A Sweet Homemade Picnic Wedding

picnic wedding

Helena and Mark had the sweetest picnic wedding in Richmond Park, London. With an intimate relaxed feel and a budget of £3,750.

They created the prettiest of days, with sweet treats, bunting and cute signs all of which were homemade. Helena had two gorgeous tea length wedding dresses and i adore her delicate headpiece. Mark went for a tailored suit with quirky bicycle accessories. I so love the whole feel of this day, simple yet oh so beautiful with a dash of beautiful daisies.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Jay Rowden Photography for sharing his photography with us today.


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Names…. Helena and Mark

Wedding Date…. 9th August 2012

The Proposal…. We cycled 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats last year to raise money for ChildLine, a charity very close to our hearts. Mark proposed on a clifftop at Dunnet Head, a tiny peninsula just west of John O’Groats and the most northerly point of mainland Britain. I was grinning for all of the remaining 7 miles to the finish line, where my parents were waiting to surprise us with a bottle of champagne!

The Vision for the day…. Relaxed, intimate, fun, outdoors and quintessentially British.

The Planning process…. Once we had decided on Richmond Park, we immediately thought of the picnic idea. Initially we went to our venue asking to have the picnic in their grounds but this was not permitted. Next step was the park authority, who informed us that we didn’t need any permits or otherwise as long as the numbers were under 40, which fit perfectly with our desire for a small, intimate wedding. The guest list was strict but this made it easy! We invited immediate family members and three friends each.  On the invitations, which I made by hand, we invited every guest to tell us what they liked to drink at picnics, and any foods they didn’t like – this helped us decide on what to put in our picnic boxes. Because we were putting on the picnic ourselves there was lots to do on the day – we drew up carefully-planned itineraries for the day, and various family members were involved!  My mum, dad and I got up at 6am to prepare all the food for the individual picnic boxes, my sister and brother-in-law prepared all the drinks, my brother carted the various materials around in his van, and Mark and his cousin got it all set up at the site before the ceremony at 1pm – phew!

Budget…. £3,750.

The Venue… Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park for the ceremony, followed by Pimm’s and strawberries on the lawn. Then we had a picnic reception in the park until sundown. Richmond Park is a Mecca for London’s cyclists, and in the flowering days of our relationship Mark and I bonded doing laps of the park followed by coffee and cake in one of its many cafés!

The Dress + Accessories….. The dress I wore for the ceremony I had made by a Chinese dressmaker. The dress I wore for the picnic is from my favourite shop in my former hometown of Brighton, Pretty Eccentric (http://www.prettyeccentric.co.uk). I’ve never been the biggest fan of shoes, I love the freedom of bare feet and I think bare feet look nice with everything – so that’s how I went! I had a little pair of sparkly flip-flops from Accessorize to wear on rough ground. Jewellery-wise, I wore my late grandparents’ wedding rings and my grandfather’s watch that I inherited. I was looking for a pair of vintage pearl earrings, but happened upon these really pretty earrings in Accessorize when I was buying my flip flops and they were just perfect! The sterling silver bicycle necklace was my wedding present from Mark. The headpiece I wore for the ceremony was hand made for me, based on the dress design, by my wonderful friend Dinésha (www.dineshamendis.com).

Finding the dress…. The search for a dress went on for the whole year! Initially I bought a beautiful floaty, summery silk dress from a vintage shop near where I live – It was actually a nightie from the 1950s!  I decided to restore the first dress to its original purpose and it became my wedding night nightdress. I never intended to have two dresses on the day, but when I saw the second dress hanging on a mannequin in Brighton’s Lanes whilst out walking with my mother and future mother-in-law, we all decided then and there that I had to have it. Cue Kate Moss-style outfit changes on the day!

Groom’s attire… Mark wore a beautiful suit tailored for him by King & Allen, a tailor local to where we live and a gift from Mark’s mum. The buttonhole was fashioned out of a piece of bicycle chain, which was Mark’s clever idea. The Paul Smith bicycle-shaped cufflinks were a gift from me.

The Readings + Music…. I walked down the aisle to ‘Lullaby (Mountain)’. This beautiful, affecting song has a lot of meaning for me. I wanted a song sung by a woman to convey my feelings for Mark, and the opening lyrics are ‘I will watch over you, I know your heart is true, little mountain of mine’. Our relationship centres very much not just on love, but on caring for and looking after each other and being honest about our vulnerabilities. I originally fell in love with this song and its accompanying album because it is a tribute to the life of the frontman’s mother and her country, Honduras, where I lived in my early twenties and is a place which shaped me as a human being. For the signing of the register, we played Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ followed by The Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. Finally, we exited the ceremony to Ray Lamontagne’s upbeat ‘You Are The Best Thing’. My bridesmaid Vanessa gave a brilliant reading of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ early in the ceremony, which got everyone in the right mood. After we signed the register our friend Shirish, who organised the charity bike ride where Mark proposed, read ‘To Love is Not to Possess’ by James Kavanaugh – a poem whose sentiment we admire in terms of making a happy and successful marriage.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. My bridesmaid was my beautiful and wonderful best friend Vanessa, who wore a gorgeous summery 50s-style dress she had made specially whilst on holiday in Turkey, along with flowers in her hair and a pair of Irregular Choice shoes that I’ve certainly stolen from her a few times in the past!

The Flowers… The bouquet was a simple hand-tied bunch of lovely little matricaria daisies, lovingly put together by Andrew Fleming, a florist in my parents’ village who I’ve known since childhood. We were in no need of any other floral arrangements, as Richmond Park itself was bountiful!

The Cake… The cake was a delicious rose, lavender and poppy seed sponge drizzled with icing and decorated with flowers. It was very skilfully, lovingly and generously made by Vanessa’s mum.

Your Photographer…. Jay Rowden (www.jayrowden.com). The photography was our only extravagant expense, as the memories are so important to us. He was, as you can see, worth every single penny. His presence on the day was incredibly reassuring, he is so skilled and experienced but totally humble and lovely. He married his wife in Pembroke Lodge and has a real love, like us, for Richmond Park, so it was nice to know that our wedding had special meaning for him. I think it really comes through in the photos. We’ve already got him in mind for when our first baby’s born!

The Details + Decor…. Pretty much everything was home-made, from the invitations to the decorative signs to the bunting hanging between the trees. I bought lots of materials from ebay and hobbicraft and just had a blast using my imagination and domestic skills! The ceremony room was decorated with candles and bunting, and each guest’s chair had a favour – a miniature picnic basket filled with dolly mixtures and tied with a ribbon. The picnic site was a lovely spot we found just down the hill from the lodge: a little group of trees and fallen trunks covering the ground with dappled shade. We bought a few rolls of chequered material from an online wholesaler to cover the ground, and a roll of cute white material covered in miniature strawberry designs which we used to cover some cushions and the fallen trunks for seating. We strung bunting between all the trees and hung random decorations that I had collected during the preceding months. We also found some old wood in our garden shed, so I cut in into pieces and made some signs with marriage-related quotes to hang about the place. Each guest had their own picnic box filled with goodies – traditional sandwiches wrapped in baking paper, home-made couscous, crisps and a cookie in candy-stripe paper bags, and a miniature quiche. The boxes were plain white card boxes bought from a wholesaler, which I lined with tissue paper and decorated with stickers I designed on vistaprint.co.uk.

The Honeymoon…. A relaxing fortnight in Tuscany – we stayed in a tiny mountain-top village called Boveglio, it is so tiny that there isn’t even a shop, just a little van that drives up with bread and vegetables each morning! No phone signal, no internet… just us and the view.

Memorable moments… My Dad’s rambling, slightly strange speech at the end of the ceremony, followed by the registrar advising everyone not to worry, he was just on day release. My father is a bit of an eccentric! Trying to sew yards and yards of bunting with our very playful cat joining in… Mark’s face as I was walking down the aisle. Everything else became a blur – all I could see was him. My friend’s gorgeous little boy Tom showcasing his power-lifting with a log!

Advice for other couples… Don’t over-plan. Just let ideas grow organically. If things run late or go wrong, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not about the day, it’s about the two of you and your marriage.

Credit where credit is due…

Venue    Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London

Photographer    Jay Rowden (www.jayrowden.com)

Headpiece    Dinésha (www.dineshamendis.com)


Ekkk so beautiful!! Helena looks so amazing barefoot with flowers in her hair, what a wonderfully relaxed wedding. Thanks so much to Helena and Mark for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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