A beautiful Saturday in April 2015 saw the wedding of Erica and Ruby at Cogges Manor Farm.
Cogges Manor Farm is nestled in the lovely market town of Witney and offers two stunning seventeenth century barns for weddings. They were a perfect blank canvas to add loads of personalised details to the day with vintage books, afternoon tea, lots of handmade touches and accents of yellow. This wonderful vintage literary wedding was captured by a number of professional photographers (who are also close friends of the couple) who each had a different section to cover throughout the day.
The couple hadn’t heard about this wonderful venue until Erica’s sister sent them a link to Cogges’s website. They instantly fell in love with the barns when they went to see them and booked their wedding date on the spot! And from there, they produced a beautiful, creative, DIY budget rustic barn wedding. It came complete with hay bales, bunting (kindly loaned from friends & family) and the Cogges chickens running around.
Most things were either handmade, collected or sourced by the couple or their family and friends. They even held a craft session at a local pub and invited their friends and family to stamp out thousands of cat and tea pot shaped confetti from old books. They hand made photo bunting from photographs of themselves over the 5 years they’d been together, as well as hand made centrepieces of brown ale bottles (with brown string wrapped around the necks adorned with buttons), and beautiful handmade paper flowers (again from old book pages) that they held as alternative bouquets too.
The brides both made a great entrance in to the barn. Not only were their outfits stunning, with Erica’s wedding outfit (of trousers & waistcoat) handmade from design to finished garment by the amazing local Oxfordshire wedding dressmaker, Geraldine Jarell of Oxford Frocks. But they also both walked into the barn from opposite large barn doors. They were escorted by their respective fathers and walked a mesmerising figure of 8 around their 100 guests seated on hay bales. The couple met in the middle of the barn, surrounded by all their friends and family, and had an enchanting ceremony complete with the lighting of a candle.
There were lots of personal touches to decorate the barn, such as a stack of Beatrix Potter books that Erica was given as a child by her aunt (who sadly couldn’t make it from Canada on the day). There was also an old gramophone that belongs to Ruby’s dad which played records of Eva Cassidy and the like during the reception drinks in the walled garden.
Afterwards, the guests were treated with a ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ themed wedding favour. As they came back in to the barn, they helped themselves to a surprise book. These were a job lot of paperback books bought from eBay and each wrapped in a brown paper parcel and stacked on a table. This gave people something to chat about at their tables before and during their afternoon tea. Many people told the couple after the wedding that the book they chose was perfect for them!
Afternoon tea has featured in this couple’s story for a while as Erica proposed to Ruby at Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden in Oxfordshire on 29th March 2014 (the day that gay marriage was legalised). So it is fitting that afternoon tea was also the theme of their wedding day, utilising vintage mismatched china that they had collected over a year. They visited numerous charity shops and car boot sales accumulating enough tea sets to host afternoon tea for 100 guests. The afternoon tea was served inside the Wheat Barn on rustic picnic benches (Ruby wanted to avoid white table cloths at all costs!) And now all of this china is used to serve loose leaf teas and hot chocolate in their own pottery cafe, Busy Brush Café in Wallingford. Delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes accompanied their afternoon tea.
Guests were encouraged to leave a finger print on an alternative guest book tree picture, plus write a personal message to the couple on vintage postcards left in a vintage suitcase.
A beautiful ‘Thank You Tree’ was displayed in the barn with luggage tags carrying messages to thank family & friends that had helped them – from solo singing during the ceremony, to loaning fairy lights that made the barns twinkle, to taking photos at the wedding, the endless search for China teapots etc. They borrowed the tree itself from their friend Anita who owns Country Collections shop in Wheatley.
In the evening, the guests were spoilt with some of the ‘best jacket potatoes you’ve ever tasted’, cooked in an old Victorian Oven out on the veranda. Plus, the wedding cake was actually a 1.5m high cake stand stacked full of jars of retro sweets that people could nibble on throughout the evening.
Then came a brilliant spectacle as the couple’s first dance was a flash mob dance where Erica and Ruby started dancing alone to Happy by Pharrel Williams. Then 5 friends, one by one, jumped into a well learnt dance routine. Mid way through the song lots of other guests got up and joined in too. What a wonderful way to take the pressure off everyone looking at the couple and so much fun!
After this the happy couple didn’t leave the dance floor and enjoyed the songs of a local Witney band, Vinyl Daze, well into the night.
This vintage literary afternoon tea wedding proves that with some personal touches, great friends, time and creativity, a beautiful barn wedding can be produced without breaking the bank.
Venue | Cogges Manor Farm | Witney, Oxfordshire | www.cogges.org.uk
Photography | Nick Bradbury | Mark Carroll | Alan Glasspool | Thomas Phillips | Robin Smith | Tom Weller
Bride’s outfit | trousers & waistcoat | made by Geraldine Jarell | Oxford Frocks
Flowers | handmade
Hay bales | provided by venue
Thank you tree | Country Collections , Wheatley | https://www.facebook.com/Country-Collections-762549283781067
Band | Vinyl Daze | www.vinyldaze.co.uk