There is an overwhelming sense of happiness oozing out of the pictures captured by Jackson & Co Photography. Bride Lucy has the most incredible smile and I guarantee you will be beaming along with her when you look at this fabulous outdoor rustic wedding at West Lexham. The aisle and altar looks incredible with hay bales, persian rugs and shepherd's hooks with wild flower hangings. You're going to love all the humorous signage, tattoo favours, DIY and homemade treats too. Lucy's boho bridal look of a Donatelle Godart gown with oversized bouquet and flower crown looks utterly incredible amongst the setting. Ready for all those smiles? Lets take a look.
The VenueLucy the Bride: Matt and I were very clear at the outset that we wanted our wedding to be a full weekend, with all of our guests able to stay on site and for it to be a massive party that didn't have to stop at 11pm. Finding a venue that fulfilled all of those criteria proved difficult until we found the fabulous West Lexham. When we first visited we knew immediately that it was the venue for us. Even in winter the grounds looked stunning and I could picture our outdoor ceremony amongst the trees and our guests lounging by the pool and rowing down the lake. There was a space for the party to continue into the early hours (we called it the rave cave) and a range of accommodation to suit all of our guests, from furnished bell tents and tree houses to beautiful barn rooms and cottages. After a trip the previous summer to plan and meet with suppliers was hampered by relentless, torrential rain we were a bit concerned that our dream of getting married outside was a bit naive but when the weekend actually came it was absolutely glorious sunshine and West Lexham was in full bloom. We were incredibly lucky - a pool party in the rain may have been a bit of a downer. We (and I'm sure our guests) were very happy we didn't have to put the 100 clear rain ponchos we'd bought to use.
Decor/FlowersWest Lexham is huge and our friends and family worked tirelessly the day before the wedding wrapping hay bales in hessian, hanging fairy lights amongst the trees and carting copious amounts of booze to the kitchens. Top tip when dealing with a big site: walkie talkies! They were a god send. The dream team of Swaffham Florist and the amazing Penny from the Little Lending Co helped style and set up the main decor for the ceremony and in the barn where we had the reception. I knew I wanted a simple white colour palette with lots of greenery and foliage but, knowing nothing about flowers, had to rely on Swaffham Florist to interpret my Pinterest board! Luckily they ran with it and produced the most stunning floral arrangements. As well as the beautiful bouquets, they filled jars with eucalyptus, wax flowers, gypsophila and astilby which we hung from shepherd's hooks down the aisle, created the stunning floral pieces which dressed the arch for the ceremony, provided foliage garland runners for the tables and for the entrance to the barn (which we intertwined between a filament bulb light installation), filled tiny glass bottles with individual stems which we hung as a feature around the entrance to the barn and created my amazing floral crown which I did not take off for the entire weekend! The Little Lending Co has an Aladdin's cave of treasures available to hire and we took full advantage! They lent us the arch and vintage Persian rugs which formed our ceremony area amongst many other useful items and created the 'Til Death Do Us Party' banner which was the centrepiece of the dance floor. Penny also came the day before to help us set up which is why the decor actually looks great as opposed to the shambles we probably would have created. We also put together a photo booth using an empty frame I picked up in a charity shop, polaroid cameras which we hired from Penny and props sourced by my bridesman. Guests stuck the polaroids in our guest book along with their drunken well-wishes. The blackboard signs and all of the stationery were all designed by the incredibly talented Aditi at Painted Elephant who created a simple and fresh botanical look which reflected our flowers. Our table names were football players who have played for both Spurs and Liverpool (mine and Matt's respective teams) and we sourced vintage Panini stickers of the player in the kits of both clubs. Aditi did not blink an eye when we asked her to create table settings named 'Oyvind Leonhardsen' and 'Ronnie Rosenthal'. A true star. For the place settings we printed polaroid photos of each of our guests, a task that took forever but was well worth it as we unearthed some hilarious gems that provided lots of entertainment over dinner. Our favours were temporary tattoos of our faces which were well used. The image of Matt's dad walking around our wedding with our faces tattooed on each cheek will stay with me! Unfortunately, the face was not the worst place someone put the tattoo..... The rest of the site was so beautiful it didn't need further decoration but we did string fairy lights amongst the trees and line mason jars filled with fairy lights along the pathways to provide some extra lighting for guests staying in the tents and tree houses. Mainly because my mother was terrified someone was going to fall in the lake stumbling home late at night. Inevitably this was fruitless - so many people fell in the lake. This was not the fault of the lighting.
Bride's FashionI've never been a particularly bridal person and the thought of shopping for a wedding dress did not fill me with joy. I did lots of research online trying to find designers that were a bit more relaxed and bohemian and fitted in with my style. After extensive research I knew that if I couldn't find a dress at The Mews in Notting Hill then I wouldn't be able to find a dress at all. The moment I tried on my beautiful silk Donatelle Godard gown I knew it was the one. It was simple but interesting and essentially an extremely fancy dressing gown which suits my relaxed style perfectly. I felt fabulous swanning around in it. My shoes were simple sandals from Stuart Weizmann and I wore my late grandmother's sapphire and diamond ring as my something borrowed and something blue. My ridiculously talented mum knitted me a silk wedding shawl which is so fine it can fit through my wedding ring which I wore in the evening. The lovely Kylie McMichael did my hair and makeup and the bridesmaids' hair.
Grooms AttireMatt had a personal shopping appointment at Reiss who helped him nail the informal style we were going for. He looked so handsome in his powder blue jacket and navy chinos. Big props also to Murdock London for salvaging his beard after he had an accident with his beard trimmer two days before the wedding and shaved a chunk out of it. Twice.
Wedding Party FashionI just wanted my bridesmaids to be comfortable and have a dress they would want to wear again so I asked them to choose their own dresses. I love the mismatched look and all of the bridesmaids looked stunning; Fiona in a pistachio dress from Zara, Laura in a lace dress from Mango and Annie in a nude dress from Mango paired with a green floral kimono from Spell & the Gypsy Collective. Having the bridesmaids in separate dresses was also a godsend for my other bridesmaid Alex who was 9 months pregnant(!) on the day (her beautiful baby Eve arrived 3 days after the wedding!). We waited until a week before the wedding to buy her a dress so we knew it would fit her bump and thankfully didn't have to worry about putting her in a dress that matched the other bridesmaids. She looked beautiful. Continuing the mismatched theme, we asked the groomsmen and my bridesman to wear whatever outfit they'd like. They're clearly a stylish bunch as they all looked fantastic.
CeremonyI was planning on walking down the aisle by myself as I didn't want to be 'given away' by anyone. What I hadn't reckoned on was feeling so nervous (in a good way!) just before and last minute I asked my mum to walk with me. It goes to show that even when you're 30, sometimes you just need your mum! We walked down the aisle to Nero String Quartet playing Sweet Child O Mine and as soon as I got there all of the nerves evaporated. It was an amazing moment. We had done the legal bit at Islington Town Hall a few days before so we had free reign for what we could do with the ceremony. Our friend Andy was our celebrant and, after establishing with us how we envisaged the ceremony going, he organised it without our input so it was a total surprise for us on the day which was incredibly special. Each of the readings were written by a friend and they were all beautiful and funny in equal measure. Matt and I decided to write our own vows. I had worried this would be very difficult and was tempted to crib some online vow suggestions but it was actually very easy once I sat down to write them. It turns out it's not that hard to think of nice things to say about your favourite person! As everything in the ceremony had been written by us or for us it felt extremely personal and we loved every second of it. I know it's cliche but it was just the most incredible feeling having everyone you love supporting you as you celebrate your relationship. Ever since we were little, my bridesman Jamie has joked about releasing doves at my wedding. After the ceremony he told us to remove a blanket that was covering a bench which released a flock of dove helium balloons into the sky!
EntertainmentThe fabulous Nero String Quartet played a variety of indie classics on strings throughout our drinks reception. After dinner, our wonderful friends Xylaroo played a set out in the garden. They also sang a beautiful acoustic version of 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' for our first dance. The dancefloor was kept busy until the early hours thanks to DiscoWed. Pip the Human Jukebox provided the soundtrack to our Sunday pool party. Guests can pick from his comprehensive list of songs (including some very popular Disney classics) and he strums away inside his jukebox. The Little Lending Co lent us a variety of games for the Sunday festivities (the North v South tug of war was a particular highlight) and the beer pong, quiz and adventurous pool flips were provided by our friends. In the evening we had some very dubious karaoke performances.
FoodFlorentina Catering were absolute superstars. Not only was the food delicious but they absolutely bossed the day, making sure everything ran smoothly and we had nothing to worry about. On the Friday night to reward our hungry helpers they served delicious lamb pittas and falafels. Matt and I are both from Yorkshire so pie and mash was a natural choice for the wedding breakfast. Florentina whipped up incredible chicken and mushroom, beef and stilton and fish pies for guests to share at the tables. Late night booze cravings were sated by their wood-fired pizzas and on the Sunday they put on an amazing BBQ. For the wedding breakfast dessert we asked guests to contribute to the Great Bleach-Brummitt Bake Off - with incredible results! From an Ibiza-inspired creation to a cake with a hidden heart surprise to a cake with Matt as Lionel Ritchie which actually played 'Hello' when we cut into it - the effort everyone went to was amazing. My mum created aprons for the winners of each of our categories - Soggy Bottom, Ugly Duckling, Size Does Matter, Showstopper and Star Baker. My amazing mum was further kept busy as she created our three tier wedding cake; each one of my favourite flavours, chocolate, carrot and Victoria sponge. West Lexham has a variety of kitchens so we brought our own breakfast food for guests to help themselves to in the morning and some generous friends helped set everything up. Our awesome breakfast team managed to cook over 300 sausages for sausage sandwiches the morning of the wedding. On the Sunday evening we had cheese and charcuterie and plenty of leftover Bake-Off cake. As the wine we chose was recommended by Matt's dad we created wine labels with his face on featuring some of his enthusiastic quotes about it - "It's not bad that" and "That'll do". We bought all the wine from Aldi which was a great affordable alternative to some of the more expensive wholesalers. As well as beer and copious amounts of gin we also served a keg of local ale from Beeston Brewery.
PhotographerI met MJ and his lovely wife Hannah at a wedding fair I had been dragged along to by my mum. They and their photos were the shining star in a sea of bling and frothy dresses. A Skype call with Matt confirmed that these were the kind of people we wanted with us on our wedding day. I had completely underestimated the amount of time you spend with your photographer on the day. They are with you at the most intimate moments capturing the nerves beforehand and the just-married joy. We are so grateful that we got to spend that time with MJ and Hannah who were just legendary wedding guests as well as photographers. We had so much fun with them and they managed to capture the fun and joy of our wedding perfectly. We will treasure the photos forever.
Advice1. Having a full weekend wedding sounds intimidating in terms of both effort and cost but we found with prioritising the parts that were important to us, trying to DIY where possible and finding an appropriate venue (i.e. one that doesn't charge corkage or restrict your suppliers!) the cost didn't spiral too far beyond what a one day wedding would be and the benefits were huge. Getting to debrief with everyone the following day was so much fun. 2. You can't do everything yourself. Let people help you - generally they want to! The more people involved in the day the more invested they are in helping it be the best it can be. 3. If you're doing a DIY-ish wedding, make sure somebody else knows the running order for the day. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is project managing everything. 4. Try and take some time to step back and take it all in - it goes so fast! 5. We asked people to keep their phones in their pockets for the ceremony. This means that everyone's faces are visible in all the photos taken by our photographer rather than a sea of phones. 6. If there is a lake you can't stop people falling in it.
Dress Designer: Donatelle Godart | Bride Boutique: The Mews Nottinghill | Bridal Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Hair & Makeup: Kylie M Makeup | Grooms Suit: Reiss | Bridesmaid Dresses: Zara | Mango | Spell & The Gypsy | Venue: West Lexham | Florist: Swaffham Florist | Catering: Florentina Events | Prop Hire & Styling: The Little Lending Company | Stationery: Painted Elephant | Tattoo Favours: Etsy Shop LiliMandrill | Strings: Nero String Quartet | DJ: Disco Wed | Pips Jukebox