Holly and Laurie's English picnic wedding

English picnic wedding

I have got some truly lovely exclusive real weddings coming up for you on the blog, so I do hope you’ll check back over the coming weeks to soak up all the wonderful inspiration these brides and grooms have to share.

Today’s real wedding is beautiful.  I feel like I’ve got to know bride Holly over the past year or so as she emailed me a couple of times in the lead up to her wedding – not only was she inspired by my own wedding stationery, but she also won her wedding photography via a competition that I’d promoted on the blog!

Holly and Laurie got married in Shropshire on the 15th of September 2012 with a wedding ceremony held at Ludlow Castle, and followed up by a picnic wedding reception at Henley Farmhouse on the Acton Scott Estate.

Over to Holly to tell us all about their wonderful day…

Seasonal September country wedding flowers

Rustic place names

Picnic wedding wrapped with greaseproof paper and twine

“We both just wanted a really relaxed wedding where all our guests could just have fun.  We wanted a day that was personal to us – we didn’t have a huge budget so we knew from the start that we would probably be doing lots of the work ourselves – with the help of our friends and family.”

“We actually found searching for a venue one of the most stressful parts of planning, we were looking for a blank canvas without lists of suppliers we had to use and we didn’t have lots of money to spend so we struggled to find somewhere.  I grew up in Shropshire and loved the idea of a Shropshire country wedding.”

Photo frame table plan

Country garden flowers


Wedding picnic and menu

“I had visited Acton Scott Historic Working farm on many a school trip so when I saw that the Acton Scott Estate had lots of beautiful holiday homes and that they had previously been used for events, we booked Henley farmhouse – I fell a little bit in love with it as soon as I saw the kitchen!

Jam jar lanterns with lace

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Vintage wooden crates

“I was very much inspired by Charlie from The Natural Wedding Company’s wedding stationery – I loved the rustic feel to the invitations and the design she created. We personalised ours by adding our own design elements and we printed the invitations onto tracing paper.  One of our guests said that they felt like they’d been invited to a posh festival which was exactly the look we were going for!”

Handmade wedding stationery and paper details

Tealight lanterns

Homemade bunting with lace edging

“My wedding dress was from Shropshire Country Brides and I can’t recommend them highly enough.  Trying on dresses there was an absolute pleasure, they made us fell so at home and had an incredible range of dresses to choose from.”

“I had originally bought a pretty cream dress from French Connection as budget was tight and I couldn’t imagine myself in a typical bridal gown.  But when my new mother-in-law very very kindly offered to pay for dresses for me and my bridesmaids I couldn’t resist going to have a look.”

Strapless wedding dress

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

“I knew I’d found the right dress as I really felt like myself wearing it – others that I had tried on just made me feel like I was dressing up.  I loved the beading detail on the belt and the lovely chiffon pleats.  Amazingly it was a sample in the sale and only needed a few alterations!”

I love how Holly describes trying on other wedding dresses as feeling like just ‘dressing up’ – this is exactly how I felt too until I tried on the ‘the dress’.

Holly had three brides along with Laurie’s niece who was the flowergirl: “My three grown up bridesmaids were Laurie’s sister and two of my oldest friends (I have known them both pretty much since I was born)  it was amazing to have them all by my side on the day.”

Bride and bridesmaid with country garden flowers

Purple bridesmaid outfits

“They are all very different shapes so finding a dress that suited all of them was tricky but we found one and then altered the lengths of each dress to make them look a little bit different.  The dresses were from Alfred Angelo and we bought them from The Wedding Company in Bodmin, Cornwall (as Laurie’s mum lives near by).”

Country bride with seasonal flowers

Purple bridesmaid dresses

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Holly also wore a veil and a pair of Rachel Simpson’s shoes called ‘Tilly’: “I loved the 1920s vibe that they have and they were SO comfy!”

Rachel Simpson 'Tilly' shoes

“My other accessories were a lovely acorn charm necklace and an oak leaf bracelet from the brilliant RUST (their workshop is about 5 minutes from away from my office!).”

Brides accessories

Our flowers were from The Real Cut Flower Garden – I discovered the brilliant Charlie Ryrie via The Natural Wedding Company – I knew I wanted locally grown British flowers and loved the pictures on The Real Cut Flower Garden website.  Charlie did the bouquets for us and bought a few boxes of loose flowers to DIY the rest.  I took loads of inspiration from The Natural Wedding Company and I gathered loads of ideas on Pinterest.

Seasonal September bridal bouquets from The Real Cut Flower Garden

Seasonal September wedding flowers

Bridesmaids bouquet

“I knew I wanted a few sweet peas if possible and some lavender and herbs but other than that I just asked Charlie for whatever was in season and growing in the garden.  I was lucky enough to be able to go and pick the flowers up myself and got to wander round the lovely gardens they were grown in.”

Seasonal September wedding flowers

Seasonal September bridesmaid flowers

Autumn bridesmaid posy

“There were moments of stress when we were speedily getting ready but as soon as I was in the car I just felt really excited that the day we had been planning for ages was finally here and I got to marry the man I love.  We’d set nearly everything up the day before and because I wasn’t staying at the farmhouse the night before I couldn’t stress about it too much.”

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

“We had the ceremony at the Beacon Room at the beautiful Ludlow Castle.  We had visited Ludlow castle earlier in the year and Ludlow is one of my very favourite Shropshire places so when we found out we could do the ceremony there everything fell into place.”

Ludlow Castle wedding

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

“The ceremony was one of my very favourite parts of the day, the sun was shining in through the big windows in the Beacon Rooms and it was amazing to see all our friends and family in one place.  I wasn’t looking forward to being the centre of attention at the ceremony at all – but my advice to brides to be would be to remember that everyone in that room is there for you and they are happy for you.  It’s actually a pretty awesome feeling!”

'To have and to hold' homemade wedding banner

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

As the bride, there’s that really special moment when you walk into your wedding ceremony – for many of us it’s a mixture of excitement and trepidation, but the moment you see your Mr-to-be I think it turns into pure joy and happiness.

“When I first saw Laurie I can remember feeling strangely peaceful and excited to see him.  He looked so smart and handsome!”

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

“We set the tone for the day with the music and readings we chose.  I walked down the aisle to the Barry Lois Polisar version of ‘All I want is you,’ we had a Liam Frost’s ‘Orchestra of Love’ playing while we signed the register and then Elbow’s ‘One day like this’ as we walked out together.”

“We had two readings – Wendy Cope’s ‘On Waterloo Bridge’ – I absolutely love this poem and having lived in London for the last few years Waterloo Bridge is important to us.  And ‘The Book of Love’ by Peter Gabriel which is actually a song but we both liked the lyrics.”

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

After their wedding ceremony at Ludlow Castle, Holly and Laurie and their guests had a glass of bubbly before heading off to Henley Farmhouse on the Acton Scott Estate for their reception.

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Bride and bridesmaids

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Laurie wore a three piece grey suit and a retro pocket watch that Holly had bought him as a wedding present. He also wore map cufflinks: “Laurie’s cufflinks were a gift from me for his birthday, I found someone who could make them on Etsy – one of the maps is the place we got engaged (Mount Remarkable in Australia) and the other is Ludlow where we got married!”

Map cufflinks

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

I do love these captured moments of the bride and groom between the ceremony and reception – they are a really special time to let everything that’s just happened sink in!

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Country bride and groom

Holly and Laurie had a marquee outside the farmhouse which they decorated with bunting (about a 100 metres of it made by Holly!) and lots of other pretty details: “We made lots of things!  I really enjoyed it but it definitely wasn’t the easy option and it took lots of time.

“The brilliant thing about hiring the farmhouse was that we were able to stay for there in the week leading up to the wedding – lots of our friends and family took a little holiday and stayed in the farmhouse with us which extended the celebration and meant that we had a small army of helpers for the hectic days before the wedding.”

Country picnic wedding marquee

Picture frame table plan

Country wedding table centrepieces

Paper map flowers

I absolutely love how Holly and Laurie chose to style their tables, creating a focal point with a tree trunk slice, jam jars of flowers, and a handmade table sign.

Holly explained to me the meaning behind the table names: “Each table was themed around a wedding anniversary i.e. lace, cotton, paper, wood and we made the details that went with the theme.”

Rustic table centrepieces

Apple place name

Country picnic wedding

Tintin wedding favours

Homemade bunting

“We decided to have a picnic for our wedding meal early on in our wedding planning – we liked the idea of everyone digging in and getting to know each other by sharing food.  We made the picnic ourselves the day before the wedding.”  

“Lots of people thought we were mad for doing the catering ourselves and it would have been much simpler to have a caterer but it helped us to save on costs and I really enjoyed meeting all the local suppliers and doing a bit of cooking!  We served a picnic to each table in wooden crates and gave each table a chopping board and a bread knife.”

Rustic wedding picnic in a vintage crate

'Drink and be merry' sign

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Jam jar flowers

“The pots of chutney were made in the months before the wedding – a couple for each picnic crate and some for the cheese table.  We wrapped all the different elements for the picnic up in brown paper and string including the pies and and cheeses.”

Picnic wedding cheeses and chutney

Poppy seedheads

Pork pies

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Holly and Laurie asked their guests to bring cakes along and they even held a competition with rosettes!

“The cake table was a competition – lots of our guest made cakes and brought them along and they served as desert for the picnic.  We had personalised rosettes made as prizes for the competition.”

Country wedding cake table

Homemade wedding cake

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Homemade wedding cake

With all the cakes they had, Holly and Laurie decided to have a wedding cake made of cheese: “Our wedding cake was a cheese tower.  It was made up of Cornish Yarg, Shropshire Blue, Brie, Wensleydale and Camembert.  We ordered the cheeses from a Shropshire supplier and they were yummy!”

And topped with a very cute pair of mice!

Cheese wedding cake with mice cake topper

Country wedding cheese table

Bride and groom mice wedding cake topper

For their guestbook they had a fingerprint tree that was drawn by a friend – Holly tells me that they have it framed and hanging in their hallway as a lovely reminder of their wedding day.

Fingerprint tree guestbook

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Holly and Laurie entertained their family and friends with a tug-of-war and games of cricket on the lawn.  These are some of Holly’s favourite memories from the day: “There are so many memories from the day, the ones that really stick in my mind are our vows, looking up and seeing everyone tucking into their picnics and the games of cricket and tug-of-war.”

It was so special to have so many of our friends and family in one place and watching everyone having fun.”

Wedding tug-of-war

Wedding cricket game

Wedding tug-of-war

No wedding is complete without a bit of dancing!

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

“Our photographer was Chamonix Thurston Rattue and she was AMAZING.  Chamonix came to stay with us for a couple of days before the wedding, and we did an ‘engagement shoot’ – it was lovely to spend some time with her before the wedding.  We actually won our photography through a competition that Chamonix ran last year – which I found out about on The Natural Wedding Company.  We were so so lucky to win the competition – Chamonix was completely brilliant.”

Here’s a snap of Holly and Chamonix…

Chamonix Thurston Rattue Photography

It’s so lovely to hear that The Natural Wedding Company provided such a lot of inspiration to Holly – I find it a bit overwhelming to think that the ideas I share on the blog actually get translated into someone else’s wedding day dreams.

“I scoured the internet in the run up to the wedding for ideas and inspiration – I read lots of wedding blogs including The Natural Wedding Company and spent a lot of time on Pinterest gathering ideas.  There are so many lovely ideas out there and I enjoyed spending some time thinking about how we could make them personal to us.”

Bride and groom first dance

Holly and Laurie are living in London, and now that their wedding is over are hoping to save up to hopefully buy their own home.  Holly so enjoyed being creative for her wedding that she’s decided to continue this: “During wedding planning I realised how important doing something creative is to me so I’ve set up a little blog called The Swans Nest and I’m in the process of setting up my own little craft business.”

I can’t wait to hear more about Holly’s new business and look forward to seeing how it develops.  A huge thank you to Holly and Laurie for sharing their wedding day with us, and to their photographer Chamonix Thurston Rattue.

{ Details } 

Photography: Chamonix Thurston Rattue
Ceremony Venue: Ludlow Castle
Wedding Venue: Henley Farmhouse on the Acton Scott Estate
Wedding Dress: Shropshire County Brides
Engagement Ring: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Bride’s Shoes: Rachel Simpson
Bride’s Bracelet: Rust
Bridesmaids Dresses: Alfred Angelo from The Wedding Company
Flowers: The Real Cut Flower Garden
Picnic: made by the bride and groom
Paper Details: made by the bride and groom


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[…] Holly and Laurie’s Picnic Wedding – From The Natural Wedding Company […]

PicnicShop on 22. October, 2013

Fantastic venue, great weather and lots of love… What a day for a picnic!

And a wedding, of course. Congratulations!

The PicnicShop Team

jill on 11. February, 2014

im getting married in novemeber and the theme for the wedding is satin n lace but im stuck for unique table names that tie in withis I was thinking names with the word lace in them But can only think of 4……any help would he much appreciative

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[…] A cute alternative to a traditional meal, let people help themselves b having a crate of picnic food on each table. This is from The Natural Wedding Company. […]

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[…] idea for wedding food ~ each table has its own rustic wedding picnic in a vintage crate( via: Thenaturalweddingcompany […]

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