Hayley and Gilley’s historical barn wedding, with Gemma Giorgio Photography
Handcrafted styling touches and dried flowers bring an already characterful old barn to life in this fabulously creative Essex wedding. I adore Hayley’s vintage style tea dress with pretty lace… she looks stunning! Check out the bouquets… handmade paper roses made of newspaper with delicate babies breath all around – they’re so different and pretty!
I enjoy crafts and sewing as a hobby already and as we had a 2 year engagement, I was able to make a lot of things myself. I’m a big Harry Potter nerd and my husband loves Terry Pratchett books so I incorporated book pages into a lot of things; the seating plan, bunting, confetti to sprinkle on the tables and I made paper roses and turned them into my bouquets and boutonnieres.
The barn already had some lovely original beams and other features, so even without any decoration it was gorgeous. We booked the venue as a blank canvas and decided to do the styling and decorations ourselves, it didn’t need too much though, it was pretty much just as much as we wanted to do.
I made biodegradeable confetti by collecting dead or dying flowers from friends or co-workers and drying the petals, this took a few months but was really satisfying in the end as I ended up with this gorgeous petal confetti, essentially for free. I also made a few other things, the table numbers and the grooms pocket square but I think my favourite homemade item was the cake topper. The cake topper was a real labour of love, I hadn’t made anything like it before and did make a few mistakes along the way, but got there in the end!
I’ve always loved hydrangeas – when my husband proposed he gave me a huge bouquet of them which I kept and dried, and the effect of them was so beautiful I decided to incorporate dried hydrangeas into the centrepieces. I sourced the hydrangeas in the summer before the wedding from my mother in laws garden, and then dried them at home. We had a few more dried flowers like gypsophila and roses dotted around, but that was pretty much it.
Wedding photographer’s website:
We were looking through pictures of other weddings at our venue and Gemma’s pictures stood out to us for their relaxed, whimsical nature. So I looked her up online, had a browse through her other work and got in touch to arrange a meeting. Gemma was very sweet and chilled in her own nature and we felt comfortable with her straight away, I think we had a 2 minute conversation in the car on the way home and decided pretty much straight away she was the photographer for us!
Gemma and her second photographer Phil were amazing to work with. They worked quietly and unobtrusively throughout the whole day and really listened to what we wanted and at the same time was always available to give advice if needed. It was really important to us that the photos didn’t look too staged, we wanted most of the photographs to be in a candid, capture the moment style. The photos came out really beautifully, and we didn’t have to wait months and months to get them either, I honestly couldn’t have asked for more!
Within days Gemma had already started editing our photos and sent through a little preview of some of them while we were on our honeymoon which was such a treat! Then not much later we received the whole set of them, we opted to get them digitally delivered so we could make our own photobooks, in addition to the online gallery Gemma sent us a USB in a lovely keepsake box. We got married in October and I easily had enough time to design the photobooks and get them printed in time for Christmas. The whole process from start to finish went really smoothly.
The Great Lodge, Great Bardfield, Essex.
Can you describe your wedding in fewer than 10 words?
Historical barn and grounds with an informal and rustic feel.
Your wedding style or theme:
The venue was a blank canvas for us to style how we wanted, I’m quite a crafty person so I had the best time making and collecting all the decorations! I didn’t have any one thing in mind really, it was just a loose combination of thing’s we both enjoy. We had a vague theme around books, gin, bric-a-brac and curios and the colours and style were generally in mint green and golds. The most important thing was for it to be quite a relaxed affair and so we didn’t really restrict ourselves to one style or theme, we just wanted it to be representative of us.
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
Having great food was really important to both of us, for our caterer, we contacted them originally because they catered my aunts wedding and the food was memorably great, then we found out that they were based only a 5 minute walk from where we lived and they also had a restaurant that was a favourite of ours, so that was a no-brainer really. We also hired a pizza truck and a vintage pop up bar that I found by googling and contacting suppliers in my local area. And some gorgeous vintage furniture that I stumbled across that online also. All the decorations, centrepieces and lighting was sourced or made by myself through a combination of eBay and classified ad websites, bootsales and charity shops.
What’s your top tip for saving money?
We were so lucky to have an easy going venue that let us bring in all our own suppliers and didn’t charge corkage, this made a huge difference. Also, If you can make it yourself, then do it!
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
The photography and the food.
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
I had a very specific idea for what I wanted the invitations to look like, I wanted them to look like a vintage book – I had seem some nice invitations of a similar style on Etsy but they were very expensive to get custom made and printed, so I had a go at designing my own. I’m not a graphic designer but I’m fairly confident making basic things like logos so thought I’d try it myself. They came out great, and I was able to design them in the colour scheme and style of the wedding rather than be restricted by templates or the work of a designer. I also got a great deal on the printing of them online, so overall the invitations came to about a quarter of the price of what it would have cost to get them on Etsy.
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
Absolutely! I was not too thrilled about the idea of finding a dress originally – I’m 6ft tall and plus size, and I was dreading having to have to attempt to squeeze into countless sample sizes in loads of different shops, so I tried to plan out in advance as much as possible in order to make the actual shopping relatively quick and pain-free. As is my way, I did A LOT of research. I already had the style in mind, I knew that a tea dress style was what I wanted as a tea dress is my go-to style for most formal occasions and I also knew I wanted lace – my mum had a beautiful lace dress when she got married and since I was young I’ve always imagined my dress being lace. Then it was just a case of shopping around for designers that I liked, looking at prices and stockists and checking out local suppliers. I really loved the House of Mooshki dresses but there were several of them I thought looked great, the one I ended up going for had these cute polka dots that I thought gave it a slightly more modern twist, I’m not a particularly traditional person and when I tried this one on, I turned to my bridesmaids and Mum and remember clearly that we all just started nodding…yep that’s the one! The Rock The Frock bridal boutique was another lucky combination of circumstances, I contacted them originally as they were one of the few shops within 20 miles of where I was based in Chelmsford that had the House Of Mooshki dresses in stock, when I got in touch to arrange an appointment they told me they were in the middle of moving premises, and that their new shop happened to be only 10 minutes walk from my house, so that was a nice twist of fate too.
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
House of Mooshki, Rock The Frock Bridal Boutique
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
Well as I am a tall bride, I also have rather large feet (size 8.5)! So finding the shoes was a struggle, I’m not much of a shoe person and rarely wear heels. I bought and returned 11 pairs of shoes before I found the right pair that fit well, were comfortable, not too high and looked pretty and not too old fashioned. My earrings we’re given to me by my lovely Nan, and they were originally a gift from my Granddad to her. In the evening I decided to go a bit more casual and changed into some mint green converse that I jazzed up by replacing the laces with ribbon, and I also wore my leather biker jacket in the evening that I had sewn a cute Disney’s Lady & The Tramp patch onto.
And what did the groom wear?
He wore a 3-piece blue suit with brown leather shoes, and a mint green pocket square that I made myself, I ordered an extra bridesmaids dress to make pocket squares so that all the fabric would match!
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
I found these gorgeous mint green brocade tea dresses online and they were on sale for a fraction of the original price (they were £15 each!), and I was thrilled with them, for the price I paid, the quality was amazing. My 3 bridesmaids are all quite different body types so the tea dress style worked well as it compliments all figures. They also all had a simple pearl necklace that I had given to them when I asked them to be my bridesmaids. As it was October, I thought a pashmina wrap would work well and I let the girls pick their own shoes, my only proviso was for the shoes to be white to match the shawls. Finally they all had vintage style hair accessories that I found on Etsy.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
I hired a professional – a friend of a friend who was recommended to me. I did consider doing my own make up as I didn’t want to look too “done up” and it was important for me to still look like myself, however after seeing Sarah’s work and after the trial we had I went with a professional which was totally the right choice in the end – I was so distracted on the day itself I don’t think i’d have been able to apply my own make up very well!
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
Like the decorations, we just went for a mish-mash combination of things we liked; the main cake was a lemon flavoured rainbow cake and we also had chocolate orange cake pops, vanilla macarons, strawberries & champagne cupcakes and lots of sweets and chocolates.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
We opted for a DIY Disco and made a Spotify playlist. We did have a bit of a technical hitch with this but it worked out OK in the end. In hindsight, I did end up having to keep fussing with the playlist so if I had to do it all over again, I’d invest in a DJ.
Words of wisdom: share your best piece of advice for other couples:
Do what you want to do, how you want to do it, unapologetically – it’s YOUR day!
What’s the best thing about being married?
As me and my now-husband had already been together for 12 years before we got married, our day to day life did not change much. However, being a Mrs and saying “my husband” does make you feel like you’ve levelled up in the game of pretending to be a grown up.
Favourite supplier web links for other brides and grooms:
Limeberry Catering: www.limeberrycatering.co.uk
Anthology Vintage Hire: https://www.anthologyvintagehire.com
Rock The Frock: www.rockthefrockbridal.co.uk
Hire For Parties: www.hireforparties.co.uk
Sugar & Spice Cake Company: www.sugarspicecakeco.co.uk
Redwood Stone Baked Pizza: www.redwoodstonebaked.co.uk
Venue: The Great Lodge
Hair and makeup: Jacsar Beauty
Photography: Gemma Giorgio Photography