"We first met at university in 2000 and were friends for a few months although I did secretly like him. It took a drunken night at the student union for us to admit we liked each other and then we started dating.
I was actually 7 months pregnant when Steve asked me and I was totally surprised. He told me we were going out for dinner and told me to come home from work and get changed then asked me while I was getting ready. Apparently Steve had planned to ask me at dinner but was too nervous and wanted to just ask me at home. He did it the traditional way - on one knee - and he had asked my parents for their blessing beforehand (it was bit late for permission considering I was 7 months pregnant!).
Choosing a wedding venue
I saw Mythe Barn when it was just foundations and plans. I'd been to a friend's wedding earlier in the year which was at a barn wedding venue and knew I wanted something similar. I could see from the plans the owners, Joe and Joanna, had for Mythe Barn that it was exactly what I wanted.
You needed a little bit of imagination to see how it was going to look, but both Steve and I loved the moodboards, the enthusiasm of the owners and the stunning grounds. We first visited Mythe Barn in September 2011 and booked it November 2011 (once it was licensed for ceremonies).
Julia's wedding dress
I got my dress from an amazing bridal shop called Pink Confetti in Broughton Astley. I had been to a few other shops and been a little disappointed with the service, whereas Pink Confetti was exactly like I imagined shopping for a wedding dress would be.
I ended up choosing a dress that was the exact opposite to what I imagined I would go for. It was a lace back, A-line dress in ivory with a BIG skirt and lace detailing. I had detachable straps made so I wore straps during the day and removed them for the evening. My dress was made by Donna Lee (style was Lana).
I wore a side headband tiara which I bought from Pink Confetti as well. The only jewellery I wore were some earrings my parents bought me. My shoes were silver sparkly high heels.
My Bridesmaids were my sister Helen, my best friend Hannah and my cousin Emily. Helen and Hannah were responsible for organising my hen do and did an amazing job of spoiling me for an entire weekend. Helen also helped a lot with decorations.
I found getting the Bridesmaids outfits harder than getting mine. I didn't have an idea of what I wanted in my head, I just knew I didn't really want long chiffon dresses. I wanted them all to want to wear the same dress too and it's hard trying to get three women to agree on an outfit!
In the end we managed to find a dress from Francesco Brides, made by Special Days. They were allowed to choose their own colour but they all picked the same blue!
There was no theme for the wedding, and definitely no colour theme - I'm not a fan of having everything matched colour-wise at a wedding. We knew we were going to have white flowers, so any colour Bridesmaid dresses were fine with me.
Accessories - their headbands were also from Pink Confetti - I think they are actually bridal headbands rather than ones for bridesmaids.
I bought them their jewellery (earrings & necklaces) as their gifts.
I asked them to buy and choose their own shoes.
Steve's outfit was hired from Formal Affair, which he chose with some assistance from me. It was grey herringbone tails with a silver waistcoat and cravat. I saw him trying the outfit on before the wedding and never having seen him in tails before (we both live in jeans!) and was blown away by how he looked.
Best Men and Ushers
The Best Man (Simon) was someone who we have both been friends with since university. He probably had worse stories about me than Steve but luckily as it was my wedding day he wasn't allowed to say any of them.
We had two Ushers; another friend of Steve's from university and a friend from school. They all wore similar outfits to Steve - grey herringbone tails, silver waistcoat - but they had blue cravats to match the bridesmaids' dresses.
I hired a car from Cars 4 Your Weddings; a family run business based in a village near where I live. I wanted a vintage car and went for a 1926 Willys Tourer in ivory.
We had a string quartet playing mainly modern songs such as Elton John, Your Song, and Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed, Delivered during the ceremony. My Dad walked me down the aisle to Pachebel's Canon.
We had two readings; one from Steve's mum and the other from Gemma, a university friend. My favourite memory was after we had said our vows and kissed everyone cheered and clapped.
I'd looked through lots of wedding magazines and taken inspiration from lots of real life wedding articles. I was aiming for a laidback vintage shabby chic look - nothing too formal!
Styling the day - ceremony:
To decorate the ceremony barn I chose to have wicker hearts hanging from the chairs that lined the aisle. These were fastened to the chairs with white ribbon and had some gypsophila and pearls hanging through them too. We also had some beautiful flower displays.
Styling the day - reception:
My mum collected a number of different candleholders over the year leading up to my wedding plus my father in law made some wooden candleholders that has little heart shapes cut out of them. We placed lots of candles on each table along with sayings that I printed out and displayed on each table.
My mum made bunting which was hung up around the courtyard and front entrance of the barn. A crate with our names and date of wedding on it was filled with lavender and placed outside the front entrance (it's now living in my garden).
My mum also made confetti cones out of paper printed with the sheet music for The Bridal March. They contained real petals and were handed out to guests by my bridesmaids.
A number of signs were placed throughout the wedding venue (beside the cake and postbox for cards). I also had some large hearts which had little pearls inside which I hung around the venue. A small blackboard listed the timings for the day.
My flowers were by Floral Studio, Market Bosworth. I had no idea what I wanted as table centrepieces and spent a long time trying to find something different. Jugs were out as two of my friends had these at their wedding. I almost went with crystal cake stands but then I ended up seeing a three tier box-type thing at a garden centre for a Christmas display which I quite liked. I bought it and found a man who made wood items at the Chilver Coton Craft Centre in Nuneaton, to make me a replica of the box. It ended up being two tiers because with three it was too big.
With flowers I knew I wanted white flowers and some green foliage so I chose roses, white hydrangeas, gypsophila, white freesia and eucalyptus (there were others but I can't remember them!). I also chose roses for the button holes. My bouquet included white roses, white hydrangeas and Lily of the Valley (again there were others but I can't remember them!).
I got my stationery from Destiny at Chilver Coton Craft Centre in Nuneaton.
Everything had little wire hearts on it. I didn't have a colour theme, and I ordered the invitations before I had ordered the bridesmaid dresses, so we decided to have silver and ivory invitations which were the colours we were wearing.
Destiny also produced my table plan which matched with the invitations. I sourced a mirror (from B&M!) which was used to display the table plan.
We made sloe gin and Limoncello for the wedding favours. Steve and I went and picked sloe berries the September before the wedding, pricked them all and left them in gin for six months. The Limoncello was made by my Mum about two months before the wedding.
I sourced little glass bottles from the internet. Steve made the labels for the bottles and I made the name tags which I attached to the bottles with lace and ribbon.
I'm a chocoholic so wanted a chocolate cake covered with real white chocolate rather than icing. I found a local supplier who copied a Choccywoccydodah cake that was three tiers - one chocolate, one lemon and one vanilla - that were covered with white chocolate and white chocolate roses.
We catered for 67 adults during the day (+ 2 babies) and an extra 60 in the evening. Galloping Gourmet at Mythe Barn provided our wedding breakfast menu which was:
- Starter - ravioli of king prawns, ginger and coriander, saffron and garlic cream.
- Vegetarian starter - ravioli of Cerney goats cheese, confit shallots, tomato and basil vinaigrette
- Surprise course - lemon sorbet with an aromatic lime and vodka shot
- Main course - beef two ways (Scotch blade and fillet) with Dauphinoise potato, butternut squash puree, crisp horseradish served with seasonal greens
- Vegetarian main - fine plum tomato tart, black olive tapenade, boccochino mozzarella and wild rocket
- Dessert - trio of desserts: classic Eton mess, lemon posset and triple chocolate brownie)
- Chocolate truffles served with coffee and tea
- Evening reception - hog roast
We didn't want a traditional top table as we wanted our 11 month old son to sit with us. We decided to have a round table and had our immediate family sat round it; Mums, Dads, sisters, partners and babies. This fit better with the informal approach we wanted, plus it was easier for people to talk to each other.
My Dad, Steve and the Best Man did a speech after the meal. Everyone did their job properly; my Dad said some nice things about me and then did a little competition where the winner got a bottle of Champagne. Steve also said some nice things about me. Si said some funny things about Steve but nothing too bad!!
We had a band called Capital Groove who we had seen perform at the Jazz Cafe in Birmingham. In between the bands sets our friends who are also DJs played some music to keep everyone dancing.
For our first dance we had Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed, Delivered. We knew we didn't want a slow song and had seen Stevie Wonder at Glastonbury a few years before and loved him. It seemed like an appropriate wedding song.
We did practice a little routine with the help of a friend of the family who runs a dance studio.
- For Brides - Try to keep calm. I think too many Brides get stressed easily. I didn't have much time to get stressed in the run-up as I had my son to look after. Try not to get too worried about the small details; people won't notice the font you are using!
- I'd also recommend getting as much help as possible from friends and family especially if you are trying to do lots of things yourself.
- For keeping to budget - make sure you keep a spreadsheet with everything listed and keep it updated!
If we could do it all again, we'd…
Images courtesy of Lisa Carpenter Photography ©