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We have such a pretty wedding on the blog today….and it took place at our gorgeous Exmoor venue. We have been waiting to get some beautiful pictures from this stunning venue and Eve Dunlop had the perfect couple to show it off in all its sunny glory!! Introducing the happy couple Amy and James…

Sentimental Ceremony & a deep love for Exmoor

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Winsford, on Exmoor in Somerset. My Grandparents lived next to the church when I was very little, and my earliest memory is at Christmas spent there. My parent’s in Somerset is an hour away, and while I was growing up we spent almost every weekend walking & exploring Exmoor; it is so much a part of who I am.

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In order for us to be married in the church we travelled from London (where James & I live) to Exmoor to attend a service every month for 6 months. We camped most of the weekends at a farm campsite just up the road from the village. We just had the best time of our lives! We met such lovely people along the way; the locals were so welcoming. James didn’t know Exmoor as well as me when we started, but soon fell as deeply in love with it. The church is so beautiful & surrounded by the stunning green of Exmoor. The Rev’d David Weir is a legend, the parishioners adore him!

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The weekend when we first visited the venue was brilliant – it was a golden weekend in July last year & I had such a strong feeling it was going to be the one even before we arrived. Karen (joint proprietor with her husband Ian) showed us round and I loved every detail they had poured into the place. James said to me afterwards that he knew I was happy at the point of me gushing over the fabric Karen had chosen for the curtains in the gypsy caravan! It is a very green, sheltered & tranquil spot in a valley, reached by a long track. We were tremendously lucky with the weather, given the torrential rain the day before, so we were able to make use of all the different spaces that the site has to offer: We had reception drinks, nibbles & speeches (with haybales & tartan picnic blankets) on the paddock.

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Sprigs of herbs, sweet peas and thistles

The cake was made by the daughter of a family friend who is a talented caterer – I was bridesmaid at her wedding when I was little, so it was nice to have that resonance there. We had a rich chocolate sponge for the top and bottom layer, and lemon drizzle in the middle. Rough icing, & then I decorated it with sprigs of herbs the morning of the wedding. The top decoration was made by Windmill Farm Flowers, full of herbs. The slice of oak tree it was presented on was actually the first thing we bought for the wedding – seasoned in my parents summerhouse for a year. Every time we went to stay with my parents we’d affectionately ask after the log, it became a part of the family!

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Kate at Windmill Farm Flowers grows everything herself on her farm, near where my parents live in Somerset. We had great fun visiting, being talked through all her flowers & playing with her gorgeous dogs Poppy & Basil. I wanted a rambling English country garden look, which Windmill Farm was perfect for. My bouquet had (among others) nigella, peonies, cornflowers, sweet peas, greenery & herbs for fragrance. The bridesmaid’s bouquets used just white, greenery & herbs. Buttonholes used thistle & herbs. Kate delivered buckets of flowers, herbs & greenery with which the bridesmaids & I arranged into old Kilner jars & vintage school milk bottles for dressing the tables.

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We also found out in mid-June that there was going to be a flower festival in the church the week before the wedding – we felt so lucky, the church was over-flowing with beautifully arranged and locally grown flowers, as well as the lovely arrangement that Kate had done.

A Somerset Country Feast and local ale

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The venue runs a cookery school & Ian is a very good chef so all the food was provided by them. We wanted a Somerset country feast, and to keep everything as locally sourced as possible. We had local trout; great Somerset cheeses; scotch eggs with runny centres; meats from local farms; amazing breads, salads, chutneys & hand-raised pies made by Karen & Ian. It was an immense feast! Dessert was a table filled with meringues & fruit.

My Mum made over a hundred rum truffles to go with the self-serve tea & coffee. I have collected vintage teacups for many years now, so I expanded my collection (with the help of my bridesmaids & mum) for the wedding.

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The food & bar were set up in old wonderfully converted stone barn, the band played from an open fronted barn opposite, with dancing on the yard between the two. We sat down to eat in an L-shaped open sided marquee, from which we could see & breathe the wild green of the valley around us. We set up a firepit near the yard for the evening, and the conservatory was used as more of a quiet area. The B&B on site has 3 rooms, all beautifully decorated.

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Simple DIY, ebay and vintage local markets

Old terracotta pots filled with heather & herbs were used on the tables & around the venue. We gave them away to guests at the end of the night to plant in their own gardens.

The table names were slotted into slices of a branch from my parent’s old walnut tree – the names were all local landmarks or places that had huge significance in our Exmoor trips.

Place names for table settings were brown string tags (stamped with dog rose design) tied around the wine glass – this also came in handy for people knowing which glass was theirs, though we hadn’t really designed it with that in mind!

Down the centre of the tables were pretty white lace-edge table runners (which I’d sourced from Ebay & local vintage markets)

I’d made signage for around the venue out of old fencing timber

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The BiPolar Bears – we found them on The Band Directory and went to see them at a gig, where they opened with a great version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” – from that moment we knew we wanted them at our wedding. They were amazing & I think they had great fun too.

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What was your favourite moment of the day?

So, so many moments… To name a few: Arriving at the end of the aisle & taking James’ hand (Dad said I was basically pulling him down the aisle in my eagerness!); Singing Morning Has Broken with all our friends & family in the church; Heading up over the moors (between church & venue) in our Landrover wedding car & feeling a sense of calm & bliss settle over us; Arriving at the venue & seeing all our guests enjoying themselves in the sunshine (drinking super strong G&Ts!) & everything looking just perfect; The Best Man’s speech, with his book of Bear Facts; feeling my jaw ache from smiling & laughing so hard; James’ cousins taking over the band’s versions of Wonderwall & Common People.

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Advice for couples planning their wedding day?

Find people to work with who you want to include on your adventure: I feel we booked our suppliers based on their passion, niceness & vision, not just their knowledge. Everyone seemed to really get what we wanted & were so enthusiastic about it. It made the whole experience even better.

The line up

Photographer – Eve Dunlop Photography

Venue & Food: Stone Barns and Farmyard – Exmoor 

Flowers: Windmill Farm Flowers 

Dress: (top secret from James before the wedding!!) Benjamin Roberts from Abbey Brides in Somerset https://www.facebook.com/AbbeyBrides?fref=ts

Hair: Joanne Leighton, from Hows the Hair

Makeup: Gemma Louise Williams aka The White Rabbit

Champagne: Camel Valley Brut, Cornwall 

Wedding car: Land Rover provided by Exmoor Safari, Exford

Music: John (James’s brother) performing music for our first dance. The BiPolar Bears are our main band found on The Band Directory

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