection of traditional English cakes. We had a lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sponge, chocolate cake, ginger cake and a coffee and walnut cake, all were simply decorated and served on old plates or cake stands. They looked amazing and tasted even better!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We were really lucky to have met Emma-Kate through a friend and immediately loved her photographs. She concentrates primarily on capturing relaxed and “in the moment” images and her work has that lovely soft and romantic feel that you would expect from a wedding photographer. I didn’t want too many formal shots, more a journal of the day and she answered this brief perfectly. Furthermore, she was excellent at capturing all of those little details that seem so simple but take lots of effort and planning and were, for me, really the things that make the day special and personal.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We decorated the barn with hops and lots and lots of bunting to really get that lovely quintessential English feel.
We had some gorgeous chocolatey favours from a local chocolatier – they looked pretty and tasted even better!
Having been brought up on a farm, Matt loves pigs and the outdoors, plus we were having pork for dinner so we decided to name our tables after traditional British pig breeds. My mum is a pretty good amateur artist and so she drew each of the pigs for the tables – they were quirky and looked really effective.
I made almost all of my own stationery, from invitations to the place names. Our place names were made using vintage style kraft card luggage tags, hand written and tied onto 3 ears of wheat, donated to us by the same local farmer who supplied the pear juice for our drinks reception.
THE HONEYMOON | We haven’t been on honeymoon yet. Having bought and moved into our first house in the same month as the wedding we really needed a few weeks for our feet to touch the ground. We’re planning a 3 week trip to Vietnam and Thailand at the end of November. Something else to look forward to!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The drinks reception we had at the barn after ceremony was wonderful and was definitely a highlight. Everyone seemed so happy and relaxed; it was the perfect atmosphere and just a lovely afternoon. Chapel Down vineyard is less than a mile from the barn so we served their sparkling wine with Kentish strawberries or pear juice from a local farmer for the non-alcoholic option. We also had ice cream served from a vintage style trike.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | We really wanted to do as much ourselves as we could, not just to try and limit the expense but because we really felt this would be the best way to ensure the wedding was personal. It really made a huge difference as our personalities and taste were reflected in all of the little details. It was a lot of fun but it also meant that there was a lot that we had to co-ordinate ourselves so if you do choose this route, be aware of that – you’ve got to keep lists and spreadsheets and rope people in to help!
I’m also a big advocate for using local produce and providers which we did as much as we could. Not only does this mean that you’re supporting and promoting local businesses but it was also a nice talking point for our guests.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Emma-Kate Photography
Dress and Tiara | Abigail Brides
Matthew, Father of Groom and Best Man’s Suits | Walker Slater
Shoes | Perdita’s Wedding Shoes
Ceremony and Drinks Reception Venue | Ratsbury
String Quartet |Penshurst String Quartet
Ice Cream |Matt Benecci Ice Cream Co
Caricatures done of us to sign instead of a guest book and done for our guests at Ratsbury Barn after the ceremony whilst drinking their champagne | Drawn by Helen
Sparkling wine at Ratsbury Barn after the ceremony | Chapel Down
Venue for Wedding Breakfast and Party! And overnight Room | The Bell
Sparkling cider on arrival to The Bell | Jakes Orchard
Sparkling Wine at The Bell for the Speeches |Nye Timber
2 truffles in gold boxes – Favours | I Wanna Cocoa
Pork for Dinner! |Coopers Farm
Evening Music | Mint DJs
How very beautiful.
Thanks so so much to Matthew and Claire for sharing their story with us XOXO Lou