Planning the wedding was great fun but fairly hectic as we hadn’t much time in which to do it – from the proposal to the wedding date it was about five months. We were also planning to quit our jobs and spend a year travelling around the world for our honeymoon, so there was quite a lot to organise really!
I was clear from the start that I wanted a vintage look. I have a huge collection of vintage dresses and as I’m quite petite I find the old-fashioned cuts are just right for my figure. We had a fantastically fun day trying on exquisite old gowns at Abigail’s Vintage Bridal. Each one has so much personality. She even refers to them as “she” as if they were people! I was delighted with my chosen 1930s frock and it felt really special that I was wearing a piece of history. The veil was a silk 1930s style one especially made by Jean Gallagher of As you Like it Veils. My mum found my hair accessories in an antique shop in Ramsbottom and she sourced some retro bridesmaids dresses online to complete the look.
We really wanted a DIY wedding venue that we could put our own stamp onto and when we saw Cogges Manor Farm we really fell in love with the place! I am a vet, so the idea of getting married on a farm really appealed to me, and our little nieces and nephews loved petting the goats and chasing the chickens! We even got to have our photos taken with a goat called Jonathon, a consummate carrot consuming professional!
We really enjoyed coming up with little ideas to make the day more personal to us, and adding in some unexpected twists. We wanted the page boys and bridesmaids to have fun wearing their smart outfits, so my mum made fantastic superhero capes for them in green velvet to match our colour scheme. The few days before the wedding were spent frantically painting pictures of tits for table names – of the bird variety of course! A joking reference to Luke’s surname, which is Titley! We enjoyed writing geeky ornithological information on the back of each card, as well as cutting out paper birds for the place settings and hand-drawing the table plan and signage.
The day before the wedding both our families came down and we went to the venue and spent a wonderful day decking out the barns with colourful paper decorations, arranging bales of straw and setting the tables. Luke’s family made beautiful beribboned jars of flowers and tea lights. It was a perfect preamble to the big day and we all had a great sense of togetherness.
I loved everything about the day. I don’t think I could pick one part out as my favourite, I spent the whole day with a big grin on my face! I remember hearing the buzz of guests as I made my entrance, and then tripping over a stone in the farm gateway as the doors swung back. I looked up to see a passageway of family and friends with Luke waiting at the end looking a little nervous but rather dapper in his suit and bottle green cravat. We really wanted to have a light-hearted family kind of wedding, and one idea we had was to surprise the guests with kazoos to play during the ceremony. I walked down the barn aisle to a raucous ‘Here Comes the Bride’ and we skipped out to ‘ The Great Escape’. It was hilarious and ace! Just as we had hoped!
I wasn’t nervous at all. Just really excited and happy. Luke was nervous because he had to do a speech, though he needn’t have been as he was marvellous! Speeches are always emotional; the speeches of the Best Anne (Luke’s best friend), my dad and Luke were all a great mix of the funny and the moving. Probably the most emotional part was the day after the wedding when we had to take down all the decorations and it really hit home that we were going to be leaving the country and not seeing everyone for a year.
Did everything go according to plan? I think I have to answer yes, but our plan wasn’t ever really set in stone – it seemed to evolve right up until the last minute, which is just the way I like it! I suppose the main thing that didn’t go to ‘plan’ was that Molly the ring bearing barn owl didn’t spot my nephew who was to receive the ring and simply flew up to rafters instead. It was very funny and in fact perfect to see a barn owl making the most of a barn anyway! She came back down very quickly when her handler (who was significantly taller) arrived on the scene – I think it was more stressful for him than it was for us!
Luke’s mother is French, so we wanted to honour his French heritage. During the welcome drinks, my sister Joanna performed a medley of Edith Piaf songs accompanied by her pianist friend Naomi. There was plenty more music through the day. Luke’s cousin played the harp and a friend of mine sang a beautiful aria during the ceremony. We had swing band Jivin’ Miss Daisy at the reception and our first dance was “It’s Wonderful” a jive number. A few years ago, Luke had entered a local ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ themed competition as part of a New Year’s resolution to do something that terrified him! During the course of that, he learnt how to do the jive. I had already done some swing dancing, which is very similar, so we often break into a jive when the occasion fits and our first dance was no different! It looked like we had choreographed something special, but we hadn’t really! The band were more than happy for me to join them onstage and dedicate a special song to Luke. It was a complete surprise when I sang him “My funny Valentine!” and Luke was a bit teary!
My mum and dad were such a great help in the lead up to and during the wedding, and Luke’s parents and sister, Alexandra, did a fantastic job with organising the flowers – they really were perfect! The caterers were a godsend – a husband and wife team, who were very down to earth; he is a brilliant cook and she certainly knows how to plan a wedding. Basically she ironed out all the glitches and ensured everything ran smoothly so that we could just enjoy the day. My good friend Cas made some beautiful jewellery for myself and the bridesmaids.
Of course Viva la Wedding, AKA my brother in law Guille, sister Joanna (you sound like a nun) and David were all ace. The photography and filming was really discreet, the results were stunning, and of course they’re all lovely people, so why wouldn’t you want them at your wedding? We were so grateful to all our family and friends who came along to help us decorate the barn, and un-decorate the day after the wedding. There was a wonderful air of camaraderie and no one fell off the ladders! It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since our wedding and so much has happened in our year abroad, so it’s really lovely to have the photos and wedding film to remember our day.
Bridal gown: Abigail’s Vintage Bridal
Veil: Jean Gallagher: As you Like it Veils
Bridal Hair Accessories: Memories Antiques
Bridesmaid dresses: 20th Century Foxy
Hair Stylist: Sophie Pratley at Hairdressing by Sophie, Witney
Makeup: Joanna Howard of Viva la Wedding (sister of bride)
Venue: Cogges Manor Farm, Witney
Venue dressing: DIY
Table & Chair hire: BHK rentals
Ring on a Wing: Molly the Owl
Caterers: Nick and Caroline Godden at NG Catering
Flowers from Boutique Flowers, Bicester
Floral arrangements: Alex Titley (sister of groom)
Cake: Helen Collet (bride’s friend)
Band: Jivin’ Miss Daisy
Edith Piaf Tribute: Joanna Howard & Naomi Hart
Photography & Cinematography: Viva la Wedding