Natural Outdoor Tipi Wedding

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Our lovely WWW readers Amanda and David tied the knot at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living on the 10th June 2017. In search of a natural and easygoing day, they did everything their own way and isn’t the result just gorgeous? Our pair had their hearts set on a woodland wedding and it turned out spectacularly. The reception took place in gorgeous breezy tipis adorned with greenery.

Amanda had her dress made especially for her, which was particularly convenient when her and David found out they were expecting a baby during the planning process. David and his best boys hired their timeless tweed suits from Vintage Suit Hire, I just love the waistcoat and chain look. While the beautiful bridesmaids wore dresses from ASOS and greenery crowns to match Amanda’s.

The whole wedding has such a fresh and clean feel and there’s just a heap of inspiration all you couples planning a tipi wedding. The foliage installations are out of this world and the sheepskin covered benches make for a really cosy atmosphere, all styled perfectly by WWW fave Fleur de Lace.

Thanks ever so much to Danielle and Alex at AD Photography for the brilliant imagery today.

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THE PROPOSAL | At Christmas. David had ordered a ring from America and planned to propose on my favourite day of the year, fireworks night. Unfortunately he hadn’t allowed enough time for customs and so the ring didn’t arrive in time. Not deterred he bided his time and wrapped the ring in a super size box and put it under the Christmas tree. Part of David’s family are Austrian and they open presents on Christmas Eve, so his plan was for time to open it on Christmas Eve, again, his plans were scarpered as we were at a family event on Christmas Eve and got home so late we went straight to bed. We were spending Christmas morning together just the two of us, so it did end up being a lovely proposal. I was pretty shocked to open the box and find a ring in it, but it felt like a sweet and romantic moment.

THE VISION | We felt strongly that we didn’t want a traditional wedding. It is difficult to explain our vision but we knew exactly what it was. We live by the river and are naturally drawn to nature. We couldn’t imagine anything more perfect than getting married in the woodland surrounded by nature. So many people create the outside inside but we were determined that the best version of a natural wedding was to be outside and surrounded by natural beauty as much as possible. When we were looking at venues we didn’t know exactly how this would work but realised quickly that a venue that was flexible was key. We imagined, birds singing, wind in the trees and sunshine during the day. Fairy lights, fire pits and chilli in the evening. Beyond this the vision emerged as we went.

THE PLANNING PROCESS | We did spend a long time planning the wedding, but this was mainly due to other family commitments and in hindsight a year and a half was a long time to plan. David and I ended up having very different roles, not deliberately but it worked out this way. I am more creative and love to research till the cows come home. I was constantly coming up with crazy ideas and David was brilliant at trusting that I knew what I was talking about, or diverting my attention to the most feasible options without compromising the dream. He very much had the logistics and admin under control; in fact he probably did most of the hard work, especially towards the end. I think this perfectly sums us up as a couple to be honest.

BUDGET | £20,000

THE VENUE | We actually went with the first wedding venue that we visited. This was not so much out of luck but as a result of meticulous scouring for the right venue. We had wanted to get married in a field, with maybe a BBQ, and definitely tipis. It turns out the logistics involved in hiring a field are actually quite difficult. Many landowners don’t allow people to park cars on their land; there is of course no electricity, no toilets and no contingency if it rains. We were a bit disheartened but eventually hit the jackpot when we came across The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living, with weddings being run by Rebecca at Enchanted Garden Events. Her website actually says ‘The sky is pretty much the limit’ with regards to how you wanted your wedding to run, and we knew this attitude was key to our event. The venue is an old hospital, which is now a charity running programmes to enhance health and wellbeing. It has a lovely vegetarian café, and most importantly to us a beautiful flat lawn for the stunning tipis we were hiring from the Natural Tent Company. The most magical part of this venue only occurred to us once we had already booked it and went for a walk in the grounds: a beautiful woodland clearing with a wood hut which we thought would make the most perfect ceremony venue. It was a little overgrown, and had never been used in this way before, but Rebecca loved our idea and went out of her way to make sure it happened. All we had to do was pray for good weather. We had a contingency plan to have the ceremony inside if it rained, and all week beforehand we thought we might have to do that,  the weather was shocking. The day before the wedding the weather cleared and it ended up being a balmy blue-skied June day, it was the talk of the wedding how lucky we were with regards to the weather, but we never doubted it ;)

THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I had the dress hand made by a lovely designer that I found on Etsy called This Modern Love Bridal. It was a simple dress with two layers of Light blue silk with a layer of ivory guipure lace on top. The blue was subtle but I loved that it was different but also very beautiful. The dress had small lace cap sleeves and a short lace train. I adored it and it had the added bonus of being the most comfortable dress I own. I wore gold gladiator sandals, maybe a little leftfield but again I didn’t try on a single pair of wedding shoes that I thought suited me and the gold sandals suited the dress. My Bridesmaids and I wore foliage and white flower head crowns. I also bought my bridesmaids and mum a gift: the same gold, floral earrings that I wore from Little Nell, a not on the high street seller.

FINDING THE DRESS | My bridesmaids and I did go to some wedding boutiques, and I tried quite a few dresses on but nothing felt right on me. I wanted to be relaxed, and I felt like I was playing dress up in most of the dresses. I imagined an outdoor wedding in the woods and wanted a whimsical dress to match. I eventually found the perfect dress on Etsy. The dressmaker lived in Brighton but I just knew the dress was right. My mum and I went down for the weekend and I tried some of the beautiful dresses that Anna had created. She uses beautiful coloured silk and French lace and is happy to customise the dress in a way that you wish. The trips to Brighton for fittings were completely worth it and I can’t imagine wearing any other dress. I felt like a fairy, perhaps not some people’s idea of perfection, but it is what I was going for!! The most amazing part of choosing to have my dress custom made was that I found out I was pregnant four months before the wedding. I hadn’t had my final fitting but Anna was very accommodating and I had the dress fitted around my expanding bump.

GROOM’S ATTIRE | David found a wonderful suit hire company in Bedford called Vintage Suit Hire. They have a simple selection of 3 piece woollen suits to chose from, David bought his own suit and we hired suits for the groomsmen which we thought was a great option. He also bought ties, pocket squares and the groomsmen’s gifts from here: personalised pocket watches. David didn’t know that I had a blue tint to my dress and he wanted to order blue suits. I thought the blue might clash with my dress so had to subtly convince him I preferred them in grey. The guys looked amazing, which they would have in grey or blue. David too wanted something a little different from the norm and bought a really lovely pair of blue suede shoes to wear on the day.

THE READINGS & MUSIC | The readings were really important to us, and we struggled to find two that we liked and hadn’t heard before. We tried song lyrics but found they didn’t read out loud properly. We found one reading that summed up our relationship perfectly: ‘Marry your best friend’ by M’tina which was read by David’s aunt. We asked my brother Adam to also do a reading, we sent him a few options and he got back to us saying he thought he could write something better, ever the modest one. He is my best friend and knows us as a couple very well so we thought this was a great idea. His reading was equal parts different and lovely, and ended up being a real hit. We loved that it was such a personalised part of our wedding, and he managed to squeeze in Karl Marx, what could be better.

The music too was important to us, we both love music and spent the first part of our relationship attending festivals together and have very similar music taste. David plays guitar and bass and has been in a cover band before, he promised to find us a great wedding band and he didn’t disappoint. They were called Riot and were the perfect wedding band for us. They were loud and rocky and played floor filler after floor filler. The guitarist also played an acoustic set during the drinks reception.

Our first dance was The Smiths “There is a light that never goes out”. We both struggle with romance, and neither of us are particularly good dancers. This song was easy to dance to, has a great tempo and the lyrics, if a little morbid in places, had a teenage romance to them that reminds us of the feelings we got when we were first dating. We are also big fans of The Smiths.

I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of my favourite song by The Postal Service “Such Great Heights” and we walked out to Noah and the Whale “Five Years Time”.

BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My bridesmaids were my two best friends, Daisy and Charlotte. Daisy and I have been friends since school and we met Charlotte at Sixth Form College. We have been friends ever since, through thick and thin. I let them chose their dresses themselves, with a little input of course. The dresses actually ended up being from ASOS, but they magically suited them both so well and they both felt really comfortable in them. It was really important to me that they wore something they loved because they are my best friends and I would hate for them to look back on the day with the memory that I forced them to wear a dress they didn’t like. On the day they were completely amazing and I will never forget any of the time we spent together that weekend. We spent all morning together relaxing, having our hair done and plenty of time just the three of us, sharing makeup tips, and wearing pretty dresses. What more can three friends want.

THE CAKE | Luckily my next door neighbour’s Mum is a brilliant cake maker and she made us a simple three tiered cake which we decorated with natural foliage to fit the rest of the wedding. Each tier was a different flavour; vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel and a layer of lemon cake.

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was actually a friend that I work with and her partner, Danielle and Alex at AD Photography. Even before we received the photos back from them, people were raving about them. They are both so lovely and have a great disposition; we feel it is a really important part of the wedding that everyone involved is this way. They took so many photographs and were in all the right places at the right time. We were very keen for them to get lots of candid photos and we absolutely believed they achieved this, we love that we get to look back through the photos and see all of our friends and family laughing and smiling and enjoying the celebrations. They also don’t over edit photographs, which we think is equally important.

THE DETAILS & DÉCOR |  We went to an open day to view the tipis, and actually found our venue stylist there: Alice at Fleur De Lace. She had succulents and moss hanging above a table and we instantly knew we wanted this person styling our wedding. We had considered doing it ourselves but were aware that outside venues can be tough to decorate, we looked in to ordering succulents and foliage ourselves but with a double tipi, woodland ceremony and open field to decorate we thought it best to leave it to the professionals.

Alice was great and after what we thought were rambling meetings to discuss what we wanted, she totally got our vision. We had succulents as favours, moss, more succulents and tea lights lining the tables and hanging foliage structures above the tables. She followed this theme onto the outside ceremony too, greenery with a splattering of white and hint of pink. She also made cute outdoor games including a very entertaining sack race.

There were festoon lights and fairy lights everywhere, and the fire pits when it got dark helped to light up the venue. Alice also made my bouquet, which was ethereal and absolutely beautiful. With fluffy peonies, succulents and lots of hanging foliage to match the head crowns. We had a photo booth instead of a guest book, with mini Polaroid cameras that guest could take photo’s of themselves with.

The food was a bit of a stressful point for us. I am vegan and David barely eats meat. We had considered having a BBQ with vegan options but felt this really didn’t reflect us as a couple so we took what we thought was a brave decision and had vegan food at our wedding. Martin Burke was recommended to us by Rebecca at the venue, we had a a tasting with him, and we were instantly put at ease. The food was stunning and I knew people would love it even without meat. We had a middle eastern mezze with tagine, Imam Bayaldi, Majedra, hummus, flatbreads, lots of fresh seasonal salads with avocado and lime cheesecake and orange polenta cake for dessert. The food was served to the tables to be shared and we loved this, it made the day feel friendly and cosy and created lots of chatter during dinner. Something that was great to look out on from the top table. We had bean chilli, tortillas and guac in the evening, our favourite.

THE HONEYMOON | A year into the planning of the wedding we very happily found out that we were pregnant. We were keen that this wouldn’t change any of our wedding day but it did change our honeymoon. Some people suggested waiting until after we had had our baby but we thought we would love to get away as a couple before we had a child. Anywhere tropical or long haul was sadly out of the equation. We chose Ibiza because the north of the Island has a reputation for being stunning, and it was. We stayed in a very luxurious boutique hotel in the hippy market town: San Juan for part of the honeymoon. And spent the second part of the honeymoon in a slightly busier town called Santa Eulalia Del Rio. We had the most relaxing time and could not have asked for a more beautiful honeymoon destination. We obviously did not go partying in San Antonio, but we still find people’s reaction funny when we tell them we went to Ibiza on honeymoon and they spot my baby bump.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The outdoor ceremony was so special, and so different and we will never forget it. Seeing everyone we knew with Pimms in hand, in a beautiful natural clearing in the beaming sunshine was better than we could have imagined. We had a celebrant conduct the outdoor ceremony for us. She magically wrote a script that really linked our wedding to nature and described our journey as a couple: it was so perfect.

ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t be afraid to do things that other people think are wrong. You know your vision, you know what will make you comfortable and it really is your day. Everyone told us how much the wedding suited us and how relaxed we seemed all day. This was only because we stuck to our guns and weren’t swayed when people looked shocked that we were getting married outside, in an unlicensed venue, with vegan food, and having a dress made via Etsy. Along the same vein, we kept a lot of the details back from people, even though they were itching to find out what we had planned. We knew that our vision would work but people’s reactions sometimes made us doubt ourselves.

We got officially married the day before the wedding with immediate family and closest friends. Because we wanted the outdoor ceremony to feel like our actual wedding day, we didn’t make a big fuss about the civil ceremony, it felt like a bit of a rehearsal, and we all went out for lunch together afterwards. It worked really well.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |

Photographer | AD Photography

Venue | The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living

Wedding dress | This Modern Love

Suits | Vintage Suit Hire

Tipis | The Natural Tent Company

Venue organiser | Enchanted Garden Events

Stylist and Florist |  Fleur de Lace *WWW wedding directory member*

Celebrant | Emily Rawlinson

Cake | The Butterlicious Cake Company

Food |  Martin Burke

Band | Riot Band

Wedding Stationery | Paperless Post

Bridal party hotel | The Fox at Willian

Bridal Party Earrings | Little Nell

 

Thank you very much Amanda and David for sharing such a special day with us. Rachel x

 

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