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A beautiful barn wedding in a post COVID world

Hi all,

I have been on the forums for a while, posted a couple of times and commented on some of you other lovely ladies posts. I have been umming and ahhing for a while about starting a planning thread but now that I think I have an idea of what might be happening I’ve decided to take the plunge!

A lot of things have already been organised but I will try and spread things out and not post it all at once. I’m sure there are things that I will need to mull over and make decisions about and it will be lovely to have a record to look back on.

Really looking forward to sharing our plans with you all x
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Posts

  • Northern_brideNorthern_bride Posts: 233 New bride
    Yay, a new thread to read! I've enjoyed keeping mine up to date and I have a terrible memory so it'll be nice to have something to read to bring back the memories! 
  • AmyFSToBeAmyFSToBe Posts: 397 New bride
    Excited to read about your plans! x
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    A little about us

    I am S and H2B is F. I am 33 and he is 29. This will be the 2nd time for me but the first for him.
    We met online 2 years ago, I had separated from my ex in 2016 after being married 6 years and he had come out of a long term relationship earlier that year.
    To keep it short and sweet we clicked immediately and saw each other for 4 dates in the space of 11 days! We spoke everyday and both knew it was right very early on and after just over 3 months we moved in together.

    The proposal

    PART 1: I am a massive fan of musicals having done am dram for years and having found that F was a massive Disney fan like me I thought what a great opportunity and we got tickets to see the Lion King on the west end. So in November we went up to London had dinner and saw the show. We actually got into a bit of a fight and once we got home were talking and rowing and it was all very emotional. (This sounds like the worst proposal ever! 🙈🙈🙈) But as we got into the wee small hours of the morning and all the emotion and feelings were laid bear we both knew that we wanted to be together forever and couldn't live without each other and F asked me to Marry him and I said yes. We talked about everything over the next couple of days and we knew that it wasn't a heat of the moment thing and we both loved each other and wanted to get married so we looked at rings together online and F ordered one, but said he wanted to give it to me properly and make it a surprise.
    PART 2: A few weeks later I went away with my mum for a spa day and F went to ask my dad's permission (even though I had already said yes no-one knew but us 2) He spoke to me that evening and told me how it had gone and luckily my Dad was very happy for him to ask me. So a few weeks go by and I'm pretty sure the ring has arrived but I'm not certain and don't want to go looking for it. We are all prepped for our 1st Christmas together and on the evening before Christmas eve we are at home and he just looks at me and said, 'I cant wait any longer' and gets down on one knee and asks me to Marry him with the beautiful ring. I said yes (again) and we were able to share with our friends and family on Christmas eve that our Christmas had started early. 
  • MrsJM2b2021MrsJM2b2021 Posts: 42 New bride
    I love your proposal story 😍 ❤ 

    Also musicals and Disney are 2 of my favourite things  B)

    Looking forward to reading more x
  • GallaGalla Posts: 124 New bride
    Aww how lovely! Cant wait to read more
  • CoffeeDogAddictCoffeeDogAddict Posts: 1,515 New bride
    Aw that's such a cute story!! I can't wait to read about your other plans too!
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Thank you ladies, I just feel so lucky to have found F and that we both knew so quickly that it was love and the real deal.
  • MrsW2020MrsW2020 Posts: 27 New bride
    Love a new planning thread! Your proposal story is so cute :love: Look forward to reading more about your plans!
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    The Venue

    So F was pretty clueless about what sort of venue to have but I had my heart set on a rustic barn wedding. We both agreed that we didn’t want somewhere too formal and somewhere we could enjoy a relaxed and happy day.

    So I made appointments to looks at several barns in West Sussex, and on a bright chilly Saturday in January we went to do our viewings.

    The first place we visited was Fitzleroi Barn in Fittleworth. It set a very high bar, we both loved the main barn and the courtyard along with the smaller long room as extra space and the beautiful surrounding countryside. We were shown around by Lucy who was just amazing, so warm welcoming and enthusiastic about the venue and our plans and ideas. Another massive plus is the hire was for a whole weekend so we could set up on the Friday and we would clear down on the Sunday.


    Next we went to Bartholomew Barn, Kirdford which had been my favourite from my online searching but just didn’t live up to my expectations. Unfortunately the person showing us around didn’t give us a great vibe and the Barn and space was a lot smaller than we had envisioned, we would have to have the main reception in a separate marquee for our numbers and that just wasn’t what we were looking for.


    Next we went to Grittenham Barn, Petworth a lovely quirky venue with some animals on site and the bonus of a small onsite accommodation for the bride the night before and the couple the night of the wedding. The barn was one space but with 2 areas split with a big fire place so you can have the reception set up while the ceremony is happening and then switch this area for the evening. This was a contender.


    Finally we went to Pagndean Old Barn near the A23 at Pycombe on the way down to Brighton. This was a much larger venue with some lovely areas people can get away from the bustle a stunning main barn and a nice outside space. However we could hear the A23 when outside and they held multiple weddings over a weekend so we would be able to put less of our own touch it.


    We came away and sat down talking about all the places we had seen and found ourselves constantly comparing everywhere back to Fitzleroi barn! We went back of another viewing and decided it was definitely the place we wanted to get married and booked for 12th September 2020.
  • Pixie2021Pixie2021 Posts: 39 New bride
    Looks so great! We are getting married at Grittenham in July 2021, very excited. Never looked around fitzelroi but it does look stunning. 

    We felt exactly the same re Bartholemew. It had been my fave for ages but getting there it was so much smaller and the space was really limiting. I'm sure it's gorgeous for some people but it just didn't do it for me at all. 

    Have you found much accommodation to stay in around the area for guests etc? And who is your caterer? 

    Can't wait to hear more for your plans! Xx
  • MrsH2020MrsH2020 Posts: 240 New bride
    Yay another West Sussex barn bride! We looked at Fitzleroi and Bartholemew, and nearly went to Pangdean and Grittenham too (can't remember the specifics of why we didn't in the end). Totally get everything you've said about Bartholomew - it was lovely but really not a lot of space. We LOVED Fitzleroi - it was the first place we visited, also shown round by Lucy, and it was so lovely. That courtyard is a dream and we loved the little mezzanine area. Sadly we were quite specific on the dates we needed, and they were booked for all of them. In the end we booked Upwaltham Barns down the road, but Fitzleroi was definitely a strong contender for us. Very excited to read more about your plans!
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    @Pixie2021 We really liked Grittenham its a beautiful building but for us we liked the idea of having a room away that could be a more chill out space for those not wanting to dance away.

    @MrsH2020 I love Upwaltham Barns, one of my best friends got married there in 2014 so I decided we wouldn't go for there but I remember it was such a great place and she got married on 31st October and it was so warm we were outside in the snug areas that are almost moroccan and cozy

  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Caterers

    So our venue requires you to use one of their approved caterers, we didn't have anyone in mind before so were more than happy to do this and there were plenty to choose from. We spoke with Lucy at the venue and she was able to point us in the direction of the people that would probably suit our vision for the day the best. We want a sit down meal but nothing too fancy just good honest food and plenty of it!

    We emailed a few of the caterers and got menu and price lists from those who had our date free. We were able to arrange a free tasting with Nicky and David of Good Taste Catering their food really appealed to us and went along and we weren't disappointed it food was amazing! So much of it, wonderful flavours. Nicky and David were lovely and gave a nice clear package for the pricing not having separate per head pricing for all the crockery and glassware and table linen etc.

    Normally I am a 'shop around' sort of person to make sure I have the best deal, but having see the other menu's and (I have to confess for someone that works in accounts got very confused about) prices and not been offered a tasting by anyone else, F said to me lets just book then as they were happy to make some adjustments we wanted and the food was just what we were looking for.
    They didn't work out the cheapest from the 3 quotes that I had cobbled together on my spreadsheet but they were definitely the clearest and they were very accommodating, friendly and helpful so we signed them up!

    We have decided to not have starters as none of them appealed to us and we are having a later ceremony at 3pm so we are hoping people will have had lunch before then come and we are putting on extra canapes. We are also offering a choice for the 2 courses. We both love Lamb but know it isn't to everyone's taste so we chose to offer a Chicken main as well along with a veggie/vegan option. Normally Good Taste do a trio of mini desserts but we asked if we could have the choice of 2 full size desserts instead and this was also fine, I'm a total chocoholic so it had to be chocolate fudge cake as one option and we went with a lemon cheesecake as the other (again with a vegan option for the few I would be inviting).

    Even though we are eating a bit later than normal we are hoping to have some evening guests and also both F and I have been to weddings where there wasn't enough food and we had been left hungry (he actually left his brothers wedding to get a burger king! 😂) so we also are having an evening buffet. I wasn't feeling the choices that were on offer but when I told Nicky what I was after she was able to put a package together for us which will include a hog roast which I was dying to have!

    One of the other great things about our caterer is they do so many weddings at our venue, they know it superwell and they also have a dedicated team of staff and servers so wouldn't be using agency staff they were not familiar with.

    Drinks

    I thought I might as well throw this in hear. For the day we supply drinks ourselves with no corkage charged, there is a completely separate fridge for us to use for all of this in the catering space. And then for the evening there is one company Brian's Bar that has the licence for the venue, so we could either continue to just provide all the drinks or have the bar in so that there would be alot more choice for only £150.00, which I thought was really cheap.
    We could have a free bar that we paid for, a cash bar or a combination. Neither F or I are big drinkers so we opted for the Cash bar as some of my family can definitely put them away and I couldn't bare to think what the end tab would be! There were no minimum spend restrictions just that once the bar is running all left over drinks from the day would have to be removed which I think is fair.
  • Pixie2021Pixie2021 Posts: 39 New bride
    Sounds great! I liked the look of Good Taste, we just went for tasting with our first one (eat the street) and decided to stay with them as it was so good. Couldn't be bothered with the shopping around haha. 

    Looking forward to hearing more of your plans xx


  • AmyFSToBeAmyFSToBe Posts: 397 New bride
    That sounds like a perfect balance for the food/timings etc. It's so difficult to find the balance between not having too much food and wasting, but then also you don't want any guests to be hungry, and then it all has to come into budget!! Oh no corkage for the day is so great - and that sounds very reasonable for the evening bar. We would have loved to do a free bar but it's just too unpredictable haha - I would be anxious our whole wedding as I watched people go to the bar and rack up the tab..... :D
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Goodness this is harder than I thought trying to remember everything that we sorted out last year!

    Photographer
    Last spring F and I went to a few wedding fairs to get an idea of photography styles we liked and see if there was anyone we wanted to book. We did see a few people that looks like possibles and then F’s sister sent me a link to the page of an old school friend Kelly Love who is a professional photographer. Her stuff was great so we arranged to meet her, it turned out that she mainly did child and family shoots and a few select weddings a year to work around her family. She had also taken the new born photos of F’s niece and they were gorgeous,

    She provided us with a quote of £1350 which was very comparable with the other people we had spoken to. We got on with her so well and knowing that she knows F’s family it was an easy decision to book her.

    Band
    When we were talking about weddings and budget etc to see where our priorities were F said he really wanted a live band.
    We have quite different music tastes but there is a reasonable amount of overlap so we set to looking.

    For me this was a slight challenge because I had spent a lot of time being involved in amateur theatre and performed in musicals on stage. Therefore I have a lot of friends who are in the music business and I didn’t want to offend anyone by booking one person/group over another, most of them are female lead singers so we made the conscious decision to go for a band with a male lead, this was also F’s preference for the sound we wanted on the day.

    We spent weeks and weeks going through online agencies listening to samples! It seemed like everyone I shortlisted F didn’t like and and the ones he picked weren’t to my taste. Finally we worked out the the band and music were what F was focusing on and I was focusing on the voice. We found a great band called Wildcard who are based in Birmingham but will come down to the southeast, they are a all male group with a really nice rock sound and a really great song list.
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Ok I think that has covered most of the major stuff, so I think it makes sense to fast forward to now (well the start of lockdown)

    So we were, like so many others, around 6 months out when lockdown hit and were thinking that we had plenty of time and things would be back to normal by September.

    All the big stuff had been sorted (just in time as it turned out!) I had ordered my dress in December (More on that later). The cake had been ordered in January, and the rings in February. We had also ordered the suits in February. Invitations had been sent in February and we already had a few RSVP's in so we were really please with where we were at. The only thing left really to sort was bridesmaids dresses but I knew what I wanted to order and they were from online and my MOH gave birth to twins in Jan so I was holding off ordering these until she had time to get to how she wanted before letting me know what size to get. Also my other bridesmaid has her own hair salon and will be doing my hair and both of them will be helping with my makeup on the day. And I had pretty much decided to try and do my own flowers so hadn't booked a florist but I did know where I could get supplies from.

    Well the weeks started to tick by and F still remained unconcerned, but I was starting to worry a little especially hearing about all the challenges everyone else was facing with changing their plans and postponing. So in April I sent a few emails round to the venue, caters and photographer to check in and see how things were going. All came back with positive replies so that put my mind at rest (we still had months for this to all calm down and still have our lovely day!)

    The other person I contact was the bridal shop I ordered my dress from, I wasn't sure but thought the dress was being made in China so wanted to know if there were any delays happening or if the estimated delivery date for my dress, end of May/beginning of June was still on track. There is a whole dress & dress shop story here that I will do in a separate post but for now lets say communications was lacking! But eventually I got a reply to say that everything was fine and the delivery date was still the same.


  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Sorry ladies this one is a bit of an essay!

    So Finally on to the dress! I'll start by saying Im a curvy girl, UK size 18 but luckily I'm mostly in proportion and an hourglass shape. Because I have curves I knew that I didn't want a dress with any sort of bulk to add to my size so in my online browsing I was mainly looking a sheath/column dresses.

    First I went to Proposals in Crawley with my entourage of my mum, sister and MIL2 be in tow (my MOH was joining us later) I had my folder in hand of all the dresses I had liked the look of for the designers I knew they stocked, some of which specifically said they carried that dress style. I had a budget in mind of £800-£1000 but being a bargain hunter if I could stay below that I would be happy.
    Well I handed over the folder and talked through my budget and sadly several were immediately discounted. They then discounted a few more as they sample they had was a size 10 or 12 which sadly wouldn't fit over one leg! But we got to work and I did have plenty of dresses I could try. I'll be honest nothing really grabbed me, I just wasn't getting the right feeling from any of them and they were all quite heavy which I definitely wanted to avoid. I ended with one possible option by Morilee, it had a slight aline shape rather than column/sheath but it was beautiful with stunning illusion lace and a touch of sparkle. Sadly the shop wouldn't let us take photos of me in it but I managed to snap one of the tag

    (needless to say it did not look like that on me!) but it was way way over budget at over £1500 and there were changes that I wanted to make to it.

    We then made our way down to Brighton, picking up my MOH on the way. We had a lovely lunch at the Marina and then headed to Wed2B. I was excited as there had been several dresses online that I liked the look of. The ladies in the shop were lovely and told us to find the right size section and pull out dresses to try starting with 3 and we could go back if necessary. Unfortunately not many of the dresses that I had liked online came in the bigger sizes (18 +) but I managed to find a few dresses I liked to try on. Again only one ended up being in contention (for the life of me I cannot remember what style name it was)

    but when I came away and was honest with myself I just didn't love it.

    I went home sightly disappointed but determined, so I went online and found a local bridal shop that said they specialised in stocking for curvy girls called Emily Grace Bridal in East Grinstead so off I went with my mum, MOH and MIL 2 be. Things didn't start off great, we arrived at the shop which is shared with a photographer (the owners son) and we were not expected. He made us all a cup of tea and called his mother, she arrived about 15 minutes later and said that she had spoken to me on the phone (I had only contacted her by emails) and we had moved the appointment, unfortunately she had spoken to another bride with the same first name as me and got us confused. Luckily we were able to go ahead with the appointment just a little delayed.

    We went up to the salon and talked through what I was and wasn't looking for, I spotted a dress with the most beautiful lace and said 'I would love something like this but I want straps, maybe there is something that can be done?' She then said 'how about this' and pulls out from inside the dress a strap section which is detachable. Well I was in love immediately but didn't want to count my chickens so picked 6 or 7 dresses to try, it was so nice to have the choice of ones that would fit rather than having 3/4's of the stock excluded as I couldn't fit in to the sample.
    There were a couple that I liked, one in particular was a hit with my MIL 2 be but I wanted to make changes to the neckline and talking it through as I wanted to change so much it wasn't the one. I had saved the lace dress for last and as soon as I put it on I knew it was perfect!

    the sample was oyster underneath and ivory lace and the salon confirmed it could be done in Ivory for both. Its by White Rose bridal, from their Graceful collection Style WP329. Not wanting to rush my decision I came away planning to go back with just my MOH and Bridesmaid for their honest opinions.

    Well I made an appointment to go back, unfortunately there was another mix up and my friends and I ended up sitting in a cafe for well over a hour trying to get hold of the owner as she wasn't there and the shop was closed. Eventually we gave up and later that day I got apology messages in response to the ones I had sent while we were waiting. I'll be honest I did try and see if I could find the dress somewhere else but I couldn't find anywhere close that stocked the range let along the actual dress (in fact the designer has never had this dress photographed so there are no images online anywhere) so I booked in to try again. This time everything went smoothly and the girls both loved the dress so I ordered it and received a 10% discount for the misunderstandings with the first 2 appointments.

    So as I mentioned in a previous post lockdown happened and I had no idea when my dress would arrive, after sending several emails as there was no updates on the salons website or Facebook page I chased again at the end of June and got a call to say the shop was able to open on 04/07 and my dress was there. I made an appointment for 8th to go a try my dress and collect it and discuss alterations. Well the day came and my dress was perfect! And thank God I had not put on too much weight during lockdown with all the baking and it fitted perfectly! Turns out another misunderstanding, the alterations are not arranged by the shop I was free to find my own seamstress, I was given a couple of contact details but its good that they dont tie you to someone linked to the salon, I just wish I knew before as I could have arranged fittings for the same day but never mind!

    I won't post too many more pictures as I don't want to spoil the final effect but the dress as well as the strap top section also comes with a tulle overskirt, I had been very undecided about whether to use this as I knew I didn't want to add the bulk to my hips, but I have decided to turn this into a veil as it has lace appliques that match the dress.

    I have also made changes to the top so it will now be fixed straps at the front and the back made into a keyhole style. The seamstress I have found is wonderful and she has my dress now and it should be ready in the next fortnight!
  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    I am quite a crafty person and wanted to do lots of DIY's for our wedding including all the invitations.

    Well the original invites were sent out in February, F and I made them together and I was sooooo happy with them, they came out exactly how I wanted.



    And then like for so many of you COVID hit and we have had to change our plans. We spoke to our venue on 6th July to discuss postponement dates for 2021 and as the government had just announced that weddings with up to 30 could happen we asked our venue if we could get married this year and move the main reception to 2021. They have been amazing and have let us do this at no extra charge at all. We had given our notice in January so we were all set and agreed that we just want to be married!

    So back to the drawing board I went to design a change of plans card for those invited to both this year and next and a change of date card for those just for next year. I wanted to keep them as similar as possible but not quite as much detail as we needed to get the information out asap so people knew the plan. We had set our original RSVP deadline as 18th July and I managed to get these all posted out just before that deadline.


  • MrsE2be2020MrsE2be2020 Posts: 70 New bride
    Ah so frustrated, the holiday cottage with a hot tub we booked for our wedding weekend have just cancelled and there is very limited options left for our weekend 😢
    they said they cancelled because of Covid but nothing else, just don’t get it as Airbnb’s are allowed under current guidelines.
  • CoffeeDogAddictCoffeeDogAddict Posts: 1,515 New bride
    Oh no that’s such a shame! That seems really odd considering they’re allowed and you’d think these small companies would be trying to get as many bookings as possible. I don’t know what kind of thing you’re looking for but Canopy and Stars have so many options all over the UK and they were so helpful when we were booking. Hope you’re able to find something! 
  • Finally sorted out a new place to stay for the wedding. It wasn't easy as very limited options available so last minute and in the area close to our venue, but luckily a lovely place called Moo cottage will be our home the night before and night of our wedding!

    I have had my dress back after the alterations have been done, I am so thrilled with it and we have also made a veil from the overskirt that I'm not using so it ties in so nicely.

    It is 1 month to go until we get married, after everything this year has thrown at us I cant believe how fast the last few weeks have gone!
  • That's good news, you must be relieved to have that sorted! Great news about the dress and veil too!
    It's so close now..i'm sure the next few weeks will wizz by!
  • Went to do F’s suit fitting on Saturday which looked so good 😊 
    I’ve also started a project for the dads gifts, I’ve ordered personalised bottle openers and I’ve personalised myself wooden bottle carriers which I’ll fill with their favourite beers.
    they started as light wood from hobby craft and I stained them and hand painted the text, really pleased with how they have come out
  • CoffeeDogAddictCoffeeDogAddict Posts: 1,515 New bride
    They look brilliant!! Did you use a standard wood stain? 
  • I grabbed it from my local B & M its Dulux Woodsheen for interior and exterior Stain and Varnish in one. It says to use 3/4 coats but I was happy with the colour with just one and its not like its going to get much wear and tear :)
  • CoffeeDogAddictCoffeeDogAddict Posts: 1,515 New bride
    That's fab thank you!! 
  • AmyFSToBeAmyFSToBe Posts: 397 New bride
    I'm so impressed with those crates, they look amazing! Also your dress looks lovely, eek can't believe how quickly your day is going to come around!!
  • Thank you @AmyFSToBe I get these ideas to do something crafty and personal but they don’t always come out how I imagine! Luckily these have and most of the bits I have made for the wedding 😊

    I’m so excited and it’s coming around so quick! And I can’t wait for F to see me in my dress 🥰
  • Who else loves a bit of wedding mail! 😂

    Ive been getting all the little gift bits an bobs together over the last couple of days, lots of etsy shopping been going on! To go with the bottle carriers ive done the personalised bottle openers have arrived for the dads and also i have got personalised small compact mirrors for the ladies, both mums, my MOH and bridesmaid and I have also got one for F's Aunt who is letting us use their garden for out party after the ceremony this year. They are so pretty im really happy for them.
    I'm also waiting for bracelets for the mums and then Ive order some Team bride slippers for my MOH and Bridesmaid to wear around the Airbnb. I was looking at robes and PJ's etc but as they are not staying with me the night before they will already be dressed so that is just a little token thing as a bit of fun, I have bride ones coming for me too  :)
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