Our Castle Barn Wedding July 19



So having been totally addicted to lots of wedding threads since I came across this forum I thought it might be fun to write my own one. If anything to look back at our planning journey as the wedding still feels so long away at present but I’m sure it will fly by!


How we met!

I‘ll call my hubby to be M. Around 4 years ago we were both on a little dating app called plenty of fish I saw his profile and sent him a message after a couple of weeks of texting back a forth we arranged our first date!

He worked near where I lived at the time so we arranged to meet at a restaurant. Having now been on a few first dates I was on the verge of giving internet dating a break having said that there were some entertaining dates in there. Whereas M was soo nervous it was his first date it had actually turned out he’d be single for so long his friends secretly set up a dating profile on plenty of fish and put it on his phone without knowing! The first he knew if it was when he recieved a notification the message from me lol. 

We got on really really well that night the meal was lovely and we went to a bar afterwards. The rest they say is history we’ve gone from strength to strength!

When we meant I was the process of buying a new build house (always take ages until completion) so we were out all the time as I hated the house share I was in at the time. We moved in together (or he moved into mine) after a year together and it has honestly just been the best time ever!





  • The proposal

    So the subject of marriage had come up a few times in our relationship and we both knew it was something we both really wanted at some point. There were a few holidays were I actually thought oh this would be a nice place to propose but it never happened. We went on a big trip to New York last year and my friends were even commenting where’s the ring on my facebooks photos (as a joke he actually found it funny) we happened to come across Tiffany’s (well I was looking for it as I’d been there before I knew where it was lol) their signature Tiffany setting rings were in the window I said to him if you ever want ideas of a ring to get me this would be it I love them Think they are so classy and elegant. I didn’t think anymore about this as an actual Tiffany ring would be way out of budget!

    A few months after this we found out I was pregnant with our little girl so all thoughts of engagements or weddings were put out of my mind and replaced with alll the preparation for becoming parents! This was why it was such a surprise to me when he did propose as I wasn’t expecting it at all!

    So imagine my surprise I’m about 7 months pregnant and arrange an impromptu night out with a couple of friends to see the new fifty shades film (loved the books lol) where funnily enough they get engaged and being all hormonal thinking it was all lovely so I get home and the house is quiet. 

    I turn the lights on and there’s rose petals and chocolates trailing up the stairs to our closed bedroom door which has a card on it. At this point I’m giggling my head off wondering what he’s up to as he knows I’ve just seen fifty shades so I thought he might be playing a joke!

    I open the card it says to open the door slowly so when i do I’m speechless as there’s candles dotted and rose petals on the bed spelling out marry me! His ipad was showing a slideshow of pictures of us with some music and there he is down on one knee in a tux holding a box with the most gorgeous ring! This is the point where I burst into tears (of happiness) he’s crying too and can’t even get his words out so we just stood there hugging each other at first! When we’d both calmed down he asked me I of course said yes!!! 

    It was and still is such a happy memory still is! I loved the fact it was in our house and just us two such an amazing moment!



    So it turned out that M had even surprised himself that night as he didn’t initally plan to do it that night either but this was the night before Valentines and we had arranged a meal where we first met for valentines night. He wanted to do it then but then thought he’d never have enough time to set up that evening without me becoming suspicious so after speaking with his sister he decided to do it and had 1 hour to set it up before I got home (petals are a pain apparently!) 

    i am soo glad he didn’t actually do it on valentines it wouldn’t have had the same impact I was so surprised and for us it was perfect!

    He had been planning the proposal for ages (6 months) and had asked my dad the traditional way (my mum was beside herself wondering when he was doing it!) but what took the time was the ring which he designed and sourced the diamond himself which makes my ring even more personal! 


  • The ring!

    So having taken note of the Tiffany ring I had pointed out in New York M did some research. Having decided that at actual tiffanys ring would be way out of budget he decided to go down the bespoke route. 

    So M took it upon himself to become a bit of a diamond expert in his search for the perfect ring! researching colour, cut, clarity etc. Honestly when he explained it to me it even went over my head mind boogling! His sisters partner likes to design jewellery so he enlisted his help they went to Hatton garden in search of the perfect diamond picked one and designed it with the Tiffany setting which has become so popular. He’d also sneakily involved one of my friends in getting my ring size she did well as I don’t even remember having a convo with her about ring sizes but they got it spot on! 

    The photos don’t do it justice but here’s my 0.7 carat round cut flawless diamond encased in a platinum Tiffany cut setting! I love it to bits and it’s soo sparkly imageimage


    So the week of our actual engagement turned out to be a bit crazy work was crazy busy (I’m a nurse) and I then had a surprise baby shower too! To say I was surprised and overwhelmed was an understatement! The day turned into a bit of an impromptu engagement celebration too as the shower was in a hotel so drinks at the bar followed and everyone ended up at my parents house for a Chinese that evening! 


    All thoughts of any wedding related was then put on hold while we welcomed our beautiful little girl Amelia into the world in April. She is honestly the best thing ever!!! 

    After the shock, joy and thousands of other emotions that you got through in those first few months of parenthood in July we found we was able to focus more on our future and decided to start making plans for the wedding and being that I would be on maternity leave for a while this was a good time to start

    We decided summer 2019 as this gave us time to save and Amelia would be a bit older we always liked the thought of a summer wedding but the question was where?

  • So the next step we took was working out or numbers namely budget and number of guests we will have on the day. Both of us have fairly large families so it was never going to be a small wedding although that would be amazing budget wise if it was! We were Realistically looking at a venue that could accommodate around 100 guests. 

    In terms of a venue we are not religious and the idea of a church wedding would make us both feel uncomfortable and a bit hypocritical so we decided and civil ceremony would be for us. We were also really keen that the ceremony and reception should be in one place we have preferred that with other weddings we’ve been too.

    I did a lot of research online for Kent and Essex venues as our families are spread around these areas and we literally live right next to the Dartford bridge so either area was good for us. There was one venue I always wanted to look at as I’d been there before for other weddings a few years ago so in July we looked at our first venue.

    Cooling Castle Barn

    The idea of a barn wedding was something that really appeals to us both so off we went one morning baby in tow who slept through it Luckily.

    We both loved it but it was a bit of a rushed look around and as it was our first viewing we had no idea what questions to ask so was a little overwhelming. Then she showed us the availability for summer 2019 and there was something like 4 days left! This is a venue that has weddings everyday even so the thought it would be so booked up shocked us so we provisionally reserved the last date available in July giving us 2 weeks to confirm! 

    The venue certainly ticked all the boxes in what we wanted in a venue. There’s 3 beautiful barns one for the ceremony one a bar area and the most stunning one is a big barn where the reception would take place. The outside is beautifully landscaped and the gatehouse of Cooling Castle which is now in ruins stands at its entrance and looks stunning so there’s history there too. There’s accommodation on site and beautiful suite the bridal party gets ready in which is stunning although we could not see this area when viewing. 

    We did however have a couple of viewings lined up at other venues so felt we could make a decision within the two weeks they could hold our date for. My mum then tried to put me off by saying so many people we know have got married surely there’s somewhere better! So we kept an open mind on that one!


  • Second viewing

    Gaynes Park

    So a few days later we had a viewing at the lovely Gaynes Park! Pulling up it looked lovely it was when the lovely lady was showing us round that really sold this place to us. She showed us the cottage the bridal party get ready in and the walk I would take with my dad “down the aisle” now the aisle here is through their beautiful gardens which leads to their beautiful orangery the path through the garden is the aisle and ends inside the orangery. I thought this was completely stunning and I’m not gonna lie it gave me goosebumps from the way she was selling it. There is then a lovely open sided barn and a barn where the wedding breakfast and reception would take place. The Accommodation onsite was also out of this world so lovely! 

    We both left there feeling very excited as we both loved it but it had a big negative the price! After a lot of discussion this was deemed out of our budget the orangery and accommodation had the wow factor but the wedding breakfast would have been cramped for 100 people and we decided that the barn at cooling castle was nicer and it is where we would spend the majority of the day.

    Gaynes is also tied to a specific caterer and this was what really put us off for starter the catering alone was the same price as the whole package at cooling. I was a bridesmaid for one of my friends who used the same caterer at her venue and they were a nightmare! 

    So with a heavy heart we turned down a Gaynes Park and decided to go back to Cooling for another look as we decided we could do so much more with our budget at cooling and have the day exactly how we want it so off we went back to Cooling Castle with our parents in tow!

  • I will just say we had a viewing at another venue which really was not us so I also feel its not worth writing about on here needless to say it was back to Cooling for us! 

    So a couple of weeekends later we went back to Cooling Castle with my parents and Ms mum and step dad to look around. This time we were left to our own devices and that worked better for us as we really had time to look around we weren’t pushed around the venue. 

    It was a lovely hot sunny day and as we got there the wedding party from the night before were just leaving this meant 10 minutes of chatting in the car park with their family and they had nothing but praise for the team there and the venue itself well this got off to a very good start! 

    They were setting up for another wedding whilst we were there and you could really see the organisation in the place. We found with this second viewing we had a much stronger vision of our day being here and knew exactly what we wanted. 

    Both sets of parents loved the venue and my mum was placated she forgot how nice it was so everyone was happy. We booked and paid the deposit so our wedding is officially booked for 02/07/19!


    So as I’m currently on maternity leave I had a lot of time to research and have definitely become a Pinterest addict! We were keen to look at certain aspects of our day and secure bookings for our date as and when we saw the right people. We know the wedding is a way off yet but looking at florists photographers before they get booked up seemed like a good option. 

    As as we were at the venue with the parents M and my dad had a lengthy chat with one of the suppliers setting up at the venue M got his card so we looked them up. It’s important that during our day all our guests are entertained and thought what better way to do that than a photo booth! We’ve been to a few weddings with them it’s great fun! 

    This company do all sorts of things so in keeping with what we want for our day we managed to book a magician for drinks after the ceremony during the lull of the photos, some 4ft LOVE letters, a magic selfie mirror for the evening and a white led dancefloor.  So this was all booked literally 24 hours after securing the venue!  

  • Thought I would share some photos of the venue


  • Hannah343Hannah343 Posts: 214 New bride

    What a lovely proposal, so sweet. And your venue is absolutely beautiful, really stunning x

  • Ahh thanks Hannah343 I’ve read your thread too! I love a barn wedding (or any wedding) yours will be beautiful too love reading the updates x

  • VegasLouVegasLou Posts: 821 New bride

    Your ring is beautiful as is your venue. Look for ward to hearing more. 

  • Thanks VegasLou, I’ve read your wedding thread too! I love love love Vegas I’ve been 3 times amazing place so much fun! 

  • Venue open day

    A few weeks after booking our venue the venue had its annual open day so one Sunday we took the parents and future in laws along with us to check it out. So we knew how popular our venue was due to it being so booked out all year but nothing could have prepared us for exactly how busy it was! This was the date they opened their diary for 2020 and the queue was phemonmenal for bookings in fact people had been queuing since 7am to secure their date (opened at 11!) The world of weddings is crazy sometimes!

    There were people everywhere it was actually difficult getting around inside the barns so we took it upon ourselves to get a drink and sit outside and soon enough the crowds died down a little. All the recommended suppliers for the venue where there so it gave us a good opportunity to scope them out. The entertainment company we’d already booked were there and really busy so we took that as a good sign. No other suppliers particularly stood out apart from a florist who is award winnning and seems to dress the majority of weddings at the venue also being there midweek supplier too. They had an amazing table centrepiece which I absolutely loved so we made an appointment to see them a month later (they are that busy!)image

    Thinking similar with flowers to compliment our colour scheme I love the floating candles on the bottom looked so pretty.

    The open day also enabled us to see all the accommodation offered and the amazing moat house a suite where the bridal party get ready as these were in use on previous viewings, not forgetting the honeymoon suite and lounge for after the ceremony.

    Everytime we see the venue there are more things we absolutely love about it although I’m glad we saw the venue before the open day I would have been so put off by the craziness otherwise! 

  • First wedding show

    So after seeing the national wedding show was going to be at the Olympia in September my Mum booked VIP tickets for me, her, my aunt and one of my bridesmaids for that weekend as a treat. 

    We were all so excited going up there and it was a good girly day the VIP aspect was good and I certainly came back  with a few goodies! image

    We did however find certain aspects lacking the fashion show seemed so high end it went away from bridal and went to the bizarre. Some of the models were so skinny the dresses were too big it was not a good look! I thought the show would provide so much inspiration but we came away with none at all. It was a good day none the less


  • Colour scheme and stationary

    So the aspect of a colour scheme came fairly easy to myself and M.

    Grey and white features heavily in our home so that was a no brainer alongside blush pinks and silvers. Probably very common wedding colours but we like what we like! 

    We started looking at what we would like for stationary probably seems so early but me and M know what we like and don’t like so are very unlikely to change our minds on that front. The more we looked at stationary wise the more we throught it would be more cost effective to design ourselves to get the look we want plus its something we‘ve spent time doing together. We also wanted all aspect of the stationary to match and flow through to all aspects of the wedding save the dates/ invites and signage table plans etc

    After a few nights of M designing and a trip to hobbycraft/paper chase and sourcing some bits online we actually added marble into the mix with a silver foiled effect for the writing. I wouldn’t have necessarily put marble with a barn wedding but it matches our colour scheme well and has the classy elegant effect we were looking for. These are what we’ve come up with so far imageimage

    We are hoping the invites will have ribbon encasing it instead of cardboard but are just playing around with them at present

  • britbirdbritbird Posts: 1,471 New bride

    Wow- those are gorgeous.  How did you get the foiled effect if you don't mind me asking?

  • Thanks Britbird I’ve been reading your thread too! we bought a hot foil machine from hobbycraft as I love that look initally wanted rose gold but silver looks so much better. Might be cursing it by the time we send the invites out though as it’s quite time consuming it works the same way as a laminator I’d say 95% come out really good! It’ll defo be a labour of love lol! 

  • britbirdbritbird Posts: 1,471 New bride
    MrsFtobe2019 wrote (see post):

    Thanks Britbird I’ve been reading your thread too! we bought a hot foil machine from hobbycraft as I love that look initally wanted rose gold but silver looks so much better. Might be cursing it by the time we send the invites out though as it’s quite time consuming it works the same way as a laminator I’d say 95% come out really good! It’ll defo be a labour of love lol! 

    LOL- you mentioned the words hobbycraft, time consuming and not all working perfectly.  That rules me out ;-) 

  • I saw the title of your planning thread and had to check it oh!

    I also met my h2b on plenty of fish!

    Your venue is stunning. No wonder it books out so quickly. I was just about to throw all our plans up in the air and then you mentioned crowds for 2020. Yikes!

    Your invites looks super professional. I think I am going to make ours too. Hopefully they will look as good. Do you think the hot foil machine was worth the investment?

  • Thanks Dandelion blue lol plenty of fish has alot to answer for! We couldn’t believe the bookings that were made for 2020 we thought booking 2 years in advance was a long time! 

    We got the foiling machine for half price in hobbycraft it’s the first edition one although I’ve read on a few forums laminating machines are also good for this. It was only £25 some are over £100 we thought we woukd give it a go for that price. Although we have found the foil adheres better doing one at a time and switching machine off in between for some reason which will make the invite making process very long but fingers crossed be worth it! 

  • Florist

    So at the venues open day we saw a florist we loved (see previous centrepieces) who was one of the recommended suppliers namely Danny watchorn designer florists. They have a really good reputation and had run into an old friend at the open days whose sister was getting married there also she had nothing but praise for them so we thought why not see what they had to offer!

     So over a month later one Monday evening we met him in a local hotel (the shop was crazy with weddings and a bit chaotic apparently) with no less than 10 massive leather cases filled with files full of photos! He actually wheeled them in on a luggage carrier!

    Now when we decided on Cooling Castle as our venue we said we would decorate it just how we wanted and not scimp on anything (as we would not have been able to do if we had booked the other venue) we had a long discussion on what we wanted with the florist. I was actually surprised on what a strong vision we had for our day already and we found it an fairly easy process making decisions on what we wanted (Although I think Pinterest helped!) 

  • Some flower ideasimageimageimageimage


    So following our consultation with the florist we are going for:

    My bouquet a compact hand tied bouquet with white and blush peonie, secret garden roses and bombastic spray roses with accents of of dusty miller (grey) 

    Four bridesmaids bouquets smaller versions with avalanche roses instead of peonies (slightly out of season and wanted my bouquet to be slightly different plus I love the look of peonies) 

    Small teddy with flowers sewn into paws for our little girl who will be a flower girl and will only be 2 and less likely to hold flowers.

    Buttonholes- A secret garden rose with dusty miller for M, avalanche roses for rest of bridal party and 2 corsages for Mob and Mog

    Table centerpieces will be floating cocktail arrangements with white,off white and blush flowers, floating candles at the base with petals and crystals scattered and crystal pendants (as above) as we will have 10 tables this is taking up the majority of the flower budget! 

    Top table will have a long narrow arrangement encorporating the same flowers also encorporating 5 small fish bowls with floating candles. There will also be 2 vases either side for bridesmaid bouquets and tea lights. The top table arrangement will also be used in the ceremony room when signing the register 

    The top and cake table will have white swagging petals and crystals scattered and there will be a vase on the cake table for my bouquet too 

    We are also having the barn decorated so in the ceremony rooom we are having a large heart on the wall where the ceremony is taking place which will also go behind the top table in the reception, we are having a cream carpet aisle runner with white and blush roses scattered along both sides of the aisle.

    In the barn where we are having wedding breakfast we are also having fairy lights draped across the barn and up the staircase and 2 fairy light curtains either side of top table plenty of sparkle! Ooh and will also be having a candle walkway leading from the car park to the barn in the evening.

    Needless to say it’s costing a fair bit but we’re quoted less than we thought all of that would be so we are happy! Deposit is paid and florist is well and truely booked! 

  • Hannah343Hannah343 Posts: 214 New bride

    Your Save the Dates look absolutely fabulous, very professional looking.

    I'm loving your flower ideas, the colours compliment each perfectly.

  • Thanks Hannah343 glad you think so I see you’ve gone for a barn venue too we have similar idea flowers too

  • Photographer

    So our search for our photographer started around the time we booked our venue. We are both probably not the most comfortable of people in front of a camera and hate the idea of posed photos. We prefer a natural look.

    So after getting over the shock of how expensive wedding photographers are we started looking around. Now around the time we booked our venue someone I work with for married at our venue (small world) seeing their photos on no other than Facebook I really liked them so decided to look into the photographer. She is called Natalie D Photography has a really professional website and is based in Kent.

    We both really liked her photography style and my coworker only had great things to say so we booked a consultation with her a couple of weeks ago. She was lovely so friendly asking all about the wedding and told us literally everything we needed about booking her. Her prices are amazing and we have her for the whole day we get a usb stick with all our images on which aren’t watermarked (all edited too) we can do what we like with them and her albums are gorgeous too!

     Plus as I work for the NHS we got a discount too!

    Anyone looking for a very reasonably priced  photographer in Kent please look her up! nataliedphotography.com



  • DIY

    Myself and M are both so excited by the wedding we literally could not wait to get stuck into doing some of our wedding bits ourselves so after designing the save the dates and invites we started thinking about what signage we would want for the wedding. As we want everything to tie in together this means the same font paper and metallic effect we want for our invites. 

    After reading another thread on here where the signage was simple and classy in silver frames we went on a hunt for some lovely silver frames that would fit with what we wanted. We decided what signs we wanted and the various sizes we would need them in and had a look around. After looking in various shops we thought this could work out quite expensive as we wanted frames for 10 table signs and various other aspects we are including in our wedding this came to something like 22 frames! 

    Imagine our surprise when we found the majority of these in Wilkinson’s and TK Maxx! This is where it has come in handy shopping early for these things as wilkinsons were discontinuing their line and only had what was left in store so I ended up going to about 3 stores to get the exact number we needed. So 22 silver photo frames cost us a grand total of £84!

  • Table names

    Rather than having numbers me and M both preferred to have names for our tables So after a long discussion we went for places we’ve been together mainly on holidays and to personalise it a bit we wanted a photo of both of us at each place at the the table. Currently we have over 100 people on our guest list to the day and although not all of them will probably be able to come the numbers aren’t going to reduce that much (we have another 50 to the evening at present!) so we are thinking 10 tables plus top table.

    Our table names are Venice, Rome, Sorrento, Capri (A two week italian adventure also our first holiday together)

    Paris (our first anniversary)

    London (home city and place of many great times together) 

    Barcelona (my absolute favourite city!) 

    New York (fab holiday with family) 

    Montana (we stayed here to meet up with family in who live in Canada great time)

    Kos (our last holiday as a twosome!) 

    The top table will also be our honeymoon destination which at the moment is likely to be Santorini (would like it to be somewhere more far flung but we will have a 2 year old at home and wouldn’t want to leave her for too long-in care of grandparents of course!) 

    these are our printed table signs with photos in black and white we will also have the table names printed and placed in a holder at the table too


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