Picnic hampers and countryside decor were the order of the day for this rustic wedding in Dorset
How did you meet?
We both grew up and lived in Dorchester and had known each other for years through mutual friends. However it wasn’t until a friend’s birthday party on 16th April 2011 that we spoke to each other. There were no seats left in the pub so I decided to sit on Grant’s lap, and we have been together ever since.
Tell us about the proposal.
We decided to go to Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, for Grant’s birthday. I had mentioned in the past that I would love to go there with him because it’s my favourite place in the world, and I have wonderful memories of visiting with my family when I was a child. Grant planned to propose to me at the very top but when we got there, there were lots of people around and it didn’t feel right to him. We made our way back down and stopped to eat ice-cream in a beautiful spot overlooking the beach. He was about to get the ring out of his pocket but I was messing about and had ice-cream all over my face, so he decided that wasn’t the moment either.
As we got near the bottom he started to panic, but then I asked if we had time for a stroll on the beach as the tide was out. We walked around to the other side of the island and stopped to sit on a rock and look out across the coastal flats. While I was squashing the sand between my toes and commenting on the stunning view, Grant decided it was the right time. He got down on one knee and opened a tiny box to reveal a beautiful diamond ring. When he said, “Will you marry me?” I immediately replied, “Yes,” leapt from the rock and threw my arms around his neck. It was perfect. We spent the rest of weekend drinking French cider together in the sunshine.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
The wedding day was very relaxed, with a rustic country feel. The ceremony was held in a walled garden full of flowers and the reception took place in a large barn. Most of our decorations were homemade and we used lots of cornflower blue and dusty pink with burlap fabric and brown string. My mum made reams of bunting in pink and blue and tablecloths from blue and white gingham fabric. We chose 'storm cloud blue' infinity wrap bridesmaid dresses with lace overskirts, and the groomsmen wore navy suits with matching 'storm cloud blue ties and pocket squares.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I had heard brides say that when they tried on 'the dress' they instantly knew it was the one, but I didn’t believe it. I thought it was romantic nonsense... until it happened. I visited Wedding Time in Dorchester with my mum and one of my bridesmaids. I took my time choosing several dresses and went to the private fitting room while they were brought in for me. The owner, Tracy Carroll, looked at my choices and told me she had a new arrival that was perfect for me, asking if I would mind if she brought it in. Of course I agreed and it was the first dress I tried on. I fell in love with it immediately and knew it was the one. The other dresses I tried on were lovely but didn’t come close, so I put in my order for the first dress that same day. I used the money my granny had left me when she passed away, which made it even more special.
Where did you find your suits?
The suits for the groom, best men, ushers and fathers were all rented from Wedding Time.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
Our friend, Katrina, offered to do our flowers as a wedding gift, and she did an amazing job. Although she is not a florist, she is very creative and has a great eye for beautiful things. We gave her an idea of what flowers we liked, showed her the colours we had chosen and pictures of the venue, and gave her the go ahead to do whatever she liked. This meant we had a lovely surprise just before the wedding and it was all the more meaningful to have them as a gift from a friend. We had heather, chrysanthemums, freesias, gerberas, lilies, eryngiums, gypsophila, irises and wild grass. They were absolutely stunning and we loved them. Katrina kept some to press and made us a beautiful piece of art using the wedding flowers a few weeks later.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
We had a picnic style wedding breakfast and each table had a wicker hamper full of food. My dad made pickle, chutney and jam using damsons from the garden and my mum made quiches using granny’s pastry recipe. Our friend, Tina, did pickled onions for us. We sourced local produce such as coastal cheddar from Ford Farms, pork pies from the Brace of Butchers, Dorset pate and Dorset blue vinney from The Fridge, and baby cottage rolls from Punch and Judy Bakery in Bridport. Instead of wine, we offered bottles of Dorset Nectar Hunny Bubble and Jurassic Skyline Cider. We also had cake stands on each table with a variety of delicious classic cakes made by our friends, Kate and Annie. They worked tirelessly baking for days before the wedding as a gift and it meant a lot to us. We had countless comments from guests on how much they enjoyed the food and we dished out the leftovers, along with picnic baskets, to friends who helped us clean up the next day.
We are very lucky to have wonderful friends and family who let us borrow things, made decorations and helped us out over the wedding weekend. We made the card box, seating chart and place cards ourselves using the same materials we used to make the wedding invitations. Wild flowers were placed on the tables in jam jars that we decorated with offcuts from the bunting. A friend let us borrow some old milk churns and watering cans from her farm, which we filled with flowers and placed outside the barn doors. My mum had made fabric wall hangings which we chose the phrases for: Happily Ever After, Once Upon A Time, All You Need Is Love And Cake, and Hodor Hodor Hodor. However she surprised us with a huge fabric banner with pictures of us, our dog and our cats printed on it, along with the words ‘Congratulations Beth & Grant, Team GB.’ It was a lovely surprise and looked great hanging from the ceiling above the top table. We made a donation to Cancer Research UK instead of spending the money on wedding favours, and in return we were provided with little pin badges to give to our guests.
We also bought lots of handmade things from sellers on Etsy. The beautiful vintage style guest book was made by EveIsScrapping, the top table centrepiece was a customised wooden crate full of wild flowers made by AppleCrates.co.uk, and the children had activity books made by Bizzy Hearts Weddings. We gave the bridesmaids and groomsmen personalised cotton gift bags made by Just Beautiful Gifts and filled them with goodies. The bridesmaids were given individual Disney themed necklaces made by Little Wonder Emporium. Even the bridesmaid dresses came from Coralie Beatrix on Etsy.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
My bridesmaids went ahead of me and I watched them enter the gate to the walled garden, feeling absolutely terrified. I held tightly to my dad’s arm at first, but as soon as we entered the garden I relaxed and enjoyed the moment. Walking down the aisle to Heaven/Where True Love Goes by Cat Stevens in a sunny garden full of flowers, arm in arm with my wonderful dad, with friends and family smiling at me and Grant waiting at the end, was a dream come true.
What was your most memorable moment?
Bethany: The most memorable moment for me was our first dance. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but it was really special.
Grant: Turning around to see Beth walk down the aisle was my most memorable moment. She looked amazing.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
The most challenging aspect of planning the wedding was finding the venue, because so much depends on that. There were several local venues that we considered, but none of them seemed quite right. We found Ashton Farm by chance, when Grant was asked by a friend to go and rescue some bridesmaids after their transport let them down. He came home and told me he had found our wedding venue.
What was the most important investment for you?
The most important investment for us was photography and video, because that’s something that lasts forever and not just for one day. As a child I always enjoyed watching my parents’ wedding video and looking at their photos, and we wanted to have our own wedding day memories captured for us to look back on in future years. The team at BCT Videos did a fantastic job and even brought a drone to capture the ceremony and guests out on the lawn. The photos we received from Louise Jolley Photography are absolutely stunning and she captured the day beautifully.
Another important aspect was the music. We booked Fluke from Weymouth and they were outstanding, getting everyone up dancing and creating an amazing atmosphere. Our friend, Dave, from Shed Audio did the sound for us, setting up a PA system with microphones for the speeches, and our friend Jamie from Vanilla Radio did the music for the ceremony and reception. Beth, her father, Martin, and her brother, Jack, all sang a song or two with the band – Martin even played the spoons at one point!
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
Our first dance was to Can You Feel The Love Tonight by Elton John from The Lion King, and then our guests joined us for Someone Like You by Van Morrison. We both love The Lion King and Beth has a Disney obsession, so it was an obvious choice.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
One of the bridesmaids, Carron, has her own business called The Little Tea Rooms based in Porthmadog, Wales. She offered to make the wedding cake as a gift and it was absolutely delicious. There were three layers of fruit cake (Grant’s choice), apple cake (Beth’s choice) and Victoria sponge, and it was decorated with tiny bunting and little blue and pink flowers, all made from icing. We discussed with Carron what sort of cakes we liked, and gave her creative license to make and decorate it how she wanted. We couldn’t have been happier with the result and it was a really special gift.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
We were meant to space out the tables in the barn on the morning of the wedding. We left them quite close together so they would be easy to move out of the way if it rained and we needed to have the ceremony inside. When we knew it would stay dry, we focused on preparing the walled garden for the ceremony and forgot to space out the tables in the barn for the wedding breakfast. Unfortunately, we didn’t remember until most of our guests had already taken their seats. It was a bit cosy but we still managed to fit everyone in.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
We followed advice from friends and took ‘time out’ together a couple of times during the day, to make sure we had some time alone. It was very good advice and we’re glad we made time to take it all in.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We went to Florida for two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it. The first week was spent on International Drive in Orlando visiting the Disney parks and Universal Studios, where we walked over 40 miles in four days. Then we drove down to Miami and stayed on South Beach for the second week. We hired a Ford Mustang convertible for the whole holiday and had a wonderful time exploring. We went on an air boat tour of The Everglades and saw some alligators, visited John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park in The Florida Keys and spent almost 15 hours deep sea fishing off the Miami Coast.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
The best advice we could give is to check in with each other about your plans regularly. Make sure that your vision of the perfect wedding matches your partner’s and if it doesn’t, have a conversation about it early on. Be willing to compromise and have a clear understanding of what’s important to the other. Even the day before the wedding, we made time for a private conversation to make sure we were both happy with the plan for the next day. When all is said and done, your wedding day isn’t about decorations and running orders, it’s about the two of you celebrating your relationship, making memories and having a wonderful time.
Steal their style:
Venue: Ashton Farm Wedding Barn, www.dorsetweddingbarn.co.uk
Wedding Dress and Groomsmen Suits: Wedding Time Bridal Salon, www.wedding-time.com
Bridesmaid Dresses: Coralie Beatrix, www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CoralieBeatrix
Hair: Laura Mackenzie Hair Design, www.lauramackenzie.co.uk
Make-Up: Tara Sanger, www.tarasangermakeup.co.uk
Photography: Louise Jolley Photography, www.louisejolleyphotography.com
Videography: BCT Videos, www.bctvideos.com
Cake: The Little Tea Rooms, www.thelittletearooms.com
Cider: Dorset Nectar, www.dorsetnectar.co.uk
Band: Fluke, www.flukeweymouth.co.uk
Sound: Shed Audio, firstname.lastname@example.org
Furniture and Crockery: Rochester Event Hire, www.rochestershire.co.uk
Hog Roast and Bar: Posh Pigs, www.poshpigshogroast.com
Honeymoon: Cindy Tamblyn, Travel Counsellors, www.travelcounsellors.co.uk/cindy.tambly