A festive winter wedding at Southend Barns

Flickering candles set the tone for Alice and Pat's winter wedding at Southend Barns in West Sussex

Southend Barns wedding breakfast

Photography: Millie & Belle Photography

A festive wedding theme

‘Pat asked me to marry him at home, surprising me as I walked into our house,’ says Alice. ‘Our favourite song was playing and the ceiling was covered in helium balloons with Polaroid photos of us hanging from them.’

Pat had lit candles, made a pathway of rose petals and arranged peonies in jars. I was so shocked that he managed to get peonies in August as they’re my absolute favourite! 

‘He also gave me a balloon to pop which had a scroll of paper inside saying we were going to New York. I’d always said I’d love to get engaged in New York, and the trip gave us such lovely memories – we featured a photo of us ice-skating in Central Park on our save the dates.

When we got married the following year, we hung the Polaroids from the engagement balloons on the Christmas tree at the venue. We also had the same song Pat played when he proposed – The Luckiest by Ben Folds from our favourite film About Time – as our first dance.

‘When it came to booking our venue, we did look at other options, such as having a marquee, but once we’d decided on a winter wedding, we knew Southend Barns in West Sussex was perfect. We loved the heated outside area and props such as the sheepskin rugs, fairy lights and lanterns.’

After the ceremony at the church in Bosham village, 100 family and friends headed back to Southend Barns for mulled wine, Christmas music and fun photos.

‘People say Pat looks like Prince Harry, so my bridesmaids had a cutout of Harry made for my hen do. We used it for a DIY photo booth during the drinks reception, using ginger wigs left over from Pat’s stag do.’

As the wedding was on 1 December the invitations featured Christmas wreaths and festive wedding touches at the barn included wreaths of rosemary for the place settings, fairy lights hung as a canopy across the ceiling and pigs in blankets as one of the canapés.

‘For the wedding breakfast – maple-glazed pork belly, slow-cooked beef and sticky toffee pudding – we had two long tables and kept it pretty simple with a festive garland and candles down the tables.

Southend Barns macaron tower
Southend Barns table plan

‘The cake beneath the macaron tower was lemon and elderflower – inspired by Meghan and Harry! And our seating plan was a front door hung with a Christmas wreath and a festive doormat with small Christmas trees on either side.’

Southend Barns bridesmaids
Southend Barns table number

‘One friend organised everyone to sing The Twelve Days Of Christmas, which was hilarious and got everyone in a party mood for the evening. We even had a personalised lantern lit in memory of our grandparents next to their wedding-day photos. At the end of the evening fireworks went off to All I Want For Christmas Is You!

‘We were so grateful for all the help we had,’ says Alice. ‘One friend painted the wreath we used on the stationery and my brother’s girlfriend designed the invites. Pat’s mum made a sign for the venue, while my mum made gingerbread brides and grooms for favours.

If anything, I wish I’d given more jobs to people when they offered, so there was less to do in the final couple of days!’

Southend Barns place settings
Southend Barns wedding sign

Your wedding contacts

Venue southendbarns.co.uk
Photography millieandbellephotography.com
Bride’s dress noviadart.com at proposals.co.uk
Groomswear astares.co.uk
Bridesmaids’ dresses uk.monsoon.co.uk
Wedding styling tohaveandtohireweddings.com
Cake amysicingonthecake.co.uk
Macarons qbtreats.co.uk
Catering fieldandfork.co.uk
Flowers amberlilys.com
Entertainment toastfunctions.com
Fireworks selstarfireworks.co.uk