Jewish rustic barn wedding with a Fairy Gothmother Dress and fresh wildflowers at Colville Hall, Essex, UK

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Happy Friday everyone! To celebrate the imminent arrival of the weekend, sit back and enjoy this real wedding, which had such a fantastic party atmosphere that it spilled over into a second party the day after the big day.

Cool and quirky bride, Hannah, looked like a stunning artistic vision with wildflowers in her hair, in her tea-length Fairy Gothmother dress and wow-factor sparkly green Irregular Choice heels. 

We love all of the unique ideas that express the couple’s life together, with their many in jokes, including stick-figure illustrated invitations and some special, limited edition, Hannah and Peter Sauce. 

A personalised chuppah is always a winner and, in this case, the couple asked their loved ones to contribute a square each to a homemade patchwork chuppah, with their friends and family’s heartfelt wishes watching over them during the ceremony.

The whole story of the day and all of its detail and emotion was expertly captured by photographer Marianne Chau. We’ll hand over to Hannah now for the full report on her and Peter’s rustic barn wedding. Take it away, Hannah! 

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How we met

Hannah, the bride: We met on Jdate, much to our surprise and shock!

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A venue with character at an old converted Tudor barn in Essex

We got married at Colville Hall which is an old converted Tudor barn near Hatfield Heath in Essex, UK. There were two barns on the site and we used one for the ceremony and dancing and the other one for dinner. We chose the venue partly because we needed somewhere big enough to fit all of our guests (!) but mainly because we wanted somewhere with character and outdoor space as we were having a summer wedding.

We added a lot of personal touches throughout right from our hand drawn invites to the ceremony to the drinks at the bar which we think gave our wedding a unique ‘Hannah and Peter’ laid-back feel.

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HP sauce AKA Hannah and Peter Sauce

Our table names were pictures of places we had visited stuck in a wine bottle that we had made our own labels for (for the Brits reading this, think HP sauce AKA Hannah and Peter Sauce). Every table had one very big 36” helium balloon that floated into the rafters of the barn. It looked very pretty, but, be warned, it required an awful lot of helium! We also had reams and reams of beautiful homemade bunting that friends of ours had made for their wedding several years before that we used to decorate the two barns which really added to the atmosphere.

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Stick figure stationery 

Our wedding invites looked a little like drawings from nursery school with stick figures representing the both of us. We then hand drew pictures of our favourite things that we like doing together: drinking coffee, eating cheese, reading the Saturday papers, the mouse we can’t get rid of in our flat and a whole host of other stuff and these pictures formed the basis of our invite and then all of our the other stationery we needed on the day such as menu cards and the order of ceremony.

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Hair and makeup

I’m not a big makeup person, so I asked the makeup artist to go easy layering the makeup. I went for soft-ish tones but with a bit of pink lipstick – in the end, I decided a bit of colour was good! I have wild, curly hair and didn’t want to lose it as it’s my signature, so the hair and makeup artist found a way to pin it half up, half down and decorate it with the same flowers we used on the tables. It looked very pretty!

My hair and makeup was provided by Michelle Lacey of Bumblebee Bridal. She was fab and we had a great morning with her getting ready.

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A vintage-inspired, tea-length dress and glittery green shoes

The wedding dress was from FairyGothMother and was called Hattie. I picked it because it was the least traditional wedding dress, while still being a wedding dress. I wanted something shorter, not white and not puffy and I loved the dress the minute I put it on. The dress was made in a coffee-ish colour.

I went for green glitter short block heels. I wanted something a bit different and standout and these did the trick. They were from Irregular Choice

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The handsome groom

Peter wore a blue window pane checked Paul Smith suit with a burgundy tie that matched the ties of the best men, ushers and male family members  – he looked very handsome!

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Flower girls in green

Our nieces (aged three and five) were the flower girls and we managed to kit them out in green sparkly dresses that by chance matched my shoes exactly. Rather than walking throwing flower petals, we kitted them out with bubble guns, which they fired as they walked down the aisle to make it a bit more fun for them.

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Our patchwork Chuppah

We wanted to involve our friends and family in making our chuppah so we invited all of our guests to contribute squares which were then sewn together (a rather stressful exercise at points!) with the help of some friends. We bought thick bamboo sticks which we attached the chuppah to and the four sticks were held up by our four siblings – conveniently we have two each!

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Our Jewish ceremony

Our ceremony was very special. Our friend, Rabbi Rebecca Birk, married us. It was very personal to have someone that knows us well conduct our ceremony. We involved a lot of our friends in the ceremony: we had a choir of seven of our friends who sang the entire way through, turning it into a full-on party at points, involving us dancing under the chuppah to Carole King as we signed our ketubah.

We also made our own Chuppah from squares contributed by our friends and family and chose our own Ketubah design and a version of the wording we particularly liked. We found the Ketubah designer through Smashing The Glass!

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A choir of friends

Our choir, made up of our friends, did all the singing at our Chuppah. Peter walked down the aisle to Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen and I to Erev Shel Shoshanim. We circled each other in the ceremony to Dodi Li which was followed by a beautiful rendition of Mi Adir, using the melody from Cantor Charles Muhlbauer in the USA. We found the version online and loved it and we emailed him and he very kindly let us have the musical score so our friends could learn it.

When we signed the Ketubah and civil marriage certificate, they sang a rendition of Carole King’s Where You Lead which ended up with entire room for 200 guests singing and clapping and us having a dance under the chuppah (and being berated for not signing the documents!).

The ceremony ended with a beautiful version of Im Eshcachech Yerushalayim followed by a massive glass stamping!

Our first dance was to Al Green’s Take me to the River – played by the great band we had after dinner.

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Wildflowers arranged by the bride

We did the flowers ourselves. For weeks before the wedding, we collected tin cans, jam jars etc and spray painted the tin cans white and turquoise (turquoise was nominally our colour theme) and tied twine around the jars.

The flowers were ordered from Triangle Nursery and arrived on the Wednesday before the wedding and they were left in buckets of water and plant food until the Saturday morning before the wedding when I (with a gang of my friends) arranged the flowers, made the bouquet and buttonholes. The flowers were a mixture of different types of wild flowers and looked fab on the day.

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Our fabulous photographer

Our fab photographer Marianne Chau, with the help of Soven, did a brilliant job of capturing all the right moments but in the most natural way so we have almost a story board of the day which means we can relive it when we look at the photos. We’ve got loads of people in complete hysterics during the speeches and some brilliant ones of the dancing too.

We didn’t have a videographer, but we did ask our friends to film different parts of the day for us so we can put together an amateur film (still be completed, obviously!).

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A West Country cheese ‘cake’

We had cheese ‘cake’ made of different layers of types of cheeses by West Country Cheese. We bought crackers, chutney, grapes and figs from Costco to accompany the cake and our guests got to snack on it for the evening.

The rest of the catering was provided by Cambridge Dining Company who did a grand job. We had fish, so there was no issue with kosher meat and they put out sharing platters of different types of fish, salads, potatoes etc which they constantly refilled.

Dessert was a delicious lemon tart. We had really excellent feedback about the food and they were an absolute pleasure to work with – we highly recommend them.

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Israeli dancing

We actually had two different bands: The London Gadjo Gypies who played at the reception and did the Israeli dancing for us before dinner and then Party Up, a great funk band that played through the evening for us after dinner.

We wanted to make sure we had some good Israeli dancing to get everyone in the mood and thought a live band would do this the best  – and we wanted something upbeat and soulful for the evening.

And, of course, the choir of our friends during the ceremony so actually we had three bands!

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Beer on tap and a whiskey bar

We had a keg of beer so people could pull their own pints and we also had a whiskey bar which consisted of about eight different types of whiskey chosen by Peter. He even wrote his own tasting notes to accompany them, which was a good conduit for some bad (and some good) jokes. It went down a TREAT with our guests!

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A next-day after party!

Lots of people ended up staying over close to the wedding venue, so the morning after the wedding, we invited everyone for breakfast in the local village hall. The local tea room catered the breakfast for us and we put up the bunting, put out the flowers and had another party. It was great fun!

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Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding

We got married five months after we got engaged and in that five-month period, managed to add quite a few personal touches to our wedding. Our only advice is: you don’t need years to plan a fun wedding!

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Hannah & Peter’s white little book

Photographer – Marianne Chau
Venue – Colville Hall
Hair + Makeup – Bumblebee Bridal
Bride’s dress – purchased at FairyGothMother
Bride’s shoes – Irregular Choice
Groom’s attire – Paul Smith
Flowers – purchased at Triangle Nursery
Bands – The London Gadjo Gypies and Party Up
Caterers – Cambridge Dining Company
Cheese cake – West Country Cheese

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