The word that stood out to me in this awesome couple’s wedding report? Kick-ass. It sums up their day to a T and you will certainly see why when you clap eyes on their venue, their impeccable style and their untraditional choices. YES.
WWW readers Jess and Carl were hitched on Saturday 27th May 2017 at Mahorall Cider Farm in Shropshire. The industrial style cowsheds were perfect for their rustic mismatched vision and there was ample space for their dream outdoor humanist ceremony. It really was a hidden gem. Talking of gems, their celebrant was a real star and pointed them in the direction of the venue, as well as of course totally customising their meaningful ceremony.
Keeping with the farm vibes they DIYd much of their day, with ribbons hanging from the ceiling, hessian table runners and ‘Woop Woop’ paper flags as an alternative to confetti. The pair incorporated their love of burgers into the BBQ food, Jess’ entire nursery class waved her off to the venue (how sweet!) and they made chocolate raspberry brownies for the centrepiece cake.
Now the outfits. They really were on another level. Groom Carl chose a dapper tweed ensemble and tan shoes. While Jess had her tulle skirt, crop top and lace T custom made, she made the silk hydrangea flower crown herself, wasn’t it perfect? They then changed in the evening into their jeans so they could hit the dance floor with their guests. On hand to photograph their nuptials was Dan Hough Wedding Photography, thanks for sharing these amazing shots today Dan.
THE PROPOSAL | We’re both from a small Shropshire town originally and didn’t actually know each other when we were younger, but I went to Uni in Brighton and was living there when we first met and got together. Carl spent pretty much every weekend travelling down to me in Brighton for two years (that kind of gave me my first inclination that maybe he was into me too…) until I qualified as a teacher and we made the decision to move in together in our hometown. After a year of living together we were in Brighton for his birthday. He seemed to be in an unnecessary rush to get to the beach to see the sun going down on our last night. We sat down next to each other just beneath the pier for an insane sunset and suddenly he was saying all these lovely things and holding out a ring box! I knew he’d never be the bended-knee type and I totally loved it – it was just about us and a place we love so much!
THE VISION | We had no clue as to the wheres and hows, but I’d always secretly hoped we might get married outside, then party into the night with some bands.
I went to a wedding fair just for a nosey, feeling like I wouldn’t really find anything that floated our boat at a hotel fair, but happened to meet a really lovely Humanist celebrant. We chatted about outdoor ceremonies in our area and she offered to contact me if she found anything. Amazingly, the next day she emailed with a cider farm in a stunning spot down the road from us that wasn’t a wedding venue, but offered exclusive weekend hire with camping. We went to see it and were totally sold – it wasn’t a picture-perfect rustic barn with all the pretty trimmings, but an old industrial cowshed with corrugated metal ceilings and mismatched wood. And it was exactly what I’d hoped for – a quirky blank canvas and a location where we could marry outside. He even throws in a bridal bell tent for your wedding night!
Along the way we built up the picture with no intentional theme – we wanted a hay bale ceremony, live music, then we incorporated various shades of blues and greys, ribbons, cider jars, and just stuff we liked the look of that suited the farm vibe. Our own little Wedfest was born!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We sorted the wedding date pretty quick and had a year and a half to get it all sorted. The humanist ceremony was a lot of fun to plan and our celebrant, Carole, was amazing. We didn’t write our own vows from scratch to avoid being super cringe, but she helped us to customise our ceremony start to finish, including a ring-warming and hand-fasting. We did have to consider that, since our Humanist ceremony wouldn’t be legal, how we’d go about that part. I think Mum came up with the idea of going to do that at Brighton Town Hall, which we booked for two days after our wedding day.
For Wedfest itself, we are super lucky to have lots of contacts and had many a favour called in for us by kind family and friends. If it wasn’t done ourselves we kept it very local with our suppliers. A very close family friend created an amazing BBQ banquet, another worked hair magic on me and my Mum and I did my make up (thank-you MAC shop lesson!) It was pretty much all DIY, from the decorations and puddings to the serve-yourself cocktails and actual scaffolding stage made by two scaffolder family friends.
We did take on a hell of a lot of DIY and in the week before when I still hadn’t sorted it all I was cursing myself heartily, as I’m a control freak and physically cannot delegate. But when we finally pulled it all together in the final minutes of the Friday night I was so damn happy and wouldn’t have done anything differently.
BUDGET | Having first been blown sideways at just how much wedding venues can start their packages at (the ‘dream’ super duper luxe barn venue started somewhere in the region of eight grand before food?!) we became adamant that we would not be going into debt to be married, and we stuck to that – without compromising on our ideal wedding day. I do owe Carl an awful lot for the amount of overtime he put in, however! We were also extremely lucky in that our families helped us out so very much with generous contributions, but including their help we certainly still did the whole thing for less than that dream venue starting figure.
THE VENUE | Mahorall Cider Farm is a working cider farm and former dairy, and the barn they hire for parties has what I tried to convince Carl as being a certain scruffy-round-the-edges charm. We approached it for the first time down a half-mile country track on a drizzly dull day and just kind of fell for the mish-mash of old wood, black corrugated metal, green surroundings and general un-wedding-y-ness of it all. The fact that we could do whatever we wanted, have our outside ceremony and all for an extremely realistic fee, were certainly sweeteners. As is often the case, it took some convincing of the other half… I don’t think he really believed me that we’d pull it off until very late on the Friday night when we had just about finished it all and the vision had become a reality!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My bridal separates were a three-piece outfit (tulle skirt, silk crop top camisole and separate lace t-shirt) custom-made by Hannah Wilkins-Webb Bespoke Bridal Wear. Together with my Mum we hand-glittered a pair of eBay’d Doc Martens in holographic silver and I had a pair of rose gold glitter pumps for dancing times. I made my own artificial hydrangea flower crown after considering more expensive options. I’m SO glad that I did it myself, because I could edit it as I went along to suit my preferences, could trial it with my hair and had it for keepsies! PupTart custom-made my holographic clutch with our initials and for our Brighton ceremony I wore a Crown and Glory ‘Loverdose’ glitter heart headband.
FINDING THE DRESS | I tried not far off twenty-odd dresses in two different shops before finding my miracle solution. I kind of knew I wasn’t going to be finding what was in my head in a Bridal shop – I was dreaming of a two piece, a full tulle skirt with a crop top. There were high street options for this sort of thing, but when I got chatting to Hannah Wilkins-Webb on a recommendation from a family friend, she was so excited about my idea that I had to meet her. And as soon as I did, clicked with her, and felt the fabrics that Hannah uses, I couldn’t look back. She created the most jaw-dropping, many-layered ivory tulle skirt with silk underskirt and slight train, then a blue-grey silk camisole crop top and separate ivory lace cropped t-shirt to layer over the top. It was unreal to see the vision from my head come to life but a million times more beautiful, and for it to feel and look so unbelievably perfect was a dream I didn’t think I’d honestly get! She’s a true dream-weaver and a gorgeous person to boot!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Carl found an awesome suit on ASOS by a brand called Heart & Dagger and in Harris Tweed too, which was a lucky bonus as this was to be our married name! He ended up having the two-piece then wearing a mis-matching waistcoat, with a classy white shirt and jazzy tie and socks. To say he likes to test me is an understatement – the shoes, tie and socks were not purchased until the week before!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Our ceremony music included songs that we both love and were relevant to various times in our relationship. We walked down the aisle together, after Carl met me and the babes off our bus, to Feel the Love by Rudimental. I was running to that song most days when we first met and it’s always just given me goosebumps. It became one of those songs for us so it had to be that! Readings were something that caused me aggro right up until the last minute – I’d never found anything that particularly resonated for us. A few days before, my amazing sister told me she’d managed to sort one if I still wanted her to read, and she completely blew us all away on the day with an incredibly beautiful, eloquent and original piece that she wrote herself.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I was convinced that my five best girls (my two sisters and three best friends) should be able to wear a dress of their own choice, styled however they wanted to make sure they were happy and comfortable. Luckily, they embraced the vision and all set out to find their own dress in shades of grey or silver. All of their dresses were either from Asos, Topshop or House of Fraser. They all looked totally stunning, each keeping their own individual styles but tying together at the same time! I was so happy with how it worked out and I’m hoping they were too.
THE FLOWERS | Our local florist was our first port of call and we ran with it, as we only wanted mixed meadow-y flowers for the tables, a large head of hydrangea in cider jars, then a blue hydrangea bouquet for me and gypsophila for my girls. I didn’t see the actual variety of hydrangea they would be making my bouquet with until the week before, but it was worth waiting to see. SO. Beautiful! I also became fixated on a photo of two flower-filled milk churns by some barn doors on Pinterest and asked for something similar to go in a pair of churns we’d scored at a scrapyard… my Mum cried when she saw them recreated for us in real life!
THE CAKE | Every year for Carl’s birthday I’ve started the tradition of making him chocolate raspberry brownies – I can’t cook to save my life and this is the only thing that is even remotely good that I have ever baked. It seemed right to make these in place of a traditional cake as we weren’t fussed on those cakey options, and it was evidently a good choice as neither of us actually got to try any because it went too quick! We both loove food and I didn’t really believe people when I read that couples rarely manage to eat any of their own wedding food, but damnit they were right! Our brownie tower was the centrepiece for our pudding table where we had other contributions served up too from family. Oh, and the glittery cake topper I made was, ridiculously, one of the most time-consuming DIY jobs that I took on!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We came across Dan when I saw a wedding on Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride that he’d shot at a stunning venue near us (that had actually been on my dream list.) We looked through more of his weddings and were sold that his style suited what we wanted down to the ground – not least because he does awesome gig photography, so we couldn’t wait to see the dancefloor shots (he did NOT disappoint in capturing some kickass moments there!). Dan is just the bee’s knees and all our family and friends couldn’t stop singing his praises about what a friendly and lovely person he was to have around on the day. He did an insane job and we are so over the moon with all of our photos. He captured it all – the fleeting moments, the cool portraits, personalities, the details, the bits we can’t remember, and all the feels!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | I don’t know where the idea started, but my very first décor obsession once we’d booked the farm was the burning desire to have a multi-coloured ribbon canopy ceiling over the stage. It was a massive gamble but with a truckload of ribbons in our chosen colours (courtesy of China, via eBay!) and a hell of a lot of team work, we did it! Leftover ribbon was tied on the backs of the mismatched chairs and in trees outside. We cut our own hessian table runners and had a mix of cider jars and old milk bottles filled with gypsophila and cow parsley. It was a big weight off my shoulders to do away with the usual wedding stationery like orders of service, as well as not bother with table plans since we went with informal seating for the BBQ banquet. As it was a working farm we decided against confetti and made ‘Woop Woop’ paper flags for everyone instead!
THE HONEYMOON | We followed our Wedfest marriage celebrations with the legal ceremony in Brighton two days later, with just our very closest. This meant that we could maximise on being in our favourite place and turn it into a 3-day mini-moon! And ate takeaways for literally a week straight. We have to wait until I’m on the school summer holidays to go for our ‘proper’ honeymoon, to Dubrovnik in Croatia.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Sharing our first burger as man and wife on a hay bale, after the drizzle had gone over, while everyone else was huddled inside! We are burger enthusiasts, so it was kinda a big deal. And I cannot forget – walking out of where we got ready in the morning with my girls, to be greeted by my entire Nursery class all waving rulers with our wedding flowers attached to send us off on the bus! The parents of a little boy in my class drove us to the farm in their vintage Bedford bus (beaut!) and they were all in cahoots with my family to organise it under my nose! I’m a serial crier, and that completely gorgeous surprise brought on my first tears of the day. It was the cutest.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Just do what you want, how you want. Even those who think they are more open towards a more alternative approach to a wedding are likely to question your decisions, so don’t bend for others. We stayed together the night before and it was awesome because we chilled each other out, we walked down the aisle together, which made it even more special, we scrapped orders of service and table plans, had no first dance and I changed into jeans to party on in to the evening. And it was all the more kickass because of all that.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Dan Hough Wedding Photography
Humanist celebrant | (Carole) Shropshire Ceremonies
Venue | Mahorall Farm Cider
Night before accommodation | The Queens Restaurant and Rooms
Florist | Florabunda
Thanks so much to Jess and Carl for sharing their epic celebrations with. It looks as though everyone had such a blast right? xo Lou