This beautiful couple certainly know how to have a good time, which I have to say continued long into their 6 months honeymoon – I mean why the hell not!
First they enjoyed a relaxed outdoor ceremony, which took place in the most dreamiest of gardens, with benches & hay bales as aisle chairs and because they did the legal bit a few days before it meant that Rachel’s Uncle could conduct the service.
Then they carried on their reception in a rustic barn filled with DIY decor and flowers Rachel had arranged herself all thanks to a course at floristry school. This wasn’t where the talents ended though, oh no. Beautiful floral Bridesmaid dresses and co-ordinating Groomsmen ties & pocket squares were all hand sewn by the Grooms Mum, not to mention the home baked Naked cake!
SO many of the images taken by Lemonade Pictures capture fabulous memories and good times. I love the Groomsmen on the swing and Rachel & Alex running through the field, but my absolute fav is the wedding party sack race, such determination on their faces. What a lovely way to celebrate with loved ones than with a few garden games and a personal day bursting with fun.
Rachel The Bride: Finding a wedding dress for me was a struggle, I had a picture of 1950s/short dresses in my head when going into wedding dress shopping, however I felt I should try on a number of traditional wedding dress. With the traditional shapes and styles I found that the trains and restricting bodices just weren’t quite right for me. I had an amazing morning trying on dresses at fur Coat No Knickers, but sadly my budget just couldn’t stretch to that. Their dresses are truly stunning.
So I started going down other routes of potentially getting a dress made or altered. I had appointments booked with a dressmaker, however on the Saturday before myself, Alex (the Groom) and my Mum headed to Creative Brides wedding fair at Scotney Castle (I’m a huge National Trust fan and grew up in Kent, so it was one I felt I couldn’t miss). Whilst looking around the tent my Mum spotted a rack of wedding dresses and in particular a polka dot tulle. We’d found Cara at Story of my Dress! After trying on I decided to go for it and bought my dress there and then.
This was in the Sept for a May wedding so there was a long wait with it simply hanging at my parents house, with an alteration appointment with Gillian booked in the diary. Gillian made the dress from an original 1950s pattern for Cara and she made all the alterations for me! She was fantastic, and it fit perfectly ready for the big day!
My shoes I got from Kurt Geiger in the sale and my evening sandals were from Aldo. My Dad gave me a bracelet as a wedding present which was Links of London. My necklace was my Great Grandmother’s, and my Veil was my Mum’s. The floral crown I made myself from artificial flowers and flower wire. I was chuffed with how it turned out.
We were legally married in a ceremony on the Thurs before the Saturday and at that I had the enormous pleasure of wearing my Nan’s wedding dress from her 1957 wedding.
Alex The Groom: I didn’t want to spend a ton of money renting suits for myself and Groomsmen to only wear for a day. Instead I bought myself a nice suit from Reiss during the January sales for around £350, that way I have a good suit for work, important meetings etc in the future. Most of my Groomsmen already had blue suits, so not too much expenditure required and we all looked great in our navy suits!
I decided to go for bow ties, so started looking online and in shops, but couldn’t really find what I wanted or didn’t want to pay the crazy money! As my Mum was making the Bridesmaid’s dresses I thought it would be a nice idea to have the bow ties made from the same material so that everything matches. So she made the bow ties and pocket hankies which looked brillant!
Rachel The Bride: I found Court Lodge Barn when searching Kent wedding photographers and looking at different venues they had shot at. We were looking at venues in both Cheshire and Kent, as Alex is from Chester and I’m from Bromley. We needed a venue that was near plenty of hotels for friends and family to stay and close to the M25 to reduce the long drive for Al’s family, ideally it’d also be near a train station… So it was a pretty long list. Court Lodge managed to fit all the logistical battles, plus had buckets of charm and lent itself perfectly to the DIY/relaxed feel we wanted for the day!
Alice and Harry at Court Lodge were absolutely fantastic, really easy to work with and so helpful at answering questions in the run up to the big day. They only rent out the barn 14 weekends a year which means we could pop into the barn on the Thurs to drop off the beer and flowers and meant we had the whole of Friday to set-up the barn exactly how we wanted it. Meaning Saturday morning was all about getting ready and relaxing.
We decided early on not to have a colour scheme but thought given we were having a May wedding an English garden party/May Day feel could work well.
I’m a keen sewer so early on decided to make all the bunting, and any of my friends will tell you that I’m obsessed with Floral fabric! I made just over 60 metres of bunting and my Mother-in-law was a super star and made the same.
Pinterst and our photographer (Lemonade Pictures) came in so handy when looking at the decor, we decided on our Polaroid guestbook, the family photo tree, chalkboard orders of the day and many other ideas from scouring the Internet.
We wanted to make sure the beautiful barn could be seen, so wanted to keep the decor to match the surroundings and to keep it simple and fresh. We also made as many of the elements ourselves to try and give a personal feel to the day.
I also decided early on I wanted to do the flowers myself, and to focus on wild flowers, so I went on a floristry course run through my local council (Waltham Forest at the time). It was a 12 week course that covered weddings and festive arrangements. It was brilliant. One of the recommended suppliers for Court Lodge’s was Blooming Green Flowers. They run a cutting garden and now wedding venue in Kent!
￼Jen there was fantastic, we were legally married on the Thursday before and went to cut flowers after a celebratory lunch, she didn’t mind is coming late and given the dodgy English weather in the run up she even cut flowers for us to ensure we got the best we could.
We took away 6 buckets of flowers to leave to condition in the barn, this did enough for all our table vases (which were collected from charity shops in the run up), the 4 bridal party bouquets and some leftovers for my parents house. On the Friday an amazing team of my Mother-in-law (Sue), Grandmother-in-law (Glen) and Sister-in-law (Liz) , all filled our charity shop vases with the wild flowers ready and laid them all out on the tables.
All of the buttonholes and the Bridesmaids hair accessories were made from artificial flowers, which myself and Alex did made with my Nan, Brenda. It was a lovely way to spend a few afternoons! My Nan and I also made up our bridal bouquets on the Friday afternoon once home from decorating the barn.
The Wedding Party Fashion
My Bridesmaid dresses and sashes were made by my amazing mother in law, Sue! She is a fantastic seamstress and took on the challenge so readily! We found the fabric at her favourite sewing shop, Aberkan, and I found the pattern online. Two of the girls decided to wear petticoats underneath, but I left it to them to choose. The shoes they also chose themselves.
I wanted to make sure they were dresses they could wear and use again and again I was trying to keep to the feel of a relaxed spring day.
As Alex mentioned the Ushers and Fathers were simply asked to wear navy/blue suits and Sue kindly made them all ties and bowties to match with the Bridesmaids.
We were legally wed at the local registry office (The Manor House, Sidcup) on the Thursday before, but we wanted to do something in the beautiful garden at Court Lodge. We asked my uncle (a catholic priest) to lead a short celebration for us, that didn’t have any formal religious links but tied in some touches. Anthony has married all of the previous couples on my Mum’s side of the family, including my parents so it was fantastic to have him lead this for us and give us a blessing.
For the music in the ceremony we went for a something old, new, borrowed and blue idea. I walked in while something old was playing (today I met the boy I’m going to marry – Darlene Love), my Dad performed two songs for us, something blue (I need your love so bad – Peter green) and something new (Rather be – Clean Bandit). Alex’s friend Barrie’s then performed a sing-along to the Beach Boys ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ as we were departing, which we considered as something borrowed.
Our two friends Nat and Sean also performed two fabulous readings. We asked them both to choose one as a surprise and both were perfect. I still well up now just thinking about them.
We had garden games on the lawn and sack races to keep everyone entertained in the afternoon/ early evening. The sack races were fantastic, so much fun and throughly enjoyed by all. It certainly bought out everyone’s competitive side.
In the evening, the wonderful Bowstring band came and did a Ceilidh for us. It was so popular that for the first dance we couldn’t actually fit everyone in and had to ask the caterers to fold down another table to create more room.
The dance floor was rarely clear and it got everyone mingling and chatting. After a good two hours of being flung about we put on a playlist we had put together in advance of a mix of our favourite songs, both old and new! Seeing all the grandparents up on their feet dancing to the clash was definitely a highlight!
The cake I made on the Thursday morning and my Nan kindly made the butter icing and layered it all for us on the Saturday morning.
Our fabulous caterers Lardercraft did the rest. Kevin and Nina couldn’t have been more helpful or understanding and were always on hand to help. They are a recommended supplier on Court Lodge and I can totally see why, an added bonus is that they live just a few minutes drive away in a nearby village, so know the venue and the area around so well. The food was so delicious, we had a selection of four canapés (Tomato tapenade bruschetta with mozzarella, onion and roquefort tartlets, chorizo and pickled vegetable kebabs and mini yorkshire puddings) straight after the ceremony, then a two course BBQ (Sausages, chicken wrapped in bacon, King Prawn Kebabs, Sweetcorn and Courgette Fritters and Stuffed Grilled Peppers with couscous, onions and mushrooms and Pavlova and Profiteroles for dessert) – the sausages were out of this world, as was the pavlova! They were such an amazing help on the Friday and couldn’t have done more for us on the Saturday, they really ensured the day ran smoothly! They even drove to the shops to get more beer when we ran out!! I couldn’t recommend them more.
We had the pleasure of having Nichola from Lemonade Pictures (and Marcus her partner/second shooter) with us on the day as our photographers! Hiring Lemonade Pictures was one of the first things we did and one of the best decisions we made! Nichola’s pictures and style were exactly what we were looking for. Nichola is so relaxed, so much fun and immediately put us at ease and Marcus was fantastic with the boys. They really captured the day and the fun everyone had. The pair of them blended into the day perfectly (it was quickly realised that Nichola had a striking resemblance to Liz, Alex’s Sister) and managed to give Alex and I the chance to see what was going on in parts of the day we couldn’t have seen too. We both had such a fantastic time taking photos with them, couple shots can be so awkward but they really help you just relax into it and just be yourselves in front of the camera. We couldn’t have asked for more!
We chose not to have a professional videographer, however Alex’s Sister’s boyfriend Matt kindly videoed the day for us on a home camera. Meaning we can watch the day back.