A Homespun Bohemian Wedding

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Matt and Annie had a bohemian beautiful wedding in Whipsnade, with an outdoor humanist ceremony in a garden setting followed by a reception at Whipsnade Village Hall.

They wanted their wedding to be natural and comfortable. They homemade so many elements for their wedding, from the flower arrangements to the food, they also collected and crafted their way to the prettiest of decor.

Annie went for a 1930s-style lace column dress which looks so gorgeous and i love her bridesmaids in those lovely floral dresses. While Matt went for a tailor made suit in tweed with a fantastic floral tie, which looked great. Such a wonderful day, just you wait and see.

Thanks so much to the brilliant Bohemian Weddings for sharing their images with us today, here is what they had to say about the day;

“We have known Annie and Matt for a number of years and when they asked us to be their wedding photographers we felt both privileged and excited. We all have a great deal in common, from our mutual love of food to our passion for travel. Annie and Matt to us are an inspiring couple who simply do what they love and what is important to them.

When it came to their wedding we knew it would be special and boy were we in for a treat! On the day of the wedding we were met with that little word most brides fear ‘RAIN’. I say most brides because Annie was more than prepared with her matching ‘Weddington’ boots and giant umbrella. The rain only served to make the day even more special and “unique.


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Names…. Matt & Annie

Wedding Date…. 28th April 2012

The Proposal…. Matt proposed under the cherry blossom in Tokyo in April 2009. We’d been together for 4 years after we met on our first day of university as we had the rooms opposite each other in halls. He’d apparently known how he wanted to propose ever since we met and had discussed our mutual love of Japan. He had been planning the proposal ever since we started planning the holiday, and had secretly brought a diamond ring nervously through customs and had been carrying it around Tokyo for 4 days before finding the perfect place to propose. We were eating sticky chicken on a stick and nikuman pork buns when he proposed, and I was so surprised that I asked him if he was joking, then cried (to bemused looks from the on-looking Japanese enjoying Hanami) as I said yes and he gave me the ring.

The Vision for the day…. We wanted a day that felt natural, comfortable for us and all our guests, reflected our personalities and didn’t have any of the cringe-worthy and awkward traditions that so often make weddings feel more like conveyor belts than celebrations. We wanted it to look pretty but natural, and I have always wanted to have my wedding outdoors with just close friends and family. Eventually a vision of a spring fete emerged, with games, a barbecue and ice-cream van, and the setting worked perfectly for that.

The Planning process…. We love cooking, crafts and collecting, and are always looking for ways to put our own stamp on things, so very early on it became apparent that we would end up making a lot of the elements ourselves. We borrowed a sewing machine from Matt’s mum, spent months scavenging charity shops, car boot sales and eBay for fabrics, tea sets and fun props, and spent the next year sewing 130 metres of bunting (Matt’s quite the expert on a sewing machine now!), amassing a collection of around 80 vintage tea sets, jugs, bowls, plates and cake stands, making jams and chutneys for all of our guests as wedding favours, baking and testing different fruitcake recipes and creating yummy food on sticks that could be barbecued by Matt on the big day. It was like a full-time job a lot of the time (aside from our regular jobs!) and was a constant nagging stress, but the overall effect and sense of accomplishment was absolutely worth it – as well as the fantastic collection of weddings bits and bobs we now own and plan to rent out.

Budget…. Ours wasn’t so much a fixed budget; we weren’t trying to do things on the cheap. It was more that we are the type of people who, for example, look at bunting hire and think “that’s a bit expensive… we can make our own! We have time…” the result being that in certain areas we saved money and added a personal touch and on others we paid a bit more (celebrant, ice cream van etc) for quality. The total wedding came in a little under £8,000, with the Honeymoon costing about the same (which was always the more important element for us). We opted for a Honeymoon list rather than a wedding list, making a website itemising elements of the trip so guests could contribute to specific outings.

The Venue… The ceremony itself was conducted in Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, a beautiful National Trust garden of trees planted out like a cathedral. At the end of the long ‘nave’ of lime trees is a semi-circular ‘chancel’ of silver birches, which were just starting to come into leaf in April. We held the reception just down the hill in Whipsnade Village Hall, an adorably rickety 1920s wooden hall that was just perfect for adorning with bunting, festoon lighting and vintage accessories.

The Dress + Accessories….. After trying on an array of puffy princess-style dresses, I realised that they really didn’t suit me, and I felt trussed up, unnatural, and incredibly rustly! I eventually found an absolutely beautiful and classic 1930s-style lace column dress by Mori Lee, which felt comfortable, flattering, elegant and just a little bit sexy. I could breathe and move in it, which was very important to me, and since I don’t usually wear figure-hugging shapes it felt suitably special and glamorous. I kept the accessories simple with a silver birch leaf necklace that was a gift from Matt, as well as pale blue crystal earrings. I did my own hair in the morning, and wore a fresh flower head garland made by my amazing mother the day before. Because it rained on the day, I finished off my ‘look’ with borrowed blue cashmere legwarmers and pearlescent Weddington Boots, as well as a little shrug from Monsoon and the Watt family white ‘wedding’ umbrella.

Groom’s attire… Matt knew he wanted something extra special, so he had his three-piece suit tailor-made by A Suit That Fits. We went to quite a few fittings and spent hours discussing fabric choices, lapels, collars and trouser pleats, and were thrilled with the end result. The suit is made from a grey and blue Prince of Wales check light tweed, with a double-breasted waistcoat. It’s actually been incredibly useful since the wedding, as each of the parts has been used separately for other events. He wore it with brown brogues, a pale blue small curved collar shirt and a pretty vintage-style liberty print tie. He had knee length dreadlocks at the time, and spent hours neatening them up so they looked the best they ever have.

The Readings + Music…. We had a Humanist ceremony, and were very lucky to choose a celebrant who really wanted us to put our personality into the readings and ceremony. She told the story of how we met, our first impressions of one another, and how our relationship has developed over the 7 years we’ve been together. Our friend Craig read a poem by Edward Monkton, and our sister-in-law Jo read a passage from Antoine de St. Exupery’s The Little Prince. I walked down the aisle to You’re Lovely to Me by Lucky Jim, and we finished the ceremony with One Day Like This by Elbow.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. I had two bridesmaids: my best friend since primary school, Rosy, and Matt’s younger sister, Hannah. I wanted them to feel comfortable and not matchy, so I bought them pretty 1950s-style floral dresses and they chose their own shoes and accessories.

The Flowers… My bouquet was from Wiggly Wigglers, and it fitted the undone, natural feel of the day perfectly. All of the flowers were seasonal, and they were loosely hand-tied with hessian, vintage lace and raffia. My mother arranged the rest of the flowers the day before. She arrived laden with peonies, roses, herbs in pots, tiny succulents and flowers from her garden, and set about arranging them into vintage jugs, teapots, enamel buckets and vases, as well as my incredible head garland. We got so many compliments on the flowers, which was wonderful as she’d worked so hard, and they really finished the hall perfectly.

The Cake… Wedding cakes, we soon discovered, are horrendously overpriced for what they are. We love baking and inventing new recipes, and are particularly renowned for our amazing Christmas cakes that we give to friends and family each year. With this in mind, the Christmas before the wedding we spent a few weekends baking mini fruitcakes with different selections of dried fruit, spirits and liqueurs, searching for the perfect light and spring-like fruitcake. Eventually we decided on a cake with mostly apricots, a few cherries and some apricot brandy & Eldorado Rum to finish as it was lighter than traditional Christmas cake. We made about 5 of these in different sizes, then Matt’s sister (and my bridesmaid) Hannah used her incredible cake decorating skills to transform them into my perfect vision: a pale sage green base with dusky pink and cream roses and trailing ivy leaves. Because we know that not everyone likes fruitcake, we also baked about 100 cupcakes; some with lemon zest, some with Earl Grey tea, and some chocolate. We froze them in tupperwares then iced them with pale yellow, green and pink buttercream icing the day before the wedding.

Your Photographer…. I was really excited about the idea of vintage/retro style photography, with the plan being to get some sun-flare, sepia sort of feel. Mike and the lovely Andrea couldn’t have been more perfect. They completely ‘got’ what we were looking for, were like photography ninjas on the day (we hardly noticed them flitting about!) and the final shots show the effort and passion that went into it. We are eternally grateful for the wonderful resulting photos that perfectly captured the feeling of the day, as well as how comfortable and at ease they made all the other guests feel.

The Details + Decor…. As mentioned previously, we opted to decorate the village hall ourselves. The bulk of decoration was covered by out bunting, flowers provided by the mother of the bride and pastel coloured paper pom-poms purchased on e-bay. Matt borrowed lighting and PA from his work (He’s an AV technician, Handy!) and did a great job with setting the mood in the evening with the coloured lighting. We also placed various props around the room: Old Picture Frames, Watering Cans, Trugs and Baskets, an Old Telephone, tennis rackets etc. This really got people involved and added to the village fete theme.

The Honeymoon…. For the Honeymoon we really wanted to go somewhere tropical, as it was the only climate we were yet to experience in our travels together. Initially we were looking at Fiji/Tahiti but kept saying “then we could go to Japan?”. Having travelled extensively in Japan (when the engagement happened) it felt right to go back. After some looking we found that Japan actually has a tropical area to the far south, just off the coast of Taiwan (about 30 miles I think). This fit in perfectly and allowed us to go back to our much-loved Japan as well as do the whole ‘romantic tropical island’ thing. We were on Honeymoon for nearly a month, starting with a week in Tokyo, followed by two weeks of clear blue sea and tropical sunshine in Ishigaki, then back to Tokyo via Hakone (a mountainous region famous for its hot springs). It was the trip of a lifetime and we can’t wait to go back!

Memorable moments… As with all weddings (I’m sure) there were many memorable moments. Of particular fondness to us as a couple is the day before the wedding when all of our friends and family pulled together into the late hours of the night to get the hall looking perfect. Matt and the groomsmen stayed until midnight prepping food and finishing off the table settings! There was a particular moment, around 10pm before I headed off to my wedding night hotel with my bridesmaids when we were all sat around in the hall with a pile of pizzas. It was the first break in 2 days of solid preparation and it’s a memory we both treasure. We are so lucky to know such wonderful people and have never felt it more than in that moment. Matt also has a fond memory of getting soaked in the rain on the morning of the wedding whilst trekking around putting up hand made signs for car parking.

Advice for other couples… You don’t have to pay through the nose for an amazing day; make it personal, there are so many mass-produced ideas that are put out there as ‘what you do at a wedding’. If it’s what you want to do then do it! Some people were worried about us making our own food being a mistake, and although, yes, it was a LOT of work, it helped make the day what it was and resulted in some great shots of Matt in his wedding suit and a pinny barbecuing! Don’t worry about the weather (well do… but make a contingency!), it tipped it down all day for ours and that only made the day better, it kept the guests closer together and improved the atmosphere of the whole day.

Credit where credit is due…

http://www.bohemianweddings.co.uk/ Mike and Andrea started a new business venture after the success of our day and we wish them all the luck in the world!

http://www.vintagescoops.co.uk/Sadly Mrs Scoops has sold Betty (the van) and moved on to other endeavours, but the business continues under new ownership and was definitely a big highlight on our day

http://www.jaspers-hire.co.ukOur local hire company. They are based in Luton and after much research into costings proved to be very competitive, very polite and great quality for chairs, tablecloths, cutlery and glasses. We were really impressed and would definitely recommend them if you are getting married in the area.

http://www.humanism.org.uk We had a humanist ceremony and our Celebrant Ginny was amazing, the ceremony was so personal, so ‘us’ and she was just great. Having said that though, we have been to other Humanist weddings that weren’t so great, so make sure to go talk to a couple of celebrants in your area and get a feel for them. It’s the celebrant that makes the ceremony work, so get one that works well for you personally.

http://www.asuitthatfits.com Great quality and very reasonably priced. There really is nothing like wearing a suit made just for you, Matt says everyone should do it at least once!

www.weddingtonboots.com If you are thinking of getting married outdoors in Britain you could do far worse than choosing to wear a pair of these. They come in two styles, and have little ribbons at the front that you could change out to match your own colour scheme if you have one.

www.viajapan.co.uk We’ve worked with this agency both times we travelled in Japan – their knowledge of little-known places is fantastic and having them doing some of the legwork took away some of the stress when we were concentrating on wedding things.

www.wigglywigglers.co.uk A small company who we’d found when they used to specialise in wormeries (we had an allotment) who more recently branched out into seasonal, local floristry. Perfect if you don’t have a colour scheme to match (we didn’t) as you get what looks good at the time of your wedding. It was a lovely surprise to open the box on the day and they looked like I’d just gathered them from a garden or meadow somewhere.

www.etsy.com Our fantastic invitations were from a seller on Etsy, and we’d highly recommend having a look at some of the amazingly original and quirky accessories and stationery you can get there. You definitely won’t find most of these things at anyone else’s wedding!


Wow so many amazing ideas and wondeful advice from Annie. Thanks so much to Matt and Annie for sharing their gorgeous wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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