Happy New Year you gorgeous lot, we hope you are all well rested, had a fabulous festive break, and are ready to get back to wedmin!
We’ve got an absolutely gorgeous humanist ceremony in a rustic barn to kick start 2016, and I can guarantee it will get your creative juices flowing, not to mention your heart singing full of love & emotion.
Rock My Wedding fave Claire Penn Photography has capture all the inspiration and creative ideas for you to pour over, including DIY wooden bars, signs, posters and a Charlie Brear Catroux lace gown that is simply jaw dropping-ly divine.
So get your pinning fingers ready, and if you’re anything like me a tissue.
Chloe The Bride: From the very beginning I knew I loved the intricate, ornate style with beautiful back details from designers like Jenny Packham and Anna Campbell. Having to quickly wipe Jenny Packham from my consciousness due to budget, I came across Charlie Brear and as soon as I tried on the Catroux Lace and saw my Mum’s face, I knew I’d found the dress I was going to marry Tom in.
The Groom’s Attire
As a designer, and having always been into statement fashion (he’s got some neon trainers from his teenage years that he refuses to throw away!), Tom wanted a suit he knew would stand out and make him as much the centre of attention as me, if not more! Having decided, about 2 weeks after getting engaged that we wanted Claire Penn to photograph our wedding and knowing she can make colour ‘pop’ in the most incredible way, we knew Tom’s suit should be bright and eye catching. Tom’s tall, with long arms so the suits he tried on the high street never quite fitted him right. We therefore decided to get a suit tailored for him at Dress 2 Kill. He looked utterly gorgeous on the day and I’ll never forget seeing him in his bright blue suit, waiting for me (in tears!), at the end of the aisle.
From the outset we knew we wanted three things – to get married close to Ramsbury – the Wiltshire village I grew up in, a venue we could stay in all day rather than having to transport guests between locations and, most importantly, a venue that would let us make our own mark. When we came across our barn, we knew we had found the perfect spot. The owners don’t advertise – they don’t have a website and just get bookings by word of mouth – and they encouraged us to use their gorgeous space however we wanted.
Although we knew the venue wasn’t licensed, we spoke to them about the potential of holding a little blessing somewhere in the grounds (we had our legal service at Islington Town Hall but we both saw our ceremony at the barn as the important bit – where we would make lifelong promises to each other in front of all the people who we love most). Originally, we planned to use one of the fields next to the barn, but we didn’t want to make lots of outdoor plans only to have the British weather ruin them. So, we mustered all our creative juices and decided we’d transform the very rustic cart barn – complete with hay bales, water troughs and a dead rat(!) – into our ceremony venue. It was a lot of work, and it was still very rustic, but it’s amazing what some fairy lights and flowers can do and it was the perfect, intimate space for our service.
Tom and I both work in design and branding and we both had our hearts set on creating everything ourselves, from our save the dates and invites to our bar and signage. We already had our Chloe & Tom logo which we had designed a few years earlier for prints we had made for our home, so it felt natural to apply that across the things we designed and we were keen to personalise our stationery with images we have taken together in our favourite places or during our travels.
Tom had an idea to make our signage and a bar for the reception drinks to continue the personal feel. He handmade everything and we spent many happy weekends before the wedding, sign-painting everything. They were such special and unique parts of our day that everyone commented on and we loved creating them from scratch. So much so, we have decided to start our own wedding design business helping people to create personalised weddings, which includes everything from stationery and websites to furniture and signage; you can find us at madebywoodandwood.com.
I first met Sarah at Sarah Styles Florist in Hungerford when she did the flowers for a very close friend for whom I was Bridesmaid for. Tom and I know very little about flowers but we knew we wanted a very natural look with neutral and pink tones and lose, natural arrangements. And of course, every girl’s favourite, peonies! From the outset, Sarah was so kind and helpful, letting us know what would work based on our vision, budget and the flowers that were in season. She also helped us to create the gorgeous garlands for the cart barn relatively last minute and they looked incredible – they really helped transform the space from farmyard to rustic chic!
The Wedding Party Fashion
We knew from the outset that we didn’t want the day to be completely matchy-matchy and we wanted everyone to feel comfortable in what they were wearing. We gave my lovely Bridesmaids a loose colour scheme and we somehow managed to find 3 very different dresses that came together perfectly and they all looked gorgeous.
For the Best Men and Groomsmen, we didn’t want the formality of jackets but understood the boys still wanted to look smart. We found their similarly bright blue trousers from Zara and had shirts tailored for them all at Charles Tyrwhitt. This was particularly convenient because one of the Groomsmen lives in New York and both have stores there! These, matched with braces and bow ties, were the perfect solution and they all looked very dapper.
The ceremony was the part that we were both most nervous about but it was hands down, our favourite moment of the day. The whole thing was overwhelmingly wonderful and the love we felt from our guests throughout was palpable.
I think this was the moment it dawned on us both, exactly how monumental this was. It was so overwhelming to realise that all our many months of planning had finally come together and that everyone we most loved and cared about had travelled long distances to share this special time with us both. I know Tom was completely overwhelmed and his tears, even before I arrived(!), summed up all the emotion we both felt.
As the venue wasn’t licensed, we were free to create a ceremony that truly reflected us. Tom’s Uncle Steve led the service which was so personal and special and he did such a good job, he’s been known as Reverend Lee ever since! We had two readings from two of our closest friends. The first was the famous excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. We had both fallen in love with this reading at our wonderful friends’ Laurie and Chris’ wedding so it made it extra special to have Laurie reading it at ours. The second, was A Vow by Wendy Cope, read by my very old friend Alice.
We made the brave decision to write our own vows. Personally, I was really nervous about this bit but with lots of deep breaths we got through it and making these personal promises to each other was by far our favourite memory of the day and had everyone in tears!
We’re very lucky that Tom’s Dad is a professional, and super talented, musician and plays in a fantastic band called The Black Suits. Although the band are from Yorkshire, they kindly came all the way down south to play and they were absolutely incredible. The dance floor was packed all night!
Tom’s Dad actually sang our first dance which was incredibly special. Cheek to Cheek, is a song Tom has always sang to me whilst we’ve danced round our flat, so it was the natural choice for our first dance together as husband and wife.
Our wonderful ‘Reverend Lee’, also a musician, joined the band for a cameo of Superstition which was amazing, if not slightly surreal! I guess that’s the beauty of a DIY wedding!
Tom and I both LOVE food (the wedding diet was virtually impossible!) but we struggled at first to find a caterer that would do the sharing style of food we wanted. Luckily, I was telling a friend at work that we were looking for someone who could create Ottolenghi style sharing dishes and she recommended Rachel at Sweetapple Catering.
From the very moment we met Rachel, we knew she was ‘the one’. Although she only usually caters for London and the surrounding areas, she was so willing and helpful and her passion for food just shone. Our favourite part of the wedding planning process was our tasting at her house and to this day, we aren’t able to put into words how perfect her food was. Everyone said it was the best food they’d ever had at a wedding and she even converted our unhealthiest friend into a salad lover! We can’t possibly recommend her enough.
We baked all the cakes ourselves which was a lot of work but great fun and Rachel and her team were responsible for the incredible decoration and construction of the cakes on the morning of the wedding. We got our gorgeous ‘cheese cake’ from Lizzy at Grey’s Cheese Shop in Pangbourne.
From the very first second we saw Claire Penn’s photos on Rock My Wedding, we knew she had to be our photographer. Her style represented exactly the vision we wanted to create and her talent is beyond words. On the day, she was more than a photographer, she was a friend, and an absolute delight to share some of our most special memories with. She has perfectly captured every emotion and the love we felt between each other and from, and between, our guests. She is quite simply, a genius, and words will never be able to describe what the pictures she captured that day mean to us.
If you’re doing DIY wedding, have a great team of friends and family around you. Even with 3 days setting up beforehand, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without our parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen making cakes, putting up flowers and moving hay bales!
Perhaps most importantly, take your time to enjoy it – not just the wedding day (which flies by in an instant) but also the planning. Hopefully, you’ll only do this once and it’s an incredibly special time to share with each other so try to savour every minute.
Photography by Claire Penn
- Dress Designer Charlie Brear – Catroux
- Grooms Suit Dress 2 Kill
- Decor Made by Wood & Wood
- Flowers Sarah Styles Florist
- Groomsmen Trousers Zara
- Groomsmen Shirts Charles Tyrwhitt
- Band The Black Suits
- Caterers Sweetapple Catering
- Cheese Tower Greys Cheese Direct
- Lights Lights4fun
- Rustic Furniture Virginia’s Vintage Hire