Congratulations, you’ve made it to Friday! To ease you serenely into your weekend, I’m sharing the beautiful barn wedding of Danny, a restaurant manager, and Esther, a freelance writer – a spring union held at The Tythe Barn, in Launton.
On 7th of April 2017, just three months after their engagement, the couple were married surrounded by smiling loved ones and good food and wine, supplied and arranged by their venue.
“We knew pretty early on that we wanted a barn wedding, because they tend to be beautiful and a good size. We wanted our wedding day to look beautiful in a way that felt cohesive, but organic. Neither of us wanted anything too ‘matchy’, and so decided on a palette of colours for the bridesmaids and flowers. Spring time feels like a colourful time anyway, so we felt we could get away with using it quite liberally. We only really wanted to use flowers, ivy and lights as decoration, which we got away with because the barn was so beautiful in its own right.”
Photography by Miracle Moments
My dress and veil was by Charlotte Balbier, and I found it at Sophie Grace Bridal in Wokingham. I ordered numerous shoes to try, but none of them were comfortable, and I was adamant that I did not want to take them off half way through the day. The fullness of my dress made that impossible, anyway. I ended up wearing a pair of not-so bridey high sandals, that I’ve had for about five years, but which are amazingly comfortable.I did my hair myself as well, because I knew I wanted it down. I made a bit of a school boy error, though, and decided to use a pair of barely-used hair tongs at the last minute. It looked good initially, but definitely fell flat throughout the day. Should have used the trusty straighteners!
Our florist was actually one of my bridemaid’s mothers, who is incredibly talented, and generously offered to do our flowers. We felt so blessed by her. She was very patient with our ignorance when it came to flowers, and brought our vague ideas of colours and shapes into reality in a stunning way. She and her husband also sourced the ivy, and put it up for us on the morning of the wedding.
“Because it was spring, we wanted pops of bright colour. We incorporated this by using jam jars on the tables, filled with bright spring flowers. For the bouquets, and the bigger arrangements, I wanted a palette that mirrored the dresses, which was more pastel, and had pinks, mauves, and the grey of eucalyptus in it. Christine was amazing, and tailored each bridesmaid’s bouquet to suit her particular dress.”
Diamond bow earrings lent to me by Danny’s mother, a gold cross necklace that Danny gave me on the morning of our wedding, A gold bracelet given to me by my aunt at the wedding breakfast, Another delicate bracelet, that was a silver chain with a small gold leaf hanging off it. I like mixing metals! And, of course, my engagement ring, worn on my right hand.
“Make-up is a major love of mine, and so after being undecided for a few weeks, I finally just committed to doing it myself on the day. It was a hard decision after researching so many insanely talented make-up artists, but I think the clincher for me was that I wanted to look and feel totally like myself…even if that wasn’t the most polished version possible! I went for quite a natural look. I really wanted the bridesmaids to feel as much themselves as possible also, and for us to be able to get ready in a relaxed way.The Tythe Barn have an amazing dressing suite for brides and bridesmaids, so there were more than enough mirrors to go around.”
I wore Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford. I LOVE this scent, and I first smelled it on Danny a few months before we got together. I quickly started wearing it regularly as well, as Tom Ford’s fragrances are unisex. We both decided on it as our scent for the day. Cheesy, but we smelled great!
“Somewhere along the line I had decided that my dress must be from a London boutique. I think I had assumed that they would be the most beautiful and sophisticated. Clearly though, getting a dress was kind of a huge priority, because there wasn’t a lot of time to get it altered. In early January, one of my bridesmaids told me that a local boutique was having a sample sale, and suggested that we go along to get an idea of the choice and the process. I agreed, and went with a very specific idea of what I wanted.”
“Obviously this was blown out of the water, as I realised that wedding dresses were in another class of clothing. They fit in a way nothing else did, and I found it impossible to predict how each dress would look on me. I tried on around eight or nine dresses, and the one I bought was the last. I wouldn’t have even put it on if it had been the first one shown to me, but the lovely woman who ran my fitting helped to show me the value in being more open-minded.”
“As soon as it was on, it felt different to the others. It was the first one that I felt beautiful in, but also most myself. I was working quite hard at the gym at the time, but even if I had been forced to get married the next day, I would have felt confident and happy. I loved the neckline and the lace, the way the bodice fit me, and the shape and movement of the skirt. I asked that the sleeves could be lengthened, which was no problem.”
I really wanted the bridesmaids to be as comfortable as possible, so just said that as long as they were neutral-ish, they could wear whatever they had. The dresses were all floor-length and different anyway, so mis-matched shoes fit with the theme, and you couldn’t really see them.
We got very lucky with the bridesmaids’ dresses. I had decided on a general colour palette (which worked with the flower choices), and that I wanted the dresses to be different colours within that, and full length. Other than that, it was their choice as to what they wore. I reasoned that they had to walk down the aisle as well, and wanted them to feel great doing it.
We had a Whatsapp group where I had sent a few pictures of the colours I liked, and we all just consistently posted photos and ideas in there. There was only one dress that I didn’t see in person until the day, and by that point I had a good idea of how they would look. The dresses chosen worked beautifully with each other, and we all loved the final result.
“We kept the stationery pretty low-key, and did it ourselves as much as possible. We didn’t have any menus, as there was such a choice of food on the day. Place names were hand-written on little black-board style cards, with a chalk pen and the table plan was also written with a chalk pen, but on a big mirror that was available to look at during the drinks reception. For the order of service, I bought a downloadable template from Etsy, and put all our information in myself. I found some pretty parchment paper, and got it printed locally.”
“I am particularly proud of our invitations, which were small but lovely. We got Kraft card pockets with a big luggage tag style insert, and a rubber stamp made with all of our wedding and website information on it. I stamped each insert, wrote a personal message on the back, added some ribbon and was done. I would highly, highly, recommend The English Stamp Company if you think this is something you would like.”
“Danny’s suit was handmade by Simon Dowling Bespoke. He loves suits, so really enjoyed the whole process, and settled on a beautiful blue, lightweight tweed, with navy and ice-blue check. He had the date of our wedding embroidered on his shirt cuffs and jacket lining. He wore cufflinks bought from the same tailor, and brown suede shoes with blue detailing from Jones Bootmaker.”
“We decided on blue suits for the groomsmen, and said that they could wear their own. They all had matching baby-blue knitted ties and pocket squares made from the material that lined Danny’s jacket. The overall effect was exactly what we intended: you could tell there was a theme, but it wasn’t too strict. Apart from the one Scottish groomsmen, who we happily let wear a kilt!”
“Danny and I met in 2015, through work. I had taken a waitressing job while I was studying for my master’s, at the sister restaurant to the one Danny manages. We would work together at bigger events and functions, which he would take the lead on.”
“The attraction was immediate and mutual, but we didn’t get to see each other very often, and I don’t think either of us seriously considered a relationship. This changed very quickly when, in March of 2016, Danny considered a job offer that would take him to Dubai. I felt sad in a way I couldn’t logically justify, and instantly accepted when he unexpectedly asked me out for dinner before he went.”
“Needless to say, things rapidly developed. We fell in love quickly, and Danny decided against Dubai in order to pursue our relationship. We were a couple by June and engaged by Christmas. We toyed with the idea of an Autumn 2017 wedding, but both admitted to each other that we wanted to be married sooner, so April 7th was set.”
“It was a date that avoided the super-high fees of summer, and we both prefer spring weather. We knew it would be a challenge to plan a wedding in three months, but we found that exciting.”
My father accompanied me, and then had to jump round the other side of the lectern to lead the ceremony! It was hilarious, but also incredibly meaningful, and he did an amazing job. We used traditional wedding vows.
Argh honestly this will make me sound so cheesy! And I knew that, but still really, really liked ‘Still Falling For You’ by Ellie Goulding. Danny was really relaxed in terms of music, and was happy with my idea, but we used an acoustic version that we found on Spotify to make it a little more personal. We walked out to You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall and John Oates.
“We had a reading from Song of Songs (8:6-7), and one of Shakespeare’s sonnets (number 116). The Bible excerpt is just a beautiful piece of scripture that we both like, and which talks about the strength and endurance of love. Sonnet 116 has been one of my favourite poems since university, and for Danny’s 30th I framed a printed version as part of his present. It has a similar message to the Bible verses, and talks of love’s unchanging nature and value.”
We had all of our rings made by Jacobs the Jewellers, and the wonderful Ciara helped us at every stage. They are a well-known jeweller in Reading, and Danny just popped in one day to set up a meeting. Our wedding rings are yellow gold and simple, as we wanted them to look like a pair.
Jacobs also took care of my engagement ring, which Danny and I designed together. His mother was extremely generous, and gave us a diamond from her mother’s engagement ring, which meant that we got to create the ring of dreams, and that it had extra sentimental value.
“I think the moment when we could call each other husband and wife was my favourite. We had the wonderful Bartek Lyczko as our photographer, who captured some beautiful shots and made us feel very comfortable. We would highly recommend him. Guests commented afterwards on how lovely and discreet he was, and when he met with us to present us with the photos, the memory stick came in a beautiful wooden box. He had even printed a few of his favourites for us.”
“I think because we have both worked at so many weddings, and seen so many gorgeous favours forgotten at the end of the night, we decided against it. We wanted to channel our budget elsewhere; for example, we put together a big vintage sweet cart for the later part of the day, and people could take those home in bags.”
The Tythe Barn have a contract with an exceptional caterer, which was one of the main reasons that we chose them. We both love food, and especially having worked in hospitality, had specific ideas of what we wanted. There was a huge amount of choice available on their menu, and the tasting that we attended was spectacular, as was the food on the day. We went for a table-top option, where all the food was laid down the centre of our long tables, because it’s a social and inclusive way to eat.
We mainly used flowers, lights, and candles. We had bigger flower arrangements around the barn, jam jars on the tables, and shepherd’s hooks outside. We had festoon lanterns hanging from the beams in the barn, and ivy at points down length of it too. There were candles on the tables and in little candle-holes in the barn wall. One of our lovely friends lent us some vintage lawn games, which were laid out on the grass, a vintage post box for cards, along with some beautiful lanterns and champagne buckets. He has a lot of items that he rents out specifically for weddings.
We had a huge pile of cheese as our cake! It was an option that our venue offered, and since we had our hearts set on different desserts already, we went for the cheese and used it as part of our evening food. It went down very well.
Our wonderful friend Joe was our DJ, and did a fantastic job. He can be contacted at [email protected].
We were undecided as to whether we were going to have a first dance. I felt shy, and very aware that we couldn’t really dance! We ended up going for it though, and Danny chose You Are The Best Thing by Ray La Montagne. He loves it!
“We did manage to stay pretty on budget, which was a relief. We made the decision to be as business-like as possible when it came to money, and be frank about the things that were priorities and what we were willing to compromise on. We also included absolutely everything in our budget, which I highly recommend. It’s so easy to add little extras on here and there – a more expensive wine, a few more flowers – and not realise how much they cost once they’re scaled up to fit your wedding. This can really throw your budget, especially in the early stages of planning, where you have to commit to big things early.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Be really clear with each other when it comes to what’s most important to you. This will shape the way you plan and spend. Danny and I both wanted amazing food and wine, a gorgeous venue, and all our 130 guests there for the whole day. Once we’d worked out what these things would cost, we made everything else fit around it.”
“To all the brides out there on a tight time-frame, I would highly recommend finding a venue, with experienced staff, that also provides food and wine that you love. We initially had dreams of renting a space, and then tracking down an independent caterer, and doing a lot more ourselves.”
“Once we realised how much extra work and organisation this would be and that we’d also need people to set up and down, serve and decorate, we began to look for a venue that could do it for us, to the standard we wanted. It took a huge amount of stress out of our hands, and made the process so much easier.”
“Consider buying a dress in a sample sale – it’s a great way to save money. I had a fantastic experience with Sophie Grace Bridal, and my dress was altered excellently and in perfect condition. And don’t sweat the small things! Do the things you want to do, and remember that everyone there loves you.”
Thank you to Esther and Daniel, and of course to Miracle Moments, for allowing us this lovely insight into such a gorgeous day.
Credits & Thanks
- Photographer - Miracle Moments
- Venue - The Tythe Barn
- Wedding Dress - Charlotte Balbier via Sophie Grace Bridal
- Veil - Charlotte Balbier
- Perfume - Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford
- Groom - Simon Dowling Bespoke + Jones Bootmaker
- Florist - Ruby B’s Flowers ([email protected])
- Catering - The Tythe Barn
- Rings - Jacobs the Jewellers
- Entertainment - DJ Joe ([email protected])