I’m really pleased to be bringing you WWW readers Gavin and Lillie’s relaxed and rustic woodland tipi wedding today. Personal, homemade, eco-conscious and lots of fun, this lovely couple’s wedding has it all. Following a church ceremony on 31st August 2019, their reception took place in beautiful tipis in family woodland, just magical.
There are so many special touches, a lot of them down to Lillie’s lovely mum, who dried flowers and produced the florals for the tables. WWW Supplier Love members Shropshire Petals provided some additional beauty too! There were also homemade drinks and handpainted signs, a real labour of love. I’m also super impressed with Lillie’s hunt for her dream dress, great effort!
Thanks go to Caroline Goosey today for providing these most excellent images, she also produced a video as a surprise for the couple and we’re delighted to share that too.
At the time of the proposal we had been together for 7 years and lived together for 2 of those. Lillie had spent the week at her parents which gave me some time to put some plans in motion. As Lillie’s parents live just over the Welsh border, I had planned to arrive on the Friday and we were going to climb Mt Snowden the Saturday. Unfortunately on arrival Lillie quickly dismissed this plan preferring to have a lazy Saturday, even the suggestion of a smaller walk was ignored and the ring was not produced! Luckily, knowing Lillie so well and considering there was a strong possibility of a lazy Saturday, I had left an arrangement of flowers, champagne and roses from the front door, through the living room and into the kitchen, so when we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, there was no getting out of it once the front door opened. As they say the rest is history.
We’d always talked about what sort of wedding we’d have, and we knew we wanted it to be as relaxed as possible, basically a big party with everyone we like there. We aren’t the ‘venue’ sort of couple, nor ‘traditional’, so any wedding rules were out the window immediately. I was brought up in a small rural Welsh village (no transport links, just a lot of cows and sheep), and Gavin was brought up in and around the highlands in Scotland – so we knew we wanted a countryside wedding, embracing all things natural. We wanted our guests to be able to pick up a cold beer from the open water Canadian canoe, have a flute of rose cider from our old garden table, or pour themselves a gin and tonic, to be enjoyed sitting on a hay bale from the neighbouring farm. So there were never any rigid timelines throughout the day, no master of ceremony organising events, just a self-painted pallet with the promise of wood fired pizzas, doughnuts and dancing.
The Planning Process
Planning took place over approx.. 1 year, the first thing booked being the food (woodfired pizzas, doughballs and sides), we wanted it to be a relaxed and social eating experience. After we booked the tipi’s the rest came quite naturally.
The planning process was actually really good fun, and we were both always involved in every decision. Miraculously neither of us had to compromise on anything as we agreed on everything and had the same vision throughout (Gavin may beg to differ….!). My (Lillie’s) parents were absolutely amazing, helping with creative ideas and the logistics of the day. Liz (Lillie’s Mum) was in charge of the details and décor, and Mike (Lillie’s Dad) took charge of the booze and sculpting/prepping the woodland ready for the tipi’s.
Another aspect that came quite early on in the planning process was the idea of not having a bar. Personally I’m never a big fan when you get to a venue wedding and have to splash out on insane amounts of money just to get a drink! Guests said after the wedding day that this was one of the best parts, just being able to help yourself and grab what you like, as and when. We also had an urn and coffee machine for those who needed a quick tea or coffee for a pick me up.
As with everything we planned and eventually had for the wedding, we wanted it to have a personal touch and relevance to our lives – almost painting a picture or tapestry of our relationship together, honouring journeys made together or with friends and family.
The majority of décor and details were handmade by Lillie’s Mum, second hand from friends, family or neighbours, and bought locally from farm shops or companies selling products on sites like Etsy with a good eco-friendly ethos. I’d guess altogether we spent somewhere between £7k – £8k…. it could have easily been more but because we are both keen on sustainable living and all things natural, we wanted to keep spending to a minimum. The DIY motto became our new best friend.
Birch Tree Wood is an 11 acre semi-mature woodland which my (Lillie’s) Dad bought 9 years ago as an empty redundant ridge and furrow farmer’s field. Located in a rural Welsh village, he planted thousands of trees by hand and built a ‘cabana’ which is his man cave. He created an opening to fit the tipi’s in, which made the perfect location surrounded by the lake, orchard, wild flower meadows and trees. When I first mentioned to people that I wanted to get married in a field, there was a lot of laughter and speculation, but we managed to pull it off and it really was a magical setting.
Your Outfits & Accessories
I didn’t buy any new jewellery for the day, I always wanted to look like myself when I got married and Gavin was in agreement – my favourite Tiffany necklace my Mum gave me when I was 18, an infinity bracelet Gavin gave me, pearl earrings, a few of my fave rings, and of course my engagement ring which was my Nan’s.
We live in Birmingham so it was a no-brainer getting our wedding rings from the Jewellery Quarter. Mine is a gold band with a leaf design, in each leaf there is a diamond – Gavin’s is a simple gold band.
Dress shopping was a dream with my Mum. We started off in Wed2be which was a great place to start for me personally. I hate shopping and trying stuff on, so it was simple, quick and helped me warm up to the whole process. Next we went to a small boutique in a little village which was quirky but friendly, where I tried on a few fitted dresses. Lastly we went to a high end shop in Chester, where we couldn’t quite believe the prices – but where I’ve never tried on such beautiful clothing, and probably never will again! That’s where I fell in love with the Watter’s dress ‘Shiloh’. We’d always laughed at people that said they knew when they tried on the dress and I never thought I’d say it, but as soon as I walked out and Mum saw me, we both knew!
Unfortunately it was way out of my budget, and I mean WAY out, so we went home deflated and disappointed, I knew I wouldn’t like anything else again. I spent about a month researching second hand versions of the dress online, most of them being in America, and still pretty expensive for second hand. On about page 15 of Google I came across a small boutique in Nottingham called Shade Bridal, and by some miracle, they were selling ‘Shiloh’ at an amazing sale price. I rang them up immediately, and I couldn’t quite believe it when a real person answered the phone (I thought they might be a fake website!). After a day of correspondence and e-mails sent with photos of me in the dress to confirm to the dress shop that I was real, I’d secured the dress! We got it altered with the seamstress in house who did an absolutely amazing job, taking it down almost 3 sizes…. It fitted like a dream. I never thought I’d go for a floaty style, but it was so comfortable and amazing to dance in. I literally felt like a fairy floating around the woodland!
I wore my Vegan Birkenstock sandals because, why not?! They were so comfy.
The Readings & Music
Music was probably the thing we spent the most time planning and our favourite memory. Every couple of evenings a month, helped with a glass of wine, we’d have a bit of a jig in our kitchen and save our favourite songs. Along with the rest of the wedding style, we were never going to pay for a live band, or have a DJ play those classic wedding playlists where nobody really wants to dance, so we spent hours creating the perfect playlist.
We are big music geeks and wanted a variety of genres – rock, punk, pop, 80s classics, anthems, Pink Floyd and of course our beloved House music. There were at least three mosh pits during the night (I can probably pin point during one of them that’s when my wedding dress was ripped and where I mopped up the sticky dancefloor with my train!!), and multiple times where there was a lot of arms around whoever was next to you getting emosh and swaying around. I’m still pretty chuffed that it was the biggest part of the evening where nearly everyone came up to me and said that there was at least one of their favourite songs being played, from various generations! We also put on the wedding invitations an option to put a song request, with the consequence being you HAD to dance to it.
We were never going to have a first dance as it’s not our style, so everyone just got up and crowded the dancefloor straight away – however what was most special was just after midnight we spontaneously decided to slow dance to “Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel – and for any Scrubs fans out there – it was emotional to say the least.
I walked into the Church to my favourite song by The National called ‘England’ and we walked out together to Coldplay ‘Sky Full of Stars’. We were so lucky to have my old piano teacher play the organ and piano for the service – he’s my Mum and Dad’s neighbour so it was really special to have him play. Church hymns were: Be Thou My Vision, Here is Love Vast as the Ocean and I Vow to Thee. Readings were: Romans 12:9-21 and Song of Songs 8:6-7.
My (Lillie’s) Mum handpicked and dried the majority of the flowers for the buttonholes and the bridesmaid’s bouquets (she really is a talent!). She used knapweed, bearded wheat, normal wheat, gypsophila, nigella, larkspur, lavender, craspedia, echinops, eryngium and more and supplemented a few here and there from Shropshire Petals. In hindsight we realised Mum could have easily made my bouquet (we didn’t realise quite how talented she was!!), but we had already made the decision earlier to get my bouquet from a company called The Artisan Dried Flower Company. They were so simple and I love the fact that I can keep them forever because they are dried – it also made them significantly cheaper than fresh flowers, and they still smelt amazing and wowed everyone.
On the morning of the wedding my (Lillie’s) Dad went and picked some wild flowers from the meadow in the woodland which we planted on tables around the tipi – these included sweet peas, meadow flowers, cosmos, cornflowers, sunflowers and wild carrot. My mum also bought some hessian bags and created what looked like flower troughs for the tables. We grew some lavender throughout the year and put these in pots running alongside the entrance walkway to the tipi. Finally the flowers for the church came from the neighbouring local village florist, in keeping with the English rustic theme, some of these included larkspur, yellow roses, delphinium, eryngium, poppy seed heads and more.
I don’t personally wear much make-up day to day (I’m a nurse so no time for it!), so I just popped a bit of ‘drug store’ concealer, mascara and blusher on and hoped for the best. Natural was the theme anyway. Gavin might have used some beard oil but that’s about it from us…
Again I never wanted my hair done by a hairdresser, I wanted to look like me walking down the aisle, so my Mum spent 5 minutes on my hair and hey presto – I had a few twists with dried flowers weaved throughout (gypsophila, yellow roses and purple thistles), with natural waves and sun-kissed ends from holidays over the summer.
Our amazing photographer is my (Lillie’s) sister-in-law Caroline Goosey, known to me as CJ since I was about 16. At first we pondered with the idea of not having her as our photographer, because although she was the obvious choice, we also wanted her to enjoy the wedding day and not be ‘at work’. But once we started to follow her work as she grew as a wedding photographer, we realised that she was too talented not to have. CJ’s style is literally exactly what we wanted: natural, no stress, fun and something a little different. The non-traditional style suited us perfectly, and we had so much fun together. I (Lillie) absolutely hate group photos and feel awkward anytime I have to pose, and luckily CJ is right there with me on this, so she backed me up and kept them to a minimum (just family shots) and concentrated on all the natural, fly on the wall shots – the ones where people are actually laughing (not fake smiling) and a photo tells a story, not a line up! We honestly couldn’t have asked for more lovely photos and everyones still talking about them.
Our film came as a bit of a surprise as we didn’t realise CJ was going to make one, but it literally went viral. We’ve probably watched it at least four times a day, every day, for the past few days, and so many of my friends have sent it to their friends, who have sent it to their friends and so on. It’s given us the opportunity to see clips of people that we didn’t realise were doing something at a certain time, because we were busy running around talking to someone the other side of the tipi. It’s so fun and full of laughter, which just highlights the day for us overall, a great party!
Gavin’s best men were both friends he had lived with throughout his University education (undergrad, masters and PhD) and they were keen to match Gavin’s Scottish heritage so they hired kilts from Slaters. Gavin wore ‘Modern Douglas’ and his best men wore ‘Flower of Scotland’ tartans.
I had three bridesmaids: they were given the colour navy as the only criteria, and they each agreed on full length dresses from ASOS – chosen independently, because nobody wants an unhappy bridesmaid!! I also had my niece Effie as a flower girl – she wore a yellow dress from Boden and a ‘fairy crown’ made to order by my talented Auntie who’s a great knitter.
The Details & Décor
- Glass yogurt pots were collected and my Mum filled them with sand, placing citronella candles in every jar to keep any bugs away
- The confetti we used was all handpicked and dried by Mum using flowers from around the garden and wild meadow – we liked the idea that it didn’t need clearing up because it was all natural
- Jam jars were collected and my mum used handpicked and pressed flower petals to glue around the outside of the jars, and then painted them with a laminate type paint to create a shine. These flowers came from the garden in Madeira so were lovely and colourful! We filled them with tea lights – as with a lot of the décor we told guests that if they liked anything to take whatever they wanted back with them!! This helped significantly with the clear up.
- Both my parents and Gavin’s parents have a lot of family photo albums so I wanted to utilise these and show off some embarrassing baby photos. I used pegs to hang them on bits of string and tied them around the tipi poles – guests loved to look at them and they created a great talking point.
- My dad picked the sloes from the land and over the year made some sloe vodka and sloe gin – so each table had a kilner bottle to enjoy.
- We wanted to keep the tables simple and not too overcrowded, so Mum bought some hessian table runners from Etsy for dirt cheap – tying them at the ends with string.
- Each table name was a tree found in the woodland, so Mum and Dad picked the leaf of each tree and pressed it, gluing it to a canvas board for each table. For guests to see where they were sitting, my Mum drew a tree on a piece of cardboard and glued another leaf next to the table names, which we then sprayed with a gold sheen spray paint.
- One of my favourite parts of the décor was the boxes of toiletries in the glamorous portable toilets we hired. Credit goes to Mum again for creating a box of necessities e.g. body spray, chewing gum, moisturiser, mosquito spray, lip balm, baby wipes, and so on. The men got a nice bar of soap!
- My dad built a fire pit for outside, and we hired one for inside the tipi, where guests could toast giant marshmallows and keep nice and warm.
- We didn’t do wedding favours, instead the toasting drinks were a traditional homemade Madeiran drink called Poncha (made from Madeira sugar cane white rum, fresh oranges/lemons, and honey from the Bees my Dad keeps in the Woodland). My (Lillie’s) Mum and Dad have a Villa in Madeira and so we have fond memories of sipping a Poncha whilst watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean.
- Blankets to keep warm were an essential, and made for some great photos!
- Bio-degradable cups for drinks were important to me, as we didn’t want loads of plastic waste. We also bought in bulk some basic wine glasses, using glass markers to write people’s names on so they didn’t lose their glass!
One of the first things we agreed on whilst planning was the fact we didn’t want a three tier wedding cake! Thus, it was a simple conclusion that Krispy Kreme doughnuts had to be on the menu, accompanied by Marks and Spencer’s Colin and Connie the caterpillars. As you can imagine they went down a treat, so much so that neither me or Gavin even managed to grab a doughnut before they all disappeared!
More of a mini-moon, we have booked a road trip down to Cornwall (via Bath). I used to holiday there as a child and Lillie has never been, so it was a good opportunity to make the trip. We have a larger honeymoon to plan for 2020!
There are so many!
When one of my bridesmaid’s spilt a glass of sloe vodka all over the front of my dress at the beginning of the evening – for everyone out there, remember that white wine is the best immediate option (DON’T USE BABY WIPES!).
The generator we hired wasn’t working for the first two hours of the reception (which was rather stressful to say the least) but the cheer that went round when all the lights came on and the music started, is something we’ll always remember!
Doing a spot of yoga in the middle of our couples photoshoot – just cause!
Seeing my Grandad and Gavin’s Granny enjoy all the people around them, and spending time with family and friends.
Advice For Other Couples
It really isn’t a lie when people say the day goes so so fast. And when people say their wedding day was perfect, it probably wasn’t, there was just someone else in the background sorting out the blips throughout the day, so don’t stress or worry if something goes wrong, it’s totally normal. I’m (Lillie) a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak and our day was far from ‘perfect’, but it was so much fun, surrounded by people who loved us. Try and fill the day with as much laughter and joy as possible, and remember to spend time with your other half! People are still telling us how nice it was to see us constantly laughing, there wasn’t a dull moment that’s for sure!
My practical advice would be to allocate roles to trusted people, choose good bridesmaids and groomsmen who are at the ready to jump in and help when needed. Make sure you have something to eat before, you don’t want your tummy rumbling through the service, and definitely try and eat as much food as you can grab later throughout the day (I think I had about 2 slices of pizza and one mini caterpillar cake and regret not getting a krispy kreme doughnut!).
Invite who you want to invite (I never wanted a wedding day where, as the bride, I had to be introduced to someone I didn’t know) so stand firm on it – it’s your day after all.
Pick a photographer you feel comfortable around. Obviously we were lucky because we had my sister-in-law, but seriously, it makes all the difference if you can feel at ease and just relax and enjoy the moments.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Photographer & Filmmaker
It looks like you didn’t stop smiling all day! Thank you so much Gavin and Lillie for sharing your magical day with us. Rachel x