Get those pinning fingers at the ready because Julie and Jon’s big day is full of the most wonderful details and an especially good source of inspiration for those of you planning your own Tipi weddings.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen flower crowned maids, a photo booth caravan, floral bedecked canoes, paisley patterns and reindeer pelts combined so effortlessly and effectively until this wedding day but that’s exactly what the pair created at their venue Duncton Mill Fishery. The setting is sublime and I can completely see why Julie and Jon chose the location to celebrate with their nearest and dearest.
I also want to take a moment to mention Julie’s wedding dress which was lovingly made by her mum; how fantastic is that! Oh and to say that Boxgrove Priory where the pair said their vows is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Come and see for yourselves…
The Bride’s Fashion
Julie The Bride: I’m incredibly proud to say my mum made my wedding dress! Inspired by Jenny Packham and Claire Pettibone designs, my friend Naomi (who had made her own stunning wedding dress) and I set off to Berwick Street in search of silk satin, chiffon and lace. It was terrifying experience leaving the shop with a bag of fabric costing the equivalent of my first car. Thankfully, it was in safe hands. My mum did an amazing job, adapting a pattern to make my dress and recreating the veil she wore on her wedding day. Keeping things unique I bought my accessories from Esty.
Lucy and Amy from ID in Chichester did mine and my bridesmaids’ make-up, and my sister in law’s hair. It wasn’t an easy task with eight of us girls to get through and yet they put so much time and effort into personalizing each style. We chose to keep it natural with earthy colours to suit the ethereal autumnal theme. The girls made the whole experience so much fun and they literally were responsible for getting us to the church on time! Its no wonder ID has just won the National Wedding Industry Awards!
The Groom’s Fashion
Being tall and lean, Jono struggled to find anything suitable off the peg so we went with a tailor made suit. We decided upon tweed as it was a material that fitted in with the relaxed outdoor rustic theme. We were so lucky to find Damon at Victor Valentine, who within budget, created a bespoke custom made three-piece suit. The Blue Herringbone Tweed suited Jono to a tee!
We wanted to have the wedding near to our parent’s homes in Chichester and soon had our hearts set on a rural location in the South Downs. We initially looked at barns, and although beautiful, felt our hands would be tide on too my aspects of the day. Thankfully we stumbled upon Duncton Mill Fishery, which provided a unique blank canvas in the most incredible setting. It’s wonderful owners Caroline and Martin supported us every step of the way as we created a day that was totally personal to us. Their motto ‘your wedding, your way’ rang true throughout.
The decision on what type of tent to have was made on our first visit to Duncton. There was a wedding fair on that day and an incredible Giant Hat Tipi had been erected on the site by Beautiful World Tents. The exterior seemed to blend in so naturally with the surroundings and the interior of open fires and exposed wooden beams created a warm magical feel. The perfect relaxed atmosphere!
Our October wedding date naturally inspired an autumnal colour scheme. I loved the idea of decorating the tables using seasonal foliage, and in the final week before the wedding tasked friends and family to collect fallen autumnal leaves and to forage for sloe berries, brambles, rosehips and anything else that nature could provide. Although beautiful the ethereal dining experience did create a logistical nightmare as it left us with no space on the table for sharing platters, plates and glasses etc.
Luckily, Jono had thought of that before D-day and came up with the solution of building table platforms out of palettes, and better yet selling them back to the tipi company after the wedding, to make a profit! We hired enamel crockery< from Outside Catering Company and hessian napkins from Northfields, sourced decanters from charity shops and collected wine bottles for candlesticks. We finished the table settings with toffee apple favours from Stud Farm Fruit, decorated shot glasses for the adults and wedding boxes for the kids.
To save on cost we made all our wedding stationery. Our joint best man, Phil Siegal is a very talented artist and designed two beautiful emblems for the wedding which symbolized keys things about our past, present and future. It was like having our own wedding label and we went all out on the merchandise, creating invitations, order of service, festival lanyards, menus and place names.
Jono has lived all around the world and we’ve done a fair bit of travelling together, so we named our tables after locations that were special to us. Pallets were again the inspiration, this time for a frame and easel for the map table plan, and for sign posts to guide our guests.
I spent ages deciding how to our wedding guest book. I’d seen so many lovely ideas on Pinterest. In the end we got our guests to sign an oak tree slice, which Jono has since varnished, and made into a cracking cheese board.
I knew I wanted flowers in my hair and I wasn’t afraid to go big. Rococo Florist in Chichester created the headpieces, bouquets and button holes. Laura from Rococo was so lovely to work with, she advised which flowers were in season and with great creativity incorporated rosehips, eucalyptus, sage and wheat to tie in with the autumnal theme. My God Mother (Liz Owler) created some beautiful flower arrangements for the church, and my mum decorated the pew ends. We decided to source our own flowers to decorate the venue. My Dad, an avid gardener, planted some gorgeous flower pots for the exterior of the tipi. Wild flowers from Sussex Flower Farm were arranged perfectly into table top jam-jars, lighting up the interior.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I have a large obsession with paisley print and much to my bridesmaids’ horror I intended to feature them head to toe in patterns. My mum was going to make the bridesmaid dresses but I came across a paisley print and pastel coloured dress in the Mango sale. There were definite self-doubt moments but on the day I was so happy with how it all came together; the girls looked stunning! My beautiful little flower girl Millie, picked a sparkly sequin dress and we gave it a sage waistband so she tied in with the big girls.
Victor Valentine offered tailored tweed suit hire for the groomsmen and we bought maroon knitted ties to finish off the look. My dapper page boy Benjie wore a replica of the groom’s tweed waistcoat. Resourceful mum recycled material from the bridesmaid dresses to make paisley ties for the groom and page boy, and pocket squares for the groomsmen, which helped to bring everything together.
Jono was christened and his parents were married at Boxgrove Priory so it seemed like the perfect place for our ceremony. After visiting the church again, we were instantly taken by its beauty, with wonderful stained glass windows and magnificent ceilings, all set in amongst a ruined monastery. On the day, with emotions running high for the occasion (not to mention the frantic rush to finish setting up) we were both pretty overwhelmed and teary eyed when we first saw one another. We left Boxgrove Priory under a shower of confetti and trundled away to Duncton in a 1960s Beatle.
One of the first things we decided was that music would be a major feature of the day and with this in mind we compiled a track list of all our favourite tunes to be played non stop throughout the afternoon and evening. I even designed festival lanyards for the occasion, detailing the site map and music line up. Acoustic duo True Rumours set the scene during the afternoon playing two fantastic sets next to the lake.
Guests were able to take boat trips, play garden games or simply take a walk around the stunning site. The music continued during the wedding breakfast during which guests were encouraged to ‘toast to a tune’ with Jono’s aunties homemade sloe gin. In the evening our vintage caravan photobooth opened and sparklers were lit, before energetic four-piece rock band The Dukes, and Jono’s cousin Alec, had everyone up and dancing.
It was our desire to continue our laid back rustic vibe with the food. A Hog Roast doesn’t get much more rustic and Neal’s Forest Hogs team did us proud with an incredible feast of locally reared, chestnut smoked Tamworth Hog, and a selection of salads which were all shared out on the long tables. We decided not to have a traditional starter and instead Jono’s sister Roz made a variety of delicious canapés and dips, served alongside breads on a ‘help your self table’. This went down a treat with the bubbles and local ales from Langham & Ballards Breweries! Continuing this theme, we asked guests to bring cakes and desserts, which were laid out on tables alongside a cheese board, for evening indulgence. The ‘piece de resistance’ was of course the beautiful wedding cake made by a friend.
The glue that held everything together and made the reception run so seamlessly were the team from Sussex Event Staff. Unfased by our complex brief and limited on site facilities, they did everything from setting up (with only post-it notes to guide), serving food and drink, and even clearing away by torch-light when the generator ran out of fuel! Staying true to their moto ‘no request is too tall to achieve’ meant Jono and I could fully relax knowing everything was taken care of.
Choosing Camilla to be our photographer was the easiest decision we had to make; in fact the decision had been made years before. Not only was she there when we first met and was a great friend, but we have admired her work as a photographer ever since. Camilla is a JOY to be around and captured our day perfectly with the help of brilliant local photographer Nicki. Some of our favorites shots were taken during the speeches, as everyone is caught in fits of laugher, which reflects the emotions of the day.
We wouldn’t change anything for the world. It was the most perfect day made our way. Our advice to couples about to embark on a DIY wedding is to not underestimate the time, effort and logistical powers required. Even with a year’s worth of planning and making, and the final week off work, we still managed to cut it pretty fine and stress levels were high. It was a huge team effort and we would not have pulled it off if it weren’t for our fantastic family and friends. We cannot thank them enough.
Photography by Camilla Arnhold
- Ceremony Venue Boxgrove Priory
- Reception Venue Duncton Mill Fishery
- Tipis Beautiful World Tents
- Hair and Make Up ID Chichester
- Florist Rococo Florist
- Additional Flowers The Sussex Flower Farm
- Maids Mango
- Hog Roast Forest Hogs
- Canapés R&R Catering
- Favours Stud Farm Fruit
- Groom/Groomsmen Victor Valentine
- Day Entertainment True Rumours
- Band The Dukes
- Transport Sussex Love Bug
- Photo Booth Caravan Photo Booth