As a little Sunday afternoon treat for you, here's a really, really, really beautiful wedding. I know, we are kind to you aren't we? ;) Well we couldn't not share Vicky and Aaron's gorgeous big day as the pair of them are outrageously good looking and I simply love their festival inspired wedding complete with glamping tents. They've channeled a Great Gatsby theme to add a touch of glamour to the rustic proceedings and the whole affair looked like SUCH fun. Images come from Millie and Jo at Millie Benbow Photography, look out for the twinkling festoon lit shot of the couple as the party unfolds in the background...it was this image I saw on Instagram that made me want to feature the whole wedding!
The BrideVicky the Bride: After scaling many wedding dress shops across Birmingham and indeed the Midlands, with the initial hope of finding an ethereal-bohemian style dress to fit our woodland setting, I found myself confused. It was by no means a case of a ‘this is the dress’ moment where you walk out from behind the curtain to your family and friends in tears (assumingly happy ones). What actually happened (and I hope there are other brides who have shared a similar experience) was more a momentary glance in the mirror amidst the chaos of being pinned and held-in or indeed held-up by a complete stranger, where I knew...YES! This is the one. No sooner had I felt that sense of relief and excitement, I had slipped into a series of umms, arrrs and questions, whilst shuffling around the shop in borrowed and oversized, satin wedding heels. After being continually talked-up by my wonderful family, who cast away all my doubts (because there are doubts – we all know women who have slated every single wedding dress they have ever seen!) the deal was done. The reality was, a handful of dresses could have been the right one – but that glance in the mirror where you catch your reflection and feel good – that’s what to look for in my opinion. The dress then fed into the whole theme of the outdoor wedding in the forest we then started to plan.
The GroomThis was sorted entirely by the groom himself – best way to do it! It’s important the groom feels part of the planning because so often the bride plans every little, last detail. He was keen to have something tailored, so he used an independent tailor and designer. It was completely bespoke and look great on the day.
The VenueWe found the company Woodland Weddings via a simple Google search. We both wanted to get married surrounded by nature but we didn’t want to do the whole abroad thing, as we had family members and friends for whom that wouldn’t have been possible. The organisation has been running for about three years and have contracts with the forestry commission for various woodland areas throughout the UK. We chose Cannock Chase as it’s close to our hometown of Birmingham and a beautiful forest. We visited the site several times in the lead up to the wedding and chose exactly where we wanted everything. Woodland Weddings are very flexible and will work with you to create the day you want. This was great as we wanted to decide most aspects ourselves, such as the catering and the entertainment. Woodland Wedding do have suppliers they have worked with previously and share this information with you, but by no means expect you to use them. The venue looked so great on the day – there was a dance floor, a cocktail bar, a food truck and a glamping village for our guests to stay in overnight, followed by a cooked breakfast the morning after. It was a superb venue – you just should remember that anything outside has the risk of rain attached.
The DecorFollowing the purchase of the dress, we decided on creating an outdoor Gatsby-style, garden-party. We wanted our guests to still feel like they were attending a wedding as opposed to a festival, which has grown in popularity more recently. I opted for Gold and White, not so much Black and Gold which are the typical colours for Gatsby-Art Deco themed events. We incorporated art deco elements in table lanterns and signs, as well as across all of the stationary. The tables were all round with white tablecloths We had a cocktail bar which was serving three cocktails we had designed and named based on our individual and shared interests – ‘Namaste’ (in ode to my Yoga practice) ‘Surf’s Up’ (in ode to Aaron’s surfing hobby) and finally ‘Off Piste’ to cheers our joint hobby of skiing, which I believe was the most potent!
The FlowersBeing surrounded by a forest meant that we didn’t need to focus too much on the floral arrangements – the trees were enough. We used an extremely reasonably priced and super friendly florist who delivered exactly what we asked for, working with our colour theme and adding special touches to corsages and button holes. The bouquets were white hydrangeas with eucalyptus. The one floral arrangement we did opt for, was to have the wooden arch under which we both stood during the ceremony to be decorated in small white flowers. Other than that, the forest provided everything we needed!
The BridesmaidsThe bridesmaid’s dresses were an expensive purchase. I only had three bridesmaids, nothing else, so I was excited to spend some money on them all. I wanted each of them to feel beautiful and special. You hear horror stories of women being forced to wear crazy outfits because the bride said so. The dresses were stunning and added to the theme, as they had a beaded art deco pattern on them. They wore gold/nude shoes from Dune and some jewellery from Kate Spade (gold bangles that were their gifts) and some costume earrings with an art deco pattern. Make-up again was done by Bare Minerals.
The CeremonyThe flexibility Woodland Wedding gave us was outstanding. They were almost too accommodating to be true! We discussed the intricacies of the ceremony in detail, right up to the day before when we had a quick rehearsal. Bob Worm who led the ceremony was confident and made our guests feel part of it. It was intimate and as people told us after – like something out of a film! It was sentimental, engaging and light-hearted in many parts, which made us both feel relaxed and able to enjoy the moment. We also chose to have the ceremony a slight walk away from where the ‘reception’ was going to be (under a 3-peak canvas tipi) which ensured our guests didn’t peak at the tables before the ceremony. It was a small clearing within the forest, with haybales set-up in circle, with a wooden love arch in the middle that we stood under. We opted for a shorter version of the hand-fasting ceremony, which included the exchange of rings, binding our hands together with coloured material/ribbons and a leap over a broom. This is a very traditional end to a true Celtic hand-fasting ceremony - where as a new couple, you hold hands and leap together into new marital life. The broom resembles a fresh start, sweeping away the old and the shared responsibilities of sharing your life with one another and the work you must both put it to making it happy and successful.
The FavoursOur favour jars were a triumph as it’s easy to spend crazy money on them! I purchased glass jam jars from ebay for less than 40p a jar, which all came with gold, screw-top lids and filled each of them with a high-end brand of Popcorn (Poppycock – Almond and Pecan Sweet). I finished each one off by adding a handtied gold bow around the middle (yes that took time!) and personalised art-deco sticker on top of the lids quoting ‘Love is Sweet’. We have always loved watching films, so popcorn just offered a little nod towards our memories of many cinema dates!
The EntertainmentIn the day, during the ceremony and after whilst canapes were served, we had someone playing the guitar and singing. It was very simple and easy to organise with the ceremony being outside. A huge highlight of the evening was our wedding band. They were (and this was also quoted by many of our guests) the best band I’ve ever witnessed. The testimonials on their webpage are fantastic too. We both would highly recommend them for any event! I have passed their details onto many people since they played at our wedding. We also actually witnessed them at a wedding we went to many years before our own and remembered them being so good then, we booked them as one of the first things. You give them a guided list of songs you like from their repertoire but they read the crowd and the set list they performed was perfect. The dance floor didn’t empty in the slightest – it just became busier on certain songs. They created some unforgettable moments for us.
The FoodWe decided on a traditional sit-down meal, however it was all about sharing good food together – in a kind of banquet style. Each table was served a selection of artisan breads with dipping oils to start, followed by a whole leg of lamb for each table, with an array of fresh accompaniments, served in sharing bowls. It was a light meal for a warm summer’s day.
The PhotographyMillie and Jo enabled us to have a truly wonderful experience throughout our day. There was no stopping for photographs, merely a handful of carefully timed pauses that they both took into consideration with real care. From snaps in the house whilst getting ready until we finally said farewell with a final photograph showing the wedding party in full swing behind us. Millie and Jo made our day into lasting memories. The images they took are outstanding and capture every moment of the day. They also created a video for us with a soundtrack, which I have cried at each time I’ve watched it. I’ve shared it with all my family and friends who can’t compliment it enough. The moment our photographers took us both into the woods for about a 30-minute private session was so very special. Here we had time to talk, hold hands, be close and just reflect on what had just happened, whilst our guests mingled and the cocktail bar opened. We did a very informal shoot deep in the woods at a spot they had found earlier during the day. It was incredible.
AdviceFrom my own experience of planning a wedding (as I did end up doing pretty much all of it – Aaron was mainly involved in the decision-making) my advice would be to include family and friends as much as you can and don’t worry about the tiny details – no one really notices to the extent you think they will. They might say ‘oh that’s cute’ and that’s all! The big bookings/purchases are key – spend money them and the rest falls into place. The day before we were both on site together with childhood friends and close family putting everything into place. Some people had a beer and it was all really chilled. I did have everything boxed up and knew where it was all going, so the more planning you do for this type of wedding – the less stressful. It's not difficult. I had a couple of spreadsheets on the go but that was about it. The day itself is so important to enjoy and cherish.
Bride: Ronald Joyce | Boutique: Lula Ann Bridal | Rings: Bicknells | Headpiece: Wedding World Shropshire | Designer: HT Headwear | Shoes: Jenny Packham | Venue: Woodland Weddings | Catering: Saffron | Bridesmaids: Adrianna Papell | Groom: The Bespoke Tailor | Groomsmen: Slaters | Transport: Elegance Wedding Cars | Entertaiment: Will Herring | Vibetown | DJ: Josh Arrowsmith