English Eccentric Mix & Match Wedding

English Eccentric Mix & Match Wedding


I so love featuring a wedding which has been submitted to me by the bride and groom themselves :-)

WWW readers Jo and Tom were married back on the 31st May 2014 at Swarling Manor followed by a pub reception. They had the prettiest outdoor ceremony followed by some gorgeous portraits in the country. They had a vision of a mix and match day which was fun and relaxed.

With fete games, a bake off and a scrumptious Hogwarts style feast they couldn't really go wrong.

Utter gorgeousness.

Thanks so much to Peter Reynolds Photography for sharing these loving images.

THE PROPOSAL | Tom planned a surprise holiday to Ibiza, secretly invited 10 friends and proposed at sunset on the veranda of our beautiful villa. We then had a lovely evening celebrating with friends and calling our families back home. Everyone was in on it except me!

THE VISION | We wanted a fun and relaxed day that reflected our lives together. I hate formal events and was really keen to keep things as chilled out as possible. Tom on the other hand wanted to incorporate some of the big wedding traditions so we set out to strike a balance, and I eventually embraced some of the more conventional stuff.

THE PLANNING | We got engaged in September and married the following May, so things moved pretty quickly. We'd already been together for 10 years so there seemed little point in waiting, plus I found the idea of having a long engagement weird - as if the expectation on one little day would inevitably mount over time. I was also just too darn impatient to wait!

It's fair to say I (Jo) did most of the planning, but as I used to be an event manager I think I had an unfair advantage over Tom. I did give him some stick for not being interested or getting involved enough at the start, but found he got more into it as the time grew nearer. He's a typical boy in that he didn't really know where to start, so I did most of the prep work and he came into his own when the time came to put the plan into action!

BUDGET | Like lots of couples we didn't see the sense in splurging mega bucks on the wedding (not to mention didn't have mega bucks to splurge!). We soon realised we would need to spend more than originally planned but were determined not to let things get out of control. We allocated money to the things we felt were important like food, drink and fun stuff, and saved by not bowing to convention on things like wedding cars, which we felt were unnecessary. We couldn't have had the wedding we did without help from our parents, who as ever helped us out massively by stumping up for a good chunk of the bill.

THE VENUE | We wanted our wedding to be local to us in Kent, and after ruling out a church (we're not religious) and the local registry offices (which just weren't big enough), we settled on Swarling Manor in Petham - the village where Tom was born and has lots of family ties going back generations. A beautiful country house where the ceremony takes place in the grounds (weather permitting!), the best thing about Swarling is it's a blank canvas where you can do whatever you like. There was an option to have the reception there too, but we decided the pub down the road was our preferred choice. The Compasses Inn, Crundale was not only much better value for money, it was more in keeping with us and the laid back vibe we wanted to create. What's more it meant we got to work with the pub's fabulous owners Donna and Rob, who immediately got our vision for the day and genuinely cared enough to make sure the reception was everything we dreamed of. Not knowing them or the pub beforehand, this was a bit risky but just felt right from the beginning.

THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I eventually settled on a Maggie Sottero dress called 'Bronwyn' with a simple single layer veil. My shoes were from BHLDN (I got them in the sale reduced from $300 to $100!). Earrings from Etsy and necklace from Dogeared.

FINDING THE DRESS | After traipsing my poor mum and various family and friends around three or four appointments, I was seriously losing interest. Fortunately just before I lost the will to live I visited Jodi's in Canterbury, and as soon as I had the Bronwyn underslip on, I knew it was the dress for me.

GROOM'S ATTIRE | Tom had a beautiful suit from Pal Zileri. It was half price in the sale, but still cost nearly as much as my dress!

THE READINGS & MUSIC | We didn't want to stress anybody out by asking them to do a reading, so instead got the registrar to incorporate words from 'Union' by Robert Fulghum into the ceremony. We had the fabulous Herbie Duo play during the ceremony, who were SO good and really helped create the relaxed informal atmosphere we wanted. I walked down the aisle to 'Heartbeats' by Jose Gonsalez, and for the recessional we went for the cheesy option and had 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams. As we signed the register Herbie played 'Home' by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and 'All I want is you' by Barry Louis Polisar.

BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My sister Kate was the maid of honour and Tom's three little cousins were bridesmaids. I was planning to go solo so my friends could enjoy the day without having to run around behind me, but I knew the younger girls were desperate to be bridesmaids (with the possible exception of tomboy Grace!), so it worked out perfectly. Kate didn't have much say in the matter but I think she enjoyed the numerous comparisons to Pippa Middleton. They all looked beautiful, and big thanks go to Aunty Trudy for putting the younger girls outfits together based on a couple of pinterest photos I sent - they co-ordinated perfectly with my dress and Kate's which was amazing considering they were all bought separately and we only saw them together on the day. I was happy to wing it and hope it would work out ok but I think other people thought this was a bit weird.

THE FLOWERS | I wanted the flowers to have a home spun vintage feel without the stress of actually having to do it all ourselves the day before. Carol at Wild for Flowers in Folkestone totally got what I wanted based on my vague ramblings and descriptions of obscure flowers I didn't know the names of. She did my bouquet and a few arrangements for both venues and we did the button holes, other bouquets, table arrangements and the aunties stayed up late making gorgeous flower halos for the bridesmaids.

THE CAKE | Tom's mum made the cake, and took it very seriously indeed - going to cake decorating fairs and testing trial versions on family for weeks beforehand. It paid off though, it was beautiful, delicious and SO professional looking. I would say she's missed her calling in life but I don't think it's an experience she wants to repeat too often!

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Peter Reynolds was our photographer, and he was BRILLIANT. We really didn't want a long protracted photo shoot in the middle of our wedding day, and instead wanted reportage style photos which captured events as they unfolded. Peter got it straight away and within five minutes of meeting him for coffee one Saturday I knew he would be great. You could tell he really cared and ours wasn't just another wedding for him. He scouted out the venue ahead of time and worked out how to make the most of the beautiful grounds at Swarling Manor. His lovely wife Lindsay came to help on the day so we had two photographers for the price of one! They were both so laid back and had invested so much care and attention in the run up that they felt more like guests on the day. We were delighted with the photos and have had lots of compliments on them. Little did we know Lindsay was also filming parts of the day - she's just started her own business called Oh Darling Productions, and a few weeks after the wedding presented us with a 'best bits' video which was so beautiful it made us cry. A short video of highlights could be a good way to go if you don't want a full on videographer - it helps the day to live on forever after.

THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We went big on the details to bring the day to life and make it ours. The theme was a kind of English eccentric mix and match, with the lovely Rosebuds Vintage Teas providing a lot of the décor and the fabulous fete games. The food was a kind of Hogwarts feast crossed with a picnic, and was SO amazing - The Compasses team really pulled out all the stops. They also helped with the finishing touches by lending us things like their pewter tankards and presenting the food beautifully. We had local Kentish wines and big jugs of local ales, and held a bake-off competition which everyone took surprisingly seriously!

THE HONEYMOON | Tom's mum and her partner organised an amazing mini-moon in Venice straight after the wedding, which was very romantic. We're about to go to Mauritius and Dubai with some friends which is a kind of honeymoon type treat to ourselves.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS | All my friends turning up at Swarling Manor with bottles of champagne to get ready together, we had such a lovely chilled morning with loads of laughter which was just what I wanted.

Having a glass of bubbles knocked all over me by the registrar about 2 minutes after I'd put my dress on. Mum and sis took towels to the dress and I had a shot of whiskey - everything was fine!

Seeing my friend Ella getting emotional as I walked down the aisle, then making eye contact with the two best men - we've all known each other for years and all been through a lot together, it felt like a real moment in time.

First making eye contact with Tom at the ceremony and being shocked to see he was already in tears - he never cries and we'd all been joking that he'd have to try to get at least one out just for show.

Being driven to the pub in a farmer's Land Rover because one of the Best Men had left with our car keys!

Watching everyone admire the Bake Off entries, have fun with stick on moustaches and later playing fete games.

The best man speech involved a Wheel of Fortune featuring loads of embarrassing stories about Tom. His face when he realised the shaming he was about to get was priceless.

Dancing in a very un-bridal fashion at the end of the night and a whole rabble of us bowling into The Abode hotel in Canterbury with kebabs.

ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Keep things in perspective, don't sweat the small stuff and don't put pressure on yourself to make sure everything is 'perfect', by doing that you're setting yourself up for a fall. Don't be afraid to go off the beaten track and break the wedding mould - one of the best things about our wedding for us is no-one else has had our day before. Go with your instinct about suppliers. Write a running order and give it to all suppliers and the wedding party so you don't have to be the font of all knowledge on the day. Get someone else to do the break-down and clearing up if your budget can stretch to it, we had to do minimal tidying the next day which was a good thing as we were all hanging! Lastly my mum hit the nail on the head in the days before the wedding when I was stressing on behalf of other people. She reminded me the day was about Tom and I, and everyone else was just lucky to be there.


Ceremony venue | Swarling Manor, Petham

Ceremony music | Herbie Duo

Florist | Wild for flowers

Ice cream | Bella Gelato, Folkestone

Reception venue | Compasses Inn, Sole Street, Crundale

Marquee | Best in Tents

Décor & Fete | Rosebuds Vintage Teas

DJ | Discowed

Photographer | Peter Reynolds Photography

Videographer | Oh Darling Productions

Oh so lovely.

Thanks so so much to Jo and Tom for sharing their romantic nuptials with us XOXO Lou

Login to comment

Follow us on