I was so glad to see this wedding on my weekend schedule as the suppliers and locations are all very local to me. You are going to love it!
This is one seriously cool and infectiously happy couple. You can't help but feel happy looking at their beaming faces. They are so very at ease with their super photographer.
Antlers, tattoos, candles, skulls and Autumnal shades in Summer, breaking the rules and making it work in this *seemingly effortless decor is a total feast for the eyes.*read LOADS of handy DIY work from the couple and family and friends.
The Bride looks sensational in Charlotte Balbier and who doesn't like a tattooed groom?
Julie the Bride: It started with our engagement, Ham spent the best part of six months planning the most unique, surprise proposal in the Bluebell Woods at Ashridge sure to steal my heart forever.
A photographer jumped out from the woods and captured it perfectly (here) and as if the spectacular green sapphire wasn't enough, I was spoiled further with an intimate meal joined by our nearest and dearest before being whisked off to New York!
We took our time (27 months!) to plan our perfect day and I'm so glad we did.
Our heart and souls went into it and it captured our love for each other, as well as our love for fun, animals and the outdoors perfectly!
Some of our happiest times are spent chomping in the woods, one of our favourites being Hitch Wood about 5 miles south of Hitchin in Hertfordshire.
We were searching high and low for a barn on land but couldn't find a private one suitable and nothing else had the right mix of being not 'too wedding venue-y' or included the outdoor element which was crucial to us.
It was important that we got married on the actual day, so as much as our hearts wanted us to wed in the great outdoors, you can't legally do that in England, so we had to find an alternative.
After a walk in Hitch Wood one Saturday afternoon, we popped our heads into Farmhouse at Redcoats. It was a truly lovely building complete with beams, real fireplaces and a beautiful light conservatory as well as having the low key 'night in a pub' we had envisioned for our Reception. The date we had chosen, 19th August, was available and we quickly signed on the dotted line.
We didn't even realise until it came to the tasting session - probably one of the highlights of wedding planning - that they offer such gastronomic delights! The food was simply delicious and the staff couldn't have done more for us on the day.
Whilst you can legally wed at Redcoats, we had our heart set on getting married outdoors, and what should be more perfect than nearby St Paul's Walden Bury, the childhood home of The Queen Mother and residence of the Bowes-Lyons family.
Every time we walked around the beautiful and vast grounds of the estate, we were charmed by Geese, Ducks, Hare, Woodpecker and Muntjac as well as the resident horse and cattle. It had a truly magical feel with hidden ponds and temples, Ham's daughter Sidney even nicknamed it 'The Alice in Wonderland place'.
We kept the ceremony location a secret with guests finding out on arrival at the Farmhouse to a timeline pallet I'd painted which started with 'Road trip'. They all wondered what it meant and knew for sure something was going on when the gorgeous Regal Four Single Decker Bus arrived to whisk them away.
Our transport was even cooler in the shape of a Burgundy Ford Chevrolet. Boy, can that thing shift too!
Two of the first things I remember us buying for the wedding were naturally shed antlers from the Scottish Highlands and Ham's shotgun. Not your normal purchases, but they definitely set the tone for the rest of our special day.
We collected ribbons, feathers, bottles - both pretty, previously alcohol-filled types, which we filled with fairy lights, and various other bottles which we painstakingly stripped of labels, spray-painted and dripped with candle wax, which were dotted throughout the venue filled with candles, feathers and flowers.
We also displayed beautiful pieces of Peacock Ore; Known for being a stone of happiness and joy, said to turn you in positive directions and channel happiness to others, I can't think of a better sentiment to start our married life on. Thanks to my beautiful schoolfriend Bekah, owner of the quirky little shop in Herne Bay La Luna, for helping me get my hands on those.
I found the bridesmaid dresses at Phase Eight but couldn't decide between burgundy or green - neither could Ham, our mum's or the bridesmaids! The longer it went on for us to decide (several months!), burgundy AND green became our main colours, with my beloved rose gold also making the cut.
Not a very Summer-Wedding palette I know, but we love the autumnal vibe of the day.
I originally bought a dress on sale at Phase Eight Bridal and felt very proud of myself for saving some cash. That was until I tried on the gorgeous 'Luna' Charlotte Balbier gown I'd spied online - in the safe hands of 'Fairy Godmother' Sarah at Confetti Bridalwear in Tring, a stones throw from where we got engaged - I fell so in love I cried before I even got out of the changing room, it was definitely THE ONE.
Ham is a cool tattooed dude and knew a suit wouldn't cut it, so he handpicked his wedding day clobber from Next, French Connection and ASOS, with the focus being on his beloved accessories which included a pocket watch, chain and bracelets.
We blew our ring budget on having my beloved sapphire and diamond engagement ring remade into a double banded solid ring to include a wedding band. It took 6 weeks to be made and neither of us saw it until Best Man Kev handed it over during the ceremony to be slipped onto my finger. It was a truly great surprise for us both and we couldn't be happier with what Sarah and the team behind the scene at Galios had created.
We enlisted help in Pete and Heather who are lucky enough to live on the St Paul's Walden Bury estate! On one visit, we ventured too far and ended up in their front garden where Pete was doing some pruning. We got chatting and it turns out he's in the local village of Whitwell's Am-Dram society, and who would've believed that he, his daughter Carris and son-in-law Callum, would put on an amazing skit for our wedding day a year later! That was such a personal and different element of our wedding that only our Best Man Phil and Bridesmaid Lou knew about. We laughed and cringed happily throughout as did our guests.
The family also served our canapés and wheelbarrows full of beer and Prosecco for our guests. The day just wouldn't have been so amazing without the help of our now life-long friends and the shining sun which allowed us to have the full day outside.
We have so much gratitude for those crucial elements.
Ham and I are in a Covers Party Band 'Pat & The Butchers'. We play parties and weddings and know how important entertainment is, so as soon as we had our date, we booked our favourite party band 'The Natalies' who were another one of the highlights of the evening. They had the crowd in their hands playing our favourite alternative 80s tracks, ensuring the dance floor was full all night long.
Our 'favours' were a soundtrack of our day which we'd put on to a printed CD, hopefully, our guests will listen to that and remember the day for years to come.
We also booked the amazing magician Matthew Le Motte who blew us and our guests away with his incredible close hand sorcery.
We were lucky enough to also have input from my sister and Maid of Honour Michelle who made the beautiful green tablecloth for the ceremony table, the green pocket squares for the groomsmen and also gave the most heartwarming speech, aided by my bridesmaid Lou and coupled with an amazing Best Man's speech from Phil.
We knew we wanted donuts to feature on our cake table but also needed something to cut, a token cake perhaps? Most definitely not! Our cake was also like something from Wonderland, not coincidentally made by the very talented The Curiouser and Curiouser Cake Company.
My mum hauled a beautiful rustic churn back from Cornwall which she and a friend lovingly filled with silk flowers to greet guests next to the timeline pallet. Another personal touch we can treasure forever more.
Flowers were the outdoors we brought inside to further accentuate the theme for our day and were a huge part of the look and feel we craved. We couldn't be happier with what the incredible Sam Roberts at The Flower Shop Watford created for us, truly beyond our wildest dreams. From my breathtaking bouquet which included love lies bleeding, succulents sprayed rose gold, peonies, dahlias and greenery galore, to the carefully placed succulents laid on cut moss and the top table arrangement which included a decorative ram's skull. I cannot recommend his talents strongly enough. He took our ideas, carefully added to them and guided us effortlessly.
The Photographer and Videographer
We had a sparkler send off which was magical, captured perfectly by our amazing photographers Green Antlers.
The second I emailed Diana - half of the dynamic husband and wife duo alongside husband Sam - I felt a truly special bond.
They made us feel not only at ease, but that our wedding was as important to them as it was to us. They met with us, emailed and shared important information, calmed us on the day and proved to be a most worthy investment in keeping every part of our day captured for the rest of our lives.
We are excited to see our album in the flesh as well as our wedding video which is being carefully edited by the clever Arhip at The Wedding Film Company.
We love the work of his we saw online and feel the bright and airy feel of that, will contrast perfectly in comparison to the photographers dramatic and cinematic visions.
We have no regrets whatsoever, our day truly was the best day ever to us.
Go with your heart. Don't feel pressured by others, they'll most likely have their day and at the forefront of that will be doing things exactly how they want them.
Spend money where it's important, capture and cherish the parts and memories that last forever, spend time crafting and thinking of each guest as a person, get excited about them being there on the day rather than just a number or place setting.
Try and give your guests something to take away that they will truly cherish and to bring back memories of the day. A wine charm, a place setting, a soundtrack.
And remember what you're doing it all for. To celebrate your love, a love like no other.