I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a wedding with SO much entertainment.
Tom and Arabella were married on the 6th September 2014 at Highcliffe Castle in Dorset. They then headed to the family back garden for their music festival glamping party. With famous DJs, a burlesque dancer, steel pan drummer, fire show and a silent disco into the early hours, there sure was one big celebration.
The wedding tent looked amazing complete with rustic tables, colourful décor, kissing booth and the love bar. Their attire was perfect, Arabella looked utterly chic in her low back dress, Tom donned a bespoke three piece suit and the maids wore vibrant frocks. LOVE.
Thanks today to Jonny MP for sharing these brilliant images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | At The York and Albany Hotel on Regent’s Park. We often go there for a little stay-cation to get away from the hustle and bustle and routine of London life. I was planning to propose but wasn’t sure how, so when Ari decided to book us into the hotel again, she played straight into my hands. I got us secretly upgraded, had the room covered in roses and the champagne put on ice. She walked into the room first (convinced we were in the wrong one!) saw a letter addressed to her (which I had pre-prepared) and opened it to reveal the question: will you marry me? She turned around and I was on one knee with the ring. I didn’t get a ‘yes’ for about 20 minutes because she was so overwhelmed and shocked. Some guys might have been worried by this, but I knew it was a yes instantly, it was a wonderful and real reaction. We celebrated with a three course meal in the restaurant and far too much wine and cocktails. It was perfectly indulgent.
THE VISION | The guiding vision was a ‘music festival theme.’ We have been going to festivals together for over ten years and we wanted to bottle up some of the love, openness and creativity that you can only find at a festival. That said, Ari was excellent at integrating tradition and formality with this vision, so in the end what we got was a very balanced occasion that felt both significant and wild at the same time.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I had recently switched to freelance work with much more flexible working hours, so I was able to dedicate very focused periods of time during the weeks on planning the wedding. Ari had also recently made a big career move so she was under a great deal of pressure and I was therefore able to compensate and support her through this. It helps that we have got a lot of very talented people in our close network of friends and family so by appealing to them the planning became a very collaborative effort. Otherwise, there weren’t any great secrets to our planning process. Hard work, organisation and enjoying the process. We were very clear with our parents that it was our vision, which they supported, and we stayed true to that throughout. We tried not to get influenced too much by wedding convention either and if we had a silly idea, we just went with it.
THE VENUE | The ceremony was at Highcliffe Castle in Christchurch.
The reception was at the Lumsden’s family house in Tiptoe in the New Forest. The drinks reception was in the garden and the Bedouin stretch tent marquee and the glamping accommodation were in the fields.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress was hand-made to Ari’s bespoke requirements. Designed in collaboration with a seamstress she knows through her work in luxury fashion. No accessories other than a hand-embroidered floor length veil.
FINDING THE DRESS | After all her searching in the typical and traditional wedding dress shops, the opportunity to make the dress came up and there was no looking back. It was the path that had Ari the most excited.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | A hand-made bespoke suit by Mark Albray, a very experienced Savile Row tailor, from his shop Hugo Morris in Brighton. A three-piece suit with a lapelled waistcoat in a navy and midnight blue baby-hounds tooth cloth.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | At the ceremony, we had two readings 1. Two passages from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ (one of our favourite books) 2. Poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph (one of Ari’s favourite poems.)
Our hymn was ‘The Wonder Of You’ by Elvis – one of the coolest things we have ever done is sing Elvis in a castle in congregation with the people we love the most – AMAZING!
While guests arrived at the castle and then at the drinks reception, we had a steel pan drummer playing, bringing some Caribbean fun and joy to proceedings. It is the coolest instrument in the world and I don’t know a situation that cannot be improved with the steel pan drum.
Our first dance was ‘Let’s Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye, which is a classic love song and the best type of credible cheese music, plus it was the perfect message and tone to kick the party off.
At the party, we had all of our DJ friends spin tunes, some of whom are professional and famous DJs. The music was world class.
We finished the night with a silent disco, which is a great and fairly inexpensive idea if you want to keep the party going. We were able to go until 7.30am before the last revellers turned in.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | 7 girls, including 2 maids of honour – they were Ari’s sister, 3 school friends and 3 uni friends. They were wearing an amazing Karen Millen dress, which came in orange or green and two different lengths. It was perfect because we put the Maids of Honour in orange and the bridesmaids in green. Then the girls could pick the length that suited them best. They all looked gorgeous.
THE FLOWERS | The bride and bridesmaids were holding classic and simple bouquets of white roses. The groom and ushers wore a single white rose bud on their lapel to match.
The tables were decorated with little colourful potted plants and herbs, which guests could put on their food.
THE CAKE | Arabella is half-Uruguayan and their oldest family friends from there were over for the wedding. They made the cake for us as a gift. It was a dulce de leche and coconut mille feuille, multi-tiered cake. The recipe is a famous and traditional one from Uruguay that we both love.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Jonny MP – we cannot speak highly enough of him. Friendly, reassuring and takes wonderful photos. He is especially good at capturing people in between moments, in a sort of reportage style, which is what we wanted.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Colourful and bright.
We had a professional sign maker, which was one of the best decisions we made because his signs made such an impact.
We bought a box of colourful mardi gras throws so when guests arrived at the drinks reception, everyone had a garland put around their neck. We really like this as a signifier of unity and the start of a celebration.
Our designer friend spent days on end making up tissue paper flower arrangements which we hung all over the roof of the marquee. They were stunning.
All the tables were named and numbered after famous Chelsea footballers. As a massive Chelsea fan, it was the one way of getting something of the football club into the wedding.
On every table was a ‘how well do you know Ari and Tom quiz’ which they filled out during the meal. The winning table got a party pack for the night ahead.
We had a photo booth and fancy dress amnesty, where all guests donated one piece of fancy dress to the cause. We also built a kissing booth, which got quite x-rated into the small hours – we are very proud of the decision to have that!
Our hippy friends put on a massive fire show with fire breathing, juggling and hoops.
We hosted a dance-off competition, using hay bales to create podiums around the dance floor.
We had an international burlesque star called Beau Rocks, perform two shows in the night. When she buried the Father Of The Brides’ head in her nipple-tasselled breasts, we knew she had paid for herself!
Accordingly, for the favours, all the girls received nipple tassels and all the guys received adult transfer tattoos. They proved to be a massive hit because everyone started putting them on after a few drinks!
THE HONEYMOON | We went to the Basilicata region in the south of Italy on the Ionian Sea to a Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotel. We have both lived in Italy in the past and we love it as a country. It was always our first choice destination. The honeymoon was relaxing and romantic.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Despite the craziness of the event, I think exchanging vows was our most memorable moment. It’s obvious because of its significance but we pushed for the wedding to be really wild and fun, so this was one of the few quiet, reverent and really tender moments. For these reasons, it really stands out as memorable.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | There is always a compromise, find it. The devil is in the detail. Stay true to what you love, don’t make decisions based on impressing people or what they might think of you. We stuck to these rules and we got our dream wedding, which everyone loved.
P.s. on the day itself, don’t sweat the details. Just roll with it and enjoy it because it flashes by. Stay present and you will not have any regrets.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Jonny MP
Suit | Hugo Morris
Silent Disco | Silent Disco King
Temporary Tattoos | Tattly
Proposal Venue | York and Albany
Honeymoon | Mr and Mrs Smith
Burlesque Dancer | Beau Rocks
Steel Pan Drummer | Sternberg Clarke
Ceremony Venue | Highcliffe Castle
Balloons | Giant Balloons
Benches | Wooden Bench Hire Company
Rings | Hearts of London
Accommodation | Cariad Canvas
Bedouin Tents | Wedding Tipi
Tom and Arabella thank you so much for sharing your wedding day with us. I am sure WWW readers along with myself are wishing we had the chance to party with you – amaze! xo Lou