By Valentina Ring
The most wonderful thing about the wedding industry is that, with every couple that ties the knot, it grows richer, more colourful, and more full of light and love.
WWW readers Mel and Ryan wanted their day to be an intimate, relaxed celebration with their closest family and friends, a homage to their love of the outdoors, and – at the heart of it – an unforgettable party. Planned in just over three months, the couple designed a celebration that reflected their personalities, their values, and their passions. They interpreted traditions in their own way, and made the most of every single moment.
They chose their location for the freedom it gave them: The Keeper and The Dell, a newly licensed outdoor venue in Norfolk, with its eighteenth-century Gamekeeper’s Barn and wooden sleeping huts nestled below the trees of an ancient woodland estate. On a shining, warm August’s day, the couple welcomed their loved ones to the calming sounds of their heart-warming Apache blessing – and then to a reception glinting with the dance of one-thousand rainbow origami cranes, dried rose petals, and literary-inspired paper roses. Day turned to night with shimmering fire pits, garden games, ice cream, all to the tune of live covers by Hot Rox via WWW faves Warble Entertainment.
Not one of the captures by Dan Biggins isn’t brimming with fun, love, and laughter, and we really hope you enjoy this gallery as much as we did!
It was on our 7th anniversary, during December. Ryan wanted to go away for the weekend, but I wanted to go London Zoo instead, as they’d just got a giant salamander that I really wanted to see. He let me pick what to do, so we went to the zoo, had tapas, and then wandered around Covent Garden. It was a perfect day, and Ryan topped it all when he produced a ring box. It took me completely by surprise.
We discussed eloping, but after considering a few options I felt that I really wanted my nan to be able to attend. We knew we didn’t want a traditional big white wedding, and when we visited a few venues initially it felt like that was what was being pushed onto us. We took a break from wedding planning to think about what we wanted from our day, and while we were buying our house. We looked at sites such as WWW and Pinterest, thought about what we both enjoy and what we definitely didn’t want.
We knew we wanted a relaxed, fun day that we could enjoy with close family and friends, that we wanted something outdoors, and that we wanted a really good band.
We started searching for venues within an hour of East London initially, but found that they were very expensive. We widen our search to include surrounding counties and stumbled upon The Keeper and The Dell. We really liked the venue and the camping and shepherds huts were perfect. We went for a visit, and on that day the venue had just been informed about a cancellation, so we ended up making a snap decision and booking our wedding with just 14 weeks notice.
Our first priority was to organise the legal side of things such as giving notice and booking a registrar, and getting catering booked – we figured if the wedding could happen, and the guests were fed, that was the most important thing!
We then looked at outfits, entertainment, and decorations.
Our budget was £12,000. We kept quite well on track, but we overspent a bit at the last minute, mainly on extra decorations and alcohol.
The venue was beautiful; on our setting up day, the day before the wedding, it was very hot, but on the day itself there was a breeze and it was perfect.
The venue had just received its licence so we were one of the first couples to legally tie the knot there.
We stayed overnight after the wedding in a shepherds hut on-site, and some of our guests camped.
Mel – I knew I didn’t want a big white dress, and I have been adamant for many years that I would get married wearing my white Doc Martens – they were my something old!
I bought my dress from Monsoon, it was on sale and was £160. I tried a few dresses but knew it was “the one” as soon as I put it on. I loved the hand stitched beading detail on it.
I added blue ribbons to lace my DMs and borrowed a pair of fantastic vintage clip on earrings from my mum.
Ryan wore a brilliant waistcoat and trouser combo with brogue boots, all from Debenhams.
Overall we spent less than £300 combined on our outfits, and we’ll probably wear them again.
We had the Apache wedding blessing during our ceremony.
Emilie Autumn is one of Mel’s favourite musicians and so we chose some of her classical pieces for during the ceremony.
In the evening, we had a brilliant band called Hot Rox. We were able to choose the songs they covered from a varied list, and they also played music of our choice between the two sets.
I (Mel) tried and failed to make my own paper rose bouquet – I knew this was what I wanted but despite several attempts I couldn’t get it quite right.
My bouquet and the buttonholes were made from pages from The Lord of the Rings, by a fantastically talented Etsy crafter, two weeks before the big day.
Mel had a free make up lesson at Bobbi Brown, and did her own make up. Her hair was done at the hair salon in the hotel we stayed at the night before.
Mel challenged herself to complete a senbazuru during the run up to the wedding. Senbazuru is folding 1000 origami cranes, and it is said that the maker will be granted happiness and eternal good luck, so it felt like a great way to start our married life. The multicoloured cranes were hung from the ceiling in the marquee.
The “Love” letters on our table were plain, but Mel covered them in book pages to fit our love of books. She also folded twenty more cranes from book pages to decorate our cheese cake and made the table decorations by combining vases and faux flowers from Ikea.
Mel also made the confetti – we could only have natural confetti for our venue, so Mel dried rose petals and made confetti cones from book pages too.
The card box was from Ikea, with a mini Liberty bunting chain to decorate it.
We looked at a number of photographers recommended by the venue, but most of them were already booked as it was such short notice. We stumbled across Dan Biggins Facebook page by chance, and we were impressed by his work. We had a pre-wedding shoot in our local park which went really well, especially as Mel usually hates having her picture taken!
Our best man and groomsmen wore their own clothes.
We are saving up to go to Canada in Spring 2019, but we had a mini-honeymoon to Bloodstock metal festival. Mel wore a black denim jacket with a “just married” patch on the back!
Everything about the day really; we had heard so many people say they didn’t remember much from their weddings, or that they didn’t have time to speak to their guests much. We made a real effort to spend time with our guests, to spend time with each other, and to enjoy every bit of the day!
The ice cream cart went down really well, especially with the younger guests. Watching the children have fun, run around, and play with the garden games we brought along was so lovely.
Our band were absolutely brilliant – very professional, and great fun. We danced the night away.
We chose a five tier cheese wedding cake, it was from Waitrose and cost £150. It was delicious and we have only just finished eating it!
Prior to our wedding, we had heard other people say they didn’t remember much from their weddings, didn’t enjoy the day due to stress or that they didn’t have time to speak to their guests. We made a real effort to spend time with our guests, to spend time with each other, and to enjoy every bit of the day, and we had such a good time. We would advise other couples to do the same.
The Keeper and The Dell
Ice Cream Cart
Thank you so much to Mel and Ryan for sharing their celebrations with us! Val Xx
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