Relaxed & Sentimental Stretch Tent Back Garden Wedding

North Cornwall Wedding Taylor-Hughes Photography

Utterly blessed: intimate, sun-drenched, informal, sentimental. The sun shone on our outdoor wedding and helped set a relaxed atmosphere for the greatest day of our lives. The one shame was that it was all over too soon.

James and Lisa


North Cornwall Wedding

James and Lisa are joining us today with their utterly beautiful North Cornwall wedding day, held on the 14th September 2019. They decided to host their wedding in North Cornwall due to their love of the region and opted to hold their celebrations at James’ Grandparents’ home. The back gardens were just perfect for their stretch tent marquee, which held both their ceremony and reception.

They kept their day really natural and relaxed, as was their wedding planning process. The stretch tent was decorated simply with pine cones, slate and ivy to name just a few. The results were ever so pretty and it really made for a magical setting. Also look out for stunning outfits all round, fresh flowers and not one but two delicious cakes. I also love how their loved ones came together to make their day a really sentimental affair.

Huge thanks to Taylor-Hughes Photography for sharing with us these remarkably gorgeous images today. Oh so special.

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The Proposal

We’re quite competitive as a couple and pride ourselves in trying to keep surprises hidden from each other…especially after having been together 9 years by the time of our engagement. I knew that Lisa wouldn’t like a showy occasion, but rather a private moment in a secluded location. I therefore decided to do it on one of our favourite walks: down to Morden Hall park near where we live in London. After resisting the temptation to pop the question next to the pigs at Deen City Farm (en route to Morden Hall park), I finally found a spot in the park through some overgrown shrubland by the banks of the River Wandle. As Lisa was distracted by some quacking ducks, I got down on one knee and asked her if she could bear to spend the rest of my life with me. The only dampener to the occasion was the fact that I’d knelt in a great big pile of duck poo. On reflection, it was still worth it.

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The Vision

We’re both pretty laid back and huge lovers of the outdoors, so our vision for the overall theme was to make every part of the day feel as outdoors and informal as possible, even despite the notorious unreliability of the Cornish weather. We didn’t want anything to look or feel artificial, and the go-to accessories for decoration everywhere were ivy and pine-cones taken from the garden, and Cornish slate from the garden and beach.

Cornwall is such a special place for us, and we were so delighted everyone took the time and effort to take the long journey down that we thought it would be a shame if we couldn’t make the day feel like a Cornish holiday for everybody so that they could finally understand why we spend so much time down there! Therefore, we wanted it to be as laid back and holiday-like as possible, so garden games for the outdoors drinks reception was a must. We had giant connect 4, a game called Ladder Golf and a Twister board to encourage people not to view the day as overly formal.

We made sure there wasn’t a single stranger involved in the order of the day – we had music from James’ Dad and Sister of sentimental songs from our, hand-picked and written readings from family, our ceremony being presided over by James’ brother-in-law and our M.C. being our dear and hilarious friend Patch to the favours being home-made Cornish-style fudge from two of Lisa’s friends, flower arrangements being done by family after purchasing direct from a wholesaler and the table ‘names’ being paintings of our favourite Cornish villages painted by Lisa’s Grandad. Every element had a personal touch to try and make things feel as intimate and laid-back as possible, accentuated by the green, outdoor surroundings.

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The Planning Process

We didn’t want a wedding planner, as we felt it could risk diluting our vision for the intimate and personal day we so wished for. Fortunately, James’ love for Spreadsheets meant we were on the case fairly quickly, aided by having a peek at our friends’ and siblings’ wedding folders to check we hadn’t missed out any glaring errors. If we hadn’t, we would have definitely forgotten about getting mics and PA system for the outdoor ceremony until the week before!

Since the most important thing to us was the venue and atmosphere of the day, we prioritised getting our main ‘building blocks’ of the day (marquee and catering suppliers etc.) sorted out about 9-10 months in advance (we got married about 13 months after we got engaged), but after that we were very relaxed about tying up the finer details, which slowly took shape over the remaining 9 months whilst we juggled buying our first house and new jobs with this planning.

We were fortunate that our theme tied in with a laid-back approach to the planning! Ultimately the main thing was to be able to share our most special day with the 120 most special people in our lives, so as long there was food and drink and a sheltered space then the rest really was incidental and not worth getting too hung up on if it didn’t go exactly to our original plan.

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Your Outfits & Accessories

Groom: I treated myself to my first ever tailored suit, getting a navy-blue 3-piece suit from Moss Bros with the date of our big day inscribed on the inner lining.

Bride: I got my dress from Dreams Second Hand wedding dresses based in London, and was delighted with it! My best friend also got her dress from here a couple of years before, so it was high on my list to go back to. It is run by a lovely lady called Szilvia and she sells brand new last season and second hand second hand dresses at great prices. Szilvia is so incredibly helpful and passionate about what she does and provides a lovely calm experience. As it’s not a standard dress shop, you get a much greater variety of dresses – I had traipsed around 8 highstreet shops the day before and nothing came close to Dreams. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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Beauty

I did my own makeup on my wedding day, with the help and guidance of my best friend and bridesmaid, who gave me lots of tips and some practice sessions leading up to the wedding.

I had a local Cornish bridal hairdresser, Olga, do mine and my bridemaid’s hair on the day. Olga was absolutely fantastic. One of the loveliest people I have ever met, who made me feel so comfortable. She is so passionate about what she does, and was determined to create the look I wanted. I was delighted with the results. I would highly recommend Olga for anyone having their hair done for their wedding or a special occasion.

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The Venue

As mentioned, Cornwall is our ‘special place’; we’ve been going every year due to James’ Grandparents’ home there, based on the North Cornish coast overlooking the Camel Estuary. The garden is big enough to host the ceremony, reception and dinner/dancing, so it was too good a venue to turn down.

We were a little anxious about the thought of asking people to travel all the way down to Cornwall and potentially take holiday from work in order to get down there the day before. However, we were amazed at how many people insisted we have the wedding down there when we’d told them that we were thinking of having it somewhere more accessible to all our guests! It showed us that at the end of the day it’s your once-in-a-lifetime day to celebrate your love for each other. If the guests really do care enough about you to warrant a space at the ceremony/dinner to share it with you, then they’ll do anything to be there. In fact, we were amazed that instead of people grumbling about the remote venue most were saying how excited they were to go down and were even taking the week before or after off in order to spend more time down there.

You can tie yourselves and your plans up in knots trying to be too accommodating to your guests. It’s your day, and your best opportunity to showcase who the 2 of you are as people and what your love for each other represents. Do what you want!

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The Readings & Music

Music has been a huge part of our relationship, especially late nights round the table at James’ family home playing guitar together with the rest of his family. Therefore, it was never in doubt that we would have some of James’ family play guitar at the ceremony. James’ sister and her guitar led the music for the ceremony. We chose Stand by Me as our ‘hymn’ for everyone to join in with and James’ sister also played 2 songs beautifully as part of the ceremony: All I Have to do is Dream by the Everley Brothers, wonderfully harmonised with James’ Dad joining her (this was always a go-to song during the late night family ‘playalongs’), and then Moonriver as we walked out: a particular favourite of ours and which perfectly captures our passion for travelling together.

We also had other family members do 3 readings: Union by Robert Fulghum, I Love You by Roy Croft and finally Lisa’s aunt wrote a poem about us both which was incredibly touching.

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Bridesmaids

Dresses from Dorothy Perkins (and on sale which was lucky!).

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Groomsmen

Tying to the theme of not making things too formal or overly-organised, we didn’t arrange outfits for my groomsmen. We simply asked them to turn up in a navy-blue suit if they had one already. If not, then whatever matched closest. Fortunately, they all had navy-blue suits…with the one exception of my brother and Best Man who misread navy blue for light blue and appears like the groom in all the photos with his unique suit!

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Your Photographer

We hired Taylor-Hughes photography to take our pictures on the big day. As a husband and wife team, Jack & Jade were so understanding of how special the day was going to be.

They were the most easy-going, approachable, hard-working and -above all – talented photographers we could have ever have hoped for on our wedding day. Before the big day, we had an opportunity to meet them at the venue (at their suggestion) as well as a check-in Skype call just to ensure they knew exactly the plan for the day and that they could plan accordingly, showing how much care and pride they take in their work. They were so pro-active and willing to get involved and help in any activities on the big wedding day, and their easy-going and personable approach put everyone at ease: something we noticed so clearly when looking at all the wonderful photos from the day. What’s more, you get 2 photographers as part of the package – meaning you get multiple angles and twice the amount of photos they have to choose from when pulling together the final package of photos of your big day! Above all, the quality of the photos were simply stunning. The care and passion for what they do shines through in each image. We couldn’t recommend them enough!

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The Details & Décor

The theme was an outdoor, relaxed, Cornish wedding. We loved the idea of using natural elements from the surroundings to decorate the marquee. So we collected lots of pine cones in the lead up, as well as old bits of Cornish slate from nearby for table names and signs, and closer to the day lots of ivy from the garden.

Then it was the final additions of table flowers prepared by family, and lots of fairy lights.

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The Cake

We had a large cake made out of cheese which was put together and decorated beautifully by James’ mum. The cheese was sourced from Neal’s Yard in London.

We had a second smaller sweet wedding cake, made from sponge and a buttercream icing, which was made by a local cake maker in Cornwall.

Both cakes were absolutely delicious.

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The Flowers

We wanted our flowers to have a wildflower look and fit in with our laid back outdoor theme. We had a local florist Bruallan do our bride and bridesmaid bouquets, groomsmen buttonholes, and create a display in a planter by the ceremony.

The rest of the flowers, for decoration and on the tables, were sourced directly from a wholesaler, Triangle Nurseries. These were arranged in jam jars by family members. We were delighted with the results. The flowers came in great condition, on time, and we had more than enough!

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The Honeymoon

Still planning! We’re weighing up between a North American road trip or an adventure in South America. We didn’t like the idea of having another event to plan and organise (we’re not big on just sitting on a beach as an idea for a honeymoon) so we said we’d wait til after the big day.

As a stopgap, we took advantage of being in the West Country and went to see the sights further west in Cornwall that have always felt just a bit too far to visit during our holidays there. As we expected, the sights around the Lizard and Penwith Peninsulas were perfect for what we wanted; relaxing coastal walks and beautiful views.

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Memorable Moments

The next day, we both mentioned what was our most memorable moment that just happened to be exactly the same! It was when we sat down for dinner; it was the first moment in the day where we got a chance to sit back and just take in our surroundings. We looked out and saw all our friends and family sat enjoying the food and wine talking to their neighbours most of whom had never met or talked to before. To see them all getting along and united in that place because of our getting married was a really special moment that I’m sure we’ll cherish forever.

We also found it special having a moment to ourselves down by the water for some photographs, just the two of us. We had initially been a bit dubious of going further afield for our photos as we didn’t want to be too far away from the guests during the drinks reception, but it turned out to be the right choice. It was a nice antidote away from all the hustle and bustle of guests wanting to congratulate you and offered a perfect opportunity to reflect on the overwhelming occasion of the day.

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Advice For Other Couples

It sounds obvious, but don’t forget your wedding day is about publicising your commitment to your soul mate for the rest of your lives publicly. Don’t get bogged down and worked up on the details of the day…ultimately, the only thing that matters is that you can say – at the end of the day – that you are married to the love of your life.

Things will go wrong, so don’t get hung up on ensuring your exact vision is met. Remember that most of your wedding suppliers will have a wedding every weekend for the months leading up to your big day, all with couples who would also expect their full and total attention day in day out each week – so don’t freak out if you feel they’re ignoring all your comments. They’re probably just dealing with a backlog of curveballs from couples with weddings that weekend! Just make sure you’re prepared and on standby to spend a lot of time with your suppliers in case they’re only just reacquainting themselves with the outlined plan when you settled on the quote!

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Flowers (Buttonholes & Bouquets)
Bruallen

Flowers (Wholesaler)
Triangle Nursery

Hairdresser
Hair By Olga

Wedding Dress
Dream Second Hand Wedding Dress

How very lovely.

James and Lisa thank you so much for sharing your divine wedding story with us xo Lou

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