DIY Rustic Woodland Marquee Wedding

DIY Rustic Woodland Marquee Wedding

This wedding combines some of my very favourite things; the woods, DIY and a heck of a lot of love. I won’t lie when I say I may have shed a tear when watching this couple’s proposal video, what a keepsake! I urge you to view it too, it’s so sweet. You can find the link in their report below.

WWW readers Kirsty and Vic were hitched on the 20th May 2017 at Great Higham Barn & Cottages in Kent. They actually hoped they wouldn’t love the venue due to the sheer scale of planning and coordination that would be needed to host their day there, but they did. It’s no surprise with it’s magical woodland for their personal ceremony, accommodation for their guests and the blank canvas to make their wedding their own. They together with their nearest and dearest did so much to create the celebrations, from sourcing and arranging flowers to baking the cake and making oodles of rustic decorations. It was well worth it though, it turned out so perfectly.

One of my fave moments from their day has to be when Vic played Kirsty down the aisle, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. They had the most beautiful portraits captured by Rebecca Douglas against the scenic countryside and I just love why they named their bar The Three Tuns. A gorgeous couple, the best bride tribe ever and some super stylish outfits too. It doesn’t get better than this folks!


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THE PROPOSAL | We went on a camping trip to our favourite place, Cornwall. I (Kirsty) had been planning the proposal for a while. Vic doesn’t really wear fancy jewellery so I got her a simple band and had it inscribed with ‘darling, hold my hand’, the Lyrics from a Jess Glynne song that had been ‘our song’ from the very start.

I knew Lands End had fireworks on one of the evenings we were visiting so chose to do it there. Vic had always wanted the big public proposal, flash mob, brass band and jumbo tron style, but I hated that idea and wanted it to be something just for the two of us, so came up with a compromise. I’d film the proposal and other little bits of our trip and make a video that Vic could use to share our news with all her friends online, so the moment itself would be just us but could be shared with the world too.

I love a sunset and so had been tracking the weather all day and wanted to propose as the sun went down, but of course it was raining. We trekked up to the spot I’d chosen before dinner to ‘check the view’ for my ‘sunset photos’ and then I sat and stewed for an hour over our meal frustrated at the rain clouds rolling through. After dinner there was a little gap in the rain and we headed back up to a spot on the cliffs overlooking Enys Dodman rock formation and just as the cloud broke and the sun crept through I got my tripod set up and told Vic to pose as if she was looking out to sea so I could ‘set up my shot’, she was completely surprised when I got over to her and dropped to one knee… cried her eyes out but managed to say yes and we had a lovely rest of the evening watching the fireworks in the wind and rain!

After a few days of keeping it to ourselves Vic shared the video I made on facebook and she got her big public show of affection after all! Here’s the video in case you’re interested.

THE VISION | We wanted more than just a day, we wanted an experience and to have a few days away with our favourite people to spend time together with a wedding in the middle, so we looked for a venue with accommodation for a large group and when we found Great Higham it was perfect. Of all our options, it was the hardest work as it was a completely dry venue and the hardest stretch financially so we were hoping we wouldn’t like it. As we drove up the drive it was raining really hard and stunk of manure (it was during muck spreading season!) and as we got out of the car, even before we stepped foot in the grounds, we both knew this was the one. Great Higham is the kind of location that steers your vision from its surroundings, we knew we wanted to get married in the woods amongst the tall pines and from there a bit of a rustic theme emerged, mostly the vision was just a few days that we could spend enjoying each others company with the people we most like spending our time with.

THE PLANNING PROCESS | As soon as we chose the venue it was full steam ahead as we had only 9 months and had chosen a tricky style of wedding – completely DIY. We found some amazing vendors to work with that really helped but one of the big things about a venue like Great Higham where you don’t have a venue team running your big day is that you have to coordinate everything and plan every little touch, from where you want power sockets and how much voltage they will need to handle to who is going to move tables and chairs on the day or make sure the lights are turned on! It’s a major operation and you have to juggle so many different vendors but we had help from a wonderful bride tribe! We did enjoy the process but it was pretty stressful at times wondering if we could do it all and trying not to forget anything. We were both working pretty intense full time jobs and on top of those Vic is studying for her final paramedic qualifications so we had to do it all amongst uni work and exams too. Let’s just say we learnt a lot about ourselves and working as a team!

THE VENUE | Great Higham Barn and Cottages, Doddington, Kent.

THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Kirsty’s dress was from John Lewis and a bargain at £36, the cheapest of all the wedding outfits! Kirsty never wanted a big ‘proper’ wedding dress, this was one of the 2 or 3 times a year she dropped the jeans and converse so it was all about something she felt herself in and this dress fit the woodland/boho theme perfectly. The rose gold belt was a later addition to tie in the shoes from Irregular Choice, which added a much needed bit of warmth. Vic chose a beautiful bracelet to match, which she sent with the bridesmaids as a surprise.

FINDING THE DRESS | One of our bridesmaids was dress obsessed so we indulged her with one visit to a real dress shop, the rest was done from online shopping in the comfort of our own home! Vic didn’t see the dress until the day of the wedding, although at one point she was very close to it as Kirsty blindfolded her so they could make sure their outfits worked together! (too far?)

THE OTHER BRIDE’S ATTIRE | Vic never wanted a dress, she can totally pull one off but hasn’t worn one since she was 18 so we set about trying to find an outfit that didn’t make her look butch or manly and that she’d feel great in. We found her trousers and waistcoat in ASOS wedding collection and paired it with a shirt from H&M. She ended up changing the back of the waistcoat to match the navy the boys were wearing and added her own pocket square in the same material as their ties. Her boots from Dune with navy laces were a lovely finishing touch alongside the rose gold and tan watch Kirsty bought for her wedding day surprise, giving us both a few little touches linked in with each other.

THE READINGS & MUSIC | Vic used to be in a band at school with two of her friends she is still close with so they decided to play Christina Perri’s ‘Thousand Years pt. 2’ for us as we walked up the aisle. When Vic and her dad reached the top Vic picked up her guitar and joined in to play Kirsty’ up the aisle. The band played a few more songs after dinner, including a surprise version of McFly’s “It’s all about you” which Vic had re-written for Kirsty and took over lead vocals for, which was amazing!

Readings at the ceremony were carefully chosen as they felt so ‘us’. They were read by Kirsty’s mum who read “I love you too” a poem by Erin Hanson, all about the little things rather than the big gestures of love, and Vic’s brother Matt who gave an emotional version of “Here’s to right now” by Ms Moem, which reminded us to appreciate the day and take it all in with our loved ones as much as looking forward to the life we were about to begin. We walked back down the aisle together to ‘Soul Sister’ by Train.

In the evening Coverflow Party Band played our first dance, Darling Hold My hand by Jess Glynne, which they learnt a slowed down version of and then followed with 3 amazing sets keeping the dance floor full all night! We actually received our very first wedding present from Jess! As a surprise my sister wrote to her to tell her about ‘our song’, the ring and the first dance ages ago and she sent a lovely card and a crystal that represents love, which was a really nice surprise.

BRIDE TRIBE | We didn’t really have individual bridesmaids, more a shared bride tribe. Kirsty’s sisters Fliss and Amy, Vic’s brother Matt and friends Emily, Jayne and Daley were an amazing team that we loved spending our few days with and certainly earnt their place! The girls dresses came from House of Fraser, the boys trousers from Asos and braces from Top Man. Our nieces Millie and Edie and our nephew Noah also joined us for our walk down the aisle, Millie and Edie’s dresses were H&M kids, and Noah’s pack of Mini Cheddars he walked down the aisle with were Tesco ???? Vic made all the bow ties and our dad’s ties too.

THE FLOWERS | This was a real mix of flowers and greenery we got from Kirsty’s grandma’s garden, a few bits from her mum’s and then the rest a random selection our local market florist got for us. We lost Kirsty’s grandma at the end of last year, she was a keen gardener and flower arranger so it was lovely to have lots of little bits of her all around us. The bouquets and buttonholes were done by our amazingly talented friend Leanne who really should be doing floristry professionally, and all the other arrangements and table flowers were done by Kirsty’s mum, ably assisted by various members of the bride tribe the day before the wedding.

THE CAKE | Yep, we made that too. Vic baked the sponges and we had intended to decorate it ourselves too having succeeded on the practice run, but last minute were saved a job by our lovely friend Emily who iced it for us half naked/half metallic icing style with a touch of fruit and lemon balm on the morning of the wedding. We used one of Kirsty’s granny’s knives to cut it. The bottom tier made a lovely early bird breakfast with tea for our overnight guests the morning after whilst we waited for those with bigger hangovers to wake up!

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | The wonderful Rebecca Douglas of course who made it easy and fun, who indulged our ideas and obsessions with light and gave us such a lovely time together in our little walks, we didn’t stop laughing! We love the pictures and Rebecca’s style, without words the pictures capture EXACTLY how we felt.

THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Four words. We. Went. Too. Far. We are both pretty creative and fairly handy and ended up making EVERYTHING. We designed the stationery; we made the pallet bar and pub sign, we made the bottle holder centrepieces from sawn timber and copper pipe and hand burnt a stamp that we designed ourselves, we made all the signs, the light up Mrs and Mrs letters, the table plan and ‘Lands end’ photo booth, we made the pen holders, the card boxes and even the bunting and table runners (which were finished off with some beautiful lace that we found in Kirsty’s grandma’s loft. We were really pleased to be able to include so many touches from her home to remind us of her… all through the planning we’d get random sniffs of aroma’s that were ‘granny’s house’! We even used some of the souvenir spoons she collected for our coffee’s and love that so many of these found new forever homes with our lovely guest). We were lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends and family to help us with all the DIY, and we wholeheartedly apologise to them for dragging them along with us. We named our bar “The Three Tuns” because after granny died we did some research on our family tree and found out that generations of both our families had at one time or another lived on the same street in Faversham where the real Three Tuns is situated, we like to think that at some point our ancestors enjoyed a drink at the same bar, albeit unlikely at the same time, and wanted to give a bit of a nod to the fact that our generations of our two families could finally share that beer together.

THE HONEYMOON | We actually had our honeymoon early, we had a trip planned to Mexico and New York in December and couldn’t really justify two big holidays. I (Kirsty) have travelled a lot but Vic hadn’t so it was really nice for me to show her a bit of the world! We had an awesome time soaking up the sun and snorkelling in Mexico and then freezing our behinds off seeing all the delights of New York at Christmas. Just to give us a little breather after the wedding we rented a little cottage on an old dairy farm in the Cotswolds for a long weekend, which was a great chance to recover and enjoy the last few days of each others company before heading back to reality.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS | So many! Building the bar in the snow in February under a gazebo with a small bonfire to keep us warm; Kirsty’s mum helping with the DIY and jumping every time the nail gun fired; loading the van with all our décor to head to the venue and unloading it again the next day in two of May’s most torrential downpours and laughing our way through it…. Then there was the wedding itself… spending 10 minutes together, just us, in the woodland hot tub at 6am on the morning of the wedding, listening to nothing but the birds chirp as the sun broke through the trees before the rest of the wedding party woke up and chaos commenced; Vic’s band rehearsing our aisle song the night before and finally revealing to the wedding party that plan,  which had been our secret all along; for Kirsty it was hiding behind a tree watching Vic play as she waited to take her turn to walk up the aisle; the absolute train-wreck that was the first part of our joint speech as we floundered our words and got our cards out of order, but really gave everyone a glimpse into what we’re really about; Kirsty getting to see Vic play in her band for the first time properly (Vic was in a band when we met but quit before Kirsty ever got to see her play) and of course the surprise song; our official band unintentionally (or was it?) but hilariously sound-checking to “I kissed a girl and I liked it” and their performance of our first dance, which really was our first time dancing together in-front of other people, and finishing the night in our favourite way to finish any night, with a cup of tea together in bed!

ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Know your limits and your stress points and don’t push yourself too hard. We went too far and took on a bit too much at times given everything else we had going on, we loved everything we did and were so proud of the result but if we did it again we’d have started earlier to take off a bit of the pressure. A good idea we were given toward the very end was to do an ‘effort/impact’ test – is the impact (on your enjoyment of the day) worth the level of effort it takes to pull of your idea, we cut a few things last minute that could possibly have pushed us over the edge!

Don’t have an outside wedding! (Just kidding, sort of) …. We fell in love with the woodland and had our hearts set on it, so the anxiety in the weeks running up when it looked like rain was not fun… but you can’t guarantee the weather so if this is your dream, go for it, it’s so worth it if it works, but have a plan B, just in case!

Remember it’s your wedding, you’re in it together and doing it because you love each other not to keep everyone else happy or impressed. Yes, it’s important that your best people enjoy the day too (or it was to us anyway) and you don’t need to be rude or obnoxious about it (you will pick up excellent negotiating / communication skills!) but what is important to you should trump most things. If you keep it true to you then all the people that really care about you should love it too. Don’t fight with each-other (for long!) about the wedding, learn to compromise, understand that your other half is probably anxious and stressed too and remember that it’s your BOTH of your day, get your adventure started off on the right foot!


Photography | Rebecca Douglas

Venue | Great Higham Barn & Cottages

Marquee | Best in Tents

Catering | Cucumber Catering

Bar Services | Perfect Planning

Lighting (Marquee and Woods) | EW Production Services

Hair | Sarah Plummer, The Rye Retreat

Make up | Jayne Hodgson (Bridesmaid), Nineteen Beauty

Band | Coverflow Party Band

Celebrant | Kate Dyer of Kate and Kate Celebrants

Rings | Simon Milne in Rye


Ahhh so romantic.

Huge thanks to Kirsty and Vic and their photographer Rebecca Douglas for sharing their incredible wedding story with us xo Lou


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