Emma & Ali tied the knot at Emma’s parents’ vacation house in the south of France. I mean what could be more perfect than a French farmhouse wedding? Bride Emma looks simply stunning in Leanne Marshall, with loose curls of dreams.
Flourishes of sentiment are what makes this wedding extra special. Every detail is personal, well planned and is dripping in guest satisfaction, full of laughter, sunflowers, beautiful sunsets, and lots of French wine!
Not only did Laura and Adam have a limbo competition to entertain their guests (because if you can, why the hell not?) they also filled their venue Owen House with an abundance of pretty rustic details and the most delicious looking cake. I am a big fan of the festoon lighting everywhere too – so simple yet effective.
Laura looked lovely in her lace fishtail gown sourced from Rock My Wedding sponsors Agape and her statement berry lip is just gorgeous….she wears it so well.
This is a real family affair with everybody pitching in to help create the perfect country celebration.
The gorgeously decorated rustic tipi full of homemade DIY chalkboard signs, bunting & and more stood in the open field of their friends farm, a simply breathtaking location for a breathtaking wedding. The surrounding estate was used to pitch tents for the guests so they could stay over, they called it the wedding village – so adorable!
Even more adorable are the ladies gowns. Beth’s spaghetti strap wedding dress with giant bow & full skirt looks amazing on her and she topped off her look perfectly with the cutest flower crown. But the bridesmaid dresses, well…. they are just the most gorgeous shade of blue and each one is different to flatter the ladies & suit their personalities.
There is literally still so much more to marvel at, swoon over and pin, so I’d better leave you to it, you’re going to LOVE it!
I think a lot of newly engaged couples dream of finding a bare barn, taking the blank canvas and truly making it their own and somewhere along the way they feel a bit overwhelmed by the thought, by the sheer amount of work involved in something like that… An entire venue transformation. But not Claire & James. They found the barn of their dreams and thoroughly embraced it. So, here’s hoping their story gives you the confidence to follow your dreams. Oh and by the way, Claire is so gorgeous. Like, ridiculously stunning. Her hair piece, her dress. So so perfect and so many stealable ideas.
It’s Friday so it’s only right that we bring you a wedding that is going to fill you will inspiration so you can spend your weekend head to toe in fabric, glue, paper and sticky tape.
Abbie and Jon’s Oxford wedding is an absolute DIY dream. They had a small list of everything their wedding should be; their closest family and friends, wintertime, home crafted creative elements, involving their families talents, charitable element, local or independent suppliers, contemporary look, no top tables or things they should have ‘because it’s a wedding’ and personalised to them. And boy can they put big fat green ticks next to all of those things.
They married in beautiful Oxford Town Hall with a reeption held at the Jam Factory.
Here’s Abbie to tell you more…
Abbie The Bride: After our ceremony and after our photos outside we rejoined our guests to make the 10 minute walk through Oxford city centre on a busy Saturday afternoon to our reception venue. Many guests said this was their favourite part of the day as it was such fun walking with 100 people, passers by were congratulating us and buses hooted their horns!
The reception was held at the Jam Factory which is a Gallery/Restaurant/Bar in a converted old marmalade factory. We cannot rate the Jam Factory highly enough, they were AWESOME. The building is totally unique, it has fantastic art exhibitions and all the staff are incredibly friendly. Finding the venue was the hardest part for us, it took us 5 months to find somewhere that really reflected our personalities, wasn’t an impersonal wedding package deal and was a great indoor venue as it was winter. We were so relieved to find the Jam Factory and Oxford Town Hall.
Mother And Daughter Time
My mum’s friend Alice is a freelance makeup artist and I was thrilled with the incredible job she did on the day. To be honest, at first I thought I would do my own but was so glad that my mum encouraged me to contact Alice as her professional work lasted all day and I would have been too nervous on the morning to do it. She also did my hair and recommended another hairdresser to do my 4 bridesmaid’s hair, which was great as Alice and I didn’t have to rush on the day. Two days beforehand, my mum took me to have gel nails applied at Hartwell House Spa which was wonderful as the nails looked amazing and don’t chip and we had some special mother and daughter time.
17 Tiny Buttons
My dress was purchased about a week after we got engaged; I saw it in the window and knew it was the one even though it was 4 sizes too big! It was a Mori Lee dress by Madeline Gardner from Adore Bridal in Buckinghamshire. My dressmaker, also a friend of the family, took it in and cut off the train as I didn’t want a dress I was tripping over. The most unique part of the dress was the lace top that my Gran created for me using a pattern from a Scottish company, Bridal Covered Buttons. It took 4 fittings to get it perfect and had 17 tiny buttons sewn up the back, it is incredibly beautiful and I will treasure it forever.
Jon knew he wanted a grey three piece suit, which had to be slim fit and look very special! He found the perfect one with a distinctive check from River Island and looked incredibly handsome on the day. His grey striped skinny tie was from Asos, as were his brown brogues. His shirt was the hardest to find as he wanted a skinny fit with double cuff sleeves, eventually we found the perfect one in Moss Bespoke.
My incredibly multi-talented mum made my veil using netting from John Lewis and an online tutorial. My shoes were from Dune; I didn’t want ‘wedding shoes’ and even wore them in at a friend’s wedding a few months before! The only jewellery I wore was my engagement ring and a stunning pair of diamond solitaire earrings that my parents had given me for the wedding. Jon had bought my engagement ring in San Francisco and it is 14k gold, so to complement it he had a custom made ring produced by American Etsy makers Titanium Knights. His ring was 5mm brushed titanium with a 1/2mm band of 14k gold through it. Jon’s silver cufflinks were my Christmas present to him, personalised with our wedding date, they were bought from JoJo jewellery.
Maids And Men
RMW was a constant source of inspiration for us throughout our planning and was a super help with the wedding party attire. For the bridesmaids we wanted them to look gorgeous but not ‘bridesmaidy’. We found navy lace dresses by A-Wear on ASOS after seeing lots of great winter weddings with navy on RMW. We wanted the ushers to have a contemporary look so we got them each a navy tie from Next and white pocket square from Topman and they wore their own grey suits. With the finishing touch of a fabric flower button hole with pine cone details (all lovingly made by my mum), they had an identity as ushers but still looked like themselves.
A Winter Wonderland
We didn’t want a ‘colour’ but we did want to create a winter wonderland theme and atmosphere in everything from the invites to the venue. We complied a scrapbook of ideas and decided white, pale grey, navy, white glitter, cut glass, candles and snowflakes where the key elements for the winter wonderland look. This helped keep everything wintry, contemporary and sophisticated.
Tea And Cake Goes A Long Way
Jon has bad allergies to flower pollen and I love crafting, so the idea of paper and fabric bouquets was perfect. The flowers for my bouquet, the bridesmaid’s posies and miniature table posies were all handmade by an awesome team of our family and friends (who had been coerced with tea and cake to give up a day of their time!). I then took the blooms made from vintage sewing patterns, paper doilies, tissue paper, tulle and white cotton and arranged the bouquets, tying the stems with ribbon and attaching handwritten notes for the girls. The day before the wedding my maid of honour and I made the table flowers into tiny posies and put into vases. It was a wonderful process as it involved so many family and friends. I had so many compliments about my bouquet that I am now starting selling them on Etsy under PaperDesignStudio.
I Join My Life With Yours Today
Our ceremony was non-religious and we wanted to ensure it was very personal and individual to us. Our vows were humanist vows that we read out to each other. ‘I join my life with yours today without hesitation and with an open and trusting heart. Whatever we may encounter, let us encounter it together. Take this ring and with it my commitment to be the best Wife/Husband I can be.’
We had two readings, Jon’s dad Ivor read an adaptation of ‘Marriage Joins Two People’ by Edmund O’Neill. After the exchanging of vows my brother Robert read ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss, a favourite author of ours when we were younger. Jon’s aunty Christine is a professional violinist and we were extremely lucky that she performed two pieces for us: Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006, Gavotte en Rondeau and Loure by Bach. I walked down the aisle to the second piece.
Time After Time
The Jam Factory was the most fantastic reception venue; it had an amazing atmosphere, unique quirky details and heaps of personality. They worked incredibly hard to ensure our day was smooth, well organised and relaxed. We specifically requested one long banquet table that we sat at with our guests as we didn’t want a top table, and the guests were on two additional banquet tables. We had linen tablecloths and napkins and hired chairs in from local company, BHK rentals as we wanted a more vintage look than the Jam Factory’s chairs.
Our band were called the Paramounts and are a local 3 piece band who we booked through Function Central about 2 weeks before the wedding! They were absolutely fantastic, young and played a great mix of music that had everyone from our Grandmothers to Jon’s 3 year cousin Doris dancing. Prior to them coming on, Jon’s brother Will played guitar and his sister Libby sang Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Time after time’ which was absolutely beautiful (and brought many a tear to people’s eyes), and then his other sister Ellie joined them for a surprise rendition of ‘Marry you’ by Bruno Mars which was fantastic!
A Talented Baker
The Jam Factory had a great online ordering system which meant we had a ‘wedding menu’ of 3 choices of main and 3 choices of dessert that each guest could choose from. We chose each item on the menu, including the wines, and the Jam Factory even agreed to make my Gran’s fish pie recipe, which many guests loved! The children’s menu was just smaller portions rather than ‘kid’s food’. We loved the fact that we didn’t have any packages and the Jam Factory were so flexible and accommodating.
Our wedding cake was a homemade masterpiece by Jon’s youngest sister Libby who is an amazing baker (and she’s only 16). Libby created a two tier red velvet cake with royal icing, decorated with glittery royal icing snowflakes and bride and groom toppers. When cutting the cake we made it an event by giving each guest a sparkler and lighting them all together, it was such a wonderful moment.
We have a few charities close to our hearts and we were very happy when we found Cancer Research had a silver snowflake pin badge. I bought out the supplies of our nearby charity shops then Jon and I attached a little typewritten thank you note to each one with b&w twine. For the children we gave them each a pot of bubbles.
I am obsessed with stationery and packaging, so designing the invites was really important and fun for me! I collected lots of inspiration and played with ideas for a long time. For the final design I sourced opaque vellum envelopes and b&w twine from the internet, made a little envelope from tracing paper which was filled with confetti and my mum drew by hand a map of Oxford for the back of the details. The invite and RSVP postcard were printed at a printers on A6 thick pale grey card stock and I used a typewriter font for a slightly vintage feel. As always many of my family and friends helped with the many hours it took to put them altogether!
Jon and I made the table plan together the night before we went to the hotel, and although it was a bit last minute we already had all the snowflakes, card and glitter prepared and used the same style as the invites. So many other details were made by us too. My mum created our beautiful card box for us, using vintage prints of the Town Hall and Jam Factory buildings and a chalkboard label. I designed the Order of Service. The name cards on the table were printed for us by the Jam Factory using the
typewriter font on white card. We had a guest book from Paperchase that we decorated with Polaroid’s of us and a chalkboard label. The Polaroid camera was put out for guests to take a snap of themselves and then write us a message. This was a HUGE success of the day, our guests loved it! It made our guestbook an instant scrapbook of our friends and family, and a lot of people snapped another Polaroid to take home as well.
The Best Advice I Can Give
1. We all have friends and family with talents, so ask them if they will make, bake, craft, design, organise or perform and you will create a truly personal wedding day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, but know who can give you constructive advice.
2. Plan plan plan beforehand (we had lists coming out our ears), then on the day just sit back and go with the flow. Utilise your wedding party on the day, our bridesmaids and ushers all had particular jobs which meant they were involved and took away the stress from us. Our best man Will and maid of honour Lise were incredible and we honestly didn’t worry about a thing on the day itself.
3. Our final piece of advice would be to stay true to your vision, and try not to listen to any criticism and negative comments. You will regret it if you do not have the day you envisage and we were so glad that we stuck to what we wanted. Go with your gut instinct and stick to your guns!
4. Consider your photographer carefully. Rhys was amesone on the day and soooo many of our guests said how relaxed and
friendly he was. We honestly have no idea how he captured so many amazing shots as most of the time we weren’t even aware he was there, he just fitted in so well and captured wonderful spontaneous memories for us.
I think she gives some great advice for all of you planning your days as well. Abbie and Jon totally stuck to their guns and the result was a super gorgeous day and a beautiful colour palette. Perfect for a winter wedding.
Did you spot Abbie’s nails? I love the white nail look. Super chic.
Also how incredible does Jon’s suit look? It just goes to show that if the suit fits right, it doesn’t need to come from a bespoke tailor to have a fabulous effect.
Gorgeous day, gorgeous venues, gorgeous couple.
P.s. Anyone else think Abbie is a little bit Anna Friel?? Totally jealous.
Rock My Wedding readers Rich and Caroline were married at St Mary’s Church, Gainford with a reception at The Morritt, Greta Bridge, County Durham.
We have a fashion filled rural dream for you today. Jenny Packham set off with not one but two different head pieces. As if that wasn’t enough we also have PEACH folks…. The firmest of firm favourites currently here at RMW.
Caroline is here to fill you in on all the gorgeous details, all of the ace photography is by Karen McGowran.
My dress was Minerva by Jenny Packham. I had initially set out to find a Kate Moss-esque wedding dress, the rules being… not strapless, a bit bohemian in style and a train that could collect leaves and twigs as I walked along the country lanes! I tried on all sorts of different shapes and styles which I enjoyed but I was starting to get worried that I wouldn’t find anything I liked enough until my sister booked me an appointment at Jenny Packham’s London shop.
I had a list of all the dresses I had wanted to try on but was a little disappointed my favourite (Parma) wasn’t yet in stock. This disappointment didn’t last long because as soon as I tried on Minerva I loved it! Minerva hadn’t been a serious contender for me so my sister told me to quickly get changed as it was nice but not what I was after (big skirt was also a no-no!). Every other dress I tried on after that didn’t compare and I didn’t want to take it off so I knew that was the one for me! I must admit I did have a few weeks of worry afterwards thinking it wasn’t what I had originally set out to buy and I had also loved a pretty lace dress by Claire Pettibone but on the day I knew I had absolutely made the right choice as it was so much fun to wear and I loved swishing the skirt around!
Gypsophila In My Hair
As my hair style was relatively relaxed I knew I wanted an accessory in it. I tried on a range of Jenny Packham’s amazing hair accessories but ended up wearing a little River Island number! I bought two hairbands and did some DIY so that the detailing went all the way around my head. After the wedding breakfast, I wore a garland made of gypsophila in my hair that my florist made for me. After I saw ‘The Woodland Flower Fairy’ wedding post on RMW with the bride’s amazing hair garland I knew I had to have one and I love the simplicity and prettiness of gypsophila.
I was quite disorganised with deciding on what jewellery to wear. I knew I wanted to wear my late grandma’s engagement ring and apart from that the rest of my jewellery was decided on the day. My sister gave me a beautiful bracelet & Rich surprised me with a gorgeous necklace that I had spotted online by a New York jewellery designer months before the big day. All of the jewellery was a mix of yellow and white gold which was a lucky coincidence.
I had wanted to buy some sparkly flat sandals to wear with the dress, I even liked the idea of being barefoot (thank goodness I didn’t as my toes would have been frozen). The girls thought the sandals I liked were too WAG-like (they weren’t, honest!) and that I wouldn’t stand up straight on the day if I didn’t have heels, so we headed to Oxford Street and I ended up with a silver pair from Next that were really comfy (I normally can only cope wearing heels for a few hours) and only cost £30…bargain! So now I had a designer dress and high street accessories = happy bride-to-be!
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
I knew immediately that I wanted a veil and for it to be a full length one. I didn’t want to spend too much on it as I wanted a really simple, plain veil. I had tried on my mum’s veil but it was too white for my dress and I had spoken to my friend who had ordered hers from the internet with disastrous results. This led to us visiting a haberdashery in Tooting which specialises in wedding dresses and accessories and buying enough tulle to make the veil. Once we had checked the colour matched the dress (who knew there could be so many different shades of ivory!) my mum had the task of cutting the veil to size and attaching it to a comb from John Lewis. Thanks mum!
The day before the wedding was spent getting pampered. I had an Essie manicure and decided on a pale lilac colour as I wanted to wear the sort of colour that I normally choose to wear rather than a traditional bridal colour or french manicure. I also had eyelash extensions which I loved and would definitely recommend, especially as they lasted for 2 weeks which was an added bonus for the honeymoon. I did my own hair and makeup on the day. I had been to Space NK for a Laura Mercier makeup evening a few months before the wedding and used these products as well as bits from Chanel, Bobbi Brown and Mac.
Too Much Prettiness
Our florist was the lovely Helen at Bels Flowers. As soon as I contacted her she filled me with confidence as she understood what we were after (although that didn’t stop me bombarding her with pictures… there is too much prettiness on RMW!)
We wanted a mixture of soft colours in the arrangements and for the bouquets to have a “swept up” feel. There were David Austen roses, sweet peas, astillbe and lavender amongst others in my bouquet which was tied with lace. I absolutely loved it. Each of the bridesmaids had slightly different bouquets with peonies and stocks included. Helen also created a heart wreath of flowers which we hung at the church gate and decorated the pew ends with flowers and lace. The table arrangements were also relaxed arrangements in kilner jars and jam jars.
Find Of The Wedding
The bridesmaid dresses were the real find of the wedding. This will sound very tight but hey ho… they were £15 each! My sister had spotted them in a wedding mag whilst we were stuck on a 2 & 1/2 hour train journey. They looked so perfect we didn’t hang about and went straight on the website (using my phone so the pictures were tiny!). I couldn’t believe they were in the sale and snapped up the last 4 without even consulting the other bridesmaids, eek! Luckily they all liked them and the girls looked so beautiful on the day.
The bestman and ushers suits were from Next and they all wore their own shoes. We weren’t concerned about everything being matchy matchy so the boys ended up in lavender ties rather than matching with the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Rich’s suit was from Reiss, he knew pretty much straight away that he didn’t want a traditional morning suit and liked the idea of a suit he could wear again in the future but looked different to the normal work suits he wears. His shoes were also from Reiss and when I saw him looking so smart in the church I felt like a very lucky girl. The ties weren’t as easy to decide upon and Rich only really knew what he was going to wear a few days before the wedding day. He finally went with a floral skinny tie from Next which worked well with the relaxed and countryside feel of the wedding.
Get Me To The Church On Time
Karen McGowran was our photographer and she and her husband Neil were absolutely fantastic. Karen played such a big part in making our day enjoyable and helped me keep track of the time on the wedding morning, if it wasn’t for her I may have been even later to the church than I was! She is so passionate about what she does and this shows not only in her photographs but the whole service she provides leading up to the day and afterwards, with a preview of the pics available in less than 24 hours. This helped to make for a very excitable post wedding day.
Fruit, Chocolate And Sponge
My mum did such a good job making the wedding cake. It was 3 tiers made of fruit, chocolate and sponge and decorated with handmade iced flowers. On the wedding day, Rich didn’t get a chance to eat any cake so luckily the sponge was saved for the following day and we got to enjoy it then whilst swapping stories about the day.
As soon as we started planning the wedding, Rich was adamant that we were to have a live band. We planned the wedding day in 7 months and so that meant our first choice of band was already booked up. However, this worked out for the best as our band Hudson (who came over from Liverpool) were brilliant, playing a range of songs from The Beatles to Oasis and a handful of cheesy classics. Lots of the guests commented on how brilliant they were. They even invited the guests to help out with the vocals on a few songs and my bridesmaid and I couldn’t resist the chance to pretend to be part of the band!
God Only Knows
We had the Beach Boys God Only Knows as the song for our first dance. Rich and I had listened to this song whilst we were on holiday just after we had got engaged and think it is a song that we will love forever.
The favours were homemade coconut ice & fudge (we gave up on making the fudge ourselves after three attempts). We spent the Saturday evening before the wedding placing the sweets in cellophane and tying each one up with a velvet ribbon. My sister and I were the bow police!
Woodwork Skills And Homemade Touches
In addition to Helen’s gorgeous flowers we decorated the venue with homemade bunting and wooden signs made by my dad. My dad also put his woodwork skills to good use in making us a wooden crate which was used to collect our cards. We decorated jam jars which were filled with tea lights and flowers. My parents’ house was full of donated jam jars from family and friends and we used various ribbons, doilies & gems to decorate them. Ebay was vital for that!
For each of the guests’ place setting we used luggage tags which I stamped with each name and were attached to a flower made from icing (my mum was kept very busy with the wedding preparations!). Rich designed the table names which were London street signs which we thought was a nice link to where we currently live as the wedding was held up North.
One of our close friends helped us design our save the dates and invitations and a few of us got together to make the orders of service for the church. It really did make the wedding feel more personal to have lots of homemade touches.
My lovely dad drove his MGB all the way from Kent to County Durham! It was fantastic to be driven to the church by him and then Rich drove us to the reception venue after the church service which was amazing. Unfortunately the freakishly cold weather meant we didn’t have the roof down but at least that meant I didn’t need to worry about my veil flying off!
My advice for brides-to-be is to try not to feel too pressurised to please everyone and get as many family and friends involved with the preparations as possible. A tip from Rich is to set a 9pm rule. After that time I wasn’t allowed to mention the wedding and had to stop reading blogs which forced us to have conversations unrelated to the wedding. I managed to just about stick to this until a few weeks before the big day.