We are headed to the woods today and I couldn’t be happier! WWW readers Nikitta and Neezam are joining us with their utterly beautiful Happy Valley wedding in Norfolk, which was held on the 31st August 2019. They were able to have the whole glamping site to themselves for the weekend which meant family and friends could camp with them too, what a wonderful way to kick off the celebrations! Top of their priorities were good food and relaxed family friendly vibes, it really looked like the laid back and welcoming day of their dreams if these images are anything to go by.
I am thrilled that WWW fave and Supplier Love members One Curious Dream were on hand to assist with the decoration and coordination on the day. The stretch tent looked so beautiful, with long rustic tables adorned with greenery and magical lighting twinkling come evening. Their ceremony though I have to say looked really special, they said their vows in the woodland and what an enchanting setting it was.
Do look out for the seriously gorgeous outfits (hello beaded gown and wool suit!), lush greenery bouquets and I love that they ditched the traditional wedding cake for a pizza cutting! Brilliant. I really cannot thank Alice Cunliffe Photography enough for sharing these undeniably gorgeous images with us.
We got engaged back in September 2016 in Santorini – amazingly Neezam had hidden the ring for months and was able to keep it all a secret. We are a couple that have travelled a lot both together and apart therefore Neezam always knew that he wanted to propose when on holiday. We had been in Iceland in the November the year before but unfortunately the ring didn’t arrive on time so Neezam was then faced with a long wait until our summer holiday the following year. As a couple that have been together now for nearly 9 years, it was always going to be difficult for Neezam to surprise me – we were always faced with the questions around when he was going to pop the question. But it’s fair to say, I didn’t pick up at all on his big romantic gestures and I was so blown away by the proposal that I knocked the ring out of his hand…cue both of us scrambling on the floor of the Airbnb to find the ring.
Neezam and I love nothing more than hosting parties for our friends and families – we get real joy out of being surrounded by our big families and our friends and enjoying good food so we always knew that was going to be key to our wedding. We put our heart and soul into our food for people so the wedding was the chance to do exactly that.
We’re not very traditional and wanted a day that absolutely represented us as a couple – so it needed to be a relaxed environment, where all the children in our families felt free to run wild and there was plenty of great drink, food and music for everyone else.
The Planning Process
From the moment we got engaged and the conversations started about the wedding, we always knew we wanted to get married in Norfolk and we never really deviated from that plan. For us, Norfolk is somewhere that is close enough to home but also feels like a million miles away in the best possible way. We wanted to get married somewhere that we could keep visiting for years to come and Norfolk is the perfect place for exactly that.
So once we had agreed on Norfolk, the next important step was thinking about who we wanted there – we’re both lucky enough to be from big families so there was no question that this was going to be a big wedding. This would ultimately help us to drill drown the possible venues (there’s so many beautiful places in Norfolk) but there was definitely a short list that would comfortably fit our number of guests (roughly 160 people).
As our plans started to develop we had conversations about what was important to us and this helped us to know what to focus on and what not to worry about. For us the food and the music were key but also capturing the day so we would have the memories forever. Once we knew that we were in a good position to know what to prioritise and not to worry about things that just weren’t important to us.
I think what was really helpful about having quite a bit of time for our engagement is that we were really able to shop around for everything to find the best cost. We also had time to make a lot of things ourselves – but there is no denying that the venue absolutely made the day.
With a backdrop like Happy Valley, we really didn’t need much else – we wanted to really celebrate the beauty of the site and so didn’t fall into the trap of feeling like we needed to bring lots of extra design etc. Still now, when we look back on our day we are still utterly blown away by the beauty of Happy Valley.
We were keen to have a wedding that we could afford, but also wanted to save money in a way that didn’t mean our lives stopped in the years leading up to the wedding. We had a few helpful ways of saving a bit of money – we were really lucky to have amazingly talented family and friends that could help with food and the crafts. And we worked really hard to not get swept away in the excitement of wanting everything! We had to keep reminding ourselves of what was important and that allowed us to keep to our budget (ish!).
We found this venue by complete luck on Instagram and it is by far the best find ever! Happy Valley is a hidden gem in Norfolk and is truly breath taking in every way – the energy on the site instantly brings such calm and peace. In the time from when we booked the venue to our wedding day, it was so exciting to see the site evolve over time – Katy and Scott are amazingly kind hearted and talented people. Every part of the site is built by them and is so clearly built with such care and love.
How can you not fall in love with a glamping site with beautiful bell tents, tree temples, shepherd huts and tree houses?!
As they say on their website – it is 9 acres of whimsical woodland and open space and it’s fair to say we were blown away the moment we saw it. With a party barn of dreams and endless space for the children to run wild and free it was absolutely perfect.
Because of the size of our wedding this venue was ideal because it was ours from Friday-Sunday to do what we want with the site. We were able to stay on the site with some family and friends for the weekend and already we can’t wait to go back on the site for a mini break.
The Readings & Music
Music is so important to us and it was great fun picking out the best music for an outdoor woodland wedding – it felt so magical! It was so fun to make our wedding playlists – and we’re still enjoying them now!
We were also so lucky to be able to have Neezam’s uncle Steve do our ceremony – it was so beautiful and personal and he talked everyone through different wedding traditions around the world. We then had 3 of our nieces do the sweetest little reading – the ceremony just felt like a really great family celebration!
We wanted everything about the wedding to be really natural and beautiful therefore getting the right hair and make up was really important. As someone with curly hair it was really tough to find the right person but Amanda and her team were great – I was so happy with everyone’s hair and make up. Even Michelle foraging around the venue to find greenery for the bridesmaids’ hair!
Your Outfits & Accessories
You always hear about brides saying they ended up in a dress they didn’t expect and it’s fair to say the exact same thing happened for me – I had an idea in my mind (for a really long time) about what my dress would look like and the dress I ended up with was nothing like what I expected and I LOVED it! I had a beautiful Rosa Clara dress – that was unbelievably easy to wear and I ended up with the dress because the amazing lady in the shop asked me really great questions. And the answers led to a completely different dress – my Rosa Clara dress was picked out as a wild card and was absolutely the dress for me. I instantly knew and fell in love.
For Neezam, he wanted complete control over his suit and the ushers. He spent a lot of time researching different styles online, comparing rental suits with buying and the difference in cost. He landed on an understated navy blue wool suit with a subtle tartan check, a matching vest and a white shirt. Being half Scottish, Neezam also wanted to pay homage to his Scottish heritage and so chose to finish his suit off with a Robertson (his family clan) tartan tie and burgundy wine coloured shoes from Paul Smith. The suit was from Walker Slater (a Scottish company) and the shirt from Hawes & Curtis.
Alice Cunliffe was the best person to have around!! The day before the wedding she was so calming as we walked around the site and talked through the day. On our wedding day it was like having an old friend spending the day with us, Alice takes such beautifully natural photos and also such a fun person to have around. She made us feel so relaxed and we are so so happy with all of our photos.
We weren’t sure whether we were going to have a videographer, but it was the best choice we made. Mike is so so talented and we will treasure our wedding video forever – you would’ve thought he had worked with Alice for years, they were just so fun to be around. He was able to capture our day in the most beautiful way.
We were so happy with Petite Verte – another great find on Instagram! Again, because of the venue we wanted to keep things really simple so their green bouquets were perfect. Victoria was so helpful and so great the morning of the wedding setting up the greenery for the wedding breakfast. We were then able to dry out that greenery and enjoy it for months to come. We also had a family friend make our confetti for us – we’ve even kept a little box of it as a keepsake!!
The Details & Décor
Something that was so special was that Neezam’s parents catered our wedding breakfast – with Neezam’s dad as head chef in the kitchen we had the most amazing Mauritian feast of biriyani and endless salads made by the bridesmaids. It was great to look at everyone enjoying the food that was made by family and friends.
We kept the venue really simple…we were really lucky because the venue really didn’t need much décor. We kept it really simple with garden games, old photos dotted around and lots of homemade bunting but the lighting at the venue really brought the place to life at night. The hack I’m probably most proud of was using rolls of white paper for table runners and covering it with greenery – it was super cheap and looked great!
We didn’t end up with a wedding cake neither of us really like wedding cake so instead had a lot of great baked treats from family including; brownies, lemon drizzle and mini cheesecakes. But we wanted to keep the tradition of cutting the cake so decided to do a pizza cutting ahead of the evening food being served!!
Neezam chose his family as his groomsman. This included his brother Noord, his cousin Mark, his twin brother Imran and his best man was his cousin Paul.
The groomsman wore navy, lightweight wool suits from Next but without vests and with matching tartan bow ties. On the morning of the wedding Neezam presented his groomsman with a gift box including their bow ties for the day, a hip-flask with their initials engraved and a miniature spirit.
It was important that each bridesmaid was comfortable and were able to have their own style – so loved the idea of the multi-way dresses. But they were an absolute bargain on eBay and the perfect colour green, couldn’t have been happier with them!
We enjoyed a week in Puglia – it was so amazing after the madness of the wedding to be able to hire a little car and travel around the south of Italy. Our week was filled with beautiful food and wine and lots of time to just sit back and think about our wedding day.
There was a point where we were taken to a part of the venue on the other side of the road – the sun was starting to set so Mike thought it was a perfect opportunity for some great photos. Whilst up there, we looked down on the barn, could hear the music and people laughing and could see all the kids running around. We really wanted everyone to have a great day and at that moment we stood hand in hand and saw everyone having fun and couldn’t wait to get back and join them.
Advice For Other Couples
Try and enjoy every minute of the planning – it all adds to the day! Plan the day that you want – don’t feel like you have to stick to tradition. And make the most of the day, it’s over in a flash! At the point the band started we said we would stay on the dancefloor (no more mingling!) and it was the best decision to just dance the night away together!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Alice Cunliffe Photography
Bear Club Band UK
Hair & Make Up
Amanda Steed Makeup
Castle Acre Canvas
Does it get any more perfect? I can’t tell you how much I love woodland weddings, swoon. Didn’t Nikitta and Neezam look so stylish and in love too?
Nikitta and Neezam thank you so very much for sharing your story with us, it’s an honour to share your wedding xo Lou