Non Traditional Informal BBQ Beach Wedding

Informal Beach Wedding



Tanya and Jamie chose to marry on the 1st November 2013 at the stunning Tunnels Beaches in Devon. They wanted an informal wedding with a BBQ, which was all about spending time with their loved ones.

They scrapped the planned speeches, favours and table plan, giving their guests a really relaxed atmosphere. Music was really important to them, with a personal play list and friends and family performing at the reception.

They also incorporated many personal and meaningful touches too, including a karaoke evening on the Saturday evening.

Tanya donned a gorgeous Paloma Blanca gown with Ivory & Co accessories and a fur shurg, while Jamie looked dapper in a Next three piece suit. Amazing.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Julia and You for sharing her imagery today.



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THE PROPOSAL | As a creative person I wanted to do something a little different, something Tanya would remember for ever. Also Dylan our son is a very important part of our lives, he had to be part of the plan. Easter seemed a perfect time so I created an Easter egg hunt in Tanya’s dad’s house. Each clue was carefully thought of which would enable Dylan and Tanya to go to different parts of the house, collecting eggs and having fun. This proceeded to the garden and finally down to a quiet, quaint beach (Wiseman’s Bridge, Wales) where the last clue was buried in a tin egg in the sand, where the ring was hidden. Her face was a picture as she expected chocolate eggs to fall out and the ring box dropped in the sand instead.  I love doing special things for her and Dylan and hopefully this was a memory that they will never forget.

THE VISION | As we both had an idea of an informal beach wedding with a BBQ Tunnels Beaches ticked every box as a venue. It was the closest we could get to a destination wedding without going abroad. We wanted our day to be about us and spending time with friends and family. We wanted to laugh and dance and enjoy a relaxed day and we did exactly that and were not phased by any of the mishaps we encountered along the way. Every person there on the day we wanted to be there and although it wasn’t traditional in any sense (there were no planned speeches, no table plans, no favours etc) it worked perfectly.

THE PLANNING PROCESS | We both spent a lot of time coming up with the cool things we liked which were not traditional.  A lot of the planning process centred on incorporating our quirky ideas into the day without trying to cram in too much. Examples of this were retro sweets in pick n mix bags and old fashioned crisps which were handed out in a wicker basket by our Bridesmaid instead of canapés. Tanya’s Nephew handed out Plan of the day cards designed and printed by Jamie. We had a memory book but also a Polaroid Pogo printer which instantly printed pictures of each couple which they stuck in the book and wrote a message next to. We decided against the typical family group shots and wanted a more natural feel but we did create our own ‘Love’ art shot (made out of people) on the beach with some of our guests. Inspired by tunnels style we designed personalised art prints called “ 40 things I love about …..”, and both of us did a list of 40 things we loved about each other. These were hung in the venue for all our guests to read. We decided to use minimal table decorations. These were simple glass jars with tea lights and pebbles which were collected from our drive. We also designed and made all of our wedding nick knacks which included scrabble coasters and funny hand outs titled ‘ 20 things we messed up when organising a wedding’. Our invite was a postcard designed by Jamie using the iconic wicker heart from Tunnels website and the Plan of the day had the Logo from the Neighbours CD single which was the song Tanya walked down the ‘Aisle’ to. We also arranged a meal Damien Hirst’s restaurant on the Saturday we had an overwhelming response and the majority of our wedding guests attended. As a contrast we also planned a Karaoke evening at a local pub for the Saturday evening. We thoroughly enjoyed this as we got to reminisce with our guests and drag out the celebrations. Everyone enjoyed making a full weekend of it.

BUDGET |  Jamie decided the initial budget was £5000 which was greeted with a huge smile from Tanya (knowing this would be virtually impossible). We soon realised that even the most basic wedding without all of the frills and usual traditions can soon add up. Even with the philosophy of the day being about us rather than a big showy wedding we still managed to double the budget. However people were surprised that we managed to create the day we did for the money we spent with the venue alone being so spectacular.

THE VENUE | After doing lots and lots of research we found a place that seemed far too good to be true. It was Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe, Devon some 206 miles from where we live. As soon as we arrived at the venue we were speechless. It was breath-taking and the most magical, wonderful place we could have dreamed of for our wedding; the sea, the rocks, the tunnels, the style, the food offered. It really was/is amazing. The staff are super helpful and went out of their way to make sure everything ran smoothly, lots of friendly smiles and people working so hard behind the scenes to ensure things ran smoothly. Jobs got done without us even noticing until after (emptying water out of the fire pit by hand so we could toast marshmallows and they went that extra mile in every possible sense! We are not easily pleased but we can honestly not praise this place and the staff enough. We managed to hold our ceremony outdoors (despite it being November) but the staff would have quickly set things up inside at the last minute should they have needed to. We opted for the BBQ and everyone commented on how wonderful the food was.

Accommodation; We stayed at the Tides (owned by the venue) this was a 5 bedroom 3 storey self-catering  Grand Designs villa perched on a cliff Top overlooking the sea. We stayed with

THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES |  The dress came from a beautiful bridal boutique in Ashby de la Zouch called Cicily Bridal. The amazing girls in the shop helped me find my perfect dress it was exactly what I imagined. It was the Paloma Blanca (4206) Silk Dupioni and Alençon Lace Wedding Dress. Lace empire bodice with keyhole back and covered buttons over zipper to hem with a Sweep Train. Simple but elegant and my husband was blown away. I also got my accessories from Cicily Bridal (Ivory & Co) which I wasn’t planning but they were a perfect complement to the dress. I was extremely nervous about any seamstress taking a pair of scissors to my dress however I couldn’t have been happier with the alterations made by Zoe Evans of Iris Bartholomew Couture.  I used an old paid of Dune shoes I already owned which match perfectly and got a fur shrug for the chilly evening.

GROOM’S ATTIRE | Jamie wore a slim fitting navy ‘Next’ suit, with contrasting fabric pink tie and handkerchief. Our son Dylan and Andy the best man also had matching attire.

THE READINGS & MUSIC | Wow probably the hardest and most time consuming job during the planning process. As the venue had a great audio set up we decided to create different playlists on our ipod. Both Tanya and I went through 10,000 songs and carefully selected which songs were suitable for the day and night. Making sure they weren’t too loud or too fast or slow or too old or modern we wanted a complete mixture which flowed and of course we needed everyone dancing. It was quite a challenge but the finished playlist is a great mix of genres and artists to cover every moment.  Looking back most people don’t even notice the background music.

Guests assembling to Heartbeats by Jose Gonzales, and The Guide by Bourne. Tanya walking down the ‘aisle’ to Suddenly by Angry Anderson (Charlene and Scott wedding song from Neighbours). Signing register to Rock and Rolls mine by the Tulips (wedding song from Home and Away). Exited to The Greatest Day by Take That.

We wanted to incorporate our guests as part of the day as much as possible so we asked three of our guests to perform live sets. Tanya’s friend Mary sang ‘O Del Mio Dolce Ardour by Gluck (Suprano) and completely wowed our audience and Tanya who had never heard her sing before. Then Jamie’s cousin’s Irish partner did an acoustic set to get the guests started and finally Jamie’s two sisters got the party swinging with a range of pop songs. It was fantastic having our guests as part of the entertainment and we loved this personal touch. We did our first dance to Glenn Medeiros ‘Nothings Gonna Change my love for you’ and this was followed by ‘I got a feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas and then an array of upbeat songs to keep the dancing going from our evening playlist.

BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS |  I have so many friends I couldn’t choose between them all and so most of them had a role to play within our special day. My god daughter Molly wore a pretty dress and helped hand out retro sweets and crisps as well as keeping the younger children entertained. Luckily for me my close friend Sheelagh Powell is a professional makeup artist and did my makeup on the day using airbrush techniques and eye lash extensions.  She also did my hair and did an amazing job. My other close friend arranged two hen doos (one in Cannes and Monaco and the other at Bistro Live, Leicester) and helped with all the coordinating for the after wedding parties and was a real great help to us with the planning having gotten married herself the year before.

THE FLOWERS |   These were easy, Tanya had an idea of a simple, natural tossed bouquet, tied together. She decided on white roses, snowdrops and gypsophila. We also had a matching bouquet in a cream shabby chic flower vase. The bouquet turned up with none of the flowers she had asked for but this didn’t matter as it was just another thing talk about.

THE CAKE | We both decided on a novelty cake. As we were inspired with some of the bespoke art work within the Tunnel’s venue and Jamie a graphic design teacher, text had to be incorporated. We toyed with a sandcastle cake, a Liquorice allsorts cake, giant chocolate bar cake. We settled on a scrabble board cake and used it to welcome our guests.

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Choosing our photographer was very difficult as we knew we wanted arty reportage style and didn’t want traditional posed shots. When we came across the work of Julia West on Facebook (through a friend of a friend) the choice was simple she was amazing. The problem was however the fact that she lived the other side of the country and she was double our initial budget. Her fantastic photographs matched our brief and the style we were going for but most importantly her photographs were sharp, with fab editing which captured the moments like no other photographer we’d looked at. After a few text messages we had an instant rapport. I was desperate for her to be part of our day and Both Jamie and myself agreed to tweak the budget and Julia managed to stay with a family member not far from the venue. She was great with the guests and with our son and our pictures really captured every part of our day. She was fab!

THE HONEYMOON | We decided to go to Singapore and Bali (during April following the wedding) and took our little boy Dylan with us. Two nights at the fantastic ‘Marina bay sands’ Singapore, and 6 nights in Bali staying at Alila Ubud and Alila Ulawatu. This combination of city and relaxation was perfect. Swimming in the infinity pool on the top of Marina bay sands was breathtaking and probably one of the coolest but weirdest experiences. Travelling and seeing  Bali was a real eye opener and staying both in the jungle with monkeys as our closet neighbours and then at Alila Villas in Ulawatu was like stuff that dreams are made of. This cool contemporary hotel combines the delights of traditional Balinese architecture and eco-friendly design in a jaw-dropping setting. Panoramic views over the Indian Ocean complement architecturally striking pool villas, each with serene, minimalist interiors, seductive outdoor living spaces, private pools and personal butlers on tap to cater for every need including running us a bath, going shopping to buy arm bands for our son and blowing up his inflatable boat.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The moment I saw Tanya coming through the tunnel, walking down the aisle took my breathe away.

I was getting ready and looked out of the window of our amazing villa which overlooked the ocean. I saw at that moment Jamie and Dylan walking towards the venue holding hands. They both looked gorgeous and I cried with my friend with happiness as I saw my boys together. I was so proud watching my fiance (who is also my friend) soon to be my husband.

During the evening we toasted marsh mellows around the fire pit underneath the night sky. Lighted our red heart shaped sky lantern and watched it rise into the sky. Our talented guests entertained our audience with a mix of music and we took a moment to watch the sun set.

ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Those things you meticulously plan and spend hours procrastinating over, your guests will never notice. Just enjoy the day with those special people you have chosen to enjoy it with because it will go so fast, you’ll never want it to end. Our only regret is not having a wedding videographer , even if your budget is maxed a video of your day lets you relive your day over and over again. It is so hard to savour every moment and it goes by so fast. It’s hard to take in every second when it goes by goes quick. Also it’s your day. Do what you want to do. Don’t get pushed into trying to keep everyone happy it is not possible to please everyone so at least have and do what you want. The people who matter will support you with your decisions.


Photography |  Julia and You

Venue | Tunnels Beaches

Dress Shop | Cicily Bridal

Dress Alterations | Iris Bartholomew Couture

Make Up | Sheelagh Powell 


So many wonderful ideas. Love.

Thanks so much to Tanya and Jamie for sharing their wedding story with us here at WWW XOXO Lou

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