By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Many regular readers know that I adore a DIY creative wedding, especially country village hall affairs. But this wedding is a little different with a modern take on the classic. Think spots, stripes and monochrome. So very stylish.
Jessica and Tim hoped were married in East Sussex, with a service at a Church which was meaningful to them. Their loved ones all contributed to their wedding, which made for a really personal feel.
Jessica looked so very glam in her sublime Belle and Bunty dress teamed with some simple yet striking accessories while Tim looked dashing in his blue suit and polka dot tie. I so love the Calla Lily bouquets, the scrumptious looking cakes and the touches of sparkle.
Thanks goes today to the fabulous Sara Reeve for sharing her photographs with us.
THE PROPOSAL | Tim is a great planner (and also loves to travel) and so I always thought he would propose somewhere far fetched and dramatic, such as on the side of a cliff in the French Alps or similar! After a couple of our holidays ended up falling through in the summer of 2013 (our 10 year anniversary), Tim’s grand plans were a little scuppered. However, my sensible Mum encouraged him to just do it! As such he ended up proposing when we were both home in Sussex for a long weekend. He cooked me a scrummy 3 course meal with all my favourite foods and then presented me with my granny’s engagement ring – it was a complete surprise which blew my socks off! We both laughed and cried with happiness around the kitchen table. Low key but lovely!
THE VISION | I admit to being one of those girls that has dreamt of getting married from a very young age. The trouble is I never really had a vision of what it would look like – I soon realised I had my work cut out! Tim and I both grew up in the countryside and always knew we’d want to get married there. We also wanted a wedding we could put our own stamp on so it needed to have scope to be fairly DIY (and budget friendly). However, when I started my research online I struggled to find examples of DIY country weddings which suited us – there was lot of bunting and Cath Kidston and sadly I am in no way a craft queen or domestic goddess! After months of trawling through wedding blogs, I found that I was drawn to examples of American weddings which were mostly monochrome offering a very simple, contemporary but timeless look. I also loved rustic Italian weddings with long trestle tables, ivy, candles and simple white flowers. In the end we decided to combine elements of both and stopped worrying about sticking to a theme – it was our day so we had licence to be creative!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I’m quite a creative person and so I loved wiling away the hours developing the look for the day. However I tended to slightly switch off when it came to the practical side of things and so Tim managed a lot of this (including all the catering) which worked really well. We were also really fortunate to have my Mum’s help – she was phenomenal and I’m not sure we could have had such a fab result without her. As we live in London she was amazing in sourcing suppliers and effectively project managing everything for us in Sussex. I’ve never known anyone with such resourcefulness, from finding a field we can pick Hydrangea heads in, to tracking down a pianist with a battery powered keyboard disguised in a faux grand piano carcass (essential for a church with no electricity) and locating the only nursery prepared to grow us hanging baskets in August! I’m currently trying to convince her to become a wedding planner 🙂
THE VENUE | Hamsey Church – this is a very, very special church. Over 1000 years old it’s a modest and magical gem which takes your breath away once you step inside. Its simplicity is stunning – white wash walls, cast iron candelabras and crumbling wooden beams. I’ve always wanted to get married there and it’s very special to us as we use to meet there on our bikes when we were teenagers. When we lit all the candles on the night of the rehearsal you could almost feel the place come to life. Sadly it’s at a high risk of being left to the elements now as it needs urgent and costly repair work. We are keeping our fingers crossed it gets saved for lots more generations to enjoy…
Village Hall, East Sussex – We deliberated quite a lot about whether to get married in this village hall as we were conscious it didn’t have the curb appeal of nearby barns etc. We kept coming back to it though as it offered the space, beautiful country setting and flexibility we needed. After deciding to book it we didn’t look back – it was such a hit with all our friends who couldn’t believe such a quirky venue was a ‘village hall!’ We are really glad we chose it and the advantage of having it in the village meant that lots of family friends and neighbours were able to contribute to making the day such a success. A big thank you to all of them – you really helped in making it a very special day indeed!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The Belle dress by Belle & Bunty. Gold cuff bracelet – J. Crew. Gem bracelet and matching earrings – Hobbs. Hair clips – Anthropologie. Shoes – Roland Cartier for Dune.
FINDING THE DRESS | Whilst I love vintage style, I quickly realised after visiting a vintage wedding dress sample sale that second-hand pieces can often turn out to be slightly grubby and synthetic once you try them on. It was back to the drawing board, and so I booked appointments at local stores in Sussex with the view to choosing a ‘new’ dress. Disappointingly though, everything was rather samey and SO much lace (the Kate Middleton effect apparently)! In my heart of hearts I knew I wanted something simple and unique with a hint of glamour (without costing the earth). Eventually I came across Belle & Bunty online and instantly loved the vintage shape of their dresses which were brand new, hooray! After visiting their London boutique with my mum and trying on the Belle dress in gorgeous cream satin silk, I knew it ticked all the boxes. I made a few small tweaks (adding little buttons down the back and removing the cap sleeves) to make it just right. In terms of accessories, I knew I didn’t want a veil and was keen to avoid vintage style head pieces which could make me look like I was in 1920’s fancy dress! The chunky gold cuff from J-Crew and simple Anthropologie hair slides worked really well in bringing the look back to the 21st century. My ballroom style shoes from Dune added a touch of old school sparkle.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Tim was keen to buy a suit he could wear again for work (but was slightly more special than his usual M&S number). As such he ended up getting a lovely one from Reiss which he accessorised with a monochrome polka dot bow tie and matching pocket square. I loved his black loafers, which were really classic and finished the look perfectly. His best men and groomsmen also wore navy suits (their own) and had black bow ties and shoes to bring it all together. The result was a slightly more relaxed version of black tie!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | 1 Corinthians 13, A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton.
Give Me Joy in My Heart, Morning Has Broken, Your Song (a solo sung beautifully by my very talented friend Lola), Wedding march music. Piano Guys version of Bruno Mars, Just the Way you Are, Madness, Must be Love.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Two of my bridesmaids live far afield so bridesmaid shopping was always going to be tricky. I knew I didn’t want anything too traditional and so I tried ordering a few summer dresses online but nothing seemed to suit all of their shapes and styles. I was just about to suggest they each get something different of their choice when one of my bridesmaids sent me a photo of a striking pink dress from & Other Stories. I shared the image with them all and thankfully they they liked it – success! The loose style offered a contemporary look which was quite unusual and flattered all of their figures. The silk mix fabric also looked great in the light and worked really well with the sparkly gold shoes from Dorothy Perkins.
THE FLOWERS | From the start I knew flowers were really important as they can strongly influence the look and feel of a wedding. As we were on a tight budget we were keen to source the flowers for both the venues ourselves. A wonderful ‘flower godmother’ church volunteer helped us to select the flowers for Hamsey and kindly put together all of the big arrangements for us. We used simple green and white foliage from the local flower market as well as beautiful Hydrangeas from a nearby pick-your-own farm. Our family also helped us to collect ivy to wrap around the church candelabras and old mans beard from nearby hedgerows to decorate the fence posts at the church entrance. This worked really well and complemented the rustic charm of the church. Once all the chunky candles were lit, the church looked absolutely spectacular dressed in all its finery.
For the village hall I was really keen to use flowers which would help to achieve an outdoor/rustic feel complementing my long white trestle tables. As such, we found a local nursery who grew us four hanging baskets with simple white flowers (easier said than done in August so it turns out) which we suspended from the ceiling. We also used the leftover hydrangeas from the church and placed them in jam jars along side simple floating candles. At the side entrance to the hall we stuffed milk churns with natural foliage assembled by our kind friends and neighbours.
For the bouquets and button holes, I was keen to have simple arrangements of calla lilies as they are so sculptural and striking. These were provided by a super helpful local florist who incorporated the monochrome stripy ribbon I provided. I also chose a few stems in soft pink for the bridesmaids to tie in with their dresses.
THE CAKE | It was my dream to have a home-made Victoria sponge cake and so we were delighted when a family friend (and seasoned wedding cake maker) very kindly offered to make it for us. She decorated the cakes so beautifully and they were such a hit that we had none left by the end of the evening (apparently a few naughty guests even sneaked some in their bags for the train ride home – tut tut!) One of my favourite moments from the whole day was cutting the cakes outside amidst our family and friends as they waved sparklers and cheered and laughed – a great memory.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We always felt the photographer was the most important part of the day as the photos are the legacy you are left with post wedding. We spotted Sara Reeve’s photos online and loved the fun, colourful, natural style. After contacting Sara directly we just knew we wanted to book her and ended up basing the wedding date on her availability! She was a dream to work with, from the planning stages right through to the actual day – her professional, easy going and reassuring manner put not only us but all our guests at ease instantly. At points she also stepped in to help with the event management side of things, organising our guests and ensuring we ran to time.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | It was a really family effort creating all of the visual elements for the day – Tim and I designed the invites and order of service ourselves (the start of our spots and stripes theme), whilst my Dad was responsible for the calligraphy for our place name cards, the chalk boards and the glittery wooden sign posts (glitter is a trade mark of mine). In addition, Tim’s brother helped decorate the hall and create the table plan, my sister helped to make the table numbers and Tim’s Dad helped us with framing a selection of old family photos. It was so nice to look around on the day and see all of our efforts come together.
THE HONEYMOON | As the wedding was pretty DIY it was a fairly exhausting few weeks leading up to big day. For our honeymoon we were keen to go somewhere nearby and easy. We decided on Tuscany and had a beautiful days in a little agriturismo near San Gimignano, before travelling on to Florence and the Amalfi coast. All in all it was 2 weeks of sun, culture, delicious food and relaxation which was just what we needed!
THE FOOD | We had a fab local caterer Simon Desmond cater for us. He was amazing, and really listened to our brief which was to produce a simple and delicious summer buffet for our guests. Simon grows a lot of the ingredients himself and his homemade foccachia is to die for! He really goes the extra mile to ensure his dishes sing not only in terms of flavour but also in terms of presentation (for example using country flowers as a garnish). One of the first thing our guests said to us after the big day was just how incredible the food was. To this day, I have never again eaten such yummy profiteroles (my all time favourite desert). Heaven! Just a shame my dress was so tight or I would have had thirds…
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There are just too many to chose from… getting ready with my sister and bridesmaids, walking down the aisle with my Dad and seeing Tim at the alter for the first time, the moment my childhood vicar forgot my name in the church, dancing out of the church to “It Must be Love”, performing a bollywood routine with my girls and amazing Indian Mum-in-law at the village hall, waving sparklers with our dear friends and guests, eating profiteroles with extra hot sauce provided by our incredible caterer, as well as my first dance with my new hubby to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers played by the incredible funk band One Two Step.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I think it’s really easy to get caught up with wedding planning and forget what it’s all about – you and your hubby becoming one. Create the wedding you want and don’t worry about themes, colours, styles – have it all! Also involve your families (especially your fiance) as the process is more important than the result and believe it or not they can actually be super helpful! In the end, you remember the feelings not the details so in the words of Frozen – “let it go”!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Wedding dress | Belle and Bunty
Bridesmaids dress | Stories
Groom’s suit | Reiss
Wedding party flowers | Riveside Flowers Lewes
Caterer | Simon W Desdmond
Photographer | Sara Reeve
Make up & hair | Blush Bridal Make Up
Band | One Two Step Band
Oh I just love it all.
Jessica and Tim thank you both so so much 🙂 XO Lou
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