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A rustic wedding at Herons Farm Barn in Pangbourne

A rustic wedding at Herons Farm Barn in Pangbourne

Written by Katie Byrne

Amber and Chris filled their wedding with handmade details and gorgeously thoughtful twists


Amber and Chris tied the knot at Herons Farm Barn in Pangbourne, Berkshire.

We both wanted a relaxed, rustic country wedding, with a big emphasis on doing as much as possible ourselves.

We both have small families and I hate being the centre of attention, so we wanted to avoid a big, formal occasion with lots of random family members and friends-of-friends that we barely knew. We also felt to get the exact day we wanted, on our budget, would require us to do as much of the decorating and organising as possible ourselves.

Our venue was beautifully simplistic, with great scope to add our own decorations and nods to our style, which we could adapt throughout the day.

It had accommodation and caterers attached without being a chain or a hotel, so it maintained a uniqueness that we really liked.

We held our ceremony and reception in the same room, so we knew we wanted somewhere that could be effortlessly styled in order to lend itself to the different moments of the day.

I knew I didn't want to wear white; I wore a two-piece, mink-coloured satin top with buttoned back and ivory lace and mink tulle skirt, with a small satin waist band. I never expected to fall in love with a two-piece wedding dress; in fact Chris, said he didn't like them and I purposefully avoided trying them on when I visited bridal shops! But I tried one on for fun and never wanted to take it off again.

My mum - who's a seamstress - made some initial sketches and it just went from there. Having my wedding dress made by my mum was amazing -it meant we could take our time and have a few goes at getting it just right.

Chris wore a light oatmeal-coloured Ben Sherman tweed blazer, Ted Baker shirt, brown chinos, brown brogues and a brown bow tie made by my mum. He didn’t have a buttonhole but had an off-cut of the bridesmaids' dress fabric made into a pocket square. His best man wore the same but in complimenting colours and the other fabric used in the bridesmaids' dresses as his pocket square.

We had two young bridesmaids, whose dresses were again made by my (very talented!) mum. They were deep dusky pink and aubergine pure silk. They were a simple pin tuck bodice and a-line skirt to just above the knee, with a contrasting waist band. 

The flowers were another part of the wedding we really wanted to do ourselves. We spent ages looking through Pinterest and blogs to find the exact types and colours we wanted. I really wanted peonies but as we married in October, it limited the flowers we could (and couldn't) have. 

We ended up getting our flowers from a company called The Flower Monger. We described the colours, types and quantities of flowers we’d like and they then advised us on what will most likely be available and then they source them through flower auctions on the continent and delivered them to us.

We then supplemented these flowers with additional blooms from local nurseries and they all came together so brilliantly. Amber made all the flower bouquets herself, with a little help from her mum the day before our wedding.

An old colleague of mine, Zara, styled my hair, working in some gypsophila to tie everything into our theme. The bridesmaids also wore gypsophila in their hair and held wild flower bouquets to match me.

We had home-made lawn games for people to enjoy whist we had our pictures taken: these included hoopla with brown beer bottles painted copper, tin-can alley with weathered bean cans and Giant Jenga. These went down a treat - and thank goodness the weather held out!

Our reception was in the same barn as our ceremony so it still had the home-made bunting hanging from the old oak ceiling beams. We decorated this with fairy lights, bunting and hung up a cardboard stag head, Barry, that we have in our home. This area really helped to add to the relaxed country feel we wanted to our venue.

I love baking and decided to use a recipe I used to make with my dad when I was younger. After a couple of trials, I manged to perfect the semi-frosted naked cake style to create our beautiful two-iered cake. The feedback on the day was brilliant and our guests were amazed we’d done it ourselves (the royal 'we'!).

Chris managed to save some fancy gin bottles from his work: beautiful copper bottles from Copper Head Gin and Hendricks Classic Gin bottles. We had a graphic designer friend create a logo for us that we then made into labels and placed on some of the bottles. The day before the wedding we filled the bottles with our flowers to create our floral displays; we placed these along the edges of the aisle for our ceremony and then had them as tablecentres for the wedding breakfast.

We really struggled coming up with names for our tables: we didn't want numbers as we only had three tables and thought it sounded like prioritising groups of guests. We ended up taking inspiration from Barry the cardboard stag and sourced some stunning geometric animal designs.

We fell in love with these and decided to make them the inspiration for our tables. So we had the Moose, Boar, Fox and Bear tables and people loved them. For our table plan, Chris found an abandoned wooden and glass cupboard door that had the perfect number of panes so we managed to clean it up and then stencilled the animal outlines and guest names on to each glass pane. 

We both agree that one of our favourite moments of the day was when we’d finished our drinks reception and headed off with our photographer to have our photos taken. It gave us some proper time with just the to of us to reflect on the ceremony and the craziness of seeing all our guests afterwards.

We headed off in a farm buggy down to the private fields and woodland that belonged to the venue - it was a stunning location and seemed so far away from the activities happening just back along the path. Looking back at the photos we managed to get from this part of the day brings back such amazing memories.

The biggest surprise on the day was the Best Man speech: completely unbeknownst to us he’d created a video of himself acting out a mock 'day in the life of Chris' video. It featured some of Chris’ work colleagues, including his boss, and some of our closest friends who unfortunately weren’t able to join us made brilliant guest appearances.

He also smuggled in a large screen and projector so he could play it before we all sat down to our wedding breakfast. It was so incredibly unique and such a wonderful surprise, it had us in both hysterics and tears when we saw the messages from people not there on the day.

Two days before the wedding we also received a surprise gift from one of Amber's work friends - some personalised home-made bunting from her own company Wren&Thistle. It was perfect, she’d managed to find out our colour scheme and had matched it brilliantly. We pinned it to our top table and it couldn’t have finished it off any better.

Steal their style!

Photographer: Elysia Nicole Venue: Herons Farm Barn Flowers supplied by: The Flower Monger Video: Shoot It Yourself Band: Blue Juice Bridal Hair: Zara Vernazza