WWW readers Kirsty and Sam tied the knot on the 5th August 2017 in the Victorian barn at Elmley Nature Reserve in Kent. They were a couple with a plan and booking their venue and suppliers super early helped with a stress free run up to the wedding. There was plenty of DIY to get stuck into to so it was fantastic that they left themselves so much time. Of course, our pair were ably assisted by family and friends and what a brilliant job they did of the décor.
The wood blocks with floral arrangements lining the aisle are just stunning and aren’t the chair decorations just beautiful? Our couple didn’t want anything too formal for their reception so treated guests to food trucks allowing them to relax and mingle. There were also some fantastic vintage fairground attractions outside to keep everyone entertained.
I’m also absolutely loving the wedding party fashion, from Kirsty’s gorgeous ivory over gold gown and Sam’s dapper tailored number to the fabulous 50s bridesmaids.
We are very grateful to Julia & You for providing the beautiful images of Kirsty and Sam’s day for us.
THE PROPOSAL | Sam proposed on Christmas Day 2015 at Kirsty’s parents’ house with close family watching on. A wax cast of a custom made ring was placed inside five boxes that were addressed to different members of the family to open until the final box was given to Sam to open and propose on one knee in front of the Christmas tree. Kirsty burst into tears and finally said yes once she’d caught her breath and got over the shock.
THE VISION | Informal, relaxed, festival feel wedding. We never wanted your standard wedding with a sit down three course meal with name plates for guests. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable, to be able sit or stand where they ate and to mix and mingle with those they wanted to. We just wanted to create a fun party atmosphere from the ceremony through to the evening. It was also really important for us that our close friends and family were part of our vision and helped to decorate and design the venue and its surroundings for our wedding. This is why we were adamant we wanted to have the wedding at Elmley Nature Reserve, as the venue was handed over to us two days before the wedding to start preparing for the big day. Everyone had a role to play and it was a fantastic build up to the wedding. The venue was a blank canvas and we were able to organise every part of our day. We could use our own suppliers and were in control of the whole wedding so could plan it down to every fine detail. We picked our own flowers, decorated the barn ourselves, supplied the alcohol ourselves and booked food trucks for the daytime and evening food. It was also great that lots of our guests could stay on site in shepherds huts and bell tents, really adding that festival feel and having everyone together until the very end. We even had a breakfast bbq the following morning on site with our friends and family who had stayed over.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We started planning the process from the moment we got engaged. Kirsty is super organised and wanted to get started straight away. Plus because we had got engaged at Christmas lots of people said the best venues would be taken by February after the Valentine’s Day proposals. We had booked our venue by the beginning of February 2016 (it gets booked up early) and had our food suppliers booked not long after. We spent hours poring over images on Pinterest, Etsy and eBay looking for ideas. We literally did everything between ourselves and close family. Lots of research and lots of late nights after work. It wasn’t stressful as we started so soon and got all the big things booked and organised early. We had a clear plan in our head of what we wanted so we think that helped and we kept talking. I think the hardest thing for us was choosing the songs and readings and we left that a little later in the process.
THE VENUE | Kingshill Barn (Victorian barn), Elmley Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Maggie Sottero Romyn ivory over light gold dress. The dress length was to the floor and had backless detail. Small understated diamond drop earrings. I’m not big on jewellery so didn’t want it to be too over the top. I did my hair myself but together with her bridesmaids, mum and mother-in-law had her make-up done by Lucy Jones. I was also lucky enough to be wearing my mum’s blue garter which she wore when she got married (not that anyone saw that).
FINDING THE DRESS | This was pretty easy. Kirsty only went to two wedding dress shops and the second was Bellissima Weddings in South Woodham Ferrers near to where we live. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted so only had to try on about six dresses before I found the one. I knew I wanted a backless dress with little cleavage but beautiful detail. Ivory over light gold was a little bit different from the usual white or cream and it suited my colouring and hair colour.
This wedding dress shop made me feel so important. They gave honest advice and knew what suited my shape. They were amazing from start to finish. The shop itself is beautiful too, just like entering a real life fairy tale.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Fusion Tailoring Saville Row – Ice blue Moon’s tweed three piece suit. White shirt, ivory tie. the best man and father of the groom also had their suits made by this tailor but Sam did not want uniformity so all groomsmen were able to choose their own style just like the bridesmaids
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Sia, Chandelier – walking down the aisle
Elbow – One Day Like This, Jose Gonzalez – Stay Alive, Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up – signing of register
Lionel Ritchie – Dancing on the Ceiling to walk back down the aisle after the ceremony
Readings – Us Two by A.A Milne (Winnie the Pooh) read by Kirsty’s brother Neill Tobin and Personal Penguin read by friend Hannah Tyrell-Pinder
First dance – Wilson Phillips – Hold On
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We had four bridesmaids. It was easy to choose. Kirsty’s best friend Amanda (42), her two daughters Amelia (15 now 16) and Ava (13) and our niece Alice (4). Amanda’s girls are like my own children and I’ve seen them grow from babies so it would not have been the same if they hadn’t had a large part to play. It was also lovely to have bridesmaids of varying ages. Amanda was always keen to be a bridesmaid and not a matron of honour despite having been married for over 16 years and being 42. She said she’d waited long enough for me to get married so wanted to be a bridesmaid :-)
I designed their bridesmaid dresses with the help of The Dressmaker in Leigh-on-Sea. Again I didn’t want the standard bridesmaid floaty dress. I wanted something a little quirky and different and was keen for them to have some input. It was important we chose dresses that suited all shapes and sizes.
We went for a 50s style dress with a red waist band. I picked the material from a shop in Leigh-on-Sea. Each of the bridesmaid chose a different style for the straps and Alice our youngest bridesmaid had some red netting to cover her dress to make it more princess like. Amanda wore red killer heels, her two girls wore sparkly white converse and Alice wore red sparkly shoes to complement the red in the dress and waistband.
THE FLOWERS | We handpicked the flowers for the wedding venue at Blooming Green in Kent with both sets of parents and Sam’s brother and sister-in-law and niece who had flown from Australia for the wedding. This took place two days before the wedding. We wanted full control over the flowers at the venue and used those picked to fill jam jars which decorated the barn and the tables as well as kilner jars for top table and registrars table. It meant that everyone had a role to play in the wedding and felt part of the preparation as well as the day. Again we didn’t want the usual wedding bouquets or displays, we opted for wild flowers so there was a less formal, rustic feel to the displays around the barn.
THE CAKE | No cake. We are both gluten intolerant and opted for ice cream and pick and mix sweets instead. Plus we always seem to find that people leave the cake or it just goes to waste! Our guests couldn’t get enough of the ice cream and toppings.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Julia and You – Julia West (and Michelle) who were both magnificent. For us the photography was one the most important elements of the day and we did a lot of research before deciding to use Julia. We loved Julia’s work and knew she had photographed the venue before albeit a while back so found that reassuring. As soon as we Skyped with Julia we felt at ease, discussed the details of our wedding and what we wanted from the day. She got us straight away and made us feel relaxed.
We had had our engagement photo shoot with Julia in West Mersea by the beach huts. Kirsty doesn’t like having her photo taken but Julia really put her at ease so we had no doubt.
On the day Julia and Michelle were just brilliant. They captured every moment sensitively and beautifully and it was great to be able to see our day in photos but also our guests and their reactions. There were some really fun shots, action shots and beautifully captured intimate moments.
Julia was also keen for us to get some time alone so we could open our presents to each other and spend some time away from our guests. This was really important.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | There was a little bit of everything. Miles of brightly coloured bunting which we hung in the courtyard the day before along with Victorian Fairground stalls (coconut shy, high striker and shoot the target), deck chairs and hand painted signs which were carefully crafted by Sam’s dad and greeted guests on the long road up to the barn so guests knew they were on the right track. Inside the barn metres and metres of fairy lights wrapped around the uprights in the barn, pompoms strung from the beams. Hessian tied to the chairs along with test tubes of flowers instead of those chair bows and loads and loads of jars of fresh flowers and fairy lights. I guess in the barn you could say it was a kind of fairytale country grotto and outside it was fairground meets garden party with a Taco Truck (Mexican for the day), Pizza Van (evening) and Ice Cream stand.
We also ordered bespoke wooden knives and forks for those who wanted to use them. Most of our food was picky handheld food but in keeping with the Mexican day time food we had personalised knives and forks with a message “you are the salsa to my taco”.
We wanted something different from the usual wedding book or video for people to be able to leave us messages, so we had a bespoke Jenga game made with our names and the date of our wedding on each piece. Guests were then able to leave us messages on the little wooden blocks.
THE HONEYMOON | New Zealand – a dream destination for us both. We both mentally drew up a list of our ideal honeymoon destinations and our most sought after holiday destinations. There weren’t too many matches but New Zealand was luckily at the top of both of our lists so it was an easy choice. We went on honeymoon three months after our wedding in November to catch the start of spring in New Zealand. We visited both the North and South island and had a wonderful adventure exploring as much of the country and sampling as much of the magnificent food and wine as possible.
It again was important for us for our guests to feel part of our adventure so for our wedding gift list we listed all of the experiences and adventures that we wanted to do when in NZ and our guests contributed to each. We kept them up to date with photos and videos of what they had contributed to while out there which was really special.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | It’s pretty hard to pick. The whole set up with our families helping out was very special and helping to create the look and feel for the day. On the day, finally seeing Kirsty arrive at the top of the aisle looking stunning will always stay with me, as will the massive storm that rolled in during the ceremony turning the view outside the window to sheets of rain and began to thunder just as we said our vows (which could hardly be heard at the back of the barn due to the storm) only to clear to blue skies as we were announced as husband and wife. The first dance too was a high point. It was something we’d worked on but no-one expected and the fact we pulled it off (Kirsty in her dress and heels) was both a big relief and a real buzz. We spent a couple of weeks learning a specially choreographed first dance to a very special song of ours. It really was a wow moment for us as we’d kept it a secret from everyone.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | The day goes so quickly so take time out for yourselves and soak up the moments and memories of the day as they happen (or before you drink too much). Our photographers were fantastic at allowing us to do this and we did get some time away from our guests to open our presents to each other and get some beautiful photos together.
I’d also say if there’s something you can’t stop thinking about that you want to have on your day or plan for, then do it. You only get one chance to make the day special. We did this with our first dance. We would not have changed a thing.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Julia & You
Venue | Elmley Nature Reserve
Ice Cream | Gelato Heaven
Mexican Food | Luardos
Florist | Blooming Green
Deck Chairs | Denys & Fielding
Fairground Stalls | Irvin Amusements
DJ | DJ Choice
Pizza Van | Pizza Federicci
Dress | Bellissima Weddings
Bridesmaid Dresses | The Dressmaker
Thank you Kirsty and Sam for sharing your wonderful day with us! Rachel x