Chic & Relaxed Country Rustic Wedding in East Sussex with a Paloma Blanca Wedding Dress | Whimsical Wonderland Weddings

Chic & Relaxed Country Rustic Wedding in East Sussex with a Paloma Blanca Wedding Dress | Whimsical Wonderland Weddings


Sarah and Gareth had the most beautiful summer wedding.

They chose to hold their wedding day at Laughton Barns, East Sussex and wanted their 170 guests to be comfortable in once place all day. They thought of every little detail, from the delicious menu to the drink choices and sweet touches for the children.

Sarah looked so elegant in her Paloma Blanca dress that she found at I sabella Grace Bridal, which she wore with striking red peep toe heels. Gareth donned a dapper blue three piece suit with red tie which matched the best men.

Oh and there were balloons, and the most wonderful display of lanterns.

Thanks so much to the super lovely Sara Reeve for sharing her photographs with us today.

The Readings + Music... We asked Gareth's mum to do the first reading 'The Art of Marriage' (Author Wilferd A. Peterson), we loved the words and knew Gaynor would do an amazing job of reading it which she did. The other reading was by my Auntie Mary - she had actually been responsible for introducing us eight years ago by arranging a blind date, so it was apt for her to be a big part of our ceremony. Mary read an excerpt from 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' by Louis de Bernieres about love being a temporary madness. It was my best friend's favourite book- and she sadly passed away a few years ago so it was important for me to have this reading.

I found their dresses in Ted Baker. It was the perfect mint green and was easy to wear. I didn't like the belt it came with so I found one in New Look for the bargain price of £5. It tied in with the diamante belt on my dress perfectly. They all chose their own shoes, make up style and hair style - I just wanted them to be comfortable on the day and they all looked ruddy gorgeous!

Hair and make up for the wedding was supplied by my lovely hairdresser Sarah Nash from The Chapel in Tunbridge Wells. I also found my makeup artist through them - Jodie as she looks after the make up for the Chapel. They did everyone's hair and make-up exactly how they wanted it on the morning of the wedding and did a fab job of getting through everyone on time so we were ready to go!

Canapes: Sussex Smoked Salmon Pancake with a Dill and Lemon Crème Fraiche, Goats cheese pizza, smoked chili Little Beef Burgers, Smokey Bacon, Mature Cheddar, Free Range Honey Sausages, German Mustard Dip, (V) Harvey's Sussex Rarebit, Bookham Cheddar. Starter: Ham Hock Terrine, Sour Dough, Pickles. Veg starter: Veggie terrine. Main: Organic Chicken Breast, Mozzarella Belly, Pancetta Skin, Thyme Square Potatoes. Veg main: Same as above but replace chicken with a roasted butternut, aged feta and minted pea tartlet. Dessert: Eton Mess, Rippled Meringue, Summer Berries, Popping Dust. Children's: Chicken Goujon and chips with beans (in a ramekin). Child dessert: Ice-cream sundae with chocolate brownie chunks. Evening food: Burger van.

The drinks were mostly provided by Circa but we choose all the wine and champagne. Gareth is a bit of a wine fanatic and he previously worked in the industry so it was important for him to choose these. He and my dad went to select it all and then Circa chilled and served it for us. We had a bit of a Loire Valley theme - Cremant de Loire for the reception outside and then with our dinner we had a Loire Valley Chardonnay for the white and a Loire Valley Gamay for the red. For the toasts, we had various champagnes on the tables.

Guests arrival - there was an archway our guests walked through as they entered the field with our ceremony barn and reception barn. We decorated this with bunting made from hessian and red hearts - made by the grooms' mum Gaynor - this was a last minute request from me to Gaynor and she came up with loads of bunting at very short notice! As you arrived at the other side of the arch we had a sign post with arrows pointing in various directions - Ceremony (towards the ceremony barn), Wine and Dine (towards the reception barn), Twickenham (as this is where Gareth and I have worked for a long time, plus both families are rugby mad), Hull (where the grooms' family are from), and Happy Ever After. This sign was made by my dad and as well as looking amazing, each directional was geographically correct! Drinks were served to guests on arrival before they were asked to make their way to the ceremony barn. On the patio area by the main barn we had a sandwich board - one side had the rough timings of the day so guests knew what to expect and the other side had a warning for the parents (!) we had numerous parents leaving their children unattended by the sign in the hope of receiving a free kitten!

Transport - Gareth was in charge of transport and luckily he knows some very kind people who have some lovely cars that they were willing to drive us around in. Gareth arrived in an AC Cobra - this car looks fab and is incredibly noisy so everyone knew when he was arriving! The owner of the car also very bravely let Gareth drive it at the venue. Another lovely friend has a Bentley and did three trips to the Barn - one with the best men, one with the bridesmaids and mother of the bride and then finally with me and my dad - we took a more scenic route to enjoy the moment. This was a great moment with my dad but this is when the nerves really hit - our friend had put a bottle of champagne in the car but I couldn't touch a drop!

Ceremony barn - we had two large flower arrangements by Philippa Craddock to flank either side of the barn. We lined the red carpet aisle with Sheppard's crooks with jam jars filled with blue and white hydrangeas. We also provided everyone with a stripy bag of confetti to throw as we walked back up the aisle - we wanted this shot not to be staged and it worked perfectly as we were pelted with confetti as we walked back up the aisle towards the drinks reception at the other barn.

Bride's arrival - the car drove across the field so we didn't have to struggle our way across in heels - as we turned into the field I was very nervous and hadn't fully appreciated what 170 guests would look like! At that moment my dad pointed across the field to my pony, Treacle. My dad had arranged for her to be there as a surprise. She now lives at a friend's farm and they had dressed her up in the colours from the wedding. She was whinnying away at anyone who would listen to make sure we all knew she was there! This was one of the best moments of the day and my nerves disappeared. I got straight out of the car and went over to her to say hello as I hardly get to see her anymore.

Flower girls - I had three flower girls, our nieces Elodie, Romilly and Tamsyn. We wanted them to be comfortable so they each chose their own outfits and shoes and we gave them each a Sussex trug (a basket) full of petals to scatter. The petals were from my parents 'garden, dried by my mum. I gave each flower girl a necklace with their initial engraved on it so they would have something to remember the day.

Ring bearer - our nephew Caelan was a super star and was our mini security guard. He wore a lovely suit and then had an ear piece and safe which contained our wedding bands! He looked ace!

Order of service - we attached these to fan sticks so that each person could keep cool at our outside ceremony. We gave each person an order of service - they also doubled up as a wasp swat, which was handy!

The reception barn - we had fairy lights wrapped around every pillar and uplighters against the back wall which were switched on for the dancing part of the evening to make the room look different - all provided by Reveries. Reveries also provided and rigged the lanterns all over the barn - they did a fantastic job and were very helpful coming up with ideas on what to do. They also provided the dance floor.

Hessian - we had more hessian in the barn - Gaynor had made hessian table runners for each table, plus more bunting for the barn door behind the top table, this looked great in the photos of the speeches.

Tables - our table theme was champagne and each table was named after a different one - then that champagne was on the table ready for the toasts - you had to find your champagne to find your table. We provided ice buckets as the centre pieces with two bottles of the relevant champagne in it (the top table was Taittinger 'Comtes de Champagne' which was the champagne Gareth and I drank the night we got engaged). Attached to each bucket was a posy of flowers by Philippa Craddock. The place settings were made by my mum from champagne wires. She crafted each one into a chair and then attached the person's name to it. It took her months to make them all but the end result was spectacular and everyone loved them. Most of the guests have them displayed in their house somewhere now! We also had tea lights with floating candles and raffia wrapped round the top, stripy straws in blue and red, a flower on each ladies place setting (provided by our neighbours) and we also provided party bags for each kids place setting (these had colouring books, pencils, stickers and an 'I spy' list with a disposable camera in it). Our table plan was a map of the champagne region of France to tie in with the theme.

Photobooth - this provided hours of entertainment for everyone, especially those who didn't want to dance. The photos from this are brilliant.

Sweetie table - I bought all the sweets and containers for this and I had a great time putting it all together! This was a big hit with the children (and the big kids!). Later in the evening we had a Krispy Kreme donut tower on request from the groom - this was also a huge hit!

Other details - we had flipflops by the dance floor, baskets in the toilets with essentials in (this was important as the venue was in the middle of a field so guests couldn't pop out if they were missing anything) and taxi numbers on the bar so everyone could get home.

Venue and Catering | Circa Events

Dress | Isabella Grace

Photographer | Sara Reeve

Groom / Best Men Suits | Dress2Kill Bespoke

Flowers | Philippa Craddock

Cake | Cake Maison

Lighting / Dancefloor | Reveries

Honeymoon | Caribtours

Photobooth | Photo Booth Boutique

Videographer | Anya Krasnikova

Oh my oh my. Gorgeous.

Thanks so much to Sarah and Gareth for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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