B A C K A T T H E B A R N
As we pulled up to the driveway of the barn and Jason had helped me lift layers of organza over the wet stones, I could hear the sweet sound of lee vann’s guitar and quickly my eyes turned to the twinkling fairy lights strung between the red brick of the barn walls as I peeked through to the room filled with our guests laughing and chatting, making good use of free prosecco, topping them with fruit cordials and strawberries. The gloomy day in actual fact created a serene ambience amongst the barn inside and before we knew it, Jason and I had lost each other to the many congratulations and hugs that surrounded us.
At this point I saw it as my best opportunity to speak to as many guests as possible before we headed out for some couple shots and managed to sneak in a drink or two. It’s so true that the day really does disappear in front of your eyes and at times I barely felt I had enough time to stand in one place before having somewhere else I was wanted. Having said that, this time of day must have been when I felt most grateful about my preparation before hand. Spending hours upon hours organising wedding day timings is stressful and something that was far from a quick or easy job as it involved conversing with all suppliers that we had handpicked for the day and ensuring the times we had in mind, worked with what they needed and then ofcourse making sure the venue knew all of this to be able to greet and expect suppliers/guests at specific times. Safe to say I lost a few hours beauty sleep over this a few nights (a good reason for the sudden onset of impetigo that kindly presented itself a week before my wedding) but… It was so worth it! You would be amazed to know how happy I was that our food was served all at the same time, with enough staff to cater for the amount of guests and I even recall having to wait a few moments as my pork belly cooled before tucking in. The point is… This wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t finish our couple shots on time or if our photographer didn’t know the run of the day which we had in mind. It’s a little bit like studying…..(something else that consumes a lot of my life) how can you expect to pass an exam without the preparation beforehand? Granted… Not everyone will have to put in as much work into a wedding day but silly little me wanted a challenge didn’t I? There’s plenty of wedding options to limit this stress nowadays but no… I like to lay it on thick. However to truly get the vibe we wanted on our day we had to make a little sacrifice and do all scouting and organising ourselves.
D O I T Y O U R S E L F . . .
Hand-made decoration, decoration that took months of DIY, splinters and ‘
oh bollocks to this’ ‘let’s try again’ attempts. The lead up to the wedding involved everyone; from immediate family and neighbours knocking down sheds to make crates and building wooden features the size of a house, collecting and keeping bottles and jars alike, bridesmaids cutting and sticking save the dates, mum and I sewing with a singer decades old… it felt endless, it was endless; for 18 months or so. I loved it, I also hated it, I felt proud of myself and I also saw areas needing a lot of improvement. Either way, it gave me exactly what I wanted and had worked towards. A little room of happiness came together…
T R A C T O R T I M E
Our first set of couple shots was called and we soon had a pool of guests gathering outside to watch us hop on the back of our own chauffeured tractor ride out to the ruins. The sun managed to make a sneaky appearance and somewhere along the lines, Jason and I got lost in time soaking in our day so far, being able to witness the distant sound of singing and laughing as our guests chatted amongst each other. It was a time of the day we got to be ‘together’ and we made sure to make good use of this time as both of us like to boogie so it was likely that after our first dance, there would be no time to spend tracking each other around the room. Thanks to Kathy, Heather, Mike & Jaco for chasing us through long wet grass grabbing shots and footage of our little trip and to the awesome couple shots we have to treasure for a lifetime.
Ofcourse a tractor ride wouldn’t have been fair without taking on my little princess too…
S W E E T T A L K
Shortly after our return, we were called to our tables and welcomed in with a large round of applause – Feeling a bit surreal at the thought of clapping hands coming together to celebrate a relationship of 7 years that’s now headed into it’s next chapter. A little emotional in fact. All of our loved ones gathered together in one room for us – me and him. I felt so grateful at this moment, nothing but smiles beamed on peoples faces and some had travelled so far to make it. For those reading this who attended (I know i’m sooooo late with thank you cards – they are in progress i promise!!!!) Thankyou : the day really wouldn’t have fulfilled our expectations if you hadn’t of been there, we love you.
As our mouth-watering wedding breakfast was served, we’d set out on a little mission to make our tables as interactive as possible and knowing the type of friends and family we have (no offence guys), we knew they weren’t going to settle for elegance so we opted for more of a comical effect. Fun bags were placed at the centre of each table and filled with as many ‘laugh-out-loud’ moments as possible. Paper aeroplanes, glow sticks, balloons, face mats and drinking straws were amongst the antics. Alongside this, we replaced place names with polaroid style snap’s of each guest to help them locate their place for the next few hours.
Soon came the speeches. Hand on heart, I can honestly say this was one of my favourite and most meaningful parts to the day. Don’t get me wrong, the ceremony was truly beautiful, emotional and everything it should be. But the speeches really moved me; whether it be to tears or stitches of laughter, it was a chance to hear the emotions of the men closest to us and not something that your guaranteed to hear everyday so I have to say I was most excited for this part.
Up first was my Dad. A bag of nerves but he managed to say some heartfelt truths of our relationship and for someone that always puts his family before himself, it meant the world to hear him publicly speak of how proud he is and how much Jason means to our family. I am so grateful for the love and direction both my mum and dad have given me throughout my life and only hope together Jason and I get the chance to teach this to our own family one day.
Next up was 1 of 3 best men, Lewis. One of Jason’s closest and longest friends. For as long as I have known Lewis there has been no doubt in my mind that these two have grown up in trouble, looking out for each other and also having support for each other and honestly wanting the best for one another. To someone who is always on the other end of the phone and just around the corner, it was a pleasure to have a genuine friend help re-live some of those precious moments on the biggest day of our life. Thank you for your continued support in the lead up to the wedding and the girly chats you both hold to this day.
Lastly, my husband. With the sweetest words as only expected by everyone in the room. He truly done us proud with the most honest and caring speech possible. A dry eye in the room was hard to spot and I think its only fair to repeat a few of his special words regarding some of the most important people in our lives;
“Paul, what can I say, a man that truly gives his all to those he loves. A man with great unselfishness in trying to make everyone around him happy.”
“Helen, the more time I spend with you, I begin to see where Ashleigh’s warmth, caring and loving nature come from. I find comfort in knowing Ashleigh has had these attributes to grow up around.”
“Mum and Dad, As a young lad with a love of football, all of Tony’s Tips on and off the pitch have got me in and out of some difficult situations but I have grown stronger for them. As the years go by I find myself becoming more and more like you, i’ve never been closer to you. Mum, you are the best example of a hardworking and loving mother and I thank you for that! I have one of you and you are on in a million.”
“Leona & Chelsea, you’ve both known us for a number of years now and probably seen us at our best and worst, but you are still here with a helping hand. I know how much Ashleigh values you as friends, so thank you for always being there for her.”
“Natalie & Kim. You 3 girls may not live under the same roof anymore but I don’t think I know sisters who are so close! The three musketeers!”
“Lu. If you weren’t a bridesmaid, you would have been a best man. I look up to you. Your determination, strive for perfection, loving and kind nature is easy to see. Thank you for always being there for me but treating Ash like one of your own sisters.”
“Ryan. We’ve known each other since being 11 years old playing for Norwich, through the rough and the smooth but we’ve come out stronger for it! We’ve shared some memories and i’m glad it’s this one too.”
“Lewis. The male equivalent to a girlfriend; doesn’t listen to you and likes to have a good moan. Only kidding, since our school days we’ve been like ying and yang. It’s great to have you there to always ground me. The ‘realist’, for that you are probably one of the reasons today has happened.”
“Billy. As kids we were inseparable, always wanting what the other one has, kicking the ball around or learning to swing a club and look how that turned out – a lost ball and a hole in the side of my head! You were always like a big brother to me rather than a cousin and as we’ve got older I don’t think thats really changed.”
“My bride, my best friend and my new wife.” Unless you’ve seen our beautiful video, then that’s all i’m going to say on that front. It may be simply that I can’t repeat his words to do them justice on how he made me feel that day. I love you Jason, more than I could ever have imagined possible.
Undeniably, there has to be a moment of dedication here to those loved ones absent from our wedding day but never from our hearts. It’s true when they say time is precious. With their love and support during their time in our lives, we have grown and learnt so much from every single one of them. It is hard to talk and face emotion over these precious people sadly unable to share in the happiest day of our lives but if your listening – we have never stopped loving you and we will forever miss you.
M O M E N T S
Moving on, as speeches and cake cutting continued I thought i’d turn your attention to some of the beautiful moments caught on camera by the talented Katherine Ashdown (I know, I know, I can’t get enough of her). So here is some pure enjoyment from our day…
…and whilst i’m at it, I would just like to say a huge toast is dedicated to our amazing network of family and friends out there, so many memories have been shared with every single one of you and we wouldn’t be the idiotic, goofy couple we are today without you all.
D R I N K I N G & D A N C I N G
Our cliche perfect ending was complete with a teary first dance and a floor filled with loved ones making good use of £2 spirits. Family traditions, ties around sweaty heads, boys on shoulders, sprained ankles and one hell of a dirty dress later, we slept like babies and woke up with a memory of a lifetime.
Our first dance was ‘Shania Twain’s From This Moment On’, followed by a dance I had requested with my dad; Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.