Laura and Dan Pickering-Payne
17th August 2019
Upton Barn & Walled Garden
Hanging out with Laura and Dan last August was a blast! Another of my lovely couples at the fabulous Upton Barn. They had an incredible day that I got the low down on from the Bride herself on their 1st Anniversary.
Mr & Mrs Pickering-Payne share with me and reminisce a year on from their big day about the feelings and work behind planning a wedding in a short time, going completely meat free for the day - and how they really felt getting married. I start by asking why did they choose their wedding venue?
We knew we didn’t want to wait a long time for our wedding but were also aware that venues may already be fully booked - especially as we were looking for a peak wedding date, in August.
We also knew we wanted somewhere with a relaxed vibe and somewhere that wasn’t stuffy or too strict. We wanted to be able to have an outside ceremony and have grounds for our guests to enjoy.
We had also decided that we wanted to get married in Devon as it is where we live and would be middle distance for my parents who live in Somerset, and Dan’s parents who live in Cornwall.
We looked at four wedding venues in total, however Upton Barn was the first and we fell in love with it
straight away. Luckily for us, Upton had had a cancellation for a Saturday in August and we reserved it almost immediately. We took a couple of days to check out the other venues but nothing topped the personal and welcoming service, and the beautiful
location that Upton had to offer.
Did you have a theme for your day?
We wanted everything to feel super relaxed, so we chose rustic accessories such as wooden slices and rustic wooden tea light holders.
Our flowers were white with loads of green foliage and this matched the design of our invitations and wedding day stationary. We carried the green theme through to our bridesmaids dresses and mens ties and the colours looked beautiful, calm and summery.
We used gin bottles to display our wedding
flowers and managed to collect around 50 different gins (thankfully we didn’t have to drink them all ;) our family and friends helped out!) They added pops of colour to our tables and were tied-in to our wedding favours which were mini bottles of sloe gin.
Overall, we wanted everything to feel welcoming and calm. A big part of our day was the music and we spent hours creating playlists for each section of the day, as well as having a fantastic live band in the evening.
There was music all day (apart from during
the speeches) and one of the biggest things people commented on after the wedding was how good the music had been. We know this had a big impact creating the vibe we wanted and we still listen to the playlists now!
The dress was probably the most stressful part of getting married. I had an idea of what I wanted but there was limited time available. I gave myself one day to find the dress I wanted and visited two separate boutiques in Somerset. I probably tried on around 25
dresses in total and in the end I decided on one that I had already seen online and had fallen a little bit in love with already.
There were many other beautiful gowns but this one
was my perfect style; ivory colour, not too girly or decorative, but with a beautiful, chapel length train and tiny buttons all the way along from the fastening to the hem of the dress.
I also ordered a veil, as I thought, why not? When else can you get away with wearing one and feeling like a princess?!
Waiting for the dress to be made was the most worrying part as I knew it would be close to the date of the wedding. I ordered the dress in January and it eventually came into the store in the last week of June.
Luckily I’m quite tall so I knew there wouldn’t be an issue with the length but I was worried about the sizing. I have a large bust and wanted to make sure I felt comfortable and secure. Unfortunately I wasn’t happy with the neckline of the dress and had to have some alterations made. The first set of alterations didn’t allay my fears at all and by this stage I
was really panicking. The seamstress decided that the best course of action would be to sew an additional panel into the neckline of the dress. This meant waiting for a delivery of fabric from the designer when the day of the wedding was getting closer. This set of
alterations were ready for me to try on the 9th August (8 days before the wedding!).
The seamstress did an amazing job, but sadly I wasn’t 100% happy with the alterations as they really changed the neckline and look of the dress, however I did feel a lot more comfortable and with limited time available I decided to go with these changes. I made sure to ask Emma at Freckle Photography, our wonderful photographer, to take lots of photos of the beautiful
back of my gown and also used my flowers to cover the bit I wasn’t happy with. On the day, it didn’t really matter anyway - It was just one big whirlwind of fun, love and happiness.
Inspiration for Hair & Make Up:
Neither I, nor my bridesmaids, wear a lot of make-up so I just wanted us to feel comfortable and look natural but still feel special and pampered.
I still look at the wedding photos now and go WOW because the make-up is nothing like I would usually
I wanted make-up and hair that would last all day and be as low maintenance as possible - I wanted to feel relaxed and for my bridesmaids to feel this too. Harriet (from Harriet Lucille Beauty) did an amazing job - the make-up and hair lasted right through to the end of the night, even though we all danced like crazy to the band!
The Groom and Groomsmen wore hired suits from Moss Bros. To be honest, it was the easiest option as each groomsman could go to his local store to be measured and it was all collated centrally on our order.
This made it so easy as we had Groomsmen in
different parts of the country and all with different working hours. I was really pleased with the style and fit of the suits.
We wanted something light and comfortable as we
knew it could be really hot in August and also we wanted the guys to be able to feel relaxed and not too stuffy.
The bridesmaids both wore pale green dresses by Debenhams, in the same colour but with different styles. They also chose their own shoes, both went for really similar styles which worked out well. This was because I wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible and have a dress that suited them and their style.
I found choosing my bridesmaids hard because I am quite an introverted person and don’t do lots of girly things or big social events.
Emma has been my friend since school and has kept in
touch with me always, despite us both relocating. Tasha became my first friend when I moved from Somerset to Plymouth and has always been there for me in a city where I
didn’t really know anyone. So in the end it was a no brainer!
I didn’t give the girls lots to do with regards to helping with the planning as I felt I had it all under control, but they did
an amazing job of organising my hen weekend. We literally had the most action-packed time from murder mysteries to cocktail making, afternoon tea to assault courses. It was
They stayed with me the night before in one of Upton’s Lodges - it was great as we could relax in the hot tub and drink prosecco. I was so pleased to have them there with
me when we woke up the next day as they helped me to stay calm and feel excited about the day ahead. They made sure that the getting ready process stayed on time and was good fun! We had plenty of coffee and prosecco and lots of laughs. It made the start of the day feel really special.
Meeting our florist (Dartmoor Flowers) and choosing our flowers was wonderful. We visited her beautiful home on Dartmoor and she helped us think about all the potential options and ideas.
I knew that I wanted white flowers with lots of green foliage as I felt it would match our colour scheme and our relaxed vibe.
Deborah was able to suggest loads of locally sourced flowers which felt really meaningful and I was pleased to know we wouldn’t be generating extra air miles by having to get lots of flowers shipped over.
The flowers were absolutely gorgeous and I was totally in love with them. The table flowers really stood out in our array of multi coloured reclaimed gin bottles and the best thing was that the bouquets and the top table garland smelt absolutely amazing!
Planning & The Day Before:
I am a meticulous planner and love organising events and writing lists so I took control and didn’t ask for much help from friends or family. They were always on hand with moral support or advice, as was Dan of course, but I really took charge with organising everything from the suppliers to decorations and from our playlists to reception drinks. I loved every moment of it and had managed to get everything planned within a couple of
months so all I needed to do was maintain contact with suppliers and chase up RSVPs. We did have some very kind financial support from our families which helped us to create our perfect wedding in such a short space of time.
The day before had been a little bit stressful. We knew we needed to arrive at the venue at a certain time to drop everything off ready for our big day. However, the weather was absolutely dreadful. We had torrential storms and cars were pulling over because they couldn't see properly. We were part way into our journey when we became stuck in traffic and discovered that a catering truck had gone over and spilled oil all across the
dual carriageway. What should have been a casual hour’s journey turned into a three hour ordeal! We were frantic with worry that we wouldn’t be able to drop off all of our decorations and wedding stationery. Thankfully, we spoke to Phoebe who reassured us that it would be fine and she would be there waiting for us. The rain didn’t stop but thankfully we got moving eventually and were able to reach the venue only a couple of hours later than planned.
On the Day:
We travelled to the venue in a tiny, vintage Morris Minor, which was great fun, although a little bit of a squeeze. When we pulled up at the venue I couldn’t stop smiling - everything looked beautiful and the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky!
Phoebe helped me out of the car, which was quite a lot of effort with the dress, heels and bouquet and then settled everyone's nerves ready for the big moment. The bridesmaids were nervous as they hadn’t realised they would be walking down the aisle before me but as soon as the entrance music came on they smiled and were happy to take centre stage. Phoebe timed the music perfectly; asking me and my Dad to wait until
the best moment of the song. We walked to ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles and it was absolutely perfect because the weather was just gorgeous. I wouldn’t have minded if the weather had been bad, as I thought that it would still be meaningful and also quite funny! All I remember about that moment is my Dad whispering to me to slow down as I was on a mission to get the front.
As the weather was so wonderful everyone made the most of the beautiful outside space at the venue. Our guests enjoyed lawn games, as well as reception drinks and canapés
and generally everyone had the opportunity for a really good catch up with friends and family they hadn’t seen in so long.
Emma made the photos run as smoothly as possible, with the help of our amazing Master of Ceremonies, Mark. I hadn’t been looking forward to the ‘staged’ formal, portrait
style wedding photos but Emma made sure they were over as quickly as possible.
The individual photos of Dan and I were wonderful and we just had a good old natter with Emma and explored the wonderful gardens and water feature.
One of my favourite memories is of Dan and I being announced in the Wedding Breakfast by Mark, our Master of Ceremonies. Everyone stood up and clapped and
cheered, and seeing all of our friends and family being so happy for us was an amazing feeling. We were both totally taken aback!
Both being vegetarian, we chose to have a fully vegetarian wedding breakfast. To begin with this received some questioning and criticism, however on the day the food was
beautifully presented and so wholesome and filling that everyone forgot their qualms and a lot of people commented that they enjoyed trying something new and unconventional
to the usual wedding menu. We felt proud to have stuck to our own values and pleased to have tried something a little different.
The speeches were hilarious, particularly Mark, our Master of Ceremonies, bringing out a pair of ear defenders during The Best Man’s speech in order to protect Dan’s Grandma!
We cut our beautiful wedding cake (made by Cherry Blossom Cakes) straight after the speeches and people spilled out of the venue onto the grass to enjoy coffee and cake. It was so wonderful to see everyone
really relaxing and enjoying the day.
We tried to limit strict timings for things so that our
guests could relax as much as possible and treat the day as a mini break from day-to-day life.
As lovers of music, our evening entertainment was really important to us. We wanted something that showed our love for rock and roll, but also something that our guests
would enjoy and could dance too. We found an amazing local band called The Gruffnuts and they were amazing.
They played classics from Blur, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, The
Undertones and Feeder to name just a few. I don’t think Dan and I have ever danced so much and the floor was packed; it was wonderful to see friends, family, old and young all
dancing together and having fun.
We both adore the Foo Fighters, have seen them live before and had tickets to see them again on our mini-honeymoon to Dublin straight after the wedding, so we knew our first
dance had to be a Foo’s song.
We chose ‘Wheels’, which was released only on their ‘Best of…’ album, as it talks about beginnings coming to an end. We felt this was meaningful to us and represented the step we were taking by becoming Mr & Mrs.
We saw The Foo Fighters play ‘Wheels’ five days later and cried happy tears at all the wonderful memories we had of our big day!
A couple of days after the wedding we flew to Dublin; this trip had been booked before we had even become engaged and we felt it was the perfect mini break to take together
to relax and reminisce after the big wedding build-up. It was great fun and we received some really thoughtful wedding gifts such as vouchers for The Guinness Factory and
In December, we flew away for our honeymoon to Cape Verde. Neither of us had been there before and wanted to go somewhere new that we could explore together.
The weather was stunning and we enjoyed drinking cocktails in the sun, swimming and exploring the beautiful island of Sal.
Words from the Bride about... me!
Phoebe always made us feel that she was genuinely excited about our wedding as much as we were! It was a wonderful feeling! She was unbelievably enthusiastic and always
wanted to hear about us and the details that would be important to us on our big day.
During the planning stages she was always available to offer tips and advice and no question was ever too big or too small.
I honestly believe that her enthusiasm was infectious for other staff working at our wedding, as well as for our guests, and she really did help to ensure that everyone had the best time.
On the day, Phoebe was discreet but always on hand and she really kept everything running smoothly. She greeted me when I arrived (and helped me get myself and my dress out of the tiny, vintage Morris Minor we had hired) and timed everything from the entrance music, to the speeches, to
perfection. I cannot thank her enough. Even a year later!
She was also always happy to have a catch up and just have a chat. We were able to bond over shared interests and she was always happy to talk about our dogs, the music we liked, Devon and Cornwall adventures and the fact that her husband was also called Dan. She made us feel so relaxed and was truly more of a friend than a business person.
Despite that, she was always organised, timely and
happy to go above and beyond to solve any worries.
I can’t wait to have another big event so that I can work with her, and chat to her again!
And finally... some parting thoughts from the Bride for any future couples getting married:
Laura: I wish I’d known how quickly the day would go. Everyone said that it would but, honestly, it was over before we knew it. Also, I wish I had asked someone to record the speeches so that we could go back and relive those cringe
The biggest argument of the day came when some of our vegan friends discovered that the non-vegans had been eating the vegan cupcakes!
Oh, and Dan always remembers me having to ask Phoebe to check that my cleavage was straight, and fully contained, after having to remove lots of dried rose petal confetti!
I loved every moment of looking after Laura and Dan...
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY YOU ABSOLUTE STARS :)
Love Phoebe xx