Wedding at The Barn, Devon
Donya and Chris's fun-filled weekend wedding at The Barn"We've known each other since primary school in Torquay, but I went to university and Chris joined the Navy", says Donya of how the pair first met. "Years later, we bumped into each other on a night out with mutual friends and realised there was a spark."
The sunset Chris had anticipated for his clifftop proposal on the edge of Pentire Point, Polzeath may not have made an appearance - he ended up popping the question in the pouring rain - but their friends and family did. Donya arrived back at the couple's accommodation to find their nearest and dearest had secretly gathered to celebrate their just-engaged moment.
The laid-back couple looked at just one venue: The Barn at South Milton, which provided the ideal backdrop for their weekend-long rustic wedding filled with pastel shades, hay bales and oodles of personal details. "We knew straight away, so looked no further," says Donya. "The wedding was totally us. We made our own little touches, painted the signs and hand wrote the board and table names based on our favourite places we had travelled together."
The venue was a hub of activity the day before the wedding, with guests pitching their tents and tucking into drinks and pizza, before venturing to the nearby beach to watch the sunset and take a dip in the ocean.
The couple were blessed with blue skies for the wedding day and, flanked by bridesmaids in dusky blue, Donya walked down the al fresco aisle to Belle Carter's rendition of 'Fields of Gold' in an embellished gown with flowers woven into her hair. With Chris and his groomsmen donning country-cool combos of tweeds, waistcoats and braces, the pair exchanged vows before miles of rolling country views and the ocean beyond. After the ceremony, morris dancers with painted faces shimmied into the crowd to get the party started.
Though the day was designed to reflect both Donya and Chris's personalities, it also served a particularly poignant purpose: to remember Donya's sister, Kaley, who tragically passed away just a year before the wedding.
Following a feast of traditional fish and chips, pasties and a Cornish cream tea, guests were greeted by two bagpipers playing 'Amazing Grace' and were each given a white balloon to release in memory of Kaley. "'Amazing Grace' was played for Kaley's two-year-old daughter, Gracie. There was not one dry eye, even the photographers and bagpipers were crying," remembers Donya. "Then, to perk people up, Irish band Paddy's Whiskers started a ceilidh inside the barn." The couple opted for a first dance with a difference: a group barn dance with all of their guests, "where they made an arch with their hands while we ran through: amazing!"
An extended planning period allowed Donya and Chris to both have plenty of input into designing their day. "Trust your instinct on everything, including your dress," implores Donya. "We enjoyed the two-year planning process where both of us had an equal contribution."
She also encourages other couples to consider a weekend of frivolities. "We had guests from Friday to Monday and it was amazing!" she says. "We had the whole weekend to celebrate, sit back and take it all in - to appreciate the moment."
Photography Maxi Photography maxiphotography.com
Venue The Barn at South Milton thebarnatsouthmilton.co.uk
Dress Kittychen Couture kittychencouture.com from Azure Bridal azurebridalgallery.co.uk
Bridesmaids' dresses BHLDN bhldn.com
Make-up Jodie Lynch makeupbyjodie.co.uk
Hair Melanie Chalk from Portobello Salon portobellosalon.co.uk
Groom's outfit chinos Ted Baker tedbaker.com tweed waistcoats and tie Victor Valentine victorvalentine.co.uk
Flowers Blackawton Blooms blackawtonblooms.co.uk
Catering Fancy Fries fancyfries.co.uk
Entertainment Paddy's Whiskers paddyswhiskers.co.uk
Grimspound Border Morris grimspoundbordermorris.org
Belle Carter myspace.com/bellecarter
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