You'd be forgiven for thinking that this morning's wedding was somewhere hot and dreamy like the South of France whereas in fact South Farm is an oasis of calm and rustic goodness near Cambridgeshire. American gal Katie married her English gentleman Mike against the sunniest backdrop of canary yellow sunflowers and blue accents. Her maids - all Californian girls - wore the best bridesmaid outfits I've seen in a while...silken blue jumpsuits accessorised with delicate floral headpieces. Awesome. This wedding is full of the sweetest details, from the signage dotted about the venue, to the funny prank Katie played on Mike in the ceremony and even the cheeky presents for the ushers. I know you're just going to love all of it.
Katie The Bride: Mike and I met (and currently live) in San Francisco. Mike’s family is from northern England whereas most of my family is in California, but my father studied at Nottingham University, where he met my English Godfather, Michael Jackson. Michael went on to have a family that we lovingly, and un-religiously, call our God-family. Due to the incredible impact my Godparents had on my hyBrit upbringing, Michael Jackson was our chosen “officiant“ and his wife Glenise was the Godmother of the bride and fabulous cake maker.
The Bride's FashionGrowing up a tomboy, I never pictured my wedding, nor had a dream wedding dress. When the day came I needed to pick out a dress, I fit the cliché and fell in love with the first dress I tried on which was by Reem Acra. I still went through the process of trying on many many other dresses, but there was something about my dress that made me feel happy. Other dresses were romantic or sexy, but this one was flowy, light, and, well...happy. I didn't want to feel like a princess. I just wanted to be able to dance all night long. My dress and dainty drop earrings were very generous gifts from my Auntie Lynn, who stepped in to fill the role of mother of the bride and has been an incredible support my entire life.
The Groom's FashionMike may have married an American, but he wanted to make sure he represented great English style. He chose a gorgeous plaid suit, to fit the quaint South Farm setting. His suit included a white pocket square and blue tie.
The VenueWhile Mike and I never planned ahead when it came to wedding details, we are guilty for being planners in every other aspect of life, so once engaged, planning a wedding halfway around the world was taken on as an exciting challenge. Even though we may have disappointed some Brits who expected a trip to a Californian winery, once we stumbled upon South Farm, there was no way we could have ever imagined getting married anywhere else. South Farm was a dream come true. Conveniently located halfway between my Godparents and Mike's parents, this little Cambridge-adjacent gem is truly one of a kind. Out of an immense stroke of luck, we found South Farm in an online search. We booked it for July 5th, sight unseen, based on incredible feedback from my Godparents and Mike’s parents (who spontaneously jumped at the opportunity to be our venue scouts). We first went to see South Farm in person when back home for Christmas. Even covered in frost, it was the most charming venue we’d ever encountered. Between the beautiful grounds, the farm to table kitchen, the lodging options and the amazing team of expert event planners, we knew we had struck gold. Special shout out to Ali for all the pre-planning emails and to Becky for making magic happen on the day of our wedding. They made planning a wedding from across the world practically seamless.
FlowersOne of the many perks of South Farm is that it requires very little dressing. It is just naturally beautiful. I knew I wanted to have sunflowers and wildflowers, to fit in with the quaint countryside setting. Dana was an incredible florist who helped bring my simple and natural vision to life and make it even better than I had imagined. We had a variety of old fashioned vases (different heights and glass types) as centerpieces, which sat upon a slice of wood, surrounded by tea lights. Dana also hung classic white bunting from the beams of the barn. We used a great Etsy vendor from California to create burlap flags. One side had the table numbers and the other side had the cockney rhyming for each number. We made DIY custom luggage tags with a US/UK bunting stamp and wrote each guest’s name on them. We also had a small tin of mints at each place setting that said our names and “Mint to be”.
The Wedding Party FashionThe joke/cliché of the wedding was that the California bridesmaids were all blonde, but I assure you not all my friends are beautiful blondes! My only direction was for the ladies to wear something flowy and blue of their choice, and they happened to choose the most perfect blue Milly silk jumpsuit. As an added touch, one of my crafty bridesmaids made dainty bohemian headpieces for all the ladies. As a gift to the bridesmaids, I ordered a variety of floral robes from Etsy, customized for each lady, to wear as we got ready. The groomsmen were lovingly called the “5 shades of grey”, as each suit was different. My brother, Adam, also wore grey, but he was technically on the bride’s side as the “Heman of Honour”, due to countless hours of Heman and Sherah games as kids. The gents all had navy ties, white pocket squares, yellow socks and yellow buttonholes. They were also each gifted with Playboys from the month of their birth, so that made for interesting photos!
CeremonyMike’s mum and my Auntie kicked off the ceremony, walking hand in hand down the aisle, for an adorably special moment. All mother figures should be spotlighted, if you ask me!) We wanted a ceremony that had more laughter than tears, both for us and our family and friends. Tears of laughter were a bonus. The wedding was in a summer house, which was an adorable gazebo on a pond. I reminded Mike in my vows that this time, I crossed the pond for him. Michael Jackson wrote the ceremony, folding in very personal pieces of our relationship. It was 100% genuine to us. My brother / Heman of Honour also did a brief reading of Bob Dylan/Adeles’ “Make you feel my love”. Our vows had a good mixture of heartfelt and funny (including some impressive homemade rhyming, as well as a Dr. Seuss classic – “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love” – which explains our relationship, in a nutshell. Perhaps one of the best moments of the ceremony was something that my Godfather/our officiant and I had plotted 6 months earlier and kept secret from everyone. Mike and I got engaged while snorkeling in the Florida Keys, where Mike made me dive down for a ring that he placed in a box under water. To keep the tradition, our officiant told Mike that I had placed his wedding ring in a box and sunken it in the pond upon which we were being married, for him to retrieve. As my soon to be husband pulled on a strategically concealed string draping over the side of the summer house, the ring box that he pulled up had popped open and was empty. This lead to some slightly panicked faces and a gasp from the audience across the pond. After a strategically timed beat, our officiant explained to Mike that the ring was safe in his hands and that Mike needed to get used to a lifetime of me stringing him along. Marriage is about challenging each other, right?
EntertainmentBetween our vows and goofiness, we tried to be as entertaining as possible! We had a fantastic DJ (Gavin) in the evening, who helped me successfully pull off my goal of hardly ever leaving the dance floor. We also had a phone box photo booth that made for entertaining photo keepsakes. What happens in the booth, stays…in our wedding book forever. We ended the night with sparklers, which was only fitting for a wedding the weekend of American Independence Day. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist the irony of losing our independence in the motherland.
FoodWe were shocked at how many people came up to us and commented on how wonderful the food was. We heard multiple “best food at a wedding ever” feedback, which makes us only wish we could have remembered how it tasted in the moment! It’s true that you never really eat as much as you should during your wedding, or if you do, your sensory overload can’t process the actual taste. We do remember the pre-wedding tasting and the food was absolutely incredible. South Farm are masters at their skill.
PhotographerJust when we thought we couldn’t luck out any more than finding South Farm as our venue, South Farm referred us to the best photographer in the world, Bea. Bea and her talented second shooter, Ilaria captured moments so beautiful, that they don’t seem real. Every picture is better than the last, but we also couldn’t have asked for a more professional and lovable photography team. When the memories get further and further away, we will always have these images to take us right back to the special moments.
VideographerVideography was a relatively last minute additional to our wedding planning, but would have been our largest regret, had we not included it. Ioannis did a spectacular job recording footage that we will now watch for the rest of our lives. Its crazy how many details fade after the wedding, so we cannot recommend more having a videographer like Ioannis.
Unique aspectsI suppose it is my duty to share some very important advice that I wish was shared with me!... Please be sure to check to see if you need a marriage visa if you are getting married in another country. We did our research, planned 6 months ahead, and the rules changed after we had done what we thought we needed to do. Being stopped at customs after flying across the world, wedding dress in hand, and detained for 4.5 hours, we narrowly escaped having to cancel our entire wedding on the spot. Thankfully, fate was on our side and we were able to get married, but please spread the word to all future brides to triple check all the latest rules before trying to get married. The good news is, after having something so special flash before your eyes, I couldn’t have appreciated our wedding more and every moment felt like a dream. We also learned that weddings are all about making your own traditions, not following a rule book. If your wedding is unique to your personalities, it will be enjoyed tenfold. Like the motto of our incredible venue, we loved celebrating being “distinctly different”.
Bride's Dress: Eternity by Reem Acra | Venue: South Farm | Groom's Suit: Eidos | Florist: Dana Young Flowers | Make-up Artist: Denise Lilley | Tea Towel Invitation: Karen Brown | DJ: Gavin Thorogood | Videographer: Reel Emotion Weddings | Phone Box Photo Booth: Candyfloss Crazy | Bridesmaids' Morning Robes: SingingSlowly | Bridesmaids' Jumpsuits: Milly