Craig and I got engaged in May 2016, I was heavily pregnant with our youngest daughter Madison whose now two. We'd gone to Lake Garda for a baby moon, little did I know that Craig was also planning the most incredible proposal, which not only involved a day trip to Venice, a gondola but also my eldest daughter Ava standing on a bridge with the ring in hand! Yes! with the help of our amazing friend, Craig had secretly flown Ava out so she could be part of this special day. What a man eh!
Fast forward 2 years, fully recovered from being a new mum again and now a family of 4, we started to think about planning our big day. I always thought i'd want to get married in Italy, I just love the place. The food, romance, the picturesque views and the fact we'd got engaged there, but Craig wasn't as keen on doing it abroad, mainly due to his grandparents who didn't fly which would have meant them not being there. So from there on we knew it would have to be in the UK.....
Around that same time I kept seeing a sponsored post popping up on Facebook, a place could Brook Farm with a picture of tipis, I kept scrolling past it until one day I clicked and couldn't believe it was only 10min drive from where we lived. Craig and I absolutely love festivals and if our wedding was going to be in the UK then there was no doubt it was going to involve a tipi. I called and spoke to the lovely Laura and a made an appointment for us to go and visit.
Brook Farm is situated amongst the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. On the day we visited it was a cold, rainy winters day but even so it was beautiful and Craig and I fell in love, with it's stunning lake and tall trees it reminded me of something from the film Twilight and being a self confessed Edward Cullen fan, I was smitten! The tall tree lined aisle, the water glistening on the lake beside it with a small island in the middle, perfect for those intimate moments or small blessing and with countryside views for days it was simply dreamy. We didn't look at any other venues, we didn't need to Brook Farm was exactly what we were hoping for.
Vision, Style & Details
As i said before, Pinterest was a godsend for us - what did we do before it? Craig & I created a shared board (a must for those starting their planning journey) to enable us to pin things and looks we liked and quite quickly a theme appeared. Lots of tree logs, pampus grass, wild flowers, dream catchers, VW vans, giant balloons.... I'd like to say that the vision for our day was all down to me but it turns out that my husband has quite the artistic eye. Now, it was all good and well saving all these dreamy pictures but creating them is something else. It became clear after some research hiring most of the things we wanted would be difficult, we just couldn't find it.....in steps Craig, can he build it?.....yes, yes he can!
As our ceremony was outside I still wanted that statement bridal entrance, so Craig made a start to create our incredible freestanding doorway using old vintage barn doors - these doors turned out to be such a focal point of the day, so many guests used them as a backdrop to their photos, as did we. As our guests walked through the doors they were greeted with the beautiful lake and an aisle lined with tree logs, candles, glass vases filled with pampus grass, a few scattered rose petals and giant blush tassel tail balloons, which with the slight wind we had that day annoyed the hell out of some of our guests but they
looked fabulous. At the end of the aisle stood our triangular arch, decorated with blush roses, peonies and of course our favourite pampus grass to help give it that boho edge. This arch saved us a huge amount of money when compared to the flower arch i was quoted for and personally i think it suited our theme so much better. The style was finished off with a vintage perisun rug placed just in front of the arch for us to stand on during our ceremony.
Our Pretty your Prosecco station, created using an old vintage school desk upcycled and adapted with a shelf to help fill those glasses up. Our floral donut wall big enough for 40 deliciously glazed krispy cremes, to satisfy our guests late night sugar craving. Copper pipe is all the trend at the moment and we used it together with solid oak wood to create 10 table number stands, they went so well with the blush colours of the flowers and rose gold from the jars and tea light holders. Dream catchers played quite a big part in our wedding, Craig and I handmade mini dream catchers for our Save the Date's and incorporated them into our invites, so of course they had to be part of our wedding decor too. Having been on a family holiday to Bali in October 2017, we were lucky enough to go on a search for the perfect dream catchers, well you don't have to go far in Bali because it's dream catcher galore! Sadly we could only manage to bring a few back in our suitcase's but boy did they create the prettiest top table backdrop. I also wanted to use dream catchers as our table plan but once again i couldn't find any big enough. So I went hunting, for the biggest hoops i could find and found them all the way in the way in America. After what seemed like forever, they finally arrived and it was my job to turn them into dream catchers. Creating (much) larger versions of our Save the Dates and decorating with peach blush ribbon and lace and those all important feathers, they turned out just how i imagined and our table name cards clipped on perfectly with pretty heart shaped pegs. Craig had his heart set on an old vintage seating area for our guests to enjoy outside and found Anthology Vintage Hire who have the most beautiful furniture set including soft velvet arm chairs, Victorian style vintage couch, persian rugs and vintage suitcases and crates, everything we needed to create what Craig had envisioned, he also up cycled an old mahogany fireplace frame, surrounded it with tree logs, tea light candles and pampus grass and to finish the look we styled it with an old vintage tassel lamp, a vintage drinks globe for the boys to enjoy with their cigars and a fire in the centre to keep our guest warm together with all the ingredients to make S'mores and Ava made sure no one went without.
To my utter joy (and his pain) it turned out Craig is a dab hand at calligraphy (a man of many talents!). So instead of giving everyone an Order of Service and to stay in keeping with our theme we up-cycled an old crate to display our Order of the Day and not only did it look fab, it saved a couple of trees too. Now of course, I couldn't let his new found talent be wasted on just a crate.... I had to have that all important wooden sign post... well how on earth would my guests find the loo otherwise!
We used Tipi's 4 Hire for our tipis, and the great thing about them is that it's a blank canvas so you can really let yourself run wild with the colours, styles and decorations. There are no limits to styling a tipi.
Inside was decked head to toe in climbing fairy lights and at night it just looked magical.
To add some more colour i decided (4 weeks before the wedding) that i wanted bunting! not the old fashioned triangle type. I saw a picture on Pinterest of exactly what i wanted and once again i searched the internet and came up with nothing, so it looked like i was making it. With over 100 meters in various blush fabric, a couple of pairs of scissors and a few incredible friends we cut and tied at every opportunity and with just a few days to spare it was finished. Seeing it hung like tassels, blowing from the slight breeze made me feel all kinds of happiness especially after the long hours that went into it.
My wonderful Florist, Zoe from Vintage Rose Design, pulled out all the stops to get me the most beautiful 5ft faux white blossom trees which stood as centre pieces on two of our tables, surrounded at the base with tea light candles and moss. As the trees were so magnificent and such a focal point, we decided the rest of the tables should be low displays of tree slices, with small rose gold glass vases filled with blush roses & peonies and surrounded with oodles of tea light candles. At each place setting sat peach blush napkins, menus to match our wedding stationary, laser cut wooden name places, finished off with a small delicate feathers to match those used in the groomsmen’s buttonholes. Our favors were mini corked potion bottles filled with jager bombs and tied with rustic ‘Drink Me’ labels.
On the edge of the guest seating, along the walls of the tipi were two long wooden tables, one for Gifts & Cards, where we placed a large vintage suitcase. We had kindly asked for contribution to our honeymoon so most people generously gave cards. On the second table were the sweets! Jars of all your favourites together with the donut wall - sugar heaven!
The Dress (and shoes!)
I had no idea what kind of dress i wanted, i imaged something tight fitting rather than a big dress but i was worried that style of dress would make me feel less of a bride.
Social media is a wonderful thing sometimes. It was on Instagram that i first spotted my dress. It was pretty, glam, had a slight vintage look about it and boy was it sexy, it was the whole package but it also looked extremely expensive and way out of my price range. I lusted over it for months and every time it popped up on my feed my heart hurt a little bit more. Eventually i took the plunge and called the shop to enquire and unbelievably the dress WAS in my price range, just!! On the day of my appointment at Riki Dalal i took along Ava, my mum, sister and a few bridesmaids. The first dress i tried on was mine followed by 6-7 other dresses and finally I put my dress on again, this time i cried! I felt incredible, with a strapless built in boned corset which hugged and pulled me in and a mermaid skirt which opened up at the bottom with layers of tulle and lace. My first thoughts was that Craig is going to love me in this dress! Finished off with the most incredible full length matching veil which fell like mermaid waves over my shoulders. I rang that bell hard when i said YES to the dress.
For the shoes i knew i wanted something special but i also didn't want to spend a lot of money on something i would only wear once. Initially i was looking at Sophia Webster, i especially loved the soled Wifey for Lifey slogan she uses but none of the designs went with my dress. Upon a trip to Selfridges one Sunday, having just purchased Craig's wedding shoes from Russell and Bromley, i found myself admiring the Rockstar Valentino's, i'd always wanted a pair but having had one pair of Christian Loubtains at home which i never wore, i couldn't justify spending that amount on another pair of uncomfortable designer shoes which would sit in a box ..... and then I saw them in cream, perfect wedding shoes arghh!! I tried them on and they were heaven on my feet, not too high and just beautiful! I ummed and arrhed and walked around just lovingly staring at them in the mirror, annoying the sales assistant (and Craig) who by this point had both walked off.
In the end i thought what the heck! It's my wedding, i'll sell my Loubtains and put whatever i get towards them and the rest can go on the credit card and i'll worry about it later! I had no regrets whatsoever :)
Bridesmaids & Flower girls
Our colour scheme was blush peach which i soon discovered was a damn difficult colour to find, at one point i thought we were going to have to change the colour scheme altogether but then we found them! Dresses by TNFC stocked on their own website and ASOS. All my bridesmaids were different shapes and sizes so i wasn't fussed if the dresses were different, as long as they were the same colour. Luckily the dress we found came in different styles, some with rounded necks and some with a wrap front, both with floor length pleated skirts with a split for added sexiness. The girls tried on both dresses and picked whichever one they felt most comfortable. As they were floor length, i said the girls could wear whatever shoes they wanted and most chose flats.
I came across the girls flower girls dresses by chance. I was browsing online and saw a dress i had see in a magazine or on Instagram somewhere, i remember when i saw it i thought it was so beautiful but assumed they'd be from American and impossible for me get so i was so excited when i found the designer on Etsy and in the UK. Lily & Bo stock the most incredible Boho, fairytale dresses and unbelievably the one i loved matched my colour scheme and bridesmaid dresses perfectly and at £40 each they were an absolute bargain. I couldn't have been happier when they arrived, when the girls tired them on they were perfect and fitted in with our theme so well.
Before, during and after our ceremony we had the incredible singers Acoustic Duo booked through Ear Candy. As a massive Twilight fan, i had chosen to walk down the aisle to A Thousand Years and for me it was so important to get the singer right. We searched for what felt like forever until eventually we found Charlotte, she has a voice like an angel.
During the drinks reception we had CJ, an insane Saxophonist playing along side our DJ! We really wanted to create that ibiza chill out vibe and both of them did just that. CJ was only suppose to stay for the drinks reception but said he was having such a good time he wanted to stay and play during our first dance which was unreal, we felt so lucky.
As we were finishing dinner, one of my bridesmaids came to tell me the magician had arrived! What magician? are you sure it's not just a guest doing a few tricks i asked. Nope it was definitely a magician. My wonderful father in law had booked Leon the Magician who is part of the magic circle and just outstanding. It was an incredible surprise and one we and our guests thoroughly enjoyed.
Also after dinner the photo booth opened but not just any photo booth!! We had a vintage VW van converted into the most incredible booth. I had originally booked the Boho Booth but unfortunately their van had been involved in an accident which meant they had to cancel but luckily Buttercup Bus saved the day. The album we have of all our guests dressed up is fantastic and shows what a great time everyone was having.
Photographer & Videographer
Now, this is really where no expense was spared. Craig and I did an obscene amount of research to find the best photographer and videographer to suit us and our style. There were two photographers we loved, We Are The Clarks and Red on Blonde, both are amazing and have very similar styles which made it so hard to choose between them. In the end we chose Red on Blonde. Hannah and Toby are a husband and wife team and the minute we met on Skype we felt 100% certain we had picked well. They are both so friendly and thorough in finding out what we were looking for in a photographer as well as our likes and dislikes. Basically we didn't want poses where hugging trees was involved and luckily that wasn't their style either.
On the day, Hannah joined Craig for the boys prep and Toby was with me. Craig commented on how funny Hannah was and how she joined in and encouraged the lads banter. Toby was more quiet, i hardly knew he was there except for the few funny comments he made here and there to make us laugh. You can tell how incredibly passionate they are about their work and how much effort they put in to get the best pictures of your day. When we received our slide show album i cried like a baby, we must of watched it 10 times that night and each time i cried a little bit harder, it was incredible. The music they had chosen couldn't have been more perfect, and now when i hear one of the songs it takes me right back to our day.
Now the videographer, Rideout Films. One of his other couples described him as the creme de la creme of videographers and that couldn't be more true. We'd searched high and low for one that we loved and was losing the will until my best friend suggested i take a look at Rideout. When i tell you that i cried at every trailer i watched it wouldn't be a lie. Every Single One, crying at videos of couples i didn't even know ha! Immediately i knew he was the one i wanted and thank god the stars were aligned and he was available. If you manage to book David then you should count yourselves lucky. Two of my friends have tried to book him for their weddings and unfortunately he wasn't available. David is quickly becoming like gold dust and i'm not surprised one bit. The way this guy edits is so unique, in all our searching we never came across anything like it. We had high expectations but the trailer completely blew us away and then we received the full video WOW!
Another bonus you get by having your wedding at Brook Farm, no corkage! This enabled us to provide our guests with drinks throughout the whole day & evening. Fortunately for us we had some friends who'd done the same thing and we pretty much mirrored what they bought which massively helped. We bought all our toast champagne and spirits from the supermarkets, only when they were on offer. We bought our beer and soft drinks from Costco, Prosecco in bulk from Aldi and we pre ordered the wine with Majestic and drove to Calais to collect - i highly recommend this way of doing it, it was so easy and saved us an absolute fortune and it was actually a really fun road trip.
Some other fantastic suppliers we used:
Mens Wear: Anthony Formal Wear
Stationery: Something Kinda Cute
Well i hope you've enjoyed reading our wedding story and maybe even taken some tips and ideas away with you.
And lastly, just to prove to you just how amazing David from Rideout Films really is..... here is our trailer.