Today I am sharing a bit of a throwback to the beautiful, relaxed summer wedding of Jo and James. The celebration at their wedding venue close by to stunning North Norfolk beaches lasted the whole weekend and I am getting all the feels over it.
Hope you will enjoy reading about their wedding weekender in Jo’s own words. The photos have been brilliantly captured by Esther Wild and frames the couples story perfectly.
I grew up in Norfolk, and there’s ‘no place like home’ ( if you’re not local – here’s 5 Reasons why you should get married in Norfolk!). I spent my childhood on the beach and in the countryside, and this I knew in my heart of hearts, was where I wanted to be married. James and I shared the same vision; a small intimate day with our closest family and friends. A Norfolk retreat.
Finding the right venue was definitely the biggest challenge we faced ( read NB Tips on choosing your wedding venue!) . We did a lot of research and visited many beautiful venues before we found something that we felt suited to us. Barn Drift gave us an option we hadn’t even considered. It’s a residential property with a marriage license. It enabled us to essentially plan the ultimate house party.
In actual fact once the venue was booked the plans came together really organically. The design and planning of the day was enjoyable. I was so determined not to be a brideszilla! And so we put a lot of time into planning things in advance, then called upon our nearest and dearest once we had a plan.
James’ dad is really handy at woodwork and made us a stack of sign posts for the village and the barn. The signs ran right the way up the track to the property, welcomed guests and labeled the various details. My mum and her knitting group made over 100 pom-poms to decorate the space!
Barn Drift is perfectly positioned amongst the owners farmland with views across to the marshes and sea at Cley Next the Sea. We had a Ploughmans lunch and a fish and chip supper to fit a countryside-seaside meal concept, befitting of the location. Other than that the theme was just country casual, we wanted people to be themselves and celebrate the day with us comfortable enjoying the day.
YOUR TOP WEDDING PLANNING TIPS
Do it your way, and try to stay true to your ideas! Pinterest is fantastic for inspiration, but don’t forget it’s your day. Get a spread sheet! We kept our budget intact by keeping track of costs.
Source local. Our suppliers were all small, independent businesses. Their attention to detail was immaculate and made us feel really important.
Have a think about who you know. Our friend made a photobooth for her sister’s wedding and so we asked her if she would bring it to us as a wedding present. It was a great party piece and everyone loved it.
My friend Sarah is really good at hair and makeup and I asked her if she would do mine on the day. She was made-up and really happy to be part of the ‘getting ready’ stage. And it kept the build-up, chilled out and casual.
YOUR WEDDING WEEKEND
The wedding party arrived 2 days before the wedding, allowing everybody to settle into the space and enjoy the amazing surroundings of Barn Drift. When we arrived in the evening, everybody was already there, chatting, drinking and telling stories.
Friday: Setting Up
Friday was all about getting set-up and ready for the big day. After a misty start, watching a baby deer roam through the garden, the sun came out and burnt away the clouds.
We did all of the decorations ourselves, with the help of our family. We had put together a styling pack which helped us stay focused when setting up, and gave us something for our friends and family to reference what needed to be done and how it would look. When we were finished, Barn Drift was transformed. It was still the beautiful space we fell in love with, but it now fit our creative vision of the day.
There were home-made decorations inside and out. Signs placed along the route guiding our guests to Barn Drift. The ceremony lawn, complete with rustic chairs for guests and a decorative garden arc framing the view towards Cley Next the Sea. Lawn games were set-out across the vast extended garden space. Outdoor lights lining the walls for the evening party, complimenting the amazing fire-pit. And our very own Bell Tent, a hippy-chic chill-out space, with floor cushions and a selection of blankets, complete with a bespoke handmade fabric chandelier; allowing our guests a space to stop and watch the sun-set.
Everyone involved in the set-up was fantastic and helped us to make the venue look amazing. Once we had everything ready and the final wedding party guests arrived, we went into Holt for a family meal before heading home for a night-cap, looking forward to the big day.
Saturday: The Big Day…
There were no nerves in the build-up and getting ready was relaxed. Waking up to a light mist over the surrounding fields with clear blue skies, the day started perfectly and continued to get better.
After a casual breakfast with family members, the final touches were delegated to the wedding party to ensure everything was ready. However, James, along with one of my bridesmaids, Helen, decided to take it upon themselves to stake out the signs at the entrance of the lane. Once they returned and the remaining minor details had been delegated, it was onto the exciting part and getting ready.
Before the excitement of getting ready and enjoying the morning building up to the ceremony, James and I swapped gifts; I got James a gold bee pin and bee cufflinks, he has an affinity with them and if we had space I am sure there would be a hive at the bottom of the garden; And James got me a Silver Sixpence from 1905 to complete the infamous rhyme, something old, new, borrowed and blue. “…and a silver sixpence, in your shoe.”
James got suited and booted before going out to meet the Best Man and his family, to hot-foot it off to the local pub for a pre-wedding drink. On his way out, James greeted the suppliers that had started to arrive; The Cheese And Deli Store and their fantastic service team, and our amazing photographer for the day, Esther Wild, who started to capture the day in her own amazing style.
Once everyone knew what they were doing and James had answered any questions, he left them to get one with their tasks-at-hand, especially with his niece asking him lots of questions about the big day. James then joined the boys and they headed off the pre-wedding ale; his dad asking local drinkers for directions to the royal wedding as well as placing a bet on the FA Cup, which he got correct. The bar tender at the pub kindly made sure that James did not have too much to drink and that he set-off with plenty of time so he was not late!
Me and the girls had a fab time getting ready, laughing, drinking prosecco, having a great girly moment. The girls had specialist Doctor Martin shoes and custom coat hangers with personal messages waiting for them in the room, proudly hanging alongside my Rembo wedding dress and accessories.
I am not a typical girly-girl, but I really enjoyed the camaraderie, getting made-up with the help of the girls and my mum. Wendy and Helen, really looked after me, whilst Sarah, who did my make-up and my hair, made me look and feel amazing – she really has a hidden talent.
The florist arrived; delivering the bouquet from Bridget’s flowers. The arrangement looked amazing, complimenting the boho style that I had envisaged.
Helen, loaned me a broach given to her from a mutual friend who she went traveling with, but sadly passed away with cancer a few years back. This was a real tear-jerking moment, where I tried not to smear my make-up before I got out of the bedroom.
With the moment getting closer, Wendy helped keep everyone calm and focused. When my dad arrived at 1:45, he had a tie on that my mum had made him wear. My dad and I, agreed before that he did not need to wear a tie, and his outfit looked much better without one. I have never seen someone look so relieved when I made him take it off.
With the guests starting to arrive, meeting the groom and grooms family, with the pre wedding formalities in progress, people were making the most of the house party rules, labelling their drinks, but grabbing a drink in advance of the ceremony. The bring your own bottle went down extremely well, right from the start.
On my way down the stairs from my room to the Ceremony in the garden, I tried to sneak-a-peek through the window to see what was going on without being spotted. Jack Austin was beautifully playing the guitar, the sun was shining, people were waiting in anticipation; The moment was perfectly set.
Wendy and Helen walked either side of my mum down the aisle, ahead of me and my dad. I remember the emotion of everyone focusing on me as we walked towards James, and the kiss he gave me before handing me over. I was so happy and excited to get married. The personally written vows, our definition of marriage and the Beau Taplin reading were perfect. The ambience of the ceremony was everything I hoped for and more.
One of the most memorable moments of the day was walking through the crowd and the colour of confetti, into the calming quiet space of the drinks reception. The juxtaposition of emotions, and bombardment of senses, transformed into a calm reflective moment as James and I held hands as husband and wife alone for a brief moment, in a quiet space with a glass of Pimms waiting for us.
The outdoor courtyard at Barn drift was the perfect place for the drinks reception. Jack on the with acoustic guitar enhanced the mood, playing swing jazz in the background.
We had our formal photos amongst the crowd, before the beach dash with Esther and James’ brother-in-law driving. I always wanted my wedding photos on the beach wearing my wellies, so this was an important part of the day for me. The sky and the sea was so blue.
The beach dash also allowed James and I some alone time to chat and reflect, and Esther’s style captured the moment perfectly whilst giving us some time together.
On the way back, we jumped out and had some photos in the grounds of Barn Drift; In the woods, in-front of the derelict barn and across the cornfield looking out to the sea – part of our creative bent, and opportunities we discussed with Esther prior to the wedding. The vista’s here really added a sense of presence and something else to remember from the day. We even had two hares, photobomb some of the shoot here.
After a quick mingle with our guests, we invited everyone inside for the wedding breakfast. We decided in advance that the speeches would come before the food was served.
All three speeches were amazingly delivered. My dad with never-ending length of paper, with funny stories, kind words and his, pride, his love and wishes for our future together was beautiful and humorous. James is never afraid to talk and he delivered his speech with his usual confidence. The best man, well he had the room in stitches telling his stories about James.
The food Keith and his team delivered was amazing. The ploughman’s was a great hit with everyone and the summer fruit pudding was to die for. The social format made the wedding breakfast a relaxed and enjoyable affair. After dinner people sat around informally mingling and chatting both inside and outside.
Outside the vast garden allowed for a selection of lawn games to be played, from tug-of-war, to a tin-can-alley; But the biggest hit was the nearest-the-pin golf competition. The competitive nature coupled with alcohol ensured plenty of laughter and bravado.
With the dining room turned Barn Drift around with help from our guests, this now became the bar area. The living room was set-up and ready for DJ Simon Rowe, and for James and I for our first dance. We slow danced to Night, by Ludovico Einaudi, a powerful, emotional and beautiful piece of music, before getting everyone onto the dancefloor with Hip-Hop Hooray.
We had planned to cut our wedding cake, a cheese cake before the wedding breakfast to share with our guests. Unfortunately with the extended time spent on the way back from the beach-dash and the fun we were having beforehand, we overlooked this detail. In the spirit of the day and the informality we wanted from the day, we decided to be a little impromptu and cut the cake shortly after the first dance.
With the sun starting to set, the fire pit was lit and the outdoor lights turned on. James and I went for a short walk in the garden with Esther for some alone time. This time we were joined by James’ niece in her changed outfit.
At this point, people were either sat gathered around the fit-pit, drinking and chatting; eating fish and chips from IB The Chippy. Watching the sunset and the stars come out in the bell-tent. Gathering at the kitchen bar to down shots. Taking pics to share in-front in fancy dress accessories in-front of the booth, most of which then made their way onto the dancefloor. Or partying the night away with Simon spinning the tunes.
For us, the final surprise of the night was the fireworks display, that some of our friends had gotten us as our wedding present. This was a thoughtful touch from all involved and very of kind of Alice to allow. It was the perfect way to finish the day, with a bang.
However the fireworks hadn’t finished yet. Everyone was having such good time, we ended up partying into the early hours.
The day was spent seeing off guests as they came back to collect their vehicles, before they headed home. This was a happy sad occasion as I got emotional every-time someone left. It was such a great day neither of us wanted it to end.
By the end of the day, it was just me, James and our parents left at Barn Drift. We had a lovely family meal and toasted the best weekend ever.
Well, it had to end sometime, and it would not have been the same without everyone who was there to celebrate and share the day with us. But this was the start of our next exciting chapter as husband and wife. Plus we had our honeymoon to look forward to 48 hours later.
WEDDING DAY TIPS
Try to go with the flow. It’s one day and it goes so fast. Enjoy every moment, try and take it in.
Try to get some time alone with each other, as it’s easy to get stolen away. This is a tip given to us from our recently married friends and it was a great tip! We actually managed to get this whilst we had pictures on the beach as Esther was so discreet, watching the sunset in the field, and even in the fish and chip van grabbing a bite to eat.
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