Sarah is such a stunning bride, but is it any wonder when she's head to toe in Jenny Packham and Jimmy Choo, as well as having fabulous List member Makeup by Jodie in charge of her luscious locks and bridal beauty. The picture of her sniffing her gorgeous blush bouquet captured by Source Images is full of anticipation and pretty, and swells the heart, as do all the images. After numerous visits to barns they finally came across Grittenham Barn in West Sussex, and they instantly fell in love (so have we!). The fairy lights adorning the barn have made for some truly gorgeous pics, with the sweet pink decor looking amazing against the rustic backdrop. Plus I love that Bride Sarah refers to her gorgeous Bridesmaids as "Bridesmates" allowing them to choose their own frocks in either white or silver from Coast and Reiss. What a super stylish wedding party.
The DressSarah the Bride: Ah the dress. The one part of wedding planning that struck me with a healthy dose of the fear from the get go. Three words: I. am. petite. Well, more than that to be honest - I am a particularly tiny human at 5ft tall and a size 6. So I just knew that any dress I tried on would be miles too long and miles too big – petite bridal ranges are non-existent and I had recurring nightmares about drowning in strapless ivory taffeta puffballs. So I did loads of research before I stepped foot in a shop, and only went to a few smaller boutique bridal shops that I knew would give great service and have a range of designers I liked. I had an inkling from my (ahem, rather extensive..) research that Jenny Packham designed the embellished, drop-waisted dresses that I liked – I tried on a whole range and seriously flirted with a few designs by Suzanne Neville before stumbling across JP’s Leila by sheer chance in The Bridal Path. I loved the light sparkly beading, and the dove grey fabric, 1920s feel and most of all I loved how the style made me feel petite and feminine, as opposed to boyish and short. In that instant I knew it was the dress I wanted to be wearing when I married Oli. I may not have had a weepy rom-com episode over her (and fellow brides – this is A ok, normal in fact – trust your gut, not your tear ducts!), but Leila was definitely ‘the one’ for me.
Glittery glamMy shoes were a steal in the Jimmy Choo January sale which Grace, one of my best friends, helped me track down by calling all her retail friends and getting them to hold me the last pair in the sale. I loved the glittery glam of them, and the hint of toe cleavage they gave. I have worn them to three weddings since and get tons of comments on them each time. Definitely worth the price tag. At least that is what I tell my husband..Other than these beauties the only accessories I wore were my pearl earrings –a gift from Oli many years ago for my 21st birthday.
The glam squadThe supremely talented Jodie Hazlewood and Nikki Burnham from Makeup By Jodie did mine, my Mum’s and my Bridesmates’ makeup and hair respectively on the day and they did an amazing job. We had a real laugh and I felt relaxed and looked after all morning. I went for a slightly shimmery doe eyed look with fresh rosy cheeks. Hair wise Nikki gave me a simple waterfall plait and natural waves, and they gave the girls natural long-lashed, English rose makeup and mismatched boho plaited dos. The girls all looked stunning (a bit annoying really, aren’t we brides supposed to choose ugly Bridesmaids so we look better after all?!)
Suited and bootedOli decided to go bespoke for his suit, and worked with the amazing Willie at William Young Tailors in Berkhamsted, where we live. Willie made Oli a made to measure blue three piece suit with paisley lining which he looked gorgeous in. Willie’s team also hand-sewed our wedding date onto the inside jacket pocket of the suit which was a really thoughtful touch. Oli topped it off by wearing his wedding gift from me, a pair of silver Mulberry cufflinks.
Barmy for barnsWe knew we wanted a relaxed barn wedding from the start. Oli is a land agent and spends most of his time out in the countryside and we grew up in rural Hertfordshire and Berkshire so it just felt right to be in a countryside setting. We wanted something relaxed and village fete in feel, where people could just kick back, have a beer in the sunshine and have fun. Easier said than done! In the course of wedding planning we must have seen about 20 different barn venues, from the huge and glamorous to the tiny and DIY types and they were all lovely in their own way, but we found the rigid rules, costings and food and drinks packages off-putting and restricting. We were starting to lose hope when we stumbled across Grittenham Barn in West Sussex. Needless to say that finding a relaxed laid-back barn and gardens that let us choose our own suppliers, that only took on one wedding a week and charged no corkage, not to mention had two resident donkeys living next door was a real win for us – we were sold.
The no theme, themeOne of the most commonly asked questions when planning a wedding is ‘what’s your theme?’ a question that frustrated and amused me in equal measure – why can’t the theme just be ‘bloody nice’? Instead we chose a laid back colour palette of greys, whites and blushes and mixed and matched as we wanted to fit with our laid-back village fete feel. Our talented friend Emily worked with us to design bespoke, gorgeous wedding stationery that fitted in with this. Our flowers were relaxed, country flowers in old jars and tins and we hand painted (what felt like hundreds of) blackboards as signs to have about the barn.
Flower powerFlower genius Jenni at JenniBloom Flowers made the bouquets and buttonholes – she also constructed a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l flower archway for the entrance of the barn. She is very talented and made my dreams of nude and blush ‘undone’ country flowers a reality. She used a mix of light coloured ranunculus, gypsophilia and my favourite flower, Peonies. I pinned my mum’s cameo brooch onto my bouquet for good luck and as my ‘something old’ and ‘something borrowed’. For the ceremony and reception I wanted the flowers not to be uniform, and to be scattered casually around the room in various jars. I spent months running up to the wedding collecting pretty treacle tins and jars, old cigar boxes to put them in. I also made all my friends and family eat copious amounts of beans for weeks, just so that I could keep all the tins for the table flowers (if you take the labels off, and use some sticky stuff remover to take off the glue spots you’re left with the most beautiful vintage looking tin cans) which Jenni ran around filling with flowers on the morning of the wedding – they looked beautiful and really looked beautiful on the tables of our banquet style wedding breakfast.
Here come the girlsFollowing the idea of a colour palette and not one colour of theme in particular for the wedding, the girls – or my ‘bridesmates’ and I decided that they’d forgo being matchy matchy and all wear different dresses that they chose, in shades of grey or white. I left the choices up to them and was happy for them to pick dresses, skirts and tops or playsuits – whatever they wanted! I am lucky to have such stylish friends, and in the end they chose a mix of Coast and Reiss dresses in whites and silver, and wore their own silver shoes. They all looked gorgeous and I couldn’t have asked for better bridesmates! The boys all wore their own suits, in various shades of summery blue – they all looked very dapper, and their matching buttonholes and grey ASOS linen ties brought it all together perfectly.
A new song for an old loveI walked down the aisle to Ho Hey by The Lumineers – a song we’d both always liked and loved the sentiment of. Its themes of belonging to each other and being sweethearts were the perfect words to start married life to after 12 wonderful years together under our belts. A new song for an old love. During the ceremony Oli’s brother James read Love is a Temporary Madness from one of my favourite books, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – we loved that it brought literature into our ceremony as I am a total bookaphile. Grace (of glittery Jimmy Choo fame) did our second reading of EE Cummings’ I Carry Your Heart, one of my favourite poems. Our wedding was a really happy affair – full of love, laughter and smiles. The ceremony was short but sweet, with a few comedy moments provided by the donkeys outside braying right at the ‘does anyone have any objections’ part of the proceedings which provided some light relief for everyone concerned! After the ceremony everyone spilled out into the gardens in the glorious June sunshine, helped themselves to a bottle or three of whatever they liked from the booze bath and played garden games. One of my favourite W day memories was standing in the sunshine with my husband, watching everyone we loved most in the world having fun together.
Floor fillersWe made our own spotify playlists for the ceremony, drinks reception and dinner - we had lots of fun in the weeks running up to the wedding naming our favourite tunes and creating mixes. In the evening we had the supremely talented DJs from The Wedding Smashers take to the decks. As teenagers in the 90s we grew up on old school RnB and garage and The Wedding Smashers played old school hit after hit and zero cheese and took everyone back to the old school all evening. They took requests and even played a song for my dad and I to have an impromptu father daughter dance to, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer which made my dad’s year. The dance floor was never empty and was the place to be. If you want to dance your socks off, and not stop smiling all evening – they are the DJs for you! Our first dance was to Jimmy Eat World’s Hear You Me. A song Oli played me when we first got together at university. I’m not going to lie, the first dance is a bit of a cringe fest, but we just went with it, just danced together to our song and even threw a few twirls for good measure!
Food glorious foodOne part of wedding planning that we didn’t have any problem with was the food – we love a good feed and Alex at Alexandra’s Kitchen really delivered delicious home cooked food that we loved. In keeping with the relaxed country vibe of the day, we decided to skip starters altogether and instead maxed out on the canapés - choosing generous, meaty options like Malaysian chicken satay, welsh rarebit toasts, salmon blinis, bruschetta and mini Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horseradish to go round as people chilled outside with their beers before dinner. For main we went for our favourite meal – sausage and mash! Three locally sourced Sussex bangers, with piles of buttery mash, and jugs of onion gravy to go round. Pudding was another favourite of ours, lemon meringue pie – no one went hungry, that’s for sure... Later in the evening we had copious cheeses, breads and cured meats and allowed people to finally have at the cake table! We’d asked guests that wanted to, to bring a cake for the cake table, and boy did they deliver, with most of our friends and family members making homemade treats for the day. We provided paper takeaway bags, and encouraged everyone to fill their boots and take as much cake as they could carry home for Breakfast the next day! Our wedding cake was our wedding gift from our wonderful friend and cake designer Marcella of Bianco Fiore Bakery. Cella constructed a dream cake of three tiers of chocolate, lemon and Victoria sponge with white vanilla buttercream frosting and our florist Jenni scattered it with fresh flowers. It looked great and tasted even better.
Snap happyThe amazing Ines and Jordan of Source Images photographed our day and were worth every penny. We just fell in love with Ines when we met her. They have a lovely, warm and laid back style of photography that was just what we wanted– we’re chuffed with the results.
Final ThoughtsOur wedding really was the best day of our lives – and we have had some pretty amazing days! Simply put, nothing beats being surrounded by all your friends and family, as you promise the person you love most in the world, that you will love them always. All the wedding craziness and stress just fades into the background and all you see is each other. Remember that. Hang on to that when you feel like it is all becoming a bit too much to bear.
Do what you want.I decided to make a speech at the wedding – I wanted to break with tradition (along with choosing to keep my own name) and show Oli how happy I was to be his wife in that moment. It was nerve wracking, but went really well – I am so glad I did it.
Ask for help!We hired the fantastic Sama from Utterly Wow to run the day for us, and once we planned everything we just handed over the reins and Sama ran the day flawlessly. An essential for a blank canvas dry hire venue like ours. It was a weight off my mind to have someone I could trust sorting everything out for us, so we could just relax and enjoy the day. She put up with my spreadsheets, diagrams and type A tendencies too, which makes her the dream wedding co-coordinator in my book. We also roped in our amazing families and Bridesmates to help us set up the day before the wedding and help us break it down the next morning – without them it would never have happened.
Take it all inThe day will fly by, so take the time to take a step back and remember all the little moments as well as the big ones, you’ll be glad you did.
Dress Designer: Jenny Packham - Leila | Bridal Boutique: The Bridal Path | Make Up: Makeup by Jodie | Bridal Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Coast | Reiss | Grooms Suit: William Young Tailors | Groomsmen: Reiss | Charles Tyrwhitt | Wedding Co-Ordinator: Utterly Wow | Venue: Grittenham Barn | Florist: Jenni Bloom | Caterer: Alexandra;s Kitchen | Cake: Bianco Fiore Bakery | Stationery: Emily Rollings | Entertainment: Wedding Smashers