A whole weekend of glamping in West Wale's Fforest in domes, a tipi ceremony, fire pits, doughnut towers, and face glitter all make this an immense celebration from start to finish. What makes it even more meaningful is the fact that the ceremony was not just about this gorgeous couple but also their son and guests too. With all of them being incorporated into the nuptials including a handfasting and special guest vows. The smiles are contagious, the fashion is fierce and everthing about this woodland wedding and gorgeous captures by Naomi Jane Photography will have you swooning.
Our StoryApril the Bride: When Simon proposed in the French Alps after 11 years together and one (now three year old) son, I responded with ‘Really?!’ I couldn’t believe that he’d finally popped the question. I think Simon was hoping for a long engagement but I was already researching venues, dresses and bands before we flew back to the UK – I just couldn’t wait to get started.
VenueWe came across Fforest online and were instantly in love. Although it was further afield than the rest of the venues we looked at, we loved the idea of a weekend away full of love and laughter with all our closest family and friends. The wonderful Helen showed us around the whole site – the tipi, the tiny Bwthyn pub, the accommodation and the amazing farmhouse. Surrounded by nature, it was all so calm and relaxing. Afterwards, I remember walking back down the muddy path towards our car in silence, holding hands and smiling. We knew we’d found the one!
FridayWe legally got married on the Friday, in a small intimate ceremony with our immediate family in the licenced Bwthyn pub. Although we weren’t classing this as our ‘wedding day’, it was a special part of our weekend so I wore a lovely beaded dress by Needle and Thread. After the ceremony we headed up to the farmhouse for champagne and canapés before the rest of our guests arrived. The Friday evening was relaxed with people arriving and getting settled into their accommodation before enjoying soup and the best woodfire pizza I’ve ever tasted. We left a welcome letter and a box of glamping essentials in the tents, which included torches and fluffy bed socks - a hit in the cold late September nights.
SaturdayAfter saying goodbye to Simon Saturday morning, I had the best morning getting ready with my girls! We were made to look beautiful by Leah James, and my super talented friend Amy worked wonders on my hair. We were all very relaxed – sat around making the bridesmaids flower crowns and drinking prosecco. Until an hour before that is! Seriously, where does the time go in the morning before you get married?!
FloristMy florist Amy arrived with the bouquets and buttonholes. I didn’t (and still don’t!) have a clue about flowers so I was lucky that she was able to guide me through and advise me on the best flowers to suit my style and setting.
DressI wore Lenora beaded by Watters Wtoo. I never dreamt about being a bride growing up so never had my ideal dress in mind. It doesn’t sound very romantic or magical, but I just wanted a dress that was easy to wear and comfortable to last the day. After hours and hours of looking for inspiration on RMW, Instagram and Pinterest, I spotted Watters Lenora. When I tried it on at the lovely Lace and Grace Bridal Boutique in Keynsham. it fit like a glove, and my Mum’s face said it all. I then realised that the song I was planning to walk down the aisle to was on the radio as I was trying it on – it was a sign. Lenora ticked all the boxes and added a bit of sparkle! I added a pop of colour with my shoes, wearing a super comfy pair of green sandals with tassels from Boden. I had wellies as back up but managed to keep my shoes on all day as they were so comfortable – even in the rain! My rose gold accessories all came from Etsy. I had fern leaf earrings and a delicate bracelet with our initials engraved onto leaves.
BridesmaidsI didn’t want a ‘one size/style fits all’ dress for my bridesmaids, as they’re all different shapes and sizes (one eight months pregnant!) and all have their own individual style. I wasn’t precious about a colour theme, and just wanted something to fit the woodland setting. I bought Jodi’s floral dress first on ASOS and the others worked around that. ASOS have such a great range of styles and colours it became my one-stop shop for my Bridesmaids dresses! Summer’s flower girl dress came from Next. They all looked beautiful and I was so proud to have my girls by my side.
The GroomTaking his inspiration from Ryan Reynolds in a BT advert, Simon stuck with the mismatched theme! He wore dusky pink trousers from Ted Baker, with a waistcoat and jacket combo from Reiss in differing shades of blue, topped off with a checked bow tie from Mrs Bow Tie.
The CeremonyWe were hoping to hold our Humanist ceremony outside in the quarry but it was a good job we didn’t as the heavens opened! The tipi was a beautiful venue though, decorated in giant dreamcatchers. I walked down the aisle to a cover version of Sam Smith Latch by Daniela Andrade. The Disclosure version of the song was our son Jackson’s favourite song at the time but I didn’t feel that version would be appropriate – I would’ve ended up dancing down the aisle! I thought I would be super nervous but I wasn’t at all. I was so happy and so excited to see Simon and Jackson waiting for me at the end of the aisle – I couldn’t take the smile off my face. Jackson was Simon’s best man - He did a grand job of looking after the rings and keeping ‘Daddy’ calm before I arrived. Our Humanist celebrant, Mike Ashbridge, helped us to personalise our ceremony and vows, adding personal touches that we would’ve been unable to do in a traditional wedding. Before we exchanged rings, we pasted them around our guests so they could warm them in their hands and bless them for our future. We even made our guests take vows too!
Guest Vows I solemnly pledge to participate, To have a drink in my hand and food on my plate. I will speak to people from another table, And get up to dance if I’m able. I will kiss the bride and hug the groom And soak up the atmosphere in the room And years from now I’ll look back and say I was part of that wonderful day.It was important that the wedding wasn’t just about the two of us, but about our family, so we ended the ceremony with a handfasting ritual including Jackson. For many of our guests it was their first humanist wedding – it was lovely to hear how personal, emotional and heart-warming they found it. We had two readings – Love Monkey by Edward Monkton and Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith.
The FoodThe food at Fforest was incredible from start to finish – the Friday night woodfire pizza and soup, the canapés, the tea party, the hog roast and the breakfasts. I knew the little ones wouldn’t eat a lot so put together a little packed lunch for each of them in a handmade bear brown paper bag. We’re not really cake people so decided to have a tower of Krispy Kremes rather than a traditional wedding. Simon made an amazing stand out of log rounds for them to go on and we decorated it in glittery bunting.
The SpeechesI think both my Dad and Simon were nervous about their speeches but they both did an amazing job. There was laughter, there were tears (mainly from Simon), and so much love. As Simon didn’t have a best man, we had an ‘open mic’ for anyone who wanted to say a few words, which could’ve seriously backfired! A couple of his friends stepped up with the usual embarrassing stories but the highlight for me was when my bridesmaids broke into a ‘rap’ to their own version of 5ive ‘Slam dunk da funk’ (Slam dunk da Tuck!) complete with basketball jerseys, baseball caps and sunglasses. The lyrics were hilarious and they got everyone up on their feet.
The EntertainmentOur band, The Apple Tree Theory were epic. Doing their own twist on classic and modern day songs, they got everyone on the dancefloor in the tipi. They’re a proper festival style band so perfect for our venue. It was like our own mini festival in the forest. They even did some singalong acoustic songs around the campfire whilst we toasted marshmallows under the fairy lights. Just magical. We ended the party with a silent disco. The hours of playlist planning paid off as we partied into the small hours. There’s nothing quite like having your closest friends and family with glitter on their cheeks and a smile of their face, signing their hearts out to Beyonce and Queen in unison!
PhotographyWe were lucky to have our photographer Naomi there to capture the whole weekend for us, from the Friday through to the silent disco. We wanted natural photos that captured the moments and what a great job she did. Not being naturals in front of the camera, she had a tough job. She made everyone so relaxed it was like she was a guest, not our photographer.
AdviceThe biggest piece of advice would be to do what you want! Make sure that your day reflects who you are, not what others expect. Don’t feel like you have to do all the traditional things if you don’t want to. Will your guests really notice if they don’t get favours? They’re there for you, not the freebies!
Dress Designer: Watters Woo - Lenora | Bridal Boutique: Lace & Grace Bridal | Bridal Shoes: Boden | Accessories: Etsy | Bridesmaids: ASOS | Flower Girl: Next | Grooms Suit: Trousers | Jacket & Waistcoat: Reiss | Bow Tie: Mrs Bow Tie | Venue: Fforest Weddings | Band: The Apple Tree Theory | Silent Disco: Disco Mania UK | Florist: Blossom Parlour | Makeup : Leah James Hidden Beauty | Cake : Krispy Kreme