By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
What a treat we have in store today, introducing WWW readers James and Irah with their Gate Street Barn wedding held on the 9th November 2018 in Surrey. They envisioned a day which was cosy, relaxed and elegant, with a really meaningful church ceremony.
James and Irah thought of every little detail for their thoughtful day, with plenty of rustic DIY decorations. There was a confetti bar, sparkler station, blankets for warmth, beautiful signs and an epic greenery laden table plan. In fact greenery was used throughout with Eucalyptus taking centre stage and the results are stunning.
James was suited and booted in a blue suit and blush tie, while Irah donned a lacy gown by Enzoani, they both looked so gorgeous. Do also look out for pretty bouquets, a very tall and delicious looking cake and a really wonderful sparkler send off.
Thanks ever so much to Camilla J. Hards for sharing with us these exquisite captures of a really incredible wedding celebration.
The proposal happened whilst on holiday in Montenegro. The day before my birthday, James had planned for us to go on a boat trip. The trip consisted of a visit to an abandoned fortress in an island, a dip in a blue cave and an afternoon in a secluded beach. Upon reaching the beach, James immediately asked if I wanted to order a bottle of Prosecco in the nearby small restaurant shack. I just thought ‘Really? A bottle of Prosecco at midday?’ but then again James really loves Prosecco, so I didn’t really think much of it. After finding out they didn’t sell any kind of bubbly drinks, we settled on our sunbeds to relax and sunbathe. I noticed that James seemed anxious and kept looking around. I then suggested to go and check out this quieter sun bed area on a slightly elevated rock/cliff thing. He then started talking about our relationship and as soon as he said ‘I’ve got one question to ask’ followed by going down on one knee, I started crying. I was so overwhelmed I forgot to say yes.
The ring fit perfectly, and he couldn’t have chosen a better ring. It was a customised diamond round cut platinum ring. I’ve always told him that I wanted a sapphire ring as it is my birth stone, but he went against it for good reason and I’m glad he did. It was also important to me that he had asked my parents before he proposed- I thought that was a very sweet and gentlemanly thing to do.
The main vision is rustic elegance. We decided early on that we wanted an autumn wedding in November as it is our anniversary month and we both love this season. We wanted it to have a cosy and warm vibe.
Being a very hands on person, I knew I wanted to DIY most of the decorations. We decided on blue as our main colour with a touch of blush incorporating copper and geometric details.
We wanted a day of celebration with our closest family and friends and for everyone to have a good time.
We had a two-year engagement which meant that we could approach the wedding planning in a more relaxed way and also to build a healthier wedding fund.
James was in charge of the budget and spreadsheets and I was more on the creative side of things. I went to a few wedding fairs with some of my bridesmaids and once with James to get ideas and help me with my DIY tasks. I was on Pinterest and Instagram 24/7 and reading blogs for ideas and inspiration.
We had an initial budget but soon realised that we’re going to almost double that budget. Having said that, I feel like we were both sensible on the things we spent our money on. We balanced it all out and spent more on things that we didn’t want to compromise the quality of, like food as we wanted our guests to be well fed and enjoy the day.
I walked down the aisle to ‘Can’t help falling in Love’ by Elvis played on the church organ. This was the plan b as I originally wanted ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay played on the violin, but the violinist couldn’t do it at the last minute.
We sang ‘Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer’ by John Hughes for our opening hymn, ‘Lead Us Heavenly Father, Lead Us’ by Lowell Mason for our offertory and ‘Love Divine All Loves Excelling’ by John Stainer for the communion. We picked ‘Ave Maria’ by Bach-Gounod to play while we were signing the register. Our exit music was ironically called ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ by George Frideric Handel. James’ dad, Nigel helped us picked the hymns as he often serves at his local catholic church and had done many weddings before.
We chose readings that are relevant to us individually, our relationship and how we see marriage and our future together.
Our first reading was from the book of Genesis 1:26-28.31 which was read by my younger sister, Adrienne. The second reading was a reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 12:31- 13-18, read by Nigel and the gospel was a reading from The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 5:1-12.
We wanted to have a night full of fun and dancing that’s why we hired Chris Haslam of Chess Disco. Chris was fantastic with giving us advice with music and how the night was going to pan out. He definitely got everyone on the dance floor including James’ 90 year old Grandad who was dancing until the end of the night.
We didn’t really have a ‘song’, so choosing the first dance song was quite tricky. James suggested ‘Your Song’ by Elton John as our first dance and I agreed. It’s a classic and the words are relevant to us. It was definitely a memorable moment, James was quite emotional (for once!).
I had six amazing bridesmaids- five of them are my sisters and one best friend at work. I absolutely love the dusty blue colour and I included it in the bridesmaids dress colour palette. I knew I wanted different shades of blue from dark to light and different styles, that’s why I chose multiway dresses. I wanted to give them the freedom of choosing their style as they know what suits their body best. I had one simple instruction- ‘I have three shades of blue, pick your colour and pick your style’. My two older sisters, Gen and Hazel sourced the multiway dresses from the Philippines, skyping them during the process to pick the right shades.
The beautiful flowers were provided by the lovely Gill Pike. Booking our florist is another last minute decision. The plan was to DIY it all (can you imagine the stress?), with the help of James’ Mum, Linda who is very good with flower arrangement. Unfortunately, a few months before the wedding my now Mother-in-law, had a small accident involving her wrist which meant that she wasn’t able to help us with the flowers. This is when Gill came and saved the day!
Trusting Gill with our wedding flowers was one of the best decisions we’ve made. I loved my bouquet with mainly white and blush colours with a hint of blue and lots of silver eucalyptus- I’m obsessed with eucalyptus! I chose gypsophila bouquets for the bridesmaids, which was a great contrast with the blue dresses. We wanted a lot of foliage which you could see on the chandeliers, the table plan, the patisserie bar and the top table.
I thought that a barn would be the perfect place to have our wedding reception as it has the rustic, cosy feel to it. I suggested the idea to James and he loved it. After doing an online search of barns near the London area, James had found Gate Street Barn located in the Surrey hills. This is the first barn that we viewed and instantly fell in love with it. The place has the rustic, cosy feel that we were looking for with its high wooden beams and wooden floor – we knew this was the place and so we booked it there and then.
Being raised as Catholics, we wanted a church ceremony as we wanted it to be solemn and spiritual. We used to live in Wimbledon and have always liked Sacred Heart Church. We loved living in Wimbledon and consider it as our spiritual home and we wanted to have our ceremony somewhere meaningful to us.
Kalm Kitchen is not just about providing good food but also big on the presentation, that’s why we knew straight away we wanted to book with them. We wanted to give our guests plenty of luxurious food and we knew Kalm Kitchen could deliver and they did. We were impressed from start to finish. We chose a duck starter, followed by a pork main and a patisserie bar for pudding. We wanted our guests to have a choice for the pudding and chose three different ones- chocolate mess, banoffee pots and elderflower jelly.
For the evening food, we hired a pizza van- it was so delicious and Chris of Fine Street Co was a hit with the guests.
Our wedding cake was created by the talented Elizabeth Wood of Cakebuds. I found Liz on a wedding Facebook group I was following. We booked a consultation with her in which she brought ten different cake flavours- I must say they all tasted divine. We told her what we would like on our cake which was semi-naked, copper, geometric and fresh florals. She then came up with different sketches of different designs. We picked three tiers with different flavours each- classic Victoria sponge with raspberry filling, chocolate and carrot cake. I wanted the tiers to be of different depths and the copper brush strokes was a last minute request.
This was my favourite bit of the wedding planning, but I can’t say it wasn’t stressful. I am all about the details and have thought through everything up to how the napkins were going to be folded.
I have accumulated a lot of things from the past year, that I could use for decorations and every time I go home with them James just goes ‘not another wedding stuff! Where are you going to put all of those?’ I had a scrapbook with photos and scribbles of the things I wanted and how I wanted the barn to look. Most of the decorations were DIY’ed by me and my siblings including the 4ft LOVE letters, which we cut out from old storage boxes, paper mached and painted. Some decorations including the geometric pieces and faux flowers were bought from a flea market in the Philippines. My siblings, their partners and my Mum all came together the day before the wedding to decorate the barn. This was one of those moments when I was grateful to have such a big family- it has its perks.
My talented sister, Angel who was also my Maid of Honour did all the fancy blackboard signs. I was so pleased with them and exceeded my expectations. The geometric pieces were spray painted in copper by me and my sister, Chloe and we stuck some faux flowers with a glue gun. It was satisfying to see all the end products, especially when they were all placed in the barn.
James had two best men and he wanted them to wear greyish blue suits to compliment his attire. The best men suits were from Burton. The dusty pink ties and pocket squares were purchased from Ebay.
Hair and make-up booking was a last minute thing, literally three weeks before the wedding. Initially, my younger sister, Adrienne was going to do my hair and make-up to save costs. However, just over a month before the wedding while looking at our timeline, I knew it was going to be really tight on the schedule with her doing hair and make-up for me, the two mums and five other bridesmaids so I decide that I will book a professional hair and make-up artist for me and the two mums.
I found Suzanne through a quick google search and immediately liked her work from photos on her website, and I contacted her straightaway. Thankfully, she was available for my wedding. She did an amazing job with her assistant Michaela and knew what I wanted which was a natural, not too heavy on the eyeshadow look. We had a great chat on my make-up trial (which was a week before my wedding!) and it was the same on the wedding day which made the getting ready part so relaxed and stress free. My lipstick was my something borrowed from my sister, it was an Estée Lauder Pure Colour Envy Intense Nude.
The bridesmaids did their own hair and makeup and I must say they did an amazing job- they all looked stunning.
We found Camilla through an online search and she was one of the first suppliers we booked. We loved her photography style which is natural and immediately contacted her for her availability- luckily, she was available for our date. We had good communication with her and always answered our many questions. We first met her at our engagement shoot and instantly felt comfortable with her. After receiving our photos from the shoot, we knew we picked the right person to capture our special day. She was great on the day and captured special moments and emotions which bring you back to the day- this is exactly what we wanted. We absolutely love our photos and will treasure them forever.
I had to beg James to hire a videographer and I was even willing to compromise other things like my dress to have our wedding filmed. He wasn’t really bothered about a wedding video but was totally converted when he watched our wedding highlights. He was glad I convinced him to hire one. We had our family friend Coy and his team of Nomad Studios capture our day. They went above and beyond, and we didn’t regret our decision.
I thought finding the dress was going to be one of the hardest parts as I am very indecisive and like to see all the options first before I make my decision. However, finding the dress was the easiest and the quickest decision I have ever made during the entire wedding planning (I kind of wished it took longer as I wanted to experience it a little more).
As soon as I googled Enzoani dresses, I knew I wanted one (or all of them). The different designs are quite traditional and modern at the same time which is very much my style. I quickly searched for the nearest Enzoani supplier and found The Wedding Dress Shop in Wimbledon Park. I made an appointment, once by myself and came back a second time with my Mum and two younger sisters, who were also my bridesmaids. My Mum actually picked the dress for me. Before I tried it on, I said to myself ‘I’m not that keen on this one but I will try it on for my Mum’. Everything changed as soon as I put it on as I immediately fell in love with the neckline and the mermaid silhouette, it was perfect; it showed off my waist I didn’t even know I had. And the lace was just everything I wanted. I knew then that it was the dress. Mothers do really know best! The dress was on sale which was a bonus. Yay! I had the detachable sleeves added to give it an off-shoulder romantic look.
There’s something about a veil that just completes the whole look and gives you the proper bridal feeling. My veil was a two-tier cathedral length, custom made from the Philippines, where I was born and spent most of my childhood and early teenage years. I wanted a thick lace around the edges similar to a Spanish mantilla veil.
I wanted to keep my accessories to a minimum, so I decided to just wear earrings. The week before the wedding, I was stressing out because I still hadn’t found a pair that I liked. I kept asking my bridesmaids for advice and they weren’t really very helpful. They kept telling me not to buy earrings and just to borrow from my sister, which I did. Little did I know, James has told my bridesmaids to convince me not to buy earrings because he was going to give me a pair on our wedding day as a wedding gift. On the morning of our wedding, I received a little package and there they were, a beautiful pair of sapphire earrings – my birthstone and my something blue. I absolutely loved it!
After looking at different suit shops and having no luck, James had found the perfect suit online. The suit was on a discount from Moss Bros. He went for quite a bright blue three-piece suit and matched it with blush tie and pocket square from Ebay and a pair of brown monk shoes from Asos.
On the day of our wedding, I had given James a watch as a wedding present. He’s always wanted a specific one and I thought it would be the perfect gift for my husband to be to wear on our special day.
For the honeymoon, we knew we wanted to go somewhere different and somewhere we’ve never been before. We also wanted a balance of exploring different cultures and relaxing on the beach. James came up with Mexico and we’ve both heard good things about the country and then looked at the map and saw how close Cuba is and that’s how it all started. A quick chat with a Trailfinders representative later and it’s all booked.
Two days after the wedding we flew to Havana and spent five days exploring the city. We both enjoyed soaking up all the culture, drinking rum, dancing and singing (mainly me) to salsa music and driving around in a vintage car.
We then flew to Cancun for the remaining twelve days. We stayed in the Riviera Maya area. Mexico was perfect for us as you can do a bit of both- explore new places and relax on the beach. We went scuba diving for the first time and absolutely enjoyed it so much that we want to get our PADI certification. We saw the Mayan ruins in Tulum, swam in a cenote (a sinkhole), ate lots of Mexican food and drank a lot of Margarita. You can say we had an amazing time.
Where do I begin, there were so many!
From the Bride:
From the Groom:
During the wedding planning, make sure to delegate tasks to your wedding party. Utilise your creative friends and family, they are a big help.
On the wedding day, make sure to have some time alone with your new wife/husband. It is very important to have that moment together to reflect and to take everything in, as it is true what they say, the day goes very quickly.
Don’t leave things last minute like we did. No matter how organised I was, I was also indecisive which meant I had to buy quite a few things last minute.
Don’t worry too much about the little things that didn’t go to plan, at the end of the day as long as you had an amazing time and you’re married to that special person- that’s all that matters. We forgot to do the confetti, which I was quite annoyed about because I was stressing a lot on picking the right confetti one week before the wedding. I still have all 4 litres of confetti at home. But in the end, I got over it and was thankful that were no major hiccups on the day.
Invest on Amazon Prime. This was our life saver for last minute things.
Camilla J. Hards
Gate Street Barn
Gill Pike Florist
Best Men’s Suits
So very lovely. Don’t you just love a barn wedding?
James and Irah, thank you both so much for sharing your very special wedding story xo Lou
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