Gareth and Stephanie wanted more than anything to have an alternative wedding in the middle of nature in their beloved Herefordshire. Stephanie spent her morning at the charming Yew Tree Cottage B&B near Pembridge; their gardens took my breath away instantly and this was just the beginning of this nature-filled wedding day!
The couple chose the quircky and greenery abundant Westonbury Mill Water Gardens as backdrop for their outdoorsy ceremony. The reception and party took place at the beautifully rustic Cider Barn, also in Herefordshire. Lots of hand made personal elements were brought into the day, including their own signature Summer Cider Punch and photos of wildlife taken by the groom over the years! I am going to leave Stephanie tell you more about how they designed and made it all happen, below.
Three words to describe your wedding day:
In essence, we would describe our wedding as full of nature, quirky and homemade.
When planning your wedding, how did you go about choosing a venue that would suit your wedding well?
Since moving to Pembridge in the Summer of 2017, we immediately fell in love with the area, the people, the wonderful community and beautiful countryside. When starting to plan our wedding, we wanted locations or venues that were close to home, that would allow us to: have an outdoor ceremony, be surrounded by beautiful landscape and really feel like we were in the middle of nature. Initially, we dabbled with the idea of a marquee wedding on our landlord’s front lawn of the Westonbury estate where we live, with an intimate ceremony taking place in the walled garden. As soon as we realised that our marquee option wasn’t going to be feasible, we needed to find a suitable venue to match our outdoorsy, nature-filled wedding theme.
It occurred to us that we live a very short walk down through the orchards, to the iconic Westonbury Mill Water Gardens. According to our neighbour (Richard Pim, the owner) and their website, visitors of their gardens most often describe the gardens as ‘unusual’ and ‘different’. Perfect! We had looked after the place in the past for a short spell whilst the owners were away, it was now one of our favourite places to visit as a couple. So everything seemed to be steering us towards having our ceremony there. Although the Watergardens is not licenced for weddings, this was never an issue for us, as we had already planned to officially marry on the Tuesday of the week leading up to our Saturday celebration day. The legal bit took place at Hereford Town Hall with just the two of us, and Gareth’s Nan & Grampy as our witnesses.
Neither of us being religious, we opted for a non-traditional ceremony; something more unusual. What confirmed the Water gardens as the ideal location for us was that couples could choose to hold their ceremony either alongside, or inside, one of their really quirky Follies amidst the grounds of the gardens. We chose to have a very informal, but extremely personal ceremony, under the African Hut. We wrote the order of service ourselves; our good friend Russ led the whole thing. He acted as celebrant and did a smashing job, leading us through the ceremony as guests stood round, encircling the hut. Our guests really enjoyed having time before our ceremony and during the drinks reception, to wander through the gardens and take some incredible photographs by the Follies (the giant water-powered cuckoo clock, the bottle grotto and gargoyle water wheel to name a few) as well as meandering through the many waterways. Another fun element of having our ceremony there was that the gardens were not closed to the public (which we actually preferred). It was so entertaining to see members of the public do a double-take as I (the bride) made my way down the grassy aisle towards the African Hut. Many passers by paused for a moment (from a respectful distance) and all wished us congratulations as we started to make way to our second venue. We are so glad that we chose The Water gardens as our beautiful backdrop to host our ceremony and drinks reception!
Finding a reception venue was super easy for us. The Cider Barn near Pembridge simply oozes character and charm. The rustic barn was airy and spacious; walls adorned with artwork by local artists depicting cows and deer (plus a couple of chicken sculptures). The adjoining terraced area and field at the rear which looks out across the glorious Herefordshire landscape, gave us lots of different spaces for our guests to mingle and enjoy – in particular the younger guests loved having plenty of space to burn off energy and climb all over the hay bales. We are good friends with the Cider Barn weddings and events coordinator (and Cider Barn family as a whole) so we felt in safe hands when it came to having our ‘do’ there. We remember stepping into our reception venue on the day and the barn looking so beautiful. Everything had been placed with such care; the cake, our flower arrangements, table decorations (the attention to detail on the tables were incredible), the whole venue was magical.
Tell me about your decor & colour theme: where did you get ideas from?
Our décor really stemmed from nature, the glorious Herefordshire landscapes, hedgerows & wildlife. We wanted to fill our wedding day with home-grown flowers, natural materials, rustic wooden palettes, wooden logs, mix and match jars of home-grown posies, rectangular wicker pheasant feather chandeliers & greenery. As for the bouquets, buttonholes and the top table centrepiece, we opted for stunning blooms by Issy & Bella Floral Design – a Pembridge based family run florists – who completely understood our vision for our flowers to look as though they had been casually gathered up together from a quintessential English country garden. Our colour theme was based on my favourite colour palette: burgundies, berries, dusky pinks & purples. The terrace was decorated with bunting lovingly sewn by the mother-of-the-bride.
3 tips for future brides and grooms on bringing your own character into your wedding and making the day unique:
- Take some time early on in planning to talk through your ideas and what is most important to you both as a couple. We knew that the food, the music and photography were of huge importance. We were also really keen to keep everything as local to us in Pembridge and support as many local suppliers and independent businesses as possible.
- Do things YOUR way – there is no rule-book nowadays anyway, so be as wild and creative as you dare. We focused on creating a day we would love and thought our guests would enjoy. Try not to be swayed in order to please everyone.
- Keep it personal – we wanted our day to be super personal and speak of us as a couple. With that in mind, we made as much as we could ourselves – we wrote our ceremony, our own vows, chose all our own readings, made decorations, order of day palette, place name holders, vintage bike floral display welcome sign, floral chandeliers, table plan and table name photographs, designed our own wedding invites, chose all of the music playlists to be played throughout the day (and live music options too with close friends singing during our ceremony), made our own signature Summer Cider Punch reception drink, had recipe input into our food choices etc. Our wedding cake was made by the bride’s Aunty, which represented Skomer Island, a place dear to our hearts – the location of where we got engaged.
If you were to do it again, is there anything that you would do differently?
If we could have our wedding day again we would have liked to have had our ceremony and speeches filmed. Other than that, we would change nothing. We had the most perfect day surrounded by our loved ones.
Do you have any advice for future couples on choosing their photographer?
We mentioned earlier that photography and finding the right person to capture our day was so important. Cat had been recommended to us and we were so happy when we had our first meet up; Cat was super friendly and professional, listened to our ideas, likes and dislikes and our creative ideas. When looking through a photographer’s portfolio ask yourself: Do the images resonate with you? Does their style compliment what you are looking for in terms of capturing photographs you will look back on and treasure? When looking through Cat’s portfolios and examples of wedding folios, it was obvious to us that Cat had real talent for capturing the emotional moments – a kiss, an embrace, a look, smiles & laughter and the small details that often as a couple you’ll miss. We spoke with Cat about our preferences of a more relaxed, candid documentary style approach, with elements of our quirky, playful nature. With Cat, everything felt so easy and ultimately we felt we had a genuine connection with her and her style. After all, you have to get on, as any photographer will form such a crucial part in your big day.
Where Cat really shone was on the day itself. From the moment Cat arrived to photograph the bridal preparations, Cat was so friendly and had a calm, yet confident way of making sure our photograph wish list was underway. Cat worked so hard throughout the whole day, gently guiding us through and making us feel more comfortable during our couple’s photo shoots. Our guests commented on many occasions “Wow- your photographer is incredible”. “She hasn’t stopped”. And they were right. Cat had a seemingly effortless way of being in the right place at the right time, unobtrusive, yet totally present; full of personality and making sure everything was unfolding the way we had hoped. Looking through our wedding photographs brings us such joy and for that, we are eternally grateful. Love – The Roberts xxx
B&B (getting ready in the morning): Yew Tree Cottage B&B
Ceremony Venue: Westonbury Mill Water Gardens
Reception Venue: The Cider Barn
Decor / Wedding stylist: We did it ourselves apart from Feather Wreaths were from Feathers from Brookside
Catering: The Cider Barn
Band: Festival Heart
Wedding planner: We didn’t have one- we did it all ourselves
Dress: Stella York, alterations by Stephanie Kyles Bridal
Bridesmaids & Flower-girl dresses: Stephanie Kyles Bridal
Make-up: Maria Knight MUA
Hair: Amy Quigley Hairdressing
Chauffeur: Stuart Pettifer – Vintage car (friend of ours)
Cake: Lovingly made by Steph’s Aunty Debs
Florist: Issy & Bella
Groom’s suit: Hockerty’s
Photographer: Cat Beardsley Photography