Are you ready for a totally rad, cool and awesome festival party wedding celebration? Great stuff, then be sure settle in and read on you guys!
Alex and Dan tied the knot on the 27th July 2019 in Alex’s father’s field in Surrey in a meaningful humanist ceremony outdoors against a stunning flower arch. Following they partied into the night in magical tipis with guests camping out over night. They created a real festival party atmosphere thanks to their large guest list of 200, live music, drinks truck, campervan photo booth and fun smoke bombs. Their day was super relaxed and as you can see from these fantastic images there were smiles all day long.
Many of their loved ones contributed to their DIY wedding, which is always so lovely to hear, it really sounds as though everyone rallied round to really create a dream wedding for Alex and Dan. I really love their outfits too, Alex and Dan both looked amazing and how cool is Alex’s evening outfit, a sequin cat suit!? Woah.
Kirsty Mackenzie Photography I cannot thank you enough for sharing with us these utterly brilliant captures of such a special wedding.
The proposal happened in the Algarve, Portugal in May 2018. It was a total surprise, Dan had bought the ring completely on his own, luckily I love it. He planned to surprise me on a sunrise cliff walk, but due to bad weather he proposed on the roof terrace one evening. I managed to say yes once I got over the shock.
We didn’t have any specific theme or colour scheme, the vision was something with a relaxed, festival feel. Once we decided on a tipi wedding, it helped to bring together a rustic, outdoor festival feel. We met at Shambala festival in 2011 and are regular festival goers, so it seemed fitting that we got married in a field!
The Planning Process
We started researching venues fairly quickly, once we decided on a summer 2019 wedding date, but we soon realised that it would be difficult to find a venue that could fit the 200 person guest list and also, not blow our budget. We also took the bold decision to invite 200 people for the full day. I remember saying to my dad, if only I knew someone with a field that I could put a tipi in and he said he thought he could fit a tipi in the field he has at the back of his garden. I knew it was a big ask, but he seemed very relaxed and happy to host the wedding at his. It was a relief to finally find somewhere. We then found a tipi company, Beautiful Word Tents, who were great and made that side of things very straight forward. Regarding the catering side, we decide to keep it simple and have a hog and lamb roast and salads, served to the tables on platters, so we could still have a sit down meal. We realised the queues for food could have been very long otherwise with so many quests! We found a hog roast catering company, Oakfield Farm, that could also supply canapes, dessert and waiting and bar staff, so that covered all bases. They were very flexible and even supplied bacon for the campsite breakfast the next day!
I was shocked at how consuming the planning process became, there was always something else to think about. In hindsight, planning a DIY wedding at home certainly had its stressful moments, the field didn’t have a proper access route for a start, so my dad had to create one. I sometimes felt like I spent more time worrying about things like having enough parking and where the toilets would go, instead of the fun things, like the décor, but it was all worth it in the end to have a wedding totally on our terms and under our control and to keep the cost down.
Once we had the big things booked in like the tipi, photographer, florist, band and caterers, we relaxed a little and we were lucky enough to have lots of talented and generous friends to help us sort the other aspects. We were just so grateful for the help of our friends, it’s a time when you need all the help you can get. I was lucky enough that one of my bridesmaid’s Jen happens to run Kalm Kitchens, a wedding catering and styling company and she offered to create our amazing 80’s snack bar and cheese board for after the meal. Dan’s cousin works for a glamping company called Hotel Bell Tent and sourced us the 14 bell tents for 70 of our guests to stay in. We let other guests bring tents or campervans if they wanted to stay on site.
A couple of our friends DJed after the band, so brought their equipment, our friend Nick who’s a professional Saxophone player played a song after the ceremony, which was a lovely moment. Our friend Jon brought his vintage drinks van – Patina&co, which was full of craft beers from Bristol where we live. Dan also drove over to France with a friend to buy the wine, which meant we got some lovely wine for a good price.
Realising we would be pretty busy on the day and not wanting my family to have to be worrying about logistics on the day, I hired a wedding coordinator, Ella from the Surrey Wedding Company, which was great, she met all the suppliers as they arrived and kept an eye out for anything going wrong. It is an extra cost, but I would recommend a wedding coordinator for this type of wedding. We used so many different suppliers and she kept track of when they would arrive and also had lots of gorgeous props that we hired to help with the decoration.
I knew I wanted was a photo booth to keep guests entertained between the meal and band and I found one in a VW Camper van, which fitted with the festival theme.
The venue was Alex’s father’s house, in his field in Surrey. We hired a 4 hat tipi from Beautiful World Tents. The tipi had an area for a dance floor and bar as well as the dining area. We wanted it to have enough space for all the guests all day, in case of bad weather! Luckily the rain stayed away. My dad was amazing at sorting all the practical things that I wouldn’t have thought of, like an electricity and water supply for the field and ordering lots of lanterns and fairy lights for when it got dark. It was hard to imagine having a wedding in a field, but it came together beautifully in the end.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I liked a lot of the dresses I tried on and I tried on a lot, but settled with a Suzanne Neville dress as I wanted something slinky, with some lace and it covered those aspects. It was a sample dress, so I managed to get it for a discount price. It was so comfortable and easy to move around and dance in! I found some strappy heeled sandals from Schuh and had gold accessories from Accessorize. I did spill an espresso martin cocktail down the front of my dress on the dance floor, but I had a backup outfit of sequin cat suit from Burnt Soul which I changed into in the evening. The cat suit actually got a better response then my dress!
Dan got his suit from Moss Bros and we just asked the ushers to wear a navy suit to keep things simple.
The Readings & Music
We walked down the aisle to ‘I giorni’ by Ludovico Einaudi. Choosing readings was tricky, so we asked one of the ushers, Pete (an English teacher), to choose a reading himself and he read a beautiful poem called XVII (I do not love you) by Pablo Neruda. We asked my brother Ed to read ‘The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee’ as we felt it had a nice sentiment that reflected me and Dan’s outlook on life. When the ceremony finished, our friend Nick played La Vie en Rose on saxophone.
We had a humanist ceremony, our celebrant Bill created a wonderful story of our relationship which was very personal and humorous and had the audience cheering and laughing a lot which was nice. We knew Bill already which made everything more relaxed. (We did the legal bit in a registry office the week before).
Jessica Short did my make up and hair for all the bridesmaids. I had a silk flower crown to add a boho feel.
I asked my bridesmaids to wear something of a blush pink tone, having 6 bridesmaids I felt it would be difficult to find a style to suit everyone and wanted everyone to feel comfortable and express their personality. It worked well and I knew they they’d all feel comfortable in their outfits.
Kirsty MacKenzie, we were searching for a photographer online and Kirsty’s website just spoke to us, we knew we didn’t want too many traditional, set up photos and someone to really capture the essence of the day with relaxed, natural photos, which she totally did. Kirsty is also incredibly lovely and easy to work with which helped. I was a bit nervous about being in front of the camera so much, but Kirsty totally put us at ease and felt more like a wedding guest. She had some really cool, creative ideas, like the smoke bomb photos, they were also lots of fun to do.
The Details & Décor
Luckily the tipi didn’t need too much extra décor as it was impressive as it was, especially once we had the flower hoop above the circular bar. Our tipi company, Beautiful World Tents provided fairy lights, bunting and a relaxed seating area. I hired a few props like lanterns, crates, the barrel bar and the copper stand for the table plan from the Surry Wedding Company and lots of the other décor like the Turkish rugs, vases and shabby chic suitcase that we used for collecting presents and cards, I already owned or I borrowed from friends and family. My bridesmaid Jen was kind enough to write the 200 name places for the table, for which we used paper luggage tags and twine wrapped around a sprig of rosemary, which was very cost effective. I chose a pale pink napkin and pink wine glass to add to the table décor. My friend Becci made the table numbers out of funny photos of us with number written on the back.
I found our florist by browsing through instagram and was drawn in by Jessica’s rustic, wild creations. She did an amazing job of creating the flower arch for the ceremony and the flower hanging hoop above the bar in the tipi, it made the tipi look amazing. The bridesmaids had simple bouquets and I choose a fairly small one. She also took care of the table décor and did single flowers in vases, which looked very pretty and as there wasn’t much room on the trestle tables, it worked very well.
The cake was made by our friend Alistair. We wanted something rustic and simple that we could decorate with fresh flowers. He made a delicious, three tired Victoria sponge with a fresh fruit and cream filling. It was truly delicious and looked fantastic, and we enjoyed testing several trial runs in the lead up to the wedding.
We flew back to the Algarve, (the scene of the proposal) on the Tuesday after the wedding to decompress for a few days, however, as we asked for contributions to or honeymoon for our wedding gifts, we wanted to plan a longer trip to Japan the following year. We were meant to fly this April, but sadly the coronavirus has put a stop to that, but we hope to reschedule once we can!
The ceremony – I lost count of the number of times our guests told us how much they enjoyed it. I’d really recommend a humanist ceremony and Bill our celebrant made it really personal and unique. I had been quite nervous about that part of the day beforehand, especially as it was so personal, but I think the guest really appreciated the effort that went into it.
The band – The band were fantastic and the dance floor was packed and night! It really did feel like a festival! They also played our first dance song which was great and I even joined them on stage towards the end of the night for a dance with a tambourine!
All the speeches were great and I cried several times!
The morning spent getting ready with my bridesmaids was really special and fun, I couldn’t resist getting us all matching silk robes from Ted Baker.
Advice For Other Couples
Accept help from friends, I did worry about burdening people, but generally I think they enjoyed helping out and being part of the day!
Have fun with the day and break with tradition. Dan wanted his mum to walk him down the aisle which was a lovely moment. Also, my evening cat suit outfit was very untraditional, but got such a great reaction.
Try and stick to your budget and prioritise what’s important to you and try and DIY what you can. Don’t get too bogged down with the detail, I think the guests remember the atmosphere much more than the finer details.
If you do have a DIY wedding at home, you need to think about who will clean up the next day and get rid of the rubbish. Dan and I spent our first day of married life at the recycling centre getting rid of the empty wine bottles.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Kirsty Mackenzie Photography
Hair & MUA
Jessica Short Hair and Makeup
Jessica Eliza Flowers
Monsoon, Coast, Ted Baker, Needle & Thread and Reiss.
Oh my! What fun.
Alex and Dan thank you so very much for sharing your super cool festival wedding with us xo Lou