Jess and Andy’s wedding is a gorgeous garden affair, laden with DIY details.

Reams of her mother’s bunting, the quirkiest homemade cake with a nod to the family business, and the coolest hat stand, ever – all against the beautiful backdrop of Nymans National Trust Garden, in West Sussex, England.

Captured by the talented duo, Lisa and Scott of Lisa Dawn Photography, their wedding was a wonderful celebration filled with flowers, family, and fun. (Watch out for the space hoppers!)

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The Attire

My dress was lace, vintage with a v-neck, the lady I bought it from described it as ‘elegant simplicity’! 

I loved this Cymbeline dress when I first saw it. It was the first dress I tried on. I loved the detail of the lace, and the simplicity and knew it was the one!

It felt romantic but I also felt very comfortable in it…I was lucky enough to find this one second hand and had it altered by Elizabeth Robinson Couture, so it fitted perfectly. I paired it with Rachel Simpson ‘Mimosa’ shoes. 

The groom wore a slimfit bright blue suit from Red Herring. His buttonhole was also made by his godmother and was made of the same flowers as my bouquet, which was a really nice touch, rose, ivy, hydrangea, cornflower, lavender & Eucalyptus.

The bridesmaids wore Coast dresses with nude shoes. On the wedding day I gave them each charm necklaces from ‘Lily Charmed’ and beautiful blue enamel earrings from ‘Janna Hodgson’ as a thank you. They had cream pashminas as well but I don’t think they needed them on the day. 

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Our Wedding

We both really wanted a relaxed outdoor country wedding with home-made touches made by us, or people who were important to us.

We wanted an emphasis on fun, so had games including Giant Jenga and space-hoppers (which ended up on the dance floor!)

As Andy grew up on a farm and we both love the outdoors we felt this sort of wedding reflected our personalities the best. When we were looking at how to tie the knot, we realised how important it was to do something we would be comfortable with and was really ‘us’, so we would really relax and enjoy the day!

I love art and sculpture so was keen to have as many ‘home made’ touches as possible.

We wanted the atmosphere to be relaxed and fun (and full of love of course!) Just about our closest friends and family having a really great day celebrating with us (and a bit of a boogie at the end of the night!) 

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The Theme

We both wanted to make it feel a bit rustic, not perfect or ‘groomed’. We had a look at magazines and blogs and the weddings that appealed to us were the more relaxed ones where people seemed to just be having fun.

I love blue – so I guess it was an obvious choice for the bridesmaids and the mens neckwear. The bunting was all pastels.

Nymans is so stunning and has the most amazing flowers and plants – so we tried not to have too strict a colour theme and be as sympathetic to the venue as possible. 

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Favourite Moment

Ooh that’s hard. I loved it all. I have to say – either my dad’s speech, but probably that time when Andy and I ran off with our photographers and got some time together, just us.

That was when it really felt real and it was a real chance to celebrate and be happy, just the two of us. 

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The Venue

We only looked at one venue – Nymans blew us away from the moment we first saw it. We loved the mixture of relaxed wild gardens with the more formal gardens and the gothic style ruin in a backdrop of woodland.

It had an element of the fairy tale about it! It really felt romantic!

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The Reception

We had Champagne after the ceremony on the lawns by the loggia where we got married. It was really nice to have this straight away and be able to celebrate right where we got married. 

We really wanted to do as much of the making/doing ourselves, to add a really personal touch to the wedding. 

My mum is very talented with textiles (and I am very spoiled!!) and made nearly 100 meters of really beautiful vintage style bunting – we used this, and some hearts made by a friend to decorate the chandeliers. We made little blue and white table slips to go over the main white ones to add some colour. 

The table names were made by Andy and I on old vintage luggage tags that we stained with tea to give a rustic feel. They were held on metal heart shaped stands. The names were all places (some not exotic at all!) that were important to us for some reason. On the back of the place names we wrote a short story so the guests would know why the place was important to us. 

We collected a variety of jam jars which were wrapped (by mum again) in lace and twine and used as tea-lights on the tables. They gave a really nice gentle light when darkness fell. 

We had games outside by the meadow – giant jenga, dominoes, spacehoppers, hula hoops (most of which found their way to the dancefloor later).

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I also love the trend for vintage/weathered signs at the moment. The venue provided signs to direct guests to the ceremony, (as it’s a 5-10 minute walk through the beautiful gardens); outside the marquee we also had a multi-directional sign that pointed to: merriment, dancing, the woods and games. 

Andy and I made lots of moustache-on a-stick to add to the fun later. We popped these on the bar in jam jars with ribbon and popped luggage tags that said ‘take me and play with me’ on them for guests to pick up and play with when they went for a drink!

Having booked an outdoor ceremony with no real backup plan for rain I was totally convinced it was going to rain all day. I had bought polka dot wellies and rainbow umbrellas just in case. Andy and I made an umbrella stand out of old wooden champagne boxes and together with some dried lavender and one of my mums enamel jugs – we also used this to decorate the marquee. 

We tied ribbons across one section of the marquee wall and popped some pegs on it so people could affix their hats for the reception and have them out the way – it actually ended up making a really pretty decoration!

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We designed our own orders of service and menus, and had them printed by a friend. As part of this process I painted an image of two birds and had it made into a rubber stamp that we used on the table plan, order of service, table names and menu. 

On the back of the menu we incorporated a game we had seen played at a friend’s wedding – we played this throughout the wedding reception – briefly, the rules are: if the guests tap their glasses, the bride and groom stand on their chair to kiss; If the guests stamp their feet the bride and groom get under the table to kiss; when the groom leaves the room all the men in the room can kiss the bride; when the bride leaves the room the girls can all kiss the groom!

We made our table plan on a vintage frame, that my mum painted with chalk paint; and hung the same luggage tags with wooden pegs, again with the two-bird stamp I designed. 

On our order of service we attached a little organza bag of confetti with decorative washi tape so everyone had some if they wanted – it meant we could do the confetti right as we walked back down the aisle – super exciting. 

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The Flowers

The bridal bouquets were made by Andy’s godmother – Kate Rodrigues.

I really wanted informal wildflowers in bouquets, with a natural, very gsoft look. we went for a mixture of sed lisianthus, roses, asters, larkspur, rosemary, purple sage, hydrangea and allium seed heads , little daisies (my favourite), alchemilla mollis and my favorite flower is the cornflower, so we had some of these.

A lot of the bouquet was made from flowers picked from my parents garden on the morning of the wedding including pale pink spray roses, delphinium, blue cornflowers (because I love them!!), mini white spray daisies, lavender, sage, pink hydrangea, eucalyptus, dried alium heads, pittisporum, white double lizzianthus; loose hand tied with antique lace for the bouquets.

The bouquets were hand tied with lace to tie in with my dress.

We had a great florist (The Blacksmith’s Daughter) who decorated the Loggia where we got married, and also the tables in the marquee. We chose to have small arrangements of different flowers in a selection of tiny teracotta pots, vintage vases etc. It meant each table was different, we wanted to create a really understated ‘natural’/ rustic feel to the flowers on the tables. 

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The Cake

Our cake was very important to us – I felt it captured the sense of humour we both wanted on the day. I wanted to buck the trend of white tiered cakes and we wanted it to be a little about us.

I first thought of a having a ‘cow’ cake – as a vet I love cows. It went from there really – I wanted to try to get all the family involved somehow, to make the day really personal to us. As Andy’s Dad and Granddad were both pig farmers we both thought of having a pig themed cake.

It was made by my brothers girlfriend, the very talented Alice Gee – and she came up with the design, added bunting that matched the bunting my mum made and added all the little pigs: the bride and groom, the pig in the mud the pig smelling the flowers – it really was wonderful and definitely caught all the guests attention! 

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Advice for Other Couples

Plan as much as you can in advance, give yourself time do organize the things that are important to you, that way the planning is fun, and not stressful.

On the day try to tell yourself – there is nothing you can do to organize anything or solve any problems or that will make your guests enjoy themselves – just relax and enjoy the day – if you are happy, your guests will take on that mood and enjoy themselves too!

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Isn’t it so pretty? I love hearing about a family coming together to help create a really lovely, and personal day.

Thanks so much to Jess and Andy for sharing their day with us, to Lisa Dawn Photography for taking such wonderful pictures.

Love this gorgeous wedding? Check out more DIY + Rustic real life nuptials. 

Photographer: Lisa Dawn Photography / Venue: Nymans National Trust Gardens / Flowers & Decor: The Blacksmith's Daughter / Bouquets: Kate Rodrigues, family friend / Bride’s Dress: ‘Eleanor’ by Cymbeline / Seamstress: Elizabeth Robinson at The Dress Agency / Bridesmaid Dresses: Coast / Groom’s Attire: Red Herring at Debenhams / Cake Baker: Alice Gee / Hairstylist: Sharon Roberts, Wonderful Wedding Hair / Makeup Artist: Tania Stephenson-Oliver / Marquee & Catering: Ground Control Marquees / Band: Shamrock Ceilidh Band