Hollie and Claire thought outside the box when it came to their happy, summery outdoor wedding. Instead of a venue that has weddings every weekend they booked self catering accommodation for all their guests… which also happened to have a barn! It meant their could put their stamp on it, at their leisure and they had the whole place to themselves on the last night.
Over to Hollie to tell us all about their planning (we LOVE the sound of the pistachio, berry and rhubarb pavlovas! Yum…)
Q. What was the theme/style for your big day?
A. The style for the wedding was a kind of woodland/rustic/relaxed outdoor wedding. We wanted it to be really relaxed and chilled and we feel that the woodland-style really gave it that vibe. The colours we chose were pink and gold so the bridesmaids wore gorgeous dusky pink dresses, the boys wore matching coloured ties and we even got a handmade pink tweed collar and lead for our dog who walked down the aisle!
Q. What was most important to you when it came to tying the knot/celebrating your marriage?
A. Just to be together with the people we loved the most and to have the best, most memorable day! We didn’t want anything too formal or structured and so tried not to put too much pressure on ourselves. We just wanted to celebrate our love for each other with a huge party!
Q. How did you chose your venue and suppliers?
A. We had actually already seen Great Higham Barn before we got engaged so, as soon as there was a ring on it, we went to visit. The place was just breathtaking and absolutely what we were looking for. Hollie is from Salisbury and so her family were going to be travelling, so it was important to us both that there was somewhere for them to stay. Great Higham Barn is not traditionally a wedding venue, it’s accommodation, so that covered that part and also meant that it was something different and a venue most people hadn’t even heard of, which we both loved! We hired the entire complex from the Thursday through to the Monday so we really made a weekend of it. The wedding was on the Saturday so we had a couple of days to enjoy the venue with our wedding party before the madness ensued! Then on the Sunday night, we got rid of everyone and had the whole place to ourselves, just the two of us, which was bliss.
We wanted the whole day to be outside if we could, so we chose to put a tipi in the garden where we pretty much held the majority of the day. We had looked into normal marquees and even borrowing a tent from a local Scouts group, but once we saw the tipis, we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads! They were absolutely a talking point, and centre piece and something a little different.
We got to decorate the whole place, including the grounds of Great Higham Barn and the tipi which was great as it meant that we could really put our stamp on it. We used a lot of fairy lights and hanging lanterns inside the tipi, as well as the beautiful flowers on shepherds hooks along the aisle. We hired hay bales for people to sit on too to really make our guests embrace the outdoors!
Emma our photographer was found initially through a wedding show and then with some Googling we realised how incredible her shots were so we hired her straight away!
Our florist Lucy, caterers and other suppliers were found through copious amounts of Googling and Instagram searching!
The other thing we loved about Great Higham Barn, was that it was a blank canvas, so there were no staff there helping us set up, no one to organise and plan – just us to make it exactly how we wanted! It wasn’t a venue where they had weddings every weekend.
Q. Where did you get your ideas and inspiration?
A. Pinterest! We created many boards and used those for our initial inspiration, but then used Instagram also to look at suppliers’ accounts and weddings which had been to before. I (Hollie) also looked at some amazing wedding photographers’ websites and pages for inspiration of previous weddings.
Q. Tell us about your dress
A. We had two! My dress (Hollie) was a beautiful Pronovias dress which was fitted and had delicate beads all over it. It was a kind of off-white, with a slight pink shade to it which I absolutely adored. It was strapless but I felt I needed something a little more, so I bought a beautiful lace bolero with long sleeves, so people thought that my dress had sleeves in the beginning. I wore the bolero for the ceremony and photographs and then took it off when we went in to eat. It was pretty cool because it gave me two looks through the day.
Claire’s dress was Ella Rosa. It was absolutely stunning in white with beads all over and a romantic tulle bottom half. It was also strapless and was fitted perfectly.
Neither of us saw the other’s dress, but both of our mum’s saw both.
Q. What was on the menu?
A. We had Pimms on arrival to the ceremony, then after the ceremony we had two cocktails: ‘A little bit of Hollie’ and ‘a little bit of Claire’. They were gin and rhubarb or spiced rum, lime and lemonade. There were canapes going around whilst photographs were being taken and then the main event was a hog roast. Our caterers, Cucumber Catering, were incredible and had this idea to use long recycled wooden planks to serve the food on, so it was all a big sharing platter. The hog roast was served at the table, along with potatoes, bread and lots of different salads. The food was awesome and really contributed to our relaxed vibe, with people just tucking in! This was followed by sharing pavlovas which were pistachio, summer berries and rhubarb. In the evening, we had burgers or falafel and houmous wraps which were brought out to people on big trays round the dance floor so no one had to stop their party to eat!
We had a beautiful traditional cake which was gifted to us by Claire’s cousin, but also had a cheese cake which was something we had always wanted. We used The Cheese Box in Whitstable which were all local cheeses – some from Kent where Claire is from and some from Wiltshire, where Hollie is from. The cheese cake which was cut up for the evening guests and served with homemade chutneys, homemade piccalilli, fruit and crackers. We had hoped to be able to take some of the amazing cheese home with us but it was absolutely devoured by our guests!
Q. What was the quirkiest element of the day?
I think the Tipi was pretty quirky – none of our guests had ever been to a wedding with a tipi so that was pretty cool. We also had a caricature as our wedding favours to people – we didn’t want to give the usual present on the table so thought that this was a great idea and something that people could go home with as a momentum of our day.
Claire also spent weeks slaving over a hand-made pinata for the kids to play on whilst the photos were being taken, so that was a bit of fun!
Q. What advice would you give other brides looking for a similar style of event?
A. Take your time with the planning, get friends and family to help as much as possible, choose suppliers that you like as people; they are the experts and will be invaluable in the planning and execution of the day so it’s important that you get on with them and are able to trust them.
Q. What was your favourite memory from the day?
A. For me (Hollie) there are so many! From the buzz of getting ready in the morning with my two best friends, to seeing Claire for the first time as I was walking down the aisle, to making a speech, having our first dance and partying until the early hours! The whole day was pretty spectacular and having our friends and family there made it even more special.
For Claire, it was the ‘we did it!’ moment of walking back down the aisle together dancing to one of our favourite songs and having confetti thrown at us. (we made the confetti ourselves by drying out many, many, many, petals!). Also, the first dance and seeing all of our friends and family having an amazing time on the dance floor all night.
Q. What was your first dance to/what did you walk down to the aisle to?
A. We walked down the aisle to Ed Sheeran, Wake Me Up; it was a song that we used to listen to together and just felt perfect for that moment. We danced back down the aisle after the ceremony to Daryl Hall and John Oates, You Make My Dreams Come True. Our first dance was Beyonce, Love on Top. That has always been our song and so it was perfect for us; we didn’t want a slow ballad and felt that this was just perfect for us. We had a live band who were amazing and they did our first dance live, which made it extra special.
Hollie’s dress – Chilham Bridal – www.chilhambridal.co.uk
Claire’s dress – Ivy Rose Bridal – www.ivyrosebridal.co.uk
Photographer – Emma-Jane Photography – www.emma-janephotography.co.uk
Flowers – Wild Bloom – www.wildbloom.co.uk
Venue – Great Higham Barn – www.greathigham.co.uk
Tipi – MyTipiEvent – www.mytipievent.co.uk
Caterer – Cucumber Catering – www.cucumbercatering.co.uk
Wedding cake – GrabaSpoon – www.instagram.com/grabaspooncakejars
Cheese cake – The Cheese Box Whitstable – www.thecheesebox.co.uk
Bridesmaid dresses – www.asos.com
Bridal party make up – Hollie-Rose Make up – www.hollierosemakeup.co.uk
Bridal party hair – Be Beautiful Kent – www.bebeautifulkent.co.uk
Wedding rings – hand made by Wakefields – www.wakefieldjewellers.com
Caricature – The Artful Doodler – www.theartfuldoodler.co.uk
Celebrant – Annie-Lou Oulton – www.annielououltoncelebrant.com
Band – Box Party – www.boxpartyband.com