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Our Venues

Karen Willis Holmes for a Rustic Winter Wedding at Doxford Barns – Nicola & Steven

13th November 2020 | Sarah Symonds

Nicola and her beau Steven were blown away by the gorgeously rustic Doxford Barns  from the moment they drove down the driveway and, if you’re planning a barn wedding, we think you’re going to love their gin themed, wintery day.

Yes, we did say gin themed! It’s very subtly done but our couple are known for their love of gin and had to incorporate that into their day where possible! Right from that personal beach picnic proposal, Nicola and Steven have done things in their own way and with their own sense of style, and we love it!

They fell in love with their venue – an UNVEILED Network Member of course – instantly, cemented by the fact that they even got their dog, Daisy, from Doxford Barns – and it’s not hard to see why they were head over heels for this uber romantic, rustic, exclusive farm space. With a venue this lovely, the bride and groom knew that they wanted to accentuate the natural charm, rather than over-style and cover up with a bold OTT theme of any kind, opting instead for elements that could’ve grown in situ.

All this with a palette of rich burgundy, deep navy and bottle green means this winter warmer of a celebration is all the seasonal inspo you’ve been looking for!

With photography by Lee Scullion Photography

Proposal

Nicola says: It was on Tynemouth Beach, 6th May 2018. It was a sunny bank holiday Sunday and we went for a day out in Tynemouth. It is a special place for us as it’s somewhere we went on some of our first dates together. We had a lovely picnic, then Steven put on our song (which was later also our first dance song). He brought out a ring box that he’d been carrying around all day. As we laid on our picnic rug listening to our song, he asked me to marry him and then we toasted our engagement just as the sun started to set, with a bottle of Champagne he had sneakily been carrying around all day with him too. It was perfect and very us.

Setting

We were married on 9th November 2019. We had originally been looking for a summer wedding but it became clear that we would have to wait another year for a summer date. Fortunately we changed our minds as we would have been getting married this summer with COVID going on!

When we arrived at Doxford Barns, we knew it was the place for us so we took the first available weekend date they had. We both had a good idea of what type of venue we were after but didn’t really know what that was (or if it even existed) until we arrived at Doxford. It just felt right from the first moment we drove down the long driveway to the farm and the minute I stepped into the Threshing Hall I knew it was the place. It was rustic but still with the right amount of finishing touches that meant it had that classic wedding feel. I still get emotional every time we drive down that driveway.

Not only is the place truly breathtaking but we loved the idea of having the venue to ourselves for the full weekend and being able to have our closest family and friends stay on site for the weekend too. Having everyone together for dinner and drinks the night before the wedding and breakfast the day after added an extra special touch and made us feel like the celebrations lasted that little bit longer.

We knew it was truly meant to be when a few weeks later we got our puppy from Doxford too! The farm dog had puppies the first night we went to view the venue and we were lucky enough to get our little Daisy.

Theme

With it being a winter wedding, we chose dark colours that complemented each other whilst being contrasting enough to not all blend into one, going for bottle green, navy and burgundy. We didn’t have a theme, more of an idea that ran throughout. Because we were having a barn wedding we wanted to keep things more rustic and wild so the arrangements for the flowers were all very overgrown and wild. The idea was to complement the natural beauty of the barn in its simplicity whilst still having the feel of a wedding venue.

The wild and overgrown idea was carried through to the table centrepieces, where each was covered in moss, with flowers and foliage growing up the gin bottles. We wanted it all to look like it was meant to be there rather than placed to look good. We are known as a couple who love their gin, it was what we spent most of our first date talking about, so it felt only right to incorporate that into the day.

The tables had coordinates rather than place names, representing key moments in our relationship so far. This was carried through into the wedding gifts, with the best men receiving personalised cufflinks representing where they and Steven had met, the mums’ were given personalised handkerchiefs with our place of birth and Steven had cufflinks with where we got engaged and married.

Dress

My wedding dress was the Karina from Karen Willis Holmes’ Wild Heart Collection from Marrime Bridalwear.

I had been to a few shops and tried several dresses by the time I arrived at Marrime and, although they were all pretty, they just weren’t the one. My sister and the store assistant, Holly, picked out the same dress for me to try on, one which I would have walked past but the minute I put it on I got that feeling. The moment I came out of the fitting room in tears, I think we all knew this was to be the dress.

My wedding shoes were from Charlotte Mills. I love all the little special touches and a trip to the boutique is worth it in itself. When I was surrounded by all the beautiful shoes I didn’t know how I’d be able to choose but the moment I put on my ‘Henrietta’s’ I had my ‘Cinderella moment’ and knew I didn’t want to take them off.

Groom

He wore a burgundy Remus Uomo three-piece suit and a L.A. Smith Liberty print tie and pocket square both from Woven in Durham. These were complemented with dark brown brogue shoes from Dune, his grandad’s pocket watch and postal worker lapel pin, and some personalised cufflinks he received as a wedding day gift from me. The dads and groomsmen all wore a dark blue three-piece Ben Sherman suit from Debenhams with a bottle green silk tie and pocket square to tie in with the bridesmaids. Each were asked to wear dark brown shoes and they wore ‘swimming themed’ matching socks from Happy Feet (providing a nod to a theme from the stag do). Steven also wore the same Happy Feet socks as the groomsmen.

Bridesmaids

The bridesmaids wore bottle green multiway bridesmaid dresses from UNVEILED Network Member Epernay Bridal.

Beauty

Hair and makeup was done by Lisa Jones. Her fabulous ladies made my bridesmaids, the mums and I feel beautiful on the day. It can’t have been an easy task getting 11 people ready but they made it effortless.

Photographer

We met Lee Scullion at the very first wedding fair we went to and immediately knew he was the one for us. We could not recommend him highly enough. We are both very uncomfortable in front of the camera and we didn’t want our wedding photos to be all staged and awkward. From our first meeting with Lee we got a sense that he knew exactly what we were after and he made us feel very comfortable. His approach to the day is very laid back, like an old friend is taking the photos, but very professional. Our wedding photos capture the relaxed feel of the day perfectly whilst still getting those all-important ‘must have’ wedding shots. He was definitely the right man for the job and the pictures he’s captured are truly breath taking.

Videographer

Jon Lunt, of Top Table Films, filmed our day. Again, Jon is someone we could not recommend highly enough. Jon was a recommendation from Lee and he made us feel at ease from the moment we stepped into his office for the first time. He was the perfect accompaniment to Lee, and the two bounced off each other, which made capturing the photos and videos one seamless process.

Before meeting Jon, we had looked at some of his previous wedding videos and knew that his style was exactly what we were after. The finished videos are amazing. Our highlights video feels like a professional movie trailer and the full video captures the emotions of the day. They still bring me to tears even now (despite the binge watching). A sign of a true work of art! For a couple who were initially unsure if they wanted a video, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.

Styling

Pip and Hatty Bloom provided our flowers. It was important to us the flowers looked natural in the surroundings and the kind of things you would expect to see growing around the venue. With this in mind we had thistles, caffe latte roses, quicksand roses, scabiosa pods, lavender and little flowers in shades of purple, burgundy, dark seasonal shades with muted pink, peach and greens.

The bridesmaids had a smaller version of the bridal bouquet, with added cream and muted tones, and the buttonholes consisted of thistle with lavender and herbs/foliage.

These flowers were also used alongside twigs and wild foliage to dress the aisles and fireplace in the Threshing Hall, the cartwheel seating plan and pallets elsewhere in the venue. Made Simply Perfect designed our wedding stationery.

Favours

Our favours were gin and tonic marshmallows from the Naked Marshmallow Company.

Our friends and family all know we both have a love of gin and we had the fire pits for the evening so we decided to combine the two and have G&T marshmallows on sticks for roasting later in the evening. We wrapped them in cellophane with a sticker on the front reading “the gin to my tonic”. For the non-drinkers and children we had the same idea but with milk and cookie flavoured marshmallows instead.

Cake

My Auntie Chris, CC’s Cakes and Cupcakes, made our beautiful three-tier wedding cake. We decided to go with tradition and have one tier fruit and then each selected our favourite flavour, with Steven choosing chocolate orange and myself strawberry and champagne. It was a simple design to mirror the wild foliage feel of the wedding flowers. All of the flowers and twigs on the cake were handmade and the majority were edible.

Dining

Food is a big thing for us so it was important this was a big part of the day. We had a mulled wine, mulled cider and canapé reception followed by a six course wedding breakfast and ‘build a burger’ evening food.

Our guests had the choice of three starters, mains and desserts accompanied by a scallop with a shot of pea puree amuse bouche, Hepple gin sorbet and cheese and port to finish the meal.

Starters were free range scotch egg with black pudding served with a rocket and Serrano ham salad dressed in avocado oil, local crab cakes served with a lightly curried coriander mayonnaise or curried roasted vegetables in a sun-blushed tomato oil, served on toasted sourdough.

Mains offered either slow-cooked rump of beef with buttered mash, wild woodland mushrooms and a burgundy sauce, sweet potato with leek and caramelised onion baked with thyme and garlic camembert cheese or supreme of corn-fed chicken served with a chorizo and smoked chilli risotto, dauphinoise potato, balsamic oil and fresh herbs.

Dessert was a choice of dark chocolate brownie with clotted cream and Cointreau marinated strawberries, Doxford ginger sponge served with ginger sauce and creamy custard or a lemon and lime posset with butter shortbread and fresh blackberries.

Entertainment

We chose the band Livewire from AMV music. They also provided the DJ set, which kept everyone dancing until 2am. We met Faye, the band’s main singer, at a wedding fair and instantly felt she understood the type of music we were after. After seeing the band play at a local bar we knew they were the perfect band to create the relaxed and fun mood we wanted on our day. We were not disappointed and neither were our guests.

Special touches

We had two of our close friends doing readings for the wedding ceremony. Both readings were picked because of the wording and how we felt they related to our personal relationship. We also selected music for the ceremony, as we wanted it to be very personal to us, and not just music that seemed fitting for a wedding. Each song had its own relevance to us and represented different periods of our relationship.

Cheryl at Wishbone Weddings was our dog sitter on the day. Not only did she capture some beautiful pictures of our little fur baby but also it meant Daisy was able to be part of our day without us having to worry.

Candy Floss Events provided our guests with as much candy floss as they could eat which proved an instant hit and perfect addition to the evening celebrations.

We must also make a special mention to my mother-in-law Joyce, who made our wedding pallets with the Order of the Day and ceremony seating information.

Thanks to

Our faultless venue. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Jess and her team. From our first meeting to the wedding day itself, everything was perfectly organised. We feel so lucky that we got to hold our wedding here and only wish we could do it all again!

Saunders and Pughe Goldsmiths in Corbridge were also worth mentioning. We both got our wedding rings from here, my engagement ring was personally designed by Steven with the help of Marianne, the owner, and my wedding earrings (a gift from Steven) were also from here.

Wedding and bridesmaid dress alterations were done by Aimee at Corsetry & Couture. Not only is she a very accomplished seamstress when a last minute problem arose with the matching bandeaus for the bridesmaid dresses, Aimee saved the day making new bandeaus out of scraps of fabric and delivering these to the wedding venue the night before the wedding.

Best bit

For me it was our evening pictures in the courtyard and Threshing Hall. It was so special having those moments away from everyone to fully take in the day.

For Steven it was the moment I started walking down the aisle. He had no idea what my dress looked like or what music I would be walking down to and he said I didn’t disappoint. He said I looked stunning in my dress and the fact that I chose to walk down to a stripped down version of his favourite song, “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters, just set the moment off perfectly.

Advice

Steven’s advice for grooms is that to remember it’s a big day for you too, so don’t be afraid to get involved and take an interest in things. Make sure your wedding day has parts to it that you can look back on and say that was me.

As a couple, make time to sit down together with a glass of fizz and your canapés and have a quiet moment together away from everyone to just take in the fact that you’ve just got married. People will wait for you, there’s no rush.

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