Emma and João’s Botanical Themed ‘England Meets Portugal’ Barn Wedding in the Cotswolds by White Stag Photography
Happy Wednesday everyone and well done for reaching the middle point of the week, not...
Happy Wednesday everyone do I have a treat for you today with this GORGEOUS homespun wedding. With a wedding dress that cost £50, welly wanging, a silent disco, the most gorgeous wedding ceremony, amazing details and decorations a whole stack of wonderful DIY projects, and a super cool and cute couple. This wedding has so many elements that I just love in a wedding! The photos taken by Liz Wan are just gorgeous and capture this fantastic day perfectly. A gorgeous wedding from start to finish that I would have loved to have been a guest at.
Charlie & Jack were married a few days before their reception date in a registry office. The reception was held on 28th June 2014 at The Yoghurt Rooms in East Grinstead. ‘We got legally married in Brighton in a simple registry office ceremony a few days before our wedding because we intended to get married outside (the weather had other ideas!). We became a couple in Brighton and my parents were married in Brighton, so it ended up being a really lovely day! We had our wedding with all the trimmings at Yoghurt Rooms in East Grinstead, and we partied the night away there, spending the evening in our marital yurt! It was a given that we would get legally married in Brighton, but we struggled a bit to find a venue for our wedding. At the time Jack and I were living in Truro, but knew we wanted to get married somewhere near to where our parents were at it was most convenient for setting up and we didn’t want to make our guests traipse all the way down to Cornwall! Because we wanted to get married at peak wedding season we had to book places very quickly, and it was likely we’d have to do it without seeing them, so it was scary! We’d been looking for the perfect place online which was within our budget but also had a lot of character, when we got a call from my mum really excited about Yoghurt Rooms. Just as we were going through the website, we got an email from Jack’s mum linking us to them saying it looked perfect- it was meant to be! We had just over 30 guests and it took a year planning, with 4 months of nosing about wedding blogs, and about 8 months of actual intense planning.
How they met
It’s not the world’s most romantic story! Jack and I used to sit next to each other in Biology class in sixth form and Jack, being the lovely human that they are, would give me lifts home because they could drive and I had a nightmarish commute on public transport. We had separate friendship groups, so when we parted ways for university (Jack for Exeter and myself for Bristol), I assumed we’d never meet again. A couple of months later, I got a call from Jack out of the blue- their long term partner had dumped them and they felt they couldn’t talk to anyone about it because all their friends were mutual. We met up and we had a wonderful time, and realised we should have been closer than just acquaintances. After a few years of being best friends and supporting each other through the thick and thin of it, Jack and I had a massive argument, and Jack convinced me to come to Brighton to try and apologise and make up. We went to my favourite tea room The Mock Turtle, going in on really bad terms, and came out, somehow, a couple. Neither of this know how this happened, it wasn’t something we’d talked about. We got married 2 years later!
Like our relationship, this is also not a romantic story! I don’t know if it was because we’d been so close before getting together, but our relationship was very serious from the get-go, and it was always hinted at that this one was forever. One day, after a conversation with my mum, I called up Jack who was visiting their parents, and blurted out “I WANT TO GET MARRIED WITH PEOPLE AND A DRESS.”. Jack replied “…I am playing tennis.” and called me back an hour later, during which time I’d subscribed to 3 or 4 wedding mailing lists and had picked out my dress. Thankfully, it was to say yes.
On my 21st birthday, about a month after we agreed we were getting married, I got a ring from my grandparents that my grandad had bought my grandma after my dad was born. I fell instantly in love with it, and when I took it to be resized, Jack picked it up and proposed to me with it on a walk in our favourite park in Cornwall. That bit is a bit more romantic.
How did you allocate your budget
Half of our budget went on booking Yoghurt Rooms and included the yurts, use of the building, the marquee and their sound system. About a fifth of our budget was spent on our photographer. The rest of the budget went on food (made by my mum), the silent disco, decorations and buying the crockery and glassware for our wedding (which we sourced ourselves from charity shops). I’ve worked it out, and Jack and I spent less than 5% of the budget combined on our entire wedding outfits.
How did you choose your photographer
Liz photographed my friends Candy and Dan’s wedding a year before ours, and after seeing the photos, we knew that it had to be her. Everything about the pictures was perfect, and she really is just a lovely, lovely human with very cool hair.
Originally our budget was half of what it was (we thankfully came into more money, which we used to book the venue), so I knew I couldn’t spend a lot of money on a dress. I started looking online and found the most beautiful dress, and just knew it was exactly what I wanted. I considered getting a different dress briefly when for a laugh we were playing Don’t Tell The Bride, and Jack picked out an absolutely beautiful but completely different dress (which my mum preferred!). In the end, I went with my gut and bought the dress I’d picked on the day we got engaged- I’m so glad I did. It was only £50 from eBay, but I don’t think I could love a dress any more. I didn’t wear any jewellery because the dress was already quite sparkly, but my shoes were also ordered online from eBay- the big high shoes I wore at the beginning of the day were my favourite, and I got them because my mum wanted me to have glittery shoes, but my mother in law wanted me to have nude shoes and they were the best of both worlds! They broke quite early on in the day (I guess you get what you pay for!), and I spend the rest of the day in my back up shoes, which were my mother in law’s choice, and despite being plainer than my normal choice of shoes, I still wear them regularly!
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Jack’s suit and pocket square were from Next, with a plain white shirt they already owned, shoes from Topman, and a bow tie to top it all off from an Etsy seller, who for the life of me I can’t remember the name of right now. We probably spent the longest looking for the bow tie- Jack wears them quite regularly, and was more than a bit hard to please when picking the perfect one! I didn’t have any bridesmaids as for such a small, intimate wedding, where most of the female guests know each other and are all my closest friends, it seemed a bit weird to only pick a couple!
Theme or Colour Scheme
In my day to day life, we both have quite a distinct aesthetic- I wear A LOT of colours, layers, and patterns, and Jack likes to wear waistcoats and bow ties. Neither of us wear much black, and see clothes as an opportunity for you to add more. More is always more! I think we’re a pretty handsome couple because of it! I kind of wanted my colour scheme to reflect that, in that I didn’t want one, but still wanted the day to look effortlessly cohesive. I think we achieved that, although I had a lot of weird looks when people asked me about my colour scheme and I answered “Yes.”.
A few years ago, my parents brought me along to a viewing of a house which had been owned by an elderly lady who had lived there her whole life. Because of that, the whole house was like a museum of her, filled with pictures and trinkets, and I realised that was exactly what I wanted my house with Jack to look like- a living museum of us, as pretentious as that sounds. Our house is intensely personal to us, and I kind of wanted the wedding to feel like it was happening in our living room, almost. I guess that was the theme!
We didn’t like the idea of all the flowers being thrown away at the end but liked the look of cut flowers, so we compromised by having half of our flowers potted and half cut to decorate the venue, with the potted flowers then going into my parents’ garden and the cut being donated the next day to a local nursing home. My grandma did all of the flower arranging for the jam jars and I think they looked lovely. Originally, I didn’t have a bouquet, and just commissioned a flower crown and a boutonniere for Jack, but we found some “living dead” flowers at a flower market when buying the potted flowers, and I ended up carrying them.
Ever since I was young I knew I wanted candles in jam jars at my wedding, so we had them everywhere! Jack actually gave me a candle in a jam jar our first Christmas together because I’ve always loved what they look like. We decorated the jars with lace washi tape and beaded wire hangers. In keeping with the “living room” vision, we had lampshades up (which ended up being put up upside down in the panic to get set up!), lace tablecloths (which were actually curtains from Ikea), books from my personal collection, some of our favourite antiques and bits and bobs, and photos from our parents’ and grandparents’ weddings, our own legal wedding from earlier in the week, and photos from our childhood which we’d matched (our first day at school photos, messy eating photos, photos with our brothers etc.). The photos were very important to me, as I display a lot at home (I am typing this in my living room and counted 41 frames just in here!), so it was lovely to include them in the day.
My mum took on all of the catering herself, and cooked an amazing vegetarian feast including all the canapes and desserts- it was amazing, and we had so many compliments!
Once again, the amazing work of my mum! The cake was very special to me as it was the work of three generations of women in my family- my mum baked and iced the cake, I decorated it with moss and the ornaments I’d made, and my grandma set it up and arranged flowers around it. It came out really well, I think!
We had Tom as the guitarist when people were first there, who also sang our processional and recessional and was generally brilliant. Later in the day, we had a welly wanging tournament (Team Groom won, unfortunately), and a silent disco, which was brilliant- both myself and Jack aren’t fans of loud music, and like to sit in silence at home, so it was nice to have the music as optional. It also gives a whole dancing-in-your-bedroom vibe, so people really let loose and went for it!
Buy or DIY your Stationery
A bit of both! We saw some postcards by East of India which we thought were really lovely and bought them, then pasted our invitations which we’d printed out onto the back
Personal or Handmade Touches
Oh god, where to start? My absolute favourite personal touch is probably our rings. Right after Jack said yes to my proposal, my parents offered their wedding rings to us- neither of them have been worn for years. Jack’s parents wear their rings, so donated some rings from Jack’s much loved late grandma to add in. I liked the idea of our rings being precious to us and not anyone else, and I’d heard that penguins give each other pebbles as engagement rings, so had the idea of setting pebbles from Brighton beach into our rings, as Brighton is special to us. It was very difficult to find a jeweller who would be happy to make rings from recycled gold and set irregular non-precious stones, but Richard was happy to not just do this, but also to let us make them ourselves with his guidance! We’re not superstitious, but my grandma is, so Jack bought my opals separately so they were a gift and good luck, which I thought was lovely. We also had an additional set of rings made that are plain bands, as we both work in the NHS and aren’t allowed stones in our wedding rings.
We made a lot of decorations (us and my poor long-suffering mum!), from decorating the jam jars, to the toadstools on the cake. We hand-painted a lot of the picture frames that were used on the tables. The crockery at the wedding was all sourced personally by us, and it’s lovely that we now have so much wedding china that we get to use and remember the day! Our friends Annis and Mike, who are the world’s most dedicated beer boffins, made us two lovely beers to enjoy on the day, which was really special. My dad did the ceremony, and made everyone laugh and cry, and our friend Bobbie did a beautiful reading from I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Jack’s mum did a really nice speech about handing over the care of Jack to me, which was really moving. We wrote our own vows, and to be honest when we were done with them I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house bar ours!
I think my favourite part was when Jack read their vows- it was just so heart-wrenching! Also having our first dance- Jack and I didn’t like the idea of having a really public first dance, but they tapped me on the shoulder to change channels at the silent disco and You Grew On Me by Tim Minchin was on (it’s always been special to us as Jack is a medical student and I am a nursing auxiliary applying to do graduate medicine), and it seemed perfect. My dance with my dad makes me cry when I think back to it! (see surprises)
Advice to other couples
If you are DIYing a lot, make sure to give yourself lots of time and space to get things done- when people hire professionals, there is a set schedule for the day, i.e. hair appointments, make-up time, when the food arrives etc. and when you do these things yourself it can be overwhelming, and things can get pushed aside which shouldn’t. I didn’t have time to do my hair at all on my wedding day (thankfully not a bad hair day!), my make-up was rushed and my mail polish was smudged as it was done last minute because I was trying to do everything else. We took on too much and ended up hitting the prosecco to calm down!
My mum called me up one day during wedding planning and said “Do we have to tell you everything, or can there be surprises?”. Saying yes to surprises was really hard for me, I don’t tend to like them, but I am so glad I did! Half way through the disco, my brother told me dad wanted to see me in the marquee, and he’d recorded his own version of That’s All That Matters To Me by Paul Carrack, and we danced to it. It makes me cry listening back to the track, not least because my Dad and I used to sing along to Mike + The Mechanics songs when I was very young and the lyrics are exactly how my Dad feels about seeing me get married. It is one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever had.