Just when you think you’ve seen every possible wedding idea there is – a creative couple goes and throws you a curveball! Jess & Sam made their own version of the Periodic Table of the Elements as a table plan – which is totally genius. They also created their own pub, named after them of course, complete with proper pub sign…and if that wasn’t enough, they invited guests to create home brews which they served as part of their real Ale wedding festival! I know, pretty cool indeed.
There are so many other gorgeous details too – Jess’ dress made by her Mum (seriously talented lady), the cake and cheese cake made by Sam’s Mum (another very talented lady), the rustic door frame to allow Jess to ‘enter’ the outdoor ceremony properly, the incredible barn venue, which is so bohemian it doesn’t even have a website…the whole thing is just beautiful from start to finish.
And I haven’t even mentioned the gorgeous photography from Eve Dunlop yet – I mean just look at that portrait in the poppy field? It’s breathtaking. Oh and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for a gorgeous shot of Bambi too – confirming that this venue really is idyllic!
Jess The Bride: We knew we both wanted a relaxed, informal country wedding with a big party after to celebrate. We came up with 3 quite strict requirements, which made the venue hunt quite challenging. We wanted somewhere where we were free to do our own thing and bring our own alcohol, a place that allowed our guests to camp on the wedding night and most importantly a venue where there was no curfew; after all this was going to be the biggest party of our lives!
I had almost given up finding a venue that would enable us to do all of this until I stumbled upon the beautiful Wick Bottom Barn on a wedding forum, and it was perfect! Set in the stunning Wiltshire countryside it offered us everything we wanted and the freedom to style and really make the wedding our own.
We didn’t have a set colour scheme as such, but stuck to a pastel palette of greens, pinks, blues and golds and then spent several days leading up to the wedding decorating the barn with paper lanterns, fairy lights, candles and ribbons. As a wedding present my Mum gave Sam and I my parent’s 1980’s racing tandem which we decorated with flowers and was a centrepiece in the barn. Sam, being a geeky engineer decided he wanted a science based table plan and so he came up with the idea for ‘the periodic table of tables’. On our periodic table, everyone was given their own elemental name and position, which they had to decipher themselves to work out where they were sitting.
In line with the camping theme, we also hired Lulubells to come and create a mini bell tent village for us and some of our guests to sleep in on our wedding night. The bell tents looked stunning against the backdrop of the Wiltshire countryside and Lucy from Lulubells did such a good job at dressing them with comfy beds, vintage trunks, cosy blankets and a surprise bottle of Champagne for us!
Wedding Ale Festival
We wanted the wedding to really reflect us and so as part of our celebration we held an Ale Festival and brewing competition to celebrate Sam’s love of real ale. Alongside the professionally brewed kegs, guests were invited to brew an ale/alcoholic drink of their choice and bring this along. These were judged by a panel with awards given out after the speeches.
Amazingly, we got over 30 entries and everyone loved it! As a surprise Sam’s brother, who is a talented artist also designed a pub sign, which hung at the entrance to the ale tent as well as custom half pint glasses (which were part of our favours) based around our nicknames ‘Guns and Pix’.
We opted for a small legal ceremony in the local registry office a couple of days beforehand, then on the Saturday itself, a humanist ceremony as neither of us are religious. It also meant we could hold it outside. As part of the ceremony, Sam’s other brother and his cousin performed a rendition of ‘O Mistress Mine’ from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
One thing I couldn’t work out was how I was going to ‘enter’ an outdoor wedding in the middle of a field! And so the outdoor doorway was born when I stumbled across the idea on Pinterest. Luckily Sam and his youngest brother are engineers and so creating a beautiful rustic door that would stand up in the middle of a field was merely an interesting challenge. On the day it looked so beautiful draped in ivy and gypsophila, even our guests felt compelled to enter the ceremony area via the door. Later in the evening it doubled up as stumps for a cricket game!
The Dress & Bridesmaids
I had already visited a number of bridal boutiques to try on different dresses when my Mum suggested she could make my dress. Initially I had been a bit hesitant but I am SO GLAD I made the brave decision to go for it, because the dress was just perfect and fitted me like a glove. I decided against a veil and instead went for some fresh flowers in my hair and earrings from Oliver Bonas.
I found the bridesmaid dress shopping much harder. I had decided early on to get them from the high street but wanted something quite simple but not too casual and for months couldn’t find anything that really worked. Then I stumbled upon some dresses while in Coast which I had initially overlooked on the internet.
The Groom & Ushers
Sam decided he wanted a suit he could wear again, so one Saturday we headed to Reiss and came out an hour later with his wedding suit. It almost felt too easy!
As the wedding was at the beginning of August and we had opted for something fairly informal we decided to go for the waistcoat look for our Groomsmen and got their suits from Next in a slightly lighter grey to Sam’s. Sam bought a knitted ties from Reiss for himself and the best man and we got the ushers similar ties online in the House of Fraser sale.
One thing we were certain about right from the start was that we wanted a good photographer. The photos would after all be our lasting momento of the day. I came across Eve Dunlop and immediately fell in love with her style; relaxed, natural and beautiful and so after meeting up we booked her straight away. On the day(s) she was brilliant; so flexible and relaxed, capturing the atmosphere of our wedding perfectly. There’s not one photo I don’t love!
To keep costs down we opted for canapés followed by a BBQ for our main wedding meal, provided by the wonderful Coleshill Catering. Sam’s Mum made our delicious naked wedding cake and sourced and constructed the gigantic cheese tower, both of which were served as pudding after the BBQ.
In the evening, we hired a traditional fish and chip van. Ashley at the Chipcart was a great find and the delicious fish and chips were lapped up by our then rather drunk guests!
Another element of the wedding we both decided was really important to us was having a live band in the evening to kick off the party. We chose The Razors as our wedding band, and I will admit I didn’t really know what to expect having only heard a few demo tracks. On the night we were taken aback at just how good they were and how they kept the dance floor packed all night.
Not knowing much about flowers my only brief to our florist Kate at Hedge Rose was something not too formal. She did such a wonderful job interpreting my vague instructions creating beautiful jam jars filled full of pastel pink and white country flowers and stunning bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids.
One of the things I found at the beginning with wedding planning was I was overrun by so many different ideas for everything and it all got quite confusing. It may sound counter intuitive but thinking about what we didn’t want our wedding to be like really helped us hone down our ‘wedding plan’.
If you don’t want the traditional/typical elements of a wedding then you don’t have to have them! Parents and other family members can often put pressure on you to do things in a certain way, but at the end of the day it’s your wedding day not theirs. If you really don’t want a church wedding then you don’t have to have one or if you feel strongly against having children there then that’s your decision. We found that explaining clearly but calmly why we didn’t want these things and also being able to reference other people’s weddings we had been to that didn’t contain certain elements helped put their minds at rest.