It seems sooo long since we published a sneak peek from this wedding in the English Wedding Book at the beginning of this year (do you have your free copy yet?) but when these divine wedding pics landed in my inbox it felt like yesterday. Vanessa and Will are amazing: their farming wedding is one of the loveliest I’ve ever featured and I know you’ll love everything about their day.
All images are by Midlands wedding photographers Rob & Sarah Gillespie
Contact and bookings: Rob & Sarah Gillespie Photographers
“We were at home when we saw the final pictures and we viewed them together. They are amazing and really capture our day. The detail and moments that Rob and Sarah captured were just truly magical, and it is so lovely that we have such a special record of our day, including piecing together bits that we had no idea had even happened!”
~ Will & Vanessa
Vanessa and Will had help in styling their day from so many generous friends and family members. Vanessa took care of the reception stationery while flowers were beautifully arranged by a local florist. “Will’s parents are farmers in North Warwickshire, and still live on the farm where Will grew up, and we were keen for a rustic country wedding which held true to farming traditions and where possible utilised local and independent suppliers.”
The English Wedding Blog Interview: William and Vanessa
Wedding photographer’s website:
How did you choose your photographer?
We were blown away by the photographs on their website and we were really keen on their reportage style.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
We are so pleased we chose Rob and Sarah Gillespie, a husband and wife team, to be our photographers. They were absolutely lovely throughout the process, whilst being absolute professionals, and really captured what we hoped for in the photographs. We absolutely love the photos and they have brought back so many amazing memories! We can’t thank them enough for really capturing the joy and happiness of the day!
Tell us about the moment you saw your wedding photos for the first time?
We were sitting in a hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand on our honeymoon when we first saw a wedding preview slideshow. We were so excited and the photos did not disappoint. As we watched they brought back all the great memories, they made us laugh and cry but most of all they made us so happy!
Baxterley Church, Warwickshire
Can you describe your wedding in fewer than 10 words?
A rustic country farming wedding, with barn dancing!
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
A lot of suppliers were from family and farming contacts in the local area. The garden where we held our drinks reception belongs to a lovely couple who have known Will since he was a child, and who take great pride in their beautiful garden, and generously offered the use of the garden as a wedding gift to us.
The caterer who provided our canapes at the drinks reception is a local dairy farmer’s wife, who Will’s Dad knew! She did an amazing job, and all of the food she served was locally sourced from the farming community. As a special touch she was also able to source the beef for the mini beef and Yorkshire puddings (which I must say were absolutely delicious!) from Will’s Uncle, who is a beef farmer, and we felt it was lovely that there was a personal connection with these small details.
The evening venue also had a farming connection! It is a working farm who have diversified to hold events and functions in a traditional converted barn. They have had weddings there in the past, but are not what you may call a typical wedding venue. They are a husband and wife team, and absolutely worked their socks off to provide amazing food and service in a very natural and relaxed environment.
Looking back on the day, we feel that finding local suppliers a little off the ‘wedding’ beaten track certainly made for a unique day, but also meant that because we were lucky enough to have a personal connection with them, everyone gave 100% and more, and for this we will be forever grateful.
What’s your top tip for saving money?
We found that by doing as much as we could ourselves, in terms of decorations and stationery especially, made a big difference. We also planned ahead and bought the drinks well in advance when there was a really good offer, which did save a huge amount as we had ordered quite a lot to ensure it kept flowing! We also held on and bought the men’s suits when they went into the sale (although this was especially nerve-racking when my Dad ordered the wrong size and then needed to change his!).
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
We are really pleased that we didn’t try to save on wedding photography or the band, as we felt that they were really important elements of the day and we wanted to be happy with our decisions. I am also so glad I had professionals doing my hair and make-up – as the nerves set in during the preparation time I’m so glad someone else was sorting everything out!
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
We bought the invitations, but made the evening invitations, and then also made all of the orders of service, the signage, the place settings, table numbers and the table plan. It really was a labour of love! But it meant that we got exactly what we wanted..
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
I did! There had been a few issues with the fitting of the dress, but thankfully my mum was able to swoop in and sort these out on the days leading up to the wedding. On the day itself, I loved wearing it and felt so comfortable in it.
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
Ellis Bridal for the dress, and The Bridal Suite, Nottingham
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
My pearl earrings were a gift from one of my bridesmaids, who also sourced matching earrings for herself and my other bridesmaid from Qatar. The shoes were from Rainbow, and my ‘old, new borrowed, blue’ was a gift from the bridesmaids in the form of a pin which incorporated all of these elements and was hidden away in the skirt layers of the dress.
And what did the groom wear? Any recommendations for tailors?
My groom wore a blue, three piece woolen suit from M&S. We wanted a suit that he could wear again in the future so we wanted to buy the suits rather than hire them. The suit was a lovely colour and the tailored fitting suited all of the wedding party. The ties were a little unusual in that they were a floral print (and from Primark!), but we are glad we took a risk on this as we think they look lovely in the photos.
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
The bridemaids wore full length dresses from Coast. They tied in with the boys, who also wore navy blue, and I liked that the style of their dresses, with the lace around the neckline, subtly reflected my dress. The flower girl dress was from John Lewis. It was a little more than we wanted to spend but fell in love with it as soon as we saw it, to which we added a cardigan from Next we didn’t want her getting cold.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
We hired professionals, and I am so glad we did. They were both absolutely super, so lovely and professional, and did amazing work. Lucy Pineapple, who is based in Birmingham, did an awesome job with our hair (and also turned out to be the button expert and helped get me into my dress!), and the gorgeous make-up was done by Rebecca Francis, whose make up perfectly survived very energetic barn dancing and many bridesmaid tears!
Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)
The wedding flowers were done by Dawn Bagley, a local florist based in Over Whitacre in North Warwickshire. She was recommended to us by the lovely lady who did the canapes, and is also from a farming background! She really took time to understand our brief, and what we were hoping to achieve with the flowers. I wanted bouquets which looked as though they were locally collected flowers, and not too arranged, and I think she achieved this perfectly. She took huge effort in delivering them to us, and also transferred the flowers from the church to the evening venue for us. I can’t say enough good things about her! The flowers themselves were soft pinks and creams, and included gypsophila, roses and spray roses, spray carnations, alstroemeria in the bouquets, and the arrangements and the button holes included Will’s Dad’s wheat from the fields!
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
We decorated the marquee at the drinks reception with bunting, which was mostly there for an emergency if it rained (which thankfully it didn’t!). The evening venue of the converted barn was already decorated, and so didn’t need much more than some bunting and flowers. By the time the tables were dressed with the centre pieces of flowers and candles, the room looked perfect.
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
We made our own thank you favours, which were 50ml miniatures of home brewed damson gin and vodka! We really enjoyed the tasting session for this, but roped in the best man and bridemaids onto the production line to help with the bottling up of 200 mini bottles!
We made our own table numbers for the evening venue, and decided to choose numbers which meant something about us – examples included our combined birth weight, the number of our first house, and how many days we had known each other for! Something a little different.
We also made confetti cones from 6” square pieces of card (and some trusty double sided tape), and finally we dressed jam jars with hessian and lace for the table flowers and candles.
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
We initially wanted a ‘naked’ cake, being un-iced and with fruit. With time, however, we realised that the logistics of getting the cake to the right place at the right time and being refrigerated was all getting a bit difficult. We looked into it, and instead chose a chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache covering from M&S, which we decorated with fruit from Mum’s garden, which was really delicious. We were also very impressed with the service from M&S.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
We had been to a few weddings in Scotland with ceilidh bands and really enjoyed the experience, and wanted to have a barn dance band. We found a band based on London, called ‘Cut a Shine’, and we were so happy with them! We wanted a barn dance as something a little different, and also as a way of getting our guests of different ages all involved with the entertainment. This worked really well, and our friends who are getting married later this year are looking into having them too!
During the drinks reception, rather than having a String Quartet, we set up a speaker system (our home cinema system!) and played a selection of modern covers by the Vitamin String Quartet. It was great and we were even asked where we had hidden the string quartet!
On the day tips and advice:
Try to enjoy every minute! And also try to take a moment to absorb the atmosphere and the feel of the day, to try and remember this feeling as it’s such a special day and goes by so quickly. Also, it’s lovely to be able to see some photos from the day straight away, and this is where facebook and Instagram are great.
Our best man, Gareth, also doubled up as master of ceremonies, and we feel he did an excellent job of organizing everyone and signposting the events of the day, which made for a very smooth flow. Therefore, we’d definitely advise having an MC, choosing them carefully and planning exactly what you want them to do and when (with a little leeway just in case!).
What’s the best thing about being married?
We have been together for 7 years, and living together for 4 of those, so married life is not much different in terms of the day-to-day, but we just now both feel so much more settled and together. We felt the day had real meaning for us and was a lovely celebration of our life and our life to come.