Happy New Year! I trust you had a truly magical Christmas and are ready for 2019? If you just got engaged, then a huge congratulations to you and welcome to our website filled with real weddings and wedding ideas galore! We’re starting the year with a bang, thanks to WWW readers Clare and Ben who are featured today. They were married on the 28th September 2018 at the Hidden River Cabins in Cumbria. The venue suited their weekend away wedding vision perfectly and they hosted their celebrations in a cosy and romantic log cabin.
The décor then flowed from the rustic wooden venue and Clare and Ben handcrafted and foraged the majority of their wonderful decorations. How wonderful! The flowers were out of this world, in deep purple and burgundy tones interspersed with abundant greenery. Clare’s bouquet really blew me away, what a beautiful colour palette! In fact the attire also had a touch of burgundy and the whole wedding party looked super stylish.
Dan Hough Photography captured all of the love, happiness and special moments just beautifully. We are just so grateful to be sharing these stunning images with you all.
28th March 2017 – Our 6 year anniversary.
A remote pebble beach on the North Yorkshire coast. Our infant son strapped to my chest. We had the beach to ourselves for maybe 5 minutes. I saw an opportunity and took it. I had planned on doing it on the top of the cliffs but it was so windy and the thick fog ruined the view. The beach was perfect and sheltered. I don’t actually remember asking the question because Toby was shouting in my face so loudly, but I was on one knee and there was a ring.
We went through a lot of ideas. What was apparent was that we wanted a relaxed day where our family and friends didn’t have the pressure of attending a formal wedding. We wanted a weekend away to spend with our loved ones where we also got married. In terms of the day itself we wanted to do most of it ourselves. We love to design and create and also save money. We have always preferred the outdoors to staying inside so we were keen to take advantage of what nature could provide. Settling on a more rustic theme wasn’t hard once we had found our venue. It is made from logs after all!
The Planning Process
We didn’t really have a structured plan… some of the main aspects of the day were sort of dictated by the venue in terms of what they were able to provide or not. We knew we’d have free reign on the ceremony but the reception building was kind of out of bounds apart from the table décor. We saved ourselves a lot of time and effort by not having a table plan. Instead we opted for banquet tables and free seating. Although we did have accommodation to plan, but family groups made that easier. We gave our guests the option of staying/not staying/coming for the wedding or the whole weekend, we’re glad that most decided to stay for the whole three days. The rest of the planning centred on creating our own decorations and sourcing what we thought we needed.
Hidden River Cabins, outside Carlisle, Cumbria. After finding some appropriate venues more local to us, it became quite clear that anything in Cheshire was going to be financially straining. We looked for venues that provided accommodation in places around the peak district, but the only real option was camping… We widened our search and found a list of venues in Cumbria, in the midst of all the hotels and mansions was Hidden River cabins. It immediately stood out to us, it ticked all the boxes and was totally unique. We booked a viewing and made the 2 hour journey. I think we were sold as soon as we arrived. And that was pouring sideways rain… The only cabin we were able to see was “Roe Deer” with the most amazing and private view straight up the river. We decided then and there that we wanted that view to be our back-drop.
From then on it was just a case of deciding the menus etc. over the next few months. The team there were always amazingly helpful and professional. We felt very well looked after from start to finish. The food was incredible, and day itself was flawless. A real credit to the staff.
I used the venues recommended suppliers list to find my make up artist, Lauren Amy. I have no where near enough knowledge or practice with make up to do my own, in fact upon meeting Lauren for my make up trial one of my first sentences to her was “So, this is my face…” Lauren is amazing, she made me feel so relaxed and comfortable, I travelled up to Penrith for my make up trial about a month before the wedding and we chatted a lot, tried a few options and took some photos. I kept looking at the photos on the run up to the wedding feeling a bit unsure about the look, on the day Lauren was so flexible and ended up going for a more fresh, natural look that was definitely more me.
I got the recommendation for my hairdresser from Lauren herself. I wanted someone she had worked well with before, so that there would be a fun, relaxed, happy vibe when we were getting ready. Claire from Chiara Murtas Hair & Beauty in Penrith was her suggestion. I always had an idea of what I wanted my hair to look like, I had been growing my hair throughout my engagement for this very style. I wanted a messy fishtail braided crown, and Claire did it perfectly. I had a comb made by the lady who provided our flowers and it fit the style so well.
We always knew that Clare’s Godfather Paul would be doing our flowers. He is a floral designer based in California, so it would have been rude to get someone else in! Flowers were sourced from Carol Siddorn (Carol’s Garden – Flowers from the Farm) after being given a rough brief. She understood perfectly that we wanted an autumn meadow vibe and splashes of colour to match the burgundy in our outfits. We bolstered the flowers with foraged dried grasses, wild cotton and lavender.
All of the bouquets, button-holes and arrangements were hand tied by Paul on the morning of the wedding.
Your Outfits & Accessories
My suit came from Maria Modes Menswear in Macclesfield. It is a blue herringbone tweed with a grey tweed waistcoat. To be honest, I knew what I wanted from the very outset, it was just a case of finding a supplier that would allow me to try it on before making the purchase. Online orders were out of the question. Clare picked up a brochure after seeing a tweed jacket in the window, on the first page was the suit I had envisioned. It was the first and only suit I tried on. I decided to have the lining of the jacket altered to match the waistcoat but other than that it was more or less straight off the rack. Accessory wise, I went with a burgundy knitted tie over a plain white shirt, burgundy socks and tan leather brogues. My cufflinks were a cheeky gift from Clare. Our friend’s father is a goldsmith (he also made our rings), he hand carved wood grain into silver on one end and made the folding clasp into rugby balls. They are one of a kind.
The dress was from a bridal shop in Sale called The Case of the Curious Bride. I had been into a local more “traditional” bridal shop, after trying a few dresses I realised I wasn’t going to find my dress there. I wanted to be comfortable in my dress, to be able to wear it all day and not even have to think about what I was wearing. I didn’t want a train, or a veil, or any fuss. The dress I chose was a Sadoni Couture dress called Lara, it had a beautifully silky, blush pink slip with a three quarter length sleeve, boat neck, lace overlay that crossed at the back. It was effortlessly stunning. I bought it in one of the boutiques sample sales, I found it stressful having to make a decision right away but after a discussion over lunch and a facetime call with my brother’s boyfriend it was decided! My brother and his boyfriend generously offered to buy my dress for me, they’re amazing.
The Readings & Music
We found a short poem by Bob Marley called ‘He’s Not Perfect’ which we asked my mum to read. It’s a great little piece with a beautiful sentiment. It focuses more on appreciating each others faults and weaknesses as what makes someone the person you love. Mum did a wonderful job, and more than a few guests admitted to welling up a little.
Ceremony music was provided by my 9 year old niece, Asha. Although she may be young, she is a very talented harpist and she was flawless.
Other music for the day was chosen personally and was a mix of folk, jazz, brass band and soul.
In the evening we had booked a band from Edinburgh called the Banjo Lounge 4. They are incredible! They play blue-grass folk covers of classic pop and hip-hop with banjo accompaniment. They had learned a couple of songs for us including our first dance.
We didn’t have just one cake… we asked our guests to bake and bring cakes and desserts and they did not disappoint! We ended up with nearly 20 homemade puddings to choose from. Not a single one went to waste. We had everything from pavlovas to crumbles. Clare even chipped in with some brownies.
The guys wore their own grey suits and brown shoes, we provided the same burgundy knitted tie and socks for all of them.
We had tie clips made and personalised for all male members of the bridal party.
Toby’s outfit was mostly purchased from Next; A simple white shirt and burgundy bowtie (BushBooBabyandKids – Etsy) that he flat-out refused to wear. Thankfully he was thrilled to be wearing matching shoes with Daddy.
My brother and sister were my ‘bridespeople’. We asked Dan to wear his own grey suit, along with Ben’s best men and my Dad. With a simple white shirt, which made the colour of the tie, socks and pocket square pop. As Ben had decided he wanted a burgundy tie we started looking for a burgundy dress for Helen. She really wasn’t fussed by what it looked like as long as she was comfortable. We decided on a dress from Coast which colour matched beautifully with the ties completely by chance. It was a fun, short skater style dress that suited her so well. She looked absolutely beautiful in it.
Our photographer, Dan Hough, was a friend of mine from college. I have known him for about 10 years. I have been a fan of his work for a long time. I always said to myself that if and when I got married I wanted Dan to photograph it! His style is epic, I know we keep using this word a lot but it fit perfectly with our style and idea for the day. I think we actually sort of booked Dan before we’d even booked anything else! We had an engagement shoot in Macclesfield Forrest, I was incredibly nervous, I really dislike being in front of the camera, I’m always behind it. But Dan made us feel so relaxed and at ease, we had such a laugh, even though we nearly killed him by making him hike up to the top of the forest… On the day it was like he was part of the wedding and celebrations, I hope he felt so too! I think he was pleasantly surprised that we were willing to scramble down the river bank to get some epic shots by the water in our ‘finery’. He went above and beyond with the images, as I’m sure you can see he is a super talented and awesome guy.
The Details & Décor
This is the part we enjoyed the most. As we mentioned before, we made as much as we could ourselves. Clare even screen-printed each and every invitation.
To fully engage the rustic, natural theme we collected tree slices from Macclesfield forest. These were offcuts from recent forestry work that had been left behind, so we gave them a new home. We ended up with 40 rough slabs that I trimmed and sanded ready to use as decorations in the ceremony and in the reception. In the ceremony we used them to elevate candles and large vases that we filled with fairy lights. Some of the more irregular shapes were used to create signage. Our guest book was in the form of miniature versions of the slices cut from apple wood from our own garden. I made the ring box myself from a piece of the same timber. It’s a simple design with a swing lid and a contrasting walnut peg hinge.
We collected hundreds of jars, many went unused, that we sprayed with a rose gold paint. These were used as vases and candle holders in both locations.
The table decorations were almost completely free. With the exception of the hessian runner, everything was foraged and found. The moss is from the roof of our outhouse in the back yard, the stones are from the beach where I proposed, the sticks and driftwood are from the banks of the river running through the venue, and the tea lights are from Ikea! Although we had an idea of what we wanted with the tables, it was Paul that really brought it to life. It’s fair to say that our expectations were well and truly surpassed.
With all the items we collected and all the effort and enjoyment, we found there was a market to hire out some of the pieces we had. We decided to incorporate this into our new small business Sawdust and Soul.
Nothing major just yet. A short family Minimoon to the Lake District before heading home. We went on a boat, Toby loved it.
Clare and her bridal party walked almost a mile in their finery to get to the ceremony. Despite many attempts at dissuasion, she was adamant that this was something she wanted to do in order to calm her nerves.
Our secretly choreographed first dance was amazing. I hate dancing, everyone knows I hate dancing, so for us to break into that took everyone by surprise.
Speech – nailed it.
Advice For Other Couples
Don’t stress. Don’t get wrapped up in family politics. Its YOUR day, not theirs. We made our guests drive a minimum of 3 hours to a place they’d never been, and not a single one of them had a negative thing to say about it. Your family and friends want to be there to help you celebrate. Enjoy it for what it is, not what it isn’t. It’s the best day you’ll ever have.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Dan Hough Photography
Hidden River Cabins
Maria Modes Menswear
Lauren Amy Make Up
So romantic! Thanks ever so much to Clare and Ben for sharing their super special wedding story with us xo Lou