Flo by Charlotte Balbier and Flowers In Her Hair ~ A Rustic Barn Wedding…


"It was the most relaxed and beautiful day, loads of fun, very romantic and with all the personal touches and contributions from our nearest and dearest – it really felt 'true to ourselves' as a couple.  It was everything we could have wished for and more…"

Good morning beautiful people, how are you today?  I'm not going to let the 'fuel shortage' panic buying and the fact it prevented me from getting my train to London last night and that I had to fork out £200 to get here get me down. Nooooo! Whenever something rubbishy happens I head right on over to Love My Dress to get things back into perspective, so from here on today, it's all about this —–> 🙂

This beautiful wedding full of romance and rustic charm stole my heart when I first saw it a few months back now.   This is Gavin and Mathilda, and they tied the knot on 16th July 2011 at The Tithe Barn in Lenham, Kent, and these beautiful photographs were sent in by Photographer Eliza Claire

Mathilda wore the pretty dress Flo, by Charlotte Balbier, from here English Tea Party Collection

"I started off thinking that I wanted a short dress, but after trying on a fair few I realised that with my two girls using me as a climbing frame and trampoline on a daily basis I would never have bruise-free legs again, and so had to go for a full length one.

I then visited nearly every single wedding dress shop in the south east of England, and after trying on around 70 dresses I eventually found what was indeed the perfect dress – 'Flo', by Charlotte Balbier…"

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Eliza Claire Photography

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"A friend had made various signs that we had around the barn and the grounds.  They gave a real festival feel to the place.  She had also decorated several old roofing slates with quotes and sayings, which were really beautiful…"

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"The Style Workshop in Tunbridge Wells did my circlet and bouquet.  There was lots of greenery – ivy and grasses and so on, with Amnesia roses, dusky pink astrantia and small daisy like chrysanthemums.  It was quite a relaxed and not too structured bouquet.  And yes, I did throw it at the end of the day – very funny seeing the girls flying through the air after it!"

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"I had no idea what I did want, only that I didn’t want it to be a vision of sparkles, or too elegant and refined – that just isn’t me.  I’m also not particularly girly, and am rarely seen out of jeans and a scruffy old top, so I was dreading the hunt for a dress, and I'd put on a fair bit of weight after having had two children so was feeling very self-conscious about my body shape.

My dress was boned, so suddenly I had a waist again!  Secondly it was not a pure white or ivory dress – although covered with the most beautiful ivory lace the satin underneath was a  pale mocha colour which considering that I’d already had a couple of kids and we’d been ‘living in sin’ for 10 years, seemed a bit more appropriate! 

Finally although it did have some sparkle it was quite subtle, and the skirt was lovely and free flowing with no annoying hoop and just a small train that I knew my bridesmaids would just love.

I purchased my wedding dress from Ozone in Brighton.  Christine at Ozone was fantastic and really understood where I was coming from with my wants and desires for my dress.  She also did the alterations for the dress, which were done perfectly…"

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"We didn’t want a church wedding as that wouldn’t have felt true to ourselves.  We also didn’t want a castle or fancy hotel or anywhere too ‘posh’ as we wanted a really laid back, relaxed and fun day.  We’d thought that a barn might fit the bill, but were really struggling to find one that suited us.  Eventually I managed to come across The Tithe Barn in Lenham, Kent

They don’t advertise and only hold four weddings there each year (they basically only hold weddings there to pay for the upkeep of the ancient barn, rather than as a commercial business) so we were really lucky to hold our big day there.  It is basically a huge big, empty, dusty but amazingly beautiful unique 700 year old barn.  We were then free to do with it whatever we wanted, which really suited us.  Martin and Valerie who own and look after the place were so lovely and welcoming, and have invited us anytime to go back there to visit which will make a perfect  anniversary with a picnic by the duckpond…"

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"Although I’d had no idea what kind of dress I wanted, from the moment Gavin proposed to me I knew that I wanted to wear a circlet of flowers in my hair, like some kind of Titania-esque fairy queen!!  It had to be big and bold – full of greenery and flowers and I was so happy with the end result.  It was made by The Style Workshop in Tunbridge Wells who were great, and really understood what I wanted.  They also made my bouquet…"

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"The only thing with my beautiful wedding dress, was that with all the lacing up and hidden buttons, (and no doubt the alcohol we’d consumed too!) Gavin couldn’t work out how on earth to take the dress off, and I ended up sleeping in it and going down to breakfast in it again the next day! Which actually was great, as it meant I got to wear it just that little bit longer!!  Needless to say, he did eventually manage to get it off me.

I had thought that I might try to sell it on, but my four year old daughter has announced that she wants to wear it when she gets married, so I now have the perfect excuse to keep it!"

Oh Mathilda, I did have a giggle about you sleeping in your dress – hehehe! 😉

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"I had six bridesmaids, ranging from age one to age en, who were adamant that they wanted to wear pink (of course!!). 

I wanted them all to have the same dress, but didn’t want to pay a fortune for them, and didn’t want a typical bridesmaids dress as it wouldn’t have suited our day.  A friend works from BHS and in the end, using her discount, I got all 6 dresses for just £70. 

I also had a little page boy, and found him a cute little pair of trousers with braces and waistcoat, which really went with the country feel of the wedding."

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"Catering was supplied by Chives Catering from Canterbury.  They did a superb job, and Debra basically ran the whole day for us, which was great as we didn’t have a master of ceremonies, and she pretty much did that job but in a really understated and relaxed way – she was amazing, and made us feel so so special.  A really lovely lady, who was born to do weddings!

We chose to have a barbecue buffet, again to give the day as relaxed a feel as possible. And Graham the chef did such a great job, especially as the rain was torrential while he battled with the barbecue!  As did all the staff – they all got soaked but still kept huge grins on their faces the whole day through…"

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"My father’s boss kindly lent us his Rolls for the journey from my mum’s to the Barn.  It was a beautiful car, but I totally didn’t appreciate it at all, as from the moment I got it I totally fell apart!  After the months and months of preparation I was finally there in that car, and that was it… I couldn’t do a single thing more, I just had to sit there and endure the twenty minute journey!  It was the longest twenty minutes of my life – I just wanted to be there, marrying my man.

It was awful! Dad and the driver were trying to chat to me, but I couldn’t utter a word, except to insist that we had to stop at the garage to get chewing gum as my mouth had gone completely dry!!!  At least Dad managed to appreciate the car!"

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"Gavin decided that he didn’t want me to know what he was wearing until I saw him at the top of the aisle.  This could have been disastrous considering his usual taste in clothes, however one of my oldest friends works for Burberry and took charge of sorting him out (thank goodness!). 

She arranged the best assistance for him, made -sure everything went with my and the bridesmaids dresses (without letting him know of course), made him feel like a rock star and gave us a massive discount to boot!  In the end he wore a dark blue tux by Burberry Prorsum and looked a million dollars – I’d never seen him looking so smart."

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"Rather than have the six little girls follow me sombrely up the aisle, we chose to have them run up ahead scattering rose petals that my mum had picked from her garden and dried for me, not a mean feat considering there were 6 baskets to fill.

The baskets were from Gisela Graham that we decorated with ribbons.  My smallest bridesmaid was my one year old daughter who couldn’t walk unaided, so we had her push a petal filled and ribbon bedecked trolley instead!  Sooo cute."

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"I met Gavin back in 1995 at university, and we asked some old college musician friends to play for us during the ceremony.  It was simple guitar and vocals, and was perfect, especially whilst everyone was waiting for me to arrive (a shameful fifty mins late!!).

For my walk up the aisle they played ‘Happy Valley’, a song that they’d written and was our absolute favourite from back in 1995 when we first met.  My memory of walking up that aisle seeing Gavin blubbing like mad, all our friends grinning wildly and that perfect song playing is probably my most wonderful memory of the day, and one which will stay with me forever…"

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"Our rings were my grandparents.  My Grandparents were from Poland and managed to keep the rings safe through World War 2 even though they were sent to German camps, and suffered many other hardships through their 60 odd years of marriage, so it means so much for us and is such an honour to be wearing them again now, 75 years after they were first used…"

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"We used a lot of flowers to decorate the barn.  An old work colleague of my mum’s did the flowers for us.  We used buckets wrapped in hessian which fitted perfectly as the venue was a 700 year old tithe barn, and filled these with loose bunches of ivy, grasses, roses, astrantia, delphiniums, cornflowers,  scabious, lavender, daisies and white hydrangeas.  The whole place seemed full of flowers, and so so beautiful and natural.

For the tables, we used small groups of jars, bottles and small vases with various flowers including sweet peas that I’d grown in the garden.   Other decorations in the barn included hundreds of fairy lights strung from the rafters, wicker hearts, and reams and reams of bunting, that I’d spent hours and hours and hours making from various fabrics I’d picked up at boot fairs…"

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"One of my closest friends made my wedding cake as our present.  She is not a professional baker, but did the most amazing job, and it meant so much that it had been made by her.  She made three different flavoured layers – chocolate, lemon and vanilla, with each sponge being coloured differently.  The decoration was exactly what we wanted too – bright and fun – not your usual wedding cake.

It looked fantastic and so tempting – it was difficult keeping all the childrens fingers off it!

Jemma had also painstakingly made 100 icing daisies to put on but when transporting the cake she’d left the box of daisies on the roof of her car and driven off without realising until it was too late!!    It didn’t matter though as the cake was still perfect…"

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"When it came to the toasts, I had made bottles of Elderflower champagne for all the guests to crack open themselves.  It went down a storm, and hearing all the pops going off around the room was brilliant…" 

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"During his speech, Gavin had also decided (unbeknownst to me) that in honour of the polish connection (ie my mother) to give everyone an additional toast of a shot of vodka.  He finished off his speech by serenading me with a song that he’d written in my honour (cue more tears) – what an old softie!"

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"For the drinks reception we had the craziest band ever – The Cosmic Sausages.  Their music I can only describe as the wackiest, gyspy influenced, street busker style madness, and has to be seen to be believed!  Our guests are still going on about them now, all these months later.  They also played during the meal, going from table to table, getting requests, dressing the guests up and getting them to join in with the songs, finishing off with a special  number for myself and gavin with the whole room getting stuck in to the singing.  They were absolutely fantastic, and really added a fun filled, slightly bonkers feel to the day.  I’d booked them 2 years before the wedding as I knew they would be perfect for us, and was one of the best decisions I made…"

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"After the speeches we had everyone go outside (thank goodness it had stopped raining by then) for a giant tug-of-war.  We had North (Gavin’s side) against South (my side), and I cant believe how everyone got stuck in – men, women, children – all in their glad rags!! People were falling over all over the place, there were piles of high heel shoes, and utter chaos – Brilliant!!! And sooooo funny!  The north reckon they won, but we want a steward’s enquiry!"

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Words of Wedded Wisdom…

"As we already have 2 daughters (four and one in age) we really wanted the day to be a real family affair.  However, knowing how bored children can get during sit down dinners, and as we wanted everyone to enjoy themselves as much as possible without worrying about the kids, we had a separate marquee for during the meal and speeches for the thirty children and had entertainers and a crèche company to look after them. 

It was perfect, and kids and adults alike had the best best time."

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Such a beautiful fun filled day! Gorgeous in absolutely every way. Thank you so much Gavin and Mathilda for sharing your precious images with my readers, and to photographer Eliza Claire too…

"Eliza Claire did our photography, and I can’t praise her enough.  She’s a real sweetheart and was fantastic, and the photos are really beautiful.  Unfortunately the torrential rain meant that we didn’t get many photos outside but she worked her magic beautifully indoors, and really captured the beauty of the barn. 

I was really unsure about the formal shots too, especially as I hate having my photo taken, but I’m so so pleased with them.  I think the pre-wedding shoot had helped in that respect, and it was lovely to have the book from that shoot for the guests to write messages in.  We wanted a lot of informal shots too, and she did a great job.  You always hear stories of the photographers really getting in the way at weddings, but not Eliza.  I hardly noticed she was there most to the time, but she got great relaxed shots of every aspect of our day.  She was also a godsend when it came to getting me into my dress, and really helped my friends out in figuring out the lacing up!"

I'd love your thoughts and comments on this wedding.  Who would be brave enough to wear a glorious floral circlet like Mathilda?  And what about that barn?!

By the way, you can see more Charlotte Balbier brides and beautiful barn wedidngs here, and all weddings photographed by Eliza Claire can be viewed here.

Have a super-duper Friday morning everyone and if you can, enjoy the sun! … I think it's the last we're getting for a while! 🙂

Much love,



Photographer – Eliza Claire Photography
Venue – The Tithe Barn in Lenham, Kent
Brides dress – Flo', by Charlotte Balbier via Ozone in Brighton
Brides floral headpiece – The Style Workshop in Tunbridge Wells
Groom – dark blue tuxedo by Burberry Prorsum
Flowergirls – BHS
Flowers – The Style Workshop in Tunbridge Well
Cake – madey by a friend
Entertainment – The Cosmic Sausages
Catering – Chives Catering from Canterbury


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.