GREENUNIONS: A Church and Farm Style Winter Wedding on the Fens | Cheryl and Oliver

21st April 2017


Now here's a lovely little gem of a winter wedding.  Even though it looks like summer's only just on it's way, I know some of you will be in the midst of planning a winter wedding for the end of 2017 or 2018 ...

Cheryl and Oliver tied the knot on the Fens in the depth of winter 2016, on 29th December, and when she contacted me listing her bullet points I knew this little gem of a wedding was one you would love to hear about:

  • Ceremony in a small church in Coveney - Cambridgeshire.
  • Reception on a farm with converted barn called Bedingham’s Farm Sutton Gault, Cambridgeshire. The farm serves it’s own hog roast and is also a small holding.
  • Dress was a vintage inspired tea length gown.
  • Bought our rings from Glasswing Jewellery - found in Green Union’s wedding directory.
  • We offered home made sloe gin and blackberry brandy as favours.
  • We hired a local amateur photographer, Darren John, who captured our love and appreciation of the outdoors.
  • The feel/vibe of the day was vintage, coupled with our love of nature (even in winter), ale and rock and roll music. We hired 2 gramophones and played pre. 1950’s music as our guests arrived.
  • Our centrepieces alluded to our love of those pubs recognised by CAMRA and were decorated with a winter theme of pine cones and natural logs.

So I'm handing over the Cheryl to tell you all about the details in her own words ...

The Perfect Place

The flat Fen land was the perfect place for our winter wedding

We moved to our village 2 years ago and feel like this is where we are putting down our roots. Serendipitously, a new barn conversion had recently opened for weddings in the same village. It is both a working farm and wedding venue and we felt this combined our love of the local area, with our passion for the outdoors. The barn is overlooked by an expanse of flat fen land and the perfect place for our winter wedding. We wanted to capture our sense of adventure, why not have our wedding reception on a farm in December? We asked our guests to dress appropriately and to bring wellies!

I Do

The Vicar also married my sister

Oliver had asked me to marry him on Christmas Day on Felixstowe beach a year earlier. We knew that we wanted to get married within the next year, as we are both impatient with waiting! We wanted the sentiment of the same vicar marrying both my sister and I in the same church and so our decision was made. The church is small, but packed with charm and warmth.

The Guest List

We had friends from as near as home and as far as America

We invited around 100 people, but unfortunately due to the season, had several unwell people on the day who couldn’t join us. We welcomed friends from America, London, Birmingham, The Lake District and Hampshire. We are fortunate to have many friends and family living locally who were able to car share or get a taxi home!

Seasonally, we provided homemade (and foraged by hand) sloe gin and blackberry brandy for our adult favours. The younger children were gifted a small activity pack to keep them occupied.

Due to our love of traditional pubs, we laid out traditional board games and skittles. We wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere between formalities.

The Budget

As we limited ourselves to planning the wedding over a year, we didn’t have the luxury (or justification) to save and spend aimlessly. We believe that we spent £11,000, which was only £1,000 over our original estimation. The budget was crucial, so every decision was made as a team and once the essentials (dress, suits, venue, food etc) were accounted for, we could have some fun planning the little extras.

I’d say agree a budget, a possible contingency, then stick to it! We made many lists, wrote everything on the calendar and there wasn’t a spreadsheet in sight!

The Outfits

I borrowed the veil from my sister

We wanted our suits and bridesmaids dresses to reflect the season, so a deep navy was perfect. Our Groomsmen hired their 2 piece suits and warm boleros added to the winter look for the bridesmaids. Our choice of red ties set off the theme with red thread used for both the invitations and orders of service.

My dress was a blush lace and tulle tea length vintage inspired gown. I had always been inspired by the '50s era and the gown suited my hourglass shape. The dress was bought from a local bridal shop and I wore my sister’s veil; another auspicious nod to her wedding. My late Grandmother made lace and as I used my inheritance to pay for my dress, both seemed a fitting homage. I kept my accessories simple, as I wanted my dress to do the talking. A few art deco inspired hair pins completed the look.

The Feast

We served crisps to nibble on as our guests arrived, accompanied by bubbles of course! For the main meal we feasted on the most delicious hog roast provided by the farm venue. We wanted to try to keep the food as low impact as possible and were delighted that the pig was reared by the farm in the most ethical and humane way. Or non-meat eating guests dined on vegetarian lasagne and we served homemade cheesecakes for dessert. We wanted to keep our late evening food modest and straightforward as no one would want to dance after another big meal, so we served home cured and prepared bacon rolls and hotdogs.

We didn’t want the ostentatiousness of a large wedding cake, so opted for individual handmade cupcakes - a mix of seasonal Stollen and our favourites carrot, lemon and of course chocolate. Carri, our cupcake maker extraordinaire created a display to match our red and vintage theme with home made tea lights holders to complement the table decorations.

Your Vision and the Green Elements

We were married by the vicar in our local church

I wanted our wedding to represent our interests and passions, so the overall theme was vintage but I’m sure if you had asked a guest, they would not have been be able to pinpoint the theme!

We did want sustainability to be key and didn't want to create too high a carbon footprint, but it was difficult.  To this aim we chose a local venue (with a sustainable food supply), local church and local florist.  We involved friends with small and independent businesses to bake our cakes and hand design our invitations and order of service.

We ordered our bespoke wedding rings from Glasswing Jewellery. We were delighted that our rings were made from the same piece of recycled silver and hand hammered. Oliver doesn’t wear jewellery, so the simplicity of the ring is just beautiful.

Can you be both Stylish and Green on your Wedding Day?

I think it’s absolutely possible; it just takes a creative mind and a commitment to searching out all things eco! We searched Green Union for ideas and found Glasswing Jewellery on the site. We also found Paper Tree, who provided our name cards, in Green Union's wedding directory. There are a few eco-friendly and green websites around and if you are motivated by green, they are a great source of inspiration. There were several things which we didn’t manage to source locally - I have to admit that my wedding dress was shipped from Australia - as you can imagine, once you’ve chosen the one, there’s no changing your mind!  I do plan to look into offsetting our carbon footprint created by the wedding as a small green gesture.

Tips for other Couples planning to throw a Green Wedding …

We made sloe gin from foraged sloes as wedding favours

Absolutely - definitely go for a green wedding! Stick to your beliefs and if you want to do things differently, do it. We wanted to incorporate nature as much as possible, so chose the venue specifically and sourced pine cones and logs for our centre pieces. We didn’t find that being green was particularly more expensive, but it does take a little digging around to find suppliers – Green Union was our go to source of inspiration and very helpful with simplifying this!

Top Tip from the Groom

Find time for a quiet moment together

I feel that the wedding should represent you as a couple and not what other people wish your wedding day to be. It is also important to have time to yourself, as the day flies by in an instant! Go for a walk, have a chill out area, take some photos, and make sure you have time just the two of you.

Special Touches

The camper vans were a dream come true

We adore vintage VW Campervans and we were very fortunate to hire two 1960s split screen vans. Oliver and the Groomsmen arrived in one and my Dad and I arrived in the other. They really were a talking point and allowed us to live the dream of owning one, even if it was only for a day!

We have a passion for Real Ale, particularly when enjoyed in a real ale pub! In 2015, we spent the year touring all of the pubs awarded by CAMRA in Cambridge and took Polaroid style photos to use as our centre pieces. These were duplicated for our seating plan, which was fashioned out of a reclaimed pallet.

We have an equal love of vinyl and try to expand our collection at record shops and markets. We chose artists who represent our love of music (Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones) and used 4 of their records as our guest books. We plan to frame and display these in our home.

We hired two DJs to play pre. 1950s music on vintage gramophones as our guests arrived. Although we didn’t hear the music - we were having our photos taken - the feedback has been very positive!

What does marriage mean to you both?

Marriage symbolises our continuing partnership together

Oliver and I have always considered ourselves a team, making joint decisions and riding the waves of life together and marriage, for us, symbolizes our continuing partnership together.  Not only does marriage allow us to share our love for one another in front of our friends and family, it’s the representation of our next adventure together.

Your Photographer

Darren captured out love of nature including the wellies!

I am an outwardly happy person and I wanted that energy and happiness to be captured naturally.  Our photographer was recommended by a friend and what a brilliant decision we took to hire Darren. We were inspired by Darren’s love of travel and his curiosity for both people and places. Neither Oliver nor I were particularly keen on too many formal shots and Darren naturally captured our love and appreciation for one another.  Our venue was the perfect setting for incorporating nature and Darren gave us some incredible photos of the vast outdoors – bridal wellies were essential!

The Details

Wedding Rings - Glasswing Jewellery

Name Tags - Paper Tree

Photographer - Darren John Photography

Venue - Bedingsham Farm

Flowers - Tamara Louise

Stationery - Frankie and the Sewing Machine

Indulge ...

My tea length dress totally suited my hourglass figureLucky sixpence!Emotions get the better of you ...We both arrived at the church in vintage split screen VW CampersMarriage symbolises the continuation of our lives togetherWe were married by our local vicar in the parish churchA quiet moment together is very special in a busy wedding dayIn our favourite place on the Fens in nature

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