Oh I do love a rustic barn wedding, there is just something so magical and enchanting about these wonderful spaces isn’t there? WWW followers Mel and Ashley chose to hold their relaxed wedding at The Secret Barn in West Sussex on the 12th May 2018. What I adore most about their day is that it was a team effort between themselves and all their loved ones; they crafted up at storm to create the most amazing celebration and all on a £10,000 budget too. Isn’t that just amazing?
They decorated the barn with reams of bunting, paper chains and lanterns and then dressed the tables in hessian and lace, with flowers and candles scattered along the long trestle tables. The result really was gorgeous. I must shout out about the pretty blooms because they really are lovely. The bouquets in particular have a really wild, natural and seasonal vibe about them, blooming brilliant.
There were also super stylish outfit choices, outdoor games, a rainy outdoor ceremony and fun photo booth antics. Such fun. On hand to capture all the festivities was Louise Griffin Photography and we are so grateful to be sharing these amazing shots today.
It was my birthday weekend when Ashley unexpectedly popped the question! We had always spoken about getting married but Ashley kept reminding me that it was still a way off. I now know he was just trying to throw me off his tracks! We had gone for some birthday drinks before heading off to London for the weekend, somehow my uncle managed to let slip to everyone (apart from me luckily) that Ashley was popping the question that weekend. I was still clueless the whole weekend despite my friends texting me every 5 minutes asking how my weekend was! Ashley thought that I was onto him however and waited until we were back home in our pj’s ready to watch a film for the evening when I came downstairs to candles everywhere and him on one knee. A story to laugh about with the grandkids one day.
What we really wanted was something chilled out and relaxed. The most important thing to us was that both of our families were there, we both have quite big families so knew it would be a rarity that everyone would be together in the same place so this took priority above anything else. Luckily we succeeded and the day was exactly as we planned and more! (apart from the rain but you quickly get over it on the happiest day of your life!)
The Planning Process
We were engaged in the December 2016 and started venue hunting in March 2017. Once we’d found the venue for us and set a date everything else just followed gradually. As we weren’t expecting an engagement so suddenly we hadn’t saved any money towards the wedding so just paid as we went, as soon as we had enough money for the next thing we started the research and bookings.
We aimed for around £10,000 which we just about stuck to!
We had visited only one other venue before Ashley’s mum found us the secret barn in a wedding magazine she had in her shop. Once we viewed it and spoke to the lovely ladies there we knew it was the place for us. We wanted somewhere that would give us the freedom to do things exactly when and how we wanted to do them. The barn and the ladies offer so much possibilities you’re almost spoilt for choice.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Finding THE dress was probably the thing I found most daunting about the wedding. Not that I wasn’t looking forward to it but I had the whole pretty woman and snooty sales assistant scene in my head every time I thought about it. This could not have been further from the truth. Sass and Grace kept popping up on my instagram with the most dreamy dresses and with a no appointment sale day coming up I jumped at the chance! I took one of my bridesmaids with me for moral support and honest opinions. Sam and the team at Sass and Grace were so amazing the whole dress process, everyone was so professional and made you feel as special as you should be feeling in a wedding dress. I thought this would be the first of many shops I visited but third dress a charm and I had THE one, my stunning Ellis Bridal dress. My mum always told me if you’re gonna think about something after you leave the shop you should buy it and this advise was bouncing in my head at this point. I tried on a few dresses after that one but none compared.
I didn’t really want too much on the accessory front just earrings. My mum gifted me some real diamond earrings that once belonged to my great grandmother, they were perfect.
Ashley : Everyone wears black/blue where is the fun in that? I wanted something a little different to the norm when it came to my suit, so I opted for tartan green Noose & Monkey three piece from ASOS,
Finished with a burgundy tie, some fancy cufflinks and shiny black shoes from Topman, all in all my outfit came to under £300 and looked great on the day.
I picked Gemma Fletcher – She did both my hair and make up and was amazing and so professional from start to finish. She was a huge help during my trial as I’m not the greatest at describing what I want but I’m also very picky at the same time.
The Readings & Music
I walked down the aisle to River by Leon Bridges which is a song we both fell in love with as soon as we heard it. When it started playing I was so overwhelmed, every thing we had been planning towards for weeks had fallen into place perfectly and the big moment was finally here! My brother-in-law performed what we called the ‘fake ceremony’ for us (we had sneakily got ‘properly married’ in the registry office during the week) which was so special, and meant so much to us. I felt it was really important that somebody who really knew us was to play this part in our wedding. He spent so much time preparing – including Skype practice runs of the ceremony on the weeks leading up and was the most organised person of the whole wedding! We will be forever grateful and have the best memories of those moments.
The Details & Décor
We realised pretty early on that as soon as you put the word wedding in front of anything the price triples so we were keen to keep the cost down and make it personal to us. It worked quite well as I had a lot of ideas and inspiration for the wedding and Ashley is the crafty one so made it happen! We sourced and made so many things ourselves with the help of our lovely families it was so exciting each item we made or got to see it all coming together. We didn’t have a colour scheme and just wanted to keep it fun and varied. Both our families helped us massively with this from making metes and meters of bunting, helping us find decorations and offering all the help we could have ever needed! We will both be forever grateful for all the help we received.
Our beautiful bouquets and buttonholes were done by the lovely ladies at Petal and Feast. As there was no particular colour scheme we let the ladies work their magic and asked for whatever they thought was best – this paid off as the flowers were beautiful, we just wish we could have kept them forever.
Ashley was chief photographer finder (and he did the best job!). We wanted someone who could capture the day as it was and not someone who would make us do cheesy poses and look awkward. In our own words the vibe we wanted was “pintresty” Ashley stumbled across Louise Griffin online. We’re so glad he did as she was THE BEST! She helped add structure to the day and made us both feel at ease. We never really knew when she was taking photos either – mega stealthy, and was just so so so lovely. The photos are beautiful and we are unbelievably happy with them. She brought an assistant with her, Stephen who was equally as great! He managed to snap some pictures of the barn before anyone got there and whilst Louise was busy with the Bridal house. If you’re looking for a photographer, look no further, she is AMAZING!
We didn’t have one, although we went to a wedding recently and they had one and the video was amazing! Would certainly recommend it if budget allows!
Bridesmaids & Bridesman
I had my eye on some dresses on ASOS for months but kept putting it off until they had sold out! Luckily for me they came back over the Christmas break and they were in the sale! (what a result!) Each dress was the same but in different styles which worked so well as each girl felt confident in what they were wearing. I also had a brides-man, (my GBF) and his suit came from Next in the same colour scheme as the girls.
We let the groomsmen wear what they liked, we didn’t want a polished look and didn’t want anyone to wear something they weren’t comfortable with. I think this worked well as it looked a lot more relaxed which is exactly what we wanted.
We weren’t sure if we were going to have enough money leftover for a honeymoon so left it quite last minute to book anything. Luckily for us we grabbed a bargain a few weeks before the wedding and had a week in Kos and left the day after the wedding. We stayed in the Atlantica Porto Bello Royal Hotel which was gorgeous! Probably the best holiday we’ve ever had. We can’t wait to go back in the future!
As on a budget (again!) we wanted to keep this cheap and cheerful (we were also very mindful of the fact we couldn’t remember a wedding we’d been to where we actually got to eat the cake) so we pre-ordered our cakes from Marks and Spencer’s. We decided to order three – one groom Colin the caterpillar, one bride Collie the caterpillar, and one that actually resembled a cake so our Lego cake topper could sit proudly on-top! We thought we would be eating cake for weeks after however apart from one bite neither of us got to the cake quick enough before it was all gone!
It’s so hard to narrow down the day to a few moments as the day was literally the best day ever but we’ll give it a go.
My uncle walking me down the aisle was something I always dreamed would happen, he’s always been there for me. (and now us!) The man who taught me how to ride a bike, has always treated me like one of his own and now the man who walked me down the aisle, I will cherish the memory forever.
Walking down the aisle and seeing all our friends and family all in one place and in the pouring rain, I thought my heart was going to burst!
We only had 2 speeches, Ashley gave a speech and his best man Jesse but they were both spectacular and had the whole room crying and laughing.
Our first dance, it was awkward and waddl-ey and we kept getting stuck on my dress but wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Advice For Other Couples
There were some points leading up to the wedding that were so stressful that I felt like I couldn’t wait for it to be over (doing a lot of DIY meant a vast majority of decorations were taking up a huge space in our tiny house which probably didn’t help) and I now miss the planning and preparation more than I could have ever imagined. I feel so sad when I go into shops selling things for weddings and am so envious when friends are in the planning stages, so even though it feels stressful try and enjoy it as much as you can! And the old cliche, enjoy every second of your day because it does go so fast, and if you can catch a flight the day after go for it I think that helped eliminate the wedding blues quite quickly!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Louise Griffin Photography
Barn Food & Flowers
Petal & Feast
MUA & Hair Stylist
Sass & Grace
Oh so wonderful.
Mel and Ashley, I am over the moon to have been able to share your wedding story, thank you both ever so much xo Lou