Real Weddings

Benjamin Roberts for a romantic rustic wedding at Doxford Barns – Gemma & Ben

Sarah Symonds

Our gorgeous couple, Gemma and Ben, know how to celebrate a bank holiday! By tying the knot at one of our favourite North East venues, Doxford Barns, of course!

These two fell head-over-heels in love with the rustic setting and knew immediately it would be perfect for their traditional white wedding accented with a very pretty blush pink.

Romantic detailing in bunting, festoon lighting and candlelight helped set the intimate tone in the Threshing Hall, as the couple’s friends and family came together to celebrate their union, while a surprise first dance really got the party started as the sun began to set.

Gemma’s description of her most favourite part, the ceremony, sent us all heart-eyes, and that was before we heard about how excited their little daughter, the flower girl, was to see her parents get married! Cuteness overload!

Fancy a beautiful barn wedding yourself? Then be sure to join us for our Luxury Wedding Show in partnership with UNVEILED magazine, at Doxford Barns on Sunday 13th October 2019, taking place between 1pm and 4pm, free entry, when you can see this beauty of a venue in all its glory.

With images by Geoff Love Photography


Gemma says

: We got engaged on Christmas Day 2016. Our daughter, Thea, was eight-weeks-old at the time, and Ben told me to wait in bed. He got Thea up and dressed and told me to come through to the living room. Thea was there dressed in a ‘Will you marry my Daddy?’ vest, propped up on a cushion with the ring box open in front of her. It was just perfect, and the best Christmas present.


Our wedding date was 27th May 2019. We chose it as we wanted a bank holiday Monday if possible, to bring costs down and be on a day that most people were already off work. It was also my mam’s 50th Birthday that day, so we thought it would be lovely to share the occasion and celebrate both big events together.

We got married at Doxford Barns. We wanted a rustic, barn wedding and fell in love with Doxford when we saw the pictures on their website, and then even more so once we visited in person. As soon as we saw the venue, particularly the Threshing Hall where the ceremony takes place, we knew it was the one. We also wanted a venue where guests could stay over both the night before and the night of the wedding, and the beautiful onsite cottages here ticked that box too. The staff we met when we first visited were so helpful and friendly which was definitely another deciding factor.


We didn’t have a specific theme but our colour scheme was blush pink and white. We loved the softness of the pink and it created a really romantic feel. I think it tied in really nicely with such a rustic venue. We added the white as I love a traditional white wedding. We had white bunting, white in the gypsophila in our bouquets and floral decorations, and white tablecloths. We then complemented this with blush pink bridesmaid dresses, table runners, napkins, favours, confetti and roses in the bouquets and floral decorations.


My dress was purchased from Wendy Coles in Monkseaton. The designer was Benjamin Roberts. I also had a Bianco Evento veil and belt to add to the dress. I had done a lot of research into the style of dress that I wanted, and this dress fit the bill perfectly. As I am only 5ft and petite, I knew straight away that I didn’t want a dress with a big skirt. Instead I wanted something slim, in a mermaid or fishtail style, with a long train. I tried a few dresses in varying styles but as soon as I tried this dress on, I just knew it was the one, and all of the tears from everybody who came with me helped confirm it definitely was! Once the lovely staff at Wendy Coles brought over the belt, I was absolutely sure – the added sparkle just made it even more perfect.


Ben and the groomsmen wore the Ascari suit by Cavani.


My bridesmaids wore a floor length, strapless, chiffon blush pink dress from ASOS, and my flower girl wore a white dress with a layered net skirt and satin ribbon tied in a bow at the waist. This was from Monsoon.


Hair was done by Bridal Hair by Cheryl, and make up was done by The Big Event Hair & Make Up.


Geoff Love was our photographer. I would definitely recommend him to anyone, he is an amazing photographer and the nicest person! He was so professional throughout and his ideas were brilliant. He is so friendly and easy to get along with, and I always love all of his pictures. We were so happy with our photos, and so were all of our friends and family. Geoff asked for us a list of the photos we wanted taking and then on the day he made sure we got them all. I will definitely be contacting Geoff again for any future photography needs and will always recommend him to anyone who needs a photographer.


I carried a bouquet made predominantly of gypsophila, with a centred arrangement of blush pink and cream roses. These were provided by Made Simply Perfect. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were just gypsophila.

As the wedding reception was in the same place as the rest of the day, we were able to just use the same venue styling all day. Our decorative flowers were provided by Made Simply Perfect too, and we had a mix of gypsophila, pink and cream roses, and other foliage and flowers in wooden crates as our table centrepieces.

Alongside these, on the tables we had wooden heart candle holders, blush pink and cream rose petals, and table numbers in photo frames that we designed ourselves. Made Simply Perfect provided us with blush pink table runners and napkins too. We also had a large mantelpiece display of these flowers in the Threshing Hall during the ceremony, which was actually arranged in two sections so that half of it could be moved to our top table for the rest of the day. We also had a wisteria net canopy (by Made Simply Perfect too) in the Cart Shed half of the Great Barn, where the meal and reception took place. This received so many lovely comments from our guests.

Made Simply Perfect also decorated our chairs using chiffon chair drapes in a weave style, and created our table plan, hanging it from the wagon wheel in the Cart Shed. They created a floral arrangement for the centre. Finally, they decorated the top of our cake barrel with flowers to tie it in. Made Simply Perfect were absolutely amazing and everything looked beautiful – they were also so helpful in the run up to the wedding.

Ben and I also made some decorations ourselves. We made a hanging hula hoop display by gluing the word ‘Love’ to a hula hoop and tied silver, white and blush pink ribbon to the bottom to tie in with our colour scheme. We then hung this from one of the beams in the Great Barn. We also hung white bunting across both lengths of the great barn for added decoration – my two brothers-in-law very kindly did this for us!

Finally, we created an ‘Order of the Day’ sign, using a wooden pallet with ivy and fairy lights tied around it, and a similar confetti cone wall in the Threshing Hall.


Our cake was made by Tracey Nicholl at Truly Scrumptious based in Whitley Bay. We opted for a four tier, iced cake, decorated with pink roses and ribbon to fit in with our colour scheme. Our flavours were pink champagne and strawberry, chocolate fudge and orange, bakewell and lemon. It tasted and looked amazing!


I made my favours myself! I run a business called Jubbly Jars, selling wedding sweet favour jars to other couples as well as other larger personalised sweet jars as gifts for various occasions. My favour jars were wrapped in twine and tied with a blush pink ribbon to tie in with the colour scheme. On the lid were our names and the date of the wedding, with white lace ribbon around the edge of the lid. Each jar had a tag on with the guest’s name, and they were filled with pick’n’mix sweets.


Doxford Barns have an amazing menu to choose from and I love that they offer guests a choice of three dishes. For the starter we had a choice of broccoli and stilton soup, garlic mushrooms or chicken risotto. For the main course we had a choice of trio of sausages with onion mash, chicken with chilli and chorizo risotto or vegetable wellington. For dessert we offered guests a choice of chocolate brownie, raspberry cheesecake or sticky toffee pudding. We chose these after loving them at our menu tasting session. For our evening buffet we had fish and chip cones and barbecue pulled pork sandwiches.

For our wines we chose a Sauvignon Blanc and the house red, as we thought these complemented our food perfectly.


Our DJ was Ian Conway, from ICON Entertainment, and Ashleigh Humble, acoustic singer. Ian provided the music for the full day, from the ceremony to the evening reception. We chose Ian as he has lots of experience as a specialist wedding DJ and knew how to use certain music to set the scene at each part of the day, and to create a certain mood. He was so professional, friendly and helpful. He played all of our requests and he even mixed the songs for our special surprise first dance together! He also did all of the master of ceremonies duties and really helped create the perfect atmosphere all throughout the day and night. His disco set up, lights etc. were brilliant and looked lovely.

Ashleigh performed an acoustic guitar set 6.30pm to 8pm, after our meal and until the first dance. She’s an amazing singer and such a lovely person too.

Special touches

We surprised everybody during the first dance by doing a choreographed jive! We pretended we were doing a traditional slow dance before the music changed. It was so much fun and the reaction we got was amazing! I’m trained in Ballroom and Latin dance but nobody would’ve ever thought Ben would do something like that, so it was such a surprise to everybody!

We also had a Polaroid guestbook table for the evening reception, complete with props. Guests stuck their photos in our guestbook alongside their message and we got some absolutely fabulous pictures. It was so lovely to read through it the next day and everybody commented on how fun and different it was.

Thanks to

Our thanks go to Doxford Barns! I would 100 per cent recommend it to other couples. Obviously, it’s a beautiful venue but in addition to that we found the staff to be really friendly, helpful and attentive. I emailed so many queries in the run up to the wedding and they were always answered so promptly, and always in such a friendly manner.

On the day the staff were excellent and so professional. They allow you to really make the day your own and are happy to accommodate whatever ideas you have. The food was amazing too, and I also loved having the option for close family and friends to stay over in the onsite cottages, not only the night of the wedding, but the night before too – it was so special to have a meal with everyone the night before the wedding. If you’re looking for a rustic wedding, Doxford Barns should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

Best bit

The best bit would have to be the ceremony. I had spent so long thinking about music choices and how the Threshing Hall would look, and it was amazing to see everything set up and hear the music we had chosen. The ceremony itself was so special and I will never forget seeing Ben’s face as I walked down the aisle. Our two-year-old daughter was flower girl and she was up and down the aisle constantly chatting and commenting on how lovely everybody’s outfits were and pointing out all of our candles. At one point she shouted: “mammy and daddy getting married!” and it was such a cute moment. The Threshing Hall is just the most beautiful backdrop for a rustic ceremony, I fell in love with it the first time I visited Doxford Barns and the ceremony was just as magical as I had imagined and hoped.


We went to Dubrovnik in Croatia for a week straight after our wedding. We couldn’t decide between going for a sunny beach holiday and cultural city break so chose Dubrovnik which has both. For Game of Thrones fans, it’s the setting for Kings Landing and there are plenty of Game of Thrones tours to do. It’s a beautiful city and you can also do speedboat excursions to local islands, as well as day trips to nearby Montenegro. The old town is packed with restaurants and shops with amazing views, and it’s only a 15 minute bus ride to the beaches, coastal bars and restaurants so it’s really the best of both if you’re looking for a culture and beach holiday in one.


My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to ask one of your wedding party or your photographer to take pictures of the various table displays or decorations that you’ve put a lot of time and thought into. Preferably before guests get access to them! We spent ages agonising over how certain table set ups and decorations would look, but we never actually got to appreciate them properly on the day as we were too busy to take it all in. Everything goes by in a blur, so it’s a great idea to try and get photographs of every aspect of the room so you can appreciate how lovely things looked afterwards. Don’t forget about those ‘little things’!

Also, during the planning, we used the Brides Up North white book directory to find suppliers.

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