Meriel and Ben’s beautiful countryside wedding has everything all country weddings should have. Orchards, stew, cheese, viccy sponge, reams of bunting goats and Dubarrys. The whole day seems so relaxed, from Meriel’s beautiful braided hair and slightly boho gown (from Monsoon!) to merrily playing children and a ceilidh late in to the night. Think this is one of this years favourites for me.
My hair (plus the bridesmaids’) was done by a local hairdresser who has been cutting my family’s hair for years and knows how to tame our kinks and frizzy bits! I visited her for a practice session a few weeks in advance and we settled on a relaxed and wispy do with chunky braids. I wasn’t very confident in my make-up skills, so I went for a session at MAC in Covent Garden along with one of my bridesmaids for moral support. The tutorial was great with lots of helpful tips, and gave me a look that I could recreate myself on the day and that lasted into the evening.
The bridesmaids’ dresses came from Light In The Box. The bridesmaids chose their own shoes and accessories. My niece and god-daughter were flower girls and wore white broderie anglaise dresses that we customised with green ribbon. My sister is a demon with the crochet hook, and made cute matching hair accessories and corsages for the flower girls.
Ben’s suit, tie and accessories were all off the peg from Reiss. He did toy with the idea of going tailored but Reiss’ suits are really well cut and much more affordable.
Groomsmen’s outfits/accessories: The best man and ushers wore their own suits and we gave them buttonholes rather than matching ties, as we wanted to keep things relaxed and informal.
I knew I didn’t want to spend a packet on my dress, so I did my research on the high street and when I tried on the dress from Monsoon I knew it was the one for me. I still didn’t want to pay full price, and luckily I found someone selling a brand new one in my size on Gumtree so I got a real bargain. My shoes were by Rainbow Club, and again I was able to get them at a really good price by finding a seller on eBay who had a brand new pair that hadn’t fit her.
Bride’s hair accessories/veil: My crystal hairpiece was ‘something borrowed’ from my bridesmaid Kath, who wore it at her wedding last year.
The flowers were from Great British Florist, a local Herefordshire company. All of the flowers they use are grown on British farms, rather than flown around the world. This means their carbon emissions are minimal, and it’s great for the bugs, bees and birds that depend on flowers in the countryside. It also meant the flowers were really fresh when they were delivered and they lasted for ages – my sister had a vase still going strong almost three weeks later! We left it to the florist to put together a selection of seasonal flowers so that we had a lovely variety of colours and the feel of the bouquets was quite informal. Our friends made up arrangements in jam jars to decorate the reception venue. www.greatbritishflorist.co.uk
Arriving at the Parish Hall for the reception was brilliant. We chose to have a small ceremony at the Town Hall with just our immediate family and close friends, so arriving in Woolhope was the first time we had seen all of our guests together and it was a really joyful moment. Everyone lined the driveway up to the hall and threw petal confetti as we made our way up. And there was a special surprise waiting at the top – I love goats (don’t ask), and unbeknownst to me one of our friends had arranged to bring a goat which was tethered on the field next to the marquee! It totally made my day… though the other wedding guests who shared their minibus transport with the slightly smelly goat may not agree.
We didn’t have a full-on theme, but we took inspiration from getting married in orchard country in the autumn. We had apple trees on our stationery, used apples as place holders, and serve local apple juice with the meal.
We also wanted to reflect our shared love of the countryside and going walking together. We collected old Ordnance Survey maps and made bunting from them; and our tables were named after different UK National Parks.
The wedding car was a classic black cab, as a nod to our lives together in London.
We designed our own wedding stationery after finding some great stock images online that fitted with our orchard theme. Putting the designs together took longer than anticipated but we got there in the end and were quite pleased with the results, given that neither of us is particularly artistically inclined.
We chose A Rule of Tum as our caterers following a recommendation from a friend. They created a menu of hearty ‘bowl food’ using local and seasonal ingredients, with different stews accompanied by artisan breads and salads. Later on they did an evening buffet based around the cheese from the wedding cake. Our friends are still raving about the soft yolk scotch eggs! http://aruleoftum.com/
For dessert, our talented family and friends made different cakes so we had a delicious cake buffet.
The Crown Inn, Woolhope ran a bar featuring local ale from the Wye Valley Brewery and wine sourced from Tanners Wine Merchants. http://www.crowninnwoolhope.co.uk/ http://www.wyevalleybrewery.co.uk/ http://www.tanners-wines.co.uk/
We both have a soft spot for a good cheese, so we opted for a cheese wedding cake using a variety of local cheeses supplied by The Mousetrap in Hereford. Going for the tasting session was one of the highlights of the wedding planning process! www.mousetrapcheese.co.uk
After the wedding we spent a couple of nights in a gypsy caravan at Wriggles Brook in Hoarwithy, not far from our wedding venue. It’s a really magical place with the caravans in secluded settings by the side of a stream, and we enjoyed a candlelit dinner at our outdoor table and cosying up by the fire with a bottle of wine. Taking a few days out to relax and enjoy all of the immediate memories of the big day was just what we needed after all of the hectic planning and organising. www.wrigglesbrook.co.uk
We are going on honeymoon in early 2015 to New Zealand where we will be travelling around the South Island and have booked to hike the Milford Track, a long distance trail through stunning scenery. We’re finishing the honeymoon with a week in Fiji for some guaranteed sunshine and chill-out hammock time.
We booked a local ceilidh band (Banshee) from the Forest of Dean and they were great at getting guests of all ages onto the dancefloor – not that much persuasion was needed! http://www.banshee.org.uk/home.htm
Later on we had a disco with a playlist that we compiled together featuring 90s indie, motown and just a little bit of cheesy rock
Sit down at the start of the process and list all of the things that you are going to need to spend money on, then spend some time together discussing what is most important to you and where you are happy to spend or to save money. This really helps to ensure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to making decisions later on. Also, make sure your budget is as realistic as possible – it was the things we didn’t research well that ended up costing more than we expected! If you’re working to a tight budget, try and find suppliers who are new on the scene and need to build their experience or portfolio, as they will sometimes offer special rates.
And finally buy local where you can – we were lucky, as by hiring a village hall for the venue we had free rein when it came to choosing our suppliers. Weddings involve some significant spending and it’s good to know you are benefiting local producers and businesses. Local food and drink can help to ‘theme’ your wedding to the place where it is taking place – and it tastes great!