TNWC Real Brides Married! Caroline’s back to tell us all about her laid back eco-friendly farm wedding


Izzy Burton illustration

We’ve had a little break from our TNWC Real Brides but we’re back today with the lovely Caroline who got married back in May.  Along with her now husband Gareth, they planned a beautiful and laid back wedding on their farm in Nottinghamshire.  It has been a long time coming but I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about her day and soon I hope to share her official wedding photos.

Over to Caroline…

Wow – has it really been 6 months since our wedding day!  I really can’t quite believe how much time has flown, and in some ways, our day seems like a lifetime ago, but in others it feels like yesterday!

I know everyone says that your wedding day is the best day of your life, but it really, really is!  We had the most magical day right from the second we woke up and it wasn’t raining (hooray!!) until we finally stopped dancing at 2am, and were whisked away to a secret location for our first night as Mr and Mrs Stafford.

Caroline and Gareth's eco-friendly farm wedding

The days leading up to the wedding were heaps of fun and not nearly as stressful as I had feared they might be!  I left my little shop in the capable hands of mum and my now mother-in-law and had the whole week to get things ready.

In the months before our big day, apart from cleaning the barn (which to be fair was a fairly big job!!) Gareth had a pretty easy ride of it, but in the last week, bless him, I don’t think he managed to get much sleep! 400 metres of bunting was hung, along with 400 metres of fairy lights and about 100 paper pom poms and he spent most days up on the roof of the barn trying to repair a few leaky spots (the forecast for our wedding day was looking pretty dismal) and around all of this he had 500 cows to milk every day!

The day before the wedding was full on from the crack of dawn – Karen from Darby and Joan arrived at 8am to help start dressing the barn, and within an hour the transformation was already looking pretty special.  The only word to describe Karen was ‘amazing.’

Rustic decorated barn for a farm wedding

Although I felt surprisingly calm and collected, I have to admit I did have a few ‘yikes’ moments, but she was so wonderful at keeping everyone busy with jobs, and organising our army of helpers, keeping them busy tying vintage napkins with ribbon, setting up the tables and arranging the beautiful wildflowers, and nothing fazed her (even the fact that our tables were laid out in a rather haphazard fashion as we had big chalked out circles on the floor that had to be avoided due to big drip from the ceiling!) – she just went along with it all and took it in her stride!

At the farmhouse my mum and friends were busy wrapping up cheeses and meats, and attaching little hand stamped luggage labels to the pork pies for the boys favours, while my sister was making mountains of couscous salad and we were adding finishing touches to the recipe books I had made for the favours for the girls.

Seasonal summer wedding flowers

The day flew by – flowers arrived from Catkin and Flowerpod which were loosely arranged in old jugs, mason jars and our decorated jam jars, and Gareth got back on the roof for one last ‘weatherproofing’ attempt, and in the blink of an eye it was time to stop and head off to have a bit of time with my girls before the proper magic began!

I had booked a B&B just down the road from the farm for me and my bridesmaids the night before the wedding, and at 6pm we went off for dinner at a local pub just opposite.  There were 10 of us girls and we had such a special evening – I had a huge bubble of excitement, and felt a bit emotional already at being surrounded by all my favourite girls, and then when we went to pay the bill and Gareth had already rang the pub and settled up (apparently it’s the job of the brides father usually and we lost my dad three years ago so it was even more special) there were tears all round.

All plans for an early night fell by the wayside, and we were up late sharing wedding day stories and generally just fizzing about what the next day would bring (hopefully no rain!)

Morning came – (with no rain – yippee!) and after a bottle of Bollinger (thanks Laura) at breakfast, the hairdresser, Susie and make up lady Amy arrived, and from then on the morning whizzed by.  I kept stopping to take it all in, but even so, before long the flowers arrived and Alfie the camper van was at the door with chauffeur Dave, ready for a few photos before our little drive down the road to the church.

Farm bride with mismatched bridesmaids

I was just speechless at how beautiful my bridesmaids looked.  They scrubbed up so well!!  Because they were all wearing dresses that were different and we all live all over the country, they hadn’t all been together in the dresses before the day, but they literally took my breath away, and I felt so honoured to have them by my side.

We all piled into Alfie the camper van, and even then I don’t think it quite felt real, but before long we were at the church and I was walking up the aisle towards my gorgeous boy.

The ceremony was just perfect, and although I can’t remember it, apparently I just had a massive grin on my face the whole way though!  There was much hand clapping through the songs (Gareth’s dad LOVES a good sing and we chose hymns that you could really sing along to!) and the loudest cheer when we were officially declared ‘husband and wife’, along with plenty of tears and a few ‘whoops’ too!

Floral farm wedding display

When we came out of the church the ice cream trailer was waiting, so although it was a little chilly, everyone tucked in to an ice cream while we had photos taken and then we headed back to the barn (after a little drive around in Alfie with a bottle of champagne) – Dave had even attached tin cans to the back so we trundled away with balloons flying from the wing mirrors and cans rattling behind us.

Arriving back at the farm and walking into the barn completely took my breath away, although I had seen it through most of its ‘getting ready’ stages, walking in on the day and seeing everyone in there really did make me catch my breath – I can’t even describe it – but suffice to say it absolutely and completely exceeded all my wildest hopes and expectations (and I think probably those of lots of our guests who were wondering quite what a wedding in a cow shed would be like!).

You never would have guessed there were cows calving in there a few weeks before, and although there were still plenty of cobwebs and lots of dust it all added to the atmosphere, and at that moment I just felt so lucky and so loved it was a feeling I doubt I’ll ever experience again.

The barn before…

Barn full of cows

We settled down to our picnic lunch, which was fab – all the local meats and cheeses and breads were being passed around, and glasses were filled with blackberry and elderflower Pimms and there was lots of chatter and laughter.

Once the Ceildh band started playing the room really came alive – we danced and danced and danced (which was a great way to keep warm as despite a last minute dash to a friendly neighbouring farmer for some space heaters, it was still on the cooler side in the barn), and from the little ones to the grandmas and granddads, everyone was up swinging their partners by the hand!

At about 7pm, the band asked if we were ready for our first dance.  It was at this point that I had planned to head off upstairs to get changed as there was no way I could properly get involved in the barn dancing with my dress (it wasn’t big but there was lots of length to it) but the though of taking it off made my heart break a little bit, so I had an idea…

Dairy farm inspired wedding table names

I hunted down Val (a friends mum who had altered the dress for me in the first place), took her off upstairs with a pair of pinking shears, and we made a final alteration to my beautiful dress – it was now a good foot shorter and a perfect ‘tea length’ dancing dress! – I’ve just had it properly re-hemmed and do you know what, I think it’s a dress I might just wear again, it doesn’t look too much like a ‘wedding dress’ now (though it would have to be a pretty special occasion – maybe an anniversary dinner next year!)

I think everyone thought I was completely mad, but it was the best move I made, and meant I got to wear my fairytale dress for as long as possibly possible!

The rest of the evening passed in a blur of dancing and laughing and a little bit of crying, though there were so many moments when Gareth and I took ourselves to one side of the barn, sat for a moment quietly and took it all in.  Yes, everyone’s right that you feel like you don’t get chance to talk to everyone properly, and yes it’s true that even though you keep just having a ‘remember this’ moment, it all still rushes by in a flash, but I still feel that we made the most of every single second, and we wouldn’t change a single thing about any of it!

Wedding campervan

And so that’s the story of my wedding day – a day that was worth every single sleepless night, every minute spent crafting and planning, every penny (and there went that many pennies spent) spent on collecting treasures that would help to make the day personal to use, and all the hours spent seeking out amazing local businesses to add their own touch of magic to our day.

I’ve missed so many details out here, but even so, appear to have written a bit of an essay, so apologies if you’ve just lost an hour or so of your life reading it, but hopefully its helped inspire you for your own wedding day, just as The Natural Wedding Company blog so inspired me.

Yes it’s just a day, but our wedding has made me realise that you don’t have to spend a fortune to create your own fairytale wedding.  You don’t need a posh venue or fancy caterers, you don’t even need sunshine as it turns out.

You just need you, your fabulous and wonderful handsome boy and all the people you love most dearly in the world and I promise you’ll have the most magical day of your life (oh, a few fairy lights and a bit of bunting always help too!).

Much love and luck to all of you who are planning your own ‘best day ever!’

A huge congratulations to Caroline and Gareth on getting married and wishing them a future full of adventures together.  Don’t forget, if you’d like to read any more from our TNWC Real Brides series just click on the link for lots of blog posts and handmade projects from our brides-to-be.

Images: (1) Illustration by Izzy Burton; (2 – 9) Brides own pictures


Fiona on 25. November, 2013

I’d love to know where she got her tables/benches from… We’re looking to have a similar style for my step-daughter next year, and this is about the look she wants.
(We’re also going to offer weddings at our place after that, so it’ll be useful for our future brides too!)



CharlieB on 26. November, 2013

Hi Fiona, thanks for getting in touch – I’ll see if Caroline can leave a comment with details of where the tables and benches came from, they are very nice aren’t they :)

Emma on 26. November, 2013

YAY! What a lovely read…congratulations Caroline and Gareth, so nice to see how it all panned out and hear how a fellow TNWC real bride found it all, it really is the best day ever xxx

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