Claire and Matthew’s Circus themed Dinosaurs and Gin Loving Farm Wedding by Mike Plunkett

Happy Tuesday everyone! This afternoon I have a very exciting competition for you all, where EVERYONE will be entitled to a money off voucher! So do make sure you pop back later to find out more! This morning though I have this super cute Farm wedding for you, courtesy of regular to the blog Mike Plunkett. Claire and Matthew wanted something pretty low-key for their wedding and after looking at a number of options really fell in love with Hyde Bank Farm. It gave them the freedom they were looking for in a gorgeous location, where they were able to do lots of the planning and organisation themselves. They brought in their love of dinosaurs and gin and mixed them all together into a circus theme. With lots of outdoor games, a well stocked cake table, handmade table decor, DIY stationery and a whole host of personal projects, this wedding is just oozing with personality.

I wasn’t prepared for how truly amazing it would be. I would say that our wedding day was incredibly fun and full of all the things and people we love.

Claire and Matthew were married on 9th September 2017 at Hyde Bank Farm, Romiley in Stockport. ‘We looked at a few venues, all of them quite different, a hotel, a National Trust property and a church hall that would have been a complete DIY wedding. When we looked around Hyde Bank Farm we knew instantly we wanted to get married there. The barn was so beautiful, there was loads of outdoor space for games, the views were stunning, and there was a donkey called Freddie, I love donkeys, so it just had to be. We were really worried because the venue was too small for us, but Mandy explained that a new barn was being built. At times it was quite difficult not knowing what the space would look like but when it was finally ready we were astonished at how beautiful the new area was – it makes such a big difference to the venue. We had around 100 guests in the end, everyone was there for the whole day, which was nice. It meant that we didn’t have to welcome more people in the evening and could just hit the dance floor instead! The wedding was about 18 months in the making. I had always been adamant I wouldn’t get married, so unlike most girls I hadn’t planned a dream venue, dream dress, dream flowers…I thought all that stuff was stupid, so it was quite an adjustment!’

How they met
Matt and I met in 42s (42nd Street), a nightclub in Manchester. We got chatting and discovered that we lived five minutes’ walk from one another so shared a taxi home. That’s when Matt invited me to a Florence and The Machine gig the next evening and the rest is history. We have been together for eight and a half years now.

The proposal
I had booked to go away to Exmoor for a long weekend and Matt had been pretty shifty. He had been asking me which of my rings was my favourite, what my favourite colour was, and he got pretty mad when a colleague of mine got engaged the weekend before we were due to go away. We were staying in a really cute cottage. I was trying to cook dinner but, Matt wolfed it down without much compliment and he wouldn’t let me open the prosecco. After dinner he took me upstairs where he had laid out petals and candles all over the room and played Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap. I figured that he was going to propose but then he danced with me so long I started to believe I had misunderstood. Then as the song was coming to a close he lurched onto the floor, scrambled around on his laptop and stopped the music before finally popping the question. It was only afterwards that I found out Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal was next up. I love that song, but he was right, it wouldn’t have been the song to propose to!

How did you allocate your budget?
To be honest we didn’t really. Like I said, I hadn’t ever really wanted to get married and I had been brought up to believe it was a waste of money. We tried to do everything as cheaply as we could, but things do tend to spiral, and we found ourselves caring less and less about the cost of things. That said, I don’t think we spent more than we had imagined we would spend when we first set out.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We spent a lot of money on the venue because we wanted a Saturday wedding in the summer. We had set a lot of money aside for a band, but sadly they couldn’t make the date so we saved there. We didn’t have wedding cars because I didn’t see the point. I had planned to hire loads of outdoor games and vintage fun fair stalls, but I realised I could do a good enough job myself. And I am glad I did!

How did you choose your photographer?
I looked at quite a few photographers online and when I was looking at venues I saw a few names over and over again. When I looked at Mike Plunkett’s site I just loved his photography. It was really natural but really seemed to capture the essence of the moment and the character of the people. When we first chatted with Mike on Skype I knew he was our man! On the wedding day he was a huge help, giving me tips on what to do and expect and helping Matt and his brothers sort out their button holes! Our families all love the photographs and lots of people commented on what a great job he did during the day.

The dress 
My dress was from the Brighton Belle collection of True Bride. I didn’t want a traditional wedding dress because I have never been one for a maxi dress. I tried a couple of long dresses on at Wed2Be just to be sure and I hated every moment of it! I had seen a short dress in a wedding magazine at the very beginning of planning, and it made me realise that I wanted a short dress. I loved pretty much all of the Brighton Belle dresses that I tried on but I eventually settled on the one that I had seen in the magazine. I bought a blue petticoat to go underneath and designed my shoes on Shoes of Prey.  Because they were blue suede and there was so much lawn and I had planned a lot of stuff outdoors I also bought some flowery pink wellies – and I was so glad that I did because it really chucked it down during the morning.

The suit and bridesmaids
The suits were from Ted Baker and fitted at Slaters, where the service is really excellent – all of the Styles boys are tall, and slim but have broad shoulders, so it was a bit of a challenge, but the suits were perfect. The bridesmaid dress was from Debenhams.

Theme or colour 
The theme and colour scheme was pretty loose. I love dinosaurs and I love gin so both featured heavily in the day – we had gold dinosaurs and gin bottles as table centrepieces (stacked on books because I’m a bibliophile) and miniature gold dinosaurs as place settings. At some point I decided upon a circus theme and so there were a lot of red and white pin stripes, tickets, and circus themed games, our wedding favours were fortune fish.

We had loads of different flowers because I wanted a really colourful mix. I was really keen to have succulents in my bouquet and button holes because I love them and I fell in love with craspedia. We had 100 glass bottles which I had been collecting for a year to fill the tables and all together they looked amazing. I was so impressed with the florist – they really understood what I was looking for and were amazing value.

Inside the ceremony room we had a white backdrop with fairy lights which was really beautiful, and we had some of our flowers, gin bottles, dinosaurs and a red and white pinstripe cloth to bring the circus theme in. But we kept things quite simple in there – I figured we wouldn’t be in there long enough to spend a lot of money on it! In the main room we kept things fairly simple again, the room itself was beautiful and the view was a real focal point. The flowers and the gin bottles, dinosaurs etc filled the space up nicely.

We had some fairly simple canapes and a traditional three-course wedding breakfast. Later in the evening we had bacon and sausage sarnies which went down a storm. We also had a sweet table which I put together. We visit a brewery called Electric Bear frequently so we ordered a keg of their beer for behind the bar which went down a storm.

Wedding cake
I really didn’t want a three-tier wedding cake so I approached a local bakery to make me a selection of cakes – the cake table looked amazing – we had eight cakes and cupcakes. We had a Hummingbird cake, an Eton mess cake, a chocolate orange cake, a lemon meringue cake, so many cakes I can’t really remember all the flavours!

I had made some circus games, including a hook a duck. On the day I was really worried that the rain would mean we couldn’t get out on the lawn but the sun came out and we all had fun with the games. I think the highlight of the day was the sack race! I absolutely loved it even though I was pretty rubbish, I really went for it even though my hair really wasn’t up to all the bouncing! The photos and videos that we have from the races are some of my favourites and it made all the hard work that my mum went to painting on pinstripes worth it! In the evening we hired a photobooth which was set up in the back of a taxi – it was great fun. We had a DJ in the evening who we gave a playlist of our favourite songs – I didn’t leave the dancefloor all evening. We have some fab pictures with glowsticks and me jumping around like a lunatic, the DJ said he had never seen a bride dance so energetically – I think that was a compliment!

Who supplied the stationery?
Matt and I made all of the stationery ourselves which was great fun. We downloaded some free circus fonts online and designed everything on Publisher and Word! We got our invites printed by a local printer but everything else we did ourselves. The table plan was probably the biggest challenge, we were up pretty late one night with an awful lot of PVA glue trying to get everything stuck down!

Personal touches
We did a lot ourselves and so there were plenty of personal touches, which I was really pleased with and everyone remarked on. We made the stationery ourselves, pulled together all the centrepieces ourselves, made our own circus/fair games, made our own sweet table. Matt made cufflinks for the groomsmen from meeples (board game pieces) because he realised it would save us loads of money. We walked back down the aisle to the Skyrim theme tune because I loved playing the game and the music is so epic! We had board games, our favourite beer, gin bottles, books, dinosaurs, a donkey, late 90s dance, the Westworld soundtrack – all of our favourite things!

Special moments 
I really loved the sack race, I don’t think many brides would get involved with a sack race on their wedding day but it was so much fun. The readings during the ceremony were fantastic and quite unexpected in the end. The speeches were all brilliant. I loved hanging out with Freddie the donkey. Climbing over the barbed wire fence with all my layers of netting was a little hazardous in hindsight but I was desperate to see him and I walked away unscathed!

Advice for othr couples
Remember that at the end of the day all you are doing is planning a party and everyone you have invited is there because they love you and want to celebrate with you. For me it was really important that everyone had fun, so I planned in loads of things that I found fun and figured other people would too. This way I made sure that Matt and I were having a great day without too much worry about what everyone else was doing because I was sure that they would be having a fab time too.

Biggest surprise 
I had asked my cousins to read A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton for me. I had asked three of the girls to play the three parts (a narrator, lovely dinosaur and lovely other dinosaur), but had been warned that one of them didn’t want to read so Charlie would be doing it. Well I knew something was up when all four of them stood up and started rooting around under the registrar’s table. They had two dinosaur puppets and a whole series of props and they all worked together to put on a puppet show. I was absolutely flabbergasted – it was such a wonderful surprise. Although I am a little worried that Nak.


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I’m passionate about photography and people and I just love weddings! My style is very natural but artistic. I can easily blend into any wedding and whilst I have almost 10 year’s experience, I never stop learning and seeing new things in each wedding I capture.


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