I’m so pleased to be bringing you WWW readers Sally and Chester’s beautiful barn wedding today. Sally works in events so was delighted to craft plenty of DIY details, and it really paid off. What a gorgeous day they had, all the more special for having the homemade touch.
As Chester is in the Army, they timed their nuptials at Wyresdale Park in Lancashire, with his return to the UK. Coinciding with a free date at the venue, they settled on the 18th August 2018, which left them around 18 months to plan and get those DIY projects going!
We’re absolutely made up that Sally found their photographer Lisa Howard Photography through WWW. This pair were ever so pleased with the final images and it’s very easy to see why! Thank you for sharing with us Lisa.
There are lots of stunning details but I have to say that one of my favourites is the wallpaper hangings with quotes written by Sally’s talented mum; inexpensive and ever so effective! There’s plenty more besides, so why don’t you have a look for yourselves?
The proposal had been carefully planned by Chester and nearly ruined by me! We’d been on a break with friends in the Lakes and were heading home at the end of the week, Chester had told me that we were meeting his parents at a hotel on Lake Windermere on the way back, and unfortunately I was tired, grumpy and a little car sick meaning I just wanted to go home!
Poor Chester had to coax me into the most beautiful hotel which was right on the lake, he set me up at the bar with a drink and went to drop off the bags (actually he was collecting the ring our amazing friend Gayle had dropped off with the receptionist as it hadn’t been ready to collect before the holiday ). When he came back he asked if I wanted to take a walk by the lake whilst we waited for his parents (I now know this was part of the ruse), being grumpy I almost refused but was convinced and we set off.
We walked by the edge of the lake and he gestured at a gorgeous pier/summer house and asked if I wanted to walk down and take a closer look at the lake. I’m horrified to admit I refused and carried on walking past! Chester obviously panicked as his perfect proposal was up in smoke, so dropped to his knee and blurted out his planned speech. I had my back to him and was utterly confused as to why he was suddenly telling me lots of nice things when I was being a complete idiot, I turned around and had the shock of my life! I’m only grateful he still proposed when I was being less than cooperative!
The ring was made from the diamond from my Grandma’s engagement ring which he’d had reset, when he told me that I felt even worse/very emotional and we then spent most of the day apologising (me) and drinking champagne (both of us!).
We both really wanted a day that felt really easy, with live music, plenty of drinks and a great party in the evening. I’d obviously been dreaming about my wedding for years and loved the look of barn weddings I’d seen on Instagram and various blogs, plus I’ve worked in nightclubs/events for over a decade so really wanted a DIY wedding I could get stuck into.
The Planning Process
Chester is in the Army so we decided pretty early on to wait until he was based back in the UK as we were living in separate countries, I didn’t like the idea of getting married and then not living together afterwards. That gave us 18 months to plan and I got very excited and immediately signed us up to loads of wedding fairs. I visited both local and big organised fairs and must say I enjoyed little local ones much more as they felt more intimate and I loved meeting local suppliers.
As Chester was away I did a lot of the planning (which is probably true for most brides anyway!) but made sure to include him in all the big decisions.
We put the budget together first then made decisions about what % we would put towards each section. I think the most important thing is to decide what matters to you as a couple, I spoke to one friend who was food mad so spent lots of money on a caterer and found a really cute but cheap village hall as their venue. Our focus was on entertainment and the ability to have as much ‘custom’ DIY content and our own choice of suppliers so we decided to focus the budget on a venue that would allow us to do that and entertainment. Decisions flowed from there, we found the perfect venue quite easily and then photographer early on in the process and then about six months out we made decisions about flowers/dress/food/drink/ents. I was probably a little too relaxed knowing that I’d planned bigger events in the past and knowing I had some very lovely friends I could ask for favours, I probably wouldn’t recommend leaving it to six months before to buy your dress either!
£14.5k , thanks to our very generous parents contributing most of the budget and some of our own savings.
The Details & Décor
This was probably my favourite bit about wedding planning. I had the most fun ever deciding on the décor and making as much as I could myself. I used a local company to hire some additional creamy lace bunting to add to the main barn for the wedding breakfast, and they also supplied log slices for the centre of each table.
As mentioned above Alex Casson created hoops of greenery to surround each log slice, and myself and Chester made cement candle holders out of diet coke can muolds (nicer than it sounds I promise!) which held candles we’d dipped in rose gold metallic paint.
I’d found some ace eco friendly bamboo plates and wooden cutlery for the tables and went to IKEA and bought the biggest trolley load of tea towels you’ve ever seen to drape over the edge of each setting, I was so happy with the finished look.
As we had such a hard time choosing a wedding reading I decided I wanted to decorate the venue with scrolls covered in our favourite quotes from films, books and songs which meant we got to use all our favourites instead of just one for the reading. My brilliant mum is a really talented illustrator and she used sharpies to write each quote onto wallpaper backing paper which we superglued onto dowling, and when hung, Alex added a spray of greenery to the top of each one! It was so cheap but they were so effective!
I could go on and on here but I just had so much fun making bits with my friends and Chester, and even sourcing things to hire was just so fun! The other bonus about our venue was that it’s yours to hire for the full weekend, so we got a full gang together on the Friday to help get it all ready and then had a huge shared dinner with beer and a quiz written by my bridesmaid Gayle, everyone helping out really made the weekend even more special.
I really hope the details helped to make our wedding a little bit more special, I certainly loved how it all looked on the day.
We were SO LUCKY with the venue! I’d originally wanted to hire a teepee (which I’d eventually realise was completely out of our price range anyway) so we’d found a local farmer who rented his land for weddings etc. We booked a viewing and during the meeting the very lovely farmer actually recommended our eventual venue to us!
We were incredibly cheeky and drove straight there as it was only round the corner and the amazing James agreed to show us round Wyresdale Park on the spot!
The venue was perfect, it was a series of converted barns which James himself had got married in the previous summer. He’d returned from another job to his family home/farm and was in the process of helping his parents turn it into a new business, amongst other things a wedding venue! When we looked around it was still undergoing refurbishment but we completely fell in love and James was so enthusiastic we knew it would look amazing! The bar at the venue is a converted pig sty and the day we looked round there were still pigs in there!
Anyway we were lucky that there were two dates left in August when Chester would return to the UK so I think we ended up confirming the booking it a week later!
The venue has a large barn which we used for dining and speeches, a bar area, the ceremony barn which we got married in and later turned into the dance floor and a fourth inside area filled with old pews and a tractor which would have been perfect for a wet weather wedding! We also had access to gorgeous outside space – The South Lawn, which was completely perfect for reception drinks. The venue also had 10 teepee tents to hire for guests so we booked them all for the full weekend and that meant the night before the wedding was a mini celebration too!
Your Outfits & Accessories
Chester was debating between laid back groom attire (chinos, white shirt, jacket) or his army uniform, but you can’t marry an Army Officer and not take advantage of the snazzy get up! He eventually (after a little persuading from myself and his very proud Dad) settled on his Uniform which also helped on cost saving – win win! He changed into his chinos after the first dance so he could let loose a bit more with the dancing!
I wore an amazing dress I found at at the Bridal Collection of Lancaster, it’s a Justin Alexander dress with rose pattern lace overlay and gorgeous beaded leaf detailing. I chose it because I loved the fit and flare silhouette with low V back and neckline, and ended up picking a champagne underlay so it wasn’t so starkly white and felt a bit more ‘on theme’ for our rustic-y wedding.
I had my hair done by Nina at Nina & Co in Kirkby-Lonsdale, although the salon was a little out of the way for us it meant myself and my mum got to have some alone time on the morning of the wedding and breakfast at my favourite restaurant there, Plato’s.
Two of my best friends are insanely talented make up artists and both were in the bridal party! They very kindly offered to do the make up for all the bridesmaids and myself. Amy Riding my MOH did mine and I can honestly say my eyebrows have never looked better!
Chester had four groomsmen and two were also in the Army so they wore their uniforms, we asked the other two to wear their own blue suits which helped us massively with costs, AND they looked fantastic! We bought the groomsmen and my brother (who walked me down the aisle) matching pale pink ties and all wore buttonholes to tie the grooms party together.
I was so lucky with the flowers, my bridesman’s boyfriend Alex was friends with a brilliant lady who owned The Buttonhole in Kirkby-Lonsdale and she actually agreed to do my flowers as her last ever job before retiring! I made a huge Pinterest board and she knew exactly what I wanted, tons of greenery with beautiful white flowers dotted about. Alex himself is a talented florist (although that’s not his day job) and he created the amazing hoop centre pieces which were filled with loads of different types of greenery plus some lush herbs to give the tables a gorgeous smell.
I didn’t expect to care too much about flowers to be honest but I’m so glad we spent what we did (eek they’re expensive) as I think they made the venue look fantastic and my bouquet is something I’ll never ever forget.
I’m not sure even where to start with Lisa! We decided that we wanted a relaxed style and I didn’t know how to explain it but I wanted photos with a certain ‘look’. I couldn’t bear wedding photos that were image after image of posed groups and wanted something that we could look back on and remember how much fun we’d had that day. Like any bride I also wanted some amazing shots of me in my dress and after looking all over the Internet I had the idea to go through wedding sites and get details from blog entries I loved. I found Lisa and thought her work was amazing, she wasn’t based too far away and the price point felt really fair.
We booked her based on her website and ‘style’ and had our first meeting a few months out from the wedding when we both knew we’d made the right choice. Not only was she really exited by the venue we’d booked (it had loads of cool background opportunities) she actually helped us map out our day and bring a bit of organisation into our still chaotic planning! On the day she was simply brill, we loved the experience from start to finish and I’ll be honest, after the portraits were done I didn’t even notice she was there. The finished photos are insane, I’m so over the moon with what she managed to do and I think she captured our day perfectly. I could rave on for hours and I probably have to my friends, but Lisa is amazing and I’m so glad we found her!
My bridesmaids were all amazing and when I asked if they could buy their own dresses they kindly agreed. I really loved the mix and match theme I’d seen at a few weddings on Instagram so said they could choose whatever they wanted within a short brief – floor length, pale pink/creamy tones with a little bit of sparkle if possible!
This meant I had five very different but cohesive dresses from a total variety of shops ranging from a divine £15 eBay find, to a gorgeous wedding shop bought dress.
My Bridesman Reece wore the most incredible sage green suit which fitted the colour scheme of the day perfectly (white, green, rose gold) and made sure he stood out with his requested ‘extra large corsage’.
The Readings & Music
Myself and Chester started putting together a wedding playlist a few months before the wedding which we wanted to have on during the guests arrival. We already knew that we’d pick ‘Lover of the Light’ by Mumford and Sons as our first dance as it’s always been our favourite song, and during our playlist research we found another song by Mumford and Sons to play as I walked down the aisle.
Chester’s little sister Phoebe is an incredible singer and kindly agreed to sing our first dance for us, she was amazing and made the moment even more special.
One of my bridesmaids Petra is not only the most wonderfully outspoken person you’ll meet but also a top public speaker, so she agreed to perform our wedding reading, a beautiful passage from Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials series. Looking for our reading actually lead into ideas for our styling and décor so I’m so glad it’s a tradition we decided to uphold!
My friend Mattie Gough (aka Mouse Music) is a great guitar player and singer and he kindly agreed to play a set during our drinks reception, we had so many compliments and we could hear him as we wandered around with our photographer doing our couple portraits which was perfect!
For the party portion of the event we booked The Vendettas who were a great all round party band with a brilliant female singer, we didn’t want too many old/classic songs which seems to take up a lot of the playlists for wedding bands that we looked at, so when we found the Vendettas who did a whole range of music with lots of modern stuff to choose from we knew we’d found a winner.
My brilliant friend and colleague Ant Cleminson (aka DJ Ant Already) agreed to DJ after the band, and although I’d said he only need to do an hour then stick on a playlist he was there until the end playing all our shouted requests!
We stared talking about the cake quite early on (we both LOVE cake, but who doesn’t) and Chester mentioned someone he used to work with made cakes. I initially dismissed it as I wanted a ‘proper’ cake but then found a fantastic local lady on Facebook. It turned out they were one and the same! Kelly was brill, I basically sent her a load of screenshots of different cakes and very badly explained I wanted the depths of the tiers to be different and the whole thing to be covered in flowers, but she understood what I was after and it was the cake of my dreams!! We had four different tiers with four different flavours which were all delicious and it was a total hit with the guests! I’ve found my cake maker for life and will be taking all my future cake needs to Kelly!
We were lucky that Chester had some more time off after the wedding and although we’d initially wanted to do something ‘once in a lifetime’ like drive Route 66 or go on an adventure to Thailand, I’m so relieved that we eventually settled on a gorgeous beach holiday in Montenegro. The week was so, so relaxing and after the hectic week we’d just had pulling off a DIY wedding for 150 people. I felt so lucky to relax and enjoy some quality time with my new husband (he did make me go on a very unrelaxing jet ski however!). We had the added bonus that Chester’s mum Morag, is a Cabin Manager for an airline, and she actually surprised us by being on the plane on the way home and paid for us to have some final treats before the honeymoon came to an end.
Gosh the whole day was brilliant but I’d had to say my favourite moment (apart from the actual getting married bit) was walking out as a married couple under the Guard of Honour Chester’s Army friends had organised (where they stand in two lines and raise their swords to make a tunnel). Everyone threw confetti at the same time and although I’d never set out to feel like it, for one moment i felt like a proper princess – so thank you again to all of Chester’s work friends!
I also think the reaction to our food at the wedding breakfast was pretty special, as I’d said we weren’t too bothered about the food, we were more focused on keeping costs down. However we ended up with the brilliant idea of giving each table a picnic hamper! I searched for companies but they were all so expensive so we just did it ourselves. I loved the idea of it being a shared experience with food all wrapped up in brown paper and string, so each table would have to pass items around and it would hopefully break the ice should any strangers be sitting next to each other. We did a trial run a few months before and settled on loads of cold deli style food items, cold meats, pate, lush breads, chutney, cheese and loads more!
My bridesmaid Petra is also a head chef at a vegan café/bar so she helped me cater for any dietary needs and we managed to feed 120 people for about £6ph! Three words for you – Sainsbury’s online delivers (even to your wedding venue!). Of course it was a lot of work but every time we see someone now who came to the wedding they always rave about the food! Throw in some Krispy Kremes and a late night pizza van, and the couple who didn’t care about food somehow ended up with an amazing menu!
Advice For Other Couples
Work out what’s important to you and spend accordingly. I read loads of articles about what % ‘should’ be spent on what items for a wedding but it’s ultimately it’s about you and what you love. If you love music, hire a great band and save on the dress, if you love classic cars hire one of those and save on reception drinks (my bridesmaids drove me!).
I also think the best advice I was given was that photographs are all you’ll have after the wedding is over so it’s worth the money! We debated spending that money elsewhere but I’m so so SO glad we didn’t, and wish we could have afforded a videographer too!
Also don’t drink too much champagne, I may have over indulged a little and woke up still wearing my wedding shoes!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Lisa Howard Photography
The Buttonhole (retired)
Wyresdale Park Weddings
Wow! What a wonderful day! Thank you so much Sally and Chester for sharing everything with us. I do love to see lots of DIY projects! Rachel x