Afternoon gorgeous people!
And a happy Monday to you! It may be grey and drizzly where you are (it certainly is here!), but today’s real wedding is sure to warm your hearts, put a smile on your face and (if you’re anything like me) make you pretty hungry!
Bryony and Kirk’s sublime day was full of love, originality, incredible music and the food truly was a family affair! We love that despite touring the world with their bands, this gorgeous pair came home to the Bride’s family farm to make their vows, indulging in all the special rituals held so closely to their hearts, surrounded by all those they love.
With gorgeous photography by Joanna Bongard, prepare to swoon your heart out as Bryony describes their beautiful day…
Paper Cranes and a Flight to LA…
Kirk and I had discussed marriage a few times and I think I had said a few weeks before the proposal that I was ready if he was. He had started making origami paper cranes for me and said that when he got to 100 it would be time.
Kirk had been on a European tour with La Dispute for the second time. I was out in the States on the Warped Tour with a band I worked with for years called We Are The Ocean. Unbeknown to me, Kirk had been talking with the guys in LD about their own relationships and how they loved being married and I think it really cemented for him that it was something he wanted for us. So, instead of dropping the band at Frankfurt airport at the end of the tour and heading home to the UK he got on a flight from there to Los Angeles, frantically crafting cranes from all the airline magazines as he flew.
I was in LA on a day off, which happened to coincide with my birthday and had managed to harangue everyone into going to eat at a Korean BBQ place with the band’s old record label out there. I was vaguely suspicious that something was afoot, as Kirk had told me 2 days previously that his phone was broken and I was really surprised that he hadn’t got it working again in the past 48hrs, nor had he replied to an email I’d sent. I certainly wasn’t expecting one of our mutual friends who works at the record label to show up half way through dinner saying sorry he was late but he had a birthday gift for me in his car…
I walked out of the restaurant to the car and there in the doorway was my now husband who got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I, sobbing uncontrollably, said, “Of course”.
The next day I got to take him to the Warped Tour show in Chula Vista and show him off to everyone, as well as the lovely paper origami ring he had made, with a tiny paper crane sitting atop it. He could only stay for that day as we then headed off for the rest of the tour, but it was a glorious interlude to weeks apart and everyone was very impressed with his spontaneity!
Pale Lavender Perfection…
Made for me by an incredible woman in Oxford called Cheryl Roby. She is a very talented and patient lady.
I wanted a very pale lavender dress with a floaty skirt, a bodice and lace capped sleeves. I had a few photos of examples of those individual elements in other contexts and from that she made up the pattern and then the dress. In my eyes, it was literally perfect in the end.
I had a panic about a week before the wedding that something wasn’t quite right and when I finally identified what it was Cheryl spent ages picking apart the bodice to take out the boning that was making me uncomfortable. Hero!
I paired the dress with these lavender sandals by Clark’s. Then for jewellery, I wore a very simple fine chain with an origami crane pendant.
I did my own hair, I didn’t think about it too much, I just washed it the day before, dried it as normal and did a braid down either side on the morning before I put my dress on – oh I lie, I got stuck with what to do with it once it was braided and my cousin Adrienne stepped in to pin in artfully at the back!
I spent some time choosing a foundation because I don’t usually wear one, I went for Mac face and body foundation because it’s very lightweight. I simplypaired that with what I usually wear: a little Mac blusher, a couple of flicks of black liquid eyeliner and black Clinique High Impact curling mascara.
Ivory Bridesmaids in Little Black Boots…
I just gave my bridesmaids one instruction, which was to wear off white or ivory. They are all very different shapes, sizes and skin tones and I didn’t want to try to shoehorn them all into the same style or colour.
They wore beautiful fabric flowers on hair clips made from scraps of my dress, by my very artistic cousin Adrienne. I bought several pairs of black short wellington boots from Tesco (!) and decorated them with ribbon and lace, they looked awesome in combination with their ivory dresses.
Dahlia Dreams and a Beautiful Floral Arch…
My cousin Sophie is a trained florist and, together with my aunt Dawn, they arranged all the floral decorations around the ceremony and reception venues.
I didn’t really know what I wanted except that I wanted it fairly informal and I got quite attached to the big dahlias I was seeing on Pinterest (*sheepish face*). Sophie was great and helped me narrow down what we actually needed to order, including button holes, a few corsages and gorgeous bouquets for me and all 6 of my bridesmaids.
She and Dawn also made a beautiful floral archway for the ceremony out of a lot of hedgerow trimmings, some cut flowers and an old wicker arch that my mum found in display clearance at a garden centre.
A Brushed Wool Suit and Brogue Style Boots…
Kirk wore a navy blue brushed wool suit from Next, with a very pale blue All Saints shirt, a blue wool tie, maroon (front) and grey (back) tweed waistcoat by Ted Baker and sandy coloured brogue-boots, again by Next.
Then the groomsmen wore braces and matching lavender wool bow ties, bought from a vendor called Moaning Minnie on Etsy.
A Humanist Handfasting in the Orchard of her Family’s Farm…
We did the legal part of the ceremony a couple of days before, at the registry office in Oxford. We both felt that it was really just a formality and so didn’t want it taking up vital time on the day of or immediately before the wedding itself. We think of the 31st as our ‘real’ wedding, even though it’s not the part that was legally binding.
The ceremony on the 31st was, I suppose a Humanist interpretation of a handfasting ceremony. It took place in the orchard of my (Bryony) family farm in North Oxfordshire, sitting on straw bales covered with blankets and sheets.
We had asked on our invitations for guests to bring a piece of ribbon, string or cord and at the appointed time to come up and tie it around our joined hands. We were touched by how many people got involved and it worked a little bit like a reception line only it also felt like a really meaningful part of the ceremony, with loved ones coming to give their support to us with the symbolic tying of the string.
Our best friends and family contributed lots to the ceremony by performing all the music, poems, readings and songs. We had a 2-violin rendition of The Flower Duet from Lakmé by Delibes as we walked down the aisle, Forever Young by Bob Dylan while the hand fasting went on, and we walked out to an arrangement for 2 violins of Tanz from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.
The readings were A Life For A Life by Dinah Craik, Union by Robert Fulghum and Roads Go Ever Ever On by J R R Tolkien.
Despite it not being a religious service we had 2 traditional hymns, purely for their power to join everyone together in voice and spirit (For All The Saints – which was my school hymn, and Jerusalem).
Confidence in their own Ritual…
It was really hard to make a plan for the structure of the day and particularly the ceremony. Neither of us wanted a traditional wedding but we didn’t really know what we actually wanted or needed to include to make it work and flow as an event, as a ritual and as a nice time.
My mum was really anxious about the ceremony being awkward or not making sense to people and I was somehow confident I could make it work but wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off. In the end it came together very very gradually over a year or so with a lot of help from our mothers and fathers, families and friends.
A Marquee Reception with Everyone they Loved…
We had intended to have the reception in a new barn that was being built on the farm, unfortunately the company doing the work went bust and were exceedingly dodgy about admitting it so we waited months for them to come back and finish the job before giving up and hiring a marquee.
The marquee was set up in the field known as The Bungalow Field behind the farm buildings and just across from the orchard where the ceremony was.
We just wanted to have an occasion that was special but still fairly informal to get everyone we loved together, treat them to a good time and make our promises to each other with everyone around us and in good spirits. Those were the aims and we feel we achieved them.
A Magical Branch Chandelier…
We decorated the marquee simply, just flowers and some old farm equipment decorated with flowers really!
We made tissue paper puffs to hang from the ceiling in the tent which were a lot of fun to make: production line style, over a few bottles of wine in the weeks running up to the wedding! Our friends Chad and Steph added fairy lights and wired up some old tree branches I’d found which they hung from the ceiling in the tent like a magical chandelier which was really cool.
Adam, who did all the wedding stationery, also produced lovely signs for the table names and an amazing seating plan with everyone’s names hand painted on below the name of the table. We are still trying to figure out where to display or use it in our new home. The tables were named after some of the fields of Lords Farm and Hawkwell Farm, which are two of the farms in our family where I grew up. Lords Farm is where the wedding took place.
Then we had camping in the Rickyard Field. A big group of our friends actually camped for a week around the wedding as they are in a touring band who work with my husband and I. They all live in the USA and were over here in between legs of a world tour. They were absolute heroes, schlepping about in what was quite miserable rainy weather in the run up to the wedding, tirelessly working to help us with seemingly endless tasks.
Our friend Adam Vass is an artist. He designed (and re-designed when I decided to make changes!) the invitation and the order of service. They were so special and perfect and I’m eternally grateful to him for giving his time and brain and hands. He also did a beautiful job arranging old photos of me and Kirk around the tea and coffee stations and created an impressive tower-display complete with fruity decoration from the cheese selection – despite being very much vegan!
The printing was all done by the company we like to work with for band merchandise – Awesome Merch.
A Foodie Family Affair…
Kirk’s brother Grant was a chef and is now owner and creator of a specialist cultured butter company, Butter Culture. He supplies several Michelin starred restaurants in London, the Cotswolds and Midlands so it was something of an honour to have him make all the butter for our wedding feast. We requested a special edition beer butter and sun-dried tomato butter in addition to his original cultured salted flavour.
We had proper sour-dough bread from a local baker called Grumpy Bakers, who were brilliant at producing it to order for us. We also had whole sirloins of beef, cooked on a spit next to the marquee by a family friend, baked sweet potatoes (which after much fretting, we managed to do on mass by wrapping each one in foil before baking), salads and roasted carrots, which the groom was roasting to his own personal exact specifications on the morning of the wedding!
My brother in law also created some innovative canapés for guests in the form of parmesan crisps with charred tomato salsa, crudités with home made lavender ricotta, honeycomb and flowers and another crudité topped with cultured cream, home cured salmon and an oregano leaf.
We had soft drinks until dinner. Home made apple juice which had been in the freezer since the previous autumn with sparkling water and home made elderflower cordial also with sparkling water. We then drank Prosecco for toasts, red and white wine, and then water and sparkling soft drinks for non-drinkers. We had 2 ales from Wood Farm Brewery near Rugby called ‘Victorious’ and ‘Play On’. Both our families are into Rugby so the names of the beers felt appropriate.
A Chocolate cake, a Stack of Cheese and the Groom’s Pork Pies…
My cousin’s mother-in-law made us honestly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! I think the secret ingredients may have been olive oil and almond essence. It was so moist and delicious like a Devil’s Food cake and covered in purple cream cheese frosting. It was a bit like a red velvet cake, only the cake wasn’t red and the frosting was purple!
I feel a bit guilty going on about the chocolate cake because we actually gave the guests cupcakes! The wedding cake was intended just to be a small symbolic thing for the cutting of the cake and I thought it would be much more practical to have cupcakes on the tables. They looked very pretty and tasted great, I think in hindsight it would have worked either way. No-one ate any chocolate cake on the day but the following day it fuelled the site tear-down.
Kirk isn’t a huge sweet fan so to balance out the chocolate cake we also had a stack of cheeses and a trio of pork pies. We chose local cheeses. We had Oxford Blue, Oxford Isis and a hard sheep cheese from a wonderful cheese producer in Oxfordshire called Roger Crudge.
The pork pie production was a bit of a rite of passage with some emotions attached for my husband. Kirk used to make them as a child with his late grandfather. So the men of the Harrington clan spent a day working together to make these huge pork pies, completely from scratch and they were delicious.
An Original Band and Perfectly Judged Tunes…
Our good friends Rich, Wiz and Peckett who have been an original touring band for years also now have a brilliant wedding band called The Mockers. They played all the hits in inimitable style. So much energy and talent in that band, we loved it and my dad was so impressed he has since booked them to play his 60th birthday party!
Our DJs were our dear friends, Alan and Jamie, who judged the tunes just right and gracefully took lots of requests from my dad towards the end of the evening – apparently he was picking unexpected winners!
I think either sitting down to eat with everyone there, knowing everyone was well fed and happy and feeling really truly married!
Or slipping away at about midnight and sitting on our bed at our hotel a couple of miles away and opening all the beautiful presents and cards together and reading the lovely things people had written.
That was like ten birthdays and Christmases all at once!
The Line Up:
Photography: Joanna Bongard
Ceremony Venue: Bride’s Parents Farm
Reception Venue: Bride’s Parents Farm
Bride’s Dress: Cheryl Roby
Groom: Suit + Boots – Next; Waistcoat – Ted Baker; Shirt – All Saints
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bridesmaids’ own choice
Cake: Bespoke Cakes by Shelia
Flowers: Bride’s Cousin, Sophie
Catering: Butter Culture