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I have something rather special for you today in the form of this rather gorgeous...
It’s the last day of the week, which can only mean that the weekend is upon us very soon…whoo hoo! I’m so excited for the weekend, what about you? We are finishing off the week by heading across to the very lovely Dove Barn in Suffolk for this super cute pretty pastel wedding from Emily Tyler Photography. This gorgeous day is full of the most gorgeous details and DIY decoration ideas. From pastel lanterns to the paper pom poms, a giant flower wall to the ribbon tied chairs. It all looks so pretty, but not as gorgeous as Bride Hannah and her dashing husband Brad.
Hannah and Brad were married on the 11th June 2016 at Dove Barn, Sudbury, Suffolk. ‘We really wanted somewhere that let us have the freedom and creativity to design our own day, which is hard to find. To make things more difficult, we were only looking six months before we wanted to get married so a lot of venues were fully booked. My mum found Dove Barn online and it was perfect for us, plus we could have access to it all weekend rather than just one day – it was informal, flexible and so peaceful. What we loved most is that it was a blank canvas that we could decorate to our own style plus it was a beautiful setting. We had 90 in the day, no children apart from 2 little ones, our niece (flower girl) and nephew (ring bearer). Another 35 people came to the party in the evening. It too six months to plan – we booked the venue just before Christmas 2015.’
How they met
9 years ago, Brad was given my number through someone who knew me. He was persistent and we eventually met up for a blind date. We went for a night out at Chicago’s in Bishops Stortford but I’d invited my work friends to go to the same place in case I wanted to escape! We ended up drinking far too much and I walked into a glass door, smooth. But he still wanted to see me despite all that. Even though we had fun I wasn’t interested in being a couple. We met up a few times after that and kept in touch by text but I still kept saying no. A year later, we met up at V festival and I decided that I was silly not to give him a chance, we were ‘official’ in the September – a year after the first time I met him and we’ve not looked back since.
It didn’t exactly go to plan but the thought was there! It was July and we were staying overnight at a hotel in Kensington as we were off to Kew Gardens. We were enjoying our M&S picnic when Brad pointed to his rucksack and said there is a present in there for you. There was so many people about so I didn’t want to see or cause a fuss so I peeked in the pocket seeing a recognisable blue box! I freaked out saying ‘not here, not here, not here, everyone is around us.’ Then when we did get back to our hotel I looked at the ring – which was very beautiful – but I didn’t really like it, even more awkwardness!! So the next morning we had to go to Tiffany and take it back. A week later we went back to Hatton Garden and found a jeweller to make a ring for us but we STILL didn’t tell anyone!! The ring took 6 weeks to make, when we finally collected it and told everyone it was such a relief and everyone was so happy and shocked.
How did you allocate your budget?
We were really lucky to have help from both sets of parents and my nan so we were able to do so much more than we would’ve done thanks to them. We knew that we wanted to make and do as much as we could ourselves so the budget should be spent on food and drink. Brad and I spent our own money on all the decorations but we didn’t set a budget for that – I just researched and looked for the best deals and bought what we needed. We had a budget in mind for the dress of £800 – £1,000 and although we went slightly over that it was actually the cheapest dress I tried on! The catering was the biggest chunk of the budget but because Dove Barn is a DIY type venue we needed service all day and evening so it was reasonable and they did a great job. My parents wanted to provide a free bar for our guests so that was a big chunk of money but worth it and because we bought all our own drinks it worked out cheaper than them setting up a tab behind the bar.
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
The band were the most extravagant purchase but they were so worth it – the atmosphere in the room was electric, it was amazing. We both splurged and saved on the drink – although it was a free bar we bought all our drinks at Christmas and Easter when the supermarkets had offers on such as 25% off 6 bottles of wine etc. The savings really added up. We also saved on things like invitations by enlisting the help of a friend. I guess the other splurge would be our honeymoon, we’re not going until September but are heading off to LA, Hawaii and New York for an 16-night trip.
How did you choose your photographer?
We didn’t want to spend hours having our photos taken because we wanted to spend time with our guests and didn’t want to miss out on the fun. After quite a bit of searching we finally found Emily Tyler Photography. We loved the look of Emily’s website – the natural photographs and the way it was so beautifully written was just perfect, we were desperate to hire her! I approached Emily with the budget we had in mind and was worried that it wouldn’t work, but, Emily came back with a bespoke package that was just what we were hoping for so it was a good decision.
My dress was from a little shop near to where we live called The Wedding Trousseau in Epping, Essex. It is a White One Barcelona gown with an added organza belt which was made especially by Debbie, the owner, based on a design I had seen on another dress. My jewellery was pulled together on the day! My aunty Anne-Louise leant me some pear droplet diamond earrings and Brad surprised me with a delicate Links of London silver necklace and bracelet which matched my dress perfectly! The shoes were not typical bridal shoes but high-heeled, embellished sandals by Vince Camuto from Kurt Geiger so I could wear them again.
The suit and bridesmaids
The bridesmaids wore Jenny Packham No.1 dresses from Debenhams – I loved the Grecian style of their dresses and the pale blue colour. Brad didn’t want to wear a suit because it’s not his style so we got him something a bit different, a lilac Ted Baker jacket which he wore with navy Ted Baker chinos and a grey leather belt, also from Ted Baker. He wore some navy loafers which are also available in ma matching style for kids style and flats. The three best men wore navy jackets from Jeff Banks and light blue Ted Baker chinos. Our flower girl wore a cream dress from BHS and sparkly silver pumps from Matalan. Our ring bearer wore a cream jacket and navy chinos from Next.
Theme or colour scheme
We were working towards a loose pastel/vintage/country style. We also had a hint of Alice in Wonderland which worked well for our cake and table plan and the overall whimsical nature we were hoping for.
Because of the relaxed style of the wedding we didn’t want anything too formal or traditional. We decided to buy some baby’s breath ourselves and place them in tins and jars throughout the venue to lightly dress it. The bouquets and corsages were made by Wild Poppies florist Sam French. The bridal bouquet was country garden styled in pastels with a wild loose look and the bridesmaids were smaller versions of the same. I didn’t want a veil and loved the romantic idea of flowers in my hair so Wild Poppies also created a floral hairpiece that stayed in perfectly and the peonies looked just right. My aunty also sells beautiful giant, paper flowers and created a beautiful wall display in pastel colours that really complimented my real flowers and the overall vintage theme.
We knew we wanted something in a country vintage style with soft pastels with lanterns and fairy lights galore. Pinterest was a great source of inspiration and we got a lot of our ideas from there. We bought around 150 lanterns and flower puffs in total and hung them from the ceiling with fishing line so they appeared to be floating. The day before the wedding was a full set up day with lots to do – the lanterns strung from the ceiling and chair ribbons took the most time but they looked the most effective.
We wanted something relaxed rather than a three course meal. Instead, we chose a BBQ which was served to guests at the table with chargrilled steaks, local pork & leek sausages, Cajun chicken skewers, Mediterranean vegetable and halloumi skewers. Each table had a selection of fresh leaf salads, tomatoes and mozzarella with basil pesto, buttered new potatoes and breads for guests to help themselves and pass round the table. For dessert we had an ice cream stand where the wonderful Gelato Heaven served 6 flavours of delicious home-made ice cream. In the evening we served little newspaper cones of hot steak and ale or chicken and mushroom pies with chips.
The wedding cake
At first, we weren’t going to have a cake. My parents were adamant that we had one because it is traditional and a symbol of fertility and prosperity so my mum organised a surprise cake. I wanted to have a loose Alice theme throughout the wedding and didn’t want a traditional wedding cake. Mum took the pictures and that was the last I heard of it – the cake was such a wonderful surprise, all the guests were amazed by it too. It was a deliciously light lemon sponge with lemon buttercream.
We didn’t have a first dance so the minute the DJ started playing our list of songs the dance floor was full – at 7pm! We had a disco funk band call Uncle Funk and the Boogie Wonderland – they were a little off the wall and I think people were surprised when they came out wearing their afros, skin-tight bodysuits and cod-pieces! They were fantastic, a little different than the usual wedding band and the dance floor was jam-packed all night.
A friend of ours, Owen. We knew exactly what style we liked and as I work in marketing, I wanted to make them myself. One afternoon Owen and I sat down and created the design, he then kindly printed them as a wedding gift to us which was such a lovely thought.
The whole day was full of personal touches and things we made ourselves. One of our favourite things were the various chalk boards around the venue, we painted and drew these ourselves. Our wedding favours were personalised coasters made by my aunt and uncle with people’s names/nicknames on and they also served as place settings. We also had Wedding Day scented Yankee Candles for the girls and Star Wars Kinder Eggs for the boys. We made the table plan ourselves using an old wooden pallet and an assortment of photo frames. I designed the inserts myself with little pictures of characters from Alice in Wonderland and printed them off to fit the frames. My aunt and uncle (sillyjokes.co.uk) have recently started to sell beautiful giant, paper flowers and they created a beautiful wall display in pastels that looked amazing. They also sell foam frames and photo booth props which went down a treat with the guests. We also created a photo wall of memories from our lives before we got married, we printed photos of almost everyone who was at the wedding so they enjoyed looking through them and laughing at old pictures.
Special moments or highlights
Spending time with our friends and family and our couples photos were a lovely way to spend time together without the crowds. The band were brilliant and hearing everyone comment on how much they enjoyed them was lovely. We had made a Spotify playlist to listen to through dinner and seeing people singing along was just great. One of the highlights was the room singing Beatles ‘All you Need Is Love’ and Elvis ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’ and Luther Vandross ‘Never too Much’. The room was so crammed and it was humid with the thunderstorm and torrential rain pouring down outside it was really buzzing – it was so good to look across the room and see everyone smiling, laughing and having a great time.
Advice for other couples
If something doesn’t go quite to plan on the day, don’t panic because your guests probably won’t even notice. Try and spend time together, the day goes so fast and before you know it you’re waving goodbye to your guests and nursing your sore feet. If I could change one thing it would be to have spent more time with Brad on the day. Listen to the advice of others but also follow your gut instinct and do what you want to do. Lots of people will want to put their pennies worth in with all good intentions but you need to decide what you both want, not what others want. Enjoy it too, we had such a great time planning things together and that was one of the best things of the whole experience.
How emotional I felt when I saw everyone smiling at me as I walked both in and out on the barn! Brad also surprised me in how calm he was. We were both surprised how much we enjoyed it all – we were anxious about being centre of attention but the day was so relaxed it wasn’t like that and we just all had a really fun time.
I’m an alternative wedding photographer based in Ipswich Suffolk, working across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and UK wide. I focus on the joy of the imperfect moments, relaxed, natural memories not staged, photos that make you feel alive.
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