Springtime English barn wedding at a vineyard on a hill
Samantha + Ellen
Orientation: Lesbian; Lesbian
Pronouns: She/Her; She/Her
Wedding Location: Oxfordshire, England
Samantha and Ellen’s May wedding took place in a beautiful barn at a vineyard on a hill. They used DIY decor and a pastel color scheme. The brides carried wildflower bouquets and the bridesmaids carried ones made of baby’s breath. The couple describes the event as “a general celebration of English wine and love,” as well as “a massive party.”
Ellen proposed to Sam first. We had gone to Siena, Italy for a holiday as it was where Sam used to live, and she wanted to show Ellen the city. Ellen asked for one day to surprise Sam with something, given that Sam had done the rest of the planning for the trip. Ellen woke Sam up at 4am to surprise her with a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Tuscan countryside. It was magical! Halfway through, she told Sam she’d been learning Italian as another surprise, and wanted to say something important. She then got down on one knee and proposed in Italian!! It was the most romantic thing that had ever happened. When the balloon landed, there was a gorgeous Italian breakfast with Prosecco waiting for us, where we were able to celebrate the fact that we were then getting married!!!
Tell us your love story!
We met in 2016 in a gay bar in Manchester. There was no reason for either of us to be there. Sam was living in London, Ellen in Liverpool. It was a pure fluke that our separate groups of friends decided to spend that weekend in Manchester.
Sam got chatting to a random guy, Scott, on the dance floor, who asked her if she was looking to meet anyone. Sam, who had finally decided she might be ready for a relationship, made a throw-away comment about how she wanted to meet someone, but there were no good-looking girls in the club tonight.
Scott responded, “Ah well, you haven’t met my friend Ellen” and pointed to the bar where Ellen was getting a drink. We swear we locked eyes at that moment and both new something incredible was about to happen. We spent the rest of the night just chatting and dancing and realizing we had so much in common. After that night we texted each other solidly for 3 weeks and eventually Sam plucked up the courage to ask Ellen to come out to France with her when she went to visit her brother. Crazy idea, but Ellen said yes!! We did long distance for a few months, Liverpool to London and then Ellen moved down once she had found a job. We got engaged shortly afterwards and it’s been happy ever after ever since.
Tell us about the ceremony
We were supposed to get married outside on the lawn, but typical English weather meant we had to move it into the barn, which actually ended up being perfect, as it was so intimate. The barn was filled with flowers and string lights, and we had a celebrant lead the ceremony so it could be completely personalised. We wrote our own vows together, taking a line at a time each.
We had two readings. One was a poem by Lin Manuel Miranda, and the other was a snippet from “From Beginning to End” by Robert Fulghum. We exchanged rings, and then, as we were married in a vineyard, we had a box with a bottle of red wine from the venue, which we each put a letter into, which we’re going to open, drink, and read together on our fifth anniversary. It was perfect.
How did you personalize your wedding?
As Ellen proposed on a hot hair balloon, that image was everywhere. On all our handmade stationery we had stamped an image of a hot air balloon that Ellen had drawn. We even got matching tattoos of that image after the wedding! We gave each of the bridesmaids a personalised necklace with a hot air balloon to wear on the day, and the cake, which was made by a friend, had pastel hot air balloons around the side of it.
The guest book also had a picture of a hot air balloon basket, where we asked guests for their thumbprints to make up the shape of the balloon! Also, as the wedding was in a vineyard, we used wine corks to hold the names for the table plan, and we filled old wine bottles with fairy lights for the table numbers. We also hand made ‘labels’ for these wine bottles giving the tables names after our favorite places we’d been together.
We also did lots of little things, the details being super important to us. We had flip flops ready for guests who needed to take off their heels, we had a glitter station to let guests give themselves makeovers, and had a pick and mix station as well!
What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?
Have whatever wedding you want. So many people expected us to have a really anti-traditional ceremony and wedding, but we knew there were elements of the traditional services that we loved, and we wanted to make sure they were included. Just because you’re a same-sex couple doesn’t mean you don’t want separate hen dos, to get ready apart and have a traditional ceremony. But, there is the opportunity to add twists where you want, because your guests will expect it! For example, we let our mums walk down the aisle as well, we threw our bouquets for the girls and the guys because we had two of them, and fun things like that! You have a clean slate – take as much or as little as you want from the traditions you love.
Advice for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, but do be afraid of making assumptions. No one expects you to get everything right if you’re not used to working with same-sex couples, but we just preferred it when vendors asked us what we wanted, instead of assuming. The amount of times it was assumed Ellen would be wearing a suit and wouldn’t want to walk down the aisle was infuriating. If vendors had just asked, ‘What’s the plan for that?’ we would have been able to explain. We walked out of a florist once because although when booking the appointment over the phone Sam had clarified it was for two brides, at the in-person appointment the woman kept saying ‘You’ll only need one bouquet, right? And the groom isn’t here because…’ and it was just too difficult to explain to her again that she was making completely wrong assumptions about what we would want.
What challenges did you face as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?
Very little actually. I mentioned the altercation with a florist, who we didn’t end up using, but the rest of our vendors and the venue were brilliant. Our family was incredibly supportive as well, which we’re beyond grateful for, as we know not everyone has it that easy. The only blip was booking our honeymoon. We had to think very carefully about what countries we felt we could safely travel to, not just as a lesbian couple, but as two women traveling alone, but we ended up having the most incredible time in Bali, so all ended well!
Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?
Our celebrant was just wonderful. We knew we wanted a celebrant rather than a registrar, so we could have a really personalized ceremony. Lynn was superb and really took on board that we wanted a traditional ceremony with some added bits, and let us run the show but guided us in the right direction. She was also so amazing about us being two women. We were her first lesbian wedding, but even without us saying anything, she had amended all her booking forms before we met her so that everything said ‘bride and bride’ because she hoped that would make us feel more comfortable!
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Photographer: Clare Randell Photography
Venue: Old Luxters Barn
Florist: Foxglove Studio
Attire: Abigails Collection
Officiant: Lynn Tierney Ceremonies
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filed under: LGBTQ+ wedding, lesbian wedding, lesbian love, LGBTQ+ love, equally wed, England wedding, vineyard wedding, barn wedding
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