Irene Yap is a legend behind the lens, beautifully capturing epic moments at this festival and feather filled wedding weekend at The Copse in Berkshire. It certainly helps that bride and groom Tara and Ben are ridiculously cool and totally into each other. The love and laughter they share is off the chart and will have you beaming from ear to ear.
The couple envisioned, designed and made all the decorations at their natural stretch tent reception, not without a little help from their family and friends, and not without a good old helping of planning and style from Wedding Planner Jenna Hewitt.
Add a truly stunning bespoke gown, a pizza van, and a dressing up box and you have the makings of one hell of a wedding.
Tara the Bride: After about 8 appointments in bridal boutiques, I fell in love with little bits and pieces of dresses but not one ticked all the boxes. My friend recommended Amanda Thompson Couture and I’m so glad she did, we met monthly over the course of 5 months to create my dream dress that fit like a glove, was flowy and fun to dance in, and fit right in with the venue. Amanda was just brilliant, her extensive knowledge of fabrics and shape meant she could translate my weird requests into the perfect gown. The feather headpiece was bespoke from some artists we met at a market in Ibiza a few years prior. I had bought one of their pieces then and loved wearing it to festivals. When we decided to incorporate feathers into our theme I found them on etsy and had one specially made.
The setting and venue had a huge impact on the groom’s and groomsmen’s look. Country and sophisticated, not too formal or traditional. Black or blue didn’t seem appropriate for such a wild setting, we searched and searched again, but it was the colour selection we found in Reiss that brought it all together for us.
We both had dreamed of an outdoor party, reminiscent of where Ben grew up but also where we could put together an experience like some of our favourite summertime festivals like Wilderness Festival- lush with trees and wildflowers, open fires and fairy lights to concoct a magical evening. Because all of Tara’s friends and family would be travelling from America, we really wanted a place where we could spend a few days all together with both sides of the family and make the most of all being in one place. Traditional venues weren’t cutting it, so when Ben found The Copse House on airbnb.com we knew we hit our jackpot for a three-day celebration with our family and bridal party staying on site.
The Copse itself is so lush, we didn’t want to do anything that would detract from the gorgeous setting and landscaping. Our main ideas were around bringing the ‘outside’ to inside the tent with lots of wild greenery rather than overly-polished florals. For colour scheme again it was all about fitting in to the setting, with varying neutrals that didn’t look too precise, a bit of variation on a neutral palette that would fit in to the wildness of it all rather than stand out.
In attempting to find a decor scheme that still felt celebratory but not polished, and would help the wedding feel more like a wildly eccentric country party than a wedding, we landed on feathers as a motif to run with rather than add more florals to the already-flowered Copse.
During a summer trip to NYC to visit my family, I stopped by a feather warehouse in the garnment district of Manhattan and loaded up on gorgeous pheasant and rooster feathers. Armed with twine and a glue gun, we handmade the feather backdrop to the marriage ceremony, the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, inserts to the ferns and table number markers as our table centrepieces, and the escort cards. We also made lots of fancy-dress accoutrement for later in the evening as the party turned crazy for guests to deck themselves out with.
Instead of going with a traditional florist we worked with a local flower farmer and picked out a variety again not of lovely flowers but rather of greenery and summer plants that would look like it came from the gardens of The Copse. She dropped off buckets of greenery on the morning of the wedding and the bridesmaids all made their own bouquets (including what was left of the feathers!) while we were getting ready, tied off imperfectly with hand-dyed silk ribbons.
Comfort is king! We just wanted people to be able to relax and party. Bridesmaids: were free to choose their own dresses, the only request being they fit into our neutral palette. Groomsmen all matched the groom with the exception of some details.
Our best friend Emma so kindly agreed to marry us. She wrote the entire ceremony from the heart, because she knows us so well, it almost read as an inside joke that everyone could appreciate. There was not a dry eye in the house, whether from laughter or romance- it truly was something different. We wrote our own vows that were lighthearted but filled with love, we wanted every detail of the day including these moments to be loaded with our personality reflect our attitude towards life and marriage.
We had a brilliant 3-piece folk cover band to play during the ceremony and daytime cocktail hour. They brought a bit of Americana to the English countryside with brilliantly covered songs that kept energy up and guests dancing in between canapés and lawn games. Our evening DJ worked with us to bring the party in the courtyard until sound permit laws meant he had to quickly set back up inside one of the reception rooms in the house to keep the party going. Not your typical wedding but he was more than happy to accommodate.
Because the guest list was an even split of American to Brits, we wanted the food choices to reflect the classics. Fish n’ Chip canapés, Pimm’s cup on tap, a spit roast BBQ with gorgeous salads for the main meal, and a make-your-own pizza truck to deliver the nighttime snack. No small task, we struggled to find caterers that would do them justice until Ben was recommended a chef from one of his mum’s favourite tea rooms when he was growing up in Leicester. We went for a tasting and the food Kristian prepared was far beyond anything we had tasted previously. Him and his staff brilliantly helped us to hire locally the right equipment for an outdoor BBQ and buffet. Guests absolutely loved the hands-on nature of the make-your-own-pizza truck at the end of the night, Scrumptious Pizza delivered the cutest little setup that fit right in, and he kept the fire going until late night when guests had their fill.
As we had this vision of our glowy nighttime magical setting, finding a photographer who could capture the enchantment of nighttime outdoors became our main criteria. We fell in love with Irene’s portfolio when we came across it online, and fell in love with her once we met her in person! She’s small but mighty, very professional and had some great ideas for shots on the day.
We wanted to be able to capture moments photos couldn’t, like the ceremony, vows and speeches as they were all so personal to us- but equally didn’t want to make guests feel uncomfortable with lots of equipment around and in their face. Tanita did just that, she and her partner came with 2 very discreet DSLRs and a drone to capture the magic! Guests had no idea, and a few weeks after we now have a gem that we’ll share with our kids someday.
Jenna Hewitt for our day-of coordinator. We chose The Copse because it gave us ultimate freedom to create the day of our dreams- but that meant finding and coordinating 9 different vendors to make the day a success. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Jenna took over all communication to the vendors- from the toilet hire to the DJ, to ensure they were prepared and knew what to expect. With her on our team it meant Ben and I could relax and be totally present to enjoy the day, while she ran around managing who was going where and when.