Whether you’re planning an elegant traditional or boho-chic wedding, you want the day to reflect...
I have another gorgeous wedding for you today, courtesy of Paul Fletcher Photography. It’s the wedding of Tilly and Tom who were married at Grittenham Barn in West Sussex, a beautiful venue that let them have the country-style wedding they were looking for. With lots of DIY projects and an abundance of pretty pastel details, as well as some gorgeous flowers this wedding is bursting with colour and charm.
Tilly and Tom were married on 20th August 2014 at Grittenham Barn, Tillington in West Sussex. ‘We visited around ten venues however Grittenham Barn was one of the first we visited. We knew it was ‘the one’ when we kept comparing the others to it. It had everything, a beautiful barn, a spectacular rose garden and lake (where we held the speeches) and a nice outdoor space. Obviously having a wedding even in the ‘great British summertime’ you still run the risk of rain so it was important that we had someone indoors ‘just in case’. Thankfully the sun shone and the weather was spectacular so plan b was never needed! We had around 90 guests in the day and 140 in the evening. The wedding took around 18 months to plan.’
How they met
We were friends for around 4-5 years before we got together. Everyone knew before we did that we belonged together, it just took us a while to get there! We got together a few days before I went to South Africa for five months so the timing wasn’t great but we skyped every other day and made it work! We were together for five years before we got married.
Tom had spent years convincing me that he never wanted to get married. Although this was difficult to come to terms with, I had started to just as he popped the question!
We went to New York for New Years and within the first day or so of arriving had visited Central Park. I have always wanted to go on a horse and carriage ride around Central Park (it was one of many things to do on my bucket list) however when we had enquired about it, we had both decided it was too expensive. I didn’t mind and had said to Tom that we would certainly go back one day so we could do it another time. Little did I know that he had booked a carriage ride months ago for New Year’s Eve!
On the day of New Year’s Eve, we decided to go to Central Park for a ‘walk around’ and as Tom distracted me by talking to a trader on the outskirts of the park, a beautiful horse and carriage arrived. Tom turned me round and told me he had already arranged one. Even at this point I had no idea what was about to happen. He had told the driver that we were both massive movie enthusiasts and so the tour was tailored to a movie theme with the guide telling us where certain movies had been filmed, where actors lived etc. We then arrived at The Angel Fountain, which as the driver had pointed out and I already knew, was where 27 dresses was filmed. Thrilled to be at a site where one of my favourite movies took place, I was desperate to go and see the fountain (which Tom had already anticipated as he had arranged for us to stop there).
We walked down the steps to the fountain (I ran!) and I stood by the lakeside looking at the famous Boathouse. Tom held back standing by the fountain, when I had finished taking a million photos of the boathouse I walked back over to tom to continue our carriage ride however as I went to walk away tom took my arm and turned me to face him. It was there he got down on one knee and proposed! I cannot tell you how excited and shocked I was it was like something out of a movie and SO unexpected! The rest of the carriage ride was a complete blur however he had arranged his family (who were on holiday with us) to meet us at the champagne bar in the Plaza. We then partied away the night, me just staring at my beautiful, designed by Tom, engagement ring.
How did you allocate your budget
We really didn’t know where to start to be honest; however, I purchased about a million bridal magazines which definitely helped guide us in the right direction! Our main priorities were the venue, the photographer, the band and, having worked in fashion for many years, the dress! There were certain things we did ourselves, including the venue decorations which saved a bit of money, however we had additional extras such as a photo booth and hired an old fashioned red post box for our wedding cards.
How did you choose your photographer
We had looked at a number of photographers in the (fairly) local area and came across Paul Fletcher. We arranged to meet him as it was very important to us that we ‘clicked’ with our photographer and we did! He brought along samples of his photography and spoke to us in depth about what we wanted from our photos and got to know us, what we were like and our style and both Tom and I walked away from our meting feeling an instant connection. Paul spent the morning with me and my bridesmaids and family and captured such wonderful moments that I didn’t even know happened. His presence was barely known at the wedding and he caught so many wonderful natural shots whilst also keeping in mind those that we had specified (family shots etc). I couldn’t recommend Paul enough he was absolutely fantastic.
My dress was Vera Wang and my shoes were from Phase Eight. I had a vintage rose pink sash around my waist so I really wanted to get a rose pearl necklace. This was much harder than I had first thought but after hours of searching on the internet I found a necklace and bracelet set and when it arrived it was even better than I had imagined!
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Tom’s suit was by a designer and we bought it from Moss Bros. The groomsmen’s suits were all from River Island. Neither myself nor Tom are very traditional so we didn’t want ‘top and tails’ or black/grey suits and we found these beautiful suits from River Island which were a deep electric/navy blue they were really unusual and fitted the boys (after a few trips to the store) like a dream!
The bridesmaids were a completely different story. In the early days of planning I had come across this beautiful picture on Pintrest of bridesmaids each in a different colour bridesmaid dress. I didn’t want a traditional style dress and as each of them are so different (I had five) I also wanted each dress to suit them and for them to feel gorgeous in them. It took me months, and month, and months to track each dress down! There were some that were sent back before even taking them out of the slip (those I had ordered online) and quite a few shopping trips with each individual bridesmaid but I was determined to re-create the look I had fallen in love with and I think we beat it. Each of the bridesmaids looked so beautiful and loved their dresses. A few were from Coast and some online, my flower girl had a dress from Monsoon kids.
Theme or Colour Scheme
Our venue lent itself very well to a ‘country/relaxed’ vibe which suited us down to a T. As I have mentioned earlier, we are both very into music so we also had a festival theme. Our invites were made to resemble gig tickets (my brother is a graphic designer and designed them for us) and we had our collection of framed vinyls hanging from the walls within the barn. Our centre pieces were vinyls and each table name was named after a different band. As favours we made VIP lanyards for each guest. We had a pastel colour scheme, so light blue, lilac, peach, pastel pink and mint green. Each of the groomsmen wore a vintage rose coloured tie which matched my sash and Tom had a pale blue tie to go with his suit.
We really wanted a very relaxed flower display so our florist came up with a few moodboards, one of which, the bohemian style board, was perfect! We fell in love with them immediately, they were all wild flowers, dusky roses and lots and lots of gypsophila. She knew exactly the style we wanted, a loose bouquet, with soft pastel colours. The table flowers were all in jam jars of different sizes which both my mum in law and mum collected for about a year leading up to the big day! We wrapped hessian and different colour lace around each jam jar to tie in with the vintage/country feel. We also scattered these jam jars around the barn, on fireplaces and outside to create a continuous look. There was a rose garden outside, which was where we held the speeches so obviously we didn’t need and more flowers there!
There was so much to the barn that we really didn’t need to do too much. Fairy lights were wrapped around the beams within the barn and jam jars of flowers and later in the evening, candles were dotted around outside. We erected a marquee outside and bought along our old chesterfield and some other seating for tea and cake early afternoon and a ‘chill out’ area in the evening.
Our home is quite vintage/up cycled inspired so we ended up bringing quite a few things from home, including the framed vinyls, photo frames, candle holders. I also have a few old leather suitcases which I ended up using for our table plan and tie ribbon from one side to the other and pegged each table seating plan to the ribbon. It worked really well and a lot of people commented on the finishing touches.
As my dad is from South Africa I am a big meat eater, as is my husband. We had been to a wedding the previous year and they had a company called Barbeskews catering. They were fantastic. They are a Churrasco charcoal barbecue catering company and cook everything in front of you out of old steel drums. They bring the whole set up and have a great marquee they set up that really looks the part. We didn’t want a traditional three course sit down silver service meal so opted for the buffet wedding option. There were three courses so people were properly fed but it was very easy going and relaxed and the caterers coped very well when the speeches ran over by about an hour!
In the evening, around 10pm we had another barbecue but this time offering bacon rolls, a family friend very kindly manned the barbecue for us, but it wasn’t around for very long, as soon as the smell of bacon filled the air they were pretty much gone!
We had a varied level cake stand with a different cake on each stand. A Victoria sponge which my mum had made, a fruit cake made by my mum in law, a chocolate cake and madeira cake made my our cake maker. It looked so beautiful, and for the first time I have ever been to a wedding and all of the cake was eaten which was surprising seeing as they had only just had a three course meal!
We hired a band called The Skidaddles who I really couldn’t recommend enough they were absolutely fantastic. We requested a few songs however their set list was so fantastic there wasn’t much more we wanted to add! We also produced a set list to play in between the bands performances and afterwards. Our very dear friend Ben performed our first dance. We also had a photo booth which was a huge hit!
Buy or DIY your Stationery
My brother designed all of our stationary including our VIP lanyard favours
Personal or Handmade Touches
I made the following for the wedding:
Table plan – out of a vintage leather suitcase, ribbon and pieces of card
Centre pieces – out of small vinyls purchased from a charity shop, replaced the centre piece with handmade, cut out card with different band names on for the table names
Centre piece flowers – jam jars with lace and hessian
Outdoors chill out area had a sofa and some chairs from home
Decorations around venue were all from home (some purchased)
Candle holders were decorated by me and my bridesmaids
Water bottles were wrapped with lace and hessian to match the flower jam jars
Our vinyl collection was hung up behind our table
We have quite a few family members and friends who live abroad and it was so lovely to have everyone together under one roof. We felt so honoured that so many people made such a huge effort to attend our wedding.
Advice to other couples
Try not to focus too much on the little things – although we had a lot of people comment on the finishing touches there were other things like a message tree that we had that didn’t get used.
Enjoy the wedding planning – it is very easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of planning a wedding but make sure you take time out to enjoy each other’s company and have date nights where you don’t talk about the wedding!
Try and do as much as you can in advance – I didn’t realise how long it would take to sort out all of my bridesmaid dresses and found it very stressful towards the end!
Really think about your guest list – it’s amazing how quickly it all adds up! If you have a limit stick to it. We tried to limit it to people we have seen in the past two years however saying that we invited some very old friends.
Delay your honeymoon – we got married in August but have only recently come back from our honeymoon (December). It was great as it gave us something to look forward to in the dark dreary months of winter!
Wear comfortable shoes – I bought some nice flip flops to change into so I was able to dance and wander around freely!
ENJOY YOUR DAY – no matter what happens, even if something goes wrong it will all be fine! You have married the love of your life and that is all that matters!
Crying during our vows! I thought I would be absolutely fine and seemed to be until mid-way I completely lost it!
The day goes so quickly and can be quite overwhelming so Tom and I took a moment to go for a walk just us two; it was lovely to have that special time together before going back to the madness!