I'm all about weddings with laid back vibes, and this gorgeous tipi wedding has them in spades. Jo and Chris wanted to create a chilled Woodstock-esque feel to their big day and I think it's safe to say they achieved it! The bespoke fashion, the wild flowers, the tipis...luckily the weather was glorious too so they could make the most of the gorgeous grounds of Sandon Hall. Jo is a bride after my own heart too, with her fringed dress, Vintage Manolo's and with lines such as 'Like many brides, I soon discovered that an Orangery is an absolute essential for drinks and canapés,' it's clear she's a RMW bride through and through! I know you're going to love this wedding, so get comfy and enjoy!

The Inspiration

Jo The Bride: Being a Buyer often means having a creative vision, and whilst wedding trends come and go, I, sorry, we wanted, this vision to completely encapsulate something original, timeless and be a true representation of us as a couple. ‘1969 Carnival at Big Bear Lake’ Chris and I spend many a Friday night dancing around our living room playing our beloved vinyl from the 60s and 70s. We wanted to capture the fun and carefree spirit of this era and the first ever Woodstock festival in1969 by having a wedding in a secret location in the Staffordshire countryside, at the Earl of Harrowby’s beautiful estate.

The Venue

Like many brides, I soon discovered that an Orangery is an absolute essential for drinks and canapés. We drove onto to the grounds of Sandon Hall, saw the huge space in the grounds that we needed to pitch a tipi, and we knew instantly it was the one. Set in 400 acres of serene parkland with roaming wildlife, the hall itself is Grade II listed, with its own beautiful 13th century church, All Saints.

The Ceremony

We walked down the aisle to a slow acoustic version of the Beatles; ‘I want to hold your hand’ which was sung by ‘Mia and the Moon’, two talented Sisters. We exchanged our vows under a wild palm archway with upturned garland bouquets and festoon lighting. Whilst the venue ticked every box in terms of setting, it was important that the party be relaxed, informal, and a blank canvas to allow for us to be fully creative. A large 4 hat tipi allowed us free-reign to recreate a true carnival vibe.

The Decor & Styling

A good friend introduced us to Big Chief Tipis who were fantastic from start to finish (as were Sandon Hall). With the help of some Edison bulb lighting, the brilliant florist Flowers by Breige, created the unruly wilderness by incorporating bright blooms, tropical greenery, palms, olive leaves and eucalyptus. Countless trips to reclamation yards were spent hunting for cut glass vases and any animal paraphernalia / taxidermy we could get our hands on. We bought wonderful furniture and ornaments from Graham & Green and House of Hackney, as their unique and idiosyncratic designs fitted the theme beautifully.

The Photography & Film

We chose Emma Hare Photography as our photographer and Matt and Alex from York Place Films as our videographers. They made us feel completely at ease, were so relaxed and professional we barely noticed they were there. The photos and the video footage have completely blown us away and totally capture the relaxed mood perfectly such was the skill of all involved.

The Bride & Bridesmaids

The Dress - what can I say about the dress? Why not make your life more difficult by having them all made from scratch too? I asked my talented designer colleague and dear friend David Fraser to design 1 bride’s dress and 4 bridesmaid’s dresses which were all unique to each girl’s personality. The brief for my dress was simply this; if Stevie Nicks and Diane Kruger were to have a love child, what would she wear to get married? I wanted it to be vintage in colouring, bohemian in styling, and feminine. Key features of the dress were the many tiers of beaded fringe, the long train and the overtly low plunge neckline and v back. If I wasn’t lucky enough to have a bespoke dress, I would have bought my dress from Jane Bourvis vintage bridal in Notting Hill or Stone Fox Bride studio in New York, both of whom had the most incredible pieces. We bought the blonde lace from Italy, combined with hand beaded fringing and with the help of the incredible pattern cutter Rebecca Yong the dress came to life. It was everything that I could have imagined and more. My wedding ring was bought from Liberty’s, my earrings were from Maria Tash and the other jewellery was from Catbird in Brooklyn, New York. I was lucky enough to find the perfect vintage Manolo Blahniks in Austin, Texas.

The Wedding Party

The stunning bridesmaids fitted into the theme beautifully and David cleverly ensured that they were each unique, suiting each of the girls’ personal aesthetic. The Groomsmen had a great experience at the Topman personal shopping suite in London and Chris had his tailored by Reiss. Chris’s wedding ring was his late grandfather’s which was kindly passed onto us and holds huge sentimental value. The flower girls’ outfits were from with converse trainers. The page boy’s outfit was found in John Lewis. Hair was done by the artistic Patrick Coppinger, and make up was by Deanne Causer from Heaven Scent Perfumery in Staffordshire.

The Stationery

The stationery was designed by Katie Barnes Studio who I found on Etsy. She was fantastic and very patient, I might add, throughout. A good friend Thom Shardlow designed an emblem which is personal from my childhood which was a lovely touch which was found throughout the day on the order of service and menus for the table.

The Transport

We travelled from the church to Sandon Hall in my Father’s white Triumph Stag.

The Food

The food was catered by Jenkinsons, who pride themselves on taste, choice, visual appeal, and quality of service. They really did deliver all of that in spades. The flavors were out of this world; guests had a choice of mains from fillet steak, pork belly or crusted sea bass which were very well received. During the evening reception, their pies went down so well that my friend had 4! Not ones for tradition, we didn’t want to cut a cake, instead, we made a tower of 200 Krispy Kremes and had a 4 tier cheesecake.

The Music

In terms of music, we entered the tipi for the wedding meal to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’. Our first dance was Amy Winehouse’s version of ‘Monkey Man’ which was sung by Amy Winehouse’s backing band, a real personal, special moment for us both. The band was absolutely incredible vocally and their audience participation really made the night such a memorable party.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Venue: Sandon Hall | Tipi: Big Chief Tipis | Catering: Jenkinson's | Film : York Place Films | Stationery: Katie Barnes | Bride & Bridesmaids Dresses: David Fraser | Pattern Cutter: Rebecca Yong | Singers: Mia & The Moon | Flower Girls: Greenberry Kids | Groomsmen: Topman | Groom: Reiss | Wedding Cake: Krispy Kreme | Flowers: Flowers By Breige

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