I don’t even know where to begin today. Why? Well this wedding really does bring it all. Firstly let me mention that groom Mike is behind Michael Briggs Pictures and the film he edited of his wedding day to Frances below certainly left a tear in my eye, it’s just so emotive and filled with romance. Partly thanks to their seriously meaningful vows by the way, which they wrote for one another. If you are thinking of writing your own vows, I’d whole heartedly recommend it.
WWW readers Frances and Mike envisioned an enchanted forest wedding, which was to be held on the 1st September 2018 at Captains Wood Barn in Essex. The woodland clearing was the perfect spot for their ceremony and they celebrated in the rustic barns afterwards. Together with the help of their nearest and dearest they really transformed the barn into their own space, complete with bunting, banners and pineapples all round.
I have to say how much I love both of their outfit choices, with Frances in a billowing princess gown and Mike donning a tux. They looked incredible. The portraits of them in the forest, complete with smoke bombs are just outstanding and we have Megan Elle Photography to thank for sharing them with us.
With the ring secretly hidden in the house, I was never sure when ‘the right moment’ to propose would be, so I waited for it to present itself. On a Saturday afternoon in December 2017, after a leisurely stroll into town for some mulled wine and cake, we came back home to put our Christmas tree up. I knew right then, that this was the moment.
I’m a wedding photographer & videographer myself, and have visited all the major South-East venues several times to shoot weddings, so the thought of getting married somewhere familiar didn’t appeal. So we were adamant we’d get married abroad, but after visiting Captain’s Wood Barn, we realised we’d found our venue. There was no corporate sell, just a lovely farmer who showed us around his grounds with such passion, all crafted by his own hand. The barn was full of tools since it is a working tree farm 6 months of the year, so we knew it would be a serious DIY job, but what a beautiful canvas to start with!
The Planning Process
With no marriage license at the venue, our official nuptials were planned the day before at Rayleigh Windmill, which meant we could plan our own blessing ceremony. We wanted to take all of the best bits from the dozens and dozens of weddings we’ve worked at including writing our own vows, giving our friends and family more prominent roles, an all vegetarian meals and live music all through the day.
Once we had the venue and our amazing caterers, Linda Hamilton at Gather & Feast, everything else fell into place.
Captains Wood Barn, Maldon, Essex
Your Outfits & Accessories
The Dress – is from Blush Bridal in leigh on sea. Julie and the team there are wonderful, they have a range of unusual stunning dresses for brides that want something unique. I loved the embellishment in the top of my dress, it glistened and has a glamorous element without being too bling. The bottom flowed and swished as I walked, making it easy to move and more importantly dance! It was just simply stunning! Also I hadn’t seen a dress like it before. It really went with our venue, enchanted fairy woodland feel!
The Suit – There’s something timeless about a tux, and going for navy tux’s was a nice twist. We hunted around, but it was the tux’s from ASOS that offered a modern skinny fit, with the black lapels, just what we wanted.
My friend and hairdresser came at 7am to start hair, there were 5 of us and a little one so she had to get organised! She was fab, she knew what order we had to go in and who was having which style. Make-up was by Grace Peploe (@gracepeploemakeup). I was very particular, and Grace helped me create the look I wanted! She also had all the other girls to do and was super organised and stayed till we left the house for last minute touch ups.
The Readings & Music
Our wonderful friend Becky was kind enough to agree to be our celebrant. She devised the entire ceremony, and was so good that guests who didn’t know her thought we had hired her! What a pro!
The readings were poems we loved and expertly read by Mike’s cousin Rosie, and Frances’ niece Isla.
Music was a huge part of the day, I (Mike) shoot lots of music videos and asked some of my favourite musicians to play at our wedding. Jordan Hemmingway (@jrhemmingwaymusic_) played us down the aisle and after the ceremony. He even learned some songs he didn’t know at our request :-)
Megan Rose (@meganrosemusicuk) played beautifully through the wedding breakfast, and then our first dance, a slow version of Artic Monkey’s Mardy Bum. She was unreal!
Lastly we partied through the night to ‘Covered In It’ (@covered_in_it), A 5 piece band who played all the crowd favourites and kept the dance floor full!
These were also all ASOS.
The Groomsmen had matching suits to Mike, all Asos with the pocket squares, bow ties and dress shirts from M&S.
Have you ever edited your own wedding? Well it’s a lot harder than it sounds!
I had my best assistant film our wedding, and I tasked myself with editing the film myself. It was an emotional experience! But giving my wife the final edit as a Christmas present will live with me forever :-)
Being a photographer myself, I understood the importance of finding the photographer with the right style to match your wedding. I decided that it would be better to go with someone I didn’t know and just let them do their thing. I found Megan (@megan_elle_photography) after some Insta searching, and she surpassed all of our expectations. She really loves her job, and it came out in the photography. On the day itself, she went the extra mile with polaroid, film photography & smoke bombs, and I have to say her wedding portrait work is some of the best I’ve come across (and I see a lot of wedding photography!). We have beautiful memories in these pictures that will last generations and it’s down to Megan’s joy of her craft.
The flowers were supplied and arranged by Daisy May’s Florist (@daisymayflorist). We wanted lots of wildflowers to be used, and she was on point. She supplied lots of loose flowers that we used to fill a hundred empty gold sprayed wine bottles that helped dress our empty Barn…along with all the pineapples!
Now I’ve mentioned pineapples, I should probably explain our obsession with them. Our house is full of pineapple ornaments, pineapple prints and… pineapples! Mike even has one tattoo’d on the inside of his arm! I’m not sure how it started, but it’s a thing! So naturally, the cake was in the shape of a pineapple, and wonderfully crafted by on request by Cassie’s Cupcakes.
The Details & Décor
Captain’s Wood Barn was a beautiful canvas to build our dream wedding, but it was through a lot of help from friends and family. The day before the wedding, we arrived in an empty barn with 20 friends and family able and willing to help dress our venue. Gold sprayed pineapples, gold wine bottles filled with flowers, Mum’s hand-made bunting, flower rings and tables all needed arranging. Many hands really do make light work!
The owner of the barn Bob, was incredible. He helped every step of the way, even bringing in his digger to the barn for us to hang bunting from the roof!
Our brother-in-law Dan provided a 6ft sheet of glass for the table plan I designed to be stencilled on, stood up in a hand-made wooden block made by my good friend and talented carpenter James Caldon (@jamscowood).
California! It was a dream trip. We left 2 days after the wedding which felt like a whirlwind, but the lack of sleep was completely worth it.
Our Fly/Drive trip started off in Santa Cruz before we travelled to Yosemite, then 3 nights in Napa Valley to taste some of North America’s finest Cab Sav, before finishing up in San Francisco. We made this little film from our honeymoon :-)
Too many to list, but our ceremony was very very special. It was unique to us, our celebrant Becky was incredible, and we’re so happy we exchanged our own vows…no matter how hard they were to get out!
But the one memory that will live longest in our hearts will be the little secret that Frances was 10 weeks pregnant which was just our little secret on the day. Watching her sip her champagne and then secretly spit it back into the glass was a beautiful thing!
Advice For Other Couples
WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS!! It might feel like a cheesy thing to do, but they will be words that come from the heart, and cement the memory you actually become husband & wife.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Megan Elle Photography
Adam King for Michael Briggs Pictures
Gather & Feast Events
Band / DJ
Covered In It
Just so magical. Do check out my blog feature if you’d like my top tips on how to write wedding ceremony vows, it’s a really special way to say I do. Also take a peek at their honeymoon film linked above, it looked really amazing.
Frances and Mike, thank you so very much for sharing your incredible wedding day with us xo Lou