Well, this is the first wedding we have featured that took place in a cow shed wedding venue, and it’s amazing! It just goes to show that you don’t have to have a large wedding in a stately home or a rustic barn; if you fancy a country style wedding then, hey, go and find your local cow shed!
Sarah and Jim’s wedding was a work of love. The styling details really fitted the country, rustic vibe they hoped to achieve. An abundance of hay bales (it helps when you get married on a farm), rustic pallets and crates formed the base for their styling, and together with giant light LOVE letters, candles and fairy lights, the ambiance was set.
What do you feed your wedding guests when you get married on a farm? A hog roast of course. I love the way the table was styled complete with hog’s head centrepiece!
Andy Griffiths Photography captured Sarah and Jim’s cow shed wedding perfectly, and I hope you take away loads of inspiration for your own country wedding.
“Our first encounter was actually during a student night in Leeds. We met in a club and kissed on the revolving dance floor. Sadly this beautiful, romantic act was not the start of our relationship, but it was the start of a very close friendship in which we lived out the single student life together. In our third year we finally became an ‘official’ item and our story begins from here.
“When James proposed he’d planned a birthday surprise for me – a trip to the Lake District. We have always gone up to the Lakes hiking and cycling so I had no reason to be suspicious. When we arrived in the Great Langdale valley he handed me a larger than usual bag and told me that we would be wild camping up the mountain. So off we went up Bowfell.
“The weather was changeable with the sun peering around a rain cloud every now and then. James hadn’t quite decided the exact time when he was going to propose and the weather was playing a big part in his decision.
“Once we reached Bowfell and took the standard ‘top of the peak’ selfie we descended to Angle Tarn where we were going to camp for the night. Knowing I was at my destination I sat on a rock and dramatically ‘refused to go on’. I love hiking but the sun had come out and I had swapped to carry the BIG bag (which held my engagement ring, unbeknown to me, but to the amusement of James). James, taking advantage of the sun, grabbed both bags and began to walk off. He said we weren’t there yet, so I reluctantly followed.
“He continued upwards over a small peak, but once we got over it, to a secluded spot, the view across Langdale Valley was incredible. James quickly distracted me and asked me to look for something in one of the bags. When I turned back around he was on one knee holding the most beautiful ring!”
Cow Shed Wedding Venue
“We wanted a rustic theme to match the proposal and searched for barns in the Lake District and then Cheshire to be closer to home for our guests. Unfortunately we couldn’t match the number of people to the venue within budget. Some barns were so big but then we couldn’t afford, nor did we need, extra guests to fill it.
“We were feeling a little downtrodden when my Dad suggested I contact a colleague of his who owns a farm. I won’t lie, when we first went to see our venue I think we both hoped it would be a beautiful wedding barn, just like the others. We were soon brought back to reality… This was a working farm, and the ‘barn’ was in fact a cow shed!
“Once we got over the initial shock we started to take in our surroundings. The perfectly sized, large empty space, the wooden slats that let the sun shine through, the rolling green fields with stunning views and the industrial silos that provided a fabulous backdrop for photos. It didn’t take us long to pin down a date and from there we had a blank, rustic canvas with which to build on.
“Our plan was to have the whole day at the venue, including a humanist ceremony with my sister as the celebrant. We therefore needed to split our cow shed wedding venue into rooms. Luckily we were surrounded by copious amounts of hay and we could get plenty more. With the use of a tractor, the farmer, David, built high walls with the hay bales and we soon had three rooms for the ceremony, drinks reception and evening meal/dancing.”
“It was important to choose a dress that suited the cow shed wedding venue. I did try on some of the mermaid styles which looked beautiful but just didn’t fit the setting. I went to Wed2B for style ideas and laid eyes on the Arielle dress by Heidi Hudson. Immediately I knew this dress was the one. It has stunning detail, an open back and a lovely flowing train giving it a real bohemian style, matched with my handmade floral crown by Flash Floozy.”
“The bridesmaid dresses were from ASOS and were actually one of our first purchases for the wedding. We just loved their bright, flowery summer look and how they brought colour to the venue.
“James, my dad and the groomsmen all wore navy blue Ted Baker suits, rented from Moss Bros, with ties to complement the bridesmaid dresses.”
Simple and Rustic
“We kept the ceremony room simple and rustic with a few large features including a flower arch with wooden crates to decorate with candles, a hessian aisle runner and waterfall fairy lights as a backdrop. James’ stepdad, a welder, made us some large iron hearts which we designed to stab into the hay and decorated with ivy, hanging candles and fairy lights.
“We created our own save the dates, invitations and seating plan out of recycled brown card. Pinterest was our go-to inspiration for those essential wedding finishing touches, including wooden log place settings, handmade confetti cones, chalkboard signage and the DIY photo booth.”
“For our flowers we went along to the wholesalers with Stef (Alternative Weddings MCR) and chose a mixture of green foliage with a variety of fresh white flowers and a hint of pink.”
“We drew a lot of inspiration from pop up beer festivals we have been to where everyone sits together on long wooden tables, with the bar and surrounding furniture often knocked up from wooden pallets. James and my dad worked together on building the bar out of pallets and we finished this off with three hanging industrial lights and a big garland of hops.
“We wanted to light the cow shed up with festoon lighting to give it a festival feel. We were exceptionally lucky as our friend’s dad is a TV and film lighting specialist and was eager to help. He filled the cow shed with festoon lighting, uplights and stage lighting, and even put up a disco ball!”
“We provided all the beer, wine and bubbles but we encouraged guests to bring their own booze. During the meal we gave our guests a silly farm themed quiz for a chance to enhance their BYOB with a big bottle of gin and some fancy tonics!
“The main meal had to be a hog roast! It was the perfect choice for our cow shed wedding venue, informal seating arrangement and sheer love of good, hearty food from an excellent vendor, the Striped Pig. The hog roast was sandwiched between canapés which were also provided by the Striped Pig, and a dessert table full of cakes and sweet treats which we purchased the day before.
“After raising everyone’s sugar levels we decided to go for a cheese wedding cake. We brought this out in the evening along with two large baskets of crackers, homemade chutneys and two sausage lattices.”
I Can’t Feel My Face
“Their cover of ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd first drew our attention to the band we chose. Every time we searched for bands we kept coming back to JukeBossa for their infectiously happy Latin sound and fun renditions of current songs. After much deliberation and lots of help from the band we decided ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ would have to be our first dance song. JukeBossa really were the perfect choice and when the time for our first dance came the sun beamed through the wooden slats and their live summery style was greatly received by us and all our guests.
“Aside from the live music, my sister’s boyfriend, Martin, AKA ‘Music Man’, painstakingly put together some brilliant playlists that kept people on their feet all night. We interspersed JukeBossa’s sets with Motown, a carefully selected wedding medley, and finished the evening with old skool hip hop and RnB.”
A DIY Wedding Can Be Daunting
“We made a lot of incredible memories both on the day and during the build-up. A DIY wedding can be daunting, but the help we received from family and friends, and their genuine desire to want to help out, was overwhelming. Everyone pitched in on the day and it all moved along seamlessly, regardless of a few sleepless nights prior.
“If we had to pick a favourite moment it was the ceremony. It was so special having my sister, Laura, conduct the ceremony and lead us through our vows. We’ll never forget the moment following ‘you may now kiss the bride’ when we looked back at the ceremony room, that we had so carefully planned and created, full of all our friends and family ready to throw a shower of confetti.
“Every bride and groom say it, but the day really does go so fast. Make sure you savour every little moment and delegate as much as possible on the day so you can really enjoy being with your new husband and get round to all your guests – including the cows in our case!”
Photography: Andy Griffiths Photography
Second Photographer: Adam Roberts
Venue: Willoughby Farm, Wigan, Greater Manchester
Wedding Dress: Arielle by Heidi Hudson from Wed2Be
Bride’s Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Floral Crown: Flash Floozy
Suits: Ted Baker
Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS
Flowers and Trestle Tables: Stefanie Elrick at Alternative Weddings MCR
Cake: Cheese Stack Cake from Costco
Catering: The Striped Pig Company
Craft Beer: Blackjack Brewery
Lighting: Ian Swindells
Light Up LOVE Letters: Wedding Venue Lighting
Beer Mats: To and From
Whiskey Barrel Poseur Tables: Nerissa Eve Weddings