An Eccentric, Rustic + Pretty Zoo Wedding

Phil and Laura were married in April at Banham Zoo, Norfolk. Their day was fun filled and eccentric, you can just feel their personality all over their wedding and their amazing wedding report below.

They wanted their day to be intimate and within their budget, whilst being rustically beautiful. They settled for a sage green theme, with uber pretty blooms, birdcage centrepieces and a sweetie table.

I do so love these two and know you will too WWWers :-)

Thanks so much to the super lovely Dottie Photography for sharing their gorgeous images with us today.


Names…. Phil & Laura

Wedding Date…. Saturday 14th April 2012

The Proposal…. Laura had seen a ring she liked on the internet and Phil offered to pay for it. When it was delivered, Phil collected it from the Post Office and when Laura returned home, he asked which finger she wanted to wear it on! It was all very straight forward and done whilst sitting on the sofa. Who said romance is dead??

The Vision for the day…. We were looking for a small, intimate wedding with people who are important in our lives. We didn’t have the budget (or the want) to have something extravagant so we decided to keep it simple, spending the money we needed to on the most important aspects of the day. Whilst wanting to keep it simple, living in Norfolk we wanted a rustic feel to it and we feel we did this with some of the touches we added to the table displays and with the food offered.

The Planning process…. The planning process was quite long and drawn out….. The wedding should originally have happened in October 2011 but in March 2011 came some news! Laura was pregnant and she quickly decided that she didn’t want to get married whilst 8 ½ months pregnant so the original date was postponed. There were two main reasons for the postponement – 1. Laura had already chosen her dress and 2. Laura wanted to be able to drink on her wedding day!

Having been given extra time to plan by the arrival of Erin (on 21st October) things went very smoothly. We aren’t ones to panic and we were quite laid back about the whole process. Laura’s maternity leave from work had given her more time to enable her to surf the internet and check out wedding fairs and shows and because we both had an idea of what they wanted from our day, selecting the people to help them make their day special was very simple indeed.

Budget…. In total, the wedding came to no more than £10,000. As mentioned previously, the need for unnecessary extravagance wasn’t there and everything was done within our “budget”. We were appreciative of the help our parents gave us but didn’t feel there was a necessity to waste money on unessential things.

The Venue… We got married at The Oak Rooms which are part of Banham Zoo and the reception was held at The Applewood Suite, also in the grounds of Banham Zoo. We chose this venue because of the locality to where we live. It is around 10 miles away. Having been to a couple of events at the Applewood Suite previously, we knew that it was exactly what we were looking for and it was able to accommodate our day guests comfortable and also our extra evening guests. Whilst we’re not massive animal fans, we had some fun having our pictures taken with some animals and got some great shots of us in and around the zoo grounds. It really is a perfect setting for any type of picture.

The Dress + Accessories….. Laura wore a Champagne lace dress, with small simple pearl earrings and a headband to aid her hairstyling.

Finding the dress…. Laura had visited a local wedding dress fair and the dress she finally decided on was the first dress she tried on! There were several in-between but nothing could match the style and the fit of that first dress so it was decided that it was the one!

Groom’s attire… There are two schools of thought for groom’s attire – go for the full top hat and tails and shiny shoes and pay crazy amounts of money for the privilege for one day or pop down to the local department stores and pick something up that doesn’t have to be returned on the Monday but spending the same amount of money! Phil decided on the latter and felt he made an excellent choice! Marks and Spencer have an excellent range of men’s suits!

The Readings + Music…. We chose a selection of popular music for our ceremony for when guests were arriving and for when we signed the register.  There were two readings, one reading was carried out by one of the registrars and also one by Phil’s sister, Rachel, who read a poem called “On Your Wedding Day”. The first dance was to “You’re The Best Thing” by Style Council.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. The bridesmaids were Laura’s sisters Rachel and Claire, Laura’s best friend Stacey and Phil’s neice Sophie.  They wore full length strapless dresses in Sage Green.

The Flowers… The flowers were by Poppies Florist in Snetterton, Norfolk. Sarah Martin was recommended to us by a friend and what a fantastic recommendation she was! She produced some beautiful bouquets for us and also some excellent extra touches for the birdcage displays and the chairs.

The Cake… The cake was made by Laura’s sister, and one of the Bridesmaids, Claire. They beauty of it for Claire was that she was able to have several practice runs leading up to the wedding which enabled her to eat lots of cake! The beauty for us was that it wasn’t going to cost a small fortune and it wasn’t going to be a typically “perfect” cake with straight lines and mini bride and groom models! Once decorated, the cake, to us, looked perfect (although with this being Claire’s first – and probably last – attempt, she was worried about the cracks in the icing!). Needless to say the guests thought it was pretty amazing considering there were only about 10 pieces to take home the next day! The cake was in three layers, one Carrot, one Chocolate Sponge and one with Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge.

Your Photographer…. Our photographers were Mandy and Julie from Dottie Photography. Laura had trawled the internet and had come across Dottie and instantly fell in love with her pictures. It was soon decided that Dottie Photography were the ones! Laura went to meet Mandy to get everything signed up and upon her return she could only report that Mandy is “a bit crazy!”, hence the Dottie name! When Phil eventually met with Mandy around a month before the wedding, he confirmed the craziness but with all that aside, she knows what she’s doing and knows how to get “that” shot! Mandy and Julie really became part of our day. They joined in, had fun and blended in with the guests. It took away from the stuffiness that you sometimes get from a photographer, as we’ve seen at other weddings in the past. Since the wedding, everyone has commented on how fantastic the pictures are and we really couldn’t have asked for anything more. Dottie Photography would come highly recommended. You only have to look at their work to see what they can do!

The Details + Decor…. The colour of the day was Sage Green. This was the colour of the bridesmaids dressed and the waistcoats and ties worn by the groomsmen. This perfectly complimented Laura’s Champagne coloured dress. Laura had discovered some birdcages whilst doing her research and we purchased these to make table centrepieces. These were decorated with flowers and had a candle inside to light the tables. To stay in line with the birdcages, the tables were names after birds with the top table being called Swan.

The main meal was a traditional 3 course dinner with a Turkey Roast as the main course. The evening guests were treated to a Hog Roast followed by a selection of sweets from our Candy Table (of which there were none left by the end of the night!!)
The guests danced the night away to the sounds of Mindy’s Disco Roadshow from Thetford. Mindy is an old friends of Phil’s and he couldn’t have done a better job!

The Honeymoon…. We are going to spend a week in Turkey at the end of May in an oasis of 5* luxury thanks to the kind wedding gifts of holiday vouchers!

Memorable moments… The whole day was very special and it is all equally as memorable. We feel privileged to have spent it with our closest friends and family and that everything went without a hitch. The rain even stayed away until well into the evening. The speeches were all excellent and everyone we have spoken to since have been telling us what a brilliant time they had. Hopefully they’re not just being polite….?

Advice for other couples… It is YOUR day! Hopefully, this will be the only opportunity to do this so make it special for the right reasons. Get married where YOU want to. Invite who YOU want to invite.  Wear what YOU want to wear. Eat what YOU want to eat. At the end of it all, you’ll be more content with the day as a whole.

The only other thing to mention is that even if you are trying to have your special day on a budget, there are some things worth spending money on. We felt that Laura’s Dress, our photographer and our florist were well worth the extra money that we spent to enable our day to be perfect. Either way, you’re still going to be in love and still going to be married so regardless of what you do or how you do it, you are going to get the same result.

Credit where credit is due…

Venue – Banham Zoo. Banham, Norfolk.

Photography – Dottie Photography. Upwell, Cambridgeshire.

Dress – Heart Brides. East Anglia.

Florist – Poppies Florists. Snetterton, Norfolk.

Disco – Mindy’s Disco Roadshow. Thetford, Norfolk.

Suits – Marks and Spencer. Nationwide.

Caterers – Mrs C Hubbard. Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk

Rolfes Butchers. Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk.

Wedding Stationery Design – Aimee Pretty at Aimee Paints. Norwich, Norfolk.


Thanks so much to Phil and Laura for sharing their super fun wedding with us today! Are any of you getting married at a zoo? XOXO Lou

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  • Lou {www} says:

    thanks so much Suknie xx

  • Yes! reading this has just made my heart happy! Me and Jason are getting married at Banham Zoo on May 24th 2013, But that is not all we have in common with this article! I too bought my wedding dress from the fabulous heart brides in East Anglia and We are also planning to honeymoon in Turkey! I just cant believe it! I would love to know more about how the reception went?

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