The attention to detail and dedication it took to transform bride Lottie’s parents working sheep shed on the family farm in Exmoor is absolutely incredible. There’s trestle tables, fairy lights, and log slices a plenty, and it all looks incredible. I love the quirky table names too. Taking inspiration from their now home Australia with famous catchphrases like ‘flaming’ gala’ and ‘strewth Sheila’.
Plus the fashion is to die for. The ladies wear lace and the groomsmen don tweed. I can’t think of a better combo for a rustic country wedding.
Matt Willis Photography was on hand to capture all the emotion, including the speeches where there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Lottie the Bride: Nigel and I both grew up on beef farms so we decided to go for a rustic wedding theme. I always wanted to have my big day on our family farm (Westermill Farm), so the venue for the reception (our sheep shed) was an easy decision. The difficult part was the sheer scale of it. How do you begin to plan for the transformation of a working sheep shed into a beautiful and unforgettable wedding venue, and from Perth, Western Australia where we live? The answer is teamwork and a lot of well-organised co-ordination of suppliers.
The small village of Exford in the heart of Exmoor National Park was where most guests stayed. The church (walking distance from anywhere in the village) was tiny but it managed to squeeze everyone in….just!
Guests were welcomed to the entrance of the sheep shed after the ceremony and were well fed, watered and musically entertained. Luckily, the weather was incredible so it was an outdoor affair, and when the time came, everyone was invited into the main part of the sheep shed for the formalities.
The Groom’s party all wore Victor Valentine (Southampton) tailor-made Donegal tweed 2 piece suits. They were tailor-made with purple stitching and liner to tie in with the colour scheme, along with personalised initials inside the jackets. They wore cream chinos and most of the men also wore Australian kangaroo-skin R. M. Williams boots while some wore brown shoes to match, to finish off the rustic, country look.
Nigel, along with the 3 pageboys wore bow ties (page boys wore mini versions of the mens attire with waistcoats), while the rest of the party wore matching ties (all from Mrs Bow Tie, UK). The colours in the ties matched the bridesmaid dresses perfectly.
The Bridesmaids wore frosted violet and lavender rose chiffon and lace dresses from JLM Couture Special Occasions. They wore their own silver shoes and I gave them beautiful pearl stud earrings on the morning of the big day.
I arrived at the Church in my dad’s Australian Holden Ute, driven by her dad. The Bridesmaids and mother of the bride, Jill, were driven in two Land Rovers driven by Chris and Richard, close family friends. After the ceremony, the wedding party were driven back to Westermill Farm in a 32-seater old-fashioned bus (Quantock Heritage).
Colour Scheme/Decor and DIY Elements
Given that Nigel and I live in Western Australia, we decided to go for an Australian theme with the table names. They ended up writing the names on old roof slates and some of the names included, ‘Strewth Sheila’ and ‘That’s not a knife, this is a knife’.
I have always loved the colour purple so that was always going to be the colour scheme. My best friend Jessamy is now an artist (Jinks Art) so she designed all our wedding stationery from the Church Order of Service, the table plan (hand written on old pieces of slate), table names, guest names (wooden cut outs of Aberdeen Angus cows with pegs on the back for guests to take away) and kids colouring-in sheets; personalised by Jinks Art for the couples special day.
The tables were long wooden planks and were hired (along with some chairs) from The Plank Company, Braunton. Due to the number of guests, the remaining white wooden chairs were hired from Avonlea Event Hire.
The bar was made out of 20 hogshead whisky barrels bought from Springbank Distillery in Scotland. The remaining whisky barrels were placed around the sheep shed as tables for people to rest their drinks on. The dance floor was built out of wood by family helpers.
The main wow-factor in the sheep shed was the huge fairy light canopy and three massive rotating disco balls in the centre of the sheep shed. This was accompanied by a pea-light black cloth which was used to close off one end of the sheep shed (S+H Technical Support Ltd, Barnstaple).
The stage lighting and surrounding lights were supplied by family friend Gareth Constable (Conferex Communications) and were used at Glastonbury Main Stage the following weekend. Over 7000m of cabling was required to connect everything together!
I had Floral Designs by Wendy Symes to do the flowers. I was not the most knowledgeable when it came to flowers, so mum Jill helped with the decisions. The stunning bouquet was made up of many different purple and cream flowers, from purple lissianthus, lilac sweet peas and ivory peonies & spray roses, intermingled with a little foliage to give a loose look. The bridesmaid bouquets were mini versions of my bouquet. The buttonholes consisted of aubergine allium heads, purple lavender, lilac limonium, rosemary with twine on the stems, they tied in perfectly with their tweed suits.
Wendy Symes decorated the church with lots of foliage, bringing in some of the flowers used in the bouquets. The tables at the reception were simple with jam jars filled with a mixture of flowers to match the wedding, with seasonal foliages & herbs to give a very rustic look. Lots of foliage decorated the barn to continue the country rustic look.
The happy couple got married in my family Church in St Mary Magdalene, Exford, and was conducted by The Reverend David Weir. The ceremony had 3 traditional Hymns (All Things Bright and Beautiful, Love Devine All Love Excelling, I Vow To Thee, My Country), and the readings were ‘1 Corinthians Chapter 13’, read by Lottie’s Aunt Rosamund and ‘Marriage’, read by Nigel’s brother-in-law, David.
I was played down the aisle by World Champion Bagpiper Scott Wallace playing Highland Cathedral. Scott also piped everyone out of the church with Scotland the Brave (Scott’s own arrangement). They exited the church under a tunnel of pitch-forks (held by the Groomsmen) which was a repeat of my parents’ wedding day some 35 years earlier.
The amazing girls from Til There Was Uke (a ukulele duo) who played for a couple of hours during the drinks reception at the sheep shed entry. Later in the evening, Isle of Wight band, Lucidity, played the night away with a folk/country mix. After midnight, good friends (Gareth and John) carried the night along with their DJ set.
Complimentary beer, cider, wines and whisky for all! The wine was purchased during a short visit to France and so it made for a very inexpensive part of the wedding! The whisky was sourced from Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland courtesy of Nigel’s brother-in-law David who is their Global Sales Manager.
A local catering company, Liz White Catering, took care of all food arrangements on the day. Canapés were used in place of a starter (arancini balls/prawn cocktail squares/smoked salmon, cottages cheese and rocket rolls/roasted sweet potato rounds with guacamole and bacon/lamb kofta). The main course consisted of thinly sliced, rare, marinated fillet beef cooked on coal BBQs 2 days prior to eating and served with bowls of potato salad, coleslaw, green salad and bread and butter.
We had so many compliments on the incredible flavour of the beef. This is especially impressive given that a lot of the guests were farmers and have very high expectations when it comes to their meat. Dessert was the beautiful wedding cake (5 layers of different-flavoured sponge cakes) made by family friend Sharon Tomsett.
Once all of the evening guests had arrived and the numbers had reached almost 350 guests, everyone was treated to hog roast rolls with apple sauce. They were also treated to some local ice-cream from Styles Ice-Cream. A dear friend organised an impressive cheese cake with 5 different local cheeses.
I found Matt Willis on Facebook through my make-up artist as they had worked together many times before. The couple had a Skype conversation and automatically felt relaxed and confident. BEST photographer…. cannot speak highly enough of Matt!! He captured every moment possible and made everyone feel so relaxed, you would never have known he was there. We cannot wait for him to capture future memories with our now growing family.
Beccy, Love Heart Productions videoed my brothers wedding and I immediately loved her style in their wedding video. She captured beautiful moments and condensed it into a short 7 minute film.
Nigel and I had the BEST day of our lives. Although at times it was very stressful and sometimes things didn’t go to plan, everything came together in the end. The help and support of family and friends made the whole process work out and on the day everything ran smoothly. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day if we tried.