It’s festival season and it doesn’t get better than to be sharing this glorious festival wedding today. Let me introduce you to WWW readers Sarah and Daniel who were married on the 30th June 2018 at the stunning Blithfield Lakeside Barns in the Staffordshire countryside. Our pair envisioned a laid back, creative style day and they really did pull it all off to perfection. It was important to them to have a hand fasting ceremony with their own vows, so they opted for a non legal outdoor ceremony on the day and a legal ceremony the day before. It really is a great option to ensure a totally personal and meaningful ceremony if you are thinking of holding an outdoor wedding ceremony. It’s easy to see why they wanted to be married beside the lake, it was breathtaking!
Pulling in talented loved ones, these two really crafted a day filled with love and personality. You are going to love all of the DIY decorations and personal touches, the tipi really did look spectacular. You may not believe me when I tell you that the bouquets and buttonholes were actually artificial flowers, they looked so pretty and they made for the perfect keepsake.
Beautiful attire, happy moments and all the loveliness was captured wonderfully by Daniel McClane Photography, thanks ever so much to Daniel for sharing them with us here at Whimsical Wonderland Weddings.
Daniel was at the time working away during the week so didn’t usually come home till Friday, but on one Thursday evening, he unexpectedly came home early with a surprise. I (Sarah – the bride) initially ignored the door, as you do, but after a more persistent second knock, I had no choice but to answer to which I found Daniel standing there all casual and me thinking, why have you not used your keys! After we had tea, Daniel told me that he brought our pet cat, Nala, a new cute collar (even though she is a indoor cat) which had a secret scroll attached. Me being the curious person I am, I unscrolled it straight away to which the words “Marry Me?” were written on. As I turned to Daniel in disbelief, he was there on one knee with a gorgeous engagement ring in his hands. It took me a while to come around to eventually say “Yes” as after nearly 10 years of being together, the moment of proposal was finally happening. He even brought a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate after with.
Me and Daniel always knew that we didn’t want the typical church wedding at an official wedding venue. We much preferred to have a day that would be very laid back where we could be creative. My brother got married 2 years before to which they hired a barn and had the ceremony and reception at the same place – it was very much a DIY wedding and intimate which we absolutely loved. As we were looking around for venues we came across tipi weddings and instantly knew that this was for us – we met at a festival so why not hold a wedding festival. From looking at inspiration on Pinterest, a rustic theme was definitely the look we wanted to go for and felt it suited to our festival vibe. When we found Blithfield Lakeside Barns, our vision to have our perfect wedding was on the cards.
The Planning Process
The first thing I (Sarah – the bride) did was go to Hobbycraft and buy a wedding planner! I told myself that I would have some time before planning the wedding but I couldn’t help myself! I was pretty much on the get go after the ring was on my finger. We first thought what date we wanted to set but as our anniversary was on the 29th June, we thought why not keep this date? As Blithfield Lakeside Barns was not a licensed wedding venue, we decided to have our legal marriage on the 29th June at a registry office which fell on a Friday and then our wedding day at Blithfield on the Saturday 30th June. As mentioned, we didn’t want a church/religious wedding so looking to have a celebrant was perfect for conducting our ceremony on the 30th. Once the date was set, we then booked the venue and tipis. Going to wedding opening days and wedding shows was so much fun to get ideas and even helped to discover more about what wedding we wanted. I spent much time with my mother and sister (who was also my maid of honour) to buy and even make the decorations – we asked everyone to save their coffee jars!!
We looked to spend between £15,000 – £20,000. We didn’t expect any financial help from anyone but my (brides) parents wanted to pay for the venue, the dress and other bits and bobs.
The Dress & Accessories
I always knew I wanted something flowy and not too tight fitting. We went to two different bridal shops which the first shop was more of getting a feel of what style I wanted. When we visited White Rose Bridal Shop in Stafford, I was asked to just pick out what I wanted to try out, and was even encouraged to try something that I wouldn’t usually go for. During this process, in the corner of my eye, I noticed a beautiful ivory dress that was crepe material on the top with a boat neck and a tulle layered bottom finish that I just imaged would be beautiful when blown in the wind. When I put the Essense of Australia dress on, I was in love. I finally understood what it meant when people say, you will just know when it is the one. There was nothing that I didn’t not like about it and just felt completely comfortable in it. I tried on other dresses after but I was just comparing back to that dress. After putting it back (just to double check of course!), I said the words…. its the one!! I didn’t go for veil as the back of the dress was a beautiful low back design which the belt finished both the look on the front and back of the dress. As the wedding was outdoors and I knew I’d be on the dancefloor, I didn’t want to wear heels. I casually bought some white trainers from H&M and after putting them, I thought… I’m wearing these on my wedding day!! As with the boat neck style of the dress, I didn’t want to wear a necklace either. I planned to wear a bracelet that I already owned but on the morning of our wedding, Daniel presented me with a beautiful silver bracelet to wear.
When looking for potential venues, we wanted outdoor space to have the tipis but also accommodation so that we could have the flexibility to decorate the venue, get ready and have both the ceremony and reception all in one place. Yes, we even need to have pet friendly on the check list!! When we found Blithfield Lakeside Barns, the reservoir is enough to take your breath away but then we were shown the cottages (which allowed the cats to stay in!!) and the space to have the tipis so was just ticking all the boxes for everything we dreamt of for a venue. The owners of Blithfield Lakeside Barns were so welcoming and said we could decorate how we wished. It just felt unreal that we found the perfect place that we didn’t even consider looking around any further. We hired the place for the whole weekend so that we could use the time to decorate before the wedding and the day after to clean up. We then decided for our families and bridal party to stay in the 6 cottages so that we were altogether on the morning to get ready. We used the outside space to have our ceremony by a little tree area which overlooked the reservoir and then the space up by the cottages to have the tipis, as well as the photobooth, pizza van and hog roast. Every one of our guests were blown away with the views and we couldn’t of asked for better weather either!! It was a glorious sunny weekend.
When looking for tipis, we attended a Elite Tents tipi opening day and feel in love straight away with the tipis. Seeing them in real life is just one heck of a experience with the fairy lights and smell of log fire burning. We went for 3 giant hats with a festoon walkway. We decked it out with fairylights, a bar and even a disco ball! The team were amazing in the level of support and advice they offered – they were quick to answer any questions or worries you have and were flexible to help achieve the wedding of your dreams.
The Readings & Music
As we didn’t have a church/religious wedding, we came across the idea of having a celebrant. The personal feel they add to the ceremony appealed to us. During a opening event at Elite Tents, we met Justine (Just Celebrations) who was absolutely wonderful. She met up with us prior to our wedding to get to know who we were as individuals and as a couple. We decided to write our own vows to make it even more personal to us and agreed to go for a hand fasting ceremony. Justine made the robe for this in our wedding colours and this would then become a keepsake, in that the knot will remain knotted. Justine during the ceremony told our love story and what love meant to us, which made the moment so special. The bridal party also passed our rings to each other until it reached to us, whilst they said good luck wishes and kind words.
We asked my auntie Nicola’s partner, Aide, to play the guitar for during the ceremony, which we had Everything I do (Bryan Adams) as the intro and All The Small Things (Blink 182) as the outro, both played in a instrumental acoustic style. It was just a wonderful moment of our lives that we will forever cherish.
Daniel didn’t want to go too formal and when looking on your website and Pinterest, we had seen groomsmen wearing just their waistcoats without the blazers. We felt this look would fit in well with the rustic and laid back theme which in the end was a good job considering the hot weather. When deciding on the colours, we loved the grey tweed suits, which again, fitted in with the rustic look. Daniel didn’t want to get a suit from a formal wedding suit store and wanted to buy the suit from somewhere that was assessable to his 7 groomsmen to also buy. We looked on Next and found the perfect suit that he looked so handsome in! The suits were then accessorised with dark brown leather shoes and belts. The wedding colours were Mauve and Dusty Pink so we bought Mauve ties on TiesRUs website and had bespoke dusty pink flowers with hessian wrap for the buttonholes.
For the cake, we wanted to go for a simple and rustic style. We found inspiration from Pinterest for a buttercream finish with real flowers in our wedding colours along with gypsophila. We already tried a cake from a shop in Willenhall, called Imperial Cakes, which the owner was so sweet and talented in creating our beautiful cake. We went for a 3 tiered cake with a Victoria sponge cake for the top and bottom tier and then lemon cake for the middle – it was soo yummy!! We then cut up the cake and provided little cake boxes with thank you stickers so guests could help themselves to a slice.
I asked my auntie Nicola, who is a hairdresser anyway, to style mine and the bridesmaid hairs. I wanted my hair to be half up and down with a plait around the crown area and then the girls to have their hair up with a bun and then a plait on the one side to give a festival style. As I wasn’t wearing a veil, we used little bridal hair beads to put between the plaits of mine and the bridesmaids hair to give a gypsophila effect.
I then had a close friend who’s sister was a make-up artist, Megan King. She was such a sweet young lady with a great knowledge about make-up and understanding of what particular make-up look suits to a person. She gave me some great tips during the make-up trial too! I wanted a natural look for the big day which during the trial we started very basic and built up to what I felt comfortable with as I don’t usually wear a lot of make-up anyway. The girls also went for a natural look and I left it down to the girls if they wanted to wear false eye-lashes.
When deciding on flowers, we didn’t want anything real and felt fake flowers would be a nice keepsake. We was initially going to make them ourselves but then I stumbled across Blooms_Wedding_Studio on eBay where the artificial flowers looked so real. I ordered my flower bouquet first which had dusty pink and mauve colours, along with gypsophila and green foliage as I was wearing a plain ivory dress. It was finished with a hessian wrap with white ribbon to fall down from a tiny bow. They were stunning and I’m so glad I can now keep it as a keepsake – following from this, I went ahead and ordered the bridesmaids flowers and buttonholes. I had gypsophila bouquets made for the girls as their dresses had the colours. The boys then had a dusty pink flower with foliage and gypsophila for their buttonhole with a hessian wrap finish too.
For the table decoration, we shopped at Sainsbury’s and Aldi for real flowers in the wedding colours as I wanted to fulfil the rustic feel and provide a fresh floral smell for guests. We did go to different stores to buy a heck load of gypsophila as this was to fill out the flowers and to go in the coffee jars that I’d seen on Pinterest.
We knew that we wanted the multi-way dresses for the bridesmaid as it allowed the girls to style the top half to their own comfort. My favourite colours were Mauve and Dusty Pink and seeing how these colours go together as bridesmaid dresses on Pinterest just confirmed that I could have both my favourite colours as they look so elegant together. It was so difficult to find the dresses but when we visited the National Wedding Show in Birmingham, we came across Victoria Lou Bridal which had the multi-way dresses in both the colours I wanted. They had the dresses on display which the one had a tulle finish to the bottom – it was just stunning and would match my dress too. As I had 6 bridesmaids, 3 were in the mauve and the 3 others were in the dusty pink. I asked the girls to buy their own shoes (again so they could have shoes they were comfortable in) but asked that they all wore nude colour to match. I had the girls flower bouquets made to order from the eBay store (Blooms_Wedding_Studio) which the owner was so lovely and helpful. I asked her to make a gypsophila bouquet with a hessian wrap handle and then I added white ribbon to give it a final finished look. They all looked stunningly beautiful on the day.
The lads bought the same suit as Daniel from Next with just the waistcoat and trousers. They wore a clean white shirt with the mauve tie from TiesRUs and the dusty pink flowered buttonhole which were made to order from a eBay store (Blooms_Wedding_Studio). They too wore dark leather brown accessories (belt and shoes).
We have known Daniel McClane for several years so instantly knew we wanted him to be our photographer. We have seen Daniel’s work from my brother’s wedding, as well as his Facebook and Instagram pages and love how he captures moments throughout the day. He is such a lovely guy who works hard on the day to get the shots you want and provides you with the most stunning photographs – you feel your back in the moment when you see the photos again! We discussed prior to the wedding what particular photos we wanted but we had a field day of opportunities for photos because of the venue and the weather. Following the wedding, Daniel provides a wooden keepsake USB stick of all the photographs and once we have chosen some our favourites (which will be hard!!), we will buy a beautiful wedding album through him.
We also hired ‘Dusty’ a VW Campervan photobooth through Vintage Inspired Wedding Hire for the evening which was great fun for the guests. They provide props which guests can dress up and add that extra fun to the photographs. Once a photo has been taken, the guest get to keep a photo-strip for themselves and then a duplicate is kept for us, which the guests can had the option to add to our guest book. We have then had a wonderful wooden USB stick with a copy of all the photographs which has been fun to see everyone else having a great time.
The Details & Décor
As mentioned, a lot of inspiration came from Pinterest. We wanted to go for a rustic and festival vibe. As we are very creative, we literally decorated the whole venue ourselves with the help of our families and friends – it was amazing to use all our family and friends’ talents for our wedding and it really helped cut down on costs. We bought decorations from The Range, Amazon, eBay, Hobbycraft.… the list can go on but our office, the garage and parent’s house became a wedding decoration warehouse! I asked everyone we knew to save coffee jars so that we could add hessian and lace around which then flowers or lights could be added in for the table decoration. We had the grandparents make signs for around the venue and the road leading up the venue to add to the festival feel. They also made a beautiful wigwam for the ceremony area which was perfect to the setting.
We also did a DIY dessert table where we asked family members to bake homemade cakes and even made our own candy bar to give guests a pick a mix experience. We decked out the dessert table decoration with crates, fairy lights and yup…coffee jars! At each guest seat, we put cute little favour boxes that had mini eggs in with a jar shaped tag to say thank you for sharing our special day. The stationery was all done by my brother, Leigh, who is fantastic on the computer and helped design the invitations, seating plans and even the cocktail menus. He also managed our DIY DJ with Spotify on his laptop which we hired a stereo system through Boutique Recordings.
For the food, we had Mike and Sarah’s Family Butchers from Bridgenorth to provide a buffet style following the ceremony and later had ‘Hettie’, a vintage 1974 Citroen HY Pizza Van and Pig Out Hog Roast for the reception – the food was absolutely beautiful! As the venue was not licensed to serve alcohol, we bought a limited amount of alcohol and encouraged guest to bring their own if they wished. As we hired glassware from Waitrose, we added little cute tags to each glass which provided as both the seating place cards and for guests to remember what glass was theirs. Behind the bar, we provided a mixture of spirits so guests could make their own cocktails or even follow our own recipes from the menu with cocktail names that related to me and Daniel. As we were keeping a close eye on the weather (being as it was a outdoor wedding), we needed to prepare for the hot weather – we provided little white paper fans that we put on seats during the ceremony and then hired a walk in fridge trailer through Polar Refrigeration to allow guests to keep their drinks cool during the hot day. We even put sun cream lotion in the Posh Potties loos!!
As we are planning to go to Japan next year for the Cherry Blossom Festival, we decided to have a mini moon at a log cabin with Forest Holidays at the Forest of Dean. We had a hideaway cabin that included a hot tub which was so romantic and relaxing. It was the perfect ending to such a perfect wedding for us.
There are so many!! We honestly loved every moment of it. The speeches were written and told perfectly by the father of the bride and the two best men – this was such a dear and special moment to us both. Seeing everyone you love all in one place and then having a moment when we were sitting on the top table to just absorb it all in. It was such fun too when we were having our photographs done as it was some time to spend with our bridal party again during the busy day. The last moment we remember of the day was during the late evening when we had dance music playing and everyone doing a Harlem Shake during ‘Turn Down for What’ song.
Advice For Other Couples
Just enjoy every moment – it will honestly be one of the greatest days of your life ever. Remember to have moments during your wedding day to just absorb everything that is happening around you because the day really does go so quickly.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Daniel McClane Photography
White Rose Bridal Shop
Thanks ever so much to Sarah and Daniel for sharing their epic wedding story here with us today xo Lou