Mona and Andy's homespun barn wedding is just so lovely. The couple began their wedding planning by deciding what they wanted their day to 'say' which I think is a fantastic way to really map out how your want your wedding to be. If every decision comes back to that idea you're trying to portray, then you'll end up with a day that's personal and full of joy, just like Mona and Andy. The pair knew they wanted gorgeous photographs, so Frances Sales was at the top of their list. Her images are always so natural and really showcase the emotion of the day as it unfolds. If you're after a cosy and personal barn wedding, then I think you're going to love this one...

The Proposal

Mona The Bride: Although Andy and I had been together for 10 years I was totally shocked when he popped the question on a mountaintop in Tromsø, Norway. We had just spent all our pennies on buying a flat together; so I responded to his beautiful proposal with the rather romantic line "I thought we were getting the kitchen done!" It is fair to say I was pretty unprepared for wedding planning and the first challenge we had was to find out what 'kind' of wedding we wanted.  We did some research online and found a site that suggested you should try and create a wedding 'Thesis' - to work out what do you want the day to 'say'. It was a great starting point, and as we had been together so long we decided that we wanted the wedding to celebrate the journey we have been on together and the people that helped us get here.

The Venue

We wanted to totally personalise the day, so we quickly realised we needed to find a 'dry-hire' venue; where all the elements like catering and decor could be individually chosen by us, something which is not always possible with a lot of venues. We focused in on Tenterden in Kent, as we had been for a long weekend and fell in love with the place - it was special to us, and so we wanted to share it with our loved ones. The second we  saw Ratsbury Barn we just knew it was the perfect space for us. It had rustic charm, beautiful gardens and total freedom to bring in our own suppliers.

The Bride

I had honestly never given much thought to my wedding dress, so shopping for one was pretty daunting. Initially I couldn't find anything in my price range so I started trying the ones over budget, and of course I found the one! An Eliza Jane Howell dress, called Clarissa. I loved it so much I got back on the laptop and found a sample of the same dress from a specialist store in Suffolk. The shop was so helpful and they even posted it to me!

The Decor

We chose a pallet of sage, blush, grey and rose gold as our colour scheme. This was an easy decision as we were in the process of decorating our new flat and had used these colours on our walls! Our venue really was so pretty so we didn’t need to do a lot of decorating. We wanted contrast the traditional country chic, as that isn’t our style; so we decided on bold and modern decorations, with 3ft balloons as table centrepieces. They really helped set the fun and light tone we were looking to create and also complimented the height of the barn celling really well. All the little touches were handmade with love, and a lot of man-hours! We learnt how to make paper tassels with the help of our lovely neighbor Susana, and I drafted in the Best Women to get crafting! We wanted to give the day a real sense of personality and fun so made each guest a personalised favour – a balloon with a little poem written on it. It was so nice to see people’s smiles as they read the message and it was a lovely way to thank our guests in a super cheap and really cheerful way.

The Wedding Party

We really loved the idea of an informal mis-matched style for our wedding squad and I was really set on the Best Women having the same outfit but in different colours, to compliment their individuality. Coast was a great store for this, as many of their dresses and skirts come in 2 or 3 colours. Mis-matching can be tricky and took some time, but I was really happy with the final look. The younger bridesmaids dresses came from River Island; it’s a really good place to find dresses for children 9-13 years old, as I found the high-street didn’t have much to offer this age range. The groomsmen all wore their own grey suits, which we tied together with a matching Rose Gold tie. We struggled to get the right colour to complete the look so found the perfect fabric in a fabric store and had them made online – the price was just the same as a tie off the shelf too!

Our Friends & Family

It was so important that our day celebrated not just us but the most important people in our lives, so we used the amazing talents of people around us every step of the way. Our friend Danielle Downey made our bespoke stationary. Her invites set the tone of the day right from the start, with a design including fun illustrations of us, and all the things we love as a couple. Anyone looking for beautiful bespoke stationery can email her here: The Best Man Nick and his wife Alena love making music together, so we asked them to play for us and they created a special arrangement of a song we loved. We couldn’t find a reading for the ceremony that we liked so our wonderful friend Charlotte wrote a poem about our story, which was just so special, and one of our favourite moments of the day. I would so encourage others to look to the people around them when planning, we found that people so loved being involved in the wedding and you may be surprised what talents people have hidden away!

The Photography

As soon as we saw Frances’s work we were desperate to book her. We loved her relaxed, informal style and when we met we just knew she would had the perfect personality for our day. The photos have come out better than we could have dreamed of – they capture and document not only the moments, but the atmosphere of the whole day – and looking back at them we are able to relive the happiness all over again.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Bride: Eliza Jane Howell | Boutique: Suffolk Wedding Dress Exchange | Shoes: TK Maxx | Headpiece: Dana Mantzur | Venues: Ratsbury Barn | The Woolpack | Balloons: Kent Balloons | Catering: Pumpkin | Bridesmaids: Coast | Groom: Paul Smith | Groomsmen's Ties: Dusk Bridal | Stationery: Danielle Downey | Band: Rockaoke

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