Amazing husband and wife duo Toby and Hannah from Red on Blonde Photography have not only nailed the captures of this tipi wedding, but also the introduction. So much so we couldn’t have put it better ourselves, so over to them…
Red on Blonde Photography: Bride and Groom, Philly and Josh threw the ultimate, super personal, mega-fun tipi wedding, with a tropical twist & an immense party. The ceremony setting was idyllic – in Josh’s Auntie’s field amongst the huge oaks, with giant balloons, guests on wooden benches and pallets creating a stage for the bride & grooms’ hand-penned vows.
The official crew pulled up in a black Land Rover Defender, driven by the MOH and five gold-gowned bridesmaids clambered out the back. Then the bride rolled up in a Citroen DS, looking all grecian-boho, with a crown of green leaves and an elegant, low-backed, lace gown.
The celebrant was their best friend, which added to the personal feel and then the groom’s brother, Rory (lead singer of Infinite Bisous) led everybody in a chorus of ‘All you Need is Love’.
Philly and Josh created a feast of fun for the guests (and our cameras) in and around the tipis. There was a tropical theme, with potted palms, natural wood and splashes of gold decoration (lots of pineapples!) and garden games to keep everybody entertained. Not to mention fish tacos, mac n cheese, signature cocktails, glitter paint, a VW camper van photo booth, a bathtub of beers and a crisp station (with Pickled onion Monster Munch!)
This was one of those weddings that was pure joy to shoot and left us buzzing & we’d love to share it with the RMW readers.
Josh the Groom: Philly and I had been together for years before we finally got married, so we’d had plenty of “if we get married” chats which ended up shaping our ideas a fair bit. We really just wanted to make it a wedding that we’d love to go to, something that felt like us, a day where we could celebrate all the people who have been important in our lives and have a blast with them all.
We both grew up in Leicestershire but don’t get to go back as much as we’d like. Our closest friends are all originally from Leicestershire as well and with so many of them getting hitched abroad we wanted one big knees up “back home” with everyone back where it all started.
Thankfully my Aunty & Uncle offered us their field not far from where I grew up so we had a blank canvas to do what we wanted. We’d always fancied a Tipi as a bit of a centre piece and to give it a sort of festival vibe so Karen and the guys at Tipi Unique did an amazing job to help us totally customise layout and furniture to do whatever we wanted.
We started thinking festival vibe as we really wanted something very relaxed, then we talked about a sort of modern tropical theme as we’ve been lucky enough to travel around a lot together over the years… so I guess we ended up somewhere in between. With banana leaf, House of Hackney-esque patterns across tables, lamps and some bright flowers and geometric patterns across the stationery. My friend Al, who’s a great designer, helped us bring a consistent look and feel across the website, saves the dates, invites, menus, order of service etc. The stationery design part really helped us focus colours and style for the whole wedding really.
The Brides Fashion
Philly the Bride: I thought I was going to really struggle with this one – as well as being extremely fussy (as my mum and friends would attest too!) and because of the whole festival/tropical relaxed vibe we were going for, I wanted something that would suit the occasion as well as making me feel fabulous. Luckily I happened on Mirror Mirror bridal boutique in Islington pretty early in my search and found ‘the one.’ Understated from the front but with a beautiful low lace back and train, the Heidi by La Sposa dress ticked all the boxes for me – it just felt right.
I’m not a very girly girl so flowers are not my forte. Other than a “bit tropical “and “green” I really didn’t have much of a clue – thankfully I found Claire at Budding Floral Designs. From the first time we met her, Claire’s infectious personality and passion for what she does really bowled us over. I really left her to it and she didn’t disappoint producing the most gorgeous banquets, headpieces and table garlands.
The rest of the décor we did ourselves – we felt the tipis were so beautiful as they were we didn’t want to overdo it on the inside. I got a lot of things from H&M home and online auction sites. Nearly all of our outdoor furniture was hand built by our dads – from prosecco bars, seating areas and even a ‘crisp stand – there was nothing they couldn’t make out pallets! They put a lot of work in and it really meant a lot to us to have bespoke stuff by our family. One thing that ended up bringing everything together was also some big potted plants and palm trees we hired from a local garden centre. It really transformed the feel of the whole field.
The Grooms Fashion
Josh the Groom: Fashions not exactly my strong point, despite the fact my Mum used to be a fashion designer. I wanted something contemporary, comfortable and a bit different in terms of colour… as well as something that goes with ginger hair!! I went and looked at a fair few suits, but in the end the very first one I saw on the Paul Smith website was the one I knew I wanted straight away. I was bang into the colour and I’d had one of their suits before and knew they fit well.
Shoes was the harder bit for me… I avoid wearing smart shoes at all costs! The only pair I’d seen that I’d really fallen for was a classic brown leather brogue from Church’s – but the cost put me off and the search went on. Then one day I came home to a cheeky, beaming smile from Philly and she handed me a bag… she’d bought me the shoes as a wedding gift as I hadn’t stopped talking about them. Serious wife material.
Our ceremony was something I will never forget. When the retro Citroen DS pulled into the field and Philly got out I couldn’t stop smiling.
We’re not religious so never had any aspirations for church vibes, but had always loved the idea of a very personal, outdoor ceremony.
Instead of a priest I chose my great friend Zach to lead our “service”, he’d been with me the day I lost my younger brother Jake – It was the saddest day of my life and Zach had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time to experience it all with me. So when planning the happiest day of our lives it seemed natural to close the loop and make it up to Zach. He absolutely smashed it – I’d written the ceremony structure and Philly and I both chose a reading for each other – both read by special friends on the day. Zach even did a little ‘sermon’ about us both as he’s lived near us and known us both for over 15 years. It was extremely special, made even more so by my youngest brother playing a rousing rendition of The Beatles – All You Need Is Love live as a group sing-a-long.
And whilst I moaned about them in the days before as an “unnecessary addition” the giant balloons Philly arranged really made for some cracking ceremony pictures!
The Wedding Party Fashion
Philly the Bride: The most important thing for me was that my bridesmaids had something they wanted to wear and would feel comfortable in as well as looking stunning. We went for sequins and a gold- ish theme, managing to find complimenting dresses from ASOS and Monsoon. Josh wanted Liberty print ties for the grooms party – the range at Liberty’s was a bit limited but luckily we found Mrs Bow Tie online who does bespoke ties and picked the exact material we wanted.
Josh the Groom: We spent the first 5 years of our relationship basically just going to gigs, so live music was always super high up the list. The band was probably the first big thing we actually booked. I’d seen a band called The Revue at a work event in 2016 and they got people jumping so I managed to book them for our wedding. Add to that a live set from my brother’s band Infinite Bisous and we had our entertainment nailed… I even did a surprise rendition of Billy Idol’s White Wedding with them for Philly. Well I say for Philly… I think just love the mic really!!
Food & Drink
We LOVE food… it’s the way to both our hearts! We always wanted something casual and fun but a bit different. Finding that outside London, where we live, was way more difficult than it should have been… everyone just wanted us to pick from generic lists of things they’ve done before. We wanted a bespoke menu and weren’t willing to compromise. Thankfully we found Thomas The Caterer who worked with us on a unique menu, from oversized asian themed canapés as starters, to Ottolenghi style salads with slow cooked, spiced beef brisket for mains… with a whole load of street food for evening snacks – fish tacos & mac n cheese the highlights.
Oh and I’m mad into crisps… So we built a crisp rack and filled it full of classic and retro crisps… from Tangy Toms to Flaming Hot Monster Munch, Scampi Fries to Transform-a-snack… 350 bags of them! Not a single crisp left by midnight!! And the secret was whipping out some bread and butter late on for crisp butties!!
We also had a cocktail bar running all night and a vintage bath full of craft beers to get people suitably sozzled and keep the dance floor going until way into the early hours!
We were looking for natural, reportage style photographers and liked the Red On Blonde website so we gave them a call and our dates were their last available weekend in August. Win. Toby & Hannah Skype’d us from their own honeymoon in South Africa for an initial chat – we spent more time talking about holiday recommendations and what they’d been up to than any wedding stuff. We came off the call and wanted them to be our mates rather than our photographers! But they did an incredible job and we’ve had so many compliments about their beautiful imagery… having 2 photographers really makes the difference and they just sort of blended into the crowd and felt like guests with cameras. We really loved our pictures!
Doing things yourself means you can customise things as much as you like, you get a truly personal day. But with that comes a lot of extra work as you manage all the suppliers – at the end of it all you want to be able to enjoy your actual day. We were really against handing over control of ANYTHING but we’re super pleased we got an on the day planner in the end – Val from Bennessamy Events got involved a few weeks before to understand our plan and made sure everything went smoothly on the day. It meant we laughed our way through the experience and everything we’d planned so carefully came to life! Two photographers is a must too.
Oh and note to other grooms – giving your new wife multiple tequila shots before dancing is also a bad idea if you’re hoping to keep her up late!!