I love how today’s couple enjoyed the wedding planning process as much as they did. It’s super important to remember it’s not just about that one day and to enjoy the run up and of course future plans afterwards too. They really relished time with their nearest and dearest, scouring for ideas and setting up together as well, surely that is what it is all about folks?
WWW readers Carly and Martin were hitched on the 14th May 2016 at the Paper Mill in Kent. An idyllic woodland venue, where they had a legal ceremony in a gazebo within the trees. They chose a woodland setting as they have close connections with the woods and are outdoorsy at heart. Tied in with a hessian and lace theme, it all turned out beautifully rustic. To personalise their celebrations they included their love of travel and fireworks into the details and special moments too.
Carly ran with the lace theme with her attire too, she chose an elegant Lusan Mandongus gown, with flowers in her hair and a long veil. While Martin and the boys went rustic-relaxed in chinos, waistcoats and pale green ties to match the bridesmaids. Super stunning.
Hollie Carlin Photography, thank you so much for providing these lovely images.
THE PROPOSAL | Martin and I used to date as teenagers, and we have a special tree in our local country park that we once carved our initials into. Whenever we go walking in the country park we always visit our tree, and it was here that Martin proposed.
THE VISION | We are both outdoorsy people and the woodland theme has always been personal to us. We have been to lots of weddings and knew we wanted something unique to us, something with a natural and rustic feel, and something that would give our guests a totally relaxed and chilled day. We had our hearts set on a being married in a natural woodland setting, and decided on a simple lace and hessian theme with lots of home made touches throughout. We also both love travel, so the travel theme was woven throughout the day too.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | The planning was quite a whirlwind and took us 4 months from start to finish. We had a fantastic team of family and friends who helped us with the organisation, and the home made table decorations and bunting. As the wedding was completely tailor made we had to plan every single detail of the day from the decorations and music, right down to the crockery and cutlery. It was a very intense 4 months, and looking back I think adrenalin got us through it! But it was also brilliant fun and it was a great way for our two families to spend time together and bond before the big day.
BUDGET | We had thought that a woodland DIY style wedding would be cheaper than a package wedding and originally budgeted around £15,000. We ended up spending closer to double that!
THE VENUE | We absolutely fell in love with the Paper Mill in Kent immediately, and knew it was the one. The legal ceremony takes place under a wooden gazebo in the heart of the woodland, with guests seated on hay bales. The venue has a rustic barn opening out onto a meadow, perfect for dinner and dancing. Although it was a cold day, we managed to have speeches outside in the sunshine, which gave a lovely relaxed vibe. We had a big bonfire and fireworks in the meadow, and we all camped in an adjoining field overnight. Martin and I stayed in a campervan, which we hired for the weekend. This was mint green to match the wedding theme, and became our bed for the night, the bridal wedding car, and also our honeymoon transportation.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I bought the dress at Brides Revisited in Otford. They specialise in ‘pre-loved dresses’. Mine was Lusan Mandongus 2014 vintage collection. The veil was from the Wild Heart Bridal in Rochester. The shoes were from the John Lewis rainbow club and the brand was Shirley.
I was also prepared for mud, so had a pair of cream wellies that I bought from Rockfish!
I borrowed my jewellery. I wore a necklace belonging to my sister, a silver watch belonging to my bridesmaid and friend Sarah, and a sapphire ring that belonged to my nan.
FINDING THE DRESS | I tried on lots of dresses in lots of bridal shops, and kept waiting for that ‘this is the one’ moment. There were a few in the short-list before I found Brides Revisited, which I had been recommended by a friend. The dresses I found there were completely different to the others I had seen. Although second hand, the quality and intricate design on the lace was incomparable and I found myself keep thinking about a particular dress that I had tried on. It was a size too small for me, so I never actually saw it fully done up before I bought it, but I had faith (and a fantastic seamstress) and took the plunge! The original dress was strapless so I had the lace straps and back tailor designed.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Martin wanted to wear something that would be in keeping with the relaxed and rustic theme of the day. Also, on a practical note, something that could be worn by him and his groomsmen again on other occasions. He opted for beige trousers with white shirts, brown waistcoats and brown shoes. All the groomsmen were matching, right down to the shoes. They wore gypsophila buttonholes and Martin had a splash of colour in his to distinguish him as the groom.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had two beautiful readings – Union by Robert Fulghum, which was read by Martin’s sister just before the personal promises, and an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, which was read by my Auntie and Godmother just before the exchange of rings.
We hired Irish folk/rock band Cheesecake for the music and they were brilliant. They played acoustically in the woods during the service itself, and I walked down the aisle to it’s a wonderful world/somewhere over the rainbow. I was a little late to the ceremony so the band kept our guests entertained with some upbeat music that inspired some impromptu Irish dancing down the aisle while they were waiting.
In the evening, the full band joined and they played a great mix of Irish classics and general pop and rock songs. Our first dance was Jason Mraz, I’m Yours, and then we had a Ceilidh in the barn.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My two sisters and best friend were the bridesmaids, and our two nieces were our flower girls. The bridesmaid dresses were bought online. They were mint green, from ever pretty dresses for weddings. The flower girl dresses were from RJR. John Rocha Girls ivory corsage dresses purchased from Debenhams.
THE FLOWERS | We wanted wild flowers that would fit with the rustic theme, with a splash of sunny fun. For the bride, we had a rustic hand-picked style bouquet containing mini-sunflowers, lavender, purple veronica, white, pink and purple aster daisy, pink wax flower, white gypsophila, pale blue delphinium, white and pale blue nigella, white stock, rosemary, parva eucalyptus and asparagus fern. The stems were wrapped with hessian with ivory lace detailing.
The bridesmaids had smaller versions of the bridal bouquet but not including mini-sunflowers, wrapped in the same way as the bridal bouquet. The two flower girls held white rustic baskets decorated with a small spray of flowers to the front handle and finished with hessian and lace. These were filled with rose petals, which they distributed to guests as we signed the register. Guests threw these petals as confetti as we walked back up the aisle after being married.
Both myself and bridesmaids had small wired sections of white gypsophila in our hair and I also had 5 white nigella heads along with some lace ribbon.
THE CAKE | The cake was designed to be a wonky silver birch tree, with our initials carved in it, just like our special tree. I took a photo along of what I wanted and the final cake was absolutely spot on. Christine, our cake maker, did a fantastic job. The cake had four layers – carrot cake, chocolate cake and two layers of Victoria sponge. I wanted asymmetry and imperfections to set the relaxed tone of the day, which was a good job because whilst we were all in the woodland busy with the service, the venue owner’s family Labrador had found its way into the marquee and was merrily munching away on the cake! Amazingly, upon discovery of this, a swift cover up job was put in place using flowers to hide the damage. I would have been none the wiser had nobody said, but this became a major talking point throughout the day, and a comedy highlight for many of our guests. We had committed the cake as our dessert for the main meal, and the whole thing got eaten so the dog episode obviously didn’t put people off!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer was Hollie Carlin from Gravesend, along with her sister Grace. I knew I wanted Hollie from the beginning and actually partly planned the wedding date around her availability. Not only is she is a fantastic and professional photographer, but she is an old neighbour and family friend from when we were children. You spend so much time with your photographer on your wedding day that it was really important to me that I could be with somebody that I was relaxed with, and that I knew would do a good job.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Lace and hessian was the general décor theme, along with the overarching theme of travel. My university girlfriends decorated about a hundred glass jars with lace and hessian, which we filled with wild flowers to decorate the tables. Our table names were all countries that Martin and I have visited together. Martin’s mum made the table centre pieces, which were rustic logs decorated with lace and a little red toadstool. To throw in a bit of fun to the seating plan, each of the guests had to locate their name on a ‘Where in the world are you sitting?’ string of luggage labels. These luggage labels were passport stamped to indicate the country that our guests were seated at. My mum handmade the hessian ‘Where in the world are you sitting?’ sign and my school friends made some travel themed heart shaped bunting made out of old maps. We also had bunting inside and outside the barn, and my Mum made some ‘Just Married’ hessian bunting, which we placed above our top table. Martin’s Auntie Pat made all the place names, which again were luggage labels tied with lace, and a little wooden bird to decorate. She also sewed mint sashes for the flowergirls, using the same material that I had bought for the bridesmaids. Our friend Dave recorded some piano music for us, which we had playing during dinner.
The detail was so personal and that was thanks to having such a great team of family and friends behind us. We made a wedding credits display, which we placed in the marquee as a token of thanks to everyone that helped us.
THE HONEYMOON | We had an amazing three week honeymoon, starting at Capetown for a few days where we soaked up some culture. We then spent a week on safari in South Africa, which was absolutely incredible. We stayed in beautiful Madikwe safari lodge. Our lodge overlooked the savannah so we could watch zebra and giraffe walking past as we sat on our decking sipping champagne. We did two safari drives each day and a safari walk. Such an amazing experience. After this we spent just over a week in the Seychelles for ultimate relaxation and luxury. The whole thing was simply heaven!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The memorable moments started before the big day itself, with some lovely days spent with family and friends during the planning stages. We had a particularly lovely day, shopping with the two mum’s in Hobbycraft seeking inspiration for décor and detail. And other good times with them as we went to look at venues and gather their opinions.
The intense day before the wedding will certainly always be memorable where we had Mum’s, Dad’s, bridesmaids, best men, ushers and other lovely helpers loading vans, climbing ladders, building marquees, installing lighting, arranging flowers, pitching tents and much much more to get everything right for the big day. It was an incredibly long day for everyone, working under pressure against the clock, but everyone stayed in good spirits and it will always be a special day.
And on the day itself, it’s true what they say… the day really does go by in a flash. I blinked and it was 8pm. I remember someone saying to me before the big day to make sure that I take a moment to step back and take everything in. To look around and enjoy the moment. I did do exactly that, and I remember the moment well. We had finally finished all of our photographs and Martin and I held hands at the top of the hill looking down at all our guests and the festival scene below us, and we congratulated ourselves on actually making it happen. Of creating the wedding vision that had been in our minds, and of pulling it all off in just 4 months exactly the way we would have wanted to.
Ceilidh dancing was certainly memorable, seeing such a mix of different friendship groups and family members who wouldn’t usually go together, twirling each other around on the dance floor doing the do-si-do.
The fireworks were a very special moment, and certainly a moment our guests still talk about. We are known for hosting firework parties so again these are quite personal to us, but this was a particularly impressive display and Martin and I held hands at the top of the steps watching these with all our guests behind us.
And finally, to slow the pace down at the end of the night we had a sing song around the bonfire, playing guitars and having chats until the wee small hours.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | I think my main piece of advice would be to enjoy every moment and not just the day itself. Don’t underestimate how special those planning moments can be. There are times when it all seems so overwhelming and the pressure seems too much, but take a moment to breathe and remember why you are doing all of this. Involve other people and ask for help. People love to be involved and feel like they have helped shape the day in some way. It’s so rare that you get to spend quality time like that with people close to you, and even rarer to be doing anything creative, so enjoy it for what it is and appreciate the added benefits it brings of bonding people together, particularly your two families.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Hollie Carlin Photography
Venue | Paper Mill
Make up artist | Family friend Kate Ross
Hairdresser | Danielle Rowley from Gravesend
Florist | Chic Weddings – They also provided the hessian and lace table runners and chair ties.
Cake | Christine Felstead in Gravesend.
Caterers | Dukes Roasters
Band | Cheesecake
Dress | Brides Revisited
Seamstress | Ruth Andrewartha from Greenhithe.
Veil | The Wild Heart Bridal
Shoes | John Lewis Rainbow Club and the brand was Shirley
Bridesmaids | Amazon
Flower girl | John Rocha Girls from Debenhams.
Wellies | Rockfish
Campervan | Get on Board
Oh so lovely. What a spectacular ending too.
Thanks so much to Carly and Martin for sharing their wedding story with us xo Lou