I’m quite frankly loving everything about WWW readers Nat and Si’s gorgeous woodland wedding which took place on 4th August 2018 at Wise Wedding Venue in Kent. It’s no secret that I love a humanist ceremony as the couple are free to make it really personal. That’s exactly what Nat and Si did, and the personal touches didn’t stop there. Family and friends pitched in and were responsible for lots of the finishing touches which is just so special isn’t it?
Nat knew that she wanted the florals to be bright and beautiful and not in any particular colour scheme. Aren’t the results just amazing? The rest of the decor had a vintage feel and plenty of it was sourced from charity shops, very impressive! Add in some romantic fairy lights and festive bunting and the overall effect is just wonderful.
Livvy Hukins Photography was Nat and Si’s photographer and she really has captured the day wonderfully. Thank you so much for sharing these beauties with us Livvy!
Si proposed to me in the city where we met, Cambridge. On a rainy day at the end of the summer, he insisted we visit the city again to go on a punt. I was reluctant, given the rain, and grudgingly agreed. Having coerced me into a punt (with much moaning), he moored the boat by one of the colleges and asked me to marry him. Needless to say everything made more sense after that, and we celebrated with champagne and a picnic on the Cam. He took such care planning everything down to the last sandwich, and it was a perfect day.
We knew we didn’t want to have a stolidly traditional wedding, and immediately agreed that the main thing was for people to feel they were just at a big family party. We wanted plenty of music, food and drink, and for people to feel relaxed and comfortable. We didn’t want everything to look too polished, so decided to make a large amount of the decorations ourselves. We wanted our wedding to reflect our personalities as much as possible. In the end it felt like a true family event, with everyone lending skills, ideas and time to help us. Our cake, favours, invitations, and even the car Nat travelled to the venue in were organised or designed by family. On the day before we had a team of wonderful family who spent a long hot day arranging flowers, putting up bunting, and decorating the venue with us.
The Planning Process
We wanted time to arrange the wedding without feeling rushed or stressed, so the first thing we did was book our venue for 18 months’ time. This gave us time to collect bits and bobs, make decorations, and take our time to gather everything to make sure we were able to have everything exactly how we imagined, without feeling pressure to get things booked and have to compromise. We knew flowers, herbs and foliage were going to play a big part, and Nat’s brother did an excellent job of designing our stunning save the dates and invitations. We used his images throughout the wedding in our seating plan as well.
Wise Wedding Venue in Paddock Wood, Kent, was the only venue we visited. Having seen it featured on a wedding blog, we knew it was the perfect place for us. In the woods, which are decorated with lights, tree houses, and arm chairs hanging from the trees, it matched our plans perfectly. Sam, the owner, has made the woodland a magical place, and we had so much fun adding our own ideas to his lovely space. There is a beautiful old oak tree in a clearing where we had the ceremony, and after dark the lights in the trees lit up the woods to provide the background to our party. Lights illuminate ponds and other secret areas throughout the venue, and we loved everything about it!
Your Outfits & Accessories
Si is a big fan of tweed and knew he wanted to wear it for the wedding. He spent ages trying to find “the one”, and in the end Si and the boys all wore “Southwold” suits from Vintage Suit Hire, teamed with maroon ties from M&S. Si gave all of the boys gold tie pins, and Nat gave Si a gold pocket watch which he wore on the day.
Nat: From the start I had an image in my head of what I wanted my dress to look like. I also knew what I didn’t want! Dangerous, perhaps! However, after several dress shopping trips, I came across the Bella Rosa dress by Ivory and Co in a bridal magazine. I tracked down a local shop (Grace and Lace, Ipswich), and knew instantly that it was everything I had wanted. The corset bodice gave me a little more shape, and support, and the full floaty skirt added just enough “princess” vibes! The lace was delicate and was in the shape of ferns and flowers, which went so well with the venue. I knew I wanted a cathedral length veil, and found the perfect two tiered one in the same shop.
I wore my great grandmother’s amethyst and diamond necklace and earrings, the same ones she wore on her wedding day. I also carried my Grandma’s lace handkerchief, from her wedding day.
My shoes were my favourite bit of my outfit. I got a bit disheartened looking for wedding shoes, as I wanted something a bit more exciting than a plain court shoe. In the end I wore Vivienne Westwood “Lady Dragon” heart court shoes, which I found in perfect condition on eBay. They were totally gorgeous, and the chance to wear grown up jelly shoes on my wedding day was too good to miss!
I have known Hayley for years through one of my bridesmaids, and knew as soon as I got engaged that I wanted her to do my makeup. Hayley uses mineral products which don’t look too heavy, and I was beyond thrilled with my makeup on the day. I worry that my rosy cheeks are difficult to cover up, but Hayley did a wonderful job, and I had a wonderful bridesmaid armed with “refresher” face spray which woke up my makeup throughout the day! I didn’t want to look too “made up”, but knew I wanted to stick with a red lipstick, and did lots of research about the best long lasting ones. In the end I wore “Stunna” Lip Paint from Fenty.
I had five bridesmaids, all from a different period of my life- from childhood, through school and university, and new friends I have met since I have moved to Norwich. I was originally quite against the idea of having my bridesmaids all matching. However, I happened to stumble across a gorgeous dark green tea dress from Joy, and they were ideal. With a wraparound waist, it was flattering on all of the girls, and they looked gorgeous on the day. Never one for subtlety, I found them gold sparkly mary-janes for them to wear. The girls chose how they wanted to have their own hair, which meant they ended up looking different enough that their own personalities shone as well. I can’t thank them enough for all of their help, support (emotional and physical!), and for planning the best hen party I could have ever wished for.
The flowers were something I (Nat) was certain about from the start. I wanted wild, tumbling, just gathered flowers, and I wanted to do them myself! In the end I conceded that making six bouquets, plus button holes the day before the wedding may just tip the stress levels over the edge, so instead, enlisted the lovely ladies at Blooming Green to make them for us. I am so glad we did, because the end result was exactly what I wanted. We decided not to go for a colour theme as such, and ended up with the brightest, most beautiful flowers. Blooming Green offer a “pick your own” wedding flower service as well, so all of our other flowers- for tables and decorations- we picked ourselves two days before the wedding. They were perfect, and matched our colourful, laid back theme once they were arranged (loosely!) in the collection of teapots, jars and jugs we had collected. Spending a slow, sunny morning wandering through the flowers was an awesome way to kick off the wedding.
Nat’s cousin, Annie, is a family-renowned fabulous baker, so we were very lucky when she agreed to take the reins on that aspect of planning. What she produced was a spectacular three tiered cake with layers of the most insanely brilliant fruit, chocolate, and Victoria sponges. She and the family decorated it with flowers and had a log carved with our initials for it to sit on, and it looked exactly how we imagined it would. Our Granny, who was our family cake baker for many years, would have burst with pride.
The Readings & Music
Nat walked down the aisle to The Blower’s Daughter, by Damien Rice, and we walked back down it together to You and I, by Crystal Fighters.
As the venue is not licensed for legal weddings, we had a small family-only ‘official’ wedding the week before in Norwich. This was great, as it gave us the freedom to make our “big” wedding ceremony whatever we wanted it to be. As neither of us are religious, we decided to have a humanist ceremony. Our wonderful celebrant spent weeks getting to know us both and writing a ceremony that was perfectly individual to us. We also wrote our own personal vows. This was such a special thing to do, and made us both laugh and cry! We didn’t hear each other’s vows until the ceremony itself, so that made it really special.
We had three readings, read by our mums and Nat’s cousin, Becky. We wanted them to choose something that they wanted to read, and ended up with three beautiful readings that fitted so well with the feel of the day. Si’s mum read “He’s not perfect” by Bob Marley, Nat’s mum read “Touched by an Angel”, by Maya Angelou and Becky chose “All I know About Love”, by Neil Gaiman. Safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye around!
We had a brilliant band, The Anthem, who played in the evening. We knew that music and dancing was going to play a big part of the wedding, and The Anthem did not disappoint. Some of the best photos of the day are of our friends and family throwing some excellent moves on the dancefloor, and of the band getting anyone from toddlers to drunk sisters in law to have a go on the guitar and drums!
We spent the whole 18 months trying to work out what song we should have for our first dance. We don’t necessarily have a song that we would identify as “our song”, so narrowing down to just one that we both agreed on took up until the week before the wedding. Serious slow dances just aren’t us, so we knew we wanted something that would get people up and dancing with us. In the end we chose “Simply the Best”, by Tina Turner. The cheering and dancing that followed would suggest we made a strong choice!
The Details & Décor
Nat and the family spent the 18 months before the wedding either collecting bits and pieces or making bunting. The charity shops near her work even started putting aside teapots and unusual jugs, and the result was a wedding reception full of wonderful different colours and patterns. It shouldn’t have all gone together, but somehow it did! The woodland venue lent itself to the summer fete vibe that the bunting gave, and we had metres and metres of it around the place. We had piles of crotched blankets on bales of hay around the fire for the evening, and in the tree houses that were lit up with fairy lights. A friend made a willow basket for confetti, and giant willow obelisks which we decorated with lights and flowers. The finished product was a riot of colour and it suited us down to the ground. We loved that everything had been collected or homemade, and the fact that nothing quite matched reflected our style pretty well!
Juliet from Juliet’s Café in Tunbridge Wells provided all of the food on the day. We had delicious canapés, including specially made sausage rolls for Dad! We decided to go for an informal, sharing style meal. Sam from the venue provided the slow cooked, spit roast lamb, and Juliet came up with some awesome accompaniments- baba ganoush plus all sorts of glorious salads. For pud each table got an enormous cream and fruit filled pavlova. We still get compliments about the food, it was totally perfect. In the evening we had towers and cheese and pork pies from The West Country Cheese Co, with chutneys homemade by Nat’s mum.
Si had two best men and three ushers. Sadly one of our best men, Simon, couldn’t be there on the day due to the arrival of his baby boy, but Will stepped up to the plate solo and did a brilliant job of making everyone laugh (and cringe!) in his speech. Si’s three ushers, his brothers Harry and James, and Nat’s brother, Matt, helped gather everyone in the clearing, and we are so grateful for all of their help.
Anyone who knows Si and I will know how uncomfortable and awkward we find having our photograph taken. This made finding a photographer that was on our wave length a priority, and so when we stumbled across Livvy Hukins at a wedding fair in Kent, we knew she was our girl. From the start she made us feel comfortable with the idea of “posing but not” in our pictures, and even encouraged us to take her up on a pre wedding engagement shoot. This was the perfect way to get used to being behind the camera, and we would definitely recommend it as a great way to get to know your photographer too. We chatted with Livvy via Skype to share ideas, and her laid back way of working and willingness to listen to what we wanted meant we ended up with photographs we will treasure forever. On the day she did such a good job of sneaking candid shots of people, she was almost like one of the guests, with lots of people assuming she was a distant relation!
The moment I (Nat) look back on with most happiness was actually at the very end of the wedding, after everyone had left. Si and I were left in the marquee, finishing glasses of rose together. We made ourselves cheese and chutney sandwiches, and wandered through the woods to our little wedding night treehouse. Having that peaceful, normal moment at the end of such an exciting, joyful day felt like a fitting start to married life.
Advice For Other Couples
Take your time! Give yourself time to plan and change your mind about your ideas! Your wedding is supposed to be an exciting time, and a reflection of you. Don’t squeeze a wedding in to the next year if you think you might have to make sacrifices on your idea of a perfect wedding. Having time to collect things and draw everything together meant there was very little stress, and gave us time to get it right, to our own expectations. Also, do what suits you- if you want red nails and lips on your wedding day- have them! I have never worn a nude lipstick in my life, so I wasn’t going to start on my wedding day. Don’t be put off by other people’s reactions or expectations.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Livvy Hukins Photography
Wise Wedding Venue
Just so lovely! Thank you ever so much Nat and Si for sharing your special woodland day with us all. Rachel