Inspiration: bright contemporary museum wedding

Inspiration: bright contemporary museum wedding

Modern museum wedding 

For some absolute wedding goals, take at look at these images from a recent photo shoot at the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology in Oxford. The photos are picture perfect, with a modern and bright, walking work of art vibe to showcase this stand out classic wedding venue. 

Ashmolean Museum wedding venue

This venue is a beautiful hidden gem of a wedding venue. From the outside you don’t know the expanse of options that are available inside The Ashmolean Museum. It provides a truly wonderful labyrinth of options to hold a wedding or special occasion. See my wedding venue review of the Ashmolean Museum.

Decadent décor

The Ashmolean Museum gives you maximum impact with minimal effort, as the backdrop of this venue needs no help in packing a punch – the wow factor is there for you already! This is a venue which is quiet, personal and intimate, yet very much on the grand scale.

There are many options and different ways you could use a combination of the galleries for all the elements of your wedding day. Each one has it’s own character, atmosphere and capacity that can be suited to your number of guests and requirements. This shoot has images taken in: the Grand Forecourt; Ceramics Gallery; Randolph Sculpture Gallery; Grand Staircase; and the European Art Gallery.

Contemporary bridal wear

This wedding photo shoot shows modern Charlie Brear outfits including a Carson Jumpsuit; separates in the form of a Luna top and skirt; plus a low V, effortlessly cool, boho Nyika Dress.

You’ll be a living statue and your own work of art on your wedding day at this venue.

Fun florals

The stunning flowers in the bouquet, crown and arm cuff made a real statement alongside the cool architecture and simple white outfits with: Red Snaps, Astilbe Gloria, Avignon Blooms, Red Euphorbia, Brown Lisianthus, Protea, Cafe Mocca Rose, Hot Pink Lace Rose, Parvifolia, Red Robin, Mimosa and Long Ruscus.

The bright and colourful florals made this the Ashmolean and their amazing technicolour dream wedding venue.

images credits:

Venue | Ashmolean Museum |
Photography | Matthew Pattimore Photography |
Hair & make up | Rachael Capocci |
Dresses | Ellie Sanderson |
Flowers | Flowers by Kirsty |
Planner | Stacey Puffer |
Model | Andrea Taverni

As featured in OX Weddings Winter 2019 edition |

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Inspiration: coral and gold festival wedding

Inspiration: coral and gold festival wedding

A laid back celebration in August 2016 saw the relaxed festival wedding of Verity and Paul at The Isis Farmhouse in Oxford.



Relaxed and laid back vibe

This wedding was a real break from tradition with loads of beautiful handmade touches and a ton of personalisation. It fully embraced the festival trend and utilised the truly creative skills of the bride to diy many elements of the day. It seems like the perfect time to share this casual wedding – not only is the theme bang on trend but it also features the summery coral colour that is the Pantone® colour of the year in 2019.

Above everything else, this was a true celebration of love and family. It was a chilled out day with friends, less about structure and more an informal and fluid affair. Not overtly lavish but heaps of fun. With the focus on the people who were there.

Rural remote meadow view

The festivities began in the centre of Oxford where the happy couple officially tied the knot at a ceremony at the Town Hall. This was a day of two halves though. From town to countryside. After the ceremony, the whole wedding party walked together through the city centre. Then had a lovely drinks reception whilst on a boat ride down the Thames to the Isis Farmhouse. A stunning rural setting in Oxford’s flood meadows alongside the river was perfect for the wedding reception. You can only reach this venue by foot, pedal power or by boat. Around the back of the Farmhouse is a covered barn and a meadowside garden which was great for this relaxed celebration.

Rustic festival décor

The barn was set up with long trestle tables laid out in two lines. Along the centre of each table was linen, which draped off each end, with an array of brightly patterned mismatched vases containing wild flowers. The displays were mirrored by the flowers and plants hanging in macramé holders (made or collected by the bride) above the tables. These flowers were provided by a lovely friend who grows cut flowers in her garden and were arranged by the bride.

The bride made the place names which were cut out gold glittery lettering, plus a nice ice breaker card containing things to spot and capture was placed on each table. In addition, the bride had designed the napkins herself which contained drawings of important places and things throughout the couple’s history together.

Gold accents

The bride wore a gorgeous end of line strapless fitted fishtail satin dress with a chiffon capelet with bat sleeves. She accented this with Betty Ballroom gold high heel shoes, a gold hair vine and gold belt. Her hand tied wild flower bouquet in coral and gold colours was from an amazing flower farm near Wallingford who arranged the bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets. She also held a vintage beaded ivory clutch bag. The chief bridesmaid wore a gold sequined dress to match the gold accents beautifully and the flower girls wore ivory dresses with gold bodices and ribbons (also made by the bride).

Creative catering

Food was served at the tables and consisted of a hearty lasagne or moussaka with healthy salads, plus a rustic buffet for the evening guests. The venue catered perfectly for vegetarian and vegan diets to ensure all guests were content. The two cakes (one lemon and the other chocolate) were also made by the venue and incorporated fantasy and action figures in lieu of a bride and groom topper (that the couple decorated themselves).

Entertainment for children of all sizes

The main focus of the day was to encourage guests to mingle and keep children (big and small) entertained with colouring, wands and a bubble refill station. There were postcards for guests to sign which would be sent to the couple and polaroids were taken of all the guests for a pictorial guest book. The day ended with guests dancing along to crowd pleasing classics on the dance floor.

Practical favours

The gifts for guests echoed the vibe of the whole day. They were handmade, low key and had purpose. Guests could pick which soap to take home, with a choice of either lavender or rose and geranium. These were boxed, branded and served in a vintage case. Plus there were some seeds to take away too, in order to sow in your own garden, share the love and remember this charming day in years to come.

Venue | The Isis Farmhouse |
Photography | Kitson Photography |
Hair & make up | Lauren Wheeler |
Shoes | Red or Dead |
Bouquets | Green & Gorgeous |
Flower arrangements | cut flowers from a friend’s garden | arranged by bride
Favours, place settings & stationery | handmade by bride
Cakes | The Isis Farmhouse |

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Keep it local for an eco wedding

Keep it local for an eco wedding

It’s a sad fact that, by their nature, weddings can be quite wasteful. After all, it is often a lot of preparation, produce and packaging for just one day.

However, more couples nowadays are choosing eco friendly options to reduce the impact that their wedding day has on the environment.

Here are some tips and alternatives to help with a more eco friendly wedding:

Think green

The greenery trend has meant less flowers and more plants and foliage are appearing at weddings. Consider other alternatives to flowers such as pot plants, succulents and air plants that can be reused again after the wedding. As well as paper florals and other lasting alternatives to bouquets. Plus think about foraging for items such as moss, fruit, vegetables, feathers, cones and other seasonal items from the environment around us.

If you do go for real flowers that use foam free installations to avoid plastic. And have a plan for how you can pass on the flowers afterwards.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Tis the season

For any items (especially perishable bits like food, drink and flowers) try to use locally sourced ingredients and seasonal products. Not only will this keep costs down but will also decrease transportation. Plus ensure things are compostable rather than disposable.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Paper chase

If you choose to use paper stationery then try to use recycled paper and limit the glitter or embellishments on them as these are hard to recycle afterwards. Try and hand deliver as many invitations as you can rather than incur postage/transport costs.

Or instead of printing your invites, send electronic invites and manage your RSVPs online. Or perhaps print your invites on things guests can use  again like tea towels, mugs, magnets or Christmas baubles.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Keep your friends close

To reduce your carbon footprint, think about the transport surrounding your wedding day. Try to reduce how much you and your guests have to travel to get to your wedding. Hold your wedding nearby and consider shuttling guests together if you have to change venue between the ceremony and reception.

Or consider inviting less guests to a micro or tiny wedding. Not only does this keep things small, personal and more meaningful but less guests means less consumption, travel and cost.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

It’s the thought that counts

When creating your gift list, think whether you really need all the items you add and provide details for guests to make charity donations in lieu of buying gifts. Likewise, for thank you gifts and favours choose reusable or dual purpose items for your guests.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

What you see is what you get

Choose a wedding venue that has green credentials and think about what facilities are already at your venue. If you hold your wedding in a permanent structure then there is less need to bring in extra provision and utilities.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Go unplugged

If you hold your wedding in the daytime and/or summer then you can save electricity by using the daylight. Or perhaps use candles instead and your musical entertainment can go acoustic.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Beg, make or borrow

Where possible think about how you can use items that are not purpose made for your event. Hire items (from places like Mabel & Rose and Linda’s Vintage Hire) or upcycle vintage décor and see how you could pass on the items afterwards. Plus, great for any diy couples, is to make your own décor and bear in mind using any sustainable materials.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Something old

Rather than buying brand new outfits, consider hiring or buying a pre worn vintage gown (from somewhere like Heart Accomplice). And think about all the new heirlooms you’ll have to pass down to generations to come.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Reuse, recycle, reduce

Overall, with all your plans think about how you can reuse, recycle and reduce each element for an eco friendly wedding. Think about how you can donate any wastage to those less fortunate or offset any carbon footprint.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

Images on this page are taken by Cat Stephens Photography from Hanami Dream’s festival wedding styled shoot at Cogges Manor Farm. See all the fabulous suppliers that were involved in this styled shoot.

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5 reasons tiny weddings rock

5 reasons tiny weddings rock

Tiny wedding trend

On average, wedding guest numbers are decreasing and a lovely trend in micro or tiny weddings is on the rise; with couples wishing to keep things small, personal and more meaningful. Not always in the extreme of eloping but a step away from traditions and expectations. Making the day a wonderful experience for everyone and good value for money. Tiny weddings could range from having a dinner party in a private room, a picnic in a park, a weekend sleepover in a stately home or a destination wedding for your close friends and family.

Bigger doesn’t always have to be better. Here are 5 reasons why tiny weddings rock from Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) who, along with Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park), host Tiny Weddings – an exciting new style of wedding fair for small, intimate weddings and elopements.

1. You get to spend the whole day with your favourite person.

When else do you and your future husband or wife get to spend a whole day just loving each other, celebrating your time together and thinking about your future? With fewer guests to entertain you will spend less time worrying about other people and more time with the person that matters the most. There are also some great studies that show the more intimate your wedding the more likely your marriage is to succeed (surely something to do with the stress of planning a big wedding!)

2. You will avoid the most common planning nightmares.

The hard parts of planning are almost always not related to making your marriage happen. The seating plan, the choice of dining options or what sort of music to play to please everyone during a 4 hour reception are avoided when you have a small group of close family and friends to entertain. Think of your celebrations as less of an operational ordeal and more of a larger dinner party and suddenly it all makes sense.

3. You can spend your money more wisely.

Having a small wedding or elopement may not even mean spending less than you would have spent on a big wedding. The difference is that you get to spend your money on the things that are important to you as a couple. Try making a list of things that you absolutely need to make your day work for you and then set your budget against that. If the dinner is a big part of your day then spend your budget on great food. Feeding 30 people caviar and champagne is much more affordable than serving 150 people a chicken dinner. If travel is your thing, a smaller wedding day can allow you to blow the budget on a mega honeymoon or even allow you to take your wedding overseas with a small party all expenses paid.

4. You won’t explain your quirks to anyone.

It’s much easier to share your plans with a smaller party and explain your choices to those who are invested in you as a couple. If you want the whole wedding party to wear a certain colour, travel to a remote location or do something seemingly random that brings you joy, it’s much easier to get buy in when you’re inviting only close family and friends. It’s going to be more difficult to explain your reasoning behind your choices if you have all your second cousins and great aunts chiming in. Spend your time and effort on the people and things that bring you joy, not arguing about chair covers with Sharon from work.

5. You’ll find suppliers who absolutely love their jobs.

If you’re looking to work with passionate individuals who will put as much effort into your wedding day as you do, then having an intimate wedding is more likely to help you find them. Larger suppliers need you to fulfil minimum orders, cover overheads for their venues and feed 100+ people to pay their bills. Small vendors usually have lower overheads, less staff costs and would be delighted to hear about a no stress wedding with under 50 guests.

About Tiny Weddings

Tiny Weddings is a joint venture between Carly Straughan (from Epic Elopement) and Claire Ady (Wed in Central Park). Having both had intimate weddings and working in the industry, exhibited and visited wedding fairs for years, Claire and Carly realised there was a space in the market for a fair dedicated to those who traditionally are ignored by the big wedding industry. Tiny Weddings Fair is the anti-dote to the mega fair that has grown up in recent years, bringing together vendors who specialise in intimate ceremonies and elopements around the world, whilst also hosting talks from experts in their field who can help couples find their own Tiny Wedding inspiration.

Get tickets for the next Tiny Weddings Fair on Sunday 30 September 2018, 10am-4pm at Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe HP11 2XE.

About Tiny Weddings’s hosts

Claire is a wedding planner, specialising in elopements and small destination weddings in Central Park, New York, for couples from all over the world. She has been doing this for over six years and has planned almost two hundred and fifty weddings so far. All of her weddings have had under fifty guests and most have between five and fifteen guests. She knows the tiny wedding market well. She knows what drives a couple to choose a tiny wedding and what values and priorities are popular for the couples that take this route.

Carly has been blogging about elopements since her own elopement in 2015. Beginning her career in wedding journalism, Carly moved into wedding planning and events management but always knew it wasn’t her scene. Carly has planned and executed weddings, fairs and events for some of the UK’s most recognisable venues and attractions and continues to work with events venues day to day as a consultant. When her own marriage was imminent she quickly realised there wasn’t much choice for those who wanted a great wedding without a huge guest list, Carly began seeking out suppliers of tiny wedding and elopements around the world and the rest is history.


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Inspiration: intimate castle wedding

Inspiration: intimate castle wedding

A small wedding for a big day in February 2018 saw this intimate (and impromptu) castle wedding of Sally and Gavin at Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire.

Intimate wedding trend

On average, wedding guest numbers are decreasing and micro weddings are on the rise; with couples wishing to keep things small, personal and more meaningful. Not quite on the extremes of eloping, as the nuptials are far from secret, but a step away from traditions and expectations. Making the day a real lavish experience for everyone and good value for money. It’s like having a dinner party in a private room for your close friends and family.

Colour scheme

This intimate castle wedding (of less than 30 guests) was a luxurious affair with a rich, dark colour scheme of navy blue and emerald green. With lush tactile elements of velvet bridesmaid dresses, satin ribbons and faux fur wraps.


The couple chose Thornbury Castle for their wedding as the bride loves history and castles, whilst the groom loves fine food and wine. It was also a special venue where they had stayed together before.


The bride and bridesmaids got ready in the Henry VIII suite with it’s spectacular full length windows. She wore a stunning dress from Pronovias with a huge statement bow and accessorised with a custom-made ivory faux-fur wrap to bare the wintry elements of the day.


To set the scene, the couple sent out navy invitations with a green satin ribbon (to match the bride’s bouquet) and a crest from the county of the bride’s place of birth. The heraldry was a lovely nod to the décor that guests would see inside the venue. The traditional invites had handwritten names, a personal note and a copy of the menu.

Place settings were individually quilled, glued and sprayed to look like chess pieces, with names written on cards by the bride.

Minimal décor was required in the Tudor Hall and they choose not to add anything to the Lounge or Boyling House as they let the impressive venue do all the talking.


The wedding ceremony took place in the lounge at Thornbury Castle where guests sat on comfortable settees and arm chairs. Photographs then followed around the castle and in the gorgeous grounds.

Their drinks reception took place in the Boyling House where they enjoyed canapés, fizz and a caricaturist and close-up magician for entertainment.

The wedding breakfast took place in the Tudor Hall where all 27 guests sat around one table with an open fire and enjoyed a 5 course dinner service with a break in the middle for a magical parlour show.


The lavish five tier cake was decorated a sumptuous navy blue colour and adorned with edible pearls. It stood decadently, mirroring its surroundings and the hidden grandeur inside. Each tier revealing different delicious flavours of chocolate with chocolate and cherry ganache, lemon with white chocolate ganache, and a traditional fruit cake.

Despite there being a small number of attending guests, this was a cake to feed many more. The couple had little cake boxes at the ready with coordinating ribbons and napkins for the mother of the bride to give to local friends and family who didn’t attend.



Guests stayed over at the hotel in the exquisite bedrooms and in the morning they enjoyed breakfast together in the Baron’s Sitting Room. Meanwhile the Bride and Groom stayed in the Tower Suite (one room at the top of the tower with around 70 steps to reach it) in the golden four-poster bed.

Venue | Thornbury Castle |
Photography | Alice Morgan Photography |
Hair and make-up | Katherine Jennings |
Cake | Dee’s Cakes |
Candelabras | supplied by venue
Dress | Miss – Bridal Gowns of Hungerford |
Flowers | T&J Owen Florist |
Place settings | handmade by bride’s sister
Personalised matchboxes | Etsy

#UKWedLunch – Wednesday 11th July 2018 – keeping calm

#UKWedLunch – Wednesday 11th July 2018 – keeping calm

#UKWedLunch – Wednesday 11th July 2018

As well as general wedding planning chat, today we are talking about keeping calm whilst wedding planning with top tips from Stephanie Varda Bridal Coach #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 1: Do it together. Discuss things as a couple – talk to your partner about what you both want from your wedding. You don’t have to take responsibility for all the decision making involved in planning your wedding. #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 2: Get help. If friends and family offer help, then accept it. Either delegate some smaller tasks or accept advice where you need it. #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 3: Take breaks. Don’t live and breathe your wedding for the entire time you are planning. Take time out to do something else for a little while. #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 4: Adapt. Things might not go exactly to plan, and plans may change. Don’t get upset about things that you can’t do anything about, and stay flexible and open to change. #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 5: Prioritise. Decide which parts of the day are most important to you and which bits you don’t care so much about. #UKWedLunch

TOP TIP 6: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Think about the whole day and the bigger picture of what you want from your wedding. Don’t get caught up in worrying about the details. #UKWedLunch

This week’s top tips were about keeping calm whilst wedding planning with top tips from Stephanie Varda Bridal Coach taken from ‘Keep calm and carry on wedding planning’ #UKWedLunch

Thank you for all the RTs, follows and likes! Hope to see you again next Wednesday 1-2pm for more wedding planning chat #UKWedLunch

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Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Keep calm and carry on…wedding planning

Huge congratulations if you’re currently planning your forthcoming wedding. Whilst organising a wedding is incredibly exciting, it can sometimes be a daunting challenge too. Especially as you’ve possibly never organised an event of this scale or importance before, you’re trying to please lots of people and everyone seems to have an opinion on it. So it would be understandable if you find that you can’t keep calm and are sometimes stressing over the small stuff.

Here are top tips from Stephanie Varda Bridal Coach on staying calm and dealing with stress during the wedding planning process and build up. Considering how to deal with conflict, compromise and comments from other parties.

Ten things to remember when (not if!) you get stressed while planning your wedding

  1. Get some perspective
    This is the first tip because it kind of shocks some brides.  So many people think their wedding day is the most important day of their lives.  Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.  Your marriage and your partner will be very important to you as you go through life.  Remember what this is really about.  Now for the practical stuff….
  2. Do it together
    That’s what marriage is about – so don’t take responsibility for all the decision making involved in planning your wedding.  Discuss things as a couple – talk to your partner about what you both want from your wedding.
  3. Delegate
    Even better than planning together could be to ask your partner what they would like to take charge of and let them own that part of the wedding.
  4. Get help
    If friends and family offer help, then accept it.  As discussed above, you could either delegate some smaller tasks to them (or the tasks you don’t like so much!) or accept their advice where you need it.  Beware of unsolicited interference that presents itself as help or advice, though – say no to that!
  5. Be grateful
    Your loved ones will be spending lots of time, money and effort on your special day.  They might not agree with all of your choices, but they are doing this how you want it because they love you.  So, appreciate them.
  6. Take breaks
    Don’t live and breathe your wedding for the entire time you are planning.  You will just start to resent it all.  Take time out to do something else for a little while, perhaps with your bridesmaids or your other half.
  7. Adapt
    Things might not go exactly to plan, and plans may change.  Don’t get upset about things that you can’t do anything about, and stay flexible and open to change.  A wedding involves lots of people, and some of them won’t do exactly as you want them to.
  8. Prioritise
    Decide which parts of the day are most important to you and where you want to splurge, and which you don’t care so much about and those might be where you can save a little on costs.  This will help you to…
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff
    Identify what is not that important and either delegate or just get it done and don’t think about it again.  Think about the whole day and the bigger picture of what you want from your wedding.  Don’t get caught up in worrying about the details – nobody will notice anyway, your guests will just want to enjoy the day, have a big party and celebrate your love.
  10. This is your day
    This one is last because this is the one you really need to remember.  This should be your mantra.  We all want our guests to have a great time on our wedding day, but you can never please all of the people all of the time and this is your day, so do it your way!


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Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

What a day for celebration the fourth of July is:  Independence Day, Alice Day and today is the 4th birthday of Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions!

four years since my first styled shoot

Yes, today marks four years since I published my first styled photo shoot under the umbrella of Hanami Dream. After that Alice in Wonderland shoot in 2014, came the Wizard of Oz, followed by a Wind in the Willows wedding in 2016. Last year saw the addition of 3 more styled bridal shoots: a modern Edwardian Secret Garden themed wedding, a real break from tradition with a Festival style wedding and also a lovely winter Journey to the Centre of the Earth themed wedding. I’m enjoying working with some amazing local suppliers!

four years since my first tweet

From my first tweet in 2014, to a steadily increasing readership (and social media following) with around 1,100 unique page views a month on average. Plus a combined social media network of over 5,400 followers and ongoing promotion and networking means this is ever growing.

four years since my first blog post

It’s crazy to think how much has evolved over the past four years; now 310 blog posts later and this year I won the Event and Wedding category at the UK Blog Awards after being a finalist for the previous two years running, I’m now a Certified Wedding and Event Planner, and have recently had one of my shoots featured in Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine.

four years of further accolades

I’m really pleased to continue to add to my honoured collection of accolades, which include #QueenOf Wedding Inspiration by The Royal Connection, the #SmartSocial award from Marketme, #BrightPig’s Business of the Week, WOW Winner picked by Jacqueline Gold CBE. As well as winning Theo Paphitis’s #SBS (Small Business Sunday).

I am an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Certified Wedding and Event Planner with the UKAWEP.

Plus I launched #UKWedLunch nearly 2 years ago, as well as being a guest host on #BrideHour.

four years more experience

My focus has been on developing the blog commercially, as well as providing inspiration to brides and grooms in the Cotswolds. Plus I’ve continued to combine my previous 13 years of marketing experience, with my local knowledge, in the scope of the wedding industry. It has been great to provide marketing consultation to some local, independent wedding businesses in and around Witney, Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. I’ve been affectionately titled the Wedding Inspector – a bit like the Alex Polizzi of the local wedding industry!

work with Hanami Dream

I look forward to working with more local wedding professionals, services and venues #keepitlocal. And I can’t wait to produce more styled photo shoots and have more opportunities to collaborate with local suppliers.

Please get in touch if you’d like to advertise on the blog, submit your own wedding details, would like to collaborate on a shoot, write a guest post or need some marketing advice and guidance. Together we can build the local wedding industry and inspire brides and grooms for their special day.

Happy birthday to Hanami Dream – definitely time for cake now!


Inspiration: denim

Inspiration: denim

casual blues for a rustic barn wedding complete with denim stationery – embroidered denim rather than a traditional paper suite: menus on napkins, name place sleeves around milk bottle glasses, table plan labels hung on Portuguese laurels plants

See more images in our gallery and the amazing local suppliers who came together to make this shoot possible in this blog post.

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography