Sarah and Sam’s old fashioned country village wedding with a pretty garden party reception on a shoestring


Sarah and Sam's old fashioned country village wedding

Old fashioned country village wedding

I’m thrilled to be sharing another exclusive real wedding with you on the blog today – a gorgeous June wedding set amongst stunning North Yorkshire countryside.  The bride Sarah, was one of the lovely girls who joined me for my TNWC 5th Birthday Party last April, so it’s especially lovely to share her wedding after hearing about their plans last spring.

For anyone planning a wedding on a ‘shoestring’ then this wedding is for you – as Sarah mentions later on, they took ideas they saw and worked out how they make it themselves.  It’s a real DIY wedding on a budget, but a totally beautiful one.

Over to Sarah to tell you all about her beautiful wedding to Sam…

Country bride and groom

Bouquet toss

Sarah and her husband Sam chose the 23rd June 2012 to get married, “because it was the Saturday closest to the midsummer solstice and there’s an old English tradition of weddings on that day.  We wanted an old-fashioned country wedding with an informal feel, and we tried to make everything homemade if it possibly could be.”

“The week before the wedding was a crazy whirl of preparations because it was such a DIY affair.  Luckily we had a fantastic team of family, friends and neighbours who worked tirelessly to finish preparing the food and decorations.”

Bride with bouquet of country flowers

Wooden wedding sign

Garden party wedding

“We got married in Burton Leonard, a village in North Yorkshire.  Sam grew up there and his parents still live in the village – they very kindly offered their house and garden for the reception.  The ceremony was in the local church, and then we all crossed the road to get to the party.  The marquee just fitted on the vegetable patch!  We were keen to have a back-yard reception mainly to save money, but we also loved the idea of a garden party.”

Yorkshire country house wedding

Country wedding marquee

Homemade garden wedding

“I made invitations using eco card (found through The Natural Wedding Company) and flowers I’d pressed, with help from my wonderful bridesmaid Jennie.  They had a simple hand-drawn design inside (scanned and then positioned around the text using Word).  We tied each one with ribbon to match the flowers – light blue, dark blue or purple.”

Homemade garden wedding

“The save-the-date cards and order of service were made in the same way, and also inspired by Charlie’s amazing stationery that she featured on The Natural Wedding Company.  Sam drew the pictures for the booklets and we used twine to tie the pages up.”

Handmade country inspired order of service

Sarah sounds much like me on the morning of our wedding – still busy doing bits and pieces only a short while before the wedding actually started – but that’s the way with homemade weddings…

“I still had some last-minute jobs to do on the morning.  The make-up artist arrived to find me perched on a chair hanging bunting – but I was soon persuaded to go off to be pampered and drink champagne!”

Lace wedding dress

Bride in a lace wedding dress with bouquet of foxgloves

“I wanted a simple, vintage-style lace dress, and fell in love with some designs by Yolan Cris.  Unfortunately, even his second hand dresses were completely outside my budget!  Then I tried on a lace dress in Monsoon, and found that it was just right, except for the sleeves.”

“I bought the dress and then found some matching vintage lace on Etsy.  I got a local dressmaker to create new straps, as well as altering the dress to fit.  It worked out as: dress: £300, lace: £15 and alterations: £150.  I was really happy and would definitely recommend this to brides on a budget!”

Lace wedding dress

“My bridesmaid, Jennie, had to be in Brazil on the wedding day but was wonderful in the run-up, and helped me organise a crafty hen party, including making wedding decorations and drinking cocktails from vintage teacups.  She also made me a beautiful soft blue shawl to wear in the evening, and we managed to Skype on the day so she could be there in spirit!”

“I’d have liked real flowers in my hair but was concerned they might droop, so I used some tiny artificial rosebuds.  My shoes were crazy blue-and-silver heels from Irregular Choice (the wedding was a good excuse to buy these!).”

Irregular Choice wedding shoes

I adore the blues and purples of Sarah’s wedding flowers, especially these tall, slender delphiniums: “We wanted simple country-style flowers on a budget, so it was all ‘DIY’ – I ordered cut flowers from a local market stall in advance, and chose delphiniums, roses, freesias, irises, gypsophila and lisianthus (English where possible).”

Delphinium wedding flower arrangement

Wedding flowers

Wedding flowers

“We also picked lots of grasses and greenery from the garden and country lanes.  Then the church’s flower ladies created some gorgeous displays, which we moved to the reception once the ceremony was finished.   I made my own bouquet the night before the wedding from the same flowers, and tied it with the spare lace from my new dress-straps.”

Purple and white bridal bouquet

“Sam chose a simple dark suit and polka dot tie, and the buttonholes were sprays of purple freesia from the local market.  His best man was his brother, who had got married 2 years previously using the same venues, so we got a lot of useful advice.”

Country groom with polka dot tie

Sarah and Sam chose to have their wedding ceremony in the local village church: The ceremony was in the village church, which we decorated with candles, ivy and ribbons.  I made woven willow rings with ivy and ribbons for the pew ends.”

White church wedding candles and ivy

Bride and father of the bride

“I was really nervous when I first walked into the church, and realised everyone was watching me!  But when the service started it felt like it was just the two of us, and nothing else mattered. “

“Our service included a romantic Coleridge poem about the Quantocks, where we got engaged, and we also asked Sam’s aunt to sing the Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’ which we love.  It was important to me to include a handfasting – the tradition of tying the bride and groom’s wrists with a cord.  Luckily, our CofE vicar agreed to include this pagan tradition as part of the church service!  We used a plait of ribbons I’d made.  It was a nice surprise to find that we could include personal and alternative touches in a church wedding.”

Handfasting wedding ceremony

Church wedding

Village church wedding

How lovely is this local traditional that the kids from the village did for Sarah and Sam: “After the ceremony, the local children had tied up the church gate, and we had to throw money to them before they’d let us out – it’s a local tradition!”

Local village wedding tradition

Once Sarah and Sam had finally been let out, they were showered with pretty confetti that Sarah had made from pressed flower petals.

Sarah and Sam's village wedding

Homemade petal confetti

Confetti toss

Along with their family and friends, Sarah and Sam headed back to the house and garden for their wedding reception, which started with drinks in the garden followed by a buffet.  They didn’t have a seating plan or a top table.

Back garden party wedding

Wedding drinks table

Bouquet toss

“At my hen party we made jam jar lanterns and painted lots of flower pots, which we used to make the living table centres with petunias, lobelias and other flowers.  I also made bunting from fabric scraps, and saltdough heart decorations (inspired by the brilliant TNWC birthday party!).  We also made hand-painted wooden signs for the garden.  Most of this was done well in advance so it was quite relaxed and fun – the only bad bit was when the bunting got in a mess and needed hours of untangling – that kind of thing can seem like a crisis at the time!”

Handpainted flowerpots

Painted clay heart decoration

“All the food was made by friends and family, so the house was a production facility for several days beforehand!  The food was all vegetarian (plus fish) and we went mainly for a ploughmans theme with lots of different English cheeses (especially Yorkshire ones), breads, chutneys and salads.  As it was June, we made sure there were plenty of strawberries, with shortbread and cream.  We also had huge quantities of Yorkshire ale and Somerset scrumpy!”

Wedding marquee

Cheese table

Country garden wedding buffet

Planning a homemade wedding can be really tricky when it comes to the logistics of serving food and drinks – for my own wedding we realised we needed external helpers.  Sarah and Sam also chose to hire waiting staff:  “To make logistics easier on the day, we hired some waiting staff to put the final touches on the food, serve drinks and wash up (I definitely recommend the wonderful Chilled Events of Leeds).”

Sarah and Sam

“Sam’s Mum made the wedding cake and iced it, and I decorated it with artificial ivy and blue delphinium flowers (they had to be fake so I could arrange them well in advance!).”

Doesn’t it look beautiful!

Wedding cake with delphinium flowers and ivy

Bride and groom cutting the cake

“The weather forecast had been so awful that every time the sun came out it felt like a miracle!  Going for a walk in the local woods with Sam and the photographer was lovely.  We were also really glad we’d chosen a live band, The White Ties, who kept all the generations dancing all night (until we seriously feared the floor would break…).”

Bride and groom first dance

DIY jam jar lanterns

“We found a local photographer who offered flexible packages for couples on a budget, and after a meeting and a trial shoot (in pouring rain!) we felt Mark Sanderson was a good choice.  We were also lucky enough to have two guests (James Hards and Graham Stratton) take some fantastic pictures for us too.”

Village wedding

Following their wedding Sarah and Sam disappeared to the Lake District for a relaxing honeymoon: “We spent our honeymoon in the Lake District (one of our favourite places) and Snowdonia, where we stayed in a self-catering place that was a gothic tower – I had great fun dressing up in my wedding dress and pretending to be in a fairytale…”

Gothic tower honeymoon

Bride with bouquet of foxgloves

The Natural Wedding Company was definitely my biggest source of inspiration.  Etsy was useful too, and I also went to a vintage wedding fair.  The process was normally 1) see something we love, then 2) figure out how to recreate it on a shoestring!  It also helped a lot that we’d had a similar family wedding two years before, so we had plenty of advice, lists of suppliers, shopping lists and so on.”

Sarah and Sam's country wedding

A huge thank you to Sarah and Sam for sharing their beautiful wedding day with us here on The Natural Wedding Company – it’s so lovely to hear that the blog was such an inspiration.  Since her wedding Sarah has been making a wedding scrapbook full of photos and souvenirs from their wedding, and decorated with her leftover collection of ribbons, paper and lace.

{ Details }

Photography Credits: Mark Sanderson (images: 1, 2, 5, 6, 12, 15, 20, 22, 25, 26, 30, 31, 35, 39, 46); James Hards (images: 3, 4, 14, 16, 17, 18, 29, 36, 38, 40, 41, 43); Graham Stratton (images: 21, 23, 24, 32); Becky Kingdon (images: 27); Couple’s own photos (images: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 19, 28, 33, 34, 37, 42, 44, 45).

Wedding Venue: Groom’s family home and garden
Wedding Dress: Customised Monsoon wedding dress
Bride’s Shoes: Irregular Choice
Flowers: Local cut flowers
Paper Details: Made by the bride and groom
Catering Help: Chilled Events
Band: The White Ties
Honeymoon: Brynkir Tower


Jenny on 5. June, 2013

I love the painted flower pots! Lovely wedding x

Sarah on 7. June, 2013

Thanks for this feature, Charlie – it’s really nice to see it on the site that gave us so much inspiration! x

Faye on 8. June, 2013

I remember those sourdough hearts! Still have mine (hanging round a bottle of whisky, ahem)! Congratulations Sarah, your wedding looks fabulous and full of lots of love! xx

Tracey on 21. June, 2013

Stunning dress… and bride!

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