Today’s wedding is such a lovely one to share with you guys.
Because each and every detail was either handmade by the bride, groom, or their family and friends, or it was chosen as a touch, that’s special and personal to the bride and groom.
Weddings like this one always blow us away with all the creativity and effort that goes into them, and Matthew and Sarah’s rustic English wedding was made with a lot of love, and even more hard work!
And it’s such an honour to share all their little DIY details, with gorgeous photography by Sam of New Forest Studio.
We’re always rather partial to a backyard wedding, especially if that back garden happens to be an entire farm in the idyllic Hampshire countryside!
While Matthew and Sarah were lucky to host their wedding on his parents’ farm, (where they got engaged) having a wedding at home, as always, means doing a lot of the work yourself. But that didn’t put this pair off!
Mucking in with their talented family and friends, they created everything, from growing their own blooms, to brewing their own sloe gin, baking their own cake to stitching their own bunting. Oh, and even serving their own dinner!
Swoon over these gorgeous photographs, but don’t forget to read Sarah’s words on how this wonderful farm wedding came together…
Wedding Day Snapshot
Matt proposed in the woodland on his parents farm in October 2012. The woods had been a favourite play area of his growing up so it was a special place and we knew from the outset with the amazing views the farm (you can see the Isle of Wight on a clear day) provided that we wanted our wedding there as well.
It meant that we could make it really personal and I was determined I wanted it to look and feel relaxed for our guests and an open expanse of land did just that!
Our style is quite rustic and homely and I think our wedding represented that. I remember when planning it that I kept saying ‘I want the outside to come in’ as we weren’t able to rely on the weather being kind with it being a September wedding and England!
I kept asking for ‘browns and earthy colours’ as I had an absolute paranoia of an all white marquee with stiff fabrics!
I really wanted the flowers to do the talking in terms of colours, so we went for nudes/ flesh tone palette for the bridesmaids and the ushers waistcoats.
I (the bride) had initially wanted the boys in a three-piece suit, but Matt is quite traditonal and wanted tails, so to balance it I went for a knee length dress for the bridesmaids to keep it relaxed and a word my mum made up ‘countrified’!
I wore a dress from the Enzoani Blue range which I picked out in my home town of Durham. I had thought I would have sleeves and I said I would never wear a ‘fishtail’ but there I was without sleeves in a fishtail!
But what I loved about the dress was that it wasn’t a tight fishtail because of the layered lace. I removed the flower belt that originally came with it and added a bit of sparkle (another thing I had originally thought I would never do) with a Jenny Packham belt.
It just lifted the dress but also made it feel unique to me.
My mum is a trained florist (winner!) so I had a headstart on most brides when thinking about what I wanted.
I was fixated on having ‘craspedia’ in my bouquet (the yellow balls) and my favourite hydrangeas and the rest I wanted to be soft and wild looking. My brief to mum was that it should look like it ‘could have been picked from the garden’.
To add another individual and personal touch, Matt’s dad had saved some of the crops from the harvest which we included in my bouquet and the mens buttonholes. It was a mammoth undertaking as my mum did all of the bouquets, buttonholes and church flowers herself. It meant so so much to us though, especially that personal touch.
Matt’s mum had thoughtfully swapped her veg patch to grow wild flowers for the wedding which we all had fun arranging into centrepieces the day before the wedding. Everyone got involved, even the ushers. I had collected bottles from the surrounding area and there were some that Matt’s mum had even found on walks around the farm that we used for the flowers.
Flowers included – Craspedia, Astrantia (pink), Lizzy, Veronica, Sacbiosa (white), Waxflower (pink), Hydrangea (early Rose), Roses (Dalamite and Talea), Santini – Lindi, Eucalyptus, Wheat and Barley
Processional: Air on a G String, Bach
Recessional: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Handel
First dance: Hey Ho, The Lumineers.
Hey Ho was top of the charts when Matt proposed and I love folk music so it felt apt. Also it was lovely because its a song that everyone joins in on the chorus singing.
We had Corinthians and an Irish prayer read by two of our close friends.
The Decor & Details
All of our decor and details were made by us or our loved ones which made the wedding so special.
Starting with our favours, Matt and I made sloe gin for our guests from the sloes we picked from the farm on the day we got engaged. Handily our initials are ‘M&S’ so I made little labels with the famous and apt supermarket tagline of ‘this isn’t any sloe gin, it’s an M&S sloe gin’!
Our paper goods for the service and invites were designed by a close friend and I lovingly put all of them together. Making 60 mini A6 size booklets of wedding details was a labour of love!
Matt’s mum made yards and yards of beautiful bunting to line the main part of the marquee and we sourced hops from one of the neighbouring farms to adorn the pillars and bar area. My brother created a beautiful framed heart and our initials using old pallet wood and twine.
Outside we had the most amazing sign to point guests in the right direction for parking, toilets, games etc – Matt’s grandad immortalised one of the famous local Hampshire black and white signs for us but with our wedding date and details on.
I used cloth my late grandmother had crocheted to stand flower vases on the tables. Other decorations we took from the old farmhouse or things I had found in the local antiques mill.
Pinterest inspired a number of other projects from handmade confetti (using the petals from the wildflowers Matt’s mum grew) and confetti cones (using old newspaper pages) to jigsaw pieces for the guests to write messages on for us to make up into one big jigsaw later.
We also realised the entrance to the marquee needed dressing and wanted a pop of colour, so we enlisted Matt’s grandma to help me sew hanging squares of fabric (my bridesmaids also helped out with a few).
One of my favourite decorations was the table plan. In advance of the wedding my now brother-in-law was about to chuck out some old painting ladders but I asked him to keep them (at the time he looked a bit confused and thought I had gone mad!) I remember seeing on Pinterest a bride had stood photo frames of her parents up a ladder in the entranceway to their wedding.
Armed with the picture for inspiration, printed table plan names and mini bunting I had made along with leftover flowers, twine and ribbon from the centrepieces, Matt’s auntie and cousin turned a rickety set of old ladders into the most beautiful table plan I could imagine.
My father-in-law put huge posts outside for us to string festoon lighting from, he also lined the trail up to the marquee with posts which we hung old jam and coffee jars on to hold tealights.
There was a coconut shy to entertain guests and hay bales from that year’s harvest for guests to sit on outside with cushions Matt’s mum made.
We had Pimms, an Elderflower presse and barrels of local ale (including Wallops Wood) for guests on arrival at the wedding reception.
Our catering company Vanilla were amazing, Sally who led the charge was an absolute angel listening to my midnight panics in the last few days before the wedding. Also, Vanilla were the only catering company we had found in the local area who offered a tasting in advance of booking – which was delicious and settled it for us!
To follow our relaxed theme we had canapes on arrival and forwent a starter, opting to move straight onto a main of beef (sourced locally) with potatoes and tonnes of veg.
There were a number of friends and family that we wanted to involve in the wedding in some way and Sally suggested we surprise them by making them carve the beef for their tables. This was such a lovely touch as no one had a clue and it really got people talking and laughing, which was especially lovely for tables where we had mixed guests that had only just met that day.
It also took the formality out of the meal and made our 100+ party of guests feel like an intimate family meal.
Our dessert was a lemon posset. To follow on with the relaxed vibe, Matt and I said from the outset that we didn’t want a traditional white wedding cake, also, neither of us like fruit cake much!
We both agreed we wanted something that would get eaten then and there and so we asked my Mum to make a layered vanilla sponge with lashings of mascarpone cream and fruit. I made a little bunting cake topper for it.
We knew that some guests would still want fruit cake and a number of our guests were gluten/wheat intolerant so we asked other family members to get involved.
We had a cake table alongside the main wedding cake which guests tucked into in the evening along with bacon butties, sausage rolls, cheeses and biscuits and homemade chutneys that one of my brothers made.
Our photographer – Sam Alexander-Pearce from New Forest Studio came on recommendation from one of our close friends who had gone to university with Sam.
We met him in Winchester before booking and knew instantly that he got ‘us’ and the relaxed feel we were going for. It also helped that he was a friend’s friend, which made us confident that we could speak openly about what we wanted.
We knew we had to have some of the required staged group line-up shots for the family album, but Sam assured us he would manage it and keep it to a minimum so we could enjoy the day and instead capture the unguarded moments of our loved ones just enjoying themselves.
It also helped that Sam kindly came to the farm a few days before the wedding to get a feel for the place as he didn’t want to waste any of our precious moments setting up shots, instead he knew exactly what he wanted for us in advance.
Sam’s pictures were just stunning, he manages to use the natural light so beautifully and he captured the amazing rolling clouds and changes in the weather as backdrops to some gorgeous shots. We have had so many compliments on our pictures since.
We also wanted pictures taken of just Matt and I before we joined the wedding reception in the woods where Matt proposed.
If I had any nerves over being lovey dovey in front of a near stranger, I needn’t have, Sam put us at ease and those moments are some of my most cherished. The light coming in over the tall trees is just beautiful. It meant so much to me, as Matt hates asking strangers to take our picture, so we don’t have many good ones of the two of us together, but we do now!
Advice for Other Couples
Use and abuse (nicely) any friends and family that have a talent. We couldn’t have done it without them and to be honest we wouldn’t of wanted to do it without them.
It definitely pays to try styles you wouldn’t originally go for as I surprised myself with my dress.
Then I think the last thing I would say is ‘only you know what’s meant to be there’ so if you don’t manage to get to something, then don’t fret as your guests won’t be looking out for it!
I think all of the beautiful personalised decorations and details made by family and friends and having it on the farm made it so ‘us’. It’s hard to pick a favourite moment as the whole day was amazing.
We both felt the ceremony at the church was stunning. Seeing all your loved ones in one room for the first and probably only time is wonderful.
Then I think another moment that stands out is all of the guests coming together in an impromptu moment to put Matt and I up on chairs on the dancefloor with everyone dancing around.
I also cherish the private moments that were captured of us both in the woodland where Matt proposed. A friend also gave us a great piece of advice to ‘slip away’ in the evening to just watch all of your guests for a moment and take it all in, we did this whilst Sam was taking pictures of us whilst the sun was setting and it was just magical to watch everyone having fun and coming together.
Actually one other favourite moment was surprising everyone with fireworks towards the end of the evening, particularly both of our mums, as they love fireworks.
Oh it’s all so pretty. I just adore reading about all the little thoughtful details everyone helped to create, it makes a wedding all the more special, don’t you think?
Thanks so much to Sam of New Forest Studio, and of course the inspired Sarah and Matthew for sharing their English farm wedding with us.