These two and their gorgeous family focussed wedding have melted my heart this afternoon, and I'm pretty sure they'll do they same to you. As you'll read in Emily's write up of her big day, they'd been through some difficult times before their wedding and so it became more than a wedding day, it was a celebration of family too. The pair chose Fforest as their venue and it's a place that never fails to enchant, if you're looking for somewhere truly magical and different to host your wedding then you must visit. As well as picking a knock out venue, Emily and David chose our favourite film and photography duo, Anna and Simon of WE ARE // THE CLARKES. The images and film are gorgeous and the whole day is just warm, welcoming and full of heart - I have a feeling you're going to love this one, so get comfy and enjoy!

Our Story

Emily The Bride: David and I had been together for around 7 years. We met while I was studying my Fine Art degree in Birmingham. David is a self employed carpenter, who is passionate about all things wood. I am a teacher in an inner city Birmingham primary school. We live in a little house, that when David has time, is slowly being refurbished into a beautiful home. We enjoy spending time with our 15 month old daughter, going to gigs, good food, the sea, surfing and ale.

The Bride

I spent a long time looking for my dress, I didn’t want anything tight, or sticky outy (although maybe my Essex side did?!) I wanted something that made me feel like me, but not too fancy, that made me feel confident in my body that had not long had a baby. It was a hard decision, I found Ettia by Maggie Sottero as soon as I walked into the shop. All I saw was the sleeve pocking out of a rail of dresses and I was drawn to it. I loved the detail on the top and the delicate finishing. It was perfect! As soon as I put it on I felt relaxed and elegant. It was a huge relief. My grandma lent me a beautiful knitted blue shawl to keep me warm, she was unable to attend the wedding. Having the shawl was like she was there giving me a hug. It was very muddy – it was December afterall. My beautiful shoes were swapped for my green wellies that I have had many adventures in. I ended up wearing them for the rest of the day. Which in the end, was probably the best thing I could have worn, and much more me. I wore them for our first dance, and for the whole night. Perfect.

The Groom

David chose his suit the first time he went shopping online! It stood out as a practical, stylish and most importantly warm suit as we did get married in December, David went for the three piece option (like we said, he wanted to be warm!) It was actually the first thing we brought after booking the wedding. David found his shoes in a shop in Windermere on a weekend away and spent the next few months trying to find them online. They matched the colour scheme of the wedding and had that blue sole that added that extra wow factor!

The Venue

We went to stay at Fforest a year before our wedding and couldn’t get it out of our minds. When we initially went to stay at Fforest, we had been having a really difficult time, as my father was incredibly ill in hospital and had been in a coma in intensive care. When we booked the weekend with Fforest, the idea was that we would be celebrating our engagement, however my father became ill a week after our engagement and our weekend turned into a respite for us to recuperate and reconnect. Even though there was extreme sadness while we were there, the experience we had changed our perspective and we were able to come back positive and able to support our family. Fforest gave us a boost that we will never forget. David spent a long time talking to the owner James about wood and carpentry, and we really felt like we got to know the family that ran Fforest that weekend. 

While we were staying at Fforest we discussed having our wedding there and how amazing it would be to create this relaxed, beautiful atmosphere for our friends and family. However, we were unable to think any further as my father was gravely ill and our excitement of wedding plans had to come to a halt. I turned to fund raising for Headway, a brain injury charity, to focus on something positive to help my father. 

Sadly, after a year of battle and perseverance, my father passed away in May. We were devastated, but his suffering was over. Then, a circle of life took place, shortly after we lost my dad, I found out that I was expecting a baby, and was going to become a parent myself! Isla Sue Smith arrived in January 2017. An overwhelming experience, with sadness and happiness. 

After the loss of my father, I was unable to consider moving forward with the wedding, until the memory of our amazing time at Fforest kept creeping back into our minds. We wanted to create an amazing weekend for our family and friends, recreating the experience that we had with Fforest, that helped us through such a difficult time, for our family. David and I have a love for nature and adventure, and Fforest just encompassed everything we are passionate about. At Fforest you have the whole venue to yourself all weekend. This means that all your friends and family can stay on site. There are geodesic domes, ‘crog lofts’ ‘kata cabins’ and a spectacular farmhouse to choose from. Alongside the most delicious breakfasts you could imagine. The site itself is in a nature reserve surrounded by fields. Not far from the coastline. It was nice to mix it with a mini weekend away for our friends and family aswell as attending our wedding. Splitting the celebration over the whole weekend meant that we could spend quality time with family that had travelled a long way.

The Décor

As David is a carpenter, we wanted the theme to be based around wood and nature. Somehow, incorporating my love for the sea, which came from my father. We wanted to bring the nature of the Welsh countryside inside the cedar barn, merging our love for the outdoors, with the beautiful shapes of the Cedar Barn. Keeping things simple and uncomplicated with greenery on the table. Mixing our obsession with Danish design and architecture, with hints of sleek Icelandic style. Gavin Filmer created our wedding stationery, incorporating all our ideas, colour scheme and design. Absolute genius!

The Flowers

Our florist Fair Maiden Flowers was absolutely fantastic. After a conversation she completely got the style and feel we were going for and suggested some fantastic flowers that would be available in December, and what we could do with them. She visited Fforest and created a fantastic plan for us.

The Wedding Party

Flower girls were my daughter (11months at the time) and my niece Poppy. They wore skirts by Flowers and Confetti from Etsy with their tops and jackets mini club by boots. Bridesmaids were my two older sisters and they wore the Maya Maxi Dress by ASOS. Groomsmen were David's best friend Gavin and brother Andrew, they wore ASOS blue Harris Tweed.

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was such an amazing experience. So emotional! As I mentioned before my father passed away in 2016, so my mum walked me down the aisle, to ‘I Promise’ by Radiohead. There was no aisle down the middle of the building, it was to the side which we were not sure about but it worked really well in the end. The reading my mother did was perfect. We signed the register to ‘Deep Blue Sea’ by Grizzly Bear - one of the first gigs David and I went to together. Our first dance was ‘Take Care’ by Beach House, another one of the first gigs we went to together.
{Watch The Film}

The Entertainment

Walking Folk Duo: Grooms Father Paul Smith and Uncle Anthony Smith. There was a walk between the two buildings (Fforest is a big place!) including a walk up a hill. Our families love music, and David’s family in particular love nothing better than getting together and playing instruments and having a good old sing song. So we had David’s father and Uncle lead us up the hill to our next building playing music, David’s father on guitar and uncle on the fiddle. It was perfect and a memory that we will never forget. It just so happened that the best man was in the band! The Other Covers are absolutely fantastic, on their first song I’m not sure there was anyone sitting down, they are so good at getting people dancing. Great choice of songs, everyone loved it! To my surprise David even made a guest appearance on the bass as well for a few songs. It was perfect! I stood at the front dancing like a teenager to Weezer - Buddy Holly. Such an amazing touch! Carls DJ set blew everyone’s socks off. It was IMPOSSIBLE not to dance to his choice of music, ending with a bang of Killing In The Name Of by Rage Against The Machine! I never IMAGINED that would be the last song at our wedding (especially with our 11month old baby sound asleep in her pram in the corner of the room….ear defenders on of course). But it was perfect. We couldn’t have been happier!

The Food

The food at Fforest is perfect. They are proud at the food they create at Fforest, it’s amazing to see so much passion. They use local produce, and their knowledge of flavouring is impressive. We knew that whatever we ate would be amazing; we worked closely with the team and the amazing wedding planner Helen to create our perfect meal, with all our favourite foods. We had a variety of allergies and food preferences and Fforest took it all in their stride. Canapés Pumpernickel crostini with horseradish cream cheese and smoked salmon, Cream cheese and sweet chilli jam crostini, Parmesan shortbreads goats cheese and fig chutney topping, Brussels pate on mini melba toast, a separate board for guests with allergies: carrot & hummus, gf bread with smoked salmon, dill & lemon. Starter Hot smoked salmon on watercress, dressed with horseradish and creme fraiche dressing Vegetarian option: roast butternut squash on watercress with horseradish creme fraiche dressing   Main course  Spit roast lamb, herby roast potatoes.                     Seasonal roast vegetables, puy lentils, fresh coriander, spring onion with ginger, lime and tamari soy dressing                        Green beans with grilled courgette, white beans, lemon and basil dressing                             Vegetarian option: Double greens filo tart with poppy seed Perl Las (variations of this to meet specific dietary requirements)   For the children: Carrot sticks, cheese fingers, ham bits, hummus, raisins, crisps, apple wedges, bread and butter   Dessert Salted caramel chocolate tart       Fruit bowl for guests with allergies Cake: 3 tier, chocolate, Victoria sponge, lemon sponge, with buttercream icing and floral arrangements. Made by bride’s sisters. David made the wooden cake plate with the date and place printed on the side.

The Photography & Videography

Where do we start? Simon and Anna are the most perfect couple and work absolute miracles with the camera. Neither of us like having our photos taken much, but somehow Simon and Anna made us feel at ease and really helped us get into the swing of things. The images that they have captured have blown our minds. Anna is the genius behind the photography and Simon created a video of the whole day that is just spectacular. Between them they have captured the day perfectly, looking at the images and video helps us believe it wasn’t all a dream! The images they have created will be forever some of the most important taken, we look at the often and will cherish them forever.

The Favours

We wanted our favours to be really special. We made our own personalised baubles using our friends laser cutting machine, we got a stamp made with the date and our names on and even made our own boxes. It was an extreme labour of love, but worth it seeing our guests open them with huge smiles on their faces. The idea was they can then use them as Christmas tree decorations for years to come and always remember our special day.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Film: WE ARE // THE CLARKES | Bride: Maggie Sottero | Shoes: Rainbow Club | Venue: Fforest | Wedding Party: ASOS | Band: The Other Covers | DJ: DJ Carl | Flowers: Fair Maiden Flowers

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