Christopher and Chad’s ‘Eclectic English Charm Meets Southern American’ Barn Wedding in Oxfordshire by MT Studios
Today I am taking you to Oxfordshire for the rather splendid wedding of Christopher and...
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have all had a wonderful week so far and are now looking forward to the weekend ahead of us. I have a busy one planned. Tomorrow we are taking Dexter to the local family cinema and then we have friends coming round for dinner in the evening. Sunday we are off to Yorkshire wildlife Park for the day, it looks like it’s going to be a lovely sunny day, so I am looking forward to a lovely family day enjoying the spring weather. What about you? To end the week I am sharing a lovely wedding from my home town of Sheffield. The wedding is a lovely local one and the reception venue is actually somewhere I have been on numerous occasions, in fact when Dexter was born we used to go there every Friday for a drink and some food, back in the day when he was small and just used to sit in his pram! (How things have changed.) So this wedding brings back very happy memories! With a pretty pale blue colour scheme and a subtle music themed running throughout, it really is a pretty summer wedding, that I’m sure will get you excited for the lovely weather ahead of us. Thanks to Kate Waters Photography for the delightful images.
Grace and Sam were married on the 30th July 2016 in a ceremony at St Thomas Crookes Church, Sheffield, followed by a reception at The Florentine, Sheffield. ‘St Thomas Crookes is where we met and also where we attend regularly so it was an obvious decision to get married amongst family. The Florentine was a venue Sam found whilst on a run. We had been looking for somewhere elegant yet relaxed and also big enough to hold all our guests, and where our guests could enjoy the day and be themselves. The Florentine was perfect, and had amazing food, something very important to both of us! We had 210 guests at the ceremony, 185 at the reception. We were engaged for 11 months, which was plenty of time to plan the day and enjoy the process without any pressure or urgency.’
How they met
We actually met mainly through playing in the music band for other people’s weddings at St Thomas Crookes and by being two of the few students who stuck around over the Uni summer holidays. We had been together just under 2 years when we got engaged, then engaged for 11 months, and now married for 7 months.
Grace grew up in Spain so took Sam there for our summer holiday getaway. On the penultimate evening there, after a lovely day discovering Malaga, we head out for a meal and ended up finding a spot on a beachside restaurant. After our steak, chips and red wine we set off for a walk down the beach in the moonlight. After a while we sat down just by the soft tide and Sam exclaimed “This is exactly how I imagined it”. He brought out a little handmade paper envelope, out of which he brought out the ring. After a few minutes of Grace squealing with excitement he asked her to marry him and she was almost too overwhelmed to give an answer. It was a beautiful setting and moment and, being away on holiday, meant we were able to take a day together before we flew back home without anyone knowing, to get excited and dream about the day without the crazy of everyone else’s hype too.
How did you allocate your budget?
We had a few generous donations from family and also some savings of our own. We sat down early on in the wedding-planning, looked at how much money we had to work with and then estimated how much we wanted to spend on the different elements of the day. Throughout the process, as we entered the actual figures we just kept checking that we were on track for the overall budget. At the end of the day we ended up having money left over for our honeymoon!
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We knew we were working on a lower budget than the “average UK spending” but we also have a lot of very talented friends and so we just chose areas that were important to us (the venue and food) which is where the bulk of the budget went, and then chose areas such as favours, flowers and cake as easy ways to save. The wedding dress was also a lot more affordable (as well as a lot more beautiful!) than we’d estimated which helped a lot.
Why did you choose your photographer?
We were looking around at different options and then a friend pointed us towards Kate and as soon as we had a look at her blog we knew she would be able to capture the day exactly as we wanted it; the smiles, the joy, the relaxed encounters, the moments no one else sees… We wanted natural but beautiful photos to remember the day with and it was evident Kate was going to do that and more. She was absolutely incredible, super talented and a lovely person to have around on the day as well as cheering us on in the leadup to the day.
The dress was Naya by Heidi Hudson, incredibly elegant, flattering and comfortable which made wearing it a great privilege. I wore some embellished flat sandals to keep with the relaxed summer feel we were going for. I had some real flowers in my hair along with some “leaves” made from sheet music paper, to match the groomsmen’s buttonholes.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
The groomsmen’s suits were from Next and the bridesmaids’ dresses from ASOS.
Theme or Colour Scheme
We’re both very musical so that was an element we wanted to draw from. Our invitations contained a rustic style with elements of music as well as the order of service and decorations. Then we knew we wanted a soft, pastel blue-green for the dresses and ties, but we were not super fixed to a particular colour otherwise.
We went for a “wild flower” theme, with a mixture of pastel-coloured flowers to emphasise the summery feel and steer away from a “colour theme” being assumed from the bouquets alone. Of The Wild created our beautiful bouquets and other flower elements for the day, including the bride’s hair accessories.
Again fitting with the music theme, Grace had made some sheet music bunting for the church and a smaller version for the cake. Other than that, we had a few flowers scattered about but the venue was already so well decorated we didn’t want to meddle with their style.
It was a sort of buffet banquet with great quality food. There was pizza, ribs, marinated chicken, slaws and couscous salads alongside the best sweet potato fries we’ve had. There was also a dessert buffet, containing deconstructed eton mess, to make up yourself, lemon drizzle, chocolate brownie and fruit
Grace’s sister made the whole cake, a delicious dark chocolate cake and butter cream, and decorated it with white chocolate buttercream. We knew we wanted something simpler and more rustic that also had a token of “us” in it. The cake toppers did this by portraying our love of music – by being Nanoblock figurines of the instruments we each play – which were also gifts from Sam for Grace to build whilst he was away on a 6-week elective project in South-East Asia.
Many of our friends are musical, so we decided to showcase their talents by asking 4 groups of friends and family to prepare a couple of songs to perform on the night, plus a few of our own suggestions. Everyone had a great time dancing along to some insane covers and Grace even stepped in to sing along with one song. We had also prepared a playlist from song suggestions from every guest.
We made all of our own Save-The-Dates and Invitations from scratch with simple shop-bought stationary, sheet music paper, twine and typewriter font stamp letters and ink.
It was so important to us that we got to tell all our guests how amazing we think they are. So in the run up to the wedding we took time out to write everyone a letter re-living funny stories, looking back on friendships and generally shouting their praises. It was very special, and safe to say there were one or two tears. In return for their letter, we asked the guests to take a Polaroid photo of themselves with a note, which made up our guest book.
Special Moments or Highlights
We went for breakfast together on the morning of the wedding, just to spend some time alone to allow us to enjoy saying hello to everyone else throughout the day. It gave us the chance to get excited about the day, to get in the right perspective, and exchange letters we’d written eachother.
However the best part of the day was just seeing how many people were there, how loved we felt and the opportunity to share such a wonderful day with so many of our closest friends and family. It was truly special.
Advice for Other Couples
It sounds cliché, but just enjoy it! The process of planning the day and particularly the day itself does NOT need to be at all stressful. We really enjoyed every aspect and it lead to us loving the day.
Also, don’t feel like you have to live up to any traditions. Decide how you can make the day unique to you as a couple, and do it! Have different playlists for different parts of the day, which end up creating the soundtrack to your day, which you can then re-listen to and relive the day whenever you want.
Other than the letter-favours which was probably the biggest surprise, we did a “first sing” rather than a first dance. We played and sang a medley of songs which was good fun and much less awkward for everyone else than if we’d have attempted a dance.