I think my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw the fabulous rustic Limepark barn in Northern Ireland. Such a fabulous space that needed very little decor. But the decor it did have was just magical. I love the trestle tables with eclectic chairs and those hanging Kilner jar lighting display are utterly immense.
Talking of utterly immense, the Kazoo entrance! You just have to read on……
Charlene The Bride: I was pretty relaxed and open minded when it came to dress shopping. I knew I wanted a dress that made me feel like a better (prettier!) version of myself. I tried on all sorts of dresses – big Cinderella dresses, slinky satin ones and even one that left me so trussed up that I couldn’t step on to the podium in front of the mirror. It was only when I went to The White Closet in West Didsbury that I found some serious contenders. They have some seriously beautiful dresses! I knew I had found the right dress in the Jenny Packham Belle when I stepped out from behind the changing curtain and my Mum started crying…happily this was the first dress that left me feeling like a Bride! I loved the flattering sweetheart neckline and that it was mirrored on the back. The back is important…after all that’s all everyone stares at during the big moment! It also passed the swoosh test. So, the deposit was paid and my Mum and I went for celebration cocktails at The Violet Hour a few doors along!
In terms of accessories, the Belle has a Swarovski, emerald cut belt and I opted for wild flowers in my hair, rather than jewellery or a veil. I was really lucky to find some Rachel Simpson bridal shoes in the sale. They were fully leather and so very comfortable. My dad glued a lucky sixpence onto the sole. Notwithstanding one fiery conversation Rob and I had when tiling our kitchen, we aren’t divorced so I guess it’s working! I’m rubbish in heels, so had some emergency glittery pumps by Lucy Choi on standby.
Rob The Groom: I’m a frustrated mod, so initially wanted a large print silk paisley suit in the style of Small Faces, but was subtly talked down. My back up choice was a double breasted crushed velvet suit in midnight blue in homage to Sir Bradley Wiggins (think BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012) , but I was again steered away from this route! I settled for a more sensible slim fit mid-blue three-piece suit from Reiss, which I accessorised with my Great Grandfather’s pocket watch!
Charlene had always wanted to get married at her family church in Northern Ireland, so that was an easy choice! For the reception venue, we both have similar taste and knew that we definitely didn’t want anything too formal or stuffy, but instead wanted a more quirky feel. From the start, we knew that we wanted a relaxed party, the sort of wedding where you don’t feel that you have to sit up straight. Also: no chair covers!
Charlene The Bride: We looked at several venues around County Antrim, generally along a rural/barn theme, but both knew from the moment we arrived at Limepark that there was no other choice. We had been looking for a simple space we could decorate to create a quirky on-off venue, but with Limepark there are so many eccentric features built in that we barely had to dress the room. The barn itself is beautiful, with exposed brick and stone walls, timber framing and traditional Belfast trusses. On top of this though there are separate reception and bar spaces with more quirky features (the snail tap and watering can basin are some of the best!) and gardens to the rear with croquet lawn and zip-wire, which was a particular hit with some of Rob’s friends! But the onsite cottages located in old farm buildings, all so magical and eccentric and set along a cobbled street, sealed it for us as with exclusive use of the site, our family and friends could stay to keep the party going all weekend.
Shelley and her family at Limepark were incredibly lovely and generous with their time. When we looked around Limepark, they had only hosted two weddings so it could have been a risky move, but Shelley filled us with confidence, not to mention tea and biscuits.
Another important factor for us was that Limepark gave us ultimate flexibility when it came to the food. We are both nerdy foodies – more on food below…
Again we wanted something quite understated with colours, but definitely not bland. We included a palette of five natural pastel shades for the bunting on our homemade invites and developed the scheme from there. The flowers were bright and wild, so we wanted the backdrop to be subtle but complimentary. We had charcoal dyed linen table runners and vintage napkins, and as the invites were printed on kraft card, this was also used for all table names and place settings. Other than this, the décor was in the form of foliage and glassware to create the bohemian barn scene we pictured. Chandeliers were made from large mason jars containing tea-lights with foliage weaved through.
In the Church, we had jam jars with posies of wildflowers tied to the pew ends. We recycled these at Limepark, placing them along the tables and around the venue.
We went to meet our florist armed with Pinterest but with no knowledge of flower names, beyond descriptions like “the nice wee blue ones”. So it was a huge relief when Jil at The Stables Flower Company knew exactly where we were coming from! We knew we didn’t want anything too rigid and formal, but instead preferred the idea of wildflowers and a variety of colour. Jil instantly understood what we wanted to create and was able to help us develop the perfect mix. In fact, what Jil created was better than either of us had imagined. The same range of wildflowers were used for bouquets, hair decorations for me, the Bridesmaids and the Flower Girls, button holes, table centres and room decoration helping to create our theme. The bright pinks, corals, yellows and blues (which I now know to be called “Love in the Mist”…how apt given the weather that day!) stood out vividly from the otherwise subtle pastel colours and tied together the bridal party’s outfits.
The Wedding Party Fashion
It was so important to me that my maids felt beautiful. The Twobirds dresses were the perfect choice as they were each able to wear the dress in the most complimentary way for them. It took me while to decide on the dress colour (thank you to my maids who tried on various colours and sent me pictures!) but ultimately I came back to the colour that first stood out to me – heather. It is a beautiful, muted, lilac-grey and was the perfect backdrop to the amazing wildflowers. The also held up well in the torrential downpour that greeted us as we arrived at Limepark!
Rob The Groom: I wanted to stand out from the Groomsmen (it isn’t just the bride’s special day…) so put my Best Man and Groomsmen in a matching cut of suit, but in mid-grey rather than blue. I also took the opportunity to make them wear pink ties and pocket squares just because I could. The Page Boys were in blue suit trousers to match me, but with waist coats and bowties rather than a suit jacket.
I had thought I was going to be much more nervous, but generally managed to keep it together throughout the ceremony. However, there was a minor gaff when the moment came for Charlene to put the ring on my finger. It suddenly dawned on me that I had no idea which hand the ring went on (I was badly briefed) and in a moment of panic I checked which hand Charlene had used and copied, not factoring in that she was facing me. I proudly presented my right hand (apparently your dominant hand has bigger fingers), which Charlene tried to force the ring onto whilst giving me a death stare! When I realised my error and quickly swapped hands, the guests – and minister – realised what had happened and ridiculed me as I deserved!
Our Minister had taken a bit of persuading to let us have Jerusalem as one of the hymns in the service (‘the English hymm’ apparently) so when a rousing rendition came to a close and a little girl at the back stood and exclaimed ‘Yes!’ it raised a smile from everyone, including the Minister!
Charlene The Bride: Those who have been to Northern Ireland will know it’s pretty hard work to find a band who do anything other than country classics and line dancing! We managed to find a great band who rolled out the Kinks, Coral, Beatles and loads of Oasis, reading the crowd well and choosing songs to suit. The impromptu last song of the night, Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, had everyone on the dancefloor linking arms and singing along which was a perfect end to the day. Rob isn’t a natural dancer, so the less said about the first dance the better!
We had a summery drinks reception of Pimms and lemonade, scones and shortbread which was very well received, despite the brief monsoon that coincided with it! To fit the relaxed theme of the rest of the day and to work with the long beer-house style tables, we opted for Irish/Mediterranean sharing platters to start served with Wheaten bread. We wanted to make sure all of the guests had a reason to break the ice and break bread together! For the main, we chose not to have a traditional meat and two veg and instead decided to ask out caterer to fire up the BBQ. Everyone got to pick whatever they wanted from the range of local meat, accompanied by a mouth-watering range of sides. Being in Northern Ireland, the meat was amazing and the portions overly generous – we had as many compliments about the food as anything else! Dessert was a trio of light citrus delights before the all important tea and cake. The cake was three tiers of sponge, each a different flavour (chocolate, lemon and strawberries & cream), no icing or marzipan and definitely no fruit cake!
Once everyone had exhausted themselves on the dancefloor, through a particularly athletic game of croquet or from thrill-seeking on the zip wire, we had some evening treats of bacon butties, chips and fifteens.
Neither of us particularly like having our photo taken, so we wanted someone who would help us feel relaxed and take impromptu pictures rather than the typical 2 hours of formal line-up photos! Navyblur were the first people we met, but again we knew very quickly (after a chat with brew and biscuits – there’s a theme developing) Christine and Xander were perfect for us.
We had an engagement shoot to get used to being in front of the camera. Christine and Xander made us feel really comfortable and we couldn’t be more chuffed with the results. Not that we had any doubt before, but when we saw those pictures we knew that the responsibility of capturing our special day was in safe hands.
On the day, it was great that Christine was with the bridal party in the morning and Xander with the Groomsmen so we have some amazing photos of both groups getting ready. Whilst we did manage to get some group photos of family and friends, it didn’t interrupt the day which was really important to us. The photos are natural looking but capture all the best moments; it was as though some of our guests just happened to be amazing photographers and took snaps from inside the event.
We decided not to have one, although some guests kindly recorded me performing the now infamous Fishing Rap – the less said the better!
Rob The Groom: It is often the case that the most special moments in life are those which aren’t planned and this was definitely the case with our entrance to the meal. We had toyed with playing some music but couldn’t agree on anything, with my suggestion of the theme from Father Ted having been firmly quashed! For wedding favours we had hidden a kazoo in everyone’s napkin for a bit of fun and as we were waiting to be introduced for the wedding breakfast there were about 100 different songs being played badly and at full volume. As we walked in, the Maid of Honour spontaneously started to play Here Comes the Bride on her kazoo and almost instantaneously all other guests joined in. It probably sounds a bit cheesy reading this rather than having been there, but it was a really special moment seeing all of our friends and family from different chapters of our lives joining together in a kazoo orchestra!
As a bit of advice to others, making our own stationery wasn’t too much stress and let us put a personal stamp on it whilst costing next to nothing. We were able to carry a theme through our invites and orders of service including our own drawings of the church and Limepark and spent less than £50 in total!
Photography by Navyblur
- Dress Designer Jenny Packham – Belle
- Bridal Boutique The White Closet
- Bridal Shoes Rachel Simpson
- Lucy Choi
- Grooms Suit Reiss
- Groomsmen Suits Slaters (Hired)
- Bridesmaid Dresses Twobirds – Heather
- Venue Limepark
- Caterer Janes Kitchen
- Cake Barbara Anne Hoy
- Decor / Styling Grace and Saviour
- Florist The Stables Flower Company
- Transport Cross Country Coaches
- Legends NI
- Band Groove Robbers