A DIY summer wedding in Somerset
26 Nov 2019
Charlotte Cridge and Chris Pearson invited 120 friends and family to their barn wedding which featured informal food and drink for a relaxed vibe
How did you meet?
We met at Barton Hall which is a PGL residential activity centre in Torquay, Devon. I was working there on the Guest Care team and Chris was brought in for the summer to support the Activities team.
Tell us about the proposal
We were away in the Lake District with friends for the week. Chris had every intention to propose at the top of a hill but unfortunately I was poorly and ended up on antibiotics so he proposed on the snow-filled roadside above the Kirkstone Pass, right beside the pub so we were able to celebrate with a drink right away.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
The theme for the day was travel and the outdoors. We didn’t have a colour scheme.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We chose to have our wedding ceremony at Kings College Chapel, this was because Kings holds a big place in Chris’s heart. He went to Kings as a pupil and then returned to work there in 2014. The chapel is absolutely beautiful and was big enough to fit all our guests, which was a big must for us as we didn’t want to have separate day and evening guests; we wanted to have one invite for everything.
We then chose to have our reception at Somerset Yurts. We approached the owners, Emma and Mark, and asked them if they had ever thought about hosting a wedding. After much discussion we managed to convince them to host our wedding reception at their beautiful location. We were able to take over the site the day before the wedding to set up and also had it for another day and night after the wedding, this was perfect as we didn’t have to rush and could slowly pack away.
We had six yurts and two safari lodges for some of our guests to stay in and we then had the added option to have more people camp in tents. We held the reception in their gorgeous Dutch barn and decorated simply with homemade bunting and hay bales. We were able to use the three sections of the barn for different things: we had a DIY bar in one, food and tables in the second and the band and a dancefloor in the third. It was perfect.
When did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I initially dismissed my wedding dress when I was shown it on a mannequin and just couldn’t see how I would make it work at an outdoor venue due to the length of the train. I was petrified of trashing it. Unbeknown to me the dress then managed to make its way into the fitting room, so I begrudgingly tried it on first to get it out of the way and get on with what I thought I would have.
Once I put the dress on I fell in love with it right away and knew it was the one. I tried on four or five other dresses after to be sure, but went back to dress number one. I felt amazing in the dress and felt that it fitted my figure well. I just knew that no other dress would make the cut and I would have to get my head around the long train and being outside. Thankfully I was informed on what a seamstress could do. My dress was from WED2B and it was the Platinum Edition 'Rhiannon' by Viva Bride.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
My sisters Sally, Rachel, Laura and Hannah were my bridesmaids and they wore a simple knee-length navy dress from Debenhams.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mum wore a lovely yellow floral dress.
Where did you find your groom outfits?
We didn’t have suits, but hired waistcoats from Moss Bros. Chris had his tailor-made in Moss Bros.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
My wonderful friend, Sian, did our flowers. I gave her the vision I wanted and let her do the rest. She absolutely nailed it. The flowers looked and smelt divine.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
Our wedding was very much DIY. We made everything, from the bunting to the bar itself.
- For the favours we gave everyone a drinking vessel which was theirs to keep but to also use on the night, this was the best idea as we didn’t have any washing up to do the following day.
- We had an array of seating and didn’t have a sit down meal, we went for a more relaxed theme of a cream tea and hog roast.
- We had some tables set up and a load of hay bales; our guests were left to pick which they’d prefer to sit on.
- We had a DIY photo booth with lots of props and a Polaroid camera.
- We made our own sweetie table and memory ladder for those who have sadly passed away.
- We did a lot ourselves such as the make-up, which was done by my brother’s very talented girlfriend Indi.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
The nerves hit and my bouquet rattled in my hand the entire way down.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Both the hymns we picked had huge relevance to us, they are hymns which we both love. Swing Low Sweet Chariot was played at my brother's funeral and Jerusalem was played at Chris’ grandpa’s funeral earlier this year. We didn’t tell any of our guests, so although it was emotional everyone loved our nod to our loved ones.
We had two friends share readings: 1 Corinthians 13 from the bible and we had Oh The Places You’ll Go by DR Seuss. When we read these, we could both relate to them and knew they would be the ones to have.
We also had a close friend sing ‘L’Amore sei Tu’ which is ‘I Will Always Love You’ in Italian as I walked down the aisle. She also sang for our guests when we went off to sign the register.
What was your most memorable moment?
The most memorable for me was when we arrived at our reception venue and seeing all of our guests there already enjoying a welcome drink and beginning to tuck into their cream teas. We don’t blame them for not waiting, plus we snuck off on the way from the chapel to the farm and had a sneaky G&T in the pub.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Sourcing some tweed material to match the groomsmen so that our nephew, who was our ring bearer, could wear a matching one. Also, creating the guest list.
What was the most important investment for you?
Food and the venue.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We picked ‘How Long Will I Love You’ sung by Jon Boden. We love Jon Boden and have seen him perform many times. We saw him not long after getting engaged and heard him sing the song and knew it was the one.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had a band called Mad About Tomorrow. They were amazing and learnt our first dance song to perform live for us. They then provided a cracking set list to dance the night away.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Our wedding cake wasn’t a traditional cake, we had a cake of cheese as we are both big fans of cheese. Each layer was a different type of cheese and it was a huge hit with our guests.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Worrying about who to invite and where to draw the line. I was so worried about upsetting people, but also knew that for us we only wanted our nearest and dearest at our wedding day.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
Not to stress about pleasing other people and remembering that it was our wedding.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We went on a minimoon to Cornwall for a few days, but our actual honeymoon isn’t until March next year when we are going to New Zealand.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Plan your wedding how you would like it, remember it is your wedding day.
Steal their style:
For more Somerset wedding inspiration, browse the latest edition of South West Bride magazine.