Victoria & Michael are utterly adorable saying “I do” only a stones throw form where Michael proposed. Choosing the rustic New House Farm barn in the middle of the Lake District as their gorgeous venue because of their love of nature, Cumbria and its stunning scenery.
Their fabulous reception was decked in homegrown flowers, DIY crafts and finished with handmade bridesmaid dresses and matching groomsmen bow ties. Talk about talented. There was even a matching miniature dress for the beautiful baby flower girl. So adorable.
Although there wasn’t a set colour scheme ‘something blue’ seemed to be the running theme and was the perfect chance for Victoria to add a pair of blue suede shoes to her surprisingly conventional, but totally gorgeous Shayla Maggie Sottero lace wedding dress, which she looks absolutely stunning in.
Finishing off the day with pizza, lawn games and a folk music band, reflecting their personality in everything they did.
Wait until you see the cake too…..decorated with the sweetest wildlife couples you ever did see.
Victoria The Bride: I expected that finding a wedding dress would be a painful process as I’m not particularly girly when it comes to clothes and I have a borderline allergy to sparkle or glitz. Plus I hate being the most dressed-up person in a room (which is pretty much a requirement on your wedding day) so I thought I would probably end up with something fairly unconventional and non-traditional. However I went dress shopping with my mum and my sister and found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for, in the second shop we went to. The Maggie Sottero dress I chose was a more conventional wedding dress than anything I thought I’d go for, but I loved how comfortable and relaxed it felt, there was no tight bodice or boning and no big flouncy layers or netting for me to trip over, and not a bit of sparkle or diamante in sight! I decided to wear bright blue shoes to match the bridesmaids and to take the edge off the ‘weddingy-ness’ of the dress. I knew straight away I wouldn’t feel right in a veil, despite protestation from several family and friends. I think they look beautiful on other people but it’s just not me at all, so I had a simple floral headpiece made by the florist with ribbons that hung down the back.
The only jewellery I wore was my great-grandmother’s marcasite earrings which my mum had passed down to me when I was much younger, and my engagement ring. On the morning of the wedding my mum gave me a small rabbit pendant from Thomas Sabo (Watership Down was a bit of a theme for the wedding!), so one of my bridesmaids lent me a silver bracelet so that I had something to attach it to.
My engagement ring was made by the very talented Andrew Ashcroft at the Croft Workshop in Durham. He re-set the sapphire from my gran’s engagement ring into a beautiful leafy-design palladium setting and did such a wonderful job that we went back for both of our wedding bands.
The Grooms Fashion
We both knew we didn’t want a particularly formal wedding so traditional morning suits wouldn’t have felt right. The decision on suits was left entirely to Michael and he decided pretty quickly that he liked navy blue suits and would prefer a bow tie over a traditional tie or cravat. He saw a picture of a groom wearing a waistcoat, with his groomsmen just wearing braces instead, and decided he liked that idea. A very talented family friend made the bridesmaid dresses for us, and used the spare bits of material to make matching bow ties and pocket squares for the men.
Nature and wildlife are really important to us both and we wanted that to come across in the wedding. We would have loved to get married outside, bare foot on a hillside, but didn’t remotely trust our luck with the weather and agreed it would be best to get married somewhere with a roof! We started looking for rustic barn venues with good outdoor space so we could spend as much of the day outside as possible. Mike found the website for New House Farm, situated in an exceptionally stunning part of the Lake District, the Vale of Lorton. Since Mike is a Cumbrian and this has always been one of his favourite parts of the Lake District, it made perfect sense to get married there and the barn is just a few miles down the road from the spot where we got engaged next to Buttermere Lake. The beautiful hayloft at New House Farm set quite a natural, rustic tone for the wedding and the views from the lawn outside are breathtaking.
We hadn’t intended on having a colour scheme but blue ended up being the dominant colour through various circumstances. I liked the idea of floral bridesmaids dresses and asked a family friend (and brilliant seamstress) Susan if she would be willing to make them. Susan found the perfect material pretty much the next day. It had a gorgeous blue floral pattern on a biscuit-coloured background which gave it quite a natural, rustic feel, ideal for a barn wedding. At that point Mike had already decided he liked navy suits, I was already considering bright blue shoes, and my engagement ring is a sapphire, so the blue theme just sort of happened.
In terms of decoration, we had miles of bunting made by my sister over in Canada, plus an extra batch that my hens and I made at my hen do (again by coincidence, the bunting makers showed up with predominantly blue material). Mike and I spent more hours than I would like to admit gluing lace and hessian onto jars to put tealights in, and several people helped find mismatched jugs, teapots and vases for the table flowers. We had logs on the table collected by our lovely friend Helen and also had mismatched tablecloths in gingham, polka dot and floral patterns, with a hessian runner for the long head table.
We used Evergreens of Keswick to do the bouquets, buttonholes and to make my floral headpiece which I adored. My mum did an amazing job of all the table flowers and general floral decorations around the barn. She bought loads of seeds, mainly using native English wildflowers, and started planting flowers in the garden the year before to test what would work. My dad was set the task of building gorgeous rustic wooden crates to plant scabious, oxeye daisy and sweet peas in and we used various buckets, watering cans and pots from mum’s garden for the displays outside the barn. My mum and sister spent hours the day before the wedding (and on the morning!) arranging all the cut flowers from the garden in mismatched jugs and jars. Mike’s parents collected bags and bags of ivy from a friend’s garden which we strung over the beams in the barn along with the fairy lights. They also helped find us a couple of potted rowan trees which we stood at the top of the ‘aisle’, so we could still get married between the trees despite it being an indoor wedding. My sister lives over in Canada but spent months making an astonishing amount of bunting (not to mention cooking me up an extra bridesmaid in the form of my baby niece)…. and we had an army of brilliant friends arriving at the venue a few days early to help set up tables, put out glasses, hang bunting, make signs, put up coconut shies, set out candles etc etc
The Wedding Party Fashion
A very talented family friend made our gorgeous floral bridesmaid dresses. Once I’d seen the material I decided on bright blue shoes for the girls and got the same ones to match. We hire navy blue suits for the groomsmen and Mike bought a lovely suit from Debenhams in a slightly lighter blue colour. They looked great with the bow ties and pocket squares to match the bridesmaid dresses, and some dapper brown shoes.
We were married by a lovely registrar with a kindly face from Whitehaven Registry Office who really put us both at ease. Despite not wanting a particularly traditional or formal wedding, I felt it was really important to walk down the aisle with my dad and that was a lovely moment (despite getting into trouble off him afterwards for walking too fast!). We had two readings during the ceremony by our gorgeous university friends Laura and Anna. Laura did a reading from Watership Down which is a book that means a lot to both Michael and I (the table names were also Watership Down rabbits….) and Anna did a reading from the Velveteen Rabbit (ok, maybe we overdid the rabbit thing). They were both really beautiful readings and the girls did an amazing job with them.
￼Our incredibly talented friend and bridesmaid Shona is an amazing folk musician and now plays in a duo with her equally talented hubby David. We asked if they would play during the ceremony and left them to choose a piece of music, so hearing it for the first time whilst we were signing the register was really magical. The piece they played was absolutely stunning and left a few family members with a tear in the eye.
We had games set up on the lawn to keep people entertained after the ceremony, including a coconut shy, croquet, skittles and horseshoes. In the evening we had the awesome Maniere des Bohemiens play and had a playlist set up on the ipod for inbetween sets. They play really upbeat gypsy/swing/folk music that was just perfect to get people up on the dancefloor. I know a couple of the guys from uni so both Mike and I, and several of our guests, have seen them play a few times before and we knew they’d be perfect for our style of wedding.
Since Mike and I are both vegetarian we wanted to have a fully vegetarian wedding – not to impose our beliefs on anyone else or just for the sake of stopping our guests eating meat for a day, but because people always say your wedding day is about you and should reflect your personalities. All the other decisions we made about our wedding were simply based on stuff we liked and enjoyed and thought looked nice – so we did the same with the food. It wouldn’t have made any sense for us to serve meat. Anyway Fell & Dales Catering were really obliging in coming up with some delicious vegetarian canapes for after the ceremony and making us a fully vegetarian three course meal. I missed out on the Eton Mess as I was so busy swanning around chatting to people but I gather it was delicious! In the evening we had Scream for Pizza arrive to make the most incredible Neapolitan pizzas. Alex, Victoria and their old French-army-ambulance-cum-pizza-van (named Goldie) were brilliant, made delicious food and put up with a lot of drunken chat from the queuing guests!
Our cakes were made by family friend ‘aunty’ Mary. She did a beautiful chocolate cake with textured white chocolate icing and adorned with marzipan bumblebees, butterflies and ladybirds. She even made the INCREDIBLE icing flowers on the top of the cake (people genuinely didn’t realise they were icing) and it looked perfect presented on top of the enormous spruce log that Mike had brought home from work a few months prior to the wedding. Since Mike likes fruit cake more than chocolate, Mary even made us a second ‘grooms’ cake so there was the option of a more traditional wedding cake too.
Sarah Beth was our fab, lovely and super talented photographer and really did take the most stunning photos, I honestly never thought I would cry at a photo of myself until I saw some of the pictures she took (embarrassing I know!). Since we had quite a lot going on throughout the wedding day, including Mike’s pre-wedding footie match (!), Sarah brought along a second photographer in the form of Hannah Leech who was equally lovely, brilliant fun throughout the day and helped give us a really gorgeous collection of photos. They captured the feel of the day impeccably and gave us an insight into some beautiful moments between our guests that we would have otherwise missed. We would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone looking for a photographer.
Don’t spend hours of your life gluing lace onto jam jars if you plan on putting drinks in them – turns out the second the condensation from the drink reaches the glue, the lace just drops off. That’s about 10 hours of my life I’ll never get back 😉
Photography by Sarah Beth Photo
- Dress Designer Maggie Sottero – Shayla
- Bridal Boutique The Harrogate Wedding Lounge
- Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands Croft Workshops
- Bridal Shoes Debenhams
- Hair Stylist Peaches & Cream
- Venue New House Farm
- Florist Lake District Flowers
- Caterer Fell and Dales Catering
- Scream 4 Pizza
- Entertainment Maniere Des Bohemiens
- Groomsmen Suits Moss Bros