How beautiful is this wedding?! I’m completely in love with the Midsummer Nights Dream vibe – wild woodland florals, feathers, tweed and lots of blush pink. Tabitha looks gorgeous in Katya Katya Shehurina, who I always associate with free spirited, stylish Brides, one of which Tabitha clearly IS. Also looking rather dapper is Matt, in a pair of Pink Marks & Spencers Chinos! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…if your Groom doesn’t want to wear a suit, then he really doesn’t have to. Go with whatever suits you and the style of your wedding day. If this sounds like the kind of wedding advice you want to hear, then maybe you should preorder our soon-to-be-released book Your Day Your Way? Tabitha and Matt certainly did everything their way for their wedding day and it was utterly fabulous. Let’s take a look…
Tabitha the Bride: On my first visit to a bridal shop, the assistant asked my Mom, sister and I to turn around the hangers of all the dresses that we liked and in about 30 seconds we realised that there were absolutely none and that finding a dress for me wouldn’t be easy! I knew then that I didn’t want anything particularly ‘bridal’ and that an alternative to white or ivory would be ideal. In the end I found my dress at mydaymyway.com by Katya Katya Shehurina. Preferring a boho style, I liked its simplicity and used it as a canvas for the wine reds of the flowers and the moss greens of the foliage and for my sash which was handmade by my talented auntie Marilyn Davies in Santa Cruz, and personalised with our initials on the back. Luckily, my sister Candice Sloper is a skilful ex-hairdresser and was roped into styling our boho waves and plaits whilst our makeup was masterfully done by an old friend of my sister’s Jemma Parker of Natura Makeup and Beauty.
Matt’s clothing and that of the groomsmen was particularly challenging as we had a no-suit rule from the start. Matt and I bought and returned multiple options from dickie-bows to braces and two weeks prior to the wedding he was still without a full outfit. The pink chinos were a last minute decision but one of the most successful, from Marks & Spencers, they stood out and brought in the pink from the hypericum berries in my headdress. The floral shirts for the men were a stable feature from the outset and, despite some initial wrangling, the groomsmen agreed to wear the braces which helped to carry the wine accent through. They were also all instructed to grow their beards for the occasion!
Initially I intended to find my four bridesmaids a completely different dress each but finding a variety of dresses in keeping with the bohemian styling and the wine-red, mossy greens was next to impossible. After establishing that I would be wearing nude the obvious choice for the bridesmaids was ivory and I liked the subversion as well as the carefree, unstructured shape – from ASOS. Again, the green beaded belts were kindly handmade by my auntie Marilyn Davies and were matched to mine. Their gold heels didn’t last long and were quickly replaced with flats but their ivy circlets stayed on all day! Waiting in the trees before the ceremony they reminded me of woodland nymphs from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our flower girl wore a similar ivory dress from lightinthebox.com and our ring bearer wore relaxed chinos and Converse with his green bowtie.
Dunwood Hall appealed to us because of the gothic revival features and the outside space – the rose pagoda and the pool especially. We wanted an outside, carefree ceremony and it was important for our guests to be able to have a beer in the sunshine whilst it was taking place. We opted for a hand-fasting ceremony performed by wonderful celebrant Alison Kirkham and as I didn’t want a typical aisle we were particularly taken with the architecture of the bottom lawn and the possibilities that it allowed. The catering and bar were all part of the package that Dunwood offered and we were pleased that Thirst Aid Bars were able to source Black Sheep Ale and provide us with both an outside and an inside bar. The DJ entertainment was also provided by the venue and we hired Michael McAleavy guitarist to provide atmosphere during the drinks reception and for the ceremony. We stayed at Peak Rise – immaculate holiday and wedding accommodation with friends and two of my bridesmaids, Peak Rise also provided the vintage Daimler that I arrived in with my parents.
Pheasant feathers, hops and foliage were central to our decoration – and in particular rosemary and a variety of ivy. Our centre pieces were lovingly made by my creative mother Susan Davies-Thompson and included Astilbe, Bay, Eucalyptus and Contorted Hazel – some of my favourites. Her repertoire also included creating the seating plan and T&M bunting. In keeping with Matt’s love of real ale the table names were those of breweries that we enjoy – this grew into creating the final ‘Beer-Bohemian’ theme. Our wedding cake was made by talented baker and Matt’s mother Susan Gee – this too was decorated with feathers and fresh flowers.
The bridal bouquets and buttonholes were created by Claire Foster of The Green Pavilion. I requested large statement buttonholes for the men and we had a no rose rule! I asked for a raw and edgy bouquet and I certainly got it. It contained pheasant feathers, hazel, poppy heads and eucalyptus – to name but a few but my real favourite was the dramatic cascading Amaranthus Caudatus which also adorned the stone font where the ceremony took place.
Photography was particularly important to us with elderly grandparents attending and family and friends travelling from California, Canada and China. After going through multiple options Michelle Wood stood out and we chose Michelle for her alternative, documentary style and we were delighted with the results. We did not want starchy, contrived wedding pictures and she understood our vibe immediately.
The lead up to our wedding was fast-paced and frantic and we neglected two things – a wet weather contingency and practising our speeches. As it happened the sun shone brightly and on reflection, getting up at 5am to practise our speeches with it all ahead of us was one of the best moments. The speeches were a success and it all came together so our advice would be to trust yourself to pull it off!