Sophie is one very lucky Bride, her parents own Longbourn Barn which obviously made choosing a venue rather easy…how stunning is this place? If anyone is looking for a dry hire venue in the West Midlands – you MUST check Longbourn out. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the hire cost and how flexible they are. This is truly one of those rare gems in the wedding world, I feel rather excited for any couples who this place might suit!
Sophie and Ed decided to take on lots of the wedding day details, even creating the flowers and catering themselves, along with their incredible families of course. If you’re thinking of catering your own wedding, or even doing the flowers, then do read Sophie’s report, there are lots of great tips in there. But first, let’s enjoy Frances Sales’ beautiful images…
We are incredibly lucky that my parents have a beautiful house and barn in the countryside (titled Longbourn Barn after a certain favourite novel…!) The barn has played host to family 21st birthdays and weddings so it was very special to celebrate our wedding here. Guests were invited to camp in the field and we had no time limit on dancing into the early morning!
The service took place at St George’s, Brailes where I grew up – we were married by Rev Nicholas Morgan, the same vicar who christened my siblings – and we chose the revised traditional service rather than the modern. As we share a love of classical music, this aspect was a particularly important part of the service and we were delighted that my school organ teacher travelled from Bath to play! My mother wrote a poem titled ‘The Invisible Thread’ and Ed’s sister and my brother sang duets from The Mikado and John Rutter.
The Wedding Party
We had a large bridal party comprising my sister, younger brother and cousin plus Ed’s youngest sister and his niece. As it was a country wedding, I wanted the bridal party to be formal but natural. I found beautiful lace flower girl dresses on Etsy – from a maker in Utah! – and long white French Connection dresses for the two bridesmaids. All wore home-made gypsophila head crowns, finished with trailing ivy from the garden.
For my dearest girl friends, I created a new title of ‘Flower Maidens’. The girls were there to kindly help with all things flower related – creating corsages, flower head crowns and confetti – as well as celebrating!
I don’t usually wear lots of make-up so was nervous about looking overly ‘made up’. After researching a variety of make up artists, I decided to (literally!) take it into my own hands! I booked several Bobbi Brown bridal consultations – all complimentary – and created a natural look based on these sessions. Their advice was brilliant. Then I practiced a lot!!! I treated myself to a few Cowshed facials in the six weeks leading up to the day!
As it was a formal wedding, we wanted the groom and ushers in formal morning dress with double breasted waistcoats – plus our additional criteria of a blue coloured waistcoat that would complement Ed’s hair! The summery, subtle blue of the Charles Tyrwitt waistcoats was ideal.
The flower/colour scheme was ‘wild flowers’ – a base of ivy and gypsophila, embellished with colourful flowers from the garden. We soaked and stripped willow branches from a stream in the fields, which we then wove into three large centrepiece circles. These rings formed the main decorations; covered in draping ivy, it looked very dramatic in the barn.
Whilst most of the flowers came from our garden, we ordered wholesale bunches of roses to add to the bouquets, plus white ribbon for a traditional look. We made our own head-dresses, corsages and bouquets with the Flower Maidens – the night before! However, we were prepared – my mother spent many hours online looking at tutorials and ordering the right tape, wire, ribbon! Our advice: don’t be afraid to DIY, just look online and order the correct kit to get you started!
My mum picked the flowers for my bridal bouquet on the morning of the wedding – so it was made up of whatever was growing in the garden that day! Wrapped around the stems of my bouquet was an embroidered hankerchief from my godmother – the same hankerchief she wrapped around her own bouquet many years ago!
Over the year, my mother gathered and dried petals – from garden flowers and bunches that friends had kindly given us – so we created our own confetti. Ed’s sister created a wonderful five-tier cake! We bought the tins from Lakeland and a box of edible flowers from Maddocks Farm Organics for decoration.
I took a few calligraphy classes with Quill London – this was a handy skill as I could address our invitations and place names plus easily create last minute hand-written notes!
Champagne, tea and home-made cakes were served as guests arrived back at the house after the service. Taking on the catering ourselves (!), we were keen to have a sit-down feast, rather than a buffet, which we thought could be a little disruptive. To achieve this, we compromised by serving cold food on sharing platters – as the day was so warm, this worked well! The theme was an ‘Italian Feast’ – partly because we love Italy and partly because this enabled us to a simple (but delicious) menu!
Ed’s parents very kindly drove to France to buy the wine. We had 200 guests ready to party so this was no small order!
Antique hunting was a big part of the wedding feast preparations! Over the year leading up to the wedding, Mummy and I collected forty blue and white Italinate antique platters from markets and Ebay for serving the main sharing dish. A palate cleanser of lemon sorbet was served in 200 glasses (double shot glasses!) and we used fresh herbs from the garden throughout the meal. For pudding, we turned to the keen bakers amongst our friends – twenty guests each generously contributed a pudding for ‘The Great Longbourn Baking Extravaganza’ – we had an incredible spread! Home-made biscotti (very easy to make!) and limoncello were handed around during the speeches.
The Photography & Film
The extremely talented Frances Sales shot our engagement shoot and wedding day. She was brilliant – discreet but effective on the day, and her photos are beautiful. Likewise with Ivory Fayre who shot our video – they had exciting ideas and it was great fun having them around.
We also had a photobooth from The Photo Guys which was great fun.
For our wedding car, we thoroughly cleaned the old family Landrover and covered it with bunting, flowers and ribbons. My brother John was a brilliant chauffeur (he even detoured on the way back from the service to the local village shop to pick up some refreshments for us!)
We love music so this was important. Two family bands made up the musical entertainment. Sophie’s father, brother and family friend played an acoustic set outside as the sun was setting. Then Ed’s talented cousins and uncle took to the stage for two sets of rock, pop and lots of dancing!
For our first dance, the band performed ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’ with the melody played by Ed’s aunt on saxophone. We learnt a few waltz steps in a lesson with Sandy from First Dance and surprised our guests with a romantic dance!
We were incredibly lucky that one of our ushers, Fav, is a brilliant DJ. He was the resident DJ at the college at Durham University where Ed and I originally met. Fav played for hours and guests couldn’t leave the dance floor!!
Going back to our university fresher days, we handed out neon glow sticks and paint around midnight – the evening suddenly changed from a formal wedding to a festival feel, it was brilliant! We are still finding neon glitter in the barn now…
We chose a Penguin Mini Classic for each guest, pressed a personalised stamp inside and wrote a thank you message. It enabled us to say something personal directly to each guest on the day – and it was hilarious choosing a book for each guest (some more complimentary than others…!!)
Don’t be afraid to do it yourself! We have many precious memories of preparing for the wedding with our family. It felt very special on the day as so many people had already been part of the occasion.
Ed strongly encouraged me to do my own speech – and I’m so glad I did – so I would encourage anyone else to do the same, it is a wonderful chance to share your own thoughts about the groom!
The ushers and the bridal party stayed in the house the night before the wedding. We had drinks on the lawn before we officially ‘split’ into bride/groom for dinner. It was so special having that time with our closest friends and made the day even more exciting.