Wasn’t yesterdays Sunday Spring weather a treat and a half, especially after all the snow we’ve been having, well Tonya & Lee’s wedding at Pennard House continues to mirror that feeling, with it’s dreamy outdoor ceremony and rustic barn reception full of bunting and romantic florals.
Tonya also looks an absolute vision in her Jenny Packham gown.The delicate cap sleeves and lace back details are truly exquisite and so complimentary to groom Lee’s brown tweed suit and the bridesmaids blush Needle & Thread dresses.
I’ve literally ooh and ached my way through the lovely set of images by John Barwood Photography, the morning preparations and ceremony in particular are full of emotion and heartfelt moments. So get ready to swoon and enjoy!
Tonya the Bride: We got married on Saturday 27th May 2017, at the exquisite Pennard House, East Pennard, Somerset. Lee and I have been together for 16 years and have a 6-year-old daughter, Evie, who was our flower girl. I am a fashion textile print designer and Lee is a Chartered Structural Engineer. We live in Brighton, where Lee has lived all his life, but I originally come from Somerset.
I started looking for my dress quite early; I was really excited with the whole dress shopping part of the wedding. As a textile designer I produce prints for women’s fashion, and so had very strong ideas from the start of what I was looking for. I knew I wanted something vintage looking, with lace. I visited a number of shops in Brighton with my sister and friends to look at and try on a number of dresses.
However it is was on a weekend away in Winchester with Lee, that I bought my dress. I had looked at the bridal shops in Winchester prior to our trip, and found a Jenny Packham dress that I had pinned on my wedding board and was available at Exquisite Bridal, so I made an appointment to go and see them, as I knew I wanted to try it on. It felt a bit strange going to try on the dress by myself – I left Lee in a coffee shop round the corner whilst I went in. I felt quite nervous, however the lady in the shop was lovely and really helpful – She even pointed out that I was trying to make all the other dresses that I tried on look like ‘my dress’ I had originally come to try on. So decision made, I bought the dress and we took it away that day, with Lee carrying it back to the car – though it was all boxed up to keep him guessing. On the day I could not have been happier with my dress, I loved wearing it and it felt light and so easy to wear.
My floral crown was from ‘Laure de Sagazan’, I love it and wished I could wear it everyday!! My veil was from Britten. I wasn’t sure about a veil but I thought when would I ever wear one again! The one I chose had a delicate lace edge and complemented my dress perfectly. My shoes were by Aquazzura and were really comfortable on the wedding day. I wanted shoes I would wear again and the pink went with the colour of the bridesmaid dresses. Although I did have some back up sandals for serious dancing late into the night.
Lee the Groom: I have to be fairly smart for work, and so I wanted something a little bit extra smart on our wedding day, so went with the idea of a three-piece suit. I really like tweed, and thought this would be quite versatile to allow to get some future use out of my suit as separates or as a suit again. I also like the idea of a bespoke suit and shirt for the wedding. So I approached Martin at Hugo Morris really early on (March 2016!), to discuss options. He was really friendly and knowledgeable, and so I decided to dabble in the bespoke tailoring world with a shirt made for a friends wedding.
My suit was put on the back burner whilst I sorted my best man and the dads suits out, but I started to panic a bit in the summer, that although I wanted a tweed suit I didn’t know if it would suit me, so I popped into a Moss Bros one lunchtime, and tried on a brown tweed suit. Surprisingly the suit fitted me well, and after sending a few photos of me in the suit to Tonya I decided to buy it on an impulse. Fast-forward to early 2017 and I started to panic again about my suit, I didn’t think it was special enough, and went back to Martin at Hugo Morris. I decided on a green tweed suit, in a lighter material after Martin pointed out it may be warm in May and heavy weight tweed may be too much. I also went for a new shirt, originally I was going for just a plain white shirt, but Martin advised to opt for an off white, as it would compliment the suit better – he was right. I even got mine and Tonya’s initials embroidered on the cuff to make it extra special.
I really fancied a burgundy tie to go with my suit, which is quite a traditional combination, and Tonya managed to find a lovely Paul Smith tie with blush stars to tie in with the colours of the wedding. Ton is a fantastic textile designer, and so she designed and printed me a one of a kind pocket square, and gave me a new set of cufflinks with our initials made form old typewriter keys. To finish I chose a pair of tan coloured brogues by Loake, teamed with some stripy Paul Smith socks. On the wedding morning my best man Martin, who is Cornish, gave me a tie slide made from South Crofty Tin (from the last working Tin mine in Cornwall), which was a really kind.
Tonya the Bride: We were quite open to where we got married, looking at a number of venues in both Sussex where we live, and Somerset. We did have slightly differing ideas of a venue, whilst Lee quite liked the idea of a country house; I much preferred the idea of a more rustic barn. However, when we looked around Pennard House we knew it was the one. It had the perfect mix of the country House aspect for Lee, and the more relaxed barn feel for me.
We wanted a civil ceremony and Pennard gave us the choice of either getting married in the House or outside in the gorgeous grounds – weather dependant of course. I love nature and the countryside, and so to be married outside would be perfect.
The wedding breakfast and evening celebrations were held in the old coach house, which is so stunningly beautiful and unique. The venue was just perfect for our big day, and to top it off Georgina and Harry, the owners are such a lovely couple, they made us feel so “at Home”, and are so friendly and helpful, they seemed to really care about our day and us. I cannot recommend the venue enough; everything about it was just perfect, even having posh tipis in the grounds for people to stay in.
We didn’t want to stick to a theme as such, just a relaxed country wedding with a vintage vibe. The colours were inspired in part by the Needle and Thread dress for the eldest bridesmaid. So we used blush pinks, whites, lots of green foliage, with a brighter pink and copper accent. The Coach House venue itself didn’t need much decorating, as it was so beautiful. We just added flowers, some lights and a handmade wildflower bunting. Being a designer I did all the stationery design myself, as well as the signs and spray painting the letter favours. I also designed the background for the table plan, and got this printed, and we framed this within an antique French mirror frame we found in a local antiques shop. We had a number of items around the house that we repurposed for the wedding day including, an old coal scuttle, an old fashioned suitcase and a vintage ladder that we decorate at Christmas, but looked beautiful when decked out for a wedding!
I asked my friend Kim Barnicott to do my flowers, she had just started up her own business in Kent, but I knew her relaxed style would fit my wedding perfectly, so I wanted her to do my flowers. I gave her a brief of seasonal flowers, looking like an elegant English meadow and she delivered it perfectly. We had lots of chats about which flowers I liked, what would be in season, and where I wanted the flowers to go. Kim was even taking sprays of foliage form her father’s driveway on the day before the wedding! The flowers on the day received so many comments, and Kim was really inventive with the flowers. We had hanging jars on the chairs during the wedding ceremony, which were then re-used as table decorations for the wedding breakfast. Kim made all of the bouquets specific for each of the bridesmaids, buttonholes for the men, a corsage for my mum, and of course my bouquet which was stunning.
The Wedding Party Fashion
We had four bridesmaids in total comprising of our three nieces and our daughter Evie. I started off by buying the eldest bridesmaid dress, which set the colour theme of the wedding. It was a Needle & Thread dress, with intricate beading on the bodice, which I loved. I then saw the printed dresses for our two youngest nieces in Monsoon the colours went perfectly and I love the mix of print and beading. For my daughter I decided to go with simpler ivory, with her dress echoing the top shape of mine. I thought all the bridesmaids looked so lovely on the day, even when the three youngest were climbing trees in the grounds!
For the Best man and the fathers, we chose simple blue suits from Marks and Spencer, with each having a tweed waistcoat, and finished with burgundy ties, pocket squares and tan shoes to tie in with Lee’s outfit.
I got ready in the bridal suite of the house. I bought a vintage dressing gown from hope and Harlequin in Brighton to get ready in. The hair and MUA was the hardest for me to find I contacted a few but they either didn’t reply or were busy. My cousin saved the day; she used to do make up for weddings and now does nails. She also did my nails for the wedding and they were fab. She also recommended Kayleigh to do mine and the bridesmaid hair, she was great and got my relaxed style completely.
On the morning Lee surprised me with a gift of a necklace from the same shop as he got my vintage engagement ring, together with a wash bag with my future married initials on it from Wills Bee Bespoke of Salcombe, which is where we were heading for our mini moon after the wedding. He also wrote me a letter all of which he had arranged to be hidden under the pillow of the bridal suite.
For the readings we had the lyrics of ‘Rose of My Heart’ by Johnny Cash. This was on the short list for our first dance, but I then realised the lyrics are beautiful so had it for a reading instead. The other was An extract from Winnie the Pooh. It was to bring our daughter into the ceremony as we thought she would like it as she did see it as “Our Wedding” being all three of us. On the day it was really touch and go to whether we had the ceremony outside on not. In the night there had been a massive thunderstorm, and it was with only about 20 minutes to go before the ceremony that the decision was made that we would be outside. Charlie our wedding planner was fantastic, and had the best weather app which he constantly checked, or was staring across the Somerset country side looking for a break in the cloud. We were not disappointed; as we were saying our vows the sun came out and lit us up. We could hear everyone going ah! At how special the moment was. Even Harry the owner commented later that he heard the cheer of the ceremony and was surprised we had got married outside and the whether held!
We asked our friend Rachel to play Violin for the ceremony and the reception. I walked down the aisle to Pachebel Canon in D; it had been playing on the radio when I picked up my dress and so thought it would be the one to walk down the aisle to. I got ready in the bridal suite on the first floor of the house and I could hear Rachel warming up, which was very special and brought a tear to my eye. Rachel also played throughout the reception drinks on the terrace, and we are very lucky to have such a talented friend.
We had decided on having a DJ for the evening entertainment and I cant remember how we found ‘Still Moving DJ’s’ but I’m so glad we did, they were amazing and fitted the vibe of our wedding perfectly, they even got my dad dancing to drum and bass!! Everyone commented on how good they were; they added live percussion to the tunes and just made the evening such good fun. Tom and Martin were so nice and really laid back, they suggested we bought the vinyl for our first dance track, which was ‘Dancing cheek to cheek’ by Frank Sinatra, which a friend of ours bought for us, so now we have a memento of our first dance.
Lee and I both love food, and thought the food was a really important part of our day, and so it was really important to us that the food was good. Caroline Gent undertook the catering including canapés and drinks on the terrace, the main wedding breakfast and then an evening ‘cheese’ cake buffet. We went for tasting at Caroline Gents, which was a treat for us, but also to make sure we were happy with our choices. It was such a great experience, and we were surprised to hear that not that many people decide to do a tasting, we were glad we did; Caroline even gave us a enormous chunk of honeycomb to back to Evie after our tasting! We knew the food was going to be amazing, and we were so happy that everyone on the day commented on how good the food was and the best that they have had at a wedding, and I cannot disagreed in the slightest. The service provided was amazing; we even had a special bridal platter of canapés just for us two.
Hannah at Babycakes created our cake, and again we went for a tasting at her house in Bath, and to discuss ideas. I’m not a fan of icing and so a naked cake was perfect for me. We had a three-tier cake with each layer being a different flavour. It was delicious especially the lemon drizzle middle layer!
Neither Lee nor I are particularly fond of posing in front of the camera, and we both agreed that we didn’t want loads of staged photos. We both wanted our photographer to be able to capture our day quite naturally, and for it to be a record of the whole day, not just a series of posed photographs. The Barwoods style was perfect, and they were so friendly when we approached them. Right from the start the attention to detail was evident, with John even having checked the sunset time for our wedding day. We hadn’t originally thought of having two photographers, but I am so glad we did. It was great to be able to see parts of the day that each other would not have seen, such as me being able to see Lee getting ready and seeing all our guests arrive. Similarly, I know Lee was really pleased to see my reaction to his letter, and being able to see me walking down the stairs and around the house with my Dad. With only one photographer we wouldn’t have had both sides of the day as it were. John and Soph are such a nice couple and work so well as a team, they really put us at ease in front of the camera and made it fun; though we were a bit hesitant about being asked to ‘drunk walk’ through waist high grass, but John knew what he wanted to achieve – I still can’t help looking at the evening meadow shots without giggling. Their style of photography is so natural and they were able to get some amazing relaxed shots of our family and friends simply enjoying themselves and celebrating with us on our special day. They even managed to get photos of the Bridesmaids climbing trees, which explained the green stains on their dresses – busted! I love our photos and so many people have complemented us on them, just seeing the photos brings back such happy memories of our day and I can’t help looking at them without smiling.