Lucy and Conor are here today with their colourful tipi wedding which was held on the 10th August 2018. Firstly though they were married at Guildford Registry Office with just their wedding party in attendance, followed by an intimate wedding breakfast in Conor’s Nan’s house. Then they were ready to party with all of their guests in tipis in the gardens, which were decorated beautifully with colourful pom poms and twinkling fairy lights. Guests were in for a treat with a lot of live music on offer to give that festival party vibe, plus there was some gorgeous sounding cuisine and fun and games all round.
The flowers really stood out thanks to their bright colours and the floral arch really made a wonderful centrepiece to their décor. Family and friends all came together to help create and craft their day, something that added a really special feel to their celebrations. I also have to shout out about the amazing attire, the whole wedding party as well as Lucy and Conor looked gorgeous! Also keep your eyes peeled for a gorgeous cake topper by our faves Capola Designs. Yay!
Huge thanks goes to Charlotte Razzell Photography for sharing these vibrant and joy filled shots with us.
11th April 2017
Conor and I were on a two week holiday in Ontario, Canada. I had lived there for a year during my university degree and had been keen to go back, and luckily Conor was up for it too, having never visited Canada before. The plan was to show Conor where I’d lived, partied, shopped and eaten, as well as explore the tourist spots again around Ottawa. We split our time between staying with a friend in Ottawa and at Air BnB’s in Montreal and Toronto. It was whilst we were in Toronto that Conor decided to “pop the question”. We had made a day trip to Niagara Falls. We started the day by doing a helicopter ride over the Falls which was incredible – it was only after he’d proposed that Conor had told me he’d hoped to do it on the helicopter but he’d changed his mind because it was so noisy and we were sharing the cock-pit with another family! After the helicopter ride we drove to the Falls and were walking along the banks of the river taking selfies – and that’s when he did it! I was taking a photo and turned around to a nervous looking Conor who said “I’ve got something I’d like to ask you” before getting on his knee and whipping out the ring! It was so special being in such a beautiful place and on such an amazing trip – we swiftly had lunch in a nearby Hard Rock Cafe and spent the entire time on FaceTime to our family sharing the news!
We spent a lot of time um-ing and ah-ing about what we wanted our wedding to be like. Being from big families we knew the guest list was going to be long and soon it became clear that for us, our wedding was about the people we were going to share it with, and therefore we needed to plan something that wouldn’t limit our guest list. We were very clear we didn’t want to have to “cut” people from our list and therefore we needed a plan that would allow for a big party without breaking the bank. This meant that the “normal” hotel or barn wedding was out, as our budget just wouldn’t stretch to what we’d want in these venues. With this in mind we started looking through wedding magazines and were immediately drawn to the idea of tipis and a festival style wedding – it ticked the boxes in terms of flexibility with numbers – looked stunning and was different from any wedding either of us had attended before. We quickly got excited by the thought of food trucks, gin bars, garden games and wild flowers and the wedding grew from there!
The Planning Process
After deciding we wanted to have tipis we realised we’d need somewhere to put them, and ideally somewhere that we didn’t have to pay for!! Luckily Conor’s Nan owns a farm and with her blessing we were able to use the paddock in front of her house to host the wedding celebration, which was perfect as being in Guildford (where we both grew up) it was very central for all our family and friends to travel to. As well as this, having regular access to the farm made planning really easy as arranging visits for all the vendors was simple.
Having decided to have a festival style celebration we knew we didn’t want all our 250 guests sitting down waiting to be served a sit down meal, so we quickly realised our wedding was going to be little different from the average day plan. One of the first things we did together was a make a plan for the day to clarify how we wanted the day to look – this also made writing a “to-do” list easier as we could plan what we needed to make sure every part of the day went exactly as we wanted it. We decided to have a small intimate ceremony at the local registry office with just the wedding party (parents, sibling, grandparents, bridesmaids and groomsmen). After this we planned to have meal with that group before arriving at the tipis to join the rest of the wedding guests for a big old knees up later in the afternoon. We wanted the afternoon celebration to include relaxed food, great music, speeches and plenty of drinks to keep the party going into the night.
With this basic day plan in mind we forged ahead with the bookings. In the spring after we got engaged we seemed to get on top of things really quickly, and with over a year until the big day we had already booked the tipi company, the registry office, toilets (I never thought I’d have to be renting toilets for my wedding day!!!) and had already sent out save the dates. Once the big things had been organised planning took a bit of a lull over summer as we were moving house and there just seemed to be ages until our wedding, so we didn’t feel the pressure to get things sorted.
Planning really ramped up after Christmas – suddenly writing dates that included “2018” made it seem very real that our wedding was rapidly approaching. Fortunately we seemed to have all bases covered between us – I was brilliant at making lists and panicking saying things like “Oh my god we haven’t booked any caterers yet!!” and Conor was the “do it” man. Between us everything gradually came together and by the time the wedding had arrived, between us we had managed to arrange everything from lighting to rubbish bin hire, bands to parking, transport to suits. Planning a wedding from scratch without the support of a venue was hard – there was so much to consider yet between us we managed it. We had great support from family and friends who helped immensely with everything from sound equipment to order of services, signs and the cake. We were also so relieved to have got Frank on board – a seasoned events manager from The Vine King – a wine shop in Reigate. He had known Conor’s dad for sometime and said he’d be able to provide the bar for our wedding. In the end he ended up being much much more than just the bar – he was our Master of Ceremonies and along with his team of incredible staff, he made sure our day ran smoothly – even re-erecting the flower arch after it was knocked over in a brief storm just hours before all our guests arrived! If it wasn’t for Frank – our wedding day would not have been the great success it was.
Apart from the ceremony, which was held at Guildford Registry office, the whole wedding was hosted at Conor’s Nan’s house. Our sit down meal with just the 25 of us in the wedding party was held in her dining room and catered for by a local Italian Trattoria; Carlo’s. This worked really well as it meant we could be hidden inside while all the rest of our guests arrived in the tipis out the front of the house, and allowed us to do an “arrival” once all our guests were assembled. The tipis were provided by Tentario and along with the tipis we were able to hire lighting, stage, dance floor and seating from them. It looked amazing and everyone commented on how great it looked – the tipis even sheltered us from the brief showers that punctuated the afternoon celebrations!
The Readings & Music
Processional: ‘All my love’ by George Ezra
Signing the Register: ‘Love on top’ by Beyonce
Recessional: “Celebration’ by Kool and the Gang
Readings: ‘He’s not perfect’ by Bob Marley and ‘The At of Marriage’ by Wilfred Arlan Peterson.
Being a musician, for Conor the music at the tipi reception was really important – it had to be epic and had to ensure the dance floor was constantly full! For their arrival our guests were treated to the beautiful singing of our friend (and amazing musician!) Krissy Twigge, accompanied by her friend Jay Brewer on guitar. To fill the background and continue the music after the band had finished Conor’s friend Andy McLean (professional DJ based in Brighton) DJ’ed for us, and did a great job choosing music that kept people dancing into the early hours. But the pièce de résistance was the 7 piece function band that performed 2 hours of funk, disco and Motown classics starting with our first dance “You make my dreams come true” by Hall and Oates. The band was curated by Jack Turnball – a friend of Conor’s who plays in function bands across Brighton and the South of England. He selected musicians he had played with as part of the house band at Casablancas – a jazz club in Brighton. The comments we hear most in regards to our wedding tend to relate to That Band – they were incredible and took our wedding to the next level of awesome! Having a band this size didn’t come cheap, but we really feel that it was some of the best money we spent!
Your Outfits & Accessories
My wedding dress was from Mode Bridal in Hove, the designer was Mori Lee. I’d been to three bridal shops before I found this dress and had tried on all sorts of styles! I had in my mind that I wanted something a bit different and something that suited the style of our wedding. I was also aware that because Conor wasn’t much bigger than me I didn’t want to be wearing a massive gown that just made me look huge next to him (although I definitely made sure I tried on some princess dresses, just for fun!!). I had tried lots of dresses on that I liked and had thought that I was going find it really hard to chose until I tried on this one – somehow it just felt right. I felt comfortable, confident and most of all I felt like me! It’s funny – because you hear people say “when you know, you know”, and all along I just thought, maybe I just wasn’t picky enough – but they’re right – when you try on your dress, you just know because you feel like you. Jana, the owner of Mode Bridal was great – she was so helpful and really made the whole experience feel really special. She also made sure I was able to customise the dress to make it 100% how I wanted it and it made all the difference!
I bought my shoes from a wedding show in London. I was on the look out for a pair of shoes that weren’t too high and that had a block heel, so I wouldn’t sink into the grass at the party! And the ones I found from Rainbow Club were perfect – they were even glittery which is very me, and they were one of the few pairs of block heeled shoes I’d found that didn’t look frumpy.
For jewellery I just used simple silver bits I already owned in a bid to keep costs down and I borrowed some pearl earrings from my mum which went perfectly and also doubled as my “something borrowed”! The only other thing I bought for my outfit was a hair vine, which I sourced on Etsy – it was great because it was really lightweight and flexible (perfect for my fine hair!) and meant that when I took my veil off later in the evening I still felt glam!
Conor’s suit was made for him by Grosvenor Shirts in London. He really wanted to have something special and a bit unique and wanted everyone to know he was the groom! He was able to pick out the exact fabric that he wanted, chose the lining and details and even get bespoke shirts made too. He chose to get a three piece suit, with the jacket and trousers in a blue check material and the waistcoat was plain blue to compliment the pattern. His shirt was white with detail blue buttons and we just bought a navy bow tie from Next to finish it off and link his suit to the groomsman’s. His shoes and belt were a dark brown leather and we bought them from Russell and Bromley.
My makeup was something I hadn’t looked forward to organising – mainly because being someone who doesn’t spend loads on make up I was finding it hard to justify “wedding” prices for bridal makeup and trials. However – I am so glad I just bit the bullet and did it as having someone else do your make up makes getting ready so much easier and, for me at least, meant it lasted all day! I really wanted to use someone I knew or who had been recommended to me as it was really important for me that I looked like me, and didn’t look like I had just walked away from a MAC counter ready for a night out. I had noticed on Instagram that a girl I had worked with previously had now stared her own business as a hair and makeup artist; Rosie Hart Stylist. I contacted her to organise and trial and she was just brilliant. She listened to me, made me feel comfortable and most importantly of all, just did a cracking job. She is also trained to do LVL lashes so I decided to have this done before the wedding as well to enhance my natural lashes without the need for false lashes that I felt were a bit much for my wedding day.
My hair was done by my home hairdresser – Justine. She has been doing my hair for years and as I knew her so well I was keen for her to do my hair on the day. Again this worked really well because she knew what would and wouldn’t be achievable with my natural hair and could give me realistic expectations. As well as this, as I saw her regularly anyway, she was able to practise on my hair loads of times before the big day!
Conor had two ushers, his brother as Best Man and both our Dad’s making up his Groomsmen. We fussed for ages trying to arrange outfits for them all – we needed the suits to compliment the bridesmaid dresses and the colour of Conor’s suit. As well as this, with all the men living across 3 counties it was proving difficult to get them all together to try suits on. We had looked at renting suits, however we found it to be almost as expensive as buying some suits off the rack, as we didn’t want anything too fancy. So we were looking on the high street for suits to buy and Conor’s mum hit the jackpot in Next – we were able to buy 3 piece suits, shirts and bow ties for them all, for less than £220 per person – plus the added bonus that they could each keep the suit after the wedding and use it again in the future. It just seemed to make much more sense financially, and they all looked great!
Having seven bridesmaids, it was really important that the bridesmaid dresses were affordable! As well as this with an age range of 12 – 31 years old, it was important that the dress was age appropriate and would suit different body shapes. The search mainly took place online as it seemed the easiest way to see lots of different styles and share them with the bridesmaids to get their opinions. I knew I definitely wanted navy blue dresses and when I came across the multiway dresses by Debenhams I knew I’d found the perfect dress. Being able to wrap them as they wanted, meant the bridesmaids could all chose a style that suited their shape (and age!!). I also felt the simplicity of the fabric complimented the style of my embellished dress.
Our Florist was Nicole at Wild Thyme Flowers in Surrey. She was amazing and really understood our vision and what we wanted to achieve. I took some magazine cuttings and Pinterest posts to our initial meeting and this really helped us to explain to her what we were looking for, and meant she could help us bring our vision to life! Nicole created button holes, corsages and bouquets for us. As well as this she also installed a beautiful flower arch at the venue and filled all the gin bottles we had collected over the year with flowers to use as centre pieces in the tipis. We chose to have multicoloured, bright, wild flowers to liven up the navy blue colour palette and bring a bit of summer in to our festival themed wedding. This also helped budget wise, because we were not fussy regarding the specifics of the flowers Nicole could buy whatever was in season and at the best price!
Aside from this, to save some pennies, we used pot plants from my parents house to place around the garden and the front door of the farm house to ensure the place looked vibrant and create nice backgrounds for our photos.
The Details & Décor
We tried to keep things simple and rustic in the tipis. We had some chairs and tables and some comfy seating areas made using bean bags and blankets. We had two fire pits and all the wooden beams were lit with gorgeous twinkling fairy lights, which gave a magical feel when the sun started to set. We’d also bought and made approximately 150 paper pompoms in bright colours that we hung from the beams to add some colour inside. This was pretty time consuming but really made a difference to the overall feel and therefore most definitely worth the effort!
As well as this we hired some large barrels to use as perching tables (for congregating and drinking around) and this worked really well. We also used a lighting company to erect lighting across the paddock. They provided festoon lighting and poles that stretched over the grassy area and into the trees to light up the open space in the dark.
One of our friends had a mass of homemade fabric bunting used for festivals that we used to line the fencing leading up to the tipis that just added to the overall festival feel. Another friend spent hours designing and making signs, whilst others brought circus equipment and games to keep our younger guests entertained throughout the evening. It was as real team effort and made the day that much more special as you could really feel all the love that had gone into making our day so perfect.
Our photographer was the incredibly talented Charlotte Razzell. We had known Charlotte for a few years through friends and she had photographed a few other weddings we had been to, as well as done family photos for my sister. Aside from the benefit of already knowing her, Charlotte was an obvious choice for us as we loved her style of photography and knew she’d capture our day exactly as we wanted to remember it. She was great at catching natural moments, really highlighting the emotion of an event. This really drew us to her as we didn’t want to have an album full of “official photos”, rather an album that brought our wedding day to life and would transport us back to those special moments.
Charlotte was great throughout the whole process. We had a pre-wedding couples shoot to get us used to the camera and this was a really helpful way for us to see what type of poses we did and didn’t like. It also gave a great face-to-face opportunity to discuss the plans for the day and share our ideas so we were able to get exactly what we wanted. And we were not disappointed!
We spent our 2 week honeymoon eating and drinking our way around Tuscany, Italy. We flew out 2 days after our wedding which was great as we had enough time to catch our breath before heading off, but not long enough to experience the “wedding come down”. We spent the first 6 nights in Viareggio, a coastal town just north of Pisa, where we spent days on the beach, by the pool and in the spa. We then picked up a car and drove to Siena where we spent a couple days exploring the wine regions and the ancient walled city of Siena. The last 4 nights we were in Florence where we booked on to a cookery class and learnt how to make traditional Italian dishes and sought out roof top bars and restaurants to take in the beautiful city skyline – it was incredible.
- Confetti! It really is as magical as it feels.
- The speeches – full of tears and laughter in equal measure.
- Serving Mr Whippy ice creams to our guests – they are so difficult to pull!
- Looking through the window from our meal and seeing torrential rain hammering down on the tipis outside and thinking “WTF we didn’t order this!”
- Our first dance and the dance floor in general – it was constantly packed!
My mum is a great cook and baker, so she insisted on making our wedding cake – which again was a great way to cut costs and the best way to make absolutely sure the cake tasted exactly how we wanted it! Mum did so much research and preparation (much to the delight of the whole family!). Conor and I knew straight away we wanted a carrot cake – it was our favourite type of cake and again different from any other wedding cake we had eaten before. Mum tried numerous recipes and adapted them until she hit upon the perfect recipe. She made the cakes in advance and then froze them, so that on the wedding day she could relax and enjoy the day. Two of her friends kindly iced the cake the morning of the wedding and decorated it with our acrylic wedding topper and some flowers that the florist had left over. It was so simple, but looked great … and tasted even better!!
Advice For Other Couples
- Don’t skimp on the music!
- If someone offers to help, always say yes!
- Save money on accessories by using bits you already have or borrowing from friends and family.
- Use people’s talents – we saved a lot of money by having friends make signs for us and family making the cake.
- Before you start planning your wedding, decide what the most important aspect of the day is for you – always keep that in your mind when you are making decisions.
- Share the planning with your partner – it makes things much less stressful and will result in a day that is representative of you both.
- Don’t be afraid to do things differently.
- Always have a wet weather plan, then it doesn’t matter if there is a major storm in the middle of August that causes your flower arch to fall over…..
- Get yourself a Frank (or equivalent) so that on your big day someone else is in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly – the last thing you want when your saying your vows is to be panicking that the toilets haven’t arrived (these things really do happen!!).
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Charlotte Razzell Photography
Save The Dates & Invites
Outdoor Event Equipment Hire
Loos for Dos (they really helped us out when the original supplier pulled out at 5pm the night before the wedding!!)
Paella and Canapes
Ice Cream Van
Coordination Catering Hire
Bar/Front of House
Frank Dudley, The Vine King
Krissy Twigge accompanied by Jay Brewer
Nicole at Wild Thyme Flowers
Coach House Woodworks
Rosie Hart Stylist
Flower Girl Dress
Lucy and Conor, I cannot thank you both enough for sharing your beautiful wedding story with us xo Lou