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  • Claire Austin

On the fence about intimate weddings?

The world is a strange place at the moment but one thing that will never change is love. We might not be able to have the big white weddings but we can still have stunningly beautiful intimate weddings and celebrate our love for each other.

This past year has been a incredibly heart breaking time for a lot of couples. You've had to postpone one, two, three times and my goodness you just want to get married! If you’re on the fence with elopements or intimate weddings, I hope my blog post today will give you some inspiration and the opportunity to connect with some amazing local wedding suppliers and venue owners who can create your dream wedding but on a smaller scale. I will be following this blog post very soon with two of my real brides who have recently got married and want to share their experience with you.


What is the difference between an intimate wedding and an elopement? The way I understand it is a intimate wedding features your very closest friends and family (15 people at the time of writing) giving you the opportunity to share your special day with the people you love. Eloping is a marriage conducted without the knowledge of the couple’s family and friends (however of course you can tell them) and they will only have a ceremony, not a reception or celebration. It is just about the two of you making a commitment and starting the next step of the rest of you life together. Or maybe you want to have your children or your doggy there – it’s up to you!

There isn’t a rule book as such at the moment and what I mean by that is you can still cut the cake, you can still have a delicious meal, have your hair and makeup done, wear your dream wedding dress, have a bespoke headpiece made (HINT HINT!), decorate a wedding car, have a gorgeous bouquet, go on a honeymoon or staycation. If anything be dramatic! Forget the usual traditions and go crazy! Wear leopard print shoes, have a bright orange colour scheme, have a first dance, open your favourite bottle of wine, book your favourite band or get married in front of an amazing backdrop! Maybe you have a bit more in the budget by doing a smaller wedding… you could splash out on a romantic picnic and drink champagne all day, get each other a special gift, stay in a hotel you’ve always wanted to go to.


The most important thing is to do what makes you both happy.


One of the most personal things you can have on your wedding day is a bespoke headpiece. I offer bespoke consultations in my studio and via video call so that we can design together a ‘only one in the world’ hair accessory. Taking inspiration from your wedding dress look and materials, hair style of choice, or anything that brings you joy – flowers, feathers, pearls etc. It is often very special to include materials from a loved one’s jewellery or headpiece from their big day. Other headpieces I have made have included pearls from a grandmother’s necklace, crystals from a mum’s wedding tiara and Swarovski gems from a nan’s wedding headpiece. It is so special to have them with you on the big day. You may not be able to have the full experience with a lot of things at the moment but I will give you an experience you will never forget, leaving you with a treasured accessory you can look and feel amazing in and have forever.



Do you see the pearls on the mini gold hair vines? Well they came from the pearl tiara you can see being worn in the black and white photograph. On the 21st March 1959 this beautiful couple got married in Truro when they were 23 and 26 years old. Now they happen to be my bride’s nan and grandad and she had the lovely idea of asking me to use a part of her nan’s tiara in the headpiece I was designing for her.

I very carefully took some pearls from the back and used them to make a unique set of mini hair vines for Becky of which her bridal hair stylist is going to intertwine into her wedding hair when she gets married next year.

Becky went to visit her nan and grandad recently after being apart during lockdown and she told me this, ‘My Nan was over the moon how we had kept her headpiece in one piece and just loved my hair pieces. Thank you Claire. Just seeing her face was the best feeling EVER! Like I could have cried. After thinking she wouldn’t be with us at this point and ever getting to see it, I couldn’t have wished for a better reaction. They are beautiful and so special, I can’t thank you enough’.


Why don't you design the bouquet of your dreams to go with your headpiece?

Florist @flowersetal

Venue @weddevon

Photographer @clarekinchinphotography


Getting a big cake means there's more left over for you!

Cake @harriebootoagoose

Venue @weddevon

Photographer @clarekinchinphotography


I recently made a bespoke headpiece and earring collection for a photo shoot at Brickhouse Vineyard and this is the first venue I want to share with you. I wasn’t able to attend but from what the promotional video and my husband George’s account (he is a wedding model when he's not working at a school!) it looked absolutely gorgeous. The shoot has just been featured in the latest edition of Wed Magazine, make sure you get yourself a copy! https://www.wedmagazine.co.uk/devon-wed-magazine--issue-45.html

Styling, Design & Co-Ordination @knotsandkisses

Venue @brickhousevineyard

Photographer @maxiphotographydevon

Videographer @capture.weddings

Cake @clairemakescakes

Florist @emmfloral

Hair Accessories @claireaustinengland

Stationery @knotsandkisses

Hair Stylist @evhairhoniton

Make up Artist @sophiewhitemua

Bridalwear @georgia_bridal

Groomswear @thegroomsroomplymouth

Models @renie_charlton at @gingersnapmodels and @georgie_the_explorer

Peacock chairs & cutlery @keepingitvintagedevon

Candlesticks & glassware @glas.collection

Furniture @virginiasvintagehire

Rings @erincoxjewellery @moltenweddingringco


Brickhouse Vineyard has an 18th century round house with oak beams overlooking the vines and rolling hills. They are also currently renovating the barn - make sure you pop over to their social media channels to see videos of their progress, i's going to be very special. Truly a family business, they make amazing wine as well as providing a very special venue for your big day. Just look at the romantic setting the vineyards provide! Perfect for a wonder with a glass of wine after saying your vows to each other. Here is a recent 'real wedding' shot by Mimosa Photography.

Venue @brickhousevineyard

Photographer @mimosa_photography

Hire @keepingitvintagedevon

Cake @wedding _event_angel

Hair @brigitte_fisher

Flowers Emma Hewlett Floral Design @emmfloral


If you want a micro wedding experience where everything is organised up to 8 guests then Ever After, Dartmoor is the venue for you. The stunning backdrop means it is magical any time of year you choose. Jess and Ted chose this venue for their elopement and were spoilt with special touches on their big day. Clare Kinchin is an amazing photographer who shot both of the weddings taken place at Ever After in my blog.


Venue @weddevon

Florist @flowersetal

Cake @harriebootoagoose

Photographer @clarekinchinphotography


Paschoe House in Crediton is set amongst 25 acres of land with views over the lake and Dartmoor. It is a grade II listed house in a Tudor Gothic style and was designed by the famous architect John Hayward. They are licensed to hold wedding ceremonies in a variety of locations including the Morning Room, Dining Room, the South Terrace Loggia, the Games Lawn Gazebo and the Victoria Walled Garden Gazebo - you'll be spoilt for choice!


Hiring an event stylist is a fantastic way of making your dreams a reality. Nikki from Knots and Kisses offers full wedding design and venue styling (she also makes award winning wedding stationary!) injecting your personality and style into your wedding day. Nikki can create stunning back drops, cosy seating areas, irresistible food stations and fun drinks bars.


Photographer @maxiphotographydevon

Styling & coordination @knotsandkisses

Florist @amanda.winsor

Venue @paschoehouse


Catriona & Fred had a wedding for 15 and tied the knot at Deer Park Country House

Photographer @thespringles

Styling and Co ordination @knotsandkisses

Florist @bromptonbuds

Venue @deerparkcountryhouse


Tree Top Escape in North Devon is a luxurious hideaway heaven with The Nest creating an intimate setting for small ceremonies and fine dining. Approached via a wooden walkway, you enter a beautiful room with floor to ceiling doors which can be opened to bring the inside in. Overlooking the beautiful fields with stunning woodland and lakes the explore, this certainly is a special place. You can enjoy a wedding for you and your partner (they are happy to be a witness) or invite up to 14 guests.


Event Stylist @marcia_shapland_event_stylist

Venue @treetopescape

Keenly and Ben got married at The Retreat the Treetop Escape

Photography by @freeformimages.co.uk


I really thinking choosing the right photographer is so important. Now is a perfect time to have a socially distanced engagement or family photoshoot. Or why don't you do something a bit different? Thomas Frost Photography is offering adventure photoshoots which I think is such a great idea! We had our engagement shoot with Tom three years ago up on Dartmoor whilst it was pouring down with rain - it was so much fun and we have photos which we will treasure forever.



Another really important supplier you need on your big day is a videographer. Especially if you only have a small number of guests on the big day and want to share it with friends or family who can't be there - or you are eloping like the couple below!


Dougie & Jodie Real Elopement

Videographer and Photographer Tom Frost Photography @t.frost.photography

Hair and Makeup @shelleyshb

Venue BoHo Cornwall


And of course I've got to give a shout out to our wedding photographer Holly Collings and videographer Daisy Daisy Films who were absolutely amazing!



I hope these recommendations have given you a bit of inspiration. Just send a couple of messages out to a venue or supplier who may have caught your eye. You might be surprised how you feel about an intimate wedding.

Love Claire xxx

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