How to stage a spectacular barn wedding: Hollie Wharton and Joel Freeland in Norfolk

28 Jan 2016

This spring wedding was in perfect tune with the season, featuring beautiful raspberry tulips, lemon bridesmaids’ dresses and vintage touches. From the ceremony at the Assembly Rooms in Great Yarmouth Town Hall to the reception at Hollie’s parents’ farm barn, this celebration was a proof a DIY wedding can be spectacular

Photography by Tatum Reid Photography

How did you meet?
I met Joel online. The story goes that he messaged me and it said that I had deleted it without reading it. I maintain this is pure fiction!

Tell us about the proposal.
We had a weekend away where Joel planned to propose. He had chosen his birthday so that I wouldn’t suspect. After a series of mini disasters he improvised on the way home and suggested a walk on Crickley Hill overlooking Gloucestershire close to where we live. Joel proposed and produced the most beautiful ring.



What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We wanted a rustic day with an eclectic, vintage feel. Our main colours were lemon and raspberry but we didn’t want everything too matching so filtered in lots of other colours.

When did you know when you’d found the dress?
I really enjoyed dress shopping and was quite casual about the whole experience. In the second bridal shop I visited with my mum I found two ‘the ones’. They were quite different in shape but had lots of lace and a vintage style. I chose the one with less structure so that I could dance unrestricted.




Where did you find your suits for the groom?
Joel found his suit from Ted Baker. He didn’t want a traditional wedding suit as he felt it wouldn’t suit the style of our day and chose a grey wool suit. The groomsmen wore a similar suit from Next.

Tell us about your floral arrangements.
We decided that as it was a spring wedding we would love tulips. We managed to source 3,000 which Joel’s mum arranged for table centres in teapots and every other pot and vessel we could find. She did an amazing job. We had our local florist arrange flowers for the ceremony and tied bouquets for our bridesmaids. My button bouquet and the buttonholes came from Daisy Says I Do.



Tell us about the details of the day.
We both felt the details would help transform my parents’ barn. We had a large dancefloor backdrop made by Daisy Says I Do, which made a great focal point, as did the shelves that Ophelia Weddings filled with their lovely props. We made a lot of our stationery and got extra bits from Daisy Says I Do. Both our families collectively worked to make the day so special and the barn was unrecognisable, which I think came across in the day to all our guests. We had a great band and a silent disco, so it turned into a massive party.







How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I just felt so excited, I couldn’t stop smiling. My dad walked me down the aisle which I loved and I couldn’t wait to marry Joel.

What was your most memorable moment?
There were so many. We loved our first dance and watching our friends and family pile onto the dancefloor to join us. The band, Thrill Collins, were amazing too. It was the best feeling to have all our friends and family celebrating with us. We loved getting our couples photographs taken. It was nice to have a few quite moments together during the day



What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
The most challenging parts were making sure the barn was suitable as it required a lot of work prior to doing the pretty things. We also found it difficult as we had to find and co-ordinate suppliers for everything but we were thrilled with everyone we chose.

What was the most important investment for you? Food, drink, honeymoon?
We wanted to invest in making our guests have a great day as we knew that would make us happy too. The band and silent disco, the free bar and the food were probably our biggest investments but were well worth it. To make sure we had great photos to look back on in the future we chose Tatum as we loved her style and she was lovely. We were thrilled with the results.




What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We chose Everlasting Light by the Black Keys as they are one of our favourite bands and we have great memories together of seeing them live. We think the lyrics are beautiful.



Tell us about your wedding cake.
We weren’t going to have a cake; it was going to be one of our savings. My mum surprised us by making one, complete with handmade cake toppers of Joel and I along with our cat. It looked amazing.


If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
We really wouldn’t change a thing. It was such a special day.

Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
We were given great advice from lots of our friends that were already married which had been a big help to us when starting to plan our day.



Where did you go on honeymoon?
We went to Iceland for a few days after the wedding which was beautiful. It was so nice to spend some time together as the run up to the wedding had been so hectic.

Our main honeymoon was to Vietnam, where we travelled from north to south and experienced so much in the two weeks we were there. The food was amazing, the people were so friendly and the scenery was spectacular. We felt so sad when it was time to leave.



Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Really consider what kind of day is important to you and allocate your budget accordingly. Don’t think that you have to follow all the conventions.

If you are planning a DIY wedding, start making things early as it all takes so much longer than you realise. We bought a few things that originally we had planned to make, to help us be ready in time.

Our caterers managed the day for us so we didn’t have to be concerned with timings, and prompted our toastmaster when to make the necessary announcements. This made our day flow and we believe took the stress out of a DIY wedding.


Steal their style:
Photographer: Tatum Reid Photography,,
Ceremony venue: Great Yarmouth Town Hall,,
Suit: Ted Baker,
Make-up: Leanne Gillings
Hair: Flamingo Amy,,; Gemma Holiday,
Flowers: Floral Designs,,
Décor, stationery, large sign: Daisy Says I Do,
Props and shelf dressing: Ophelia Weddings,,
Food: Brasteds,,
Band and disco: Thrill Collins,,; Silent Disco Direct,
Ceremony musician and reception: Bill Downs,,


To see more beautiful Norfolk weddings order your copy of Norfolk and Suffolk Bride on Buyamag here. 

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