I think we need to start by talking about bride Gemma's Sassi Holford gown. So, so beautiful it made Gemma cry every time she tired it on. I must confess I've fallen in love with it too. The lovely lace overlay gently skimming her shoulders softens the look, adding to the romantic-ness of this classic wedding, and coupled with her bridal up do, I doubt there is a person in the world that wouldn't agree she looks absolutely breathtaking. Next to make you gasp is The Tithe Barn wedding venue; decorated with hanging lights and gorgeous white and pink floral adorned candelabra centrepieces, as well as a delicious looking frosted wedding cake, and cheese tower. Capturing all this classic pretty is Blink Photography who really showcase all the beauty, love and laughter of this wedding to perfection.


Gemma The Bride: The most important thing to David and I when planning our wedding was to be surrounded by all our family and friends and to throw the party of a lifetime! Looking back on our wedding day, it was without a doubt the best day of our lives and from frequent reminiscing with friends and family, it certainly seemed that we achieved our goal! David and I are quite traditional, and whilst we wanted to plan a wedding that kept with tradition, it was also important to us that the wedding was personal and reflected us as a couple.

The Church

Choosing our venue was the easiest decision we made through the whole planning process! I was brought up on the South coast and so I always knew that I wanted to get married in that area. My father is buried in St Thomas a Becket Church in Warblington near Emsworth and so when discussing locations and venues, there was no doubt we would be holding our ceremony in that church. The church itself is very small so it was full to the brim on the wedding day. My mum walked me up the aisle which was incredibly special for both of us. Our priest July succeeding in making the ceremony very personal and moving and we are so grateful to her for that.

The Venue

Choosing the location for the reception was equally as easy. I had catered at weddings at the Tithe Barn in Ditcham when I was younger and had always dreamed about having my own wedding there one day. With this in mind we didn't even feel the need to visit any other venues! We went to the Tithe Barn to have a look round so David could see the space and were instantly sold. The Tithe Barn is situated in the South Downs and the inside of the barn is just stunning. Everything from the flagstone floors to the arched beams running the length of the barn were just beautiful. We had so many comments on the choice of venue and would recommend it to anyone getting married in that area.


The versatility of the Tithe Barn meant that we could bring it to life with our ideas. With the exception of the tables, everything that was in the barn on the day was chosen by us, even down to the chairs! We wanted to create a romantic and soft feel with lots of candle light and flowers. To ensure we had as many flowers as possible each person's place name was a little bottle with a flower in with a hand written name tag strung around the neck of the bottle. David's mum Sue had the challenging feat of writing all the place names (as mine and David's writing was certainly not good enough) and we were so pleased with the result! We had also decided to have festoon lighting and lanterns across the whole of the barn. These were rigged up by Matt at Cinemattag which I understand involved scaffolding given how high the ceilings are at the barn! They were worth all the effort though! The wedding day was very rainy and dull. Whilst not what any bride would ask for, this, coupled with the candles and festoon lights made the barn look magical! We had charbonell and walker truffles as our favours in pink boxes to tie in with our pink, grey and white colour scheme. Emily from Date Saved created all our stationery, from the invites to the table plan and table numbers and did a fabulous job! We decided not to use table names but instead chose a famous quote about marriage or love to be written under each table number. My favourite was Winston Churchill's ''my most brilliant achievement, was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me'". We felt this was a nice addition and something a little bit different.

The Flowers

As the Tithe Barn was such a blank canvas, the flowers were a really important part of the day. We found Catherine from The Flower Bazaar on the tithe barn's recommended website and from the instant we met her she put us at ease. She instantly understood exactly what we were looking for and she got it spot on on the day. I remember walking into the wedding breakfast and not being able to believe how stunning everything looked. I love roses and peonies and getting married in May meant that luckily for me both these flowers were in season. David also likes roses and so the groomsmen had white Avalanche roses, with David having a pink version. Mine and the bridesmaids bouquets were absolutely stunning, a mix of white and pink peonies, avalanche, roses, sweet Williams and ammi. Keeping with tradition, I was keen to have my something borrowed as part of my bouquet. I'd read that the idea of 'something borrowed' was to borrow something from someone who was happily married, with the hope that their good luck and fortune will wear off on your marriage. With that in mind, my mother in law was the obvious choice. She gave me a tiny ballerina broach that used to belong to her mother before her and this was fastened to the back of my bouquet. There just aren't enough words to describe our top table! We changed our minds on what we wanted too many times to recall and settled with the final idea very close to the wedding. In spite of having little notice, Catherine again was so in tune with us and didn't fail to impress. The hurricane vases and candles were combined with ivy and roses and yet more candles to create a romantic and soft runner. We both just loved it! The table centres themselves were a mix of high arrangements in candelabras filled with flowers and candles and low arrangements in bowls. Given the tall ceilings in the barn the tall candelabras added some height and when the candles were lit just created the most romantic atmosphere. These coupled with the flower name places were just stunning.

The Food

David and I enjoy good food and wine, so wanted to make sure that this came across at the wedding. We met Tom from Tourelle at an open day at the Tithe Barn and the minute David tasted one of his brownies he was sold! Tom and his wife Yvonne’s passion for their food was so clear from the moment we met them. The service they provided at the wedding was second to none and we received so many compliments on the food - a particular testament to Tom and Yvonne given that our friends are all foodies too! The wedding breakfast was a trio of salmon followed by a rack of lamb and a trio of desserts to finish. We served Sauvignon Blanc (our favourite white wine) and a red that we fell in love with whilst holidaying in Italy. For the evening, Tourelle provided pulled pork rolls which were to die for! I hear some of it was even taken home by the ushers as it was too good to leave! We couldn't have been happier with Tourelle and would recommend them to anyone.

The Cake

Our cake was made by Rebecca at Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery. Rebecca made the cake for my friend's wedding last year and on seeing and tasting it we knew we wouldn't find anyone better! We knew we wanted a simple cake which was adorned with flowers and Rebecca certainly got the brief right! We alternated the tiers between a more traditional Victoria sponge with a red velvet and it was absolutely delicious! The flowers provided by Catherine added the finishing touches and looked amazing. As if one cake wasn't enough, we also had a cheese cake from the Cheese Works in Cheltenham. The cheese works were brilliant from start to finish and sent us testers of all of the cheese before we placed our order. We enjoyed a lovely evening with friends tasting this and our wedding wine, which was definitely one of the highlights of wedding planning! The cheese cake was covered with various different types of fruit and we were both so happy with the finished result.

The Dress

Given how indecisive I am, I have to admit that the prospect of looking for a wedding dress made me very apprehensive. Needless to say, at times it felt like I had tried on every dress in London! It quickly became clear that I was best suited to a fuller dress with minimal lace, but finding such a dress after the Royal Wedding was like finding a needle in a haystack! Luckily for me, my mum was incredibly patient the whole way through and came with me to every appointment I made (of which there were a lot!). She had previously mentioned to me that she had come across a wedding dress shop called Sassi Holford when she was visiting Taunton and at the time thought how she'd love to see me in one. Once she had said this I couldn't not book an appointment and it was there that I found the dress! The minute I tried on 'Grace' I knew this was the dress for me. Grace itself was a strapless dress made of silk with the most amazing train I have ever seen and tiny buttons down the back. It flattered my shape and truly made me feel incredible! Every time I tried it on I was reduced to tears, a sure sign it was the right one! All the girls at Sassi were so helpful, suggesting different ways I could alter the dress to make it my own and in the end I changed the neckline and added a lace off the shoulder jacket for the ceremony. For the evening the jacket was then removed to be replaced with the most beautiful champagne sash which tied in a bow at the back. I coupled Grace with a chapel length veil also from Sassi Holford which complimented the dress perfectly. I really couldn't have been happier with my dress and only wished I could have worn it for longer.

The Beauty

My sister and I love to discuss our tips and make-up ideas and so for me, it was important that I chose the right make-up artist. A work colleague recommended Antonia from Elle au Naturel and the minute I saw my friend's wedding photos I knew Antonia was perfect for me! All I wanted was to look like the best version of myself and Antonia certainly achieved this. Antonia did both my hair and make-up and I have to say, I have never felt prettier than I did on the wedding day. Antonia was so calm on the day, which was no easy feat in a house full of women! Antonia also introduced me to Kelly Spence Acccessories who I bought my hair comb from. I was planning on wearing pearl ear-rings as my something old and the darcy comb used freshwater pearls which seemed like the perfect choice! My hair was curled and then pinned up with a few tousled strands to frame my face and then the comb was nestled at the back! I'll never forget seeing the final result, I was just so pleased and my makeup and hair stayed in place perfectly all day! I really couldn't recommend Antonia enough, she is the most skilled woman I know!

The Groom

David wears a suit for work and so really liked the idea of being able to wear his wedding suit time and time again. The tailors at Oliver Brown in London were exceptional from start to finish and together helped us pick a charcoal grey herringbone suit with a dove-grey waistcoat. We were very lucky that Austin Reed stocked virtually identical suits to David's and so the groomsmen's suits were hired from there and coupled with the same waistcoats, grey ties and pocket squares. Even though I'm probably biased, David looked so handsome on the day and I'm sure this was because he was 100% comfortable in his suit and had had such a lot of input in it himself. The groomsmen also scrubbed up very well!

The Photography

We were so lucky to find Emma Coleman from Blink Photography. Both David and I really dislike photos of ourselves or even having our photos taken so knew we needed a photographer with a reportage style. When Antonia told us about her friend Emma and showed us her photos we absolutely loved them. Emma was just the best from start to finish! She was a really calming influence and managed to put us both at ease throughout the whole day. Given that the forecast was for rain I was so worried we wouldn't get any photos so couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the photos Emma took. She provided a slide show of her best photos which reduced me to tears instantly - she managed to transport us back to the day and caught all the special moments for us to treasure forever. We are so grateful that we found her!


We came across Emma Stock when searching on the Internet for wedding videographers in Hampshire and were so impressed with her videos. Emma was again great to have around on the day of the wedding and really captured the most amazing moments. She also did an absolutely amazing job in light of the weather and we were so pleased with the films she produced.


We both knew from day one that canon in d by pachelbel was to be the song I would walk down the aisle too and we were both very keen for this to be played by a string quartet. Arcrosanti were recommended by the Tithe Barn and were just brilliant! The quartet played at the church and during the drinks reception at the barn. Arcrosanti were just brilliant and made my entrance into the church so special. David had a lot of input in the wedding and helped me an enormous amount but the entertainment was his one to organise. David came across the band called The Modern Way via a booking site called the Alive Network and we couldn't have been happier with them. They played both modern and older music and got everybody dancing! We had so many compliments on the band and two of our friends have since tried to book them for their own weddings. They get booked up quickly though so you need to get in there quick! We were also keen to do something different and fun that would encourage people to dance at all times! David's work friend had told him about a Venezuelan wedding tradition called la hora loca. This translates to crazy hour and is a mardis gras style hour where people dress up with masks and props and dance to Latin American music. The band announced la hora loca and with the help of the groomsmen and bridesmaids all the props were distributed to the guests in a slightly unusual manner (by being thrown off the balcony!) La hora loca was absolutely amazing and we have some truly hilarious photos to evidence this! All in all we had the best party ever and the dance floor was full at all times. My resounding memory will be the whole party chanting 'one more song' at the end of the night and being beside themselves when the band agreed to comply - a good sign if ever I've seen one!


What can I say about my bridesmaids, they were absolutely brilliant on the day. When thinking about bridesmaids dresses I initially liked the idea of dove grey but after trying on several shades we all decided that a soft pink would suit them better. The choice of dresses were actually a really big gamble as Alice my friend was living in Australia before the wedding and so didn't have the opportunity to get to try it on before I bought it. Luckily her and Laura my sister are similar shapes so I hoped that the one shoulder style that suited Laura would suit Alice too. Fortunately the dresses looked stunning on! Maids to Measure, where we got the Georgina dress, from were brilliant and I'd really recommend that any bride goes there for their bridesmaids dresses! Their styles are really modern and sophisticated and there is just so much choice! My bridesmaids looked stunning on the day and I was so honoured to walk down the aisle with them behind me.
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Sassi Holford - Grace | Hair & Make Up : Elle Au Naturel | Hair Accessory: Kelly Spence | Grooms Suit: Oliver Brown | Groomsmen: Austin Reed | Bridesmaids: Maids to Measure - Georgina | Venue: The Tithe Barn | Flowers: The Flower Bazaar | Catering: Tourelle Cuisine | Cake: Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery | Cheese Tower: The Cheese Works | Stationery: Date Saved | Lighting : Cinemmatag | Band: Alive Network - The Modern Way | Quartet: Arcosanti Music | Videographer: Emma Stock

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