TNWC Real Brides: Caroline’s final guest post with just two sleeps until her handmade, eco-friendly farm wedding


Izzy Burton illustration

This is a pretty special post today – in just two days my first ever TNWC Real Bride will be getting hitched!  The lovely Caroline will be getting married to her Mr-to-be Gareth this coming Saturday in Nottinghamshire.  I love this weekend and time of year, it’s the same weekend two years ago that me and my Mr got married, and despite the recent rain the countryside is looking stunning.

Caroline started sharing her wedding journey with us back in February, and now three months later her big day has almost arrived.  She has one last post to share with us all, and I’m delighted to hear that she’s already keen to come back and tell us all about the wedding in a couple of weeks.

For everyone who’s followed along with Caroline’s plans for a laid back, eco-friendly farm wedding, I hope you enjoy this last instalment, and if you have a moment to leave her some well wishes that would be lovely.  Over to Caroline…

Wow- this is it – 2 more sleeps to go until the big day!  I honestly can’t quite believe that in 2 days time I’ll be waking up on the morning of my wedding day!  (It’s 5.30am as I’m writing this – have pretty much given up on sleeping beyond 5am this week – way too excited!)

I’ve managed to wangle the whole week off work, thanks to friends and family pitching in and taking care of REloved for me, so we’re properly able to enjoy this last week of getting everything ready.  Gareth and I have soooooo many lists all over the house, that get a bit shorter, then a bit longer, then a bit shorter again, and now the only things left are the fun bits – the final touches, and I’m loving it!

300 Metres of Fairy Lights

We’ve decided to leave a lot of the barn decorating until Friday, after a torrential downpour last Thursday left rather a lot of puddles all over the floor (eeek!) but thank goodness, it seems that ‘normal’ rain showers are ok, as its pretty much rained every day since on and off and other than a couple of drips its all ok!

We have however been busy collecting small hay bales from a local farmer and making sofas in the barn, and a couple of nights ago Gareth asked me to go out to help him move a few of them and when I walked into the barn, he’d only gone and strung up 300 metres of fairy lights, so instead of an old cow shed, for the first time I walked into a wedding venue and it pretty much took my breath away.

It’s a rare occasion that I’m made speechless I’ll be honest, but I seriously couldn’t talk for a moment – I’ve had a vision in my head pretty much forever, of how the barn would look, but I have to admit that there have been the odd occasions when I’ve wondered if my rose tinted glasses were a bit too rose tinted – but seeing the barn all twinkly and lit up made me realise that everything is going to be exactly as we imagined it would be, and now I just can’t wait for Friday when Gareth and I, and 16 of our fab friends and family members will be bringing it all together (with a little (read – A LOT) of help from our brilliant wedding stylist Karen at Darby and Joan).

Vintage Cow Postcard Table Name Flags

Vintage cow postcard table names for a farm wedding

We’ve also been making our table names this week.  I found a gorgeous book of vintage cow postcards a few months ago, so we decided to name our tables after different breeds of cow (it seemed quite appropriate!) and I’m really happy with how they turned out.  It was the easiest craft project ever really.  I found a gorgeous font called Travelling Typewriter (I have a whole board of lovely free fonts on Pinterest here that I’ve found and used lots for our stationary), printed each name onto some pretty scrapbooking paper and made a flag.  With a little help from my girls on one of many, many craft nights, we used a lace tape that I found on Ebay and some bamboo skewers to make the flags and we have a little terracotta pot with a cowslip in for each table to stake the flags into.

In between rain showers, mum and Gareth’s mum have been hard at work getting the garden ready too, bless them – I did cook them a big Sunday lunch to say thank you at the weekend – and Gareth’s been using old pallets to make some brilliant signs to put up around the farm – I think this one will definitely be a permanent fixture – we just need to plant up the tyre – that’s one of today’s jobs!

Farm wedding sign

Lots of English Cut Flowers

As you all know one of our best bits of DIY wedding planning and doing everything ourselves has been having the opportunity to get as many local, small businesses involved as possible, so you can imagine how happy I was last week when someone mentioned to me that a local charity, The Southwell Care Project, had set up a cutting garden up at a local agricultural collage, growing English cut flowers.  I nearly fell off my chair!

We’d already found the very lovely and TNWC recommended supplier, Rachel from Catkin Flowers who is making all our bouquets and buttonholes, but the rest of the flowers (for jams jars/buckets etc) were going to come from a local lady, Isobel, who lives down the road and just sells flowers from her meadow at the bottom of her garden.  However, because of the cold weather, nothing’s out in garden yet, so I did have a little panic last week!

But as always, things have a way of working themselves out, and I popped up to meet Bridget and Fiona at Flower Pod last week.  WOW – you know when you get chatting to people who have SO much passion and love for what they do, that it completely rubs of on you and you spend the rest of the day walking around with a big smile on your face feeling that all is right with the world?  Well that’s exactly what happened!

May country wedding flowers

Last year The Southwell Care Project received some funding that allowed them to set up Flower Pod, build a polytunnel and start work on an amazing eco studio and gardens where they grow English cut flowers.  The Care Project works with local adults with learning disabilities and the Flower Pod project is an opportunity for them to get involved in land based activity as a kind of therapy really.  It’s a true community project and so inspiring – if you have 5 minutes do have a watch of the videos on their website and if you’re local, I know they’re always looking for volunteers to get in touch and help out!

Their polytunnel is full of the most beautiful flowers – cornflowers, stock, snapdragons, honesty, sweet peas, bluebells, love-in-a-mist, wallflowers, granny’s bonnets, plus foliage from Queen Anne’s Lace, bronze fennel, and heuchera.  So we have heaps to choose from, and I feel like it’s the final piece in our ethical wedding jigsaw!!!

Illustrated Wedding Stickers

I also picked up our orders of service yesterday, together with our recipes book favours and the stickers that we’ve had made from the illustration that Charlie’s sister Izzy did of Gareth and I when we started our blog here.  We’ve had masses of stickers printed, so as well as sealing all the greaseproof paper that our picnic will be wrapped in, we’ll have heaps left to seal envelopes for thank you cards and just generally embellish everything with for the next year or so!

Farm inspired order of service and illustrated wedding stickers

The Best Bit About Planning a DIY Wedding

Planning a DIY wedding has been so much fun, not only do you get to plan a day that truly reflects you both, and have the freedom to make everything just as you want it, it also gives everyone else a chance to really get involved – I was harping on about that last month, but it really has been brilliant to see how much all our friends and family have loved being a part of it – poor old Gareth’s thank you list for his speech is getting longer by the minute!  It’s also been lovely to get so many local businesses involved.

It is A LOT to take on though, and it can be a little bit stressful at times.  We just keep reminding ourselves that it doesn’t need to get too stressful – at the end of the day everyone’s there to see us be married and have a good time, and I’m pretty sure those two things are definitely covered!

I also think a massive part of our relaxedness has come from knowing that the brilliant Karen from Darby and Joan will be there pretty much from 9am Friday morning until 8pm on the wedding day to take charge and run everything for us.  The best thing about Karen is that she totally gets where we’re coming from, her style is pretty much exactly my style, and I have complete and utter faith that she shares our vision for our wedding day.  Her help means that although we’ve been super busy in the run up to the day, we’re both going to be able to really enjoy the day without worrying or thinking about a thing – which to us both is absolutely priceless!

Goodbye From The Nearly Mrs Stafford

Well, I guess this is it folks – I’m signing out.  I feel a bit sad to be saying goodbye, but am looking forward to telling you all about our wedding day in a couple of weeks, and sharing some pics with you – I have a sneaky feeling we’re going to have a blimming marvellous day!  Yippee!!

Lots of love, the almost, nearly, Mrs Stafford!

TNWC Real Bride Caroline

From my little home in Cheshire I’m wishing you and Gareth all the love and happiness in the world this weekend!  I don’t even need to say ‘I hope’ you have an amazing day, because I know you will.  Enjoy every minute, love Charlie xXx

Images: (1) Illustration by Izzy Burton; (2+3) Brides own pictures; (4) Catkin Flowers; (5+6) Brides own pictures


Emma on 16. May, 2013

Everything sounds amazing and that it’s coming together nicely! I can’t wait to hear all about the big day itself!! Good luck and congratulations for Saturday!! xxx

Sue on 16. May, 2013

Sounds wonderful! Enjoy your special day :)

Emma Lou on 17. May, 2013

Awwww… it all sounds so brilliant! I have loved reading your posts and CANNOT wait to see your photos. Have an excellent day xxxx

Linus Moran on 19. May, 2013

Have a wonderful day and looking forward to seeing all the photos from this very special wedding!

caroline stafford on 31. May, 2013

I feel a bit sad re-reading this now the big day is all over!! gosh it all feels like a bit of dream – I cant quite believe it was only two weeks ago – The feeling of being a Mrs is just amazing though, and we absolutely did have the best day ever – am looking forward to sharing it with everyone!! x

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