There isn’t a single thing I don’t love about this wedding today. Married in the woods? Check. Weekend camp out in bell tents? Check. An alternative style gown? Check. In fact I could go on…
Alice and Stewart were married on the 20th June 2015 at Streamcombe Farm in Somerset. They actually planned their day from Middle East and it all came together just wonderfully. They envisioned spending lots of time with their loved ones, with great food and drink, surrounded by countryside.
They opted for a personalised humanist ceremony in the woodland followed by a marquee reception complete with fun and games. Then there was the attire. Alice donned a mint green polka dot dress by Katya Katya Shehurina which looked stunning, while Stewart was suited and booted in a custom made suit. Enough from me, time for you to enjoy this glorious celebration yourself.
Freckle Photography, thanks so very much for sharing these gorgeous images.
THE PROPOSAL | On a deserted beach in the Seychelles – very romantic, although a bit eventful when on our way back we discovered the tide had come in, so we had to wade a rather long way through waist-deep sea with our bags on our heads (one containing the ring!).
THE VISION |We have been living abroad in the Middle East for the past two years so a few things were particularly important to us: a venue that we could have for the whole weekend and where friends and family could stay, so that we could spend lots of time with them; great food and drink; a green and beautiful location (having spent 2 years in a desert!) and an informal feel. Our starting point was to have a great party with a wedding ceremony included, rather than stick rigidly to all of the ‘traditional’ wedding things.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had just over a year to plan. We nailed the big things early on (venue, photographer, dress, save the dates) and did the rest gradually over the year thanks to a big spreadsheet and the help of our parents back in the UK! I like planning things so quite enjoyed the process, apart from the final few weeks and days where it got a bit more stressful…
BUDGET | I’m not sure how much we spent in the end, but our approach was to only include things that we really wanted, rather than because it was what you ‘ought to have’ at a wedding (e.g. favours, bridesmaids, fancy flower arrangements). And we tried to save on each element by doing it ourselves (or outsourcing to our very helpful family!), or shopping around.
THE VENUE | Researching venues from the Middle East was a bit of a challenge, we narrowed down the options using the Internet and then asked our parents to visit the front-runner. As soon as we saw their photos of Streamcombe Farm I knew it would be perfect. It’s set in a magical valley on the edge of Exmoor and Karen and Ian, the owners, are incredibly helpful and accommodating. We booked it straight away; I think our parents were more relieved than us when we finally got to visit the farm a few months before the wedding and discovered that the reality was even lovelier than the photos.
We were able to have around 40 people staying on site in B&B rooms and luxury bell tents, and we had a bonfire in the meadow on Friday night. The food is all home made and was absolutely fantastic – we had a cream tea, a hog roast (to make up for the lack of pork in the Middle East), and delicious breakfasts for all the campers with local bacon and sausages. There is also a beautiful ‘beech cathedral’ in the woods where we had our ceremony, and the whole farm was full of flowers in June – perfect!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I knew what I didn’t want (a full-on white dress) but it was harder to work out what I did! In the end I only went to two shops in London, and was won over by the beautiful lace creations at Katya Katya Shehurina – especially the way you can customise with the coloured slips underneath. I fell in love with the mint green one, and the quirky polka dot lace – I just felt very ‘me’, not like I was dressing up as a bride, which is what you want I guess! It was also amazingly comfortable to wear on the day. My sister made a beautiful belt with some beads I’d bought. I really wanted gold shoes and found the perfect (and amazingly comfortable) ones online from Chie Mihara. I did my own hair and make-up (after a handy Bobbi Brown tutorial).
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Stewart has always wanted a custom-made suit, and since we are living in Dubai, where there are loads of tailors around, it was easy to get a great quality one for a not too exorbitant price. The suit involved far more fittings than the wedding dress but fitted perfectly. He had a shirt made as well, and the groom, his dad and best men all wore some great skinny ties from Mrs Bow Tie.
THE CEREMONY, READINGS & MUSIC | The ceremony was very important to us, and not being religious, we decided to have a Humanist ceremony. Our celebrant Alison did an amazing job and it was better than we could have imagined – personal, emotional and funny. So many people commented on how much they enjoyed it. My brother in law played the guitar before and after the ceremony (as well as designing all of the invitations and writing all of the signs!) and we had three readings: Sonnet LXIX by Pablo Neruda, an extract from ‘First Poems’ by Rainer Maria Rilke, and another from ‘Gift from the Sea’ by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
In the evening we had a great band (the Klick Starts), with our own Spotify playlist before and after their sets.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I never really liked the idea of having matchy-matchy bridesmaids following me down the aisle… But I did like the idea of having my really close friends involved a bit more than just as wedding guests. So I decided to have some ‘non-bridesmaids’ instead, who did an excellent job of helping with the dress shopping, organising a ‘non-hen weekend’ in Istanbul and general moral support! And they got to wear whatever they liked.
THE FLOWERS | We wanted a colourful, slightly mis-matched ‘English country garden’ look, and also not to spend an absolute fortune on fancy arrangements. JW Blooms was the perfect find – Jan grows everything in her flower field in Somerset, and we went to visit the week before and chose the kind of flowers we would like. They made us up the corsages, my flower crown and my beautiful little bouquet. The rest of the flowers were supplied loose, and our mums arranged them on the Friday afternoon (helped by some handy hints from Jan!). They all looked amazing, and fitted in perfectly with the surroundings.
THE CAKE | I love baking, but having made my sister’s wedding cake the previous year (fun but stressful), I knew that there was no way I was going to make my own! We hadn’t even got on to thinking about cakes yet when my friend Rosie asked if she could make ours. Having sampled her baking many times before, we jumped at her offer, and she coped admirably with my rather vague brief of ‘a tower of cake with fruit and no icing’. She made a raspberry almond orange macaroon cake and it was absolutely delicious and looked gorgeous too. With coffee, we also had some dates that I brought from Saudi Arabia, and about 150 hazelnut biscuits that are an old family recipe; my sister and I spent half a day making them all about 2 days before the wedding. Priorities!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Emma was fabulous, great fun to deal with and the photos speak for themselves. She also took some gorgeous shots of all of our friends and family, which we really appreciated – much better than getting 400 photos of ourselves. I’m now trying to think of some other occasion to get photographed, so we can work with her again!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | My sister was chief decorator and she did a great job. I just wanted a very colourful look, and nothing that would distract too much from the beautiful surroundings. We handmade about 75 pom poms, and friends and family helped to finish everything off at the venue on Friday afternoon. We also had some great Indian bunting (courtesy of Stewart’s sister) and some Mexican bunting I bought online.
THE HONEYMOON | We had 7 weeks off work and spent these in the UK (including Glastonbury the week after the wedding…!), Japan and France.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | All of it! But if we had to choose a few: chatting by the fire with friends on Friday night; Stewart’s first glimpse of the dress; the ceremony and lovely readings; playing croquet; dancing to Dancing Queen!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I would say not to stress too much if you need to plan a wedding from another continent – actually most of the organising can easily be done online and via Skype. We went back to the UK for a week in the winter to visit some of our suppliers and I took two weeks off before the wedding to do all the final bits, which I would definitely recommend.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Freckle Photography
Venue & food | Streamcombe Farm
Tents | Native Outdoors
Celebrant | Alison Orchard
Dress | Katya Katya Shehurina
Shoes | Chie Mihara
Flowers | JW Blooms
Groom’s suit | Collars and Cuffs
Ties | Mrs Bow Tie
Cake | Bride’s friend
Signs & Invitations | Lev
Band | The Klick Starts
Ekk. Utterly wonderful.
Thanks so so much to Alice and Stewart for sharing their super unique celebrations with us xo Lou