We absolutely love it when couples go to town making really personal and special homemade touches for their wedding and it’s especially wonderful when family and friends are really involved too. Rachel and Julian tied the knot at Chaucer Barn in Norfolk on 1st June 2019 but the festivities lasted the whole weekend.
I’m so impressed by everything that our pair and their family did for their day. From building decor and props to doing all the flowers themselves, the cake was even family made. Just wait until you read about the transport that was necessary to get everything to the venue!
Georgia Rachael Photography captured their fabulous day and what wonderful images she has shared with us. Thank you so much Georgia, just beautiful!
We missed our 6 year anniversary because our lives are crazy so a few weeks later Julian told me to keep a weekend free because he wanted to celebrate. He had made a box full of cards and throughout the day I would get to open a card and read a lovely message with a choice about what I wanted to do. Starting with breakfast in bed or going out for a special treat right through to when he eventually popped the question on a walk around Claremont Landscape Gardens in Esher and finally ending in a special dinner and drinks in London the whole day was just perfect for us. And, given that one of our many adventures over the years took us over the alps from Germany to Italy on a 14 day trek, it was pretty spot on that we got engaged in hiking boots.
We wanted something that felt special and important without being formal or too traditional. Every choice we made from the venue to the food, the décor to the music was designed to help our guests feel like they were joining us at our house for a full weekend of celebrating together but with a relaxed, comfortable, family dinner party kind of vibe. We love Mediterranean and middle eastern food so a big portion of the day was based on that and the rustic relaxed styling kind of flowed from there.
The Planning Process
Rachel worked a Saturday/holiday job in her late teens and early twenties at a wedding planning company so she took on most of the planning. We allowed ourselves 18 months to plan the wedding and to be honest to be able to save up as much as we could for it.
Julian’s role came in more in the last 6 months of planning as we began building the larger items we created for the day. We collected pallets and salvaged pots and containers from all over the place. We built/made/painted and glued most of the decorations you see in the photos. It was an absolute labour of love and it took us two Luton vans, two transit vans and a large people carrier to drive it all up to Norfolk!
We spent more than we’d planned definitely but one of the best things we did was create a budget spreadsheet where we kept track of our spending. It allowed us to get a constant look at how much we were spending and how much we still needed and meant we didn’t have any cash flow issues right before the big day.
When Rachel worked for the wedding planners she found Chaucer Barn and fell in love. Once we got engaged she waited all of about a week before casually suggesting that we book a visit ‘just to see it’. One visit later and we had booked our venue.
It’s a stunning place with such a variety of outdoor space, exclusive hire for a weekend and accommodation on site for 18+ people (and they’re building more) and they don’t charge corkage. It’s literally a perfect venue for a country house wedding all to yourselves.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Rachel’s dress was from Ellis Bridal with some alterations made to the neckline. She wanted something beautiful and comfortable but that fitted with the woodland ceremony we were after.
Julian’s suit was from Stephen Bishop, a local tailor in Woking where we are from. We tried a few of the bigger chains and felt confused and unwelcomed, but right from the moment we stepped into the shop his experience, personality and attention to detail won us over.
The girls wore two styles of dress in the same colour from Sorella Vita. Stunning dresses though if you’re considering them it’s worth knowing that you’ll have to pay alterations on top of the dress cost as they come all to the same length so you can alter the hems for the shoes. That was an unexpected extra cost for us and it’s not fun getting stung with an extra few hundred pounds to find a week before the wedding!
The boys again all rented or bought their suits from Stephen Bishop. That was a nice thing about their store is that the rental stock is the same as the sale stock so even though some of the guys preferred to rent rather than purchase on the day they all looked the same and all just as sharp.
Rachel’s hair was done as a wedding gift from long time and very talented friend Kellie Wootton, her makeup was Danielle Christina who was so professional and friendly, and did a fantastic job.
Julian had a beard trim and haircut by friend and wedding guest Enzo Olizzo who is a hairdresser from Germany.
The Readings & Music
We had Free Fallin’, the John Mayer live version as the entry song for the ceremony, we wanted something with a beautiful guitar track and if you don’t listen too hard to the lyrics it’s a lovely song.
Our reading was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin which is well-used but I think sums up the true nature of love beautifully.
We had Christina Perri ‘A thousand years’ and Lifehouse ‘You and me’ as we signed the register and finally we exited in a cloud of bubbles to Queen’s ‘You’re my best friend’.
We actually did all the flowers ourselves. Rachel was keen on having a lot of flowers and we knew it would be outside of our budget if we went to a florist so after a couple of test runs to make the different arrangements and work out rough quantities she and her mum got up at 4am to go and buy the flowers from New Covent Garden Flower Market in London on the Wednesday before the wedding. They then spent 6 hours on Wednesday prepping them, and all day with a team on Friday arranging everything from bouquets and buttonholes to the huge arrangements on plinths.
The cakes were made by Rachel’s mum, we had a large two tier lemon and poppyseed in the middle, a red velvet and a carrot cake either side all iced with cream cheese frosting. Rachel and her mum baked the cakes together over Easter and then froze them along with most of the other desserts on the dessert table. Come the wedding we loaded the entire freezer into the van and drove it up to Norfolk, cakes and all.
Georgia Rachael was our incredible photographer. She’s so talented and seems to just beautifully capture moments throughout the day in such an easy and effortless way. She included an engagement shoot in her package which was fantastic as it gave us a chance to learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera and on the day itself she raced around grabbing everything that happened without intruding or interrupting anything that was actually happened. We are fairly sure she’s probably exhausted after it all but we honestly can’t praise her enough for the fantastic images, she absolutely captured the spirit of the day for us.
The Details & Décor
A lot of what you see is our own creation, we spent a lot of time in the run up to the wedding touring round builders yards collecting pallets which we then turned into poseur tables, a three metre bar, a seven metre backdrop and many other things. We hand painted signs and spent more weekends than we care to remember hot gluing giant paper flowers together out of Italian crepe paper.
We designed and printed all our own stationery from the invites right through to the allergy cards and we then ended up getting the pattern from our invites created into a block so we could block print all our own table runners.
We collected over 140 rocks from our friend’s beach at her parents’ house and she kindly hand painted each one with the names for our placecards.
We also created our own brand of jams with fruit collected from Rachel’s mum’s garden and named after songs from our playlist in the evening as our favours.
What we didn’t make ourselves we borrowed from the amazing teams at Stressfreehire (where Rachel used to work) who lent us lanterns, fairy lights, garden furniture, gas flambeaux, tealights, draping, mirrorballs and so much more; CMA Hire who provided almost all of our crockery and tableware; Gas&Air Studios who provided the beautiful rustic dining tables and plinths; English Shepherds Hut Company who provided the stunning bathrooms and finally Chelmer Marquees who built the beautiful Marquee.
On the day we had a team of about 40 friends and family who came up early and helped us set up all our decorations, build flowers, ice cakes and generally do anything else that needed to be done. It was hard work but a great chance for people to mingle and get to know each other and we had a huge BBQ on Friday night to say thanks to all our helpers for their hard work.
After all of that the thing we just wanted to do was relax at home although we are now starting to think about planning something in the new year perhaps coinciding with a trip to New Zealand to visit Rachel’s family for another wedding.
When Rachel and her dad Ali were practising their father daughter dance (a questionable but entertaining self-choreographed routine to the Blues Brothers) on the morning of the wedding because they’d run out of any other time to do it.
When a pipe burst in the ceremony area and one of our best men Tom fixed it without telling either of us.
When Rachel cried during her vows (she never cries at stuff like this)
The food from Trio’s catering was INCREDIBLE and really completed the feeling of a beautiful summery family meal.
When Julian did his speech and called Rachel his Wife for the first time.
When we did our first dance (we took lessons) and it was all going so well until Julian messed up the ending and literally no-one even noticed but we were laughing so hard.
The biggest cheese board anyone has ever seen.
Having an amazing weekend filled with so many lovely, kind and caring people.
Advice For Other Couples
We planned our day really well in advance (probably like a scary amount – we had documents that showed where everything should go and how it should look and an entire running order for the day with supplier contact info included) but it meant that literally everyone else knew EVERYTHING. It meant that from Friday onwards, other people could take charge and know they were doing everything how we wanted it without having to involve us. It was honestly the best possible thing we could have done as the actual wedding day was like a dream. We just moved easily from one thing to the next and everything went off without a hitch. There was no stress at all and everyone got to properly enjoy the day which was the best thing we could’ve asked for.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Georgia Rachael Photography
English Shepherds Hut Co.
Thank you so much Rachel and Julian for sharing all your gorgeous hard work with us! Note to WWWers, if anyone is interested in buying some of the brilliant decorations they created for the day, please get in touch by email at [email protected] Rachel x