Monday 19 August 2019

Real wedding: An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Julia Chesney and Lewis Roberts had just five months to plan the wedding of their dreams, with new Cheltenham venue, The Barn at Upcote, providing a stunning backdrop for the couple's English garden-themed celebration.

The lowdown

The happy couple: Julia Chesney, 35, a business consultant from Gloucestershire, and Lewis Roberts, 34, a project manager from the New Forest, who live in Cheltenham.
Wedding date: Friday 2 September 2016
Ceremony and reception venue: The Barn at Upcote
Wedding theme: Relaxed, English garden party

The suppliers

Photographer: Marcus Ward from Bigeye Photography
Flowers: Mini Fruit & Flower Market, Churchdown
Dress: Cocoa Couture, Cheltenham
Bridesmaid dresses: Coast, House of Fraser & David’s Bridal Vancouver
Groom’s outfit: Moss Bros Cheltenham
Cake: A Piece of Hevan, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Catering: Orchard Catering, Cheltenham
Transport: We used Jackies Coaches to collect guests from in and around Cheltenham and take them to the Venue
Stationery: Designed by the bride
Entertainment: Birmingham-based pianist Iain Jackson during the ceremony and Midlands-based band Mod Cons in the evening.
Favours: Retro photo strip from Polabora
Hair and beauty: Blades Hair & Beauty, Brockworth
Rings including engagement ring: Engagement ring was the groom’s grandmother’s, groom’s wedding ring was the bride’s great grandfather’s, and the bride’s wedding band was from The Regent Goldsmith, Cheltenham

The details

When and how did you first meet?

Julia remembers: ‘We met in 2007 when I started working at the same company as Lewis in Southampton. We got to know each other over many boozy nights out, one in particular on the eighth of August 2008, which we credit with being the start of it all.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Who popped the big question and how did they propose?

Julia explains: ‘Lewis popped the question but not exactly as he had planned… We had booked to go to Spain in March, and his plan was to propose in Valencia, but the French air strikes meant that our flights were cancelled!

So, Lewis suggested an impromptu trip to Cardiff for the day and while on a boat on a freakishly warm spring day on Cardiff Bay he popped the question. It was a really lovely moment!

How long did it take you to plan your wedding?

Not very long, we got engaged at the end of March and we were married at the beginning of September, so just over five months.

Why did you choose your venue?

We really liked the Cotswold barns but as we did everything a bit last minute, there wasn’t much availability for the venues that I was aware of. So I started researching fields or farms that we might have been able to rent and put a marquee on.

Out of pure chance I stumbled upon The Barn at Upcote and we couldn’t believe our luck! As it was a new venue we were able to get booked in for this year. It was such a beautiful venue and the owners, Andrew and Jo, were so friendly and approachable. We were sold as soon as we saw it.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Was there an inspiration or theme for your wedding?

We wanted it to be a relaxed, rustic theme to fit in with the Cotswold barn so we loosely decided on an English garden party theme with a basic but bright colour palette of green, blue, pink and yellow, against a natural theme.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

What made you choose your photographer?

We are both very into our photography and so choosing the right photographer was so important to us. So many friends said that they regretted their choice of photographers, and as we weren’t having a videographer we wanted to ensure that the photographer was up to the job.

I spent a long time searching through local photographers for the style that worked, and when I found Bigeye Photography, which favours colourful documentary-style images, I knew Marcus was the man for the job.

How did your wedding photographer capture your big day memories?

One of the issues that we had in organising a wedding in five months was the availability of the register, so for our chosen date we had to get married at 11:30am! This meant that our wedding was a whole day affair so Marcus had to be there early.

He was great, never in the way, but always there when you wanted a moment captured. He managed to get everyone organised for the shots and made everyone feel very relaxed. The photos came out great and I am so pleased with the results.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Did you hire a wedding planner or was it a DIY affair?

DIY affair, with plenty of help and guidance from my good ol’ mum.

Did you make, design or create anything yourself?

The stationery, including the save the dates, invites, and signs, were all my own design. I bought flagging tape to decorate the chairs and left the bridesmaids to it with a couple of bottles of prosecco!

We decided to put up old and new photos of family and friends around the venue, these doubled as a guestbook as we provided pens for everyone to write their well-wishes, thoughts, advice or whatever else they liked on them.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Tell us about the wedding dress

I wanted something simple and easy to wear for the whole day. I’m not into fluffy dresses so I knew the style that I wanted A line, chiffon-style, with no train and with sleeves so I wouldn’t need a top or shawl.

I opted for flowers for myself and the bridesmaids. Our florist, Janice from Mini Fruit and Flower Market, was great she talked through the options and put everything together perfectly. Then our hairdresser, Kathy from Blades Hair & Beauty, went above and beyond helping us girls get ready beforehand in the bridal suite.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

What did the groom wear?

Lewis wore a dark blue suit from Moss Bros. It had a wonderful peacock lining which, as it turned out, was ideal as The Barn at Upcote has a couple of resident peacocks who were mulling about on our wedding day.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Did you incorporate any special family details or heirlooms, for example?

My engagement ring was Lewis’ grandmother’s engagement ring and Lewis’ wedding ring was my great grandfather’s wedding ring. I also wore my mum’s necklace and pearl earrings.

Rather than opting for floral displays, we used potted plants down the aisles which doubled as table centre-pieces. A few of these were then taken by my great aunt to place on my grandparents’ grave which we thought was a lovely touch.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Did you have something old, new, borrowed and blue?

Yes the old and borrowed was my mum’s necklace, new was my wedding dress and blue was on the garter.

What song did you walk down the aisle to?

A piano instrumental of Sigur Ros’ ‘Hoppipolla’ played by Iain Jackson.

Did you have any special readings during the service?

We had two readings. ‘Marriage’, Anon, read by one of our bridesmaids and ‘On Your Wedding Day’, Anon read by our very good friend.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

What did you have for your wedding breakfast?

We had canapés in the garden as our starter and then served up the main meals which were beef stroganoff or chicken in wine and tomato Sauce, followed by a duo of desserts of cheesecake and crème brûlée.

What kind of cake did you go for?

A very good friend of mine is an award-winning cake decorator so I knew exactly who I was going to choose! We finally opted for Victoria sponge with different jams, strawberry, raspberry and apricot, for each of the three tiers, to tie in with the English Garden Party theme.

As Jody from Piece of Hevan is so talented we decided to have a fun cake with Lewis, me and our cat at the top with our dog at the bottom eating the cake! It turned out really well and everyone loved it!

We decided to have our cake with tea and coffee in the afternoon as so many friends told me that they ended up with piles of wedding cake that wasn’t eaten.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

What was your first dance song?

Our band, The Mod Cons, was brilliant and they even learnt our song, ‘The First Day of My Life’ by Bright Eyes and performed an acoustic version in the courtyard for our first dance.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

Our best part was having the time to spend with family and friends, chatting, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. It was such a happy day spent with our favourite people.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

Did everything go to plan?

As far as we were concerned it couldn’t have gone any better we had such a great day. I did leave the favours later than I should have. We decided to give everyone a retro photo booth strip, so I choose three photos for each guest and fortunately had them printed by the excellent Polabora, who not only sorted out a rush job they also fixed me up with a discount.

What advice would you give anyone planning their big day?

My advice would be not to stress about the details as most people won’t notice and choose your suppliers well. All of our suppliers were experts at their game and they all did a tremendous job at making our wedding day run smoothly.

Is there anything you know now that you wished you’d known before the big day?

How quickly it would go. Everyone told us that this would be the case, but I guess until you go through it you can’t know for sure! Savour as much of it as you can.

An English garden party at The Barn at Upcote

And finally, where did you spend your honeymoon together?

We went Greek Island hopping for three weeks. Lewis and I love our travelling so we knew our honeymoon would involve a backpack and a destination and the rest we would figure out once we were there, which we did and we had an incredible time.

If Julia and Lewis’ autumnal wedding has inspired you to host your big day the beautiful venue, see The Barn at Upcote, and for further details about the couple's photographer, see Bigeye Photography

© SoGlos
Wednesday 26 October 2016

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