Full to the tops of the tipi with love and fun. Chilled. ‘Us’.
Now doesn’t that just sound so special? After all, a wedding should most definitely be first and foremost a celebration of the love of two people, two families coming together and creating incredible memories in total and utter personal style. Andy and Laura focused their wedding planning throughout on them and they had no theme or rules, but wanted to ensure the planning and the wedding day was stress free. It sounds like an ideal way to approach planning a wedding and I am sure you will agree that it all turned out just beautifully.
They had their hearts set on tipis and they worked beautifully for their reception, their meaningful ceremony was held outdoors beneath blue skies and sunshine. They included some lovely touches in their décor such as succulent favours, a tractor photo booth, a flower hoop suspended from the ceiling and food trucks, YUM! I must also mention just how gorgeous and super stylish both Andy and Laura and their wedding party looked.
It’s always great to see our Supplier Love members in action, Country Tipis and Tailored Entertainment are both featured today, hoorah! Huge thanks goes to Michelle Wood Photographer for sharing these epic captures of a very vibrant and fun wedding day.
So the proposal was pretty epic! Lau devastatingly lost her mum a few months before her 30th birthday and decided it would be a real struggle to have any kind of celebration at home. She made the decision to follow her Mums life mantra; focus on the positives and party like there is no tomorrow. So we flew out to Las Vegas with our best friends to see her birthday in, in style. Her birthday fell in the middle of our stay. Andy woke Lau up in the morning desperate to give her, her present. It turned out to be a number of ‘Caribbean’ themed clues including a Bounty chocolate bar and bottle of rum. Much to her shock (she was utterly clueless), we were not flying home from Vegas but instead off to Barbados. Andy had packed a separate suitcase and everything! At which point she got him to promise; “there will be no more surprises right?”… cut to a long, chilled, beach walk after we’d been lazing about in the sun, swimming in the ocean and drinking midday cocktails… Andy sat Lau down on the white sand and asked her to marry him.
The most important thing for us was to keep the wedding planning and day stress free for us and all involved. We reminded ourselves of this throughout and made sure we didn’t get caught up in traditions and expectations that just aren’t ‘us’. Our vision was to have a day that was really relaxed and full of fun for everyone involved. We made all our decisions around – What will be most fun? What is the most ‘us’? We were uninterested in keeping to traditions or doing things that had no meaning to us as a couple. The theme was – ‘there is no theme’ and our motto was ‘there are no rules’!
Our budget ended up being about £5,000-£6000 more than anticipated. We dropped things and saved on stuff less important to us but we were willing to pay more for the things that were part of our vision. We didn’t mind going over budget if it was something important to us and meant it would make the day fun for all.
We are lucky enough to have such a talented bunch of friends and family around us. Where possible, they mucked in which not only helped save money in some areas but made everything extra special and personal. For example…
Lau’s Mums best friend made our cake.
Andy’s best man and his partner did the foliage and decorative flower ring.
One of Andy’s oldest and dearest friends did our videography.
And our best friend Loo did the blackboard and signage for us.
The Planning Process
The owners of the venue, Ali and Carmel let us build our own wedding. They have a wedding planner and together with them we were free to have as much or as little support as we needed with the freedom to create our day. The wedding planner was great at helping us to tie up all the little details for the day we would of probably forgotten as neither of us are born organisers! But for the most part we did it ourselves and created the day we wanted, without restrictions or conditions. That to us, was everything.
The venue was ours exclusively for the whole weekend. This also meant we got to offer our guests the option of camping with us, the night of the wedding…for those more adventurous! We ended up with a big field full of bell tents from the amazing Warwickshire Bell Tents. A lot of guests also pitched up their own tents. There was about 50 of us who camped in total. In the morning we arranged for us to be served bacon butties while we sat around and shared funny stories of the night before.
The food in general was a huge hit! For the wedding breakfast we had a bbq served to the tables. After the speeches, a vintage ice cream van chimed and everyone ran out for dessert!
In the evening, the toastie van turned up to help soak up at least some of the alcohol, giving people the energy to party on!
Our hair was done by one of the bridesmaid’s lovely sisters, Becca. She’s not a hairdresser but she’s just amazing at doing hair. Another plus to this was having her around the morning of the wedding. It meant Lau was surrounded by friends and family with no stress the morning of the day.
Meg did make up and came highly recommended by a friend of a friend. She’s such a warm, lovely person that again having her a part of the morning just felt to Lau like she was surrounded by her best girls having the time of her life. Meg is absolutely incredible at make up. One of the things Lau loved the most was seeing her favourite girls so happy and confident with how incredible they looked with their hair and make up done, in their sky blue dresses with beautiful vibrant bouquets.
It took us awhile to find the right venue. We looked around lots of places that we nearly booked but something didn’t quite feel right about each of them. We stayed chilled about it and didn’t rush into booking somewhere that didn’t feel right.
We knew we wanted tipis – it’s something we both had thought about but not discussed together until Andy proposed. It’s something we agreed we would make sure we followed through on as it was our vision from the start. The tipis ended up being more expensive than we anticipated but we agreed that it was our vision from the start and so it was worth the stretch for us.
One of the things we found when looking around venues was that they were quite restrictive. We hadn’t expected this. But most came with conditions such as we had to go with their preferred caterers or the party would have to end up 11pm (no chance)!
One day Lau’s boss (and friend) at work asked how it was going and she mentioned we couldn’t find a venue that was right for us. She said in passing that some friends of hers were in the process of making their farm into a wedding venue. She warned that it wasn’t anywhere near ready but arranged for us to look around.
When we arrived we were met by a friendly and enthusiastic duo – Carmel and Ali. Much of the land was still in the process of being dug up so they could lay new ground etc and the barn was just still a tractor barn. Despite this, there was something about the farm and them that just sold us straight away. We were blown away by their vision and the amount of work they’d already put into the project together. They also showed so much interest and excitement about our plans. This is something that we feel is really rare in the world of weddings. We weren’t just another couple or booking to them. They cared about us and wanted to know all about our story. We genuinely don’t think this is because we were their first official booking and the process is new to them. I can imagine them being the same for every couple that visit, book and plan their wedding at the farm. Simply because of the type of people they are.
They have since said to us that they can’t believe the vision and trust we had to book our wedding with them when the farm was still in the middle stages of renovating – field dug up etc. But we think it’s about them more than us, we trusted they would do what they said and they did. We knew they were working from the most beautiful countryside canvas surrounded by hills, green fields and natural beauty. We could tell right from the start that the venue was something very special.
The Readings & Music
We wrote our own vows. It made the whole ceremony more perfect than we can really even put into words. Sheron, our celebrant was incredible at creating the ceremony around our needs. She goes the extra mile. A few months before the big day she came over and met us at our house to get a real feel for who we’re as a couple. She also spent time with us rehearsing the day before and has this natural gift of putting everyone involved immediately at ease.
One of the many things that worked really well on the day included the steel drum panist we had playing for the drinks reception with the sun shining. The idea was taken from our holiday in Barbados and set the ideal vibe for the rest of the day!
Our band, the Jubilee’s also turned out to be insane! One of the guests ran up to us on the dance floor shouting; “I’ve really needed to pee for a long time but every time I go the band play another banger and I have to dance”. We upgraded to the large dance floor when booking the tipi stuff, knowing our friends and family too well. And it was buzzing with laughter, singing, dancing and antics, all night long.
Your Outfits & Accessories
So Andy pulled together a suit, all from Next. As we didn’t have a theme and didn’t want everything to be matching and ordered, the boys went off and chose their stuff based on what Andy loved and felt comfortable in. Andy is someone who knows his own mind and chose some amazing suits that the boys looked dreamy in. Andy’s funky slip on shoes were from TopShop. His only requirement was that he wanted to stand out as the groom and so he had a different colour tie to the other boys. Again all Next. The Groom, Bestmen, Ushers, Groom’s Dad, Bride’s Dad and Bride’s Step Dad all wore the same suits.
Lau got her dress from a local bridal shop to our home – George James Bridal. She actually thought she’d already found the ‘one’ at another incredible shop in Weedon – Serendipity. However she loved trying on dresses with her girls so much she kept to her last appointment at George James a few weeks later. She tried on some very similar dresses to the one she was thinking of getting when the lovely assistant asked her to humour her and try on a new dress, just in. She’d be listening to the bridesmaids and Lau chat excitably about the wedding vibe and had picked up on the type of person Lau was. She got that it was important for Lau to have no faff, natural vibe. As soon as she put it on, it felt like a ‘Laura dress’. And it felt totally fitting for our wedding. Whilst it was fairly simple, the lace detail was really unusual and like nothing Lau or the girls had really seen before. This was an added bonus as she likes to be a little different and not always follow the crowd.
The bridesmaids dresses were from Wed2B in Milton Keynes. We couldn’t believe the quality for the price. Our beautiful bridesmaids come in all different shapes and sizes so we told them to chose whatever style they wanted and we’d just go with the same colour. Turns out, they all preferred the same dress so that’s how they ended up! Again we just looked at what colour they all liked when they were trying on. All agreed the blue looked summery and fabulous on them all.
Lau’s late Mums best friend (Debs) did the cake for us as our wedding present. The brief was a naked cake with no fuss that tasted delicious. As always, Debs delivered. So much so, we were told there is always mountains of cake left the next day – not at our wedding. Every single crumb was gobbled up. Debs makes cakes not as a business but for friends, family and through word of mouth.
The Details & Décor
Rob, one of the best men and his partner Ant did our decorative foliage. They created the insane flower ring that hung in the entrance and by the bar to the tipi. They also filled vases with random, bold colourful flowers for the tables that looked amazing on the wooden tables.
For our wedding favours, the boys created mini succulents which we stuck peoples names in as part of the seating plan.
Our actual seating plan was just empty wine bottles with the names printed as labels and colourful flowers sprouting out of the top. Lots of special people mucked in to help us put all this together the day before the wedding. Including Andy’s parents who live in Spain and flew home early to help. And because our theme was ‘there is no theme’ it meant everyone could have a go. Our little 4 year old niece, Ella, in particular loved choosing some flowers and putting them in the wine bottles for the table plan. Michelle managed to get the most beautiful shot of her pointing out proudly to her Mummy (Lau’s sister) the ones she did.
We rented coloured glasses and goblets for the table wine and water from Duchess & Butler. These served two purposes as they looked absolutely stunning.
The flowers were the only slight drama. About 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding, the independent florist we’d arranged to do the bride’s flower crown, all the bouquets and button holes, dropped out. One of the bridesmaids, Rach, came up trumps and did all the leg work finding another florist to take on the work so last minute. We found Bud & Blooms. The only reason they didn’t have a booking was because they’re a Mother and Daughter run business with the daughter on holiday for our wedding date. The Mother (Teresa) felt for us when she heard what had happened and agreed to take it on.
The flower crown was quite a gamble as she was unsure how it would look with the dress and so Lau planned to decide on the morning whether to wear it or not. When the flowers arrived and in particular the crown, all the girls were blown away. The brief again was vibrant colours, lots of greenery and not too ‘done’. Lau put the crown on about 10 minutes before leaving for the wedding and instantly everyone burst into happy tears. It completed the bridal look of her boho dreams.
Where do we start? Michelle did our friends wedding for us a few months before we got engaged. The wedding itself was one of the most fun weddings we have ever been to with us all still reminiscing about it to this day. Andy and Lau both noticed Michelle on the day and how she popped up out of nowhere to get the best shots without at all getting in the way of the moments. When the photos came back, Michelle just captured the day and party so perfectly, looking through the snaps felt like reliving it all over again. Andy in particular remembered Michelle as a stand out photographer which says a lot as, because of our age, we’ve attended at least 6 weddings a year for the past four years! This was really important as Andy hates having his photo taken but really loved all the photos Michelle took, including the ones with him in. So for us, booking the lovely Michelle for our wedding, was a no brainier.
We wanted a photographer that would understand us and what we wanted. Which was to capture as many of the natural moments as possible with minimal posed photos so we could get on with making the most of every single second of our day. Even for the few posed shots, Michelle gets the camera clicking in between the awkward poses, so instead capturing the authentic, beautiful moments.
Choosing Michelle as our photographer was one of the best moves we made. She’s a superhero of the photography world. The photos speak for themselves, our expectations were sky high and she still managed to blow our minds when we got our gallery back. It felt like she completely got us, the vibe of our wedding and even our guests. She was one of the things people talked about most after the wedding.
We were advised by married couples to make the photographer an important decision and not to scrimp on the budget. This was some of the best pieces of advice we were given.
Our videographer was the lovely Julian, known as Ju. He’s one of Andy’s oldest friends. Their families have grown up together. Ju works at a theatre for a local school but he’s also a film maker. He worked so well alongside Michelle. It really meant something to us to have him take on such a big part of our wedding. Ju is a gentle, talented soul with a calming presence. He also managed to put the camera down at our request for the party and was one of the last still dancing into the early hours with us!
As we went over budget on the wedding and the majority was funded by us saving hard, we couldn’t afford where we had initially planned to go. But we’re both in love with the rustic beauty and friendly culture of the Greek islands. So we booked to go to the breath-taking island of Skiathos. It was chilled, indulgent and dreamy. Since then we have saved and used the money kindly given to us from our wedding guests towards a holiday to Mauritius for our ‘official honeymoon’ – milking it much?!
Aaaah this is so hard as the whole day and night was so memorable. Here is but a few…
Andy loved greeting guests as they arrived. He was walking around with a massive smile and can of beer in hand (so very Andy).
Saying our self written vows to each other in front of our guests, the backdrop of countryside and blue skies, was pretty epic. Almost all of our guests commented how personal and unique that felt.
The speeches were witty, funny, silly, sad and full of love all at the same time and were without doubt, a real highlight all round. Not to mention the handwritten letter Lau was given from David Attenborough as part of his speech.
Our first dance was Mumford and Sons – There will be time. It’s not a very well known Mumford song but is ‘our song’. It is an unusual choice as there is a crazy instrumental bit about half way through that picks up the initial beautiful and haunting pace. We did a nod to our friends and family watching at this point and they all stormed the dance floor dancing, jumping and hugging. Andy’s Nan was at the side having a good old boogie with his Brother. Andy went and danced with her at the end while Lau danced in a circle with her sister, brother in law, nephew and niece. Some of our favourite humans. Such a cherished, memorable moment.
Let’s not forget the party. Wow do our friends and family know how to have a good time. The combination of a live band and DJ went down a treat. The dancefloor was not empty from the first dance to 3am when a group of us where still left crying with laughter, stumbling about and dancing like nobody was watching. The photo booth props made it onto the dance floor and there was many a jäger bomb and cocktail guzzled, followed by some ridiculous shapes thrown. It’s super cliche but we had the time of our bloody lives.
Advice For Other Couples
- Remember what you’re doing it for.
- Keep the planning and day as fun and stress free as you can manage.
- Stay true to what is important to you both as a couple. Don’t concern yourself with how other couples did stuff, it’s about you.
- Yes it goes quick, we all know that but that’s why you just have to embrace and enjoy every single second of it. Lap it up and don’t waste time sleeping if you’re lucky enough to find a venue that lets you party on.
- Spend time and budget on a good photographer and videographer as the photos and videos help you to relive every single happy moment, forever.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Sadly our Bestmans (Herron Hawker), plant business is no longer as they quit while they were ahead and moved onto different things.
Michelle Wood Photographer
Long Furlong Farm
George James Bridal
Buds & Blooms Finedon
Hungry Hog BBQ
Ice Cream Van
Penelope’s Vintage Ice Cream
Oh how brilliant!
Andy and Laura thank you both so so much for sharing your amazing wedding story with us xo Lou