Real Weddings

Rustic Hampshire Barn Wedding – Elly & Tom

Our very first REAL couple are Elly and Tom, an Anaesthetist and Advertising client partner who had a deeply personal rustic barn wedding wedding in rural Hampshire. With nods to Elly’s childhood in the form of ceilidh dancing, thistles and tartan ribbons at every place setting, these guys avoided Pinterest and kept their wedding planning fun and stress-free. Read on to find out what they made themselves and where they leant on expert suppliers to help them plan their REAL wedding…

So how did you guys meet?

We met whilst watching England lose to Australia at rugby in 2015 in the Tommyfield pub in Kennington, London. We were introduced by friends and ended up spending the whole day and evening talking. It was an extraordinary, ordinary day. We got engaged in February 2017, Tom did actually render me speechless with surprise as we had just returned from a holiday to new Zealand and I was not expecting to be proposed to on a Friday night sat at home.  I am so glad we were at home though as it was lovely and private.

How did you Keep it Real and uncomplicated in the lead up to your wedding?

We tried to keep the wedding planning as stress free as possible. Not a single Pinterest website was looked at and wedding magazines put aside. We wanted to think about the things that made us happy to have on our big day.

We can’t take all the credit for some of our favourite ideas as the florist gave us the idea to get milk churns for a large floral display but we loved them.

We also avoided hiring lots of things as its easy to get carried away with the amount of choice out there e.g. things like a popcorn machine (Elly LOVES popcorn) but instead had our caterer serve it in cones as people arrived.

We wanted a vintage/rustic loose theme and so had vintage Bedford buses to bring our guests from the church to the venue.

We also wanted to pay tribute to Elly growing up in Scotland and so had tartan ribbons with a thistle at every place setting and tartan ribbons on the buttonholes and bouquets. The tartan also had special meaning, as it was the tartan that Elly’s best friend used to wear if she wore a kilt. (Sadly she passed away at the age of 21 and although we wanted our day to be happy, Elly was keen to have something to remember her by). We also asked for donations to the charity set up in her memory.

As another nod to Scotland we had a ceilidh that was enjoyed by all, young and old!


REAL moments

  • My Dad walked me down the aisle. We travelled together to the church which was lovely to have ten minutes alone with him. He wore his kilt and looked very smart and proud.
  • Whilst we signed the register, my friend Maggie sung and Tom’s friend Nigel played the piano. They performed the Bob Dylan version of “make you feel my love” They were really excellent and had practiced so much.
  • I gave a speech before dinner and used this to express things I would have said in vows. But in a speech, I wasn’t limited to just the groom so I could talk about lots of people!
  • We had a reading from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, “Dr Iannis counsels his daughter.” Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is my favourite book and has been since I was 15 so we decided to have it but as an exact quotation from the book, not as an excerpt that has been modified.


Where did you get married and why did you choose your venue?

We had the ceremony at St Michael and All Angels church, Cheriton, Hampshire and the reception at The Long Barn, Newton Valence, Hampshire.

When we were visiting wedding venues we found a lot of them formulaic and not interested in how we wanted to celebrate our day at a personal level. When we arrived to see The Long Barn, it could not have been more different. Kelvin, who runs the venue was friendly, knowledgeable, understanding and very kind. He let us take his photobook away to look at overnight and bring back the next day. It was also clear he had a lot of experience in running weddings with a personal touch. The venue is also really beautiful and a great space which we could just imagine celebrating our day in. In addition to that it comes with cottages to rent which were great for family and the grooms party.

Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?

Jacques Lloyd of Real Simple Photography, who specialises in reportage photography. He was really brilliant. From initial contact he was so friendly and we had a Facetime call to discuss things further which really helped get a feel for him and his work. His approach of keeping posed photos to a minimum was brilliant and he captured so many authentic moments on the day.

Taking us for a walk after dinner was also great as we got lovely photos but also had some time just the two of us. Neither of us relish having our photo taken but Jacques helped us get some really natural shots that we love. Not only is he a great photographer but he really is so unobtrusive and turned up so well dressed and presented for the day. He also got the photos to us so quickly after the wedding and they were presented so nicely in a lovely wooden box with some beautiful prints.

What did you DIY?

For the wedding favours I filled miniature bottles with sloe gin and tied a label to the top of each with twine. The label was in the same print as the menus etc and said Elly + Tom 12/5/2018.

Your cake looked delicious! Tell us more…

We had a naked cake with a gluten free lemon top, Victoria sponge with buttercream,  a normal lemon layer, a Victoria sponge with white chocolate ganache and raspberry layer made by Final Touch Cakes.

The cake was delicious! It was so well presented and looked lovely in the barn. We chose a naked cake as we wanted it to suit the rustic feel of the barn and as neither of us really like fruit cake it seemed sensible. Our friends who got married 3 weeks later insisted on having a naked cake after seeing ours because they were so impressed by it.

Naked wedding cake in barn

How did you pick your stunning flowers?

Melanie from Heavenly scent floral designs was our florist and she was absolutely superb. We had a meeting with her to discuss what we wanted and she sorted everything from any props (suitcase for cards) to all containers, jam jars and lanterns.

She had the brilliant idea to save us money by using milk churns at the church and then transporting them to the venue.

She was very knowledgeable about what would work and actually saved us money by helping us understand what was achievable and if other options were better.

The flowers on the day were roses, thistles, peonies, eucalyptus and foliage. We had soft pinks and purples and whites. Melanie and her team decorated the church and the venue and it really did look and smell amazing.

Tell me about your hair and makeup

Katie Jane Whitlock did my hair and Katie Burt my makeup. The two Katies were absolutely brilliant. I could not have asked for better hair and make up in terms of skill and also they are so friendly and easy going, it was honestly like having friends there to help you get ready. They kept the preparations absolutely to time, made everyone look great and stayed right up until I was about to leave to make sure everything was perfect. I recommend them to everyone I know getting married. I have been a bridesmaid 5 times and have never had such great hair and makeup people.

What about your catering, Was it done in-house or did you bring outside caterers in?

We used Creative Cooks, who are a recommended supplier of the Long Barn. The food was brilliant. Jane, who runs the company, knows exactly how to make a wedding run well, keep things to time and create brilliant food. Sarah was our main point of contact and she is also incredibly experienced.

When we went for our tasting they suggested so many ideas and their ideas were always cheaper but better options than we had thought of. When I talk to friends who have planned weddings they feel like suppliers are always trying to “up sell” things to them, with Creative Cooks and actually all our suppliers, it was the complete opposite. So many of our guests commented on the standard of the food and the canapés were truly incredible.

They were also great with dietary requirements as we had lots of allergies and some strange eaters and they managed it very well.

We had:

  • Tomato tarte tatin with a rocket salad to start
  • Rack of lamb with carrots, crushed peas and potato dauphinoise with a port jus
  • Veggie option was an aubergine parmigiana
  • Dessert was a trio of raspberry sorbet, passionfruit meringue and a chocolate brownie
  • We had a cheese board and our cake for the evening snack.

How did you get everyone up on the dancefloor?

We had an excellent band called Licence to Ceilidh. We had the first half of the dancing as a ceilidh and then they played cover songs followed by a DJ. They had such amazing energy that it really got the party going. They also sung our first dance song “How long will I Love you” by Ellie Goulding but we had the version from the film About Time.  We chose this song as the film is a favourite of both of ours and one of the first films we watched together, but also because the words really do say everything a first dance could.

The first dance was the part of the day both of us were most anxious about, especially me as I hate standing up in front of people, especially dancing but it was lovely and people were quick to join us. We didn’t plan a routine or anything.

How did you choose to decorate your venue? It’s a pretty big barn…

We aimed to keep our venue décor simple and rustic to fit with a loose vintage theme. The only real decoration was flowers, just lots of them. We had flowers in jam jars on the barn pillars, swagging down some pillars, a heart shaped floral wreath behind top table and all the floral table decorations. We kept the table decorations low so they didn’t obstruct peoples’ views and the flowers were in boxes and jugs. We brought the milk churns from the church as well. Our florist also had an old suitcase for cards and lots of lanterns with candles. She had the great suggestion of putting vases for the bridesmaid and bridal bouquet on a large chest so they stayed fresh and added to the decoration.

We were then able to give flowers to people as they left or when they came the next day in bunches which was really nice especially for my mum and grandparents.

Having flowers as the decoration also meant the barn smelt amazing. I wish I could be creative enough to decorate things but unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t so our florist did the most brilliant job.

What made your wedding extra special?

The whole day was absolutely incredible. We could not believe how much love and warmth there was from our friends and family. People made so much effort to celebrate with us with guests coming from China, New York, Sri Lanka and New Zealand to join us. Having my grandparents there was extra special as my granddad is 92 and had been very unwell the year before. My grandparents are a real inspiration when it comes to marriage as they have been married 63 years and are still so in love.


HOw did you save money? 

We saved money by supplying all the alcohol ourselves and avoiding spirits. We spent quite a lot of time buying the alcohol when it was on offer at major supermarkets. It took a bit of time but we saved at least £10 on every bottle of champagne and £3 on every bottle of red wine.

Would you do anything differently?

The only thing I would do differently is impossible because it is to make the day go slower. We enjoyed every minute and wish it could have gone on forever!

Oh, and two other things, I might have slept more the week before but I was too excited! And whilst getting ready I probably should have not just worn my husband’s pyjamas as I now look at other peoples’ wedding photos with people in lovely robes and think maybe I should have done that! But then really it is probably more me to be dressed in his PJs!

Yes Elly, we think you’ll look back in years to come and be pleased you kept it real in your hubby’s PJs!

Final thoughts…

I hope everyone can enjoy their wedding as much as we did. So many people told me wedding planning and having a wedding was stressful but really I didn’t find this at all, staying calm and being organised are important but also remembering that all the choices you make are between nice things and for a brilliant day means that there aren’t really wrong or difficult decisions.

REAL Suppliers

Bride’s dress & veil: Jenny Packham | Shoes: Louboutin | Hair accessories: Black Swan Bridal Boutique | Earrings: Monica Vinader | Other jewellery: Family heirlooms and gifts | Bridesmaids: tops from Monsoon & skirts from needle and thread | Bridesman: own suit | Flower girls: John Lewis and Monsoon | Florist: Heavenly scent floral designs | Photographer: Jacques Lloyd – Real Simple PhotographyHair: Katie Jane Whitlock
 | Make up: Katie Burt | Grooms suit: The Cad and the Dandy | Ushers: Suit hire from Neal and Palmer | Cake: Final Touch Cakes| Creative Cooks | Entertainment: License to Ceilidh | Transport: Ages Past

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Gaia Hudson

Written by gaia_bkir

Founder of Brides Keeping it Real and mum of two little ones, Leon & Ada. Passionate about providing a supportive online community for brides and grooms who want an achievable, uncomplicated wedding planning experience.