Jen and Jamie made hay while the sun shone at their creative al fresco celebration in West Sussex
“When I finished my art degree in 2002, I moved into a house share in Greenwich and that’s where I met my lovely, good looking housemate Jamie,” says Jen. “I fancied him from the minute I saw him (even though he was playing Xbox at the time, which is not the most attractive thing!)” Eight years later Jamie surprised Jen with a proposal which was so out of the blue, Jen was temporarily lost for words. (Clearly she found the right one in the end!)Photography: Sarah Gawler (sarahgawler.co.uk)
“Rumbolds Stud Farm in West Sussex (rumboldstudfarm.com) was the first venue we visited and we went for it immediately,” explains Jen. “It offered us complete freedom with the decoration and felt relaxed enough for an intimate ceremony and a summery, fête-style party.”
“Our beautiful (and very emotional!) Humanist wedding was held outdoors beside a lake in front of 72 guests. We wrote our own vows and the ceremony was conducted by the wonderful and warm celebrant Ginny Collins (humanist.org.uk/ginnycollins).”
“Being a textile designer (jenrowland.co.uk) I asked Debbi Little, who works at the same studio as me (cockpitarts.com) to help create my dress. I didn’t want to be sweltering in layers or cinched in to a corset so she used old cotton lace tablecloths and doilies collected from my family and from Jamie’s to create the perfect style. I know exactly where every piece of lace came from, so it’s an heirloom I’ll treasure.”
Three of Jen’s four bridesmaids also wore Debbi Little signature dresses, made from hand-dyed recycled Fifties parachutes. “We mixed the colours from lipstick red and electric fuchsia to acid bright olive and soft dove grey. My bridesmaids looked like flowers and I smile every time I look at the photos.”
“My mum did all my flowers,” says Jen, “arranging a mix of flowers and greenery to look like they had just been picked from a field. We got them from a wonderful wholesale flower market in Brighton (millsnblooms.co.uk) and even made different bouquets for each of the bridesmaids to complement the dresses.”
Reception flowers included craspedia, the little yellow buds that were perfect for the buttonholes.
“I wore a navy three-piece suit from Jaeger (jaeger.co.uk) and a shirt by Henry Herbert Tailors London (henryherbert.com),” says Jamie. “If you want beautiful tailoring, Charlie at Henry Herbert is your man for proper, old-school customer service. He even had my shirt biked from London to Sussex because we ordered it too late!”
“As Jamie and I are both designers, we created most of the wedding ourselves, using recycled brown paper, tags and envelopes for the invitations, place names and menus (eco-craft.co.uk),” says Jen. The table plan was cleverly framed inside a vintage travel trunk, with names pegged on twine with wooden pegs.
“We named our tables after places that have played a special part in our relationship, like No.57, which was the house where we first met in Greenwich, and The North Pole – the pub where we had our first kiss.”
The cold buffet featured organic British produce cooked by the couple’s good friend John and included roasted meats, quiches, tarts and salads, finished with edible flowers.
“We had flowers everywhere,” says Jen. “My mum made huge displays in old watering cans, tin buckets and zinc florists' containers to dot around the venue, and decorated the tables with country garden flowers in vintage cut-glass mustard pots.”
“My mum, aunts, cousins, sisters and best friend got together to hang all the pom poms (we’d made 130!) and bunting made from paper doilies,” says Jen. “We got the tissue paper for the pom poms from morplan.com and the doilies from partystuffonline.co.uk.”
“Our stationery made from recycled paper had a bit of a country and western look which we thought was fun as we were getting married on a farm surrounded by horses,” says Jen. “We also gave out drinks vouchers that looked like tokens for funfair rides.”
Creative signs added to the fun of the day including one that introduced the first dance and another inviting guests to take the bunting home.
Snapshots of Jen and Jamie’s life together were pegged on to twine for guests to enjoy.
Jen’s Aunty Gillian made the fruitcake. “She’s a cake maker extraordinaire,” says Jen. “It featured whole hazelnuts and dates and was rough iced by Katherine at Ladybird Cakes in Surrey (ladybirdcakes.com) to look like the snowy Christmas cakes I remember as a child.”
Guests were treated to a colourful notebook from Jen’s own range (jenrowland.co.uk). “The bright happy colours and floral prints fitted perfectly with the theme of the day.”
“A fabulous band called The KB Fussionaires kept the party going till past 11,” says Jen, “then we all walked down to a field where we had a huge bonfire and everyone camped, including us in our honeymoon suite pop-up tent adorned with fairy lights!”