As the title suggests, this is a truly sophisticated affair. Sarah’s Jesus Peiro gown is to die for; simple and elegant yet with the modern twist of pockets. Yes pockets. I love them.
Choosing a venue which was essentially a complete blank canvas meant that Sarah and David could really make it their own and my what a super job they did of making a barn both rustic and romantic. Think white drapes, soft lantern lighting and the prettiest flowers displayed in tin cans.
You lovelies REALLY must check out the bouquets too – unique and ridiculously beautiful.
Sarah The Bride: I had a pretty clear impression in my mind of the dress that I wanted before we started the hunt for the ‘perfect one’. I had dreamed of a simple 50’s Balenciaga ball gown from the minute we got engaged and for some reason also got a fixation in my mind that I wanted a dress with pockets in. Much to the horror of many sales assistants, I knew that I wanted to feel relaxed and glamorous all at the same time. We went to many shops and tried on possibly every style there is, from fishtails to meringues but overall nothing felt right. That was until we went to Morgan Davies, who made me feel completely at ease and for once did not turn their noses up at my pockets idea. The Jesus Peiro dress was just perfect and ticked all my boxes- simple, structured, elegant and had pockets. I decided to give the dress a more vintage feel by teaming it with a lace jacket by Augusta Jones to complete the look.
We both wanted to get married in a barn that had a real rustic feel to it and most importantly would give us the freedom to do as we pleased. We weren’t particularly committed to getting married in any particular part of the country so endless hours of research for the dream place began. We quickly became disillusioned by some of the venues that we found. Essentially, yes they were barns but many of them had been converted to such an extent that it was difficult to feel like they were authentic. Then, by chance, we stumbled upon Alpheton Hall Barns in Suffolk. When we arrived to look round we were warmly welcomed by Nick, the barn owner, and his dog. This huge barn was exactly what we were looking for, it is a complete blank canvas for you to do what ever you like with it (although Nick was always happy to offer any advice and recommendations). Not only was there a barn that could hold 200 guests but there is also an adjoining barn which is licensed for ceremonies so we could have the whole day there.
The venue is also located in a beautiful part of the country and about ten minutes from the historic village of Lavenham. We wanted to find somewhere where anyone who wanted to could come and make a weekend of it and where all our closest friends and family could stay together. Lavenham was idyllic and we were lucky enough to be able to rent five cottages around the quaint Market Square for our families and bridal party. It was fantastic to be getting ready in the morning in a beautiful cottage with old beams, looking out onto the square, where the wedding party were busily milling about.
This venue really is perfect for anyone who wishes to decorate their venue themselves and give it whatever feel you are looking for. Although, it is a daunting task to imagine how this huge empty space could turn into a beautiful reception, we loved putting it all together. The venue really set the theme for the whole wedding and for this reason, we decided to make as much as we could ourselves- the invitations, place names, banners, blackboards, place names and table decorations. Although, it pretty much took over our lives in the run up to the wedding, there was nothing more rewarding to sit back on the day and know that every single detail was ours.
As a sustainability manager for a fashion brand, I felt uneasy about what to do about the flowers. It somehow didn’t seem right for us to have flowers imported from all over the world. Thankfully, we found ‘Forage For‘. The owner, Anne-Marie has a truly magical walled garden in the grounds of an old manor house, about fifteen minutes away from the venue. From the walled garden, she runs a seasonal cut flower garden, which fitted in perfectly with my ethical dilemma. I loved the excitement of not really knowing what flowers we would have on the day, depending on what the season was like. Nonetheless, Anne-Marie took the time to talk us through the options and noting what style we were after. The result was wonderful and she delivered the most beautiful bouquets on the day filled with Hellebores, Fritillaries and Hyacinths. The flowers on the tables were put in tins that we had collected in the months before the wedding, alongside glass jars with candles in them.
Throughout all the wedding planning and on the actual day, we felt so touched by how much our friends and family cared for us and it was really important for our nearest and dearest to be part of the day. My friend Jessica, who travelled all the way from Afghanistan to be with us, gave the first reading, an extract from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The second reading, a touching and funny poem by Louise Cuddon, was given by our friend Jonathan, who actually introduced us nearly four years ago now. We have both travelled a lot and I have lived abroad for a lot of my life, which means there were naturally some people who couldn’t make it but one of the biggest surprises came at the end of the speeches, when a video prepared by a kids charity I worked with in Nepal, ‘Just-One’, was played. As if I wasn’t emotional enough, seeing a video of the kids I had worked with dancing and wishing us their best wishes, really tipped me over the edge!
Music is kind of a big deal to us, with our spare bedroom housing David’s extensive CD collection. We initially disagreed on whether we should have a band or a DJ but in the end settled on a DJ who would give us the freedom to build a lot of the playlist for the day. It was also great to have him there for the whole day, transitioning between different types of music. We went from acoustic versions of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ in the ceremony to lounge music during the drinks reception, to live lounge covers at dinner, a Blur with Francoise Hardy mix for the first dance and then an amazing ensemble of pop, 80s and 90s music to get the party going in the evening. We picked Dreamwave Events as they were really receptive to hearing our ideas but we also really liked that they had retro style decks that would really fit in with the rest of the deco and theme of the wedding.
As with everything else, we wanted to be able to really influence the menu and food for the day and were delighted to meet Justin and Helen, who run ‘The Movable Feast‘. Having grown up in France, we wanted to have some of my favourite French dishes, with goats cheese salad and duck confit. The caterers were amazingly flexible and really allowed us to put our own ideas across, whilst offering their professional advice. I had also never really considered that when you are organising a wedding in a more casual venue and without a wedding co-ordinator as such, the caterers are the ones that ensure that everything runs on time and the flow of the day runs smoothly. We could not have been more pleased with the catering, everything was delicious, hot, on time and any issues were dealt with seamlessly.
The cakes were made by my dear friend Claire. I have known her all my life and even when she was little she enjoyed cooking and baking and is now a truly wonderful baker. The three tiered victoria sponge cake with crystallised rose petals was beautifully presented and tasted amazing. It was so nice to have yet another element of the wedding where our friends and family had taken part and felt so much more personal than paying a stranger to do it.
We actually met Samuel Docker at our friends wedding in September. As soon as his photos of their wedding went up online, we knew we wanted to meet him. He has a great eye for composition and is really creative with his shots, not one cheesy posed photo in site. He clearly loves what he does and is very dedicated to making sure that he captures every moment. Whilst photos are really important, it was also really important to us that we didn’t miss half the day having our photos taken. Sam did an amazing job of sneaking us away when he felt there was a good shot to be had at different times of the day and made us feel really comfortable and like we could have a really good time with him, which is really reflected in the photos. We thoroughly enjoyed having him there!
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