We both have ties with France, and had originally been planning an intimate outdoor garden wedding in the South of France – barefoot in the grass, dancing under the stars! Our plans fell through and we found ourselves back at square one. We decided to see if we could still achieve our dream garden wedding in the Cotswolds, where we live.
We came across Lapstone Barn and instantly fell in love with its pared back, modern-rustic elegance. We had been looking for a Cotswolds wedding venue that could offer an outdoor ceremony, but Lapstone Barn ticked that box! What we hadn’t anticipated was that we would later actually choose to marry indoors, in the stunning barn, with its honey coloured exposed stone walls and fairy lights dancing among the rafters. The barn was just too beautiful not to use for our ceremony!
How did you choose your suppliers? Everyone needs to hear the story of THAT dress!
From the start, I knew the style of dress I wanted. I didn’t particularly want an ivory gown. I wanted something a little bit different that would feel more like me. I guess it was a reasonably tall order: I wanted a little bit of drama and a lot of romance; feminine but not too revealing, and definitely not strapless; a full skirt, but not in a ball gown style way; I wanted fluid movement in tulle and lace rather than structured, heavy silk; boho over tradition; a statement back without being too low cut on the front; and if possible I wanted colour!
However it proved quite a challenge to find this style of dress in the UK! I had visited 12 or 13 bridal boutiques and was beginning to lose heart. I even contacted a designer in the USA who had one particular dress which I just adored and had been lusting over since before we even got engaged. She was happy to make me the dress remotely, but there was no way of trying it on, and I needed to make sure the cut and colour of the pale grey fabric would suit me.
One day, purely by chance, I came across a dress on Instagram which was the dream. It was a repost of a repost of a repost. I followed the breadcrumb trail and with a bit of detective work I found the designer. Again, she was in the USA but she had two UK stockists! I was concerned we might not have enough time to have the dress made, but as quickly as we could arrange it, we made the 8 hour round trip to see the dress. (My husband-to-be didn’t need too much convincing to spend 12 hours at one of his favourite surf spots!)
Trying the dress on for the first time, tears pricked my eyes – it felt like I’d come home! Until this moment I hadn’t believed it when people said you ‘just knew’ when you had found your dress. But I knew – and it was a bit of an emotional moment, ending a very long rollercoaster of a dress hunt!
A few months later and one round of alterations later, we picked up the dress with just a couple of weeks to go until the big day – and it was perfect! I’d found it, the dress that felt like me, and I felt amazing in it.
Because my dress had colour, I wanted to keep the colour scheme for my Maid of Honour and my two flower girls very simple. We went for a beautiful ivory jumpsuit for my Maid of Honour, and pretty ivory dresses with a blush pink flower garland around the waist for the girls. My Maid of Honour had a smaller version of my bouquet, and the flower girls had the most beautiful flower crowns in their hair.
For my groom and his ushers, we chose a dark blue three piece suit, white shirt, brown shoes and a dark blue tie to match the suits. My husband had no idea that my dress had any colour in it, so I had to work quite hard to steer him away from the idea of having a different coloured tie! I knew that the simplicity of a dark blue tie would work beautifully and felt that introducing another colour could be risky, so wanted to keep things simple.
Being a photographer myself, choosing the person to capture our day was as important as finding the dress! However I’d known for a while that I wanted Nastja Kovacec. Her fine art, editorial style was exactly how I wanted to remember our day. The soft, pastel tones in her photography are incredible, so we didn’t really think twice about flying her and her sister Nives over from Slovenia to photograph our day.
I had a pretty clear vision for the whole day, and flowers would make up a big part of that. I wanted big, blousy, feminine blooms. A soft, neutral colour palette, with a natural garden feel. Jennie from Liberty Lane Flowers was recommended to me, and I’m so grateful for that because on the day Jennie’s work literally took my breath away! I loved her natural and feminine style. She was the perfect fit and I trusted her implicitly.
I knew I wanted a meadow lining the aisle, and Jennie produced the most awe-inspiring sight of towering delphiniums, foxgloves, soft sweet peas, roses and lots of greenery. My bouquet was free flowing and loosely arranged with garden roses, jasmine tendrils, sweet peas and grasses. She made the sweetest flower crowns for my two flower girls.
I’m lucky that both my dad and my father in law are quite creative and practical. I asked my father in law if he could create us a wooden structure to marry in front of. We decided on a septagon shape, which Jennie decorated with flowers and foliage. It looked incredible. My dad created two copper frames which we used for a welcome sign and for the table plan, which we decorated loosely with greenery.
Our wedding cake was made by Cherish Cakes by Katherine Edwards. We chose a very simple single tier semi-naked cake, made up of 3 or 4 layers of sponge. It was almond sponge with cherry filling, decorated with simple foliage. Family members also baked cakes for us, creating a cake table for dessert. The big chocolate Guinness cake, which my sister in law Liv made, was a huge hit! Every table had a big sharing platter of cakes, with bowls of fresh berries and cream.
Hair and make up
My make up artist, Natasha Louise, and my hair stylist Dean Brindley were both perfect. I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people who you feel comfortable with. And Natasha and Dean blended in brilliantly in the bridal suite. Natasha was such a wonderfully welcome calming presence. From my trial with her I just felt really comfortable, like I was chatting with an old friend, so I knew she was the right choice. Dean has been doing my hair for years, so I knew I was in safe hands with him. He was great with my young flower girls as well, helping make them feel special on such a big day!
The videography was done by a friend of mine, Jack Wakeley. I worked with Jack for a number of years, and we were so glad we picked him. He worked so hard and captured the day perfectly. He was incredibly discrete on the day and we barely noticed he was there.
The on-the-day signage was made by Amber at Flourish and Flora Co. I wanted a fairly modern but minimal feel to the table plans and other signage, and had an idea of what I wanted it to look like. Amber took all my ideas and sketches and brought them to life!
I had taken a calligraphy workshop some time ago and it dawned on me that I could try to use my newfound skills to create our day time invite. A graphic designer friend of mine took my calligraphy and helped me create the day invites, in simple gold and white.
What was the vibe of your day? And the inspiration behind your styling?
From the very beginning I had a fairly clear vision of the look and feel I wanted for our wedding: neutral, blush tones with a relaxed, romantic, feminine, flower-filled feel. I wanted timeless elegance, with modern romance!
I’m quite a visual person and as a photographer I naturally work with Instagram and Pinterest. So I found a few ideas from there, and created my own Pinterest boards for different elements of the day.
For the wedding breakfast tables we chose clusters of small cut glass vases with a few stems of flowers in each. We had tall nude coloured candles in simple gold candle sticks, with tea lights dotted around. These were complimented beautifully by the simple gold frames we used for the menus. We also hired in oak cross backed chairs, which I absolutely loved. The sprigs of baby eucalyptus on the calligraphy name settings finished the tables perfectly.
Do you have a favourite moment of your day?
A piece of advice that my florist had given me was to try not to see the ceremony barn until it was ready – so that you get the full wow. I saw it for the first time as I walked down the aisle during the ceremony and it literally blew me away! Making our way through that flower meadow, my armed linked through my dad’s, walking towards my husband-to-be, was a special moment!
I was a little apprehensive about walking down the aisle and I remember feeling a wave of relief when I reached Chris at the top, and it suddenly just felt about us then. I started to relax into it and enjoy myself! Walking back down the aisle once we were married was amazing!
Our little boy, who is two and a half, was Chris’ best man. He was amazing during the ceremony, and managed to deliver the rings to us at the right time, definitely stealing the show as he did it!
The speeches were brilliant, there were moments when I think most eyes around the room had tears of laughter! And I actually really enjoyed our time with the photographers, because it was a little bit of time when it was just the two (ok, four!) of us. I think it’s really important to try to take a few minutes during the day for just you two – the day really does go by in a flash, so try to escape for a few minutes to take it all in and catch up with each other.
Which music and readings did you choose?
We chose two readings: one from The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White, ‘I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you’, and another from Winnie The Pooh, “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day.” They both struck a chord with us. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to hold it together during the Winnie The Pooh reading, but on the day I managed it and it was fine!
Although we would have loved live music, we didn’t have an endless budget so we decided to use Spotify playlists throughout the day for our music. We spent a lot of time planning the music, trying to anticipate the mood and what atmosphere we wanted to create. It worked brilliantly. In the evening, two friends of ours did a couple of DJ sets for us, interspersed with playlists, which was lovely because it brought the personal touch again.
Do you have any advice for people planning their own wedding?
When it comes to choosing your suppliers, surround yourself with a team you trust and are comfortable with. I had originally booked a hair stylist who was very capable, but didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I’m glad I made the change and booked Dean, his style was much more my style. I would recommend creating and sharing Pinterest boards with your suppliers. It really helps to ensure that they understand your vision for the day.
It sounds obvious but try to make the day yours – make it personal to you. Choose things which have a special meaning to you both. Also, try not to sweat the small stuff – easily said I know. But realistically, it’s probably only you who will notice if something doesn’t quite go to plan, or if your favourite flower isn’t in season.
Most importantly, enjoy it! It really does go by so quickly so try to take in as much as you can. I would definitely recommend hiring a videographer so you can look back on your day, and see lots of little things that you would otherwise have missed. And of course, choose a photographer whose work you love. Years from now your photos may be your main memories, and they will almost certainly be an heirloom for your family to keep!
Dress: Chantel Lauren – www.chantellauren.com
Photographer: Nastja Kovacec – www.nastjakovacec.com
Flowers: Liberty Lane Flowers – www.libertylaneflowers.com
Make up: Make Up By Natasha Louise – www.makeupbynatashalouise.co.uk
Hair: Dean Brindley – www.instagram.com/dbhair_sloanes
Cake: Cherish Cakes by Katherine Edwards – www.cherishcakes.co.uk
Wedding rings: Helen London Silversmith and Classes – www.helenlondon.co.uk
Wedding invitations and table plan: Flourish & Flora Co – www.flourishandflora.co.uk
Alpacas: Cotswolds Vale Alpacas www.cotswoldvalealpacas.co.uk
Videography: Jack Wakeley – jackwakeleyvideo.myportfolio.com
Ceremony arch: Groom’s father
Copper stands: Bride’s father