This afternoon’s wedding is absolutely stunning. Lulu and Ben said I do against a beautiful woodland backdrop at Cannock Chase no less complete with rustic tipi, croquet and skittles, hay bales and glamping and even fry ups for everyone the morning after the day before. Their ceremony looks like a blast (I need to know more about this jumping over a broomstick tradition) and I’m hiring Super Fresh Power Squad for the next big event I host. They look flipping awesome.
I need to make special mention of Lulu’s couture dress which has the most exquisite neckline and the sweetest blush coloured back floral detail complete with cape, head piece and detachable train. WOW!
Also can we just take a moment to appreciate Ben’s awesome sartorial style; he looks blinking fantastic and the outfit suits the setting wonderfully. I love how his best boys also made a decent effort to get in on the action too!
The Bride’s Fashion
Lulu The Bride: I went to so many beautiful boutiques in Manchester and Cheshire, and although all the gowns were amazing, I never got that “this is the one” feeling. I loved different aspects of different dresses and so I met Erica at the Vintage Wedding Fayre and decided to go for the initial consultation for a bespoke dress.
Initially this was very daunting and I couldn’t decide for ages on whether this was the right decision, but Erica was so amazing to work with. Having my dress made was such a fabulous process; seeing your dress being brought to real life from simple sketches. Erica made me the gown, cape, head piece and a detachable train so I could dance away at night! My shoes were from Rachel Simpson.
Nicola Jewsbury applied my make-up and hair. I’ve known Nicola for years and trust her completely. She was professional, fun to work with and full of great ideas.
The Grooms Fashion
Ben has used King and Allen for many years and have lots of different things made by them – suits, coats, shirts – all of the highest quality. Karl, the shop manager at Wilmslow is very knowledgeable and always provides a very personalized service. King and Allen was an obvious choice to therefore make his wedding suit. He wanted to feel comfortable and relaxed, but smart, so he went for a ‘statement’ jacket with a plain shirt and trousers, complimented by loafers from Russell and Bromley.
Ben didn’t want a standard wedding band, though has always wanted a signet ring. After doing lots of research Rebus appeared to be the best choice in the UK for making bespoke signet rings. The service was excellent, and Emmet at Rebus was very knowledgeable and provided really helpful style advice on choosing how to design the ring. Ben opted to have an extra heavy Oxford oval ring with his initials seal engraved on to the face. He’s really happy with the craftsmanship and quality of the ring and hopes it will be passed down the family in years to come.
We wanted a relaxed, fun, wedding. There were aspects of a traditional wedding that we wanted to keep but the main thing was for our friends and family to have a super fun day. I contacted Bob at Woodland Weddings, who organise weddings in various locations in UK with a festival vibe. We are not really outdoorsy type of people but we really wanted to do something different. We wanted to create our own day, rather than a carbon copy of someone else’s from the weekend before. We ended up having a Tipi with wooden tables and a real rustic look.
There were outdoor games like croquet and skittles. There were hay bales for people to sit on and decorations on trees. People could also camp overnight onsite either with their own tents / campervans or through the glamping that Bob organized for us. We ‘glamped’ on site in a bell tent, which was really comfortable and romantic. The next morning Bob had organized for caterers to be there to make fry ups for everyone. It was hard work, as we did a lot ourselves in terms of decoration, entertainment and stationery, and took a lot of time, but we think it was worth it.
We didn’t really have a strict colour scheme, but wanted to keep it in the vibe of a boho / outdoor festival event, whilst being pretty at the same time. Ben’s mum and Aunt spent hours making bunting and wreaths, which adorned the tipi and the trees outside for the handfasting ceremony. I made over 100 tissue pom poms. Some of my family from China couldn’t make it over and so I put pictures of them in frames and tied them to the trees.
Ben designed and printed all the stationery for the day including invitations, programmes and menus. We did this mainly because we couldn’t find anyone who managed to capture the kind of rustic / boho / festival vibe we wanted. Ben doesn’t have any design training but managed to do a pretty good job! We attach photos of all the stuff he made.
I wanted pastel colours and didn’t really know what I wanted. Sian at The Flower Lounge is very helpful and organized, she really listened to what I wanted. She is very knowledgeable and showed me lots examples of things we could do. I wanted a lot of lavender so I put within the invitations and on the menus and place names.
The Wedding Party Fashion
We didn’t want formal bridesmaids dresses, so found some nice dresses on ASOS that the girls could wear again. Similarly for the ushers, we thought it wouldn’t fit with the boho / DIY vibe to have everyone wearing the same thing, so we opted to get them all to wear a jack and trousers, and bought them all matching bow ties.
We’re not religious, so we went for a registry office ceremony at Lichfield, which is a really beautiful old building and backs onto a park, which was perfect for everyone to gather afterwards.
We were then transported from the registry office to the forest in a vintage VW campervan that belongs to Ben’s uncle Brian.
Given that the reception was in the forest, we also had a pagan / humanist ceremony conducted by Bob at Woodland Weddings – this included references to the elements of air, water, fire and earth, as well as handfasting and jumping a broom! There was also a couple of ‘hymns’ sung during the ceremony accompanied by the string quartet: The Beatles “All you need is love” and Lou Reed “Perfect Day”.
Ben was in charge of entertainment and did not want standard wedding fare for this. His cousin Tom Lingard put him in touch with Vyne Strings, and he and Lizzie from the quartet also performed some covers during the afternoon as Booker T and The Coconuts e.g. Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror, Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely.
For after dinner, Ben performed with his owned band, Super Fresh Power Squad – they’re a tongue-in-cheek take on old school hip-hop and 80s electro bands. There are 2 MCs, Papa Mic and Zero-P; Deadly D (the best man Dave) plays keyboards and Ben is on talkbox and synthesizer. They last played live together about 7 years ago (incidentally supporting Goldie Lookin Chain in Manchester), so had to rehearse a few times before the wedding, but it paid off because they were really excellent on the night and got everyone dancing.
The DJ afterwards was Will Tramp, who is a close friend of ours and DJs regularly around the country and beyond at places like the Warehouse Project and festivals like Festival Number 6, Bestival etc.
Although everything else was quite relaxed and informal, we still wanted a posh three course served dinner. Kemp and Kemp have regularly won awards for their catering and were located close by to the venue so were a natural choice. We ended up having scallops and pancetta, followed by slow cooked beef and a trio of deserts. We attach a photo of our menu.
We didn’t want to spend a lot on a cake as we knew people (including us) would be drunk by the time it came to cut and eat it! So we got one from M&S, which was very nice actually! True to our word, we actually forgot to cut the cake on the night, so did it the next day at breakfast with everyone who camped over on site.
We chose Chris because when we were looking for photographers, his photos were the only ones that made us laugh out loud. That was really important – his photos make everything look fun, but are also beautiful at the same time. He didn’t disappoint – both our engagement shoot and wedding photos communicate perfectly the fun and light-hearted elements we wanted to show. And Chris is such a professional all the way through – he’s happy, upbeat and organized.
On the day of the wedding you hardly noticed he was there (in a good way) – we’ve been to some weddings where the photographers are short-tempered and militant in ordering people around, but Chris was cool, calm and relaxed the whole time.
We didn’t get a videographer, but bought a go pro and gave it to one of the ushers to use throughout the day. We got some great shots, especially at the end of the night when he was drunk and strapped it to his head whilst he was dancing.
Photography by Chris Barber Photography
- Bridal Gown Erica Stacey Couture
- Location Cannock Chase Forest, Forestry Commision organized by Woodland Weddings
- Bridal Shoes Rachel Simpson
- Hair & Makeup Nicola Jewsbury
- Bridesmaid Dresses ASOS
- Groom’s Suit King and Allen
- Groom’s Ring Rebus, Hatton Garden London
- Caterers Kemp and Kemp
- String Quartet Vyne Strings
- Band Super Fresh Power Squad
- DJ Will Tramp
- Florist Didsbury Flower Lounge
- Groomsmen’ Bow Ties Mrs Bow Tie