Sun-drenched and brimming with love, today’s real wedding is a wonderful example of a chilled out rural summer soiree complete with personal touches and the prettiest of blooms.
Settling on a pastel blue colour scheme and complementing rustic touches, Sarah and Matthew’s beautiful barn setting was styled to a tee, with the romantic hue carried through to the bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen’s wear attire too.
In keeping with the setting and season, they opted for an afternoon tea wedding breakfast and relaxed reception barbecue, providing plenty of dancefloor fuel for the evening sentertainment.
With images by Lauren McGuiness Photography
Sarah says: Matthew surprised me at home on a quiet Sunday morning in March 2017, whilst sat on the sofa in our pyjamas! It was such a lovely private moment between the two of us. We had been together around four-and-a-half-years and were in the process of renovating our new house, so we’d had a hectic few months!
We chose my engagement ring together at Rox Jewellers in Newcastle and decided on a vintage style, white gold diamond halo ring with diamond shoulders. We waited until it was ready to collect before sharing our happy news with family and friends.
We got married on Saturday 7th July 2018, almost 16 months after getting engaged. We didn’t decide on a venue until May 2017, by which time there were only three weekends left in summer 2018 to choose from! We settled on 7th July as we wanted to give ourselves the best odds of a sunny day – little did we know we’d be in the middle of a two-month long heatwave and it would be 25ºC!
We had dreamed of a rustic barn setting but hadn’t found anywhere that suited all of our requirements. I was actually talking to a florist at a local wedding fair when we first heard of Three Hills Barn. I’d been saying that we were really struggling to find the perfect rural setting and she suggested Three Hills Barn, a venue in her neighbouring village. As soon as we typed it into Google, we knew it would be perfect and arranged a visit straight away.
We had both our ceremony and reception at Three Hills Barn, Torpenhow, Cumbria. As soon as we pulled up to the venue, we knew it was the perfect fit for us. The owners, Mark and Jenny, were amazing and made sure we had the chilled-out day we’d hoped for.
Three Hills Barn is actually part of a working farm which added to the rustic feel of the venue. We had use of a huge barn with its own bar and kitchen facilities, a garden area and also a marquee which we used for our drinks reception. There were also shepherds’ huts and yurts available, which some of our guests stayed in and enjoyed a brilliant cooked breakfast the next morning!
We didn’t really have a theme for our wedding, but we always knew we’d go for a laid-back rustic, country style as it suits our personalities best!
The main colour scheme we chose was pale blue. We wanted to go with a pastel colour to suit our summer wedding and blue was the colour we liked best. However, we didn’t want to overdo it, so we incorporated a lot of wood, burlap and creamy colours into our décor too.
I found my dress at Carol’s Bridal Boutique in Carlisle. I had only gone for ‘a look’ with my mum and had no expectations of finding my dream dress on day one! My dress was a Gatsby inspired True Bride gown in Rum Pink satin with ivory lace. It had a blouson style bodice (the selling point for me!) with hand crafted pearls and crystals. The dress also came with an embellished belt which finished the look off perfectly.
I wore a floor-length veil in matching lace and sandals (it hadn’t needed any alterations, but heels would have made it too short). In my hair I wore a handmade embellished comb from Crystal & Pearl Bridal Boutique, who I found whilst browsing Etsy.
My earrings and necklace were from Pandora in Carlisle and I wore a Guess bangle that my dad bought for me. Matthew also surprised me with two Joma Jewellery bracelets, one before the wedding and another waiting at the top table after the ceremony.
Matthew wore a suit hired from Carol’s Bridal Boutique. We decided on a navy suit with a grey tweed waistcoat and pale blue tie, to match my bouquet and the bridesmaids’ dresses. The men all wore dark brown brogues we found on ASOS after a lot of searching! Matthew wore his dad’s pocket watch and a tie clip that matched the ones we gave as gifts to the groomsmen. The groomsmen wore the same suits as Matt, hired from Carol’s Bridal Boutique. We gave them personalised tie clips made as thank you gifts.
I had two bridesmaids, my sister Hannah and best friend Jemma. Their dresses were actually total bargains from Quiz, which we stumbled across when browsing the House of Fraser website for some ideas! The dresses were full-length pale blue chiffon gowns with crystal detailing at the waist. They had gorgeous fluttery sleeves and were exactly what I’d pictured! The girls wore sandals under their long dresses ready for dancing the night away and carried embellished cream bags from Accessorize.
As a thank-you, I put a personalised box together for each of them and my mum, containing jewellery and some little treats and keepsakes
My usual hairdresser, Sarah, from Halo Hair & Beauty in Carlisle, did all the hair for the bridal party. I’ve been going to her for years and wouldn’t trust anyone else with my hair! I explained that I wanted a relaxed, boho style updo and she understood exactly. I was happy for her to do whatever styles my bridesmaids liked as I wasn’t fussed about having a uniform style, I just wanted everyone to feel happy and comfortable. The bridesmaids also wore gypsophila in their hair.
My lovely friend Lydia Jones did our makeup as a huge favour to me. I asked her to do natural looks which we all prefer, and the makeup lasted all day and night!
It was so lovely to just be able to get up on the morning and feel relaxed – I’d been worrying thinking it was going to be manic but really we had loads of time and it was the perfect way to start the day.
We hired two Daimler limousines from Cumbria Classic Wedding Cars to take us to the venue. Sharon and the team were absolutely fantastic, and everything ran like clockwork. Matt’s mum had also arranged for Sharon to take his grandparents’ home in a Jaguar XJ, and she came back to collect Matt and I at the end of the night. It was lovely to have one less thing to think about!
We hired three coaches from Ian’s Midi Coaches in Dalston as transport for our guests.
We’d known that we were going to choose Lauren McGuiness to do our wedding photographs before we even got engaged! Matt and Lauren have known each other since they were children and she was the first person I booked once we’d chosen a wedding date.
Lauren’s relaxed, unobtrusive style of photography was exactly what we wanted. She was with us for the whole day and most of the evening, so she was as much a guest as anyone else! Lauren was unbelievably helpful on the day of the wedding – helping with buttonholes, rearranging my dress, putting my bouquet in water after the ceremony, the list was endless. One of our guests even asked if Lauren was our wedding planner as she was doing such an amazing job.
Lauren not only took our photographs all day, she also set up an open-air photo booth at the reception. Our guests loved dressing up in the crazy hats and accessories, and the fact they could take their photos home. Lauren also took charge of our guest book, so we have some fabulous messages alongside the photo booth pictures to treasure.
When we got our photographs back a few weeks after the wedding, we were amazed at how many special moments Lauren had caught on camera that we may have otherwise missed. She really captured the emotions and excitement of the day and we were so thrilled.
Another really touching thing that Lauren did was surprise us with a few prints at the ceremony, so that we’d have some to take home and frame straight away. This was so unexpected and such a thoughtful gesture.
Elaine Forrester, of Forrester Flowers, did all of the flowers at the wedding. Elaine was really lovely and extremely helpful – I met her at a local wedding fair and she was the one who told me about Three Hills Barn! Elaine was really brilliant for recommending other suppliers, we also booked our wedding cars based on her recommendation.
My bouquet consisted mainly of pale blue hydrangeas (my favourite) and sweet avalanche roses. The look we were going for was somewhere between wildflowers and an English country garden. The bridesmaids carried similar bouquets and the men’s buttonholes complemented these.
We also had table decorations and milk churns at the barn that complemented my bouquet. The flowers were the main focal point of our decorations and looked so gorgeous at the venue, especially the milk churns in the sunshine.
We also hired several decorations such as a post box, blankets and lawn games from I Do Cumbria Wedding Hire in Maryport. They were excellent and set everything up a day or two before.
Finally, we had a personalised sign made by a lovely lady I found on Etsy (PaperCrusader) to help our guests find their way. We placed it at the roadside where a mile-long farm track led to the venue from the village.
My mother-in-law and I spent a good few hours putting together the jars of sweets we gave out as favours! We had ‘summer pudding’ themed boiled sweets in little jars, then we cut out lots of material to cover the lids. We decided on pale blue gingham for the men and pastel florals for the ladies. I also ordered some personalised stickers online as a little finishing touch.
We knew we wanted a simple yet beautiful cake, and we actually ended up finding one on the wedding cakes section of the Marks & Spencer website. It was a three-tier Victoria sponge cake covered in white fondant, with a trail of hand-crafted, blush roses also made from fondant. We bought a personalised cake topper to finish it off and were thrilled with the final look.
The entire cake was eaten at the wedding reception, so I think it’s safe to say our guests loved it as much as we did!
We had a drinks reception in a marquee in the garden area after the ceremony. This gave the venue staff time to set the barn up for our wedding breakfast. As it was lovely and sunny, we served Pimms and our guests could choose to sit in the sun outside or in the shade of the marquee.
Liz’s Country Kitchen catered our wedding, she was recommended by the venue owners and we couldn’t have chosen anyone better.
We had afternoon tea for our wedding breakfast which accompanied the sunny weather perfectly. Liz had arranged a fabulous tasting session for us a few months prior and let us completely tailor the menu to our tastes. We served prosecco with the afternoon tea (as well as tea and coffee!)
At the evening reception we had an outdoor barbeque, which again, was amazing! Our guests loved being able to pick and choose what they fancied to eat, as well as the chilled-out atmosphere. Liz also served up strawberries and cream to continue our summer pudding theme!
My mother-in-law arranged for All Star Disco to entertain our guests at the evening reception. Simon and Donna specialise in weddings and made sure everyone was up dancing all night! Totally professional and really made the evening.
We’d hired some lawn games too, which were a hit with the guests during the drinks reception and also in the evening as the sun was setting. It also happened to be the World Cup semi-final – Shirley who ran the bar set up an iPad for guests to keep score!
Three Hills Barn is the perfect wedding venue if you’re looking to put your own stamp on the day – Mark and Jenny were so flexible and really brilliant at suggesting ideas that would fit in with our plans. Every wedding I have seen there looks completely unique, as the venue is so diverse and really special. We would recommend it again and again.
It’s so hard to pinpoint a favourite part as every moment was perfect! One of the best feelings ever was walking down the aisle (given away by my grandad) to meet Matt. I’d been worried that I would be too emotional and burst into tears but from the moment I walked in, we both had the biggest smiles on our faces. After six years together we were finally about to become husband and wife!
We had a minimoon straight after the wedding and stayed at the Cranleigh Church Suites in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. It was amazing to be able to relax after the build-up to the big day, and the fabulous weather made it feel as though we were abroad!
In July 2019 we travelled to Las Vegas for our belated honeymoon and spent a week staying at The Bellagio and exploring the sights Vegas had to offer. Having the honeymoon a year later gave us something else to look forward to post-wedding, plus plenty of time to plan exactly what we wanted to do!
Don’t stress about the small things! I spent so much time worrying about tiny little details and decorations, when really no one notices! Just try your best to relax and enjoy the day as it goes by in a flash!
During the planning, I followed loads of wedding Instagram accounts – including Brides Up North – to search for inspiration. I loved looking at, and reading about, other people’s real weddings as I found them the most relatable!
On a final note, we’ve recently discovered we are expecting our first child in September 2020! We are over the moon and can’t wait for this next adventure together.