We’re starting the week with a bang! Thanks to WWW readers Sophie and Joel and their individual tipi wedding, which was held on the 21st September 2018. Their celebration was truly a DIY affair; they organised and arranged everything themselves along with their nearest and dearest. They created and crafted an array of amazing touches too, which you are going to find so inspirational. The result was a festival feel, informal party with street food trucks, smoke bombs and a lot of love.
The weather was so bad before their wedding that they were concerned that it wasn’t going to go ahead. But together with their team of helpers they managed to get everything set up in the nick of time, I am sure you will agree it all looked awesome too! Look out for stylish attire, cute pups, fun signs and bright blooms galore!
Thanks ever so much to the brilliant Bridgwood Wedding Photography for sharing with us these sensational images. Amazing.
Joel proposed to me whilst on a snowboarding holiday in Val Thorens, France on 2/4/18. Whilst snowboarding in the mountains Joel suggested we take a break from snowboarding and sit on the side of the slope. After taking in the views for a few minutes I suggested we carried on, Joel agreed but didn’t budge. I asked him a second time and he still didn’t move! By now I was getting a little impatient! I thought he was just being his typical laid back self but what I didn’t realise was that he was waiting until the slope was completely deserted to ask me! I turned to find him taking his board off his feet… ‘whatever are you doing?!’ I shouted to which he replied ‘this’ and got down on one knee!
I’m pretty perceptive and said he’d never be able to surprise me but he definitely shocked me with this as I wasn’t expecting it at all. Before we left the UK he had even prebooked a table for a Michelin star restaurant to celebrate in the evening. It was all so perfect and will stay with me forever.
We knew we wanted a relaxed, tipi, travelling vibe, festival type wedding that did not follow a formal wedding format. We essentially wanted a large party/celebration of our love for each other with our nearest and dearest, where everyone felt welcomed including kids and even dogs! We have two sausage dogs, called Zebedee and Florence (they’re our babies) so wanted them to be part of our day too. We even had special collars and leads made for them too! Zebedee had a collar, lead and a little bow tie was made in mustard tweed to match Joel’s bow tie and Florence had her collar and lead made out of a Liberty print that featured in some of the decorations for the wedding. It didn’t stop there though because we also had my sister’s, Joel’s brother’s and my nephew’s dogs there too!
From the outset we were determined that we were going to plan our wedding our way. It was really important to us that our wedding reflected our character and style. We were also adamant that we were not going to be swayed into doing typical wedding things if we did not want to do it. We feel so many people get stuck in the standard wedding format and a lot of things end up being done for the sake of it or because people feel they have to do it because of fear what others may think.
Neither of us or our family are big on public speaking so to cut out unnecessary nerves and worry we decided to have no speeches. I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable, a wedding is supposed to be fun and special! We did say a few spontaneous words to thank people, etc but because it wasn’t planned and we did it when we felt comfortable so it didn’t create any awkward feelings.
We have a love for travelling and food so knew we wanted more of a street food vibe where people helped themselves rather than a formal sit down meal.
The Planning Process
The planning of our wedding was very much a joint effort. We only had just over 5 months from our engagement to the wedding. We managed to book a lot of the main things within the first month. Luckily we have lots of friends with access to a range of resources that we could either book for the wedding or they had contacts that we could use.
The type of wedding we chose meant that it was up to us to arrange and organise everything including the bar, lighting, power, toilets, food, etc, etc because there was no venue or wedding planner to do any of it for us. This did give us a hefty workload but organisation and teamwork was the key and we achieved most of what we set out to do whilst also saving money.
We wanted to keep it as affordable as possible and kept costs down by doing as much as we could ourselves or taking up offers from friends. We quickly learnt that this is quite hard to do though when you have quite a lot of guests and a premium seems to added as soon as the word wedding is mentioned! I think there is actually quite a bit of truth in the saying, ‘There’s no such thing as a cheap wedding!’ There are certainly ways to create a cheaper wedding though if you are willing to do a lot of the work yourself and look for alternative options.
We had 3 tipis on our friend’s property, not far from where we live. We wanted to keep it local so the majority of our guests didn’t have to travel to far. The tipis were nestled in beautiful land and also had stunning holiday cottages within the grounds that we and close family/friends stopped in for the week up to the wedding and a few days after.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I’m very lucky to have a beautiful, talented friend who is a dressmaker. Her name is Holly and she owns and runs her bespoke dressmaking company, HollyCrow. I always knew if I ever got married she would be my first choice so didn’t even look anywhere else for a dress. I was just lucky that she really wanted to make it for me and went above and beyond to squeeze me into her busy schedule!
I had a very clear vision of what I wanted my wedding dress to look like and Holly created it perfectly. I wanted a boho/vintage feel but I also wanted it to be comfortable enough for me to wear it all day and party/dance all night long! We found the most beautiful statement lace design with a hint of Art Deco for the top half and then a floaty skirt that was just a little longer at the back. The lace looked even more stunning from the back and I chose for it to be finished with grey/silver metal buttons that went all the way down my back. I nearly chose the more traditional ivory buttons but I’m so glad I went for the metal ones as it really set the dress off and made it just that bit more individual.
As the top half of the dress had all of the intricate lace it did not need a necklace. I chose some simple Art Deco style earrings from Glitzy Secrets and sandals from Asos. The only other jewellery I wore was a Tiffany & Co Infinity bracelet that I received as a gift from Joel on the morning of our wedding.
Joel wanted a relaxed, cool look for himself that was a little bit quirky to reflect his style and character. He chose a white oxford shirt from River Island, Holly made him a mustard tweed bow tie, handmade leather braces from The Rusty Monkey Trunk Stop, Navy Chinos from Topman and then he treated himself to a beautiful pair of brown brogues from Grenson. I loved how he looked on the day, it was so him. The last thing I could imagine him in was a formal wedding suit.
I wanted to keep my make up fairly natural looking so my make up artist and hair stylist Emma Shackleton kept it simple. I usually have my hair down but decided for my wedding I’d have it up. I decided on a messy side bun which was then decorated with wild flowers. It was great having it up because it stayed in place and out of my way and I didn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
I left my bridesmaids to choose how they wanted their hair and make up so everyone ended up with different styles.
I think the only bit of grooming Joel had to worry about was a hair cut and beard trim!
The Readings & Music
Our wedding ceremony was really beautiful and personal. The celebrant met us a couple of times and found out as much as she could about our lives together. She then created a really special service for us which was full of love, laughter and the special memories we have built from the first time we met to our travel adventures. So many people commented how it was the most beautiful and individual ceremony they’d been to.
We had one reading by our close friends Sami (who was also one of my bridesmaids) and her husband Rich. They wrote a poem that consisted of heart felt words, advice, friendship and our shared love of get togethers and drinking too much gin late into the night!
Music – Before I walked in we chose to play ‘No one’s gonna love you’ by ‘Band of Horses’, I walked into ‘Higher Love’ by ‘James Vincent Mcmorrow’ and afterwards we walked back down the aisle to ‘Riptide’ by ‘Vance Joy’. Our first dance was to ‘You’ve got the love’ by ‘Florence and the Machine’.
We love music so we had lots of it throughout the wedding. We had two acoustic singers during the day and then we had an incredible band called Hipster in the evening. They kept everyone dancing and partying all night! One of our good friends who works in the music industry oversaw all the musicians and sorted the playlists in between.
I love colourful wild flowers so had rustic, colourful, natural looking hand tied bouquets for myself and the bridesmaids from a local florist called Blossoms. I asked for lots of the same flowers loose so we could arrange them ourselves for the tables, etc. This saved us a lot of money. We arranged the flowers ourselves in recycled tin cans, glass jars and gin bottles that we collected from friends and family in the build up to the wedding. We tied strips of Liberty fabric and lace around the tin and jars which looked really effective.
To save money and make good use of the bouquets I reserved some large tins for my own bouquet and the bridesmaid bouquets to be displayed in so we could use them as table decorations for the rest of the day once we had finished with them. My lovely gardener sister-in-law also gathered lots of ivy, ferns and other greenery to bulk out the flowers and to decorate the tipis with.
The Details & Décor
We made all of the decorations for our wedding ourselves. This started with me and Joel creating our own wedding logo and then designing and hand making all of our save the dates and wedding invitations. A close friend even designed us a little map of the venue so people could find there way around on the day.
We arranged a couple of evenings where we got together with close friends and family to make metres and metres of rag bunting made out of lots of different colours and prints of fabrics. This was strung outside and inside the tipi. We also had lots of festoon lighting strung outside which looked so effective, especially at night.
We even made each others white gold wedding bands too! We travelled to Cornwall where some of Joel’s family owns a jewellers and his cousin taught us how to make them. It was such a great day and it meant so much to make each others rings. I love wearing something every day that I know Joel has made for me and it is the same for him too, it’s so special and another really memorable day.
Me and Joel made lots of wooden signs and boards and then me and my sister hand painted them to make up direction signs, photobooth, order of the day, etc. It was painstaking work but they looked so effective and we were really happy with the results. Me and Joel are not the best time keepers and even with the best intentions we still manage to be late for most things and we always get stick for this from family and friends. To give our guests a bit of a laugh on the order of the day we even wrote ‘ish’ after each time so 1ish, 2ish, etc because we knew we were unlikey to run on time!
As travelling is our main passion we also made up a huge direction sign which included lots of the destinations we have visited around the world with the approximate distance from us. It was a real feature outside the tipi and had lots of festoon lighting draped off it.
Down each of the long tables we had photos of ourselves wedged in wood cuts from all of the different places we have travelled together.
As we got engaged on snowboards, we had a snowboard guestbook which a close friend handcrafted for us out of wood as a wedding present – he even surprised us and inlaid our wedding logo onto it, it’s a work of art. It looks amazing with everyone’s well wishes and we have it displayed on one of our walls at home.
We bought large enamel tins mugs and then painstakingly transferred our wedding logo onto each one! We used these as wedding favours on the tables for all of our guests. We made sure they were large enough to fit a pint of beer or large G & T in and we encouraged our guests to drink out of them throughout the day – the bar was happy to keep them refilled.
We had family and friends save gin bottles for us (it’s one of our favourite tipples) which we then put copper fairy lights in and used to decorate the tables. We also had lots of glass jars decorated with Liberty fabric and lace with tealights in.
We made a photobooth area with a handpainted wooden sign and then had a sheet of old industrial mesh to peg the polaroid photos on.
We created an outside ceremony area with a wooden tipi made out of logs and greenery to get married under, benches and decorated with flowers but unfortunately the weather turned just before we got married and we had to use our backup plan and get married inside the tipi instead. It was still beautiful in there though and created a really magical atmosphere.
We wanted our wedding to have an element of fun and something that brought people together so we had a beer pong table and table tennis table. These were a huge hit with our guests!
Food and drink – after the ceremony we had prosecco to give to our guests with a ‘pimp your prosecco’ table. We also had a large tin bath filled with cold beers from around the world that we drank when on our travels. We then had the most delicious canapés made by one of our very talented chef friends. During the day Smoqued catered for us – they make the most epic tacos and loaded sweet potato fries served from their beautiful mustard Citroën H van. We also had the cake table for our guests to help themselves to throughout the day. In the evening Pizza Pedlars served all of our guests with the most fabulous wood fired pizzas. We had groomsmen walking around with wooden crates of krispy kreme doughnuts and we had a table of cheese, bread and biscuits.
We chose not to have a seating plan for our wedding. We wanted our guests to be able to sit down with the people they actually wanted to be sat with and have the freedom to get up, wander and mingle. We thought this made it more fun for guests and saved any awkward, forced conversations.
We bought a few different colour smoke bombs to capture some cool pics. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and us had lots of fun with them! Steve managed to shoot some really amazing shots. There are two in particular that stand out – one of Joel and the groomsmen, not posed just a natural shot of them having fun and one of Joel and I that is probably our favourite photo! It captures, us dancing around with smoke bombs with the tipi in the background, we love it!
Later on in the evening we had all our guests line up outside with sparklers before our first dance. We walked through a tunnel of sparklers into the tipi and had our first dance. It created a really fun special moment that our guests enjoyed too and was also another good chance for photos.
Not just one cake…but lots of cakes.
To save money we decided we did not want to have the expense of splashing out on a wedding cake. Instead we asked the bridesmaids and other family and friends to make one or two cakes, etc so we had a whole table of different cakes. People could then help themselves to whatever they liked throughout the day. This also catered for different dietary requirements as we had some Vegan and Gluten Free guests. This was really well received by our guests.
In the evening we had lots Krispy Kreme donuts delivered (they’re one of our favourites!) which the groomsman walked around with in big wooden crates.
Steve Bridgwood from Bridgwood Wedding Photography. Steve is not only a friend but also an amazingly talented photographer! With a tight dead line I was so worried he’d be fully booked but thankfully because we had our wedding on a Friday he was free! He was actually the first thing we booked.
He captured our wedding perfectly, reflecting the style of the day and we are so pleased with the images. The weather was certainly against us and at times we’d have to dash out in between rain and wind so he could have a couple of minutes to get some shots. I have no idea how he did it but he captured the most incredible images so quickly and most the time we didn’t even know about it! Many of the guests also commented how they were totally oblivious of his presence.
I would recommend him to anyone.
I had six bridesmaids too which consisted of my two sisters, two nieces and two closest friends. As we were having quite a bit colour in our wedding I wanted to keep the bridesmaids dresses simple and elegant but with a vintage/boho feel. We went for grey maxi dresses with flowing skirts and pretty beaded tops. The dresses were by Lace and Beads which we purchased from House of Fraser. The girls then just wore silver sandals and I had some silver and grey pearl earrings and necklaces handmade for them by a local jewellery maker called Red Fox Blue Monkey which I gave them for gifts on the day. I also had one of my bridesmaid’s little girls be my flower girl. She wore a vintage/boho style green dress with lots of pretty flowers embroidered on the top which I actually found in Primark. She looked so sweet!
Joel had six groomsmen which consisted of his brother and his closest friends. He decided not to have a best man. To match the look Joel was going for he decided on bow tie and braces for the groomsmen too. We just asked the lads to wear white shirts, navy chinos and brown shoes and then we provided them with grey braces and handmade tweed navy bow ties. The braces were from Topman and then Holly made the bow ties. One of the groomsmen little boys who was two at the time was also our page boy and matched what the groomsmen wore, he looked so cute!
We have done quite a bit of travelling together in South East Asia and South America so we knew our Honeymoon needed to be special! Since being kids we have both dreamed of doing a Safari so we set our hearts on making this happen. We didn’t just want to sit and do nothing – we like to see and do things and being big foodies we love trying out lots of incredible food!
We decided on a South African road trip and Safari. We started in Cape Town enjoying lots of beautiful food and then hired a car and travelled along the garden route exploring and doing various activities – from climbing table mountain, seeing penguins, ostriches, whale watching, up at dawn to watch wild meerkats come out of there burrows, wine tasting, etc before flying up to Kruger national park for an incredible safari to see the big 5. We had the best time and created special memories that’ll stay with us forever.
The weather! The day before the wedding we experienced the worst weather and rainfall of the year with torrential rain and high winds. We had most of the week off work to prepare for the wedding and Joel and some of the groomsmen and close friends helped erect the tipis to save some money.
A couple of days before the wedding the weather wasn’t great and created problems, then the day before the wedding the weather was horrendous! We were so organised in the run up and we would have been set up in plenty of time but the weather caused massive issues and we questioned at times if the wedding would even be able to go ahead.
What really made this memorable though was how amazing our family and close friends were. Everyone pulled together determined to make the wedding happen. Joel and the lads battled on during the day to sort out the tipi, some of my bridesmaids, family and close friends kept me calm and occupied sorting the flowers in the cottage. We were planning on starting to decorate the venue and sort out the lighting on the Wednesday but we couldn’t even start until 6pm Thursday evening (our wedding was on the Friday!) By Thursday evening we had an army of close friends and family all pulling together helping us decorate, etc. It was all hands on deck! Some of the lads even battled through wind and rain late at night, climbing up ladders to put all the festoon lighting up – water was literally pouring off them! Late in the evening with everyones help we managed to turn most things around and create the look we were after with just finishing touches to do in the morning (that again lots of amazing people helped with).
We were totally overwhelmed by all of the love, support, determination and help. It’s something we will never forget and showed what an incredible network of family and friends we have, we are truly lucky. All of this just made the actual wedding day even more memorable. After the fear of thinking it would not happen the day before it created a truly euphoric atmosphere on the day and with so many people pulling together beforehand it seemed to bring everyone together. It created so many funny memories that we still laugh at now.
There were lots of special moments throughout the wedding that just made the whole day truly memorable.
Advice For Other Couples
Remember it’s YOUR wedding and you can do exactly what you like for your big day. Do what you want to do and don’t feel you need to do something just because that’s what you think has to happen at a wedding or do something for the sake of it. Don’t worry what other people may think, at the end of the day it’s about the two of you. We didn’t have speeches, a seating plan, a sit down meal, Joel didn’t have a best man, we didn’t have a wedding cake and we spent the night before the wedding together and had a cup of tea in bed together on the morning before separating to get ready.
You have to accept that certain things like the weather are out of your control. There’s nothing you can do about it so you have to go with it and not let it ruin your day. You may have to adapt things to suit but whatever happens your wedding day will be amazing! It didn’t stop us or our guests having the best time, it really was the best day of our lives filled with so much love, fun, laughter and in many ways the weather made it even more memorable.
There’s lot of things you can do and make yourself to keep costs down. You can also get some really cool food vans for a more casual approach to food that works out a lot cheaper and personally I think are more fun. We also found that having our wedding on the Friday usually meant more things were available short notice and a lot of the time were cheaper too.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Bridgwood Wedding Photography
Mikey Rhead & Nick (from Nixon Tate)
Viva La Tipi (included all tables/chairs, dancefloor and some lighting)
Melody Corporation Ltd
Wedding Dress & Bow Ties
How fantastic?! There is just so much to take in and I just love Sophie and Joel’s advice too.
Thanks so much to Sophie and Joel for sharing with us their epic wedding story xo Lou