A Laid-Back DIY, East Sussex Wedding at Court Gardens Farm, Ditchling ~ Tom & Susie


We’re aiming to shake off those winter blues today and we really think Tom & Susie’s stunner of a Sussex wedding is JUST the tonic!

This fun-loving Brighton couple tied the knot (officially) at Brighton Town Hall on 6th June 2014 and then enjoyed a celebrant ceremony, along with sunny celebrations at Court Gardens Farm in Ditchling, the following day.

Over to our lovely-in-lilac bride Susie to talk floral crowns, mum-made dresses and er, ending up in A&E on the night of wedding (1):

Me and Tom were set up by a mutual friend, who was the Master of Ceremonies on the day! Jon is a friend of Tom’s brother and the husband of one of my friends (who was also a bridesmaid!). To cut a long story short, he decided to set us up because I’d flippantly told him that if he didn’t think I could find a nice fella, then why didn’t he find one for me! And so he did. This conversation had happened whilst we were away together skiing together, and a week or so later, Tom received a message asking if he was still single. Jon then told him about me and sent a picture of me in full ski kit including helmet and goggles! We texted for a couple of weeks and then met for our first date, we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Tom grew up in Cowfold and we have lived in Brighton for a year, so it felt very important to do it near to the place we call home!

We found our venue online and found Pinterest and Love Sussex Weddings great for inspiration!

We both love summer and June is my favourite month because of the long, light evenings. A grand, traditional and classic wedding just isn’t us. We wanted a laid-back, relaxed, rustic countryside vibe and a venue where we could enjoy a long, sunny evening! From the very beginning I knew I would wear a floral headpiece and this was an inspiration point on where we started, as well as the colours we both liked in our duvet cover (which was abstract summer flowers!) We didn’t get too caught up on specific details as our venue was very much in keeping with what we’d been hoping to find.

We did the legal bit on the Friday at Brighton Town Hall with our best friends (who were our witnesses) and our parents. We felt that it was just paperwork so didn’t exchange lengthy vows or exchange rings. It was a special time but we had a more meaningful ceremony and exchanged rings on the Saturday. We were surrounded by all of our friends and family, led by our lovely celebrant in a field overlooking the vineyard at Court Gardens Farm in Ditchling. We had always been keen to avoid all formality and tradition so looked at the Saturday as our ‘wedding day’ rather than the Friday!

Ouch! My Ankle!

After our small registry office ceremony on the Friday we headed back to our house for some tea and cake, as the bridal party and other family members were starting to arrive in Brighton. The plan was to stay for a couple of hours and then head up to Court Gardens Farm to start decorating and organising.

Unfortunately just before we were about to leave, I was rushing around and managed to fall down three concrete steps in our back garden badly injuring my ankle! After crying, feeling sick and application of frozen peas, it was decided by my bridesmaids and fiancé that I should take a trip to A&E! I went to A&E with two of my bridesmaids and the rest of the bridal party went up to the farm to start decorating. Three hours later I was given the all clear as having torn ligaments and on the advice of the doctor to take as much ibuprofen and pain killers as possible (as I’d told him I couldn’t rest it as I was getting married).

Sadly I was hobbling around and unable to put much weight on it. But on the day I strapped my pretty, sparkly sandals on over my bandaged ankle and just about got away with a slight hobble down the aisle! Soon after, I changed into some comfy trainers, thankfully which were covered by my long dress, so at least I could still dance albeit on one leg at times!

As the venue is so stunning (particularly in the sunshine!) we didn’t want to go over-the-top with a colour theme so kept things really simple. We felt we’d like to make it our own but still let the barn, courtyard and South Downs speak for themselves. We had colourful bunting, chalkboard signs, heart shaped balloons and glass jars with wild flowers in on the tables at dinner. We, hilariously, used the colours from our favourite duvet cover for inspiration and loosely stuck to it from the colours in the bunting, groomsmen’s ties and each bridesmaid wore one colour in a different style dress.

We Made it Our Own

We had a ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant (River Jones) who was actually an old family friend of Tom’s mum, which made it even more personal. We wrote our own vows and during the ceremony our rings were put into a tiny little bag, which was passed around the guests so that they could wish us love and happiness. When it came to exchanging rings, they had been touched by everyone there and it was a really lovely moment. It was an idea suggested by our celebrant and worked really well. We had long tables (German beer festival style!) for dinner and we went back outside to the field where we’d had the ceremony for the speeches as we didn’t want it to feel formal. We also didn’t have a first dance or an official cake to cut; again we just wanted to avoid the formality! Oh and my dress was made by my mum! I didn’t want to wear white or cream as I know these colours just don’t suit me. I opted for lilac as it’s one of my favourite colours!

My top tips for other Sussex brides to-be are… All I can say is just do whatever you want! If there are bits of weddings you’ve never really liked or enjoyed, then leave them out, who’s to say what you should and shouldn’t do. Use eBay for things, you can save so much money this way. Oh and enjoy every minute as it goes so quickly, and make sure you spend time finding an awesome photographer to capture the day as it was!

Poems and Other Personal Touches

On the backs of our menus we’d written a thank you poem as we wanted to express how much we appreciated our guests coming, many who had travelled a really along way (Singapore, U.S.A  and Germany were the furthest!). My mum also surprised us with a number of special personal touches. We had always joked about trying to include our cat (Alan, affectionately known as Alancat!) in the day somehow but realistically it wasn’t an option. So she made Alancat dark chocolate buttons as favours and cat shaped ginger biscuits with his face on! It was a lovely and hilarious surprise for us and the guests.

What I enjoyed most about planning our wedding was… I loved the creative side, tying in colours and thinking about how things looked together. I really enjoyed my trip to the florists too, I took my floral headpiece in with me and we based everything on that – it was exciting to see a dream realised! I was also really chuffed to bag some bargains on eBay with our groomsmen’s ties, bunting and faux flowers for Bruno the VW Beetle (the wedding car!) – we saved ourselves a few quid with that.

Our favourite part of wedding planning had to be…  As we were very DIY about everything, I found the planning of the logistics quite stressful – who/what needed to be where/when. The guest list was a toughie too, you’d love to be able to invite everyone but sometimes it just doesn’t quite work out like that. Everything else was fun though!

We got some many lovely compliments from people saying it was different to any wedding they’d been to and it was just laid back and fun. Others said it felt very ‘us’ which was brilliant because that’s exactly what we’d tried to achieve!

If we could do it all again we would… Not worry about the weather, the only thing we couldn’t control! We’d been having glorious, hot weather and then as we got closer to the Saturday the weather forecast was for a thunderstorm. Fortunately we had rain in the morning and then the sun was shining by lunchtime, so we felt very lucky! Oh and obviously not damaging the ligaments in my ankle!!

Honeymoon Hotspot: We spent three weeks traveling down the Pacific Coast Highway from Vancouver to San Diego, it was awesome! Instead of a traditional gift list or holiday provider list, we used Patchwork Present for different things people could gift us on our trip, if they wanted to.

Team wedding:

Photography: Andrew Marshall | Jewellery: Kerrie Berrie | Floral crown: Rock ‘N Rose

Hair: Room 5| Makeup: The bride! | Bridesmaids:  Coast, Black Butterfly & My Evening Dress

Groom: Moss Bros & Debenhams | Rings: Midas Touch Jewellers |Flowers: Miss Moles Flower Emporium

Entertainment:  The Devotions | Stationery: My Name Is Ad |Catering: Cooking In

Wedding gift list: Patchwork Present

Well… did this sunny day shake off those winter chills or what? It certainly gave us our fix! We swooned, giggled and ouch-ed along with bride Susie as she reminisced about her sensational Sussex wedding – just IMAGINE ending up in A&E the night before your big day! It’s the stuff bridal nightmares are made of!

Thankfully, Susie (dosed up on painkillers, a firm bandage and a good ole pair of trainers) got through the day like a pro, and didn’t she look AMAZING in her lush lilac gown – made by mum? Who says you have to wear white? We LOVE. We were also BIG fans of the bright and beautiful colour combo too. Thanks so much for sharing your dreamy DIY day with us, Susie & Tom!

Another HUGE thank you goes to fab photographer Andrew Marshall for sending us these utterly delicious snaps.

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