Woodland Fairytale Meets Garden Party Wedding

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The Tree Cathedral wedding of Amy and Martin brings us so much wedding inspiration today. Woo! They held their ceremony outdoors within the woodland of their venue (set in Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire) and held their reception in a stunning pole tent marquee afterwards on the 25th May 2019. They described their wedding to me as “half woodland fairy-tale, half garden-party!” and it really did turn out beautifully. I love the ethereal vibe to their wedding; from the meaningful humanist ceremony against their DIY flower arch to the hand crafted personal décor in the marquee.

Do look out for their super cool cake framed by a floral hoop, it looked delicious. I am also head over heels for their bright and beautiful flower arrangements, the key place names and all of the very stylish outfits.

As you will see from these outstanding images captured by Miracle Moments, there is so much fun and happiness at their wedding all day long. A truly special and really gorgeous wedding party! Thanks so much to Bart for sharing these amazing shots with us.

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The Proposal

Martin first proposed to me on Calton Hill in Edinburgh January 2017 having got swept up in the beautiful sun set – but immediately took it back as he didn’t have a ring and wanted to do it properly!

8 months later we were back in Edinburgh having gone to a Bon Iver concert (the band we bonded over when we first met) and went for a walk back up to Calton Hill so I could get some night shots of the Edinburgh Skyline.

It was midnight and pitch black, but when we got to the top he asked if I remembered what he asked me last time we were here. I started to join the dots – at which point he gets out the ring box and asked me to marry him (properly!). As it was so dark, I had to wait til we were back in town to see my engagement ring under the street lights and it was so worth the suspense!!

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The Vision

We were torn between an autumn or spring wedding but my favourite flowers (Peonies) being in season in May soon swayed the time of year.

I wanted an outdoor part of the day and for it to be in Milton Keynes so my family (all from Kent) could see where I’ve made my home – so we looked at local venues. We soon learnt that The Parks Trust allowed wedding blessings at The Tree Cathedral (one of our favourite places in MK) and it just fit.

So much of the vision for the wedding fell into place as soon as we’d chosen this unique venue, as it all had to fit around what we could make happen given there was nothing but grass! This only made it easier to visualise the fun and relaxed outdoor garden-party wedding.

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The Planning Process

Starting with the venue, we quickly had to work out some of the logistics of this blank canvas (electricity, toilets, water, marquee, and seating) to know first if we could make it work.

I was keen to get a supplier who had most of this in a package so I didn’t have to orchestrate too many people – and we came across Piece of Cake Marquees who offer tiered wedding packages that featured literally everything we were looking for (Vintage looking marquee, toilets, dancefloor, lights, table decorations, garden games, all our seating and tables, and more) at such amazing value! Tom Pleasant came up from London to scope out The Tree Cathedral with us to check the best placement for the marquee etc and he was so enthusiastic about the wedding and offered to help in any way he could, we booked soon after.

This ticked off a huge number from our list, meaning all we had left to do was the wedmin (invites, table plans etc), food, outfits & flowers! Plus anything to make it personal, as I was keen to make my own table numbers and décor to have my stamp.

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The Readings & Music

Bride Entry Music: Amsterdam by Gregory Alan Isakov (& Colorado Symphony)

Exist Music: Drastic Measures by Bayonne

First Dance: 8 (circle) – Bon Iver

Secret First Dance: Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch

Song Performed: I Believe by Stevie Wonder (sang by my maid of honour, Luwi, and accompanied on guitar by our groomsman, Ashley)

Readings: An excerpt from ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. Read by our Niece, Abigail.

‘Love Sonnet 17’ by Pablo Neruda. Read by Martin’s Sister, Beccy.

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Budget

We set a budget of £15,000 (excluding the honeymoon as we were planning to book this later). It all came in just over this at around £16,500 (I got a little carried away with some of the finishing touches – no regrets!)

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Beauty

I did my own make-up on the day to save money and the bridesmaids who were less confident went to get their make-up done in the morning at Benefit.

I over-confidently didn’t plan what to do with my hair (thinking I’d just throw it up in a bun on the day) – same with the bridesmaids – but the morning came around and the regret for not doing a trial set in! Luckily my older sisters came to the rescue when they arrived to get ready with me! Rebecca set up a curling station and Claire effortlessly did all our up-do’s and I had so many compliments! Life saver J

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The Venue

Our ceremony and reception were all onsite at The Tree Cathedral (a Parks Trust venue in Milton Keynes). A simply stunning and ethereal outdoor space with trees planted to scale replicating Norwich Cathedral. The ceremony was held inside the Cathedral which was like a fairy-tale! As there was no electricity we got a portable PA system for the aisle and ceremony music. Still get emotional picturing walking down the aisle with the light coming through the trees and seeing Martin at the end in front of the alter, surrounded by all our friends and family. We made the alter ourselves from a garden archway and added a disco-ball so the whole ceremony sparkled with the sun.

The reception was on the outside of the Cathedral in the marquee, where we’d set up picnic benches and welcome drinks. The venue had so many places to explore – my bridesmaid even set up a treasure hunt to keep the kids (and adults!) entertained while we had our bride and groom photos.

The Parks Trust were great to work with and made it really easy for us to do what we needed to do to set up whilst making sure we preserved the tree cathedral.

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The Flowers

Our flowers were by Willis Flowers in Stony Stratford – our friend Bex’s family business! J

I had a colourful waterfall bouquet made up of peonies, roses, wild flowers and eucalyptus. My flower girl had a crown of the same to match, as well as the top table and archway flower pieces. We also used all the loose flowers and offcuts from my bouquet to make the table flowers in Gin Bottles.

To contrast my bridesmaids had white roses and peonies, daisies and other white flowers.

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The Details & Décor

One of the highlights for me was the food! Due to the venue we needed something easy so we opted for a cold-fork buffet by Page and Moyse which was done in such a sophisticated way! We had tailored menu with everything from charcuterie boards to the best goats cheese and red pepper quiche I’ve ever had! We also had lot of combinations of dietary requirements (vegan, gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian) and all commented on how it’s some of the best options they’ve ever had at a wedding!

Most of the décor was self-made. I had a box of roe deer skulls that I used to create table centre pieces, painted and decorated with Swarovski crystals and flowers to match.

I also made the table numbers from some £2.99 Halo candle holders from B&M with clear Perspex discs from eBay.

Our wedding package from Piece of Cake also came with a lot of décor, such as barrels and old vintage book. We also had a vintage rustic bar which I turned into a DIY Gin & Tonic station with the leftover edible flowers from the cake, a box of garnish’s and lots of ice from the fridge / freezer we hired.

My table plan, invitations, menu and order of service were all bespoke designed by my sister-in-law, Emily, as a wedding present to match the day!

Favours were vintage-key style bottle-openers which my mum found on eBay.

The archway we made ourselves using a garden arch from B&Q, some fabric chiffon found online, a disco ball, and the florist added the finishing touch flower pieces!

We also had a DIY guestbook using sticky tabs and an Instax Square – best £100 spent! People wondered off to get “the shot” and our guestbook has been brought to life J

We had a Calzone trailer in the evening with a food-fired oven, all made there in front of our guests which was such a hit! By ‘The Calzone Kitchen’.

We also had a DIY selfie-booth set up with a backdrop; we just had to source our own fancy dress bits which we found cheap on gumtree.

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The Cake

The cake was our wedding present from my oldest sister, Claire. The 3 tiers were made up of Lemon, Elderflower & Gin, Salted Caramel, and a classic Vanilla.

It was decorated with edible flowers from Maddox farm, gold leaf, along with Claire’s homemade macarons and meringue kisses.

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Bridesmaids

I was originally going for mis-matched bridesmaid’s dresses but found the perfect floaty, floral embroidered dresses by ASOS’s wedding collection. They even had bumblebees on which was one of my themes throughout the wedding J and two shapes (with or without a cape) so my maid of honour could stand out whilst still having a dress that matched and suiter her better!

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Groomsmen

To keep costs down, the groomsmen all arranged their own suits – it was a really relaxed day so we were happy for them not to match.

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Your Outfits & Accessories

Bride

I started searching for a fish tail, lace, and sweetheart neckline dress. When dress shopping with some of my bridesmaids at a boutique in Oxford, a dress that did not fit my brief was added to my trying on rail. It was a plain Mikado Silk A-Line gown – and it was the first time all day I felt like a bride and not a little girl playing dress up.

This got me on to my new search – which focussed around dress shop sales due to our budget. I had to start very early with dress shopping to meet the sales straight after I got engaged as the next sale season would have been only a 2-3 months before the big day.

I must’ve tried on 30+ dresses since, none hitting the mark (wrong colour, too big skirt etc) but one Saturday I went to the Morgan Davies sample sale with one of my bridesmaids and we found “The One”. It was the Rosa Clara Parallel gown in Mikado silk and it was perfect; A-Line but not too big on the train; backless which suited my body type much better; and most importantly IT HAD POCKETS!

I had the second bow removed to open up the back completely and I paired it with a plain cathedral veil to keep the look classic and chic. I also found the perfect wedding belt on Etsy – ‘Hayley’ by OliviaRoseDesignsEU – to add some sparkle.

I also couldn’t walk down the aisle without my lucky Doc Martens!

Groom

Martin got his suit from MOSS – he wanted something he could keep for the same price of a single-day rental.

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Your Photographer

Miracle Moments (Bart Lyczko)

Bart was an absolutely fantastic photographer whose passion for what he does is so infectious, he won us over after a single call. His photos are exactly as we wanted, candid, natural and real – whilst still capturing the necessary posed family shots! He gives you the chance to pre-plan any must-have shots too so no need to worry on the day.

He offered a fantastic package featuring an engagement shoot (which a very reluctant groom was so pleased we went for, as it really allowed us to get to know our photographer, learn how to pose and follow direction, and generally become so much more comfortable being in front of the camera on the day as we got the awkwardness out of the way!)

All of our guests remarked on how brilliant he was, literally sprinting across the field to capture a moment before it slipped away – he was everywhere! How he managed it without being intrusive or in the way is a true skill.

We ended up with over 800 photos in the end as so much was happening!

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The Honeymoon

We went on a mini-moon to Amsterdam a few days after the wedding so we could chill out and take it all in.

Our honeymoon was 6 months later (we got back last week!) where we went on a cruise around the Caribbean, starting in Miami, going to Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, St Kitts and St Maarten.

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Memorable Moments

As the wedding was outdoors, we had to have our legal wedding a few days prior at the registry office. I’m so glad we did, as it allowed us to have a Humanist wedding ceremony – written completely bespoke about us and our story by Jenny Mcgrath.

Jenny was absolutely incredible and she ensured we had such an emotional and sentimental ceremony. I strongly recommend readers look into a humanist ceremony if the traditional religious or registry office ones don’t feel special enough for you!

One of the key moments of the wedding for me was our ring warming ceremony – Jenny explained when planning our wedding, that our wedding rings are passed around our guests whilst the ceremony takes place, giving each of them a moment to pass on their blessings and wishes for our marriage before the rings make their way back to the front in time for the exchanging of rings and our vows. It felt so special to us and also become some of our favourite wedding photos seeing these special moments.

Another notable mention goes to ‘Big Tom’ and the tug-o-war between him vs. about 10 kids! We heard cheers when having our bride and groom photos done and had to see what was going on. It was a really close one but he took them down! Haha.

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Advice For Other Couples

Your big day will be perfect, but it can also be overwhelming at points where you’re constantly in the lime light! Don’t beat yourself up if you get tired (we both crashed after the meal but had a second wind!).

Absolutely make sure you take half-hour out just the two of you as husband and wife on the day – go for a walk or find a quiet bench to take it all in for a moment. We are so glad we did this and it is one of the most special moments we shared in our whole day.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Oh so dreamy. Didn’t Amy and Martin look so gorgeous and loved up?

Amy and Martin thank you ever so much for sharing with us your incredible wedding story xo Lou

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