A colourful romantic outdoor Sussex wedding
Jess & Matt’s wedding last May at Ditchling Village Barn & Green was a stunner of a wedding! It was a lovely warm day and everything was blooming. The couple live in Majorca but were originally from East Sussex so it made perfect sense to hop back to the UK to host their rustic village green wedding close to home so both families and all their friends could attend. As with most of my couples, they booked me to cover their day in a candid documentary way, capturing the day’s events in a relaxed natural way. It really was a quintessentially English afternoon wedding, in a beautiful rural location. I love village weddings where the beauty and simplicity of the natural surroundings provide a perfect understated backdrop to a wedding.
Jess had pretty much done all the planning and organising for the wedding from afar, coming home to Sussex just once or twice before the big day. She’d planned a rustic but very stylish day, with an outdoor humanist wedding ceremony. Then drinks & canapés with dinner & dancing in a beautiful tipi! I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive!!
Outdoor Humanist Wedding Ceremony
Jess got ready at her family home, two minutes away from the village green whilst Matt got ready at the Bull, a local hotel, literally overlooking the green. Preparation is always one of my favourite parts of the day as all the plans, outfits, flowers and other carefully chosen parts of the day, all start to come together. As the boys were so local to the wedding, I headed straight over to see them and cover a bit of the pre wedding activity at the hotel. Matt was alone for a matter of minutes before all the groomsmen slowly made their way over to get ready with him. There was the usual ‘how do we tie this tie’ moment, a lot of banter and some aged vintage whiskey to get them revved up for the day! Meanwhile, over at the bride’s family home, Jess was the coolest most relaxed bride EVER! No nerves or anxiety here, but a calm happiness about the day ahead. I got some lovely shots of the girls getting ready, and Jess in her stunningly elegant wedding dress.
I made my way back over to the village green to where the outdoor ceremony was being held – it looked so picturesque and I took lots of scene setting shots. The celebrant was the very lovely Jane Blackman, who lives in the same village I do! Small world! Jane was running through the plans for the ceremony with the groom as guests started arriving, all decked out in gorgeous spring attire, hats & sunnies! With everyone in place, we then awaited the bride’s arrival so I got myself into place at the top of the aisle in readiness.
Jess was walked down the aisle by her beaming dad, and Matt’s face lit up as she arrived. I always love this moment when after all the planning, the big wedding moment has finally arrived and it gets real! As the rings were being warmed and blessed by all the guests as part of the humanist ceremony, Jane shared their love story. How they met, adventures along the way and lots of little things that made this couple fall in love. I so love a humanist ceremony, it’s so personal because the entire ceremony and the words all focus on the love and commitment the couple are making. So after ring blessings and readings, the couple said their ‘I Do’s and they were wed!
Garden Wedding Reception
After the ceremony and confetti, their guests made their way to the green for drinks & canapés on the green, whilst I captured lots of lovely candid moments with family and friends. Hugs and champagne all around!! Then some family photos. Even as a documentary wedding photographer I still take family group photos. If you’re planning a wedding anytime soon, or wonder how best to plan this part of the day, do take a look at my blog post all about stress free family groups. Jess & Matt were keen on a few photos of them in the surrounding areas so we’d planned to go into the woods nearby as well as up on Lodge Hill, which had some glorious views of the Sussex landscape.
Dinner and Dancing in a Tipi
The couple arrived back for dinner just as all their guests had been seated and served drinks, and dinner was served to a hungry crowd! There were also bottles of some good stuff, specially flown in from Majorca the couple had brought for all their guests to try. Then lots of laughter and cheers from the speeches. Jess’s dad kicked things off, followed by Matt and and a few embarrassing moments shared by his best man! Games on the lawn with a few very competitive Jenga ‘masters’ showing everyone how it’s done! And to end the day, they hosted a ceilidh which is another wedding favourite of mine. It never fails to get everyone up and off their bums, dancing and shaking their thing! You can’t help but get involved as the raucous dancing gets underway. Ceilidh’s are always such fun!!! Some major moves were busted out and a few show offs grabbed the limelight, but those are the moments that make absolutely make a wedding. Loved this relaxed, rustic wedding with so many personal, hand-made thoughtful touches to the day. Thanks a mill for booking me Jess & Matt, it was an absolute pleasure to be part of your special day. Here are a few more rustic outdoor weddings you might want to take a look at – Fizz & Dan’s wedding & Bridget & Damien’s wedding.