Christmas Themed Wedding With A Twist | Rivervale Barn Venue

Katherine & David decided to have a Christmas wedding with a twist; choosing purple instead of the traditional red – take a look at how it turned out...

Bride preparing for her wedding in the Cornstore Cottage at Rivervale Barn |

Katherine & David decided to have a Christmas wedding with a twist; they chose a purple wedding theme instead of traditional red for this time of year. Katherine also drew inspiration from the wedding of a certain Mr & Mrs Beckham.

How did you two meet?

We first got chatting on Facebook, as David is friends with my cousin. An exchange of numbers and several (hundred) texts and phone calls later, we eventually met up in London for a drink and spent all night chatting. The dates just kept coming from there!

What’s the funniest story of your time dating?

We hit it off straight away when we first met; the only thing I wasn’t so sure about was David’s pierced ear. After a few wines, I decided to point out that I didn’t like that look. Luckily for me, he didn’t think me rude, but took the feedback and a few dates down the line the earring subtly disappeared!

 Bride gettting ready in the Cornstore Cottage at Rivervale Barn wedding venue |

Tell us about the proposal – how did it happen?

I was really shocked! We were on holiday in the US doing a road trip down the West Coast and up to Las Vegas. The penultimate stop on our trip was an amazing 5* hotel with spa.

Before we left for our trip, so many people had been suggesting it might happen while we were away and, although I wasn’t convinced that it would, I thought this location would be the perfect place. When it didn’t happen, I put the thought to the back of my mind.

Our final excursion was a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon at sunset, which we had planned together when we originally booked our trip. David walked to a different viewpoint and called me over. I was a bit irritated as I had stupidly worn flip-flops which were not the most sensible footwear choice so had to stumble my way over to him, at which point he was on one knee – he caught me totally by surprise! I immediately said yes and we celebrated with Champagne!

Did he go the traditional route and ask your father’s permission?
No, he planned the whole thing by himself.

Tell us about your wedding venue

We trawled around practically every wedding venue in Hampshire and Surrey, but I can honestly say that as soon as I walked in to Rivervale Barn, I knew it was the one. It had exactly the kind of space I wanted and I could immediately visualize how our wedding would look in there.

How did you feel when you first saw it?
I loved everything about it – the thing that really stuck out for me was the ceremony barn. Many of the wedding venues we had seen involved shunting guests from room to room while the room was re-set and I didn’t like the thought of my guests feeling like sheep being herded from one room to the next.

What were the best things about it?
The fact that everything was in one place and there was a dedicated room for the ceremony, which so closely resembled the feel of a church, with the amazing window and view. It was the perfect space – not too small that we would feel cramped, but not so big that we would be rattling around.

How far in advance did you book?
We booked a little over a year in advance – Christmas was a popular time!

Christmas themed wedding reception at Rivervale Barn |

Tell us about your wedding dress

What I thought would be the hardest part of organising our wedding turned out to be the easiest! I had an idea that I wanted a lace dress, since that was in keeping with our theme. I tried a couple of this style, but felt a little too ‘vintage’ – while they were beautiful dresses and they looked great, there was just something that made me think ‘these aren’t me’.

At a local wedding fair, I saw my dress on a mannequin and immediately said to my Auntie who was with me, “that’s the dress I want”. It was sparkling all over with beads and sequins as if it was covered in mini fairy lights – and it was lace = bonus! I immediately arranged an appointment to go and try on the dress.

How did you feel when you put it on?
I was a little nervous at first, as I had really set my hopes on the dress and was worried that the reality of it on me wouldn’t match up to my expectations. To my delight, it fit like a glove and really suited my body shape – it was an instant ‘yes’ there and then!

What accessories did you wear on the day?

Given that my dress was so embellished, I wanted to keep my accessories reasonably simple, accentuating the sparkle rather than adding more – I didn’t want to look like a Christmas tree! While shopping with one of my bridesmaids for her shoes in Marks & Spencer, I stumbled upon a necklace and bracelet set which was exactly what I wanted!

Well, my bridesmaids must have been my lucky charm as when I was shopping with one of the others, I found my perfect shoes in Dune – not least, because they were exactly what I wanted, but they were in the sale!

Dune wedding shoes at a Rivervale Barn wedding |

Did you have something old, new, borrowed and blue?

As my Mum gave me away, I decided she could be my something old! She wasn’t too impressed! My dress was new and I had a blue ribbon inside my dress and on my garter. I also borrowed a lucky sixpence from my Mum to go in my shoe.

What was David’s outfit like?

It was fortunate that David had a similar idea about what he wanted to what I had in mind! The only thing I insisted on picking was the waistcoats, since I wanted the bridal party to look good all together – and I had the fabric samples!

David and his best men and ushers wore a grey Prince Edward style jacket and trousers with a gold waistcoat, which I picked to match the sash of my dress. David wore a matching cravat in order to stand out, while we had cravats made to match the bridesmaid’s dresses. All of the men had cufflinks that had the name of their role on the day.

How did you feel when you first saw him?
When he first tried it all on, I got butterflies, as it all seemed so real! On the day, I thought he looked really smart, and importantly, he looked comfortable. I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable and awkward.

Tells us about the best man, groomsmen/ushers

The ushers were an easy choice, as I wanted to have my cousins – after all, one of them was responsible for introducing David and I! David found it easy to pick his best men – two of his closest and longest friends.

Groom and ushers having fun before the wedding at Rivervale Barn |

Who were your bridesmaids?

I had four bridesmaids and we chose them together. I chose my two closest friends and we decided together to ask David’s best girl friend and also his brother’s girlfriend (practically like a sister!). They all complemented each other really nicely and helped in different ways, from planning an absolutely amazing hen weekend, to organising things the night before the wedding and taking control of things on the day.

Tell us about their outfits
As they were all quite different in shape, I wanted to keep the dresses quite simple and a strapless a-line style. I got the dresses from Alfred Angelo and then they were fitted to each of the girls. To complement my winter wedding theme (and to keep them a little warm!), we gave them purple fur boleros.

How did they fit with the theme?
I always knew I wanted a deep purple colour to complement the theme; I wanted a rich Christmas look but didn’t want the typical red/green and gold, so I chose purple, green and gold. I think purple is such a beautiful colour and it suited them all perfectly!

Bride with bridesmaids wearing purple dresses for a winter wedding at Rivervale Barn |

What was your ceremony like?

My favourite film is Father Of The Bride and I always imagined my wedding being as magical as the one in the film. It was an obvious choice to have the ‘snow scene’ music from the film, to set the theme for the day too. I got goosebumps when I walked down the aisle to it!

As we always call each other ‘babe’, Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You babe’ was another obvious and fitting choice for us to walk out to once we were husband and wife. We also had my Auntie and David’s brother do a reading each.

Who walked you down the aisle?
As ever, there was a lot of family politics to contend with so I chose my Mum to represent both my Dad and Step-Dad on the day….a decision which worked really well in the end and I know my Mum was very happy to take on the task.

What’s your favourite memory of the ceremony?
I remember feeling surreal and overwhelmed when I walked down the aisle and I desperately needed to blow my nose during the opening words! Once I relaxed, I just enjoyed every minute; best moment was the applause and cheering once we were announced husband and wife!

Bridesmaids in purple dresses walking down the aisle at Rivervale Barn |

Bride and groom kissing beneath the mistletoe at a Rivervale Barn Christmas wedding |

What was your wedding theme?

Christmas with a twist!

How did you decorate the venue?

We bought a lot of Christmas baubles and my Mum and Step-Dad made loads of bauble clusters to hang in the barn with ribbons in our wedding colours. We made a place card from a pinecone for each guest, and I think I used adhesive diamantes in just about everything I made!

We were fortunate to have the fairy lights already in the barn and we added to the lighting with tealights on the tables and uplighting in a purple colour. We also sprinkled gold table beads over every flat surface to reflect the light. Finally, we added bows to the chair backs in gold.

 Pinecone place cards at a Rivervale Barn Christmas wedding |

Lavenders of London did the bouquets and buttonholes and supplied us with candelabra and ivy for the table centres, and bay trees with fairy lights lined the aisles.

We made our save the dates ourselves, making little Christmas tags. Adela Rosa Stationery made our invitations. We made menus, orders of service, place cards, table numbers and quizzes for the table ourselves.

Starbucks bride & groom mugs
We ordered some ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’ Starbucks mugs for the top table – our favourite coffee place! We decorated the top table with a lit Christmas garland and a gold ‘Mr & Mrs’ sign.

Bride and groom in front of a Christmas tree at a Rivervale Barn |

We ordered our cake from Alexander Taylor Cakes in Guildford. I wanted something quite traditional, with a pattern to match the lacing on my dress, whereas David wanted something more comical and novel. He let me have what I wanted (probably just to keep the peace!), but as a surprise, I ordered a novelty model that he had liked when we went to meet the cake designer. So we got the best of both!

Bride and groom cutting a Christmas themed wedding cake at a Rivervale Barn |

Bride and groom cake topper at Rivervale Barn Christmas wedding |

Were you inspired by any celebrity weddings?

For all these years, I had kept pictures from OK of Victoria and David Beckham’s wedding. I loved the ivy and autumn-style colours they had used so I did take a bit of inspiration from this!

Tell us about your wedding reception

I wanted quite a simple, rustic Christmas-inspired menu so we chose cheese straws and paté in our canapés. For starters, we had butternut squash and rosemary soup, followed by sausage and sweet potato mash for the main. For dessert, we chose apple and cinnamon crumble and custard; a good hearty meal! We also chose a buffet for the evening.

Did you have a top table?

We decided to have a sweetheart table just for the two of us – we had heard so much advice that you barely get to spend any time together so we decided this was the best way. We then put a member of our bridal party on each table so a bridesmaid, best man, usher or parent could ‘host’ each table. It was one of the best things about our day. I remember we both sat back during the main course and looked around; Michael Buble’s Christmas music was playing, everyone was either deep in conversation or laughing and it was one of the happiest moments of our day. It was exactly like I wanted it to be and just like the Father Of The Bride wedding!

How many people did you cater for?

We had 85 during the day and an additional 40 guests joined us for the evening buffet and celebrations.

Bride and groom in the honeymoon cottage at Rivervale Barn |

Tell us about the speeches

We had quite a few speeches, as we wanted to give both my Dad and my Step-Dad the opportunity to do a speech. We also thought our best men were doing a speech together but they did one each! Each speech was funny and touching in different ways and as people were positioned in different places around the room, it didn’t feel like it went on too long.

I also did a speech as David and I decided to share the responsibility for saying thank you. I also led a toast to David’s late Father, which was a tearjerker for all of us.

Describe your favours
To remember David’s late Father, we made the same favours for everyone: a little bag of chocolate money (in keeping with Xmas) with a tag sharing that we had made a donation on behalf of each guest to Cancer Research UK in his memory.

For our guests staying at the nearby hotel, we also left a ‘thank you’ gift bag containing a chocolate bar, tea bag and coffee sachet.

Charity chocolate coin wedding favours at Rivervale Barn Christmas wedding |

Did you have a band or DJ?

We had a DJ with us all day to manage the music for the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening. Darren was brilliant – he was happy to take all of our suggestions for music for the whole day and kept the dancefloor full all night!

Tell us about the first dance

We chose Cherish by Kool & The Gang – it’s one of our favourite songs and I think the words are beautiful. It’s also a little bit different to the norm!

Bride and groom’s first dance at Rivervale Barn Christmas wedding |

What was your most memorable moment of the day?

When one of our favourite songs came on, the dancefloor was packed, lights were flashing and everyone was having such fun – I got an amazing sense of achievement seeing everything come together exactly as I wanted it and everyone enjoying themselves, which made the day perfect.

Based on your own experience, give us some top tips…

  • For brides: Try to enjoy the planning, no matter how stressful it gets. In a weird way, you will miss your long to-do list when it is all over!
  • For grooms: Take on a few tasks that you are completely in charge of – it relieves the bride of stress and helps you to get involved in your day too.
  • For keeping to a budget: Split your list into ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. With my ‘nice to haves’, I asked myself, “When I look back at my wedding in years to come, will I notice that this was there?”. If I answered no, then it was struck off the list!

“If we could do it all again, we’d…

...have it exactly the same! The only thing I would change is to have had some photographs by the lake. On the day, it was so cold, that being inside was more appealing but I wish we had made the most of the grounds for just the two of us.

We’d also make sure we got more food. We picked out all of our favourites and didn’t see much of it since we were so busy chatting to everyone! Everyone raved about it though!

Tell us about your honeymoon

After the wedding we stayed at home for a week to celebrate Xmas with our families and then jetted off to Hawaii on Boxing Day. We stayed for three nights in Waikiki on Oahu, then flew over for relaxation and peace in Maui. On the way home, we stopped for a day of shopping in San Francisco.

Bride and groom outside at Rivervale Barn - Christmas wedding |

Images courtesy of All About The Image

If you would like more information on Rivervale Barn, or to arrange a visit, please call 01252 413232 or email Isabel

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