James and Lieha’s Festival Themed Summer Solstice Barn Wedding in Gloucestershire by Courtney Louise Photography
Happy Friday everyone! and happy September, I do hope you have had a good 4...
Yay for Friday! I can’t believe it’s the end of the working week already, this week has flown by! I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend, whether it be doing something exciting, or simply chilling out.
To finish off the week I have this super cute barn wedding from Benjamin Mathers Photography. It’s a laid back and relaxed day that was all planned in around 6 months, even though Kat the bride had just had a baby, so good on them for getting through those six months in one piece! It has a rainbow theme that can be seen in the bridesmaids dresses and the gorgeous flowers. The beautiful venue, Blackthorpe Barn makes the perfect location, full of smiles and love, the perfect way to finish off our week of real weddings.
Kat and Mark were married on Saturday 20th June 2015 at Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham, Suffolk. ‘We chose the venue because of the perfect location, good price and we both loved it. It was large enough to have enough space for our guests and for the entertainment we wanted. In addition, it had a marriage licence so we could get married there and then stay for the reception, which meant there could be a more relaxed feel for the day- no getting from A to B. We had 124 guest in total. Although we were engaged for 3 years and we set the date and booked the venue fairly quickly, the vast majority of the planning took place in the last 6 months. This was interesting, because I had a baby on 25the December 2014 and we were getting married on 20th June 2015, so it was certainly a busy time.’
How they met
We met through mutual friends, and spent a lot of time hanging out round my house chatting for hours, talking about our past travelling experiences. It was actually my mum that gave Mark my number as he told her he would really like to take me out for a drink. We have been together just over 5 years when we got married.
Koh Tao was our favourite place when we had previously travelled to Thailand (separately), so we decided to take a romantic holiday there together. We booked the holiday well in advance to go away at the beginning of June. Meantime, Mark was planning the proposal and had persuaded me to stay in a really luxurious beach hut in a private bay, as he wanted the proposal to be extra special. He bought the ring 4 months before the holiday and somehow kept it all a secret from me. When we got to Thailand, Mark was apparently desperate to propose as he was nervous and had been stressing about losing the ring. But he wanted to wait until we arrived at our beach hut, so he had to wait until we had our first night on Koh Samui and then as soon as we arrived at Haad Tien Beach Resort he was ready. And I said yes of course!
How did you allocate your budget
we tried to keep things as cheap as possible, but we also didn’t want to scrimp as it was our special day- we are only going to do it once! A lot of the spending allocation was down to luck as we didn’t stick to a strict plan of a budget. The main thing was to try and keep things in perspective, because it’s very easy to start justifying expensive prices for certain things just because “that’s cheap for a wedding price”, some bands quoted us crazy prices as soon as we mentioned the function was a wedding!
Where did you splurge and where did you save
We wanted to make sure that our guests had plenty of drink and plenty of food! We had been to a wedding before and there wasn’t enough food to go around the table with buffet style serving, so we knew we wanted a proper sit down meal. We couldn’t afford an open bar, but we made sure that the welcome drinks were plenty and there were more than enough bottles of wine with the meal. I think one of the biggest saves for the day was my wedding dress. I went to a local bridal room and the lady there was so helpful.
How did you choose your photographer
It was important to us to have a good photographer. We didn’t want to spend all this money on our big day and then not capture it- this was a huge regret of someone we know who had a poor photographer.
I knew of Benjamin Mathers photography from a friend of mine who had him photograph her wedding and I thought the photos were perfect! He has such a beautiful talent for capturing natural shots. My sister also recommended him to me, as she had been a bridesmaid the previous summer where he had been the photographer of the wedding. She was extremely impressed with the photos he took of the day and of his professionalism. My sister is a tough critic of photography, so her recommendation was my key influence!
My dress was by Kenneth Winston. I wore my usual jewellery- a troll bead bracelet and a plain silver heart ring that my sister has the same that she wears. I also borrowed the pearl earrings I wore, from my friend who lives next door. My shoes were custom made pearl converse!
The Suit and Bridesmaids
The suit was a handmade Trotter and Deane. Mark had a suit made for his best man and usher too. I cheated for the bridemaids dresses and had them custom made online by honey-kiss on Ebay. I was a little anxious about this as I had heard all the horror stories about online dresses made overseas, but I ordered 1 in one of my bridemaid’s measurements as a trial dress and it was perfect! So I ordered the other 6 dresses. (Yes, I had 7 bridesmaids! One for each colour of the rainbow).
Theme or Colour Scheme
Mark wanted the tables named after trees with the latin names as he has a personal and professional interest in trees and nature. I also wanted a bright and colourful wedding, so going with this theme we wanted a colourful and natural colour scheme using the bridesmaid dresses and flowers as the splashes of rainbow colours.
I used a local florist, ForageFor, who had her own walled flower garden. All of the flowers were English wild flowers.
We kept the decoration to a minimum. The barn had beautiful wooden beams which had white fairy lights wrapped around them and we had bunting across the main barn. We then just used the colourful wild flowers in jam jars dotted around the room. These were on the tables during the sit down meal, which also had the table names on coloured card matching the rainbow coloured theme.
Rural Kitchen are the company who has use of Blackthorpe Barn to put weddings on through the summer months. When we chose to have our venue here, we were informed that the food and drinks were provided (at an extra cost) with them as well. Therefore, this made things a lot easier. We had a three course sit down meal and a paid bar, which we were able to chose the beers to be put on tap. In addition, we had a selection of cocktail welcome drinks after the ceremony and wine on the tables with the meal.
My mum’s other half’s sister makes wedding cakes, so she offered her services at a reduced price. We had a two-tier cake and a selection of cupcakes. All of the cakes were gluten free and most were dairy free to help cater for the guests attending.
We had an adult bouncy castle and garden games in the meadow, which were enjoyed by the children during the day, and we had a tent ball pit for the younger children. I also brought my Jumperoo and travel cot with me for the babies. Our 6 month old spent a lot of the day napping so I’m glad we thought of this!
For the evening, we had a live band that was a huge hit! And we had a fire outside for guests to enjoy a more relaxed vibe outside later into the night.
Personal or Handmade Touches
I handmade all of the table placements which were made from wild flower plantable paper, and kitchen herb seed plantable paper wrapped in a bow. I also made the table names and placements for each guest that had co-ordinating coloured card and a tree theme. I decided to hand write these as a personal touch.
It was just so incredible to have all of our loved ones in one place, that was the most special moment of the day- being able to celebrate together! And it was so wonderful experiencing everything we had been thinking about and planning for so long come into fruition!
Advice to other couples
The best tip I was given for the day itself that I would definitely recommend is to just stop and take a deep breath at various points of the day to be able to be in the moment and take it all in! The day really does fly by, I’m so grateful that i was able to take this advice and enjoy our big day.
It all successfully went down without a hitch!
Benjamin Mathers is a relaxed documentary style photographer from Norfolk, covering East Anglia, London and beyond. He describes his style as Natural Wedding Photography, partly because he likes his images to appear as relaxed and unstaged as possible, and partly because he loves to use nature as a means to create beautiful images.