Real Weddings

Essense of Australia for a Rustic Wedding at Hazel Gap Barn – Jenny & Matt

Sarah Symonds

Picture this: the quintessential English country church ceremony, followed by an open-top classic Beetle ride to a nearby rustic barn venue, decorated in seasonal florals and foliage. Idyllic, right?

I don’t know if we’ve ever seen a groom as ecstatic to have married his beloved as Matt clearly was on the day he married the beautiful Jenny. We can’t say we blame him. Jenny looks absolutely gorgeous in her lace Essense of Australia gown, perfect and delicate as a contrast to Matt’s brown tweed suit. The perfect pairing indeed.

And with a sympathetic and tasteful decor incorporating beautiful blooms and apples (yep), we can’t fault the styling. The bouquet in particular is stunning, bursting with warm tones and amazing texture, tied with a silky burgundy ribbon. If you’re thinking of an autumn wedding yourself, you really won’t want to miss this one. Let’s hear all about it from the bride in question…

With photography by The Georges


Jenny says: Matt proposed while we were on holiday in Kefalonia in June 2018. We spent the day touring the island in an open top Suzuki Jimny (which nearly broke down on several occasions), ending up on Petani beach for the sunset where he proposed! We’d been together for around 10 years at this point so I’d anticipated it happening a few times over the years but I was still caught off guard when it happened.


We got married on the 27th of October, 2019. We love autumn as a season, but I also didn’t want a long engagement. As such, availability and cost had a lot to do with the time of year we got married. The more we saw the beautiful, warm colours of autumn rolling in, the more excited we got and the more perfect the timing seemed to be – and the cosiness of the venue worked with this vibe too.


Hazel Gap Barn was the first venue we visited after it caught our eye whilst we were scrolling through beautiful barn venues online. When we saw it in person, it was even better than the pictures. Beautiful, ancient beams that had been restored with great care to create a modern but cosy venue that added new, unseen value each time we went back.

The ceremony was at St John the Evangelist Church. It’s a beautiful old white church surrounded by countryside.

Although Hazel Gap did offer the ability to have the ceremony at the venue, it was important for us to have our ceremony in a church. We started looking for local churches nearby and once we’d found St John’s and found out they had availability, we didn’t need to look at another place. It was perfect.


We loved the venue as it was and decided that less was more in terms of theme and styling. We just wanted to make our wedding personal to us. To complement the beautiful textures of stone and wood in the barn, we chose warm, rustic blends of autumnal colours to match the time of year. We love food and we put a heavy importance on having an abundance of good food and snacks!

The prominent colours we used were burgundy in the bridesmaids dresses, ties and flower ribbons, alongside brown tweed suits. We chose these to reflect the time of year and a little of the rural setting but they’re colours we love too. We then contrasted these with our use of gold. We chose these to help tie into some of the colours already within the venue.


From the minute that I visited The Bridal Suite, Alex was so warm, friendly and patient, allowing me to try on lots of dresses without any pressure. I realised that I preferred a fitted, trumpet shaped dress with lots of lace and a train. Besides loving lace, I know Nottingham is well known for lace, so I was keen to have this as part of the final dress.

I managed to narrow it down to two dresses, but I couldn’t stop thinking about one of them after the appointment. I knew when I tried it on for a second time, it was the one!

My dress was called Sara by Essense of Australia. I loved how the lace was delicate and elegant, but, perhaps more importantly, it was just really comfy which was very important, as I was really looking forward to all the food!


My husband wore a brown tweed suit from Moss Bros, with a burgundy tie and pocket square. The groomsmen wore the same brown tweed suit from Moss Bros, with a burgundy tie and pocket square.


I wanted to find a style which would suit all my bridesmaids however, this turned out to be a real challenge as they were a beautiful array of different shapes and sizes, including one who was pregnant! After a lot of searching, I found that Oasis did bridesmaids dresses online. They had a beautiful rich burgundy colour and the dresses were available in a variety of sizes. Although they didn’t do maternity dresses, a friend was able to adjust the dress to fit my pregnant bridesmaid perfectly. Thankfully, all my bridesmaids were really open to wearing anything I chose and on the day they all looked amazing!


Ali Gunn was my makeup artist. My friend recommended Ali and I immediately saw why. During our trial, Ali asked questions to find out what I wanted but was able to create a look far beyond anything I had dreamt. I don’t normally wear a lot of makeup and I was keen that I still looked like me on the day. Ali is so talented, she managed to make me feel like an enhanced version of myself.

On the day, she did all of my bridesmaids and my mum’s makeup, and made them all look spectacular too. Her makeup lasted all day, which helped me to feel confident (even when throwing myself around the dancefloor) and I never had to think or worry about it during the day.

Chelsey Holland Bridal & Occasion Hair Stylist did our hair. My bridesmaid’s sister is a hairdresser who kindly agreed to do some of the bridesmaids’ and my mum’s hair on the day. However, she recommended her friend, Chelsey as she specialises in bridal hair, and I’m so glad she did. Chelsey was so friendly and prompt at replying to any questions I had. When we did the trial, I wasn’t completely sure of the style I wanted, although I knew I wanted it to be up, and she was patient with trying styles and talking about clips and hair accessories too. After the trial, I realised that I wanted to have my hair curled before putting it up and, even though we hadn’t had a trial for this, on the day Chelsey did an amazing job and created a style which was perfect for me. She was also really helpful with other things such as putting the veil on and even made cups of tea for people in the morning!


I was driven to the church and venue in a white open-top 1960s VW Beetle from CW Camper Vans. We were so lucky that the weather allowed us to have the top down for the journey in and out of the church. The company also kindly kept the car at the venue for a while after, meaning guests could get some pictures with the car and enjoy it as much as we had!


Our photographers were The Georges. Would we recommend them? Without a doubt! We were blown away!

Firstly, their photography was fantastic and complemented the style we’d chosen for our wedding. Soft, warm photography, with bags of character and a great use of light – but not always the standard, staged shots you see from a lot of weddings. They captured the personality of our wedding and the personalities of those attending.

Another of the many reasons we chose Lou and Tim was that there were two of them. They were able to cover the day from the perspective of the bride and groom but also cover various angles of key parts of our wedding. They each have their own, unique styles of photography that work well together but allow them to inject their own creativity – independent of our direction.

But we found out in the build-up, on the day itself and afterwards that great photographers are more than just the pictures they take. They were hugely personable and approachable. They made time to grab a couple of drinks in the months before our big day – not just to hear what kind of shots we’d like but to get to know us. On the day, they were always present but never intrusive.

Even now, we find ourselves gazing at the photos they took, which are proudly hanging on our walls, and they allow us to relive such happy memories.


The year before, we had visited my sister in Sheffield to do a wreath making course run by a local florist. When we got engaged, my sister suggested that we should have a look at the florist and enquire about wedding flowers, and they couldn’t have been more perfect. Swallows and Damsons created a muted yet rich, autumnal, rustic style bouquet which perfectly fit with the colour scheme and time of year. They created the bridal bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, corsages for our mums and button holes for the groom, best men and dads. All of them were so beautiful, I almost cried when the bridal bouquet was delivered, I just couldn’t believe how accurately they had managed to capture autumn in a bouquet.

Swallows and Damsons also kindly decorated our tables with eucalyptus trailing around the candles and wooden slice centrepieces, which perfectly complemented the other homemade decorations which we used.

I love crafting, so I was really keen to make as many things ourselves as possible and got family involved too! I made a linen banner with a calligraphy message, various wedding signs, including one for the blankets in case people got cold! My dad kindly cut wooden slices of a silver birch tree, and also smaller bits of wood to hold the place names, which took him a long time but looked amazing! Although most of the geometric candles and centrepieces were purchased, I created more geometric shapes out of straws which I spray painted gold. I know this sounds a bit strange, but when they were used for decorations with the eucalyptus, they looked really effective to help make the theme consistent.

My sister is really talented and she made us a copper pipe photo booth. It was absolutely magical, with fairy lights hanging behind curtains. It was decorated with dried hydrangeas that Matt’s mum had dried from her garden and spray painted with hints of gold, and lots of eucalyptus. We put a fancy dress box next to this and instead of a traditional guest book, we asked people to take instax photos and stick them in with a message. Although not all of our guests chose to do this, there were some really funny pictures that we had, and enabled the guests to have a memory from the day too!

Thankfully, Matt is also really creative and great at designing, so he designed all of our stationery including order of services, invitations and place names. We used this same theme to create a table plan too. We didn’t want to number the tables in a traditional way, so instead we chose various ages and matched pictures of us at this age on the tables. Some were baby pictures; some were more recent pictures but there were a few embarrassing ones thrown in too! We thought this would help break the ice and create conversation starters on the tables where people didn’t know each other. We also used photos in the seating area, and hung up lots of our friends and family who were attending, to include them in the day too.


We were keen that if we did favours, they were useful and eco-friendly. We’re big lovers of plants so we wanted to add this to our wedding in some way – the favours seemed the perfect place. We bought seeded pencils. Then, having already designed our own orders of service, wedding invitations and other materials, used the same design on an attached card, with a message to our guests.


Our cake was quite understated in comparison to other elements. We bought a simple three-tiered cake from M&S with lemon, chocolate and vanilla flavours. We then decorated it with eucalyptus and halved figs.


Food was a major part of our day. We tried to offer plenty in the way of volume and variety too as our wedding guests included vegans, vegetarians, coeliac and other food preferences.

Food was also an area we bucked a trend and decided not to include a starter. While this saved us some money, the main reason we chose to do it was that our food plans made food available most of the time and we wanted to focus on the foods we really loved, rather than having courses for the sake of it. We began with canapes; cod fillet goujon was tartar sauce, beef sirloin and mustard sauce, tomato bruschetta, Welsh rarebit and curly kale, chickpea and chilli bruschetta.

As mentioned above, Hazel Gap Barn is renowned for its food. We sampled a lot at the taster event and all flavours were excellent but what struck us most was the sociable dishes, which is why we chose Rotisserie chicken with a mouth-wateringly zesty tomato salsa and sweet potato wedges (plus plenty of seasonal greens) served in the middle of the table for people to eat as much as they felt they wanted.

For vegetarians, we chose the feta and spinach filo pie, a firm favourite during our home Greek night feasts, and the gluten-free/vegan option was middle eastern roasted vegetable turla turla with cumin yoghurt. A good vegan and vegetarian option was really important to us. We’d attended a wedding in the past where a vegan friend of ours was served melon for a starter, dessert and evening snacks too. We didn’t want anyone to feel left out.

Later into the evening, a range of stonebaked pizzas could be seen being made through the glass window of the kitchen. Once served, we had quite a few left over and Hazel Gap provided take away boxes available for people to take with them as they made their way home – an unintentional extra gift to help those who might be nursing a sore head in the morning!

For our wines, we served red Chateau Mourgues du gres, gallet rouges, and white Chateau Les Miaudoux, Bergerac Sec. We also chose a rhubarb, orange and ginger mocktail that ended up being pretty popular for the drinkers too.


We chose a band called Smith and Sons – a very Mumford and Sons sounding band recommended to us from friends. Their sound fit the venue perfectly and kept people dancing throughout the evening. They had a great range of songs in their repertoire.

Special touches

As Matt has a particularly sweet tooth, we were keen to have a sweet table. We used crates on the tables to display (in our opinion) the best doughnuts around. We were lucky enough to have DoughNotts doughnuts which are just SO delicious! We also had an array of sweets in glass jars with scoops and paper bags.

In between the music sets, we encouraged guests to grab a sparkler and use the fire pits, blankets and toast marshmallows, which the venue allowed us to supply. We created some cuffs to go with the sparklers saying ‘let love sparkle’. They were so fun and the photos of the sparklers are some of our favourites.

We were so lucky that the best men, family and venue all helped to decorate the venue on the morning of the wedding, creating something that was better than we had even imagined.

Thanks to

We feel that all of our suppliers were outstanding and delivered far beyond what we had hoped. However, both of us agree that there were two which really stood out for us. One was the venue. We would not hesitate in recommending Hazel Gap Barn. The staff were all really lovely and managed the whole day, keeping things moving smoothly and leaving us to enjoy the day. It was little things that made our day really special, like for instance, they bought us our own platter of canapes to make sure we had eaten some. We were really glad they did too – they were delicious, as was all of the food. In fact, we still get lots of guests commenting on how tasty the food was. The venue is absolutely beautiful, and was flexible to allow us to personalise and make the wedding our own. We just felt incredibly fortunate that we had the opportunity to book it for our day, and couldn’t fault it.

The others who deserve a special thanks were Tim and Lou, our photographers. They were just so friendly and relaxed, helping us feel relaxed in front of the camera, which isn’t something that normally happens for us! It was such a long day for them, being there from hair and makeup in the morning, to sparklers and dancing in the evening. Despite this, they didn’t leave until they had captured every part of the day perfectly. We are just so thankful that we booked them and feel really lucky that we have their photos as the lasting memory of our day.

Best bit

Honestly, the whole day was just incredible and it was so lovely to see all of our planning and hard work coming together, and creating a day which just had so much love in it. But for me, a really special part of the day was when we drove away from the church together, knowing we were officially man and wife, but having the excitement of all the celebrations at the venue after.


I didn’t realise how indecisive I was until I was faced with so many decisions during the wedding planning process, so I was relieved when Matt said that he was arranging a surprise honeymoon. It couldn’t have been more exciting when we got in our car and I had no idea where we were going! We started in Bath for spa days and a chill out, then went to St. Ives for beaches and coastal walks and finally ended up in London where we attended theatres, ate Michelin starred meals and even did a pottery throwing class! Matt has a lot of contacts in the hotel industry and he managed to pull some strings for us to stay in some amazing hotels. Although this honeymoon is probably not the relaxing honeymoon that lots of people would want, it was perfect for us, as we wanted to create special memories together and now we have lots of places in the UK that we can return to which will always remind us of this happy time in our lives.


We tried to spend lots of time together during the day. This was really important to us as it created joint memories of so many parts of the day. Also, I’d recommend getting a perfume or aftershave especially for your wedding. Whenever I smell mine, it instantly reminds me of our day!

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