Sarah and Ben’s story is just *lovely* and I challenge you not to be moved by it! I absolutely adored working on this wedding for its beautiful, meaningful personal touches, its Devonshire charm and mainly for the loveliness and authenticity of Sarah and Ben themselves. I feel very lucky to have shot this gorgeous wedding at Hayne Barn! Read on!
How did you meet?
We met on the Isle of Man where we’re both originally from, in a pub Ben worked in during his teacher training year. On the first evening we met we decided it would be a good idea to pull an all nighter with Sarah’s friend Gail, and as a three walk up the Island’s highest point, Snaefell Mountain, to see sunrise. As Gail went to sleep we both stayed up through the night and talked, and as 4am approached hopped in Ben’s car to head for the mountain. We parked up, ready to hike up to the summit and rapidly realised our idea was not developing as we’d hoped. Fog, mist and rain had descended on the hill top, we could barely see our hands in front of our face. Being the height of summer this was pretty unusual and worse still we’d arrived dramatically under prepared, with only the clothes we’d had on the night before. Ben had been clearing out some of his old things to take to the local charity shop and had a bag of old clothes in the boot of his car. So, we ended up trudging up the hill, in the mist and rain with a whole manner of odds and sods on, Ben in particular donned a motorbike jacket, wellies and an old Irish leprechaun hat he’d had from a rugby club trip! When we finally reached the top we gazed at the complete lack of stunning view and laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, before having to quickly head down and all go to our day jobs. For the two weeks that followed we would have dates after we both finished our second evening jobs – Ben in a pub and Sarah a restaurant – so would have little adventures around a very quiet Isle of Man between the hours of 11pm – 3am. We kept things going long distance and less than a year later Ben moved to London and the rest is history.
Tell me a bit about your outfits:
We both wanted to have the opportunity to wear something special on the day – so Ben had a navy four piece suit tailor-made at Room Ten in Farnham. Sarah wore a Jenny Packham dress in a barley colour with detailed beading, making it a perfect mix of relaxed glamour. Each outfit had extra special touches too – Sarah wore a veil which her Nana handmade 70 years ago, and her Mum had spent hours adding beads to it to match the dress. On the day Sarah’s Mum also gave her an antique ruby and gold broach which every daughter in four generations had worn on their wedding day in the family. For Ben there was an opportunity to choose all the jackets individual features, from buttons to accents, and add personal features to his suit like having his new initials on his shirt cuffs, and the date stitched inside the jacket. For hair Sarah had a mass of curls pinned up, with a floral comb and veil for daytime, changing to a floral crown as night drew in. On the day Ben added a finishing touch to his outfit with Dolce & Gabbana cologne Sarah gave him, which was aptly called ‘The One’.
How did you choose your venues?
We always wanted to have the ceremony and celebration in one place, so this helped narrow our search quite a bit. Knowing that the Isle of Man had restricted options and was difficult for most of our guest to reach, we looked to Devon to find inspiration as it’s a county we’ve always loved spending time visiting. The people, the countryside, the food and drink – we’d always loved Devon and the strong sense identity and warmth there. We found Hayne Barn (which at the time was relatively new) by chance online while we were looking at other venues in the area. It was a perfect mix of a beautiful setting and relaxed atmosphere, and only the third venue we viewed. We met with Tim from Hayne and immediately hit it off. It was clear he really got what we wanted to achieve and how we were going to get there. From start to finish Tim was always on hand to help where he could to make our day exactly what we wanted.
In place of her Father who passed away Sarah was walked down the aisle by her mother Lynda. The aisle music was to Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley, which was a nod to Sarah’s Dad and his musical taste and the memory of hearing Sarah’s Mum sing along to the CD when cleaning the house. A very special moment for us and Lynda, it seemed like there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the time Sarah had reached the end of the aisle.
Tell us a bit about the ceremony:
We wanted the ceremony to be one full of love and importantly laughter. We asked Sarah’s close friend and bridesmaid Pippa and Ben’s sister Lucy to choose their own readings to represent us, the day and what it meant to them individually. Pippa selected A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton, with a few personal touches, and Lucy wrote an original piece about our relationship so far and her hopes for our future. It was incredibly moving and humbling hearing both readings.
We asked both Seb and Jack, as our Best Men to hand over a ring each during the ceremony. This break from tradition was important to us to symbolise how much we value them both in our lives. To have our friends and family play such prominent roles in the ceremony was important to us to show both them and those present the role they have and will have in our lives moving forward.
What was your favourite moment of the day?
Sarah: The ceremony. In truth I can’t really remember many details other than staring into Ben’s eyes, laughing a lot, and feeling an overwhelming sense of love surrounding us in the room. Never in my life have I felt more loved by those I care about most; it was like everyone around us propelling Ben and I forward into the world as a married couple to achieve whatever we wanted. It was a very special and empowering feeling I’ll treasure for as long as I can.
Ben: I’m going to have to cheat here and say two points in the day (sorry!). Firstly, the start of the ceremony stands out for me for two reasons. Seeing Sarah walk round the corner and suddenly feeling a wave of calm and joy pass over me. Secondly bursting out laughing when the celebrant said we were entering a ‘serious contract’. It wasn’t that we weren’t taking it all seriously – more that for us, we’d been serious about each other for so long, the whole day felt more like one big celebration. The whole congregation felt the same – we were there to celebrate a relationship that had been the real deal for quite some time – I guess that’s why everyone burst out laughing with us. There was just such a clear feeling of relaxed joy in the room. We’d said from day one we wanted to throw a party we happened to get married at. It was about all the people involved being there with us, not for us. That’s why for me, probably my favourite moment was walking round the venue with my new wife, right at the end of the evening, seeing all our friends and family, dancing, talking, laughing together, embracing each other, and really just having a great time. We stood back and looked at this, looked at each other, smiled, knowing we and they had the day we’d always wanted, and quietly slipped off. Perfect.
Tell me about your decorative arrangements:
Our invitation artwork created by Sarah Tanat-Jones perfectly encapsulated the vision we had for our wedding; relaxed, fun, creative, and beautiful. After the wedding so many guests commented to us that our day felt just like our invitation suggested, which is testament to Sarah’s artistic skills and to the clarity of our vision and teamwork in achieving this. Ben managed all logistics and food, and Sarah led the design – a perfect split of workload given our interests and expertise.
The colour scheme was decided based on colours we both liked and the date being toward the end of summer. A rich masala red, navy, grey, barley cream and rose gold (linking to our rings) as an accent made up our pallet. With Sarah’s Mum Lynda being a Florist, a lot of thought went into the flowers and arrangements. Wanting to keep with flowers largely in season, we had varieties such as white and blue thistles (a nod to Sarah’s Scottish heritage), antique green and burgundy hydrangeas, dahlias, roses, lots of eucalyptus and amaranths. There was a running joke made by Sarah’s brother that the flower to guest ratio was rather high as in each room there were garlands, big arrangements and flowers hanging from shelves. And to be honest it was probably the most flowers we’ve ever seen at any wedding! For table centres Sarah spent months collecting a range of tins and jars which she spray painted in gold, cream and rose gold. Lynda then filled these with a mixture of all the flowers to have a rustic and wild feel, and from the ceiling in the ceremony room she created long flowing garlands which filled the room with a lovely eucalyptus smell and beautifully framed the area where we both stood to be wed. Wanting to keep costs low we made our own table cloths from cream calico sheeting, cut hessian table runners and collected second-hand wicker baskets to hold things like bread for the ploughman’s feast.
The Ploughman’s feast, and food throughout our day was something Ben spent a lot of time planning and sourcing. We wanted our Wedding Lunch and evening meal to be based on sharing to encourage our friends and family to get to know each other better. Our ploughman’s feast involved individually sourced elements from local producers in Devon and from Ben’s professional life in Street Food. We worked with Quicke’s Farm Devon to select an array of craft cheeses to accompany our ploughman’s presented in the form of a beautiful tiered cheese cake. We paired this with a local Devonshire Chutney from Otter Vale. We sourced meats and an additional chutney from two of Ben’s stalls on Southbank Centre’s Food Market – Vivia Crump and The Charcuterie Board. This was all brought together by the incredible talent of Chris Brumy at MyPie who, on his own, prepared each individual cheese and meats board for each table along with his delicious signature scotch eggs and sausage rolls. We owe Chris a huge debt of thanks for going above and beyond to serve up the wedding lunch we had always hoped for! We also served wines from the Bergerac region where Sarah’s Mum and stepfather live, including wines from the vineyard where we visited the weekend we got engaged. Our wedding cake was supplied by Laura Rogers of Lolo Gateau who provided us with five different flavours, which were a huge hit with our guests. After sunset MyPie returned to give our guests a taste of his award winning pies served from his lovely vintage pie van outside.
How did you like working with your photographer?
We were first alerted to Alice’s work by a friend of Ben’s who’d seen her work before. We recognised in her work and fantastic ability to capture moments many would miss. Smiles, laughter, but more subtle moments of emotion and beauty that make up such special days as Weddings. Her documentary style was exactly what we were looking for, someone who would fit seamlessly into our day. What’s more on meeting Alice it was clear she was someone who shared many of our values of what would be important about our day. Warm, generous and with good humour it was clear our friends and family would love Alice and that she understood what we wanted to capture from our day. From our initial engagement shoot to our final Wedding shots, we felt completely at ease with Alice and felt through the process that not only did we have the chance to work with an incredible talent but also a friend who we hope to keep in touch with in the future.
What advice do you have for other couples getting married?
Sarah: Read the wedding rule book and then tear it up. We looked at loads of weddings for ideas but ultimately found that we had a strong sense of what we wanted ours to be. If you follow your own rules you’ll end up with a more authentic day which is about you, not about the expectations of others. Plus you’ll probably have more fun if you focus on throwing your perfect party and not worrying about the formality often encouraged with wedding days.
Ben: Don’t buy into the idea that you need other people to do things for you. You’d be amazed at what you can do yourself. We sourced all our food and wines ourselves and found incredibly helpful suppliers and small businesses happy to assist. We saved money on areas of the wedding that would normally have taken up so much more of our budget, enabling us to focus on the elements of the day that really mattered to us. Right up to wedding day morning we, our friends and family were working to make the day happen – and looking around during the day, seeing all the incredible work that had gone into the wedding and the wonderful people that had helped make it all happen made the whole thing that little bit more special. So, trust your friends, family and most importantly yourselves to organise whatever kind of wedding you want.
Our first dance song was the original Louis Armstrong version of the classic ‘We have all the time in the world’. It had happened to be Sarah’s birthday during the first two weeks after we’d met. Although, we hadn’t know each other very long, Ben got Sarah a gift. Sarah had been looking for an old vinyl record player. It so happened that Ben’s friends had one that was never used he was happy to pass on. Ben gave Sarah the player but a vinyl had been left in the player – this was Louis Armstrong’s song. With Sarah due to leave the Island for London and facing the prospect of long distance, the song represented an important idea for us both that the time we spent together was precious. As our relationship went on it’s always been an important song to us, representing a special time in our lives together but also the exciting future ahead.
Tell us a bit about the entertainment:
Trusting Tim and wanting to use some musicians local to Devon, we went with The Honest John Band which Tim is a member of. They did such a great job. They read the mood of the evening well, had our guests dancing right to the end and were a pleasure to work with.
We had so much help and good will from everyone we worked with (no more so than Alice!) that we’re going to list them all, as without them, it simply wouldn’t have happened.
Venue: Hayne Barn, Devon. Expertly run by Tim and Milla Herniman
Invitation artwork: Sarah Tanat-Jones
Catering: Chris Brumby of My Pie – (Supplied Sausage Rolls, Scotch Eggs, Salads and prepared and arranged Ploughmans Lunch and Cheese Cake):
Flowers: Flowers by Lynda
Local cheese and butter Emma and the team at Quicke’s Devon
Devon chutney: Ben & Andrea Laxon at Otter Vale Products
Even more chutney: Viv at Vivia Crump
Ham for Ploughman’s Lunch: Matt and Owen at The Charcuterie Board
Wedding cakes: Laura Rogers at Lolo Gateau
Ben’s suit: Nathan and the team at Room Ten
Sarah’s dress: Jenny Packman
Sarah’s hair: Revive Hair Salon, Crediton
Entertainment: The Honest John Band
Wedding favours: Portle Bay Pop Corn
Baked bread rolls for the Ploughman’s Lunch: Stevie B Bakery Crediton
Tables, crockery and cutlery: South West Event Hire