Charlotte and Chris' Gate Street Barn wedding in their own words:
"Marianne was the best decision we made for the entire wedding. If we'd had to cut the entire budget and get married in a bus shelter followed by drinking White Lightning in a park, she'd get the most incredible photos from it. Her photography captures people exactly as they really are. Chris and I had a real phobia of ending up with a bunch of photos that when we recalled that moment, it would just be of a stranger telling us where and how to pose. We wanted photos of us, and everyone we know doing whatever the hell they do best, and she delivered that x 1000000. These are not just 'Wedding photos', every single shot could be framed for the way the layout use of space and colour interests your eyes and you keep discovering more within each frame. You don't have to know the people in Marianne's photos to get a feel for what was going on and love the shot. They each tell a story that is funny, human and real, that's the real difference.
Chris and I met at work, we were both in the marketing team for Sony, he looked after TVs and I was the go to woman for headphones! We actually started our 'office romance' back in 2011, but I had decided we were not right for each other so the two times over the years that Chris asked me out I said...no. By New Year's Eve 2014, Chris accepted this, and decided to just become my friend instead which was when I got to know the real Chris and I suddenly realised, crap. I really like him. Much to the delight of all of our colleagues who'd been trying to get us together for years. So in the end I asked HIM out, at which point he said, 'I'll let you know in two years'. But he swiftly axed this play it cool tactic and said yes of course but you have to plan the date to make up for how long it's taken me to see the light. We wanted to keep our wedding all in one space for minimal faff time, we only looked at one venue - Gate Street Barn wedding - and decided there and then to book it as it had everything we wanted and wasn't too inconvenient for the majority of friends and family. We wanted a really chilled day with all the focus on laughing, eating drinking and dancing so it suited us perfectly. We were all on site early doors getting the space ready and getting suited and booted. We had the bridesmaids and best men ensuring mine and Chris's paths didn't cross which we just about managed with a couple of very near misses! We didn't have a theme for ages but ultimately I guess it was green and grey, green from the foliage, and grey in the table cloths and groomsmen's ties. But we didn't have any strict rules. Both of my bridesmaid's tend to prefer wearing black and I really wanted them to have a dress they would have genuinely chosen to wear, not a 'bridesmaid' dress and we all loved them, bargain at £50 from Very! And Chris is KNOWN for always wearing blue, I have to dissuade him from leaving the house dressed top to toe in it so the boys suits were an obvious choice.
I was so pleased I booked Jo Stringer for my hair and makeup for my Gate Street Barn wedding. I'm not a fan of having my hair and makeup done for me, and hate being sat in front of the mirror for long periods of time, but I knew Jo through two of my close friends who had used her for their weddings and having had the chance to chat to her previously, she was just immediately such a warm down to earth person who really listens to what YOU want, and doesn't force any particular style upon you so you can really still look like yourself and not like my overriding fear - a transvestite princess. Also, I was almost close to just doing hair and makeup for myself but I would highly recommend getting someone to do this for you so you can concentrate on drinking champagne and laughing with your bridal party - and stuffing pain aux raisin in your gob. Jo just fit in perfectly and adds to the getting ready vibes rather than intrudes upon it, and it is such a personal and intimate day, you don't want a stranger there who is stand offish.The Gate Street Barn wedding ceremony which neither of us had given much thought to previously was surprisingly emotional for both of us and nice and informal with us both laughing through some it but the moment that our exit song came on - My Hero by Foo Fighters and we walked back down the aisle was pure euphoria for both of us. Relief and happiness and excitement, it gave us such a high.
Our ceremony was at 3pm followed immediately by drinks and canapes in the gardens and we were SO lucky with the weather, it pissed it down the next day, how jammy were we! We had some great acoustic music from a duo called The Heartbeats and everyone relaxed in the sun and played some garden games before we went in to eat.
We tried to put thought into every decoration so we weren't just doing it for the sake of it. We only did something if we thought it would bring a smile to someone or meant something to us, so our favours were plants in little espresso cups because Chris and I are opening our own coffee shop, the seating chart was made of polaroids tracking the progress of dates from when we met to when we got engaged. I guess if anything stuck in our minds as we selected anything, we just didn't want clutter. We wanted tables where everyone could see each other and have space around them. I love the centrepieces of a chunky cement candle holder with simple leaves round them, look awesome and saved a lot of money on fancy centrepiece flower arrangements.We decided to go speeches first so that everyone was still faaaaairly sober and could fully let their hair down after! The speeches were hilarious and emotional, so crying of every sort ensued all over the place. All the speeches were amazing to us, we have such brilliant loving friends and family who have such a good sense of humour and aren't afraid to share their feelings and stand up in front of everyone and have a cry. Chris's speech was one of my favourite parts of the day, it was so FUNNY. He ran through the series of events that brought us together which quite a lot of the family didn't know about and got everyone laughing and crying some more. Another memorable moment for both of us was when I surprised Chris by doing my own speech once he thought they were all over. He was really touched by it, in fact he keeps quoting lines of it back to ever since! It was very short but I almost didn't get through it as I felt so emotional until my mum yelled out ' GET ON WITH IT WOMAN' well, you have to do what your mum says. It was also brilliant in Chris's speech when he announced that we had some presents for the parents and we all looked about the barn and realised they were all locked in the boot of my Bridesman's car who forever after will be know as One Job Wong.
We had a carve at the table main of pork belly then shipped back outside for a help yourself patisserie boutique for dessert so that no one was allowed to get to that sleepy comatose point in the afternoon! We then had two sets of live music by Blue Juice which got everyone on the dance floor, fuelled by some serious jager bombing, and later on a pizza van tipped up to help absorb some of the booze! Chris and I camped out on site in the gorgeous Shepherd's Hut and waking up to some cows outside our bedroom window was amazing, followed immediately by jumping into the freezing cold pool! It was perfect.
And then inevitably for us because we love a good dance, we had the best time in the evening, the band were great and played loads of 70's rock, I managed to get my Dad on the dance floor who insists NO ONE can make him dance (victory is mine) and Marianne captured the evidence of him clearly enjoying it! I particularly love all the photos of Chris and I dancing together after the first dance was over once we properly let loose and strut our stuff, including a brief lunge sequence, as this is what we do every morning first thing in the flat!
Apart from booking Marianne, OBVS, when you start planning, it's really easy to fall into holes of things you think you SHOULD do without questioning why. Just treat it like the ultimate fantasy party planning session where you and your favourite person get to have things exactly how you like and with all the people you love. Once we realised this, it was so much fun and we don't regret one thing. Also, I think the initial wedding guest list is always a fairly stressful point, it unexpectedly makes you really scrutinise every relationship past, present and future. We kept the day to 80 people which was just all killer no filler guests and it made for such a good atmosphere on the day. You have to be really honest with yourself at this point and recognise where some people are no longer as close to you as they once were. Another overall difficulty we found, was that coming from marketing backgrounds where we have organised a lot of events, in comparison to suppliers we've worked with previously, those in the wedding industry are way more relaxed on the comms front, so leave plenty of time for all your planning because people are not in a massive rush to get back to you, and while you will be anxious because you only get one stab at this (hopefully!) they do it all day every day and you're just another day in the office and have to go more at their pace."
Thank you Charlotte and Chris for sharing your wedding!