We’re heading back to the Spring with WWW readers Gemma and John and their darling vintage travel theme wedding held on the 28th April 2017. The pair really hoped to create a day that was untraditional, personal and stress free. And so they booked Shustoke Farm Barns in Warwickshire; the first and only venue they visited, thanks to it’s striking barns and top notch service.
From there this travel loving couple settled on a map theme to their day, with atlases used to create many a cute DIY project, which worked so well with the fairy lights and darling blooms used in the barn. Now I just have to swoon over Gemma’s dress. I mean wow! Her short House of Mooshki frock looked incredible on her, especially teamed with a birdcage veil for full effect. John also looked the part in his nay Paul Smith suit and Liberty print accessories. Gorgeous!
We always love to feature WWW fave Georgi Mabee’s photographs on the blog and today is certainly no exception. Thanks so much Georgi.
THE PROPOSAL | John and I had been on some amazing holidays in the three years that we’d been together, and I think everyone’s anticipation of our engagement on each trip really put a lot of pressure on John. He wanted to pop the question in an unsuspecting way, so had arranged a surprise weekend away to Bath, in the disguise of my birthday. He was acting strange all weekend, so much so I’d started to think he was going to call it a day! Turns out he was trying to find the perfect moment and things kept thwarting it. In the end, he popped the question whilst in the roof-top spa on a beautiful, sunny, autumn Sunday afternoon overlooking the city.
THE VISION | John and I had been to many weddings over the years and had a fair idea of what we wanted and what we didn’t. We knew we weren’t big fans of large ‘traditional hotel conference-y’ type affairs, which we always feel lack character and personal touches. We wanted something personal to us that represented us as a couple, that was fun and enjoyable for our guests. My sister had a tipi DIY wedding, which brought with it a lot of stress for us all so I wanted to make sure that we chose a venue that would take the stress and worry out of the whole process and where we could all let our hair down.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I was definitely a very organised bride, and as a huge worrier I knew that I didn’t want to leave it all until the last few months before the wedding. We booked Shustoke relatively soon after getting engaged so that we could set a date and begin thinking about styles and ideas. We then booked major suppliers such as the photographer, band and florist as I was amazed at how far in advance they get booked up. After this initial flurry of excitement, I let the dust settle for about 6 months whilst we moved house (we like to keep ourselves busy!) but always kept my eye out for bits and bobs in shops and picked things up as and when I saw them. We then revisited the planning with about 6 months to go. I think I only ever bought one wedding magazine as they stressed me out with their timelines of what we should be doing, and I certainly wasn’t a ‘Pinterest’ bride, most of our ideas spiralled from our ‘travel theme’ and what talents we had amongst our whole family to create things. Our venue made the planning process so easy. The Cripps Barn chain, of which our venue belonged, is so well rehearsed at organising weddings that they would answer our questions before we even thought of them. Their communications were excellent, with someone always at the end of an email that got back to you straight away. Excellent for those Bridezilla moments!
BUDGET | Although we were never strict on budget, we decided from the offset that we would have everything that we wanted but try to strike the best deal we could for things, and make as many decorations ourselves where possible to make it personal and keep costs down. We also agreed that by keeping the guest list to close family and friends meant that we could splurge on other areas, and I think we struck a balance really well. Going without favours, having only one bridesmaid and not sticking to conventional wedding traditions meant that we could spend more money on outfits, a band and special touches for the guests such as flip-flops, sparklers and a caricaturist for evening entertainment.
THE VENUE | Shustoke Farm Barns, Coleshill, Warwickshire. The one and only wedding venue we ever visited. We went on a cold and wet November open day and had no idea what to expect. We walked through the big barn doors and were absolutely blown away. The place is truly magnificent, so atmospheric and cosy. We immediately realised that if it could take our breath away on a dreary winters day then it wouldn’t matter what the English Spring weather would have in store for us! When John, the most indecisive person in the world said it was perfect, I knew it was the one! On the day it certainly didn’t disappoint. All the staff were so friendly, and we felt that although we were probably the 100th couple they’d seen that year, they treated us as though we were royalty.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Lily by House of Mooshki from Fairytale Weddings in Towcester, Northants. Shoes by Rainbow Club, Headband, Veil and earrings all designed and handmade by Miss Clemmie Bridal Accessories.
FINDING THE DRESS | In all honesty I was dreading dress shopping as I had no idea what I liked, I just knew that I didn’t want a traditional white or ivory gown. I was putting it off as I thought it would take me forever and a day to find something I liked. My sister stumbled across the House of Mooshki website and sent me the link as she thought the styles would suit me. I liked most of them and my Mum pointed out Lily to me although I wasn’t too sure about it. By luck, Fairytale Weddings, our local bridal shop, stocked House of Mooshki dresses and Lily was part of their collection. Seeing it on the hanger, I knew it was ‘the dress’. I fell in love with the long sleeves and the intricacy of the lace, as well as the blush colour, which I felt was unusual but perfect for a spring wedding. I tried a huge long white dress too, just because I knew I’d never get the opportunity again but instantly knew that Lily had my heart.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Suit by Paul Smith, Shoes by Grenson, Liberty print accessories handmade by Catkin Jane. We knew that a traditional wedding suit wouldn’t fit into our wedding style. John wanted something smart that he could ‘dress down’ for a more relaxed feel with his accessories. He had always wanted to treat himself to a Paul Smith suit so this seemed like the perfect opportunity! We hired suits to compliment John’s for the two groomsmen and two page boys.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We played a selection of music throughout the day that we had compiled ourselves. I walked down the aisle to ‘The One’ by Kodaline, which we chose as the words were so emotive. On the evening, we had The Beat Union play for us who played such a varied playlist and something that would cater for everyone. They were outstanding and were able to play our first dance ‘My Destiny’ by Lionel Richie. We received so many compliments about how good they were and having live music created such an electric atmosphere. We asked my best friend to read ‘Friends’ and our nephews who were page boys to read ‘He Always Leaves the Seat Up’ during the ceremony, which didn’t leave a dry eye in the house!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had my one sister as a bridesmaid and because of this I gave her free-reign on whatever dress she wanted, just so long as the colour complimented my blush gown (along with a few other caveats of course!). She chose a long, flattering Dessy dress in platinum, which we embellished ourselves with jewels that we found on eBay!
THE FLOWERS | Hannah Ricci at Bloom Fleuriste. This is an area I really struggled with as I had very limited knowledge of flowers but knew I wanted something modern, free-flowing and I thought I quite likes Peonies! After trawling through hundreds of wedding florists but seeing nothing that I really liked, I came across Hannah, who had also got married at Shustoke. I instantly fell in love with every bouquet she had ever created and would have happily blown the whole wedding budget right there! I met with her and instantly felt at ease. She is a hugely talented lady, and it was clear from the off-set that it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the first thing about flowers because I could place my trust in her completely. She didn’t disappoint! She created bouquets for myself and bridesmaid, button holes and corsages for the immediate wedding party, and a selection of arrangements in kilner jars for our tables throughout the barn.
THE CAKE | This was an area that for traditions sake, we knew we had to have, but we didn’t want to over-spend on. Thankfully, John’s mum is an extremely talented baker! Cupcakes, an area that the mother of the groom is famous for, allowed us to continue the wedding travel-theme by using atlas pages to create cupcake cases and flags. They were also relatively simple for us to transport and assemble on the morning of the wedding.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Georgi Mabee Photography. Georgi and I were old school friends and I will always remember her with a camera strapped to her neck between lessons! I followed her growing wedding photography business and knew from early on, even before I met John, that I had to have her photograph my wedding one day! She was the first supplier we booked along with our venue. Georgi is so talented and has an incredible ability to capture emotion in such a vibrant and colourful way. She had a knack of putting John and I at ease in the build up to the wedding and helped to make sure everything was running smoothly on the morning of the wedding when tensions were fraught! She could capture natural shots by blending into the background, often we didn’t even know she was there! We have such an amazing selection of wedding photographs that take us right back to that moment and lets us relive the emotions of the day.
We didn’t hire a videographer as our photographer was most important to us, but our gadget loving Brother-in-law captured footage throughout the day on his go-pro and created a video for us which is a beautiful keepsake.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Shustoke is the most beautiful brick barn with fairy lights twinkling in the ceiling and hundreds of candles lit in the brick work. As such, we didn’t need to spend a lot of money on decorations that would detract from the surroundings and that would equally get lost amongst it all. We focussed on the details that would really make an impact, plus we knew that filling the venue with lots of flowers would be expensive so we looked for alternative ways to decorate.
John and I are from different parts of the country, we have been lucky enough to holiday in some lovely places and ultimately, I like maps! So, we felt a vintage travel theme worked well for us and the venue. We raided some antique shops and found loads of cheap wooden frames, which we ‘Annie Sloaned’ and created chalkboards from with the help of my talented arty sister. We also used one of the frames for our table plan map. Thankfully, I have a really crafty Mum whose talent knows no bounds! She bought meters of map fabric which she created bunting from, crafted bows onto wicker hearts for chair backs and decorated the huge wicker wreath, which we suspended from the large bare balcony in the entrance hall. A few destroyed atlases later and we had created paper map pinwheels, map cupcake cases and flags. We collected a lot of things as we saw them, picking up old crates, baskets and maps along the way. Although we bought our travel-themed wedding invites from a supplier, we hand-made all other signs, including distressing an old pallet for our order of the day and made the order of services ourselves.
THE HONEYMOON | We spent 4 nights at the The Madinat Jumeriah in Dubai and 10 nights at the Heritage Awali in Mauritius.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Wedding cars were something I thought we could do without as we were having both the ceremony and reception at Shustoke. However, we had to get myself, my dad and the wedding party from a near-by hotel. I searched for wedding camper vans but because of their vintage nature, most wouldn’t travel as far as Warwickshire. I then came across Fifties Chic and we hired Grace, a beautifully restored 1956 VW split-screen. Hiring Grace was actually a huge highlight of our wedding. We both enjoyed the champagne drive which gave us quality time together straight after the ceremony, John even got to try out his driving skills, and we have the most amazing photography of us with the van and to think I almost settled for a taxi!
Another fond memory is of our band that played throughout the evening. I distinctly remember, in the middle of dancing to their rendition of Paul Simon’s ‘Call Me Al’ thinking how lucky we were that this band was here to exclusively play for us and turning around to see all our guests dancing merrily with huge smiles on their faces. Not only was I having the most amazing time in my ‘bridal bubble’ dancing on what felt like a real cloud in the huge tulle skirt on my gown, but it was the most reassuring feeling in the world to know that all our family and friends were here celebrating with us and having the best time.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Firstly, you don’t have to stick to age-old traditions and don’t let people talk you into it, sometimes a wedding is more memorable for doing things the way you want. Secondly, it’s important to remember that the day is about you as a couple, no one else, if you don’t want to invite your grandmother’s neighbour’s great aunt, then that’s your prerogative! Oh, and don’t ever feel guilty for splashing your cash on a great photographer, it’s an investment that allows you to relive the best day of your lives a thousand times or more.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Venue | Shustoke Farm Barns
Band | Beat Union
Flowers | Bloom Fleuriste
Hair | Sally Logue Bridal Hair
Camper Van | Fifties Chic Campervan Hire
Dress | Fairytale Weddings
Accessories | Miss Clemmie Bridal Accessories
Oh YES! What a magnificent day. I really echo Gemma’s advice on photography too.
Gemma and John, huge thanks to you both for sharing your fantastic wedding story xo Lou