Woodland farm setting? Check. Rustic tipi? Check. Super laid back and uber cool couple? Check. You’re going to adore this lovely celebration folks.
Sarah and Rob were hitched on the 21st May 2016, a date they chose as it was their 8 year anniversary. I am a big fan of this notion, seeing as we married ourselves on our 10 year anniversary, I think it makes the day and the date all the more sentimental. Sarah and Rob began by booking the venue, Braid Farm in Kent and then set about finding a ceremony venue. They stumbled upon Newlands Chapel, a hidden gem in a residential garden and what a delightful find it was. With their hearts set on a tipi they hosted their reception in the glorious tents and filled them with mismatched, colourful, handmade décor which they set up the day before.
Fun and sweet touches included ice cream DIY desserts, stunning dried flowers, a route-master bus and a scrummy naked cake. Sarah chose a dreamlike romantic gown by Ellis Bridals, she looked gorgeous and certainly achieved her hippy-fairy-mermaid-princess look. Rob opted for a tweed suit, with a twist, shorts and flip-flops, he looked really relaxed and very dapper.
Thanks goes to Rebecca Douglas Photography for sharing these lovely images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | After 6 years together, I was keen to start planning our fairytale wedding. We were on holiday in Turkey, sat on bean bags and smoking strawberry shisha next to the beach. I picked some dry grass, tied it into a ring and asked Rob to marry me, he declined my proposal but a few months later proposed himself, with a ring made from more than dry grass.
I chose my engagement ring from an antique shop in Rochester. I loved the simplicity of it, my imperfect old cut diamond, the roseyness of the 22t gold and the idea that my ring had a story. Despite looking at rings together, the proposal couldn’t have been more of a shock! We looked at rings early December so I figured I’d be ‘surprised’ with a Christmas/ New Year proposal. However it didn’t happen, I even imagined I saw my ring in the window as I walked past our antique shop one day, so had given up hope. Rob suggested a weekend break in the new year and yet alarm bells didn’t ring – I thought he was just trying to make up for the lack of proposal.
So off to Amsterdam we went, I was so convinced it wouldn’t happen that my nails looked terrible; I’d painted one colour straight on top of the other and they’d both started to chip. On our second day in Amsterdam we were wondering around the Vondelpark when we stopped to sit on a bench. I was taking photos of the birds bathing by the side of the lake when Rob began talking. I can remember rolling my eyes as he started to tell me how much I meant to him – again I thought he was just trying to make amends. But he kept going, he was listing all of my qualities one by one and acting suspiciously… But before I could even think about it properly, he was down on one knee asking me to be his wife.
My memories of exactly what happened after that are a bit cloudy, I asked “am I dreaming?” a lot and was very confused as to how Rob had magically transported my ring from the shop window into his pocket. I felt sick with shock and asked if we could go for a walk. It’s only as we were walking, me taking deep breaths, staring at the ring in its little heart shaped box, that Rob asked “well, is that a yes?!”. Of course my answer was yes and my first engaged purchase was nail varnish remover. Oh and Rob still has that grass ring, in a box somewhere :)
THE VISION | We didn’t really have a vision as such. We both knew we wanted an outdoorsy wedding, but that was it. We didn’t want a colour scheme or matching suits, because that wasn’t important to us. It was important to me that the ceremony was intimate, it was important to Rob that we threw an amazing party, we sort of combined the two.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We were engaged for a couple of years before the wedding. I already knew the date I wanted to get married before the proposal, so we didn’t have the faff of thinking dates. We wanted to use our existing anniversary because we’d already been through so much together and that was our anniversary, so why change it?
In true Rob and Sarah style, we did our wedding planning backwards! The very first thing we did was book a lovely big field on a farm. Our original intention was to do the legal bit at a registry office in the morning and have a blessing under an arch of flowers in the field. We also played around with the idea of getting married on a beach in New Zealand (we went travelling there 6 months before the wedding) But that defeated the point of our special date, and sharing the actual marriage ceremony turned out to be more important to us than we first anticipated. Therefore, we went on a mad search for a dream ceremony venue in close proximity to our farm. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, for if it wasn’t for booking the field first, we’d have never have found Newlands Chapel. Hidden in the back garden of someone’s house, in the small village of Charing is a beautiful, intimate, grade II listed medieval chapel. From the moment we stepped inside, we knew it was our chapel, there was just something so magical about it.
Medieval chapels in residential gardens don’t come with a great deal of parking and therefore we booked a red routemaster bus to transport our guests from one venue to the other. This was nice as it gave our guests a chance to bond during the scenic / distressing 15 minute drive through very tight country lanes not intended for London buses.
For our reception, we chose a tipi from Beautiful World Tents; complete with dining tables, dance floor and even a chill out area with beanbags and an open fire. Rob loves camping so it made sense that our wedding reception was essentially a big fancy tent. Everything sort of came together after that. We’d been collecting jam jars and bottles from the moment we got engaged – we found ourselves opting for food in pretty glass containers so that we could soak off the labels and add them to our collection in the attic. Luckily we went through a gherkin phase in the months before the wedding, so a lot of the jars used once housed pickles (so romantic).
THE VENUE | Newlands Chapel, Charing and Braid Farm, Smarden.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I wore an Ellis dress purchased from Alta Costura bride in Maidstone, a flower crown made by FlorenceAndFlowers on Etsy, a moonstone bracelet and earrings as our wedding fell on the day of a blue moon! (Magical or what?!) My Mum’s engagement ring was my something old and something borrowed, I dyed my Vans with multicoloured tie dye ink the week before the wedding and almost got married with purple fingers… I had an actual sixpence inside of my shoe and my something blue was my knickers! I was going for a hippy-fairy-mermaid-princess look, I think I achieved it?!
FINDING THE DRESS | I think this was definitely the hardest bit, I’m a bit of a grown up in denial and just felt very alien trying on wedding dresses. I did a lot of searching before I found the ONE, but when I did it was perfect! I didn’t want a dress that costed mega bucks, because I wanted to have fun in it and our wedding was in a field after all! 5 months after the nuptials and I’ve only just got my dream dress back from the dry cleaner, who claims it’s the dirtiest wedding dress he’s ever seen (I’m pretty proud of that)!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Rob is a shorts and flipflops kind of guy, even in winter. So I expected nothing less than him getting his knees (and toes) out on our big day. Rob and his best man, Todd ventured up to London for a day of suit shopping and drinking a very casual few weeks before the wedding. They successfully drank a lot and purchased a lovely tweed suit from Cordings (so lovely in fact that the in-shop tailor refused to chop the legs off the trousers!) Luckily they found a chap called Mario willing to do the deed. Rob’s outfit was finished off with a beautiful vintage pocket watch that his parents bought him as a wedding present.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had three readings during the ceremony, read by our siblings; Thomas, Craig and Harriet. We chose a mash-up of different writings from the likes of Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Albert Einstein and others, an extract from Wild Awake by Hilary Smith and an extract from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (one of my favourite books of all time!)
I walked down the aisle to Todd (the best man) playing an acoustic cover of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on his guitar and we left the chapel to Kiss Me (originally by Sixpence none the Richer) covered by New Found Glory.
Our first dance was also to Home by Edward Sharpe, played by the amazing musician Joe William. Our second first dance song (that’s totally a thing) was You and Me by The Wannadies and everyone joined in!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | That was a no brainer, my bridesmaids were my best pals. My two little sisters, Emily and Hannah ❤️ They were originally in floor length, mint green dresses with gyp flower crowns, however I changed my mind last minute and went for something a little less formal and more ‘fairy-like’. Pearly grey dresses with knee length tulle skirts, sparkly heels and gyp tucked into the plaits in their half up half down do’s.
THE FLOWERS | My flower crown, the bouquets and the girls corsages were all dried flowers from the lovely Carly at Blundeston Farm in Suffolk (she’s FlorenceAndFlowers on Etsy). Keen to stick to my no colour-scheme rule, I chose a multicoloured flowers. My bouquet now lives in a sweet jar on our dining table. Keely (Flowers by Calla Mango) made the boys fresh gyp button holes, and provided us with lots of pretty wild flowers that were lovingly arranged into jars by Rob’s mum (minus some gyp that was saved for the bridesmaids hair).
THE CAKE | 3 tiers of glittery naked goodness made by Rebakers Cakes. We couldn’t choose our favourite flavour so went for a combination of chocolate orange, salted caramel and lemon drizzle. Covered in flowers, plus a dachshund cake topper, of course! It made a delicious post-wedding breakfast.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I’ve found it hard to put into words just how grateful I am to Rebecca Douglas for capturing our day so perfectly. She was a “photography ninja” as my sister described her. Capturing beautiful tiny moments that could so easily have been forgotten about in the madness that is a wedding day. Rebecca really was more of a guest than a photographer, even during the ‘posey’ photographs she made us feel totally at ease and our smiles and laughs are all genuine. Our wedding was unplugged and we didn’t have a videographer so we trusted in her 100% and she delivered 200%. I couldn’t imagine our day without her.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We wanted the tipi to look colourful, sparkly and fun, we chose multicoloured everything! From ribbons to table confetti – nothing matched and we loved it. Rob’s Grandma made us some lovely bunting out of scraps of material she’d collected, the farm provided us with hay bales and wood for a bonfire and Rob and his brother were climbing trees the day before putting festoon lights up (much to their Mum’s distress). The day before our wedding was pretty hardcore… We were on the farm from 8am to 8pm setting up, it was hard work! I’ll never forget laying on the grass sobbing in an attempt to cut string with a bread knife. I can laugh about it now, but don’t forget your scissors DIY brides!!! All of the hard work, tears and blisters definitely made our day so much more rewarding. We are still so proud to be able to say that we did it all without a wedding planner or coordinator! It was all us :)
THE HONEYMOON | We were lucky enough to be about visit the beautiful country that is New Zealand 6 months before the wedding, which was sort of our pre-wedding honeymoon (totally a thing!) We lived the dream travelling around in a camper van and jumping out of planes for a couple of months, which was amazing! We had intended to leave it at that, but after the stress of planning our own wedding ENTIRELY, we needed a break and a few cocktails. So we decided to revisit Greece; our first ever holiday destination as a couple. We went to Lindos in Rhodes and spa’ed it up in a fancy pants hotel for a week. I signed my new name for the first time ever at the swim up bar <3
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There are so many! Here’s a few: The little robin who decided to join our ceremony and watch us from the beams, leaving the chapel to Kiss Me by New Found Glory and everyone cheering, our adorable 1965 VW campervan wedding car and champagne on the drive back to the farm, our best man’s speech that included a song he wrote for us to the tune of Dead or Alive (Rob’s go-to karaoke track!) Exploring the woodland, climbing into the ice-cream van and making our own ice-cream, taking photos in the rain, seeing everyone (including Nans) rock out to our incredibly grungy playlist, how my flower crown stayed on through Nirvana I do not know!? And last but not least, taking a moment towards the end of the night to leave the party, sit outside next to the bonfire together and reflect on our magical wedding day.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t check the weather forecast, because it will only make you panic about something you cannot do anything about. Think positive, happy, sunny thoughts and if it does rain, the silver lining is amazing photographs!
It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t. It’s your day, it’s likely you’re paying for it, so only invite people who you want to be there, play music you want to dance to and do it your way.
Don’t scrimp on the photographer! It may seem like a big expense but it’s a freaking investment. Spend less on your dress if you have to (because wedding dresses really don’t have to be THAT expensive) and get a good photographer instead. You’ll only wear that dress once but you’ll be looking through those photos for the rest of your life.
Smile through everything! Enjoy every second and don’t allow anything to take that smile away. We had originally planned on having jelly and ice-cream for dessert with jelly in fish bowls and a self serve ice-cream machine. Alas it was not meant to be, because our supplier was broken into the night before the wedding and our machine was taken hostage by a sweet-toothed thief. Did I cry when I spoke to the former owner of the ice-cream machine at 6am on my wedding day? Nope! Instead I very calmly called my insurance company to confirm that we would be covered for a replacement and got my mother in law on the case. A few hours later and there we were, married and making our very own ice-creams inside of the ice cream van that Rob’s mum managed to book very last minute.
Get wedding insurance!!! (Yes, it’s a thing)
Girls, wee sitting forwards ;)
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Rebecca Douglas Photography
Bridesmaids Dresses | Little Mistress
Grooms outfit | Cordings, London
Makeup Artist | Helen Lee
Hair | Hayley Henderson
DJ | Mint DJs
Cake | Rebakers Cakes
Food | Vol-au-vents lovingly homemade by Liz Walker & Hog Roast by Smoking Hot Pig
Ahhh so romantic.
Sarah and Rob, thank you both so much for sharing your wedding story with us all xo Lou