Hollie & Sam’s Timeless And Personal Winter Wedding

Hollie and Sam's real life wedding at Upwaltham Barns

As Sam originally wanted to elope to warmer climates for an intimate beach wedding and Hollie preferred a more formal setting, the couple compromised with a barn wedding so that they could celebrate with all of their family and friends. All the individual touches created an incredibly personal occasion.

Finding ‘the one’

After researching more than one hundred venues, Hollie created a shortlist of six that met their criteria and Upwaltham Barns was the first venue that the couple visited:

“I fell in love with the South Downs on the drive from London and when we arrived, a wedding was happening, and this is what made us fall in love with it – it really was ‘all hands-on deck’, everyone was involved, and it was clear that the venue cared about each and every wedding.”

Upwaltham Barns in West Sussex is the perfect setting for a rustic winter wedding

The South Barn at Upwaltham Barns is set up for a winter wedding breakfast

Upwaltham Barns wedding venue is surrounded by the West Sussex countryside

Over the next few weeks, Hollie and Sam visited all of their shortlisted venues but nothing matched Upwaltham Barns:

“Some venues felt very corporate with people in suits showing us around and giving us gifts. Upwaltham Barns had none of this, so we booked a second visit for a more objective look around and made the decision to book from there!”

Styling Upwaltham Barns

The style of Hollie and Sam’s wedding evolved over time but ultimately, they wanted a classic and timeless wedding with no fads or trends. The couple didn’t have a specific colour palette in mind, but the dusky pink of the bridesmaids’ dresses and the blue suits of the ushers definitely played a part in the overall look. The pink and white in the flowers also helped to bring everything together.

White and pink flowers make up the buttonholes for a winter wedding at Upwaltham Barns

Pink and white wedding bouquets are ready for this winter wedding at Upwaltham Barns

“Because the venue is so naturally pretty, we didn’t need much decoration and I’m a firm believer that less is more. I had a limited budget for flowers and made sure to be upfront and honest with Rose Cottage Flowers. The overall look was fantastic, and she had worked to my brief perfectly.”

The East Barn at Upwaltham Barns is set up for a winter wedding ceremony

The couple decorated bottles and jars with hessian and filled with flowers to create rustic winter wedding table centrepieces

To stick to her budget, Hollie had to think creatively about her decorations. She hired bunting from Quirky Covers and this really brightened the November day along with candles, lanterns and fairy lights. However, it was Hollie’s crafting skills that really helped:

“For our centrepieces, I wrapped wine bottles in twine to really give them a rustic feel (yes, it took forever!) and these were displayed on wooden slices. To give things a personal touch, I also brought in items from home and these were displayed around the venue – some photo frames, candles and other pieces.”

The couple decorated Upwaltham Barns with personal wedding decorations for their winter wedding

The couples winter wedding cake for their wedding at Upwaltham Barns was decorated with fruit and flowers

Everything came together fabulously and definitely created the fun and informal atmosphere that the couple were looking for. All of the little touches really made their day wonderfully personal.

Dressing for the occasion

Hollie admits that she went on ‘a real journey’ to find her dream dress, trying on around 40 different gowns along the way! It was worth it in the end however because Hollie finally chose a bespoke design from Ivory & Co:

“The very first dress I tried on was by Ivory & Co. Whilst this one wasn’t quite right, I loved the cut and feel of the dress. I ended up calling the label to check local stockists and ended up speaking to Sarah, the head designer. She told me they offered a bespoke design service and we arranged an appointment. Over the course of a couple of visits, we created my dream dress and I felt it had all the elements I loved from all the dresses I had tried on.”

The bride wore a lace wedding dress for her winter wedding at Upwaltham Barns

“I loved the finished product because it was my dress and knowing that it was created especially for me made it very special. I also loved the fact that it was so lightweight and floaty – it made sitting, moving around and dancing very easy. I truly felt like a princess for the day!”

Hollie really was an Ivory & Co bride as all her accessories came from this label! She wore a soft tulle veil, a rose gold and pearl hair clip, rose gold diamond earrings and a freshwater pearl bracelet, all from Ivory & Co.

The bridesmaids wore dusky pink bridesmaid dresses for this winter wedding at Upwaltham Barns

Sam also looked stylish on the day, wearing a textured three-piece navy suit by Hugo Boss. The bridesmaids wore blush pink gowns, embellished with ivory pearls and Hollie managed to snap them up in the ASOS sale! Hollie asked her bridesmaids to choose their own metallic accessories and they all wore silver shoes and jewellery.

The wedding day

The couple’s ceremony took place in the East Barn and, in keeping with their wish to make their day a personal one, their readings were very special indeed:

“Sam’s mum is a really talented poet, so we asked her if she would do a reading for us. She wrote a poem that evening, a year in advance, and managed to keep it as a surprise for us. The words were absolutely stunning, and she had everyone crying happy tears.”

The bride and groom sign the wedding register after saying their vows in a winter wedding ceremony at Upwaltham Barns

The bride and groom take a moment away from guests on their winter wedding day at Upwaltham Barns

Celebratory drinks took place inside due to the winter rain and guests were treated to prosecco, topped with a fresh raspberry, and a selection of beers and ales. Hollie and Sam chose their favourite foods as canapes – mini Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef and horseradish, duck spring rolls and mini scones with cheese and pear.

The newlyweds chose their favourite foods for their winter wedding canapes at Upwaltham Barns

Wedding guests enjoy the wedding breakfast during a winter wedding at Upwaltham Barns

The seasonal delights, created by Nibbles2Nosh, continued at the wedding breakfast where the menu included lamb koftas to start followed by a main course of chicken, ham and leek pie with sticky toffee pudding to finish.

The couple served chicken pie for their winter wedding breakfast at Upwaltham Barns

“We knew right from the start that we wanted pie and mash at the wedding and we also wanted to make sure that people had a hearty meal. We worked with Nibbles2Nosh at Upwaltham Barns to customise our menu and we were just so lucky that they were able to accommodate all our requests!”

After the delicious meal, Hollie and Sam kicked off the evening party with their first dance to ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ by Ronan Keating. This was performed by their band, Blue Juice who were absolutely amazing. Whilst the couple didn’t choreograph their dance, they did have a couple of practice runs in their kitchen beforehand!

The newlyweds enjoy their first dance as husband and wife at the end of their winter wedding day at Upwaltham Barns

Newlyweds enjoy the Moroccan snug at Upwaltham Barns on their winter wedding day

To make sure that everyone had enough energy to keep dancing all night long, Hollie and Sam served bacon rolls during the evening with halloumi versions for their vegetarian guests.

Wedding tips & advice

For Hollie, two highlights from the day stand out – the ceremony and all the little touches the couple had included to make their day unique.

“If you’re planning your big day, I would say don’t be afraid to break traditions, make sure the day is a reflection of you as a couple. For us, this meant an informal day where we dispensed with some of the usual traditions, so we didn’t have a top table and I gave a speech!”

The bride and groom enjoy their rustic winter wedding day at Upwaltham Barns in Sussex

“I’d also say – get a videographer. Watching our video back has been so amazing because as a bride, you miss so much of what’s going on.”

“However, my best piece of advice would be to think about the sort of day YOU and your partner want and stick to your guns, even though it might be hard at the time. I’m so glad we did everything we wanted – in the end, it was perfect.”

For more real wedding inspiration, take a look at Katy and Adam’s Relaxed Spring Wedding at Upwaltham Barns.

Images courtesy of © Natasha Thompson Photography

Hollie and Sam's real life wedding at Upwaltham Barns

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