You don’t tend to think of festival weddings being held in the middle of a city do you? Well it’s totally possible and can be really very special too. We’re sharing the delightful wedding celebrations of Richard and Kanli this afternoon, which were held on August 6th, 2016. The legal ceremony was held in the morning and incorporated a Chinese tea ceremony, followed by an outdoor garden blessing surrounded by their loved ones. They wanted a festival theme thanks to their love of Glastonbury festival and set about finding the perfect venue. They discovered and promptly booked Observatory Garden in Greenwich Park in London, thanks to it’s ample grounds and central location.
Richard and Kanli then set about sourcing street food, live bands, drink for the free bar and all the lovely touches. Fun details included the polariod guest book, festival style stationery and stretch marquee tent. They added oodles of colourful pom poms and festoon lights too, not to mention lovely pink blooms throughout. I love their stylish outfits, two dresses for Kanli, the first a red Chinese wedding dress and the second Jenny Packham’s Monroe. She teamed her look with a rose flower crown in pretty pink tones. Richard chose to have his grey suit custom made and accessorised it with a red tie. It’s all so lovely, I am dreaming of summer afternoons in the park.
Thanks so much to Kristian Leven Photography for sharing these dreamy images.
THE PROPOSAL | Richard took me out to afternoon tea at the Dorchester for Valentine’s Day. He proposed via a message in my card just before the sweets!
THE VISION | We had gone to several recent weddings that had kept things very simple and did not follow the traditional formula. The aim was to have a relaxed event for our friends and family – just with a wedding attached! We liked the idea of a big barbeque with lots of food and booze and some music, and after some investigation online we found the idea of a festival themed wedding. Richard and I have gone Glastonbury Festival every year with our friends since we got together 5 years ago, so this also very much reflected our lifestyle. We really wanted to bring that happy laid-back festival vibe to our wedding. The wedding was to be outdoors, with street food and casual seating, live music all through the event, and the most minimal of speeches (just a short one to thank everybody). The other concept was that we wanted a relatively large wedding, and we thought not using a traditional wedding venue would also allow us to invite everybody we wanted whilst keeping costs relatively reasonable.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We started planning in August 2015 and everything pretty much fell into place after we found our venue, which was the Observatory Garden in Greenwich Park. Our events managers and caterers came with the venue and they were instrumental in helping us sort out all the necessary infrastructure – as the park came completely bare bones. Once that was firmed up, it just left the matters of ordering all the booze (Majestic for the wine and many Tesco deals for the beer!), hiring the bands (we had 3 wonderful acoustic bands for music throughout the day, and an excellent wedding band for dancing afterward!), ordering the flowers and finalising all the little details. Save the dates and invites were all designed by Richard and sent by email.
BUDGET | We prioritized music, food and an open bar. A large white stretch tent was the insurance policy against London rain for our outdoors garden festival, and was the largest component of the cost.
THE VENUE | We looked at many venues but nothing quite fit until we happened upon the Observatory Garden in Greenwich Park. It was perfect for our theme and also very centrally located for all our friends in London and those travelling from abroad. Unfortunately, as a completely outdoor venue, it was not licensed so we had a short legal service at the Devonport Hotel at the corner of Greenwich Park beforehand, which we combined with a Chinese tea ceremony.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I wore a red Chinese wedding dress for the morning tea ceremony and a Jenny Packham Monroe dress for the afternoon blessing in the garden.
FINDING THE DRESS | I had always intended to buy my dress second hand so I started looking early on. Three dresses were initially shortlisted to see and try on. The last one was perfect! I love the fact that I met the first bride who wore my dress.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Richard wore a bespoke grey suit he had made for work with a new red tie (for good luck).
THE READINGS & MUSIC | As a festival wedding, we had several bands lined up to play all throughout the day. The first band played some wonderful pieces on acoustic guitar as I entered the garden and after the blessing, as we walked back down the aisle together. We had just two readings – one excerpt from Les Miserables (read by my brother) and one poem by Edward Monckton “That Still and Settled Place” (read by my friend Lauren).
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We had no official bridesmaids (or best men or ushers!) but many of our friends had special roles on the day. Our friend Julia performed the blessing, and many others (too many to name here!) helped with all the set up and managing the day. We are incredibly, incredibly grateful to them all!
THE FLOWERS | After much deliberation, and to keep the budget down, we eventually bought the vast majority of the flowers online and arranged them ourselves for the table and site decorations. We put the flowers in hundreds of different sized milk bottles we purchased from the internet. My beautiful bouquet of roses and flower crown were ordered from Haley’s Flowers.
THE CAKE | The caterer managed a lovely tiered ‘naked’ Victoria sponge cake – my favourite!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Kristian was amazing and lovely. We met him before the wedding both on skype and in person and immediately felt very comfortable with him. He really helped to make our day special and the photographs are absolutely wonderful! We will treasure them forever.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The tent itself came with lovely lighting and the caterer had street food stalls with appropriate themes (BBQ, Jerk Chicken, Ice Cream Bike). Our friend Julia also brought hundreds of paper ‘puff balls’ from Shanghai, which – whilst looking very ‘festivally’ – needed individual set up of about 20 minutes each. Richard was not very pleased… We decorated the tent with strings of these and put our hand-made flower milk bottle decorations on all the tables. Lots of talented friends lent their skills for the details. One hand painted all our signs and card box, another baked and decorated 150 cookies with festival flags and miniature reproductions of our wedding invitations.
THE HONEYMOON | The honeymoon was delayed several months until December, when we spent 3 weeks in South Africa and Namibia over Christmas!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Too many to mention them all! Having all our friends and family come out to the park on the day before to help decorate. The huge stash of alcohol that made its home in our spare room for many months beforehand. Walking up the hill through Greenwich Park in my wedding dress (to the surprise and delight of many tourists!) and going for photos at dusk in the rose garden afterwards.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Above all, there is no prescribed formula for a wedding. It is your special day to enjoy and you should do whatever makes sense for you!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Kristian Leven Photography
Events manager & caterer | Creative Events
Tent, furniture hire, generator hire | 4 Elements Tents
Florist | Harley’s Flowers
Wedding band | Sound Circus
Rings | Guilded Labs
Oh me oh my, those rose garden portraits are spectacular are they not? What a wonderful party.
Richard and Kanli, thank you both so much for sharing your darling wedding story here at WWW xo Lou