Not even a herd of wandering sheep could spoil Claire and Jon Greenhalgh’s picturesque village wedding day
Jon popped the question to Claire on the Greek island of Paros, during sunset on his favourite beach. “Though he claimed the island choice was so that I couldn’t run away, it was a stunning setting,” says Claire. “We had the place to ourselves, which made it incredibly personal, and exactly what I would consider romantic.”
After this beach-based proposal abroad, the wedding itself was a very traditional English affair, as the couple said their vows in Brent Knoll church in Somerset. “Brent Knoll is where Jon grew up, and his mother reminisces of Jon attending his Christmas services at the church as a child. Having travelled so much when I was growing up, I don’t have such strong ties to a single place. Finding the village quaint and villagers to be so very welcoming and warm, I found it hard to think of a more hospitable, friendly place,” enthuses Claire.
The reception also took place in the village, where a friend of the family offered up her garden for the event. “The owner was unbelievably generous in allowing us to erect a yurt and hold a 150-strong party in her garden, not to mention a generator and the luxury toilet trailer beside her vegetable garden booming out patriotic British classics through integrated speakers!” In an opportune turn of fate, a relative of the owner was previously a wedding planner and her expertise proved invaluable on the day. “The church ceremony was about us and the reception was about our guests,” explains Jon. “We spent a lot of time planning out the reception, thinking about whether it was the kind of event that our guests would enjoy.”
Despite a lot of planning, the wedding was nearly derailed at the last minute – by the British weather and then some sheep! Jon explains: “By the Friday afternoon, everything was coming together nicely – the yurt was up and dressed, and all that was left was the arrival of the catering team. Unfortunately, we hadn’t considered the distance the catering tent was from the main yurt, and the problems this would cause for moving food across the lawn if it was raining. While panic set in that we were going to have to move the catering tent – at least three hours’ work, with one hour until the church rehearsal – a local from the village popped by to inform me that some sheep were on the loose and so he’d herded them into the field we were using for our car park. The farmer then arrived and asked for a couple of us to help him take the sheep back to his farm. Needless to say, with just an hour before the church rehearsal, I didn’t expect to be running around a field, herding sheep!”
One tip that Claire would pass onto other couples is the value of a wedding planner. “Throughout the day our planner ensured everything ran smoothly, from the setting up and decamping of the suppliers, including extracting a gazebo from thin air the day of the wedding, to keeping the bride and groom in the right places at the right time, well-medicated against the bride’s unplanned cold, and ensuring that the event ran in a timely manner.”
The couple also used a venue dresser to give the wedding the look that they’d dreamed of, and were equally pleased with this decision, as it really helped them to achieve the vision that they both wanted for their special day. “We used Verdigris venue dressing, who really helped us to fine tune our ideas and colour palettes,” explains Claire. “They also liaised with all of our suppliers and designed everything in fine detail, from our lighting used in the marquee to our table coverings. It took around 48 hours for all the décor to be installed, tables dressed, flowers put in vases and the lighting set up. We would never have been able to do it all ourselves, and if we had tried to, then I suspect we would never have finished and would have been completely exhausted for our special day!”