Katie and Neil legally got married in Italy followed by a relaxed non formal ceremony and celebration at the gorgeous Secret Barn in Sussex 9 days later. They definitely put their stamp on the venue, filling it with hundreds of paper cranes, wild flowers, tissue tassels, bunting and so much more delicious DIY decor. It truly does look spectacular, and definitely has the WOW factor. Their outdoor blessing was conducted by Katie's brother in the orchard, whilst guests casually sat on picnic blankets surrounded by the trees and the glorious sunshine. Everyone then enjoyed Pimms, afternoon tea, pizzas & ice-cream and it looks like they are having the best time. There is a real hand made element to this rustic wedding, it really is full of love, with so many personal touches and utterly beautiful. Congratulations Katie & Neil, a fabulous example of having #YourDayYourWay.

The Wedding

Katie The Bride: One thing I was sure of from the beginning was that our wedding wasn’t going to be traditional in any way. I find all that formality quite scary and it really just didn’t suit who we are as people. Our official wedding was in Cetraro which is just south of the Amalfi Coast in Italy. We had our parents, siblings and our and closest friends with us for our ceremony in a vineyard overlooking the sea. It was intimate, beautiful and just perfect but we also wanted to celebrate with the rest of our friends and family back in Sussex so we planned a second wedding 9 days later minus the formalities.

The Venue

I actually only looked at one venue but I knew it was perfect the moment I saw it. It really was just an empty barn in a beautiful West Sussex setting. We were able to decorate as we wanted, have a bonfire and camp so I was sold straight away. It was however completely do-it-yourself so it was a lot of work but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We had access to it for the two days before and our family were so amazing at helping to turn all my visions into a reality.

The Brides Fashion

I visited a few bridal shops but left feeling a little deflated each time as nothing really felt right to me. I knew I wanted something with lace and with a bohemian feel but I just couldn’t find what I wanted. I spent a long time looking online for ideas and inspiration and built up a pretty good idea of what I wanted. I then had the idea of having my dress made for me and came across The Velvet Birdcage in Worthing. I met Amy on my first visit and she was so lovely and made me feel really relaxed and reassured that she knew what would and wouldn’t look good on me. I showed her some pictures and tried on some of her other dresses and together we came up with a design for the dress. It was a bit nerve wracking not being able to try on the dress until a few weeks before the wedding but she assured me that we could have as many fittings and alterations as we needed until I was happy and in the end we only needed a couple before I had my dress. I never wear heels and as nice as I think they look I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing them so I had some custom made sparkly Converse made and they were perfect.

The Grooms Fashion

Neil had a day out with my brothers and cousin to find the suit. It needed to be something light as he would be wearing it in the heat in Italy as well as the Sussex wedding. After trying on quite a few suits he settled on one from Burtons and had it tailored to fit perfectly.


Soon after we got engaged I quickly became obsessed with RMW and pintrest which were absolutely instrumental in helping to create everything. I made pretty much everything from the invitations to the personalised Mr and Mrs aprons. My mum and I collected mismatched vintage china for months which we used to make teacup candles for the tables. We scoured car-boot sales and charity shops and ebay for all kinds of items which was great fun and really helped keep the costs down. One of my favourite projects was the 1001 paper cranes. I used a mixture of origami paper, old dictionaries, atlases and anything else I saw that I thought would be suitable. It took about four months in total to make them and hang them. I had help along the way from various friends and family too which just made it even more special. There were many moments when I doubted whether I would complete the mammoth task but I was so pleased I didn’t give up when I saw the end result. Neil made the marquee style ‘Love letters’ and the stage for the band out of old pallets. He and my dad also made all the direction signs. We collected old sofas and armchairs from Freecycle the couple of days before to have around the bonfire.


My flowers were bought as a DIY package via the venue and came from The Sussex Flower Farm, we’d collected jars and old bottles for months before and done all the arranging ourselves the day before. I had also grown lots of containers full of flowers at home specifically for the day, which is a bit of a risky strategy especially as the wedding was in early June but they turned out really well. My bouquet, flower crown and the button holes were all dried flowers as I wanted to use them in Italy and at the barn, they were so beautiful and have the added bonus of lasting forever.


We had a small blessing ceremony for some family and friends at the beginning of the day. We sat on picnic blankets and it was very relaxed and informal. My brother read some of the words from our Italian ceremony and then two of our other siblings did readings that we had picked out followed by a Buddhist wedding blessing.


We had an afternoon tea with Pimms which was chosen in memory of our first holiday together in Cornwall when we had a cream tea every day for the entire week we were there! Our main food was stone baked pizza cooked in a converted horse box provided by The Gourmet Chef. Neil and I served all the guests in our personalised Mr and Mrs Aprons which was such a good way to ensure we managed to speak to every guest and was probably one of my favourite parts of the day. We had no seating plan and no speeches! For dessert we had local ice cream served from an ice cream bike and we invited all our guest to partake in a bake off which meant we had so many delicious cakes! My mum made our wedding favours which were lovely chocolate heart shaped lollies with our photo on and her and my brother made us an amazing naked wedding cake.


Sarah was the only photographer we actually met having emailed quite a few. She was without a doubt one of the best decisions we made. I could tell she shared our vision from the first time we met and she was so lovely and helpful through the whole process. It was like having a friend with us the whole time. And the photos were so gorgeous and they were presented in a lovely package that arrived a few weeks later, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Velvet Birdcage | Bridal Shoes: Converse | Grooms Suit: Burtons | Venue: The Secret Barn | Caterer: The Gourmet Chef | Afternoon Tea & Ice-Cream: Petal and Feast | Florist: Sussex Flower Farm | Entertainment: The Swing Ninjas | Decor (The Bride): Lotus Floral Arts

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