Strap in for more colour and fun today. WWW readers Sarah-Jane and Paul married on the 11th August 2018 and were lucky enough to use their friend’s garden to put up tipis and generally have a fabulously good time. They had a legal ceremony the day before their wedding so were able to hold an emotional outdoor ceremony in front of all their family and friends.
I think lots of planning couples will identify with getting a little carried away with Pinterest like Sarah-Jane! Luckily, salvation came in the form of their wonderful florist who helped Sarah-Jane distill her ideas into something beautiful and personal. I think you’re going to absolutely love the results. From the abundance of lights adorning the tipis to the gorgeous colourful blooms, their day look likes an absolute riot.
Katie and James of Fairclough Studios have of course absolutely nailed the imagery. Thank you so much for sharing these snapshots of what looks like such a wonderful day with us.
I used to live in Thailand and suggested we spent Christmas and New Year 16/17 there as the weather is usually great and I could take Paul to a New Year’s Full Moon party. Paul planned to propose there but unfortunately it was the worst weather we have ever experienced, there was a monsoon and it didn’t just rain, it poured! Day and night non-stop, with water even rising up around our ankles as we ate dinner in our hotel’s restaurant. When we came home, we moved in to our first place together. We got the keys a couple of days before Valentine’s Day and although we had no furniture decided that we would spend it there. Paul got down on one knee (his bad knee, he had an operation on it just a few weeks before) in the kitchen and we celebrated with a takeaway and fizz sat on the living room carpet!
The vision started small, we knew we wanted something more informal, a bit different that our guests hadn’t seen before, that really focused on everyone just having a good ol’ knees up! I had my 21st birthday party at a family friend’s garden, a couple of gazebos, a BBQ and a band. It was so great that people still talk about that party now 12 years later! We asked our friends how they would feel about having our wedding there and luckily, they were happy to oblige! We went to a festival early on in our relationship and loved it (even though it rained non-stop! There’s a pattern here!) so we decided on a festival theme. We went to V Fest and as both our surnames began with W, the vision for W FEST began.
The Planning Process
We knew a couple of gazebos just wasn’t going to cut it so started researching and after attending an All About Me open day and seeing their Tipi’s we were 100% sold! We had never been in anything quite like it, they took your breath away. With the reception venue sorted the next thing was choosing where we would actually get married. After putting together our guest list we soon realised that this wasn’t going to be an easy task as the guest list was quite large and we really wanted all of our friends and family there. We came up with the solution of ‘doing the legal bit’ a couple of days before with just our immediate family meaning we could have a beautiful outdoor ceremony (weather permitting!) on the Saturday with everyone there and we could make it as personal as we liked. We wrote our own vows, exchanged rings on this day and had a handfasting, my dad who is a fisherman tied the beautiful cords in a fisherman’s knot around our hands. The registrar who married us also conducted our second ceremony.
When we first started planning, I started Pinterest boards for inspo, but it is so easy to get carried away and start pinning everything! Meeting Gemma from Bluebells and Daisies, our florist really helped me to streamline my ideas. She had worked in many Tipis and really knew what worked. I also soon realised that the more research you did the harder it was to be ‘original’ as most things that can be researched have obviously been done before. I then started to really enjoy planning ‘our day’, just picking things we liked and planning a day we would love and hopefully everyone else would love too!
We had ‘The Fish Bay,’ a fish and chip VW camper van serving the ‘wedding breakfast’. As northerners we love a chippy tea, my dad is a fisherman and I used to work in a chippy. Dairy Fairy Ice Cream served unlimited Ice Cream from their converted horse box. We had a BBQ in the evening and Krispy Kreme donuts.
The more people we met the easier the planning became, we booked the bar before anything else (in true Whelan style) from the wonderful Paul at Cestrian Bars, he met us on a Bank Holiday Sunday (dedication or what!) He recommended All About Me for the Tipi’s as he had worked with them a lot and sang their praises. Our registrar was our florist’s mother in law, and our wedding singer and compere John Norcott recommended the sax player we booked.
We were very lucky that my dad contributed an awful lot financially. We didn’t necessarily start out with a budget but it did grow above what we imagined it would cost. I guess we thought our informal, laidback wedding wouldn’t be as costly as a more traditional wedding but we really were starting from scratch, having to hire everything from tables and chairs to lighting to toilets. When we look back on the day though it was worth every penny and every moment of stress!
Our legal ceremony was at ‘Festival House Wedding Chapel’ on Blackpool promenade. We got married with the Blackpool Tower in front of us and had photos on the beach.
Our friend’s house was in Carleton. We had our ceremony in their back garden with their beautiful pond and flowers as the backdrop and had our Tipis for the reception in the adjoining field. Karen and JC who own the property really worked hard to make the day perfect, JC who is a landscape gardener tended to the field for a year, there were some concerns when it flooded really badly a few months before the wedding! He put lights in the trees and hedges and even finished building a summer house with a jetty over the pond where Paul and I slept the night of the wedding.
The Details & Décor
For our ceremony we had hay bale seating and bought bright coloured scatter cushions. The day before the wedding my dad surprised us by going and hiring a red carpet which really looked fab.
After my Pinterest craziness of wanting everything we decided that we would just pick two ideas and run with them.
First, was colour! We had bright flowers on all the tables. Our tables were colours rather than numbers, we bought wooden ‘W’s and I painted them all a different colour with corresponding coloured ‘W’s on the table plan and on each table. I handwrote all the names on to the letters and my dad attached them to a pallet. We had festival lanyards as place settings with all different coloured lanyards. Every table had different bright coloured napkins. I designed personalised stickers for the fish and chip boxes and had them printed in all different colours. We had silver candelabras on all the tables but bought lots of different coloured candles to put in them which made them look funky rather than traditional. I painted a heart shaped donut wall and kitchen roll holders in all different colours to use as donut stands! I iced the cake in all different colour swirls and we had a pink neon light heart cake topper from neon poodle. I handmade all of our signs in bright colours from cocktail signs to the firepit sign. Early on in the planning I fell in love with a light box sign from ‘Vowed and Amazed’ that was a mixture of neon and coloured carnival bulbs reading ‘Til Death Do Us Party’. It travelled over 220 miles and it really lit up the dancefloor area and looked just amazing.
Second, were lights! We had extra fairy lights wrapped around all the poles of the Tipi. We hired coloured festoon light bulbs from ‘Typical Type’ which were hung around the entrance to the Tipi and hung from hooks in the field. ‘Typical Type’ also supplied the amazing Edison bulb chandelier which our florist decorated with colourful flowers. Going with the light theme we served our welcome cocktails in Edison light bulbs with neon straws.
We also spent months collecting photos of all of our wedding guests’ wedding photos. We displayed them on polaroids, with their names and wedding dates on with a sign that read ‘Amazing Reasons To Get Married’
Your Outfits & Accessories
Brides dress – ‘Ruby’ by Anna Campbell from Jean Jackson Couture
I came across Anna Campbell gowns online and fell in love straight away. When I saw that there was a stockist just a short drive away in Manchester I booked an appointment straight away. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much as everyone says ‘you probably won’t pick what you imagine’ and ‘I bet you change your mind when you try it on’ but I still didn’t book any other appointments anywhere else. I first visited JJC in August and tried Ruby, which was one of two dresses they had from the new collection, I LOVED HER! They were having a trunk show in the October though and would have the whole collection and as this would still give me enough time I decided to book to go back then. I’m glad I waited as when I tried Ruby on again two months later it just confirmed that she was ‘The One’!
I had a piece of my mum’s wedding dress sewed into the back of my dress as my something old.
My wedding shoes were sapphire blue Kiara embellished peep-toe heels from Badgley Mischka, they were another online find that I fell in love with, Paul bought these for me as one of my wedding gifts, they were my something blue. I also wore little blue Swarovski earrings.
One of my closest friend’s Georgie, was unable to be there on the day, she kindly let me wear a beautiful diamond bracelet that she wore on her wedding day as my something borrowed (her wedding was featured in WWW too so maybe you can spot it! He he!) There was a slight panic when on the morning of the wedding we realised it was too small for my wrist, we improvised by using a blue ribbon to tie to both ends so it fit me.
On the Thursday I wore a dip hem dress from Chi Chi, I love Chi Chi and have bought many dresses from them, they’re so comfy. I bought a denim jacket from ASOS and had it hand painted with ‘Mrs W Est 2018’ with a floral wreath by a lady I found on Etsy – SammyLeasRetro. I LOVE that jacket and wore it nearly every day after the wedding until I got too cold! :(
Paul, his best man, groomsman and my dad all wore matching suits by Peter Posh hired from Blush Bridal in Poulton Le Fylde. Paul’s best man travelled all the way from Australia to be our best man and his wife’s best friend owns the bridal shop where they hired the suits from. The best man’s wife took his measurements and emailed them to her friend, the first time he tried his suit on was the day before the wedding! Something must have gone wrong somewhere along the way as his trousers were up to his nipples! Ha ha ha! Luckily, they wore three-piece suits so no one would know!
Paul chose dark blue suits, with lighter blue tweed waistcoats and sky-blue ties and pocket squares.
Emily Haydon from Sonara Parker did my make up on both days and also my mums and sisters on the Saturday. I got to know Emily as I worked with her husband at the time. She made us all feel so at ease and she was just lovely to have there on the morning of the big day. And of course, she is an award-winning make-up artist.
My hair was done by my regular hairdresser, Kerrie from Gorgeous salon in Cleveleys. I also have my nails done at this salon, Lucy did my nails in my favourite bright coral colour.
I had just my sister as my bridesmaid, she tried on more dresses than me! She chose a light pink full-length gown with cold shoulder detail by Lipsy.
The Readings & Music
Our friend Louise (the groomsman’s wife) read ‘Marriage’ – Anon, Paul was their best man the previous year, it was a humorous but touching reading about the highs and lows of marriage, and perfectly summed us up.
I walked down the aisle to ‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness
During the signing of the register: ‘I Love Your Smile’ by Shanice, ‘Two Hearts’ by Phil Collins
To walk back down the aisle: ‘This Will Be An Everlasting Love’ by Natalie Cole
We walked (danced) into the Tipi’s to: ‘Came Here For Love’ by Sigala
First Dance: ‘Sweet Lovin’ by Sigala – we started with a slow version and then went into the dance version as confetti canons went off, this was ‘Our Song’ from very early in our relationship.
The Faircloughs – Katie and James are the lovliest, most talented husband and wife team. Another fab find considering how difficult it was to decide just from looking online. The Faircloughs “love laid back, creative couples who just want to soak up the vibe of the day with minimal formalities and maximum fun” We sent a message after looking through their website and Katie got back to me almost immediately, we set up a FaceTime date and booked them straight away. They were perfect for us and watching the gallery that they put together was like watching a story of our day in photo form. I cannot tell you how hard they worked on the day, they were like photography ninja’s and were just so lovely to be around.
Ah, where to start…Gemma from Bluebells and Daisies was absolutely the best find during our wedding planning process. She was so much more than just a florist and we loved her from the minute we met. She also hires wedding props and is a wedding planner so her advice was invaluable and nothing was too much trouble for her. She even volunteered to stay to set up cheese and biscuits when we were having a bit of a panic about who would do it. Our brief was colour, colour, colour and boy did she pull it off. She produced gorgeous bouquets for me on the Thursday and for my sister and myself on Saturday, beautiful boutonnières for the men, and stunning corsages for the ladies.
She decorated a Hawkins Hoop with foliage and pops of colour which was at the end of the aisle. Our top table was a gorgeous array of flowers, displayed in a beautiful rainbow of colours. Each table had crates full of wild and wonderful, colourful flowers. She used flowers we had never seen or heard of before – the cockscomb which looks like a brain! Which comes in lots of bright colours. The piece de resistance was the Edison bulb chandelier which she decorated with a wreath of foliage and flowers and hung flowers from the middle amongst the bulbs. All of our guests commented on it. The flowers blew us away but Gemma blew us away more. I found her as a friend of a friend had commented on something on Facebook. We met in coffee shops as she was working from a small space at her home, unsurprisingly she has gone from strength to strength and has recently got her very own workshop.
I like a bit of baking and decided to bake our cake myself. We only wanted a small cake so we could cut it as we decided to have Krispy Kreme donuts. I was up icing the cake until really late the night before the wedding as it was such a busy day decorating the Tipi’s. My dad had got a fridge to put in an outhouse for the cheese and barbecue food. On the morning of the wedding I took the cake and put it in the fridge ready to be put in the Tipi later that afternoon. I didn’t find this out until after the wedding but my dad had opened the fridge for something and the cake came bouncing out and rolled down the hill still on the glass stand! The stand was broken but he placed it strategically on the table, if you look closely at the photo of the cake you can see the squished icing! Ha ha! Lucky it was really just for show!
A film was something we uhmed and ahhed about as we weren’t sure if we wanted a film or if we had the budget for one. How lucky were we when our photographers started to produce wedding films as well! As we were already one of ‘their couples’ we were offered a special offer for them to produce a highlight film of our big day. We have already seen the teaser trailer for our film and ‘WOW’ Katie and James are amazing at films too! We will forever be thankful that they decided to start producing films when they did!
One of our wedding guests, our good friend Greig from Just Ask Travel booked us the perfect honeymoon. We spent two nights in Singapore, we visited Gardens by The Bay and drank Singapore Slings at Marina Bay Sands rooftop. Then we flew over to Bali, we spent the first half in Ubud in the jungle, and visited temples, a coffee plantation (Paul LOVES coffee) and went on a swing over rice paddies. We finished off in Seminyak and were blown away by our private villa, total relaxation with free fizz and spa visits. Perfect.
Having guests travel from so far away. Ricky the best man came from Australia. My friend, Jess came from Hawaii. And Paul’s niece, Sophie who had been travelling and had started working in Australia surprised us the week of the wedding after saying she wasn’t going to be able to make it.
Reading the vows we had written (I just about managed to get mine out without full tears)
Seeing the Tipi’s all set up – they really looked better than I could ever have imagined!
My dad’s speech – he wrote it the night before the wedding, after my mum insisted he really couldn’t ‘wing it’ and it was brilliant! My brother was unable to be there as he was in Mali with the RAF so it was also emotional in parts!
Our first dance <3
The dance floor! It was definitely ‘Til Death Do Us Party’
Advice For Other Couples
We were unsure if we wanted a film – trust us, you do! This was one of our best decisions – Thank you Faircloughs for the little nudge 😉
If you are going to DIY – give yourself double the amount of time you think it will take!…but do embrace DIY, I love that I made our signs instead of buying them and I have some dotted around our home and I gifted the firepit sign to a guest with a firepit.
Go with your gut – it can be overwhelming choosing suppliers, there are so many of them. Meet face to face, FaceTime or at least talk on the phone rather than just email and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I get a fuzzy feeling thinking of all of our amazing suppliers 🙂
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Marquees & Events
Bluebells & Daisies
Jesus Martin from Ntertain Events
Oh how marvellous! Thank you so much for sharing with us Sarah-Jane and Paul! Rachel x