The happy couple: Sarah Webb, 30, a horticulturalist, and Matthew Long, 34, a finance manager, both from Gloucestershire and living in Bristol
Wedding date: Friday 18 May 2018
Ceremony venue: Painswick Rococo Garden
Reception venue: The Painswick Centre, Painswick
Theme: A natural, rustic and relaxed Gloucestershire countryside and country-fete inspired fun whimsical fairy tale. Very handmade, DIY and on a relatively conservative budget!
Photographer: Dale Stephens Photography
Flowers: Rustic and natural white, blue and yellow flowers, sourced from Cathedral Florists in Gloucester
Dress: Designed by Demetrios and sourced second hand. Expertly tailored by Ali Rouse of Unique Dress in Bristol.
Bridesmaid dresses: Sky blue floor length multi-way dresses by Debenhams (each bridesmaid could choose a preferred style and kept everyone happy).
Groom's outfit: Moss Bros Bright Blue suit Moss London, brown brogue-style shoes from Schuh, and a pale blue tie from Slaters.
Cake: An original production by Sarah’s Mum and her friend, Kath.
Catering: Delicious curry buffet by Simply your Choice. Followed by ice cream served from a traditional vintage bicycle.
Transport: Daisy the Campervan
Stationery: Handmade by the couple
Entertainment: The Goodfellows, an acoustic duo who serenaded our guests with uplifting music.
Favours: Wildflower Seeds in hand made and printed packets and Touchable Bubbles (which created a magical ambience, sticking to peoples’ heads and hanging in the air for the duration of the meal).
Hair and beauty: Abi Long (Matthew’s sister and Sarah’s bridesmaid). The bride and bridesmaids all did their own makeup.
Rings including engagement ring: Matthew gave Sarah a platinum solitaire diamond engagement ring from John Titcombe, Clifton Village, Bristol. Sarah and Matthew bought plain platinum wedding bands from the same place (Matthew’s brushed, Sarah’s polished).
On a stormy night in November 2012. After meeting online, we met in Clifton Village at a bar called The Albion for hot mulled cider and hit it off instantly, chatting until closing time.
Matthew proposed. After Sarah’s Mum gave Matthew her blessing, he set his sights on an adventurous road trip in a camper across New Zealand.
Having made their way to the South Island, Matthew decided that Lake Sarah would be the perfect place. While Sarah was taking a photo of her namesake, Matthew told her, ‘I have a gift for you, but you have to close your eyes and open your hands.’ Sarah did as she was told and then opened her eyes to Matthew on one knee, saying ‘I love you, will you marry me?’
12 to 18 months. We booked the venue 18 months in advance but didn’t officially start planning until 12 months before. It helped that our friends were getting married a few months before us, so that we had a guide of what to do.
We both wanted an outdoor wedding amongst the trees and the Painswick Rococo Garden ticked all the boxes for us. It is perfectly located; nearly equidistant to where we grew up (Sarah in Gloucester and Matthew in Wotton-under-Edge) and within easy travelling distance for most friends and relatives.
It took our breath away when we walked through the main gateway for the first time and overlooked the most magical vista. Its expansive gardens are laid out in a valley, with the glorious Gloucestershire countryside beyond and the kitchen garden, orchards, quirky follies, curious paths and beautiful flora in the foreground. You don’t know where to look first!
Painswick Rococo Garden’s Wedding Coordinator, Frances, is exceptional. She put us completely at ease and made the whole planning experience seamless. We nicknamed her our Fairy Godmother, a name she lived up to the day before the wedding by helping us to transport food and drinks and put up bunting. Then on the morning of the wedding, she greeted us and guided us to the registrars, offered us glasses of water and found a safety pin for Sarah’s Mum’s corsage from her Mary Poppins’ tool box, which housed literally everything – including sun cream and plasters! We didn’t want to leave!
After the picturesque beauty of Rococo Garden, The Painswick Centre was the perfect place for entertaining. We were wowed by this traditional village hall with its beamed ceiling, fabulous stage, and excellent facilities!
We wanted a whimsical, vintage, quirky wedding, inspired by nature, that fitted in with the perfect spring May day – hence the sunshine and blue-sky colours for our flowers, cake, dresses, outfits, bunting and of course, the real star of the day, Daisy the Campervan! More importantly, we focused our attention on ensuring that our friends and family had fun, felt comfortable, relaxed and enjoyed themselves.
Dale was recommended by other photographers who had previously taken wedding shots at Painswick Rococo Garden.
It was very much a do-it-yourself wedding, but we had so much help from family and friends it felt like we had 10 wedding planners at times.
The Save the Dates were wood slice magnets, using a tree branch and pyrography tools to etch in our details. We designed and printed our invitations, which linked through to the wedding website that Sarah made.
Sarah designed and Matthew cut and glued our fan programmes, which gave a timeline of the day. They proved useful for keeping our guests cool on the unseasonably hot day in May!
Sarah designed and printed maps, which gave our guests directions between venues and car parks. She also designed and printed word searches, which included words that meant something to us, and were an ice breaker for our guests.
For the favours, Sarah separated seeds in to seed packets, which contain a collection of blue and white flower seeds. We also designed and printed the packets.
For the table plan, Sarah and Matthew planted flowers into four planters for the table plan, each representing a table. Sarah then handwrote each of the guests’ names on to wooden propagation sticks. The tables were named after New Zealand birds, symbolising their road trip where Matthew proposed. Sarah made signs for these with a painting of each of the birds.
There were lavender and light jars that decorated the tables, while Sarah handwrote the place settings on to laurel leaves, handpicked from the garden. The cutlery was tied up with garden twine and sprigs of rosemary, which was also handpicked from Sarah’s Mum’s garden.
The bunting was hand cut and sewn by a family friend and Sarah’s Mum. The cake was made by Sarah’s Mum and her good friend, while Sarah’s Mum spent weeks creating the sugar flowers and foliage.
The buttonholes were handmade, and the night before the wedding, the four bouquets were put together over a glass of prosecco.
There were sweet jars, M&Ms for Matthew and Skittles for Sarah.
Matthew and Sarah spent a couple of years restoring their bright yellow 1974 Daisy the Campervan, so decorated her with daisies, bunting and a Just Married sign so she could play a big part on the big day.
After a brief browsing trip and trying on eight dresses, Sarah decided that she liked the top of one and the bottom of another. Trying to save money wherever possible, she looked online and found her dream dress, designed by Demetrios. It has a fitted strapless lace bodice with a full layered A-Line skirt and train. It felt wonderful to wear and Sarah couldn’t stop swishing, swirling and twirling in it all day (see pictures for evidence of excessive twirling).
Moss Bros – Moss London Bright Blue suit with brown shoes, sky blue tie (to match the bridesmaid dresses) and hand-made buttonholes.
Sarah made sure that her Grandparents were there on the day by having their photos with her.
Yes! Sarah had her second-hand dress that was old. Her necklace was new. Her wonderful bridesmaid, Hannah, lent her a special compact mirror and a sixpence that she was given when she got married four years ago. Her something blue was on the insole and soles of her (also new) shoes by Irregular Choice.
Sarah’s bridesmaids, Sarah and her Mum all walked down the aisle to ‘Hoppipolla’ by Sigur Ros. While we signed the register, we listened to ‘Heartbeats’ by Jose Gonzalez and ‘We Bought a Zoo’ by Jonsi, then we walked down the hedge-lined path to ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow.
No, we thought it best to keep the ceremony short and sweet and to the point.
The most special readings of the day were the speeches that Sarah’s Mum, Matthew and one of his best men gave. Each one poignant, amusing and entertaining in their own ways. Matthew told the story of how we met, Simon wrote a poem and Sarah’s Mum had created a Royal Wedding-esque memorabilia range.
It included ‘The Proposal’ tea-towels, tea bags, mugs (with faces of Sarah and Matthew as children and adults on), a jar of Marmite and her piece de resistance were the Barbie and Ken dolls, with the painstakingly sewn handmade outfits to match ours on the day – she even glue-gunned Sarah’s hair in place and drew Matthew’s beard on with a brown sharpie!
Simply Your Choice cooked us a delicious Indian home-cooked style buffet, serving scrumptious Samosas, Vegetable Tempura, Butter Chicken Curry, and Vegetable Curry, Lentil Dahl served with rice, poppadoms and a range of chutneys, including Sarah’s Mum’s legendary Coriander Chutney. Many of our guests commented, ‘That was the best curry I have ever tasted.’
Dessert was served by the wonderful Cotswold Ice Cream Co, who served our choice of ice cream and sorbet from their vintage and traditional bicycle, replete with sign that read ‘Mr & Mrs Long’. This was a big hit with our guests and was refreshingly light after a hot and spicy curry!
For those guests who were starting to feel peckish in the evening, we set up a Toast Station with four toasters, Hobbs House bread and homemade jam, made by Sarah’s Mum. The dancefloor was full of people eating toast like it was a midnight feast.
Sarah’s Mum and her friend excelled in creating not one but two homemade three-tier ivory wedding cakes. The top tier was an original recipe chocolate vegan, gluten-free, fat-free and refined sugar-free; the second tier was a classic dairy-filled sweet Victoria sponge; and bottom tier was a classic chocolate cake with chocolate filling. Sarah’s Mum also hand sculpted all of the beautiful sugar daisies, ivy, crespedia, gypsophila and eryngium.
‘Kiss me’ by Sixpence None the Richer. This song was one of Sarah’s favourites and it fitted our homemade dance routine to perfection.
Every moment felt special, but for Matthew it was seeing Sarah walk down the aisle having spent the night in different locations and being able to hug her.
For Sarah, it was the whole ceremony, it was like time stood still, played out like a perfect sequence from a film. Starting with the jovial yet peaceful walk along the tree-lined aisle, laughing and talking with my Mum and our momentary pause to have a deep breath before emerging through the clearing. Then looking up at Matthew for the first time, standing outside the Red House, looking very handsome, dapper and slightly emotional in his new blue suit.
Hugging Matthew’s Granddad and then seeing all of our friends and family in full. Then being able to hug Matthew, kissing him (to cries of, ‘wait until you’re married!’), say our special vows and promises that we had written ourselves, our Mums witnessing us sign the register and then kissing Matthew (again) to seal the deal. It was magical, joyous and perfect, if a little surreal at times!
We like to think the day went without any hiccups and everyone said how much they enjoyed the day with others commenting ‘it was the best wedding they’d ever been to!’ We were also delighted with our first dance, something that had caused us a bit of anxiety in the run-up, but on the night it went better than the few rehearsals we had in our kitchen!
Just enjoy every moment in the build-up and try to remain calm and remember that the only two people that matter are the bride and groom – everyone else will just be happy for you.
Also, it pays to practice your first dance – even if it’s just in your kitchen – we practiced about 40 seconds and then repeated and went a bit freestyle, but it helped our nerves to have a routine to fall back on.
Just how elated we would feel on the day and how our joy would override any fear or anxiety we had felt in the run-up. It would have also allayed our concerns about our guests enjoying themselves if we had known that they would come to call it ‘one of the nicest, most thoughtful and creative weddings’ they had been to.
We had an initial ‘Mini-Moon’ in the Cotswolds in a picturesque village of Cranham, where we went for long countryside walks and picnicked along Painswick Beacon. We stayed in a stylishly converted barn overlooking the glorious countryside.
Our official honeymoon consisted of an Italian adventure. Starting in Rome, we explored the city by bike, foot and bus for three days, followed by a train ride to Naples, where we picked up our hire car to start an awe-inspiring road trip to the Amalfi coastline. All in all a very romantic trip.
Wednesday 04 July 2018
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