Oooooh would you take a look at that beautiful rose bouquet at the top there; absolutely stunningly beautiful! Beccy married her boy Dan against the backdrop of St James the Great in the village of South Leigh with Dan's dad leading the ceremony. How lovely is that! The pair then partied on down at Cogges Manor Farm - a place that was especially important to Dan as a child. I adore the fact that Beccy followed her heart and chose a tea-length dress rather than a floor sweeping number that she didn't feel truly herself in. The lace detailing and swooshiness suits her down to the ground and it's clear that Dan thinks so too.
Beccy The Bride: As soon as Dan and I got engaged, we were both in complete agreement we wanted a relaxed, laidback, but most of all, a fun wedding, and something that we, and all our guests would enjoy. We are by no means ‘formal’, and we wanted our wedding day to be a reflection of ourselves.
The Bride's FashionMy wedding gown was by Oleg Cassini at David’s Bridal, and I really cannot explain just how much I love it. Going back to wearing jeans and jumpers after our wedding day has certainly being very boring in comparison! I actually bought my dress some eighteen months before the wedding – I certainly did not intend to be that organized – but as cliché as it is, when you know, you know. I had not originally thought of wearing a shorter dress, but after trying on many full-length dresses, I did not feel comfortable in any of them. It was the bridal consultant at David’s Bridal who suggested I tried a tea-length dress, and of course, she was completely right. As soon as I tried on the Oleg Cassini dress, I felt a thousand times better. The length was far more ‘me’ than a full-length dress, and I loved the fact that I could actually walk! The detail of the dress was beautiful with a lace and beaded design. The dress had a nod to the fifties, and I knew that it would work wonderfully with our barn, country venue. It was absolutely perfect for dancing as well – it had a very real swoosh factor! I chose not to wear a veil, as I did not feel the dress needed one. Instead, I wore a simple, vintage-inspired headband from Glitzy Secrets, and a pair of peach-champagne drop earrings which I found on Etsy. I found my wedding shoes in Phase Eight which fitted wonderfully with the dress, but sadly, are now completely ruined from too much dancing and the general perils of wearing white satin shoes!
The Groom's FashionDan was certain he did not want to wear traditional morning dress as it would be at odds with our vision of a relaxed wedding. Instead, he had his heart set on wearing a three-piece suit, preferably in grey. We bought his suit about four months before the wedding, and it was a brilliant find from Ted Baker in Bicester Village. I would definitely recommend any brides and grooms to take a trip to an outlet centre as prices are reasonable, and they really do have some hidden gems. On the day, Dan’s suit looked wonderful. He loved wearing it and I know he will get a lot of wear from it in the future. We finished his suit with a pale lavender tie and pocket square which we found in the BHS bridal department. Again, this is another great place to hunt for wedding bits and pieces.
The VenueDan’s father, Nick, is a curate at St James the Great in the village of South Leigh on the outskirts of Witney. This made our decision about where to have the ceremony very easy! The church itself is a beautiful country church, and over the years, Dan and I have always been made to feel very welcome. Nick married us and it was so lovely to have a friendly face at such an important time. We had always known we wanted to hold the reception in a barn, but at first, struggled to find one which we loved. We had looked at a couple of other nearby wedding venues, and had found them to be far too restrictive, and dare I say it, too much of a smooth operation. Instead, we wanted something with more character and something which felt more relaxed. Another important aspect for us was having the freedom to choose our suppliers without having to work off a set list. As soon as we stepped foot into the barns at Cogges Manor Farm, we knew we had found just the place. The barns themselves are exceptionally rustic (there is not any central heating or kitchen facilities, and yes, there are doves in the rafters), and gave us the blank canvas we were looking for. Cogges Manor Farm is open to the public, and when Dan was younger, he and his family used to visit there at the weekends and after school. They have only recently started running weddings there, and it was particularly special to have our reception somewhere that was important to Dan when he was a child. We hired both the Wheat Barn and the Barley Barn. The Wheat Barn, which is the larger of the two, was where we had our wedding breakfast and dancing, whereas we turned the Barley Barn into a pub complete with the bar and haybales. We did underestimate however how much cleaning the barns would take ahead of the wedding, and for any other couples in a similar venue, please factor in enough time!
Colour Scheme/DécorI was determined not to have a rigid colour scheme, but of course, I sort of ended up with one. Our wedding colours were blues, purples and pinks, but we did not overuse them and this helped give our wedding the relaxed feeling we wanted. It was far more important for us for our wedding to have a rustic, country feel, which of course, had to include a lot of bunting! My mum, Jane, was brilliant and created yards of bunting from old curtain material she had saved over the years. We hung this in the Wheat Barn (I will never forget seeing Dan at the top of an exceptionally tall ladder the day before our wedding!) In the Barley Barn we used strings of bunting which my brother and sister-in law had had at their own wedding earlier in the year (also handmade!) We also incorporated the bunting design into our stationery and on our cake, and it all tied together wonderfully. To continue the rustic theme, we bought old wine crates which we filled with winter heather found in the Witney market, and a personalized crate from Etsy for any cards our guests had bought. My mother was once again a bit of a legend and made 100 pots of jam (strawberry, raspberry and apricot) for our wedding favours. We spent a lovely Saturday before the wedding with my mother adding the gingham covers, ‘Jane’s Homemade Jam’ labels and our guests names. My mum was such a huge help from helping make confetti cones, to all her hard work with the jam and bunting.
FlowersI adore flowers, and really looked forward to this part of the planning stage, and it certainly did not disappoint! As with our entire wedding, I wanted the flowers to have a natural and relaxed feel, and as soon as I met Alison and her lovely team at Classic Flowers Witney, I knew we simply could not go anywhere else. The bouquets they designed were absolutely stunning, and throughout the entire process, the team were so helpful. My bouquet was created with roses, veronica, pholox and lots of foliage and looked amazing. My bridesmaids had slightly smaller versions of this, and again, these were beautiful. Dan’s button hole was a vintage, lilac rose, finished with veronica and greenery. The remaining buttonholes for the grooms party and the mums, were veronica and pholox. At the church, St James the Great, Liz Ashwell and her team worked extremely hard on the flower displays. I knew I wanted a lot of gysophilia, and Liz and her team created stunning window displays of gyp and white roses, and simple pew-ends of bunches of gypsophilia. We owe them a huge thank you as they worked so hard and the flowers were truly beautiful. My mum created the centerpieces. She sourced the jugs at a local car boot sale and we then filled this with the most gorgeous gyp provided by Classic Flowers Witney. The centerpieces were simple but looked amazing in the barn setting.
The Wedding Party FashionI knew I wanted a simple and relaxed dress for the bridesmaids, but had not had any luck in finding one. One day, when I was looking for some new wine glasses in Matalan, I stumbled across a beautiful navy dress with a purple trim which was exactly what I was looking for. After some deliberation, I decided to go for it and I am so glad I did, the dresses looked lovely. Initially, the dresses came with a hot-pink belt which was not to our taste. Instead, found sashes on Etsy (which after shipping and taxes from the US turned out to cost more than the dresses…), which worked perfectly with the dress. In fact, in the run up to the wedding, I had decided not to use the sashes at all, but about twenty minutes before leaving for the ceremony, I had a change of heart and I am really glad I did. We wanted the groomsmen to compliment Dan’s suit, and we found a smart, three-piece suit for hire by Walters of Oxford. The groom’s party wore the same ties and pocket squares as Dan. For our two page-boys, Jacob and Benjamin, it was important for us that they were comfortable. I found a grey waistcoat set from BHS, and their wonderful mum Jo, finished this with dark grey jeans. Both the boys looked adorable which I think is the main job of any page-boy!
CeremonyAs previously mentioned, Dan’s father took our service which made it very special. So many people have told me afterwards how lovely the service was, and how welcome Nick made them feel, and I have to say that I could not agree more! As with the rest of our wedding, we wanted it to be relaxed, and we reflected this with our choice of hymns and readings. Our hymns were very much from the ‘primary school’ category including One More Step Along the World I go, and Lord of the Dance, which worked well as the vast majority of people would know them and could have a good sing-a-long. We chose to have one bible reading (The Song of Solomon) which Dan’s sister, Hannah, read beautifully. For our second reading, we had John Cooper Clarke’s, I Wanna Be Yours, which my amazing sister-in-law, Jamie, read perfectly in her very cool American accent! Sadly, my dad could not be with us on our wedding day, and my brother, Ollie walked me down the aisle, and my other brother, James, later gave a very funny and excellent speech at the reception.
EntertainmentA year before the wedding, we had booked a local band after a lot of searching. To cut a long story short, one month before our wedding day, we found out that the band would no longer be able to play (two of the three members had decided to go travelling and not tell us) – cue a lot of panic! After a day spent searching for a replacement, we came across the fabulous John Cavendish at Fish Disco. John the DJ was absolutely brilliant, and it could not have worked out more perfectly. The dance floor was packed from start to finish, and the closing song of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York (my dad bought me up on the music of Frank Sinatra and I knew we would have to have at least one song at the wedding!), with all of guests high kicking in a big circle is something which will stay with me for a long time. Sometimes, things happen for a reason and I think the nightmare with our original band was one of those things.
FoodDan and I wanted to avoid the trap of what we call ‘typical wedding food.’ Not that there is anything wrong with it of course, but we wanted something a little different. One of our favourite meals is a ploughmans, and it did not take us long at all to decide this is what we wanted to serve at the wedding. Caroline at NG Catering took on the challenge brilliantly. Each table was given a sharing platter of local cheeses, honey-roast ham, a HUGE pork-pie, scotch eggs, breads, salads and chutneys, and it went down an absolute storm. For our starters, we had prawn-cocktails and for desert, everyone’s favourite, Sticky Toffee Pudding. All the food was delicious and very filling! I could not leave this section without mentioning our wine. My aunt, Penny and her partner, Martin very kindly helped us with choosing our wine selections from a local supplier in France, and it was delicious. The magnums of Bordeaux were certainly a hit! We absolutely adored our cake. My brother, Ollie, and his wife, Becky, very kindly gave this to us as our wedding cake, and it was made my a colleague of my brothers (Ollie is a Food Technology teacher). We had two tiers of chocolate and one tier of vanilla and it was absolutely delicious (I love cake so I made sure I had one or two slices!).
PhotographerWhat can I say about Frankee other than how brilliant she is? We did not want a traditional wedding photographer, instead, favouring a more candid approach. Frankee was perfect and captured those tiny details of our day which we would otherwise have missed. Her photos are absolutely beautiful and she did such a tremendous job. To top it all off, she is absolutely lovely as well – I really cannot recommend her enough!
Final ThoughtsMy advice to any other bride and grooms would be to do what makes you happy. It might lead to some interesting conversations but in the end, it is worth it. If you don’t want to wear a veil, don’t; if you want to have the speeches before your food, do; if you want to arrive in a hot air balloon singing Rule Britannia – do it (just for the record, I didn’t do that). ! It is your day, and you must do those things which are important to you. Oh, and also, don’t be afraid of DIY, just don’t do it all the week of the wedding. For some aspects, we firmly handed the reins over to the professionals (bouquets, hair, invitations), but for others, it made sense to do this ourselves (including the order of service, the bunting and the chalkboard designs). And finally, have the most amazing day. It really goes by in such a rush, but – and ever so cheesily - it will be the best day of your life.
Venue: Cogges Manor Farm in Witney | Bridal Boutique: David's Bridal | Bridal Gown: Oleg Cassini | Shoes: Phase Eight | Headpiece: Heirloom Garland Headband by Glitzy Secrets | Florist: Classic Flowers Witney | Caterer: NG Catering | Bridesmaids: Matalan | Groom: Ted Baker | Groomsmen: Walters of Oxford | Entertainment: Fish Disco