I’ve been waiting to share this one, are you ready, it’s quite long which I make no apologies for, go get a cuppa and sit and read through their amazing woodland inspired wedding at the Curradine Barns; loads of delicious food, real ale and RSPB pin badges. Jenny and Matt have just been on-going friends since they booked me a good 18 months in advance of their day. This one was super lovely as well as I got married at the Curradine Barns too. This year is my 10th Wedding Anniversary and I still get goosebumps thinking about our day. “We know Emma through mutual friends and our hometowns are just a few miles apart – instant connection!! Her photos are stunning but always so natural, never staged, full of life, colour, fun and charm. Just what we wanted. She was the one and only photographer we approached – thank the lord she was free! Our wedding photos are just perfect! They’ve immortalised the love we felt from friends and family on the day forever. They capture the fun and carefree feeling of our wedding wonderfully.”
Ahhh the delectable Matt and Jenny, what amazing people you are! I’m pretty sure the sun moved closer to the earth that day by how hot it was and the amount of sweat I lost… it was SO HOT and a bit tricky with the blazing sun (us photographers are never happy!!)… but their wedding was just incredible. I’m a total sucker for details and their day was full of personal touches that expressed them both and elements that had stories behind them. I loved the fact that when we went for a walk in the evening golden sun on their wedding day, Jenny could tell me the the names of the birds we could hear singing. I love that they love a pint of ale, that Jen made her own wedding cake and sent me photo’s of it in the fridge, that they are their best in each others company and that Jenny stood up and not only did a speech, but also talked about her mental health and what a positive effect Matt had had on that. So proud of you and hooray for teamwork! Jenny has done a fantastic write-up so I’m totally letting her take the reins on this one! Enjoy!
How did you meet?
We met when we moved into the same house in the second year of University in Cheltenham. We instantly hit it off and started going out the following April, in 2007.
How did you get engaged?
We were together 10 years before we got engaged. It was just never high on the agenda! We were busy holidaying, saving for a house, feeding our foodie hunger and generally having fun. We’d always wanted to move back to Cheltenham and in October 2016 we bought our first house together in Prestbury. Matt and a friend (his best man!) completely renovated the house and made it our dream home. We’d both found great jobs and everything fell into place. So when Matt proposed on Sunday 29th May 2017, it was the icing on the cake. The proposal might not be everyone’s idea of romantic but to me, it was perfect. We’d spent the May Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon at our local pub, where there was a beer and sausage festival!! We came home and listened to music, continued the beer drinking and played card and board games. Sugar on my Tongue by Talking Heads was playing and Matt completely took me by surprise by asking me to marry him and of course, I said yes! He then disappeared and came back 2 minutes later with a keyring that he’d glued a piece of paper onto that said ‘diamond’! I wore that keyring until we picked up my engagement ring a month later and will keep it forever. I also double-checked he meant it the next morning, before we told anyone!!
Was there an overall theme to your day? If so, what was it?
There wasn’t particularly a theme but I’m a wildlife lover and work in conservation so I really wanted a natural feel and some wild elements to the day: wildflowers in my bouquet, tables named after woodland birds, rustic touches and natural colours.
How long were you planning it for, and what was the best bit?
We were married within a year of getting engaged but we only booked the venue in the December so essentially planned the wedding in 5 months. It did add stress having such a short timescale but it also helped us come to some important decisions on what we wanted. And we’d been together so many years we didn’t want to wait any longer!
For me the best bit of the planning were the little touches. I loved talking with Emma about how to capture our day perfectly, exploring the many many different flowers we could incorporate with Gretel, writing the name places, decorating jam jars and of course, arranging the RSPB pin badge favours! It was also a god-send having the fabulous Galloping Courmet at Curradine Barns – we had total faith in them. They took a huge weight off our minds – Toni was brilliant. The food tasting at Curradine Barns was an amazing night.
How was your day unique to you?
I think people can get really caught up in making their day unique but actually, if you stop thinking about it, this comes naturally. We didn’t go crazy on details because we started with our dream venue and suppliers and just added little touches that meant a lot to us. What made our day unique were the people in the room. It’s easy to just focus on the cost of this one day and nothing else but it’s the only day in your life all the people you love and cherish will be in the same room at the same time, and they’re sharing the most wonderful experience with you. Since the wedding, we met up with two guests who said it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to. Not only because the venue, food, weather was perfect but more so because of the love in the room for both of us – it was undeniable and infectious, and definitely reciprocated. This meant the world to us!
If you could relive one part of the day all over again, which part would it be?
Ahhh! This is so hard because we want to do the whole thing again!! Highlights are the speeches, first dance, FOOD, even the ceremony – I expected to be full of dread but I loved it. But I think actually it might be when Emma whisked us off to the middle of a field as the sun was setting to meet some sheep (and take some photos). It was a really special moment, stealing away from the crowd to drink beer, reflect and get some lovely shots, just me, Matt, Emma and the sheep – it was priceless. The light was beautiful and Emma encouraged us to be ourselves and have fun – she captured this beautifully throughout the day but I think it shines through the most in these beautiful photos.
What are your favourite details of the day?
So many! The music was really special to us. The guests arrived to music by two of our favourite bands we’ve loved watching live – Beach House and Grizzly Bear – it made the day ours from the off. I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of These Days by Nico (by The Vitamin String Quartet) – which I first heard in the film The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson – a director Matt introduced me to and we’ve loved ever since. And our first dance was Cupid by Sam Cooke. Matt’s always wanted it as the first dance at his wedding since hearing it in the film Inner Space at 7 years old. It was just lovely.
The flowers were utter perfection. I’d worked with Gretel, now of Queenie’s Floral Design, at the RSPB – wildlife is close to both of our hearts so I knew she’s just ‘get it’ when I told her what I wanted. The wild hedgerow blooms were so fresh and the care she took in sourcing and displaying them was unreal. They had a beautiful wild abandon to them while still being so delicate, mainly green and soft pinks with pops of colour. She made sure to include daisies – my one real specification as a nod to my late Granny Daisy. And my flower crown – AMAZING!
My mom is a huge butterfly and moth fan – the inspiration for my love of wildlife – and a complete crochet wizard! She completely blew me away when we returned from taking photos to see life-like crochet moths, butterflies and caterpillars over all of the guest tables. It was brilliant!
Food and drink – OMG the food. The canapés were brilliant and the wedding breakfast was unreal. The elderflower sparklers were delicious – me and Matt definitely abused our positions when it came to sneaking extra glasses of these! Real ale also HAD to feature – Galloping Gourmet managed to get hold of a barrel of Hobsons Twisted Spire – one of our favourites (many images taken of me with pint in hand). My only regret? We didn’t get 2 barrels…
WOODLAND BIRDS! The tables had to be named after something from nature. We went with woodland birds because they’re something we enjoy together more than anything else, when out walking at weekends. We went with our favourites and ones we (mostly) see in our own garden at home. This was probably the bit I enjoyed the most – birds have really unique and recognisable characteristics so I wanted to match people to the birds most like them. I created descriptions of the birds that also were appropriate for the guests and had them printed on the back of the name cards. We found some beautiful illustrations online of the birds we’d chosen by Kate Sutton and she was kind enough to let us use them for name cards, table plan and table markers. Her work is amazing – check her out! Then my favourite bit. We didn’t plan to have favours – they can be a lot of work, costly, and I’m not sure they always add anything to the day. But when RSPB pin badges sprang to mind, I had to investigate! I adore the RSPB, working for them completely inspired me and I think they engage people with nature better than any conservation organisation, as well as doing incredible work. The sales from pin badges make up a huge portion of their funding every year and they’re damn cute. I got in touch with their head office and asked whether it would be possible to have specific numbers of specific birds as favours. They were SO helpful and despite it being tricky, they made it happen. I loved that it was so in keeping with our day and we were donating money to one of my favourite charities at the same time. The guests LOVED them too.
How did you find your suppliers, and why did you decide on them?
Flowers – similar to Emma, I’d had Gretel in mind since she ventured into floristry. We have such similar taste when it comes to keeping things wild and natural. Sometimes it’s so much easier when someone knows you so well and can envisage what you want from the off.
Cake – I used to make wedding cakes and never thought I’d make my own – surely too much hassle the day before/on the day?! Actually, I’m so glad I did. Setting it up kept me busy and calm when I might otherwise have been flapping. It looked how we wanted it to and was damn delicious.
Venue – during my time as a wedding cake maker I delivered to Curradine Barns many times and every time it took my breath away – it was always my favourite venue and the one I could picture getting married at. They’re so organized and the food is THE BEST. It was more money than we wanted to spend but so was everywhere else, including DIY options! If you’re going to spend the money you should completely love the venue. And we did.
Hair and makeup – my good friend Liz is a Bare Minerals makeup artist and has such a talent for it. I trusted her so much that I didn’t have a trial. People tend to want a natural face but I wanted to pop! I love having red red lips and smoky brown eyes – Liz got it so spot on. My hair was done by my usual hairdresser – Gemma at Anthony Green Hair & Beauty in Cheltenham. I have such fine hair and Gemma knows how to make it look awesome so I popped in first thing and she did me proud.
Tell us about your wedding outfits, and why you picked them.
My first venture to a wedding dress shop made me feel totally out of my depth, intimidated by the choice and pressured by the staff. Then I found TDR (The Dressing Rooms) Bridal Outlet in Rowley Regis. Jo greeted me, my mom and one of my bridesmaids, Emily with so much warmth – full of Black Country charm! The range of dresses was amazing and most at half price or more. I knew I wanted lace and lots of it, and something that covered my arms – fairly modest but beautiful in detail. I truly did have the “this is the one” moment after trying on about 15 dresses. Jo’s patience was out of this world and we got a great price for what is a beautiful dress. My shoes were a complete bargain! Jenny Packham blush T-bar heels. They were reduced from £80 to £25. A gift voucher meant I got my wedding shoes for £5! I finished my outfit with a gold watch bought for me by my late grandparents and my granny’s sapphire engagement ring on my right hand.
Matt wanted a vintage style suit and the one he decided on from ASOS was the first one he tried on!! Navy herringbone 3 piece suit and oxblood boots. He chose the ties for him and the groomsmen to compliment the flowers. I also surprised him by slipping a wedding day present in his overnight bag – a vintage Enicar watch he’d had his eye on, which he wore on the day.
Bridesmaid dresses – my bridesmaids are all so different it would feel weird putting them all in the same dress! So we decided on light pink as the colour – suited them all and would make the flowers pop. They chose from the range at Chi Chi London so the colours would match but the styles could be different. They got a ton of compliments!
What was your budget?
I think we went in a bit naively, thinking we could stretch £10k to cover our wedding. After some research we quickly realized this wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough to pay for the day we and our families wanted. Our parents were very generous in helping us and we ended up spending closer to the £20k mark. It is a lot of money for one day but we’d do it again in a heartbeat if we could – it was worth every penny.
Do you have any advice for couples currently planning their wedding, for either the planning or the lead-up?
Approach it with an open-mind and don’t pressure yourselves into deciding what you want before you’ve had chance to explore your options. I always thought I’d have a DIY wedding and be responsible for every single detail. I’m SO glad we went for Curradine Barns. They are true professionals because they’ve done it a million times. The day ran so smoothly – our guests and we were so well looked after and we didn’t have any of the worries of setting up the day before or clearing away afterwards. But we were still able to make it our own with the little touches – the fun bits! So don’t rule something out without weighing up the pros and cons.
Don’t get bogged down in the detail. Look at the bigger picture – you don’t need sugared almonds and handmade, personalized gifts to make your day perfect and unique. Your guests are there because they want to be and to share in your day, not to judge you on your creative abilities and generosity!
Food matters! When we were planning someone said to us “get the food right and your guests are happy” and I think she was right! We’re foodies anyway but when I think about the weddings we’ve been to (call me shallow) but I think of the food and good food makes a HUGE difference! The food and service at CB was spectacular – food prices took our breath away initially but I’m glad we used a big portion of the budget on it. It depends what’s important to YOU but for us it was worth every penny.
Don’t settle on suppliers because it’s easy or cheap, or because they’re a friend – I knew we could rely on each and every one of our suppliers and it was such a weight off our minds. The fact that some were friends was a coincidence rather than the reason we chose them. We chose them because they’re awesome at what they do.
Don’t be a bride or groomzilla! I’m ashamed to say I had one Bridezilla moment that I’m not proud of and regret deeply. We’d arranged to have a certain real ale at the wedding – I’d go as far as saying it was a deal breaker and one of the reasons we decided on the venue. Then their supplier let them down and they could no longer get it, or a beer I was happy with. I think I projected all my stresses onto this one little thing and threw my toys out the pram. Because they’re complete professionals they dealt with it really well and I’m very grateful to them. They managed to get us Hobsons beer which is better than the original choice. So don’t take your frustrations out on people who don’t deserve it – it doesn’t feel good. Forgive me Toni!
Trust your bridal party – I felt so blessed to have my 3 best friends in the world as my bridesmaids, they were brilliant throughout the planning and the day itself. I wanted them to feel as great as I did, comfortable for the whole day and in their element. They’re also so different and wonderful in their own ways, so they chose their dresses and shoes. They all looked amazing (EVERYONE said so!) and I hope they felt it too. I can’t think of anything worse than being presented with an outfit that you’re told to wear and having to grin and bear it all day. Yes, it’s your day, but trust people who know you well to get it right and still put a bit of their personality on the day too.
While we’re on the bridesmaids… use your bridal party – they’re there to support you! Too often people can be too hesitate to ask for favours of the people around them but usually they want to be involved and be helpful. Asking them to pick up bits and pieces or drop things off, do a reading, be master of ceremony, or create something simple that you know they’ll enjoy, probably isn’t too much to ask – but allow them to tell you if it is!
Ladies, it’s 2019 – do a speech!! There were so many people I wanted to thank for their friendship and support that I wanted my say too – to show MY appreciation to my parents, Matt’s family, all our guests. I also wanted to pay tribute to my wonderful husband – the love and compliments should go both ways! SO glad I did.
Enjoy every minute! This is something everyone says and is possibly… well, impossible. But it will come together so take time to step back and give yourself a break.
THANK YOU SO much Jenny for the amazing advice and complete story about your day. I had a total blast with you both and absolutely loved being part of your day. What an honour.
Getting married at the Curradine Barns? Yep I will be happy to be there, send me a message with ALL the details!
TDR Bridal Outlet: https://tdr-bridaloutlet.co.uk/
Bridesmaids: Chi Chi London: https://www.chichiclothing.com/
Food & Drink:
Curradine Barns: https://curradinebarns.co.uk/
Galloping Gourmet: https://gallopinggourmet.co.uk/venues/curradine-barns/
Beer from Hobsons Brewery – sourced by CB: http://www.hobsons-brewery.co.uk/
Queenie’s Floral Design (Gretel): https://queeniesfloraldesign.wordpress.com/
(Bird illustrations) Kate Sutton: https://www.handsomefrank.com/illustrators/kate-sutton
RSPB pin badges: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering-fundraising/fundraise/charity-pin-badges-to-collect/pin-badges-for-schools-clubs-and-more/
Anthony Green Hair and Beauty: https://www.facebook.com/agreenhair