What do you get when you combine pretty pastel blooms, a sprinkling of English summer rain, a musical theatre actress bride, a music lover groom and Yellow Bird Photography behind the lens?

Jo and Jimmy's AWESOME wedding, that's what!

Their DIY garden wedding at Bignor Park was such a beautiful, creative and personal affair filled with love, laughter, marryoke* and utterly fabulous florals.

Including big, fluffy, hydrangea bouquets, hanging jars of ‘freshly picked' arrangements suspended above the reception tables, pure white roses threaded through a side swept braided hairstyle and Jo's exquisite Claire Pettibone wedding gown in full bloom.

As I was reading Jo's lovely (and super detailed) write up of their day I found myself smiling, laughing and tearing up a little.

Yes, I know I'm a soppy romantic but just you wait till you see the love poem they wrote together for their wedding ceremony!

 From The Bride…

Having been to 29 weddings in the last three years we felt we had seen everything from beach weddings in Ibiza to church services in Northern Ireland. And so we were striving to design a wedding we hadn't been to!

We had always wanted the wedding to be unique, informal and full of creativity. It was an outdoorsy, natural wedding, with lots of personal details and touches, we got married in a beautiful garden and the reception was in an old stable block so it was all quite relaxed. Lots of toning colours but nothing in the same colour.

We wanted the personal details to be the main thing that shone through, it was a celebration of us and we wanted people to really know that it could only have been our wedding.

 The Bride and Groom's attire

I wore Willow by Claire Pettibone with Swarovski covered shoes called Moscow by Benjamin Adams. I wanted something a bit different that could work well in the day time and also look quite glam in the evening.

Jimmy wore a bespoke suit and shirt in grey with a light gold pocket square and tie. The lining of his suit was pink in honour of my Dad who is no longer with us but wore a lot of pink! And it was embroidered with our names and the wedding date. As are our wedding rings.

 The Flowers

My bouquet was sweet peas, honeysuckle, freesias and other flowers in creams and yellows to go with my dress and then dusky blues and lilacs to tone with the bridesmaids. My dad, Den, died 6 years ago but I wanted him to walk down the aisle with me and Mum so I hung a frame with ribbon from my bouquet and put a picture of Dad in it. The frame was also my ‘something borrowed' (thank you Lotte!)

Our bridesmaids bouquets were single heads of hydrangea in different colours, these also hung from the chairs in the ceremony and were worked into garlands over the entrances.


Our bridesmaids were in five different shades of dusky pinks purples, blues and nudes. They all chose their own dresses and my maid of honour went for a long dress while the others had knee length (hussys! hee hee) they were all in chiffon so they felt very floaty and romantic. I bought each of them a different necklace that was suited to their dresses and tastes.

 The Ceremony

Jimmy and I wrote a poem one Sunday afternoon when we were snuggled up in a country pub near home. It was entitled “Love Is” and it was a combination of all the things we agree on, love about each other, compromise on and put up with!

We then had our good friends Chris and Greg Sing “All I Want is You” by Barry Louis Polisar. Greg played guitar and sung harmony while Chris sung the solo in what accidentally turned into a full blown comedy double act routine..

Then a friend Tom wrote arrangements for a Medley of Songs that I chose; June Bride from 7 Brides for & Brothers, When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole and Jimmy from Thoroughly Modern Millie. 5 of my wonderful Musical Theatre Friends sang it and it was perfect and a highlight of the whole day!

Love is…

Love is running home to see his face

Love is agreeing on a paint colour

Love is trying not to correct his grammar

Love is not getting cross when she corrects my grammar

Love is letting her steal ALL my change

Love is bathing the dog when she’s “too busy”

Love is making the tea ..when you don’t drink tea

Love is a bunch of flowers because it’s Wednesday

Love is moving to the country

Love is ordering scallops when you just wanted chicken

Love is learning to brick lay

Love is listening to Elaine Page on Sunday

Love is just the two of us, driving the coast on a moped adventure

Love is letting her call a dog Plimsoll

Love is cooking him a Sunday roast……. on a Monday!

Love is letting her put her cold hands on my tummy

Love is watching Glee …….Or Top Gear

Love is always going to bed at the same time

Love is rescuing her when she runs out of petrol

Love is not going on tour

Love is finding something positive to say about a dreadful show

Love is a bit of posh

Love is his big blue eyes

Love is not turning on the tap while she’s having a shower

Love is listening, not fixing

Love is choosing baby names… 3 years before you’re married

Love is understanding that messing around in costume, at 32, is a job!

Love is a family trip to the dog behavourist

Love is convincing her to buy a wreck and build a home

Love is smiling when it’s STILL not finished

Love is believing she can conquer anything

Love is dancing in the kitchen

Love is her brown eyes and little nose

Love is a holiday in Spain

Love is a ring moved from one hand to the other

Love is you and me

– By Jo and Jimmy

 The Décor & Details

We had a lot of different areas to consider and then it rained a months rain on our wedding day and blew a gale the week of the wedding so lots of things changed! Apart from the flowers we made and decorated everything ourselves. We made signs out of wood and stuck them and hung them all around the grounds and building directing people to the ceremony, toilets etc. We had two huge garlands over the entrance to the ceremony garden and also over the greek loggia we stood under to get married.


In the walled courtyard we created photo time lines for each of us which met at the point when we did and then all the photos were of us together, we strung these up on brown string with wooden pegs. Festoon lights hung around the walls. Pictures of our parents and grandparents weddings were displayed on the cake table. In the bar we had big wooden J & J letters and lots of candle sticks in different shades of gold and silver.

In the actual stables where the stalls were we set up a guest book which was lots of different postcards that were appropriate to us or specific guests and when they had written them they attached them with pegs to string around the walls of the stall. In the next stall we did a do it yourself photo booth, which was my camera on a tripod with a remote control and some clear instructions for the by then slightly worse for wear guests..and then a box of props, hats and wigs, provided by our photographers. Flicking through the photos the next day we came across some pretty interesting sights!

The seating plan was made using strips of tonal floral fabric with the title “Oh God who have they put me next to..” The menus were in dusky pinks and blues with J&J on one side and the menu on the other. As I am an actress we used “The Overture” “The Leading Lady” “The Leading Man” “The Producer” “The Ugly Sisters” as titles for the speeches and Act 1, The Alternate, Act 2 and The Encore as titles for the food.

 Hanging Flowers

I wanted the dinner marquee to feel magical and outdoorsy so we came up with the idea of hanging votives with tea lights and jars full of flowers over the long trestle tables on silvery wire that caught the light. Hoping to create a magical effect and bring the outside feeling into the marquee. We continued this theme by using a huge gilt frame with small bottles full of flowers hanging in  it. We loved this feature so much we have recreated it at home!

 The Favours

The favours were small brown bags tied with “to have and to hold” ribbon and “Sowing the seeds of love” printed on them, inside were seeded hearts and little printed cards with instructions how to plant them. The kids had the same bags but sweets and push pops were inside!

The children also had lunch boxes with different food and lots of games and activities to do. They were also given a table with a paper cloth so they could do a massive drawing for us…which is something we have kept!

 The Refreshments


Drinks after the ceremony were Lindauer Special Reserve, Pimms, Elderflower with fresh muddled berries or San Miguel Fresca for the boys! At dinner we had a red called Muriel that was great with lamb and a nice crisp Pinot. Champagne and beer were available all day and there was a fully stocked bar in the evening with lots of spirits and soft drinks. 

The mouth watering catering was by Kalm Kitchen:


All served with “Just Married” flags in them. They were beef fillet with parsnip gratin and carrot puree, honey and mustard cocktail sausages in a newspaper cone printed with a personalised story and photo of us, beetroot rosti with whipped goats cheese and truffle honey, roast butternut and walnut risotto with blue cheese dip, pork belly creamy apple dauphinoise crackling and apple sauce, smoked salmon and creamed horseradish blini and to finish mini scones with cream jam and fresh strawberries.


Roast lamb with roast potatoes,parsnips, carrots, green veg, yorkshires and gravy (we got married on a Sunday) and the vegetarian meal was Roast Butternut and clotted cream tart with butternut puree and then all the roast dinner trimmings!


Dessert was a bit of audience participation with make your own knickerbocker glories. Bowls of vanilla, choc chip and raspberry ripple ice cream were served and then bowls of mixed berries, brownie and meringue pieces, fruit coulis, chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands were put on the table so that guests could make any combination they liked!

After dinner there was coffee and fudge and our cake which was three layers made by two friends and Jimmy’s Mum. The bottom layer was a huge Victoria Sponge with fresh red berried and cream, then a dark chocolate and orange layer and on the top a lemon sponge sandwich with lemon icing dripping off the sides. Our landlady from our local pub made some slightly comedy figures of us and our two dogs Wellington and Plimsoll to go on the top…we look a bit like a chav and a glamour model but that was part of the charm!!

 The Wedding Music

I walked down the aisle to a live piano version of  “Here, There and Everywhere”. We left to Stevie Wonder “For Once in My Life” Our first dance was The Beatles “In My LIfe” and our last song was Ocean Colour Scene “The Day We Caught The Train” which is Jimmy’s favourite song that was also playing when we met.

On the dance floor which used to be a coach store we strung up about 60 lanterns, they brought the lofty ceiling a bit closer and gave a great effect as well as being in the colours of the wedding.

 The Photography

Our Photographers Tyson and Elle of Yellow Bird Photography were so wonderful. We chose them because in my initial meeting with Tyson I loved his photos, his attitude, his laid back approach and I felt like I wanted him at our wedding. We felt like that about everyone we asked to be part of the wedding.

We didn’t meet Elle until the day but she was so lovely, warm and so discreet taking photos, I thought I would always know when my photo was being taken but I didn’t! Also the rain changed every single carefully laid plan and we had to think on our feet a lot, Tyson made this process so much easier.

 Favourite Moments

For me the most special moments were in the ceremony. When everyone is so still and quiet and you can focus on the most important thing which is marrying the person you love. We have been to a lot of weddings and during the vows the bride and groom focus on the registrar or vicar a lot. We tried to just think of each other in those crucial moments and as a result the vows we took and the commitment we made seemed all the more special. I don’t think we looked away from each others eyes at all.

And when the day is over and everyone has gone home, we will carry on looking into each others eyes, forever.

How lovely is that?!

And, on another note, this turned into quite the epic post didn't it?

I hope you enjoyed reading Jo's write up as much as I did – there are so many fab ideas on how to personalise your day.

Many thanks to Yellow Bird Photography for sharing these gorgeous images and huge congratulations to Jo and Jimmy!

*Wondering what marryoke is?

Stay tuned to the blog this afternoon to see Jo and Jimmy's epic marryoke music video to Whitney Houston's ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. Not to be missed!

– More Beautiful Real Weddings –