Well what do we have here today folks? A wedding absolutely and completely filled with love, joy and warmth. Every little detail of the day was planned and thought through to create a totally thoughtful and inclusive feel for all guests. From jesters to entertain children, to play list CD favours and an incredible sounding humanist ceremony. It’s no wonder guests went and got tipi tattoos as a memento of the magical event following the celebrations.
WWW readers Tessa and Hugo were married on the 8th July 2017 and chose the Tessa’s tiny village chapel for their ceremony and a field with many memories, for their magic tipi reception. All of the couples nearest and dearest came together to create and craft their day. With the flowers home grown, the cheese tower arranged as a gift and sensational DIY décor. Prepare to be blown away, not only be the wonderful report from the couple and their incredible style. But also by the crazy beautiful images by Kate Waters Photography, thanks so much Kate.
THE VISION | As an English girl and a Brazilian boy, we wanted to get married in the countryside as close as possible to Tessa’s childhood home in Gloucestershire, and provide an amazing experience of Englishness and love to visiting Brazilians who made such an amazing effort to come. Other than that, our vision was pretty open as neither of us had thought much about weddings before and it evolved over time.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Planning our wedding was quite stressful, as with many newly engaged couples, it was hard to shake the feeling that we were clueless folks wandering rather blindly through a glittery new world. Between us we luckily agreed on almost everything and knew that overall we wanted to make this a very personal experience, but sometimes found it difficult to choose amongst a plethora of vendors and options, finding ourselves contemplating the ridiculousness of hours spent agonising over different types of envelope.
As we ultimately ended up with a DIY wedding the complexities of planning were exacerbated by the end we had something like thirty vendors, so our magnificent wedding coordinator Natalie Lovett was instrumental in bringing calm to our world. In addition, the situation was complicated somewhat by Tessa being deployed to Haiti for three months by her job in the very midst of planning, leaving Hugo to hold the fort magnificently. Nevertheless, we both agree though that every ounce of effort paid out hugely in the end. It was such a beautiful day, made meaningful entirely because of how much we and our families poured our hearts into it.
THE VENUE | Despite viewing one beautiful traditional local venue, we decided that we preferred to make totally our own wedding. We chose Tessa’s tiny village of May Hill in the Forest of Dean, with the little chapel for our ceremony and borrowing a nearby ‘field in a forest’ where she had spent her summers camping and performing in the local theatre. For the reception we hired an enormous tepee with a dining area, dance floor, fire pit, chill-out zones and space for our vendors to set up food and drinks. There was also an outdoor fire pit in the field, Tessa’s uncle lent us two gazebos, a big generator was hired to power everything, and we brought in some posh loos.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Tessa’s dress was Alfred Angelo 968 in ivory/multi. She loved it because the embroidered pink and silver flowers provided depth to the dress, and the sheer back was stunning. Also the enormous nine-layered ballgown skirt was had such a life of its own that she realised that she could wear pyjamas under her wedding dress all day, and no one would ever know. SO SHE DID.
Tessa’s mum bought her some beautiful embroidered white ballet flats from the internet, however the weather was so nice and the grass so soft that Tessa spent 90% of the day barefoot. She also wore a lovely veil from a local boutique. Her only jewellery was a small leaf ear-wrap from Etsy, and real flowers in her hair.
For our first dance Tessa changed into a red flapper-style dress bought on the internet but she changed back again quickly afterwards because wearing spanx from her knees to bra was no fun at all, and she missed her pyjamas.
FINDING THE DRESS | Tessa’s lovely family and a bridesmaid went dress shopping with Tessa in Gloucestershire and in London. They visited about seven shops in all, and tried on mountains of dresses. Tessa was pretty sure going in that she wanted a ballgown, and it was fun working with the consultants to find the most enormous dresses they had. The dresses quickly all mixed together in a blur of white, so she found it invaluable to take photos so she could constantly revisit dresses.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Hugo was wearing a beautiful blue suit from Moss Bros with a little touch to make it a little different: the back of the waistcoat was a very bright red. This worked very well to make to groom stand out and also to match the redness of the bride’s dress when we danced our tango first dance. The groom’s tie and corsage also matched with the Best Men.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Tessa’s sister (the maid of honour) sang and played guitar as hauntingly beautiful processional music, the song was Angus and Julia Stone’s ‘The Wedding Song’, slightly altered by her secretly translating a verse into Portuguese.
We had decided on a humanist ceremony as best fitting our beliefs. Our celebrant Chris was magnificent, helping us to co-write the whole ceremony script with him, so it was very personal and surprisingly funny. While we aren’t religious we wanted the service to be inclusive, so our celebrant included a moment of silence where he welcomed those of religious faiths to worship in their own way, this was really well received by our religious guests. We translated the script into Portuguese for the Brazilian guests, and translated any Portuguese bits into English, making for some quite complex ceremony programs! We had two readings, the groom’s mother is a sometime poet so we asked a cousin of the groom read one of her poems, called ‘Amor Infinito’, in Portuguese as a surprise. The bride’s mother also read an abridgement of a letter, ‘All this I did without you’, written by nature conservationist Gerald Durrell to his future wife. We wrote our own vows, which was nerve-wracking, but so emotional and powerful for us.
At the moment the celebrant announced that we were married, our acoustic roving band, The Hares, popped out of the back of the chapel and started singing our recessional. After throwing confetti, the band led our guests in a short parade from the chapel to the tepee reception venue and played all afternoon. Later on, our magnificent evening band ‘Motown Gold’ began playing the night away. Both bands were so excellent and the dance floor was heaving deep into the night.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | As it is traditional in Brazil to have multiple ‘Best Men’, we had five Best Men, five Bridesmaids, and one Flower Girl. The men wore their own suits, unified by a matching tie and corsage. The Bridesmaids wore mismatched floor-length dresses (mostly from House of Fraser) that they had chosen in a grey/dusky pink palette. Tessa’s two sisters were a huge part of the wedding, with her sister Laura as Maid of Honour and little sister Hadleigh as Flower Girl.
THE FLOWERS | Tessa’s mum and close family friend/aunty volunteered to provide the flowers as a gift to us, which was so phenomenally kind. Tessa’s mum gave up growing veggies for a year to plant beds of wildflowers, and when the weather was a little patchy and some of them refused to grow, she enlisted a local wildflower grower to send buckets of additional blooms. For days before the wedding we were all cutting lavender well into the night. My aunty created incredible bouquets and buttonholes for everyone and festooned the chapel with flowers, the whole thing looked like a flower explosion, they were decorating fence posts and step ladders and even disguising a huge ugly grit bucket with hessian and blooms. There was also a large decorative hanging hoop in the tepee, which they worked together to fill with greenery and hanging glass ornaments.
THE CAKE | We decided pretty early on a cake made of cheese, and my sister bought and decorated it as a gift for us. Cheese tasting was probably one of the most easy and joyful parts of wedding planning. The cake looked glorious, but at some point mid-reception we realised we had forgotten crackers, so our magic Coordinator Natalie zoomed off in her car to buy every packet from the (rather confused) local shop. We ended up with lots of cheese in the fridge when we got back from our honeymoon, which was a completely amazing bonus. One tip though, cutting cheese cake is way harder than cutting ordinary cake. Make sure you have a very sharp knife, and perhaps practice first!
FOOD | We really wanted people to be extremely well fed, and we might have over-achieved here. Afternoon tea was the first meal, served straight after the ceremony and involving beautiful scones, sandwiches and cakes cooked by a lovely local family team. As dinner, Pieminister served our evening meal of five choices of pie, mash, coleslaw and gravy. For pudding we had the cheese cake and asked some guests to bring cakes and desserts. Later on we served late-night sweet and savoury crepes outside the tepee. And for anyone who still had any space, we left jars of marshmallows and sticks by the indoor bonfire for roasting.
DRINK | As well as serving wine at the tables and champagne for toasts, we hired an amazing bar in a VW camper van called ‘Gumpy’ to serve drinks. We gave each guest three drinks tokens for wine, beer, soft drinks, or Brazilian cocktails, and afterwards it became a cash bar. In addition, a lovely uncle of Tessa’s brought two kegs of home-brewed beer, which were placed inside the tepee (and swiftly drunk).
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Having Kate Waters as our photographer was one the best decisions we made in our wedding, not only because she is an incredible photographer but also because she is a lovely person. It was really important to us to choose someone who we had a connection with, because having someone to make us feel comfortable and happy throughout the day made a huge difference for the final result. Kate has the perfect approach for wedding photography: she did the formal shots (with family etc.) but during the rest of the day she documented our party in such a discreet manner that we were surprised to see how many amazing pictures of us and our guests were taken without us even noticing. We received the final high-resolution some weeks after the wedding and we couldn’t be happier with the result.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | To add to the natural beauty of the tepee and field, we made LOTS of DIY décor, resulting in a kind of nonsense kaleidoscope:
Tessa’s family members collected dozens of coloured wine glasses and vintage crockery from charity shops for months, so the place settings were mismatched and colourful.
We bought, made or borrowed miles of bunting, fairy lights, pom poms, and hanging jam jars filled with candles or flowers.
We designed our own invitations, thank you cards, and ‘welcome packs’/programs, (upskilling on photoshop!). The Welcome Packs were pretty important as they explained any bilingual bits of the wedding (including a Portuguese/English phrasebook), key timings, info on food and drinks tokens, and a map. They also included a copy of a love note sent by Tessa’s great grandmother to her new husband.
Tessa and her sister folded hundreds of origami stars, which were strung (by a slightly death-defying pair of aunts) across the chapel.
Tessa’s sister was also in charge of signs, both functional (‘whizzpalace/ banheiro’) and decorative, including an enormous multi-directional sign pointing to significant countries and cities.
We bought natural confetti and both the bride’s and groom’s mums sat in content bilingual confusion making paper confetti cones.
We hung colourful scarves over the back of chairs in the tepee as décor and for use in case of cold, and added some hay bales with blankets for people to sit on outside.
Garden games like giant Connect Four, Jenga, Frisbee and frescobol were placed outside for people to play with, and since the Bride and Groom met at a ukulele society, we had ukuleles dotted around.
We left our younger guests some toys and presents by their seats. There were also some board games and books for kids and adults by the sofas of the indoor fire pit. Two gymnast/jesters also wandered around doing backflips and playing with the kids.
Tables were named after cities or countries which are significant to us. Our centrepieces were framed photos of us in those places, alongside some objects/souvenirs and a hand-stencilled place name with a short text on why the place was chosen.
Outside the tepee we had an entertainment gazebo which we divided up, half was a home-made photo booth (with a DSLR, a remote shutter, and a pile of props/costumes). In the other half, we set up a little film studio with comfortable chairs and a borrowed TV, showing little films and clips that we had made during our relationship.
Our guest book was an old typewriter from a local vintage hire company. Guests typed hilarious, increasingly drunken messages to us throughout the night.
We had taken dance lessons and our first dance was a tango. It was amazing and we both found a new passion.
As favours, we gave each guest a CD of music that we loved or that was featured in our wedding. We still listen to our CD all the time and it always fills us with memories.
Our sparkler send-off was one of the most amazing memorable moments, bringing everyone together at the end of the night and marking the end of the party. Sprinting under a line of fire and love, arm in arm with my new husband and wearing an enormous ball gown, pyjamas and bare feet will always be one of my most incredible memories. And pausing in the dark at the end of the field to listen to our guests sing together in Portuguese and English as they waved their fire wands at each other… joy.
THE HONEYMOON | We went on honeymoon a few days after the wedding, having made sure that the many Brazilians were safely on their various flights. Hugo was completely in charge of this, and Tessa had no idea what would happen when the gate officer at Heathrow asked ‘what is your final destination?’… We ended up in Thailand for a magical week of lagoons, elephants, rice paddies, wine and sunburn.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | We had a surprise guest during our ceremony: out of nowhere a friendly local dog wandered into the chapel and said ‘hi’ to a lot of our guests.
It was surreal to witness the various conversations in between almost non-english-speaking Brazilians and English People. A couple of words, mimics and smiles were surprisingly sufficient to make sure that they understood each other. Hugo’s father and Tessa’s grandfather spent an hour having a long, meaningful conversation despite neither of them understanding a word of the other’s language.
One of the most beautiful things about getting married and seeing how much your family and your friends love and care about you. No matter how much work you put in you always end up with too much to do. Seeing the effort of every person that we love to make sure that the wedding went well (from carrying heavy things to sorting out the sound system) was really heart-warming and made everything completely worth it. So, one of the most memorable things about our wedding was to witness how far our family and friends were willing to go to make sure that our day went well. It was the best gift we could ever get.
The love of the wedding kept on going, so many of our guests sent us messages and told us how much love they had felt. Particularly for the Brazilians, there were so many ‘firsts’ (drinking a cup of tea with milk, eating a marshmallow, witnessing British people dancing…). Since the wedding, three of our Brazilian guests are getting tattoos of tepees to commemorate the magic.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | It will be worth it! Planning was madness and it took a long time for us to understand what all the fuss was about. Now we do, and it was incredible.
Also try not to forget the cheese crackers.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Kate Waters Photography
Day-of Coordination | Natalie Lovett
Officiant | Chris Edwards
Dress | Cotswold Bride
Hair | Leanne Lishman
Make up | Claudia Carr
Groom’s Outfit | Moss Bros
Tipi | Papakata
Afternoon Band | The Hares
Afternoon Tea | Clare White
Main Meal | Pieminister
Cheese Cake | The Cheese Works
Evening Crepes | Original Crepes
Bar | Culinary Creative (Gumpy)
Acrobats | Circus Malabaristas
Vintage Hire | Leslie Davies
General Hire | Gloucester Events Hire
Waiting Staff | Regency Recruitment
Posh Toilets and Chairs Hire | Bisley
Generator | WGS Power and Lighting
Oh my! Does it get any more perfect than with a camp fire to end the evening too? Wow.
Tessa and Hugo, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your splendid celebrations with us all xo Lou