I love featuring barn weddings that are elegant and chic - as much as I love a wild and rustic thrown together look - it's always lovely to show you just how versatile a wedding venue space can be - and Southend Barns is looking particularly stylish today. With minimal details and a clean colour palette of white and gold (albeit with lots of twinkling fairy lights) the finished look is just gorgeous. Katie's choice of styling for the venue is reflected in her form-fitting gown by Johanna Hehir and the gold sequinned Bridesmaids dresses. The group of sisters look so gorgeous. And talking of sisters, Simon's very talented one, Kelly, did all of the flowers! The lovely portraits of the couple in the rain should hopefully quell anyone's fears of rain on their wedding day...what could be more romantic than a kiss under an umbrella in the pouring rain?

Our Story

Katie the Bride: Simon and I met at school and were first together when I was 15 and he was 16! Every year we go to our favourite place in the world - Alvor, which is in the Algarve, Portugal. There is a beautiful restaurant built into the caves on the beach called Canico. On one visit we had an amazing evening and as we walked back along the beach Simon got down on one knee and proposed. I had been waiting 10 years by this point so couldn’t have said yes any faster.

The Venue

Initially we wanted to get married at Canico, but realised after a few months of planning that getting both families and friends to a restaurant only accessible by sand just wasn’t realistic! We started looking for venues in the UK but just couldn’t find anything quite right - until we found Southend Barns. We saw the Barns on a rainy day and thought it was the most beautiful venue - a perfect fit for us as we loved the use of wood, grey and clean lines and not a swirly carpet or chair cover in sight! We didn’t really like the idea of a theme so just went with our instincts on what we did and didn’t like. Donnington is as 1hr away from where we live but there wasn’t anything that came even close in comparison nearer to home. Southend Barns provided the most incredible service - replying to seven thousand emails about every minute detail of the day and ensuring that we had the best day possible. They were accommodating about every request we had.

The Beauty

Hair and make up was done by ID Hair and Make Up in Chichester. I’d had a bad trial before I found Lucy but I knew as soon as I met her she totally understood the look I wanted to go for and I had 100% confidence in her! They are incredibly talented and professional - I can’t recommend them highly enough and they have since won The Wedding Industry Award for London and South East Make Up artist of the year!

The Photography

Vicky Lamburn was our incredible photographer - I spotted one of her photos on a wedding blog and thought her work was amazing. We’re both terrified of the camera but we did an engagement shoot on the beautiful beach at Camber Sands - this was such a great thing to do as it really gave us so much confidence about the photos on the day. Vicky’s attention to detail is second to none and as she was getting drenched in the sea and falling over in the sand dunes we knew that she would stop at nothing to get the perfect shots on the day! We had an amazing selection of shots just days after the wedding.

The Dress

My dress came from Mathilda Rose in Lindfield and was by an amazing designer called Johanna Heir. I wanted something different and easy to wear - I tried on about 60 dresses before I found this silk dress and I knew as soon as I tried it that it was perfect. Nic from Mathilda Rose provides an incredibly calm and personal service - I have missed going into her boutique so much since! The back of the dress was really special and I wanted a veil that wouldn’t detract from that. I went for a sheer, simple silk veil from Pantiles Bride in Tonbridge Wells. I’m so glad I wore a veil now – it does make you feel so special! My shoes were amazing and a total bargain! They had gorgeous bows on the back to match my dress and were from Menbur on Zalando.

The Groom

Simon had his suit made in Thailand, when he was there for a stag do the year before our wedding. He wanted to keep it simple and venue appropriate. No tails etc! His two best men wore suits from River Island.

The Bridesmaids

My sisters Lucie and Tillie were my bridesmaids and we chose a stunning dress from Debenhams. I wanted my sisters to feel amazing on the day – so I was never going to force any colour or style on them. We all thought finding a bridesmaids dress was going to be difficult without any ideas on what we wanted, but it was easy! My sisters looked absolutely amazing on the day and I was so pleased with their dresses. My mini bridesmaid (who refused to be called a flower girl) was my cousin Emilia who also looked so beautiful in a dress from Monsoon.

The Flowers

The flowers were done by Kelly, Simon’s sister, who is an incredible florist! I chose my three favourite flowers: peonies, hydrangeas and roses and we went for a creamy white colour palette. I couldn’t have been happier with the flowers – we are so lucky to have such a great florist in the family.

The Entertainment

We booked Anthem Party Band via Warble Entertainment who were genuinely the best band we’ve ever seen. They had the dance floor full from the moment they came on until the very end. There were so many dance offs and they did lots of crowd interaction which was hilarious! They were the highlight of our day and we could not have been happier. We also booked Chip through Warble Entertainment who played during the drinks and canapés and was fantastic.

The Videography

The video was done by London Village Studios and Nick was so, so good. We were in stitches with him while we were getting ready - he made everyone so relaxed and even taped my sister into her bridesmaid dress! The trailer of our wedding was ready within 24 hours! It was so nice to be able to share this with our friends while all the memories were fresh.


The photo booth was DIYed but it turned out perfectly - we made the backdrop out of a bed sheet and waste pipes and asked our photographer friend Chris to take the pictures. Guests of all ages got involved and the photos came out better than we ever hoped! We made the Love Letters ourselves and they provided a beautiful backdrop for the dance floor. We wanted lots of lights and they made the barn so atmospheric. It was a lot of work but so worth it, they looked so good all set up. We now hire them out.

The Weather

A couple of days before the wedding we found out it was going to rain all day! At first we were gutted but on the morning of the wedding Simon wrote me the sweetest letter, saying that the rain couldn’t stop us being happily married and it didn’t! Like every psycho bride, I thought my wedding was ruined. But in reality, the day goes ahead and you have to trust the professionals that are running your day - they have a back up plan! The staff from Southend Barns and Field & Fork escorted our guests from their cars to the venue under umbrellas and they made an umbrella tunnel for us to get to and from the barns. My favourite photos are of us outside under the umbrella! All the cliches are true, it goes by in a blur but it really is the happiest and best day of your life.

Special Details

- Smores Favours - these were perfect for the fire pit! DIYed - Photo Place Cards - our guests loved these - the reaction to their photos was amazing and everyone took theirs home. A lot of work but totally worth it! DIYed - Confetti Cards - I made these to give our guests an idea of timings of the day and made sure there was lots of confetti - I love confetti moments! DIYed - Sweetie Table - Totally selfishly all our favourite treats, M & Ms, Fudge, Minstrels and Krispy Kremes - these disappeared quickly! - Cake - Made by Simons Grandmother. We wanted something different but simple - layers of Chocolate Cake, Carrot Cake and Lemon! - Flowers - From Bella June Flowers (Simon’s Sister) Peonies, Hydrangeas and Roses - Table Names - Our favourite restaurants in Alvor! - Dance Ballons - I wanted these ever since I saw the Blurred Lines video! - Flower Crowns & Ears - I just wanted the girls to be able to where something fun in the evening for the party - so I bought loads of flower crowns and lace ears and put them in a box in the ladies room that said "wear me” - no one needed any encouragement.


My hair got dyed luminous pink 5 days before the wedding = sobbing. The hotel (accommodation for all our guests) emailed us to tell us we had booked the wrong night for all our guests - cue the biggest bridezilla meltdown in the history of meltdowns. Thankfully the next day they realised they had made a mistake.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Featured suppliers

Bride: Johanna Hehir | Boutique: Mathilda Rose | Veil: Pantiles Bride | Florist: Bella June Flowers | Venue: South End Barns | Letters: Love Letters Sussex | Catering: Field & Fork | Bridesmaids: Debenhams | Groom: Timmy's Tailor | Groomsmen: River Island | Entertainment: Warble Entertainment | Videography: London Village Studio | Photobooth: Sutherland Photography Studios | Hair & Make Up: ID Make Up, Hair & Beauty

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