This is one wedding that
everyone in the Billington farming community will
From the bride and groom Nicci and Matthew Ward and their families and friends to everyone attending the Totternhoe Memorial Hall beer festival on July 16, this occasion will live long in the memory.
For Nicci decided to break with tradition and rather than going straight to St Giles Church, popped into the hall with her parents and bridesmaids where they supped halves of ale while surprised festival-goers took photographs.
The groom – not to be outdone – drove his tastefully-decorated tractor to the Old Farm Inn where alongside his best man, family and most of the guests, also enjoyed a tipple before the service.
Nothing was conventional about this occasion – the bride was late for the ceremony with locals turning up to gaze at wedding guests, as all the men sported smart tweed suits and the ladies dressed as if en route to Ascot.
Nicci explained: “We run a small private shoot from our family farm, Green Farm in Great Billington. Most of the guests were farmers or enjoy shooting and the attire was ‘countryside.’
“The reception was back at the farm and almost everything was provided by farming friends, from marquee tables and chairs to the sound system and straw bales.
“I did all the table decorations using game bird feathers and we had two cakes, one traditional and one a scale replica of the farm’s combine harvester.
“My dad John Owen was in charge of the buffet – he spent 25 years running pubs – and Matt’s mum and dad Nobby and Chrissy did all the flowers.”
Vicar Helen Gardner allowed members of the shoot to provide a shotgun guard of honour after the service.
The newlyweds then drove to the reception on a borrowed gold Challenger tractor covered in bows and ribbons.
They were greeted with a confetti cartridge salute and a special celebratory cocktail – Slogasm – made with Champagne and local sloes.
Nicci added: “All the food went – farmers do like a good troughing. We couldn’t find a knife to cut the cake so used a saw instead. It was delicious and lasted all of five minutes.”
A day they’ll always remember – even though the harvesting season meant just a mini-honeymoon.