Real Weddings

Bex Brides for an autumnal rustic wedding at Owen House Wedding Barn – Vanessa & Joe

Alexis Forsyth

Blending the traditional charm of a church wedding with what the bride describes as the quirkiness of a reception at the beautiful Owen House Wedding Barn in Knutsford – today’s real wedding is full of personal touches, with family and guests alike all getting hands on in preparations for the big day.

Wedding planning goals if ever we saw them!

Loving everything about the autumn season – a November date was set by Vanessa and Joe. And nodding to this wonderful time of the year, the couple incorporated log slices, candles, gold lanterns, berries, fairy lights and pinecones into their plush wedding styling and décor.

Swapping a traditional cake for a heap of cakes baked by their guests (somewhere between ten and 15 in total according to our bride), we don’t think anyone would be complaining about a lack of sweet treats! So, let’s indulge in all the gorgeousness of their special day and hand the blog over to Vanessa for all the deets!

With images by Nik Bryant


Vanessa says

: We were on a road trip along the West Coast of America from Portland to LA in September 2017. We had left San Francisco on my birthday, picked up a Mustang and headed off to Yosemite. As we arrived the sun was setting so we headed to a secluded river and had a couple of beers whilst watching the sun set over the mountains. I asked Joe to take a photo of me paddling about in the water (all for Instagram, obviously!) and he was taking ages, fumbling around with a sock. I shouted for him to hurry up and next thing, he comes bounding over and stumbles on one knee and proposes. The setting was perfect, but it was a bit strange that evening when I wanted to get dressed up and celebrate but we were surrounded by hikers having an early night!


We got married on 9th November 2018. I was quite keen on an autumn wedding as I love that time of year and all the rich colours that go with the season. The actual date was down to the availability of the venue as it is so popular, but the date suited us and gave us enough time to get financially sorted in that time.

We tied the knot at St Peters Church in Lymm and had our reception at Owen House Wedding Barn in Mobberley, Cheshire. I loved the contrast of having the traditional church ceremony tied in with the quirkiness of Owen House. Both venues really complemented each other and although the church was traditional, we could still put our twist on it. We walked down to The Cinematic Orchestra, To Build a Home, and walked out to Badly Drawn Boy, The Shining – not exactly The Wedding March!


I wanted a wedding that really reflected our personalities so I tried to put as much of a personal touch on it as possible and asked our friends to help out where they could.

We made the order of service booklets, the table plan, I spent hours making a wooden pallet photo frame wall, I asked my friends and family to bake cakes for a cake table, I asked my father-in-law to play flugelhorn, we had our friend do an acoustic set at arrival drinks and we asked another friend to paint the order of the day on a pallet. Everyone did an amazing job and we were blown away at the effort they all went to for our special day.

We also had a Polaroid guest book which I would definitely recommend as it was so much fun to look back at the pictures afterwards (the non X-rated ones anyway!).

As for a theme, I went for rustic as it suited the venue and the time of year. We had lots of log slices, candles, gold lanterns, fairy lights and pinecones scattered around. And lots of eucalyptus.

We used burgundy, dark reds, dusky pinks, forest green and golds throughout. I loved the deep colours against the lighter pink and gold to bring it all together.


I had a vision in my mind of the dress style that I wanted and once I’ve got something in my mind, I have to find the exact match! I did all my research online and narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities. I wanted a boho style lace dress, but I didn’t want to pay the £2,000 price tag that some of them had. That’s when I found the Fleur dress at BexBrides in Darlington, and two days later I was on a train to see her. I fell in love with it straight away and Bex made the dress fit perfectly. We added lots of little bits throughout the process, like art deco trimming and a sparkly pearl back chain. Bex also closed the shop for a day so we could do the fittings in one day to save travelling up from Manchester for a third time. She really got my style and was so accommodating. I highly recommend her!


We decided that because our wedding had a relaxed vibe to it, that Joe would get married in jeans! So we found some nice skinny black jeans from Jack Jones and a gorgeous forest green Donegal wool and tweed jacket, burgundy tie and burgundy black and white geometric pocket square, along with Joe’s trademark flat cap, which is never off his head!

We had a bit of a nightmare with the groomsmen because Joe found the jacket he wanted, so we needed waistcoats to match and we must have ordered off every website in the UK, but nothing was quite right. In the end good old TK Maxx came up trumps. They wore these with the same black skinny trousers, burgundy tie and desert boots. Basically, the same as Joe minus the jacket and flat cap – and I think they looked good but were absolutely freezing. Sorry boys!


My bridesmaids wore burgundy and wine coloured dresses from Chi Chi London with nude coloured shoes. My flower girl had a cute cream lace dress from TK Maxx with some sparkly shoes from H&M and a little fur stole to keep her warm.


Sarah Ferris and her colleague Hebe did our hair and makeup. Sarah was brilliant and stepped in last minute as our original lady let us down.


We were very kindly loaned a vintage wedding car from a friend of Joe’s family. It was a 1929 Ford Essex. For some reason I thought it was going to be blue but when it arrived it was the same burgundy that was in our colour scheme. It was perfect.


We used Nik Bryant for our photography and as you can see from the photos, he is seriously talented. On the day, he made me feel so at ease and it was more like having a mate there rather than a photographer. He even helped with dress complications and stood outside the bedroom to make sure my dad didn’t come anywhere near! His style is completely unobtrusive, and he goes the extra mile to make sure he has the perfect shot. I would 100% recommend him.


We didn’t have a videographer and I had a meltdown the week before the wedding because I had seen a friend mention on a wedding forum that her biggest regret was not having one. That friend was coming to our wedding so I contacted her and asked if she could get footage of the speeches, I would forever be grateful. I was so very lucky because a few weeks after the wedding she sent me a USB with the majority of the day on film along with a YouTube video using our first dance song as the backing music. I really have the best friends!


I can’t remember the names of all the flower types, but I had lots of burgundy and dusky pink roses, dark berries, and a lot of eucalyptus, and what can only be described as thin curly branches coming out of them! It made the bouquet look so unique. The florist also made my artificial floral head crown. We used Karl Welsh Floral Design in Lymm. We have used them for other events, and I would highly recommend them.

We didn’t have a venue stylist, so the florist helped me set the room up (who is also a family member so that helped!). Again, we had lots of eucalyptus with fairly lights woven through, and lots of jam jars and vintage perfume jars with random flowers that matched the bouquet. We had a number of lanterns with church candles, gold laser cut table names, log slices, two candelabras on the top table, and festoon Edison bulbs hanging across the top table with a neon heart behind Joe and I, which was later the focal point of the dancefloor. There are also some huge hay bales at the side of the venue and we put in a big neon ‘love’ sign from Love Lights the Way which looked incredible in the photos and there was also a hanging chandelier, hired from Illuminate.

We didn’t really bother with favours because I find them a bit gimmicky, but we did have matte gold laser cut place names which we put on the tables for guests to keep. We have ours up on our individual bathroom shelves and they look pretty good.


I decided I didn’t want a traditional cake so I asked the bakers amongst my friends and family if they could help out and I had about ten to 15 cakes in the end, and the table looked amazing! I’d definitely recommend this as it gives people a choice, it’s a conversation starter and looks great.


We had winter Pimms and beers on arrival and didn’t bother with canapés as we knew the main course would be heavy. For starters, we had a fish cake with tartare source, water cress and pea puree. For the mains we had steak, ale and stilton pie with mashed potato and roasted winter root veg. Then for dessert we couldn’t decide so the boys had Joe’s favourite, sticky toffee pudding and the girls had my favourite – chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce, popcorn and a sugared glacier!

In the evening we had a kebab stall serving spiced chicken or halloumi flatbreads with rice, salad and a minted yoghurt dip.

For wine, we had Romeo & Juliet Passimento Red Merlot (which we thought was quite fitting, given the occasion!) and False Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

We used Barretts Catering and we’ve had so many compliments about the food – many people have told us it’s the best wedding food they have had.


We had our friend Tom do an acoustic set at the reception while we were whisked off for photos. In the evening we had DJ Andy Murphy. We only had one ‘rule’ and that was no wedding cheese and he certainly delivered on that. The dancefloor was never empty – he even got us doing the love train outside the venue. It was hilarious!

Thanks to

I would absolutely recommend Owen House to anyone. The venue is incredible. It’s so stylishly and perfectly thought out. They have luxury accommodation on site, but it has kept its rustic feel. I mean, it’s on a working farm! There is also a ceremony room and bridal prep area. The owners really have covered everything.

Best bit

My favourite part of the day was sitting at the top table, looking out at all our favourite people from both our lives that had come together for us. The whole room was surrounded by love and I’ll never forget that feeling.


We decided to go to Mexico for our honeymoon. We flew out on 30th December to an island called Holbox, which was the coolest place I have ever visited. The beaches had white sand and clear blue water surrounded by tropical fish. We spent the week lazing around, drinking cocktails, having massages on the beach, eating good Mexican food. They don’t have cars on the island, so we were getting around by golf cart. After a week we headed over to Riviera Maya which was a very different holiday, all-inclusive and much busier but still as beautiful. We stayed in a ‘casita’ and were treated like royalty. I actually hired a charted boat for a day for Joe’s wedding present, so we went snorkelling, swam with turtles and sting rays, watched the sunset and got tipsy on fizz!


My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – just relax. The things that you might get really stressed over, others may not even notice on the day. I wish I had known that now as I was getting stressed over really small things.

If you are after a boho/indie style wedding, then I’d steer clear of the major wedding fairs and find out about the smaller independent ones. I loved Brides Up North when planning our wedding. I found out about many wedding fairs and local suppliers through them and their events. I came away with so many contacts and wedding ideas from the Brides Up North wedding shows. I also loved the real weddings section on the Brides Up North blog too for inspiration.

Finally, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting ‘everything’ so set out a budget and try and stick to it and figure out what’s really important and what isn’t. I ended up being a little over budget, and I’m a project planner for a living!

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