WWW readers Robyn and Harry are joining us as we end the week with a bang, they are sharing their Wootton Farm Estate wedding held on the 13th July 2019 in the Sussex countryside. Firstly they tied the knot alfresco (a few days later they held their legal ceremony) before partying in the majestic tipis. There is so much to love about their day from the smoke bombs and pressed flower cake to the origami paper cranes and fresh flowers.
Robyn chose to wear a beautiful gown by Hermione de Paula, which had embroidered personalised touches too, meanwhile Harry inspired by his love of Japanese culture, had a custom kimono made by kimono tailor Motoji in Tokyo during their pre-wedding honeymoon to Japan. Didn’t they both look just amazing?
Do enjoy these superb images from Kate Gray Photography and soak up every little beautiful moment. Thanks so much for sharing them with us Kate.
We were staying with Robyn’s family just before Christmas 2017, in the rural Scottish village where she grew up. Much to her, and her (clueless) mother’s dismay, but her (knowing) father’s encouragement, we trekked in old fleeces and wellies through freezing, dense fog to the top of her favourite hill overlooking the village. At the top, above the fog, and shivering probably more with the cold than nerves, Harry got down on one knee with a diamond trilogy ring he had designed himself and had made in the famous jewellery quarter of the Lanes in Brighton where we live.
We wanted a wedding that we had free reign over to make our own. Our priorities were for the weekend to be centred outdoors in nature, to involve camping, and to make our friends and family an active part of the celebration. Given the Scottish contingent attending, having good ceilidh music and plenty of opportunity for drinking and dancing into the wee hours were obviously a given!
The Planning Process
We had a brainstorming session over a very excited brunch, and outlined our ultimate game plan and priorities. We had around 18 months, so took our time, and it came together quite organically. We used Pinterest boards, some blogs (including WWW), the occasional spreadsheet, but mainly paper diary planners and good old fashioned pens as our weapons of choice – credit to Papersmiths for making this process easier.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Robyn’s dress – semi-bespoke Hermione de Paula. I wanted something simple and easy to dance in, and loved the botanical embroidery of HdeP. It was a gloriously heavy cream silk with embroidered rose detailing. My late granny was a talented seamstress, embroiderer and gardener of roses so it felt very right to honour her. Our initials and wedding date were embroidered onto the back panels, as well as a secret duck emblem as a tribute to our matching tattoos. The whole process of the dress design and fitting was a dream – the team at HdeP are miraculous artists, with incredible attention to personalising details to make sure the dress felt like an extension of me. I wore gold chunky heeled sandals which were a bargain from ASOS and changed into gold Converse for the dancing. My earrings and bracelet were pearl and gold from Astrid and Miyu.
Harry – custom made kimono from Ginza Motoji, Tokyo, Japan. Trousers – Armani. Shirt – Norse Projects. Shoes – Paul Smith. Socks – Happy Socks. Cufflinks – custom gold ducks (family jeweller Henderson’s of Perth).
Harry grew up influenced by Japanese art, culture and tailoring, both in his own style and work as an artist, so it felt natural to wear something to reflect this passion on his wedding day. Not for him the traditional suit! And so the idea for a custom wedding kimono rather than a traditional suit was born. During our travels to Japan we met with one of the oldest kimono tailors in the tailoring district of Ginza, Tokyo and together with them he designed a custom kimono made of a beautiful heavy blue Japanese cotton-linen blend, lined with a hand painted silk painting of a grumpy looking monkey (selected especially!). Paired this with Armani slacks and a collarless white shirt it was perfect.
Wedding rings and engagement ring custom made.
We decided to have the wedding down South, near our home in Brighton, to make the planning process easier for us and to ensure as many of our friends and family as possible were able to come and stay with us. We decided fairly early on that we wanted an outdoor tipi wedding in the countryside with the option for camping onsite, where we could have a weekend-long party, which narrowed down our venue choices somewhat. We had heard some horror stories about back up electricity generators failing, portable loos flooding and cold food, so it was a relief to find a venue that was a compromise between a complete ‘package’ venue with little option for customisation, and a completely DIY affair. Wootton comes with access to a beautiful farmhouse which formed a hub for the pre-wedding prep and the bridal party on the wedding morning, and then acted as accommodation for family the night of the wedding, with its big garden and pond providing the perfect setting for the tipis just next to where we married beneath two ancient oak trees. Within a minute’s walk of the tipis are a big camping field, onsite professional kitchen for catering, plumbed bathrooms and mains electricity. The venue comes with its own professional catering, and together with the head chef we chose our own menu of locally sourced food, with a giant sharing beef wellington for each round table of 10. We fell in love with the place, its view over the Sussex Downs and its ethos, and it didn’t disappoint on the day.
Our tipis were from Beautiful World Tents, who were an absolute dream. They were evidently very experienced and professional from the outset, with great attention to detail both throughout the planning process and in the set up and take down. They have great open days where you can go and look around the set up tipis, and we had a dedicated expert on hand throughout the whole process.
Some guests stayed in nearby Brighton, or local villages, but we also arranged for guests to be able to book their own bell tents for the night of the wedding, for no-fuss glamping through Beautiful Bells, or to bring their own tents. This meant as many of our friends and family as possible could party on into the night, stumble to bed from the dance floor, and wake up to spend more time with us on the Sunday before heading home.
Hair and makeup by Marah Pleigo-Garcia. I met Marah in the toilets of a pub in Henley, where we were both on respective fancy dress pub crawls on boats along the Thames – she was dressed and made up as a leopard and I was a sailor. She sorted out my disastrous sailor makeup so well, I took her number and got in touch a year later for the wedding. Marah is a beautiful soul, understood the aesthetic straight away and I trusted her implicitly to keep me looking like ‘me’ and less the ‘bridal glam’ I think is up-sold to so many brides.
The Readings & Music
Our wedding ceremony and space was held by Robyn’s godfather, Gordon Maclellan. It was important we had someone personal to us holding such an important role and joining us together. Wootton Farm doesn’t have a wedding license so we had the legal part of the wedding two days later at Brighton Town Hall with just close family, and went for pizza after.
Acoustic music during the ceremony was by Luke Concannon and Stephanie Hollenberg.
Harry has been a fan of Luke’s music for years and has made artwork for him in Harry’s previous work as an artist. Luke is formally of the band ‘Nizlopi’, as is now a solo artist and all round wonderful human being doing some amazing things in the world. Their contribution became an incredibly important and evocative part of our day. He sang his own songs together with his wife, Stephanie, also a musician, during the bridal party entrance, and the blessing of the rings, and then led all our guests in singing Madness’ ‘It Must Be Love’ to end our ceremony.
‘Morning Poem’ by Mary Oliver
‘Should I fall behind’ by Bruce Springsteen
‘Don’t hesitate’ by Mary Oliver
We had a ceilidh and covers band for the evening music and dancing, Pastiche, booked through Fix The Music. They were incredible at getting everyone, including tentative ceilidh first-timers, up and stuck into the ceilidh dancing, and played a rollicking couple of sets of classic songs through the night to keep the party going.
Dresses from Whistles Bridal. Jewellery from Astrid and Miyu.
All outfits their own. 3d badges (Japanese style) designed by Harry and printed locally in Brighton.
Gunns of Brighton (bouquets, bridal party hairpieces, buttonholes and loose flowers which we then arranged ourselves).
The dried petal confetti was lovingly handmade by our mothers from flowers collected from their respective gardens in London and Scotland and combined together.
Kate Gray. Kate and her husband Jon were recommended to us by friends, and booking them was one of the first things we did as we knew they are so popular. We loved their calm, quiet presence, and the quality and beauty of their photographs speak for themselves. They captured so many beautiful moments of the day of us, but also of our guests, so when we got the albums in their entirety, we were shown far more of the story of our day than we saw ourselves, in breadth but also in detail, which was very special.
Photobooth: SO much fun. Photobot set up, take down and manage through the evening. You get GIFs of the photos taken as well as printouts for both guests and an album.
The Details & Décor
An eclectic mix, mostly handmade, using natural tones, greens and a mustard yellow as central themes. Much to Harry’s delight, Robyn trawled Brighton’s charity shop for old glassware for the loose flowers, setting them in collections on the round tables with handmade runners of natural cotton scrim, handwritten menus and table numbers. The table plan was also handmade using the frame of a vintage painting and handwritten. Robyn made 100 multicoloured paper cranes from origami paper bought in Japan to use as wedding favours. Harry drew and designed our orders of service. We printed all our own designs and paperwork locally.
Our save the dates and invites were from Rosemood and customised by us.
Emergency umbrella supply – luckily we didn’t need them!
Late night supply of Irn Bru and Tunnocks teacakes and wafers for ceilidh fuel.
Bar – Lime Bar
A 3 tier red velvet cake, made by and driven all the way from Scotland by Robyn’s cousin, Alexandra. It was a simple design, featuring hand-pressed edible flowers and greenery from the glen in Scotland where we got engaged.
We spent three weeks travelling Japan as our ‘honeymoon’ before the wedding, to get there for cherry blossom season, and to make sure Harry had the perfect customised Japanese kimono for the big day.
After the wedding we spent two nights at Dormy House and spa in the Cotswolds, which was rather luxurious and lovely.
Every one of our family and friends singing ‘It Must Be Love’ together, as the sun came out, at the end of our ceremony.
Guests enjoying cans of Irn Bru as a welcome drink alongside the Prosecco.
Robyn surprise performance for Harry of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sign, Sealed, Delivered’, sung live with the band.
Camping with our friends and family and waking up to a big cooked breakfast on the Sunday morning.
Advice For Other Couples
Don’t be afraid to do something just because it isn’t conventionally ‘wedding-y’. So many aspects of weddings are commercialised to make you think you have to follow a set pattern to have the ‘right’ type of wedding or be the ‘right’ type of bride or groom. On paper, a wedding in the Sussex Downs, partly Japanese themed, partly Scottish themed, in tipis, sounds an unlikely mix, but it worked! A lot of what we did we just made up as we went along, trusting our guts and sticking to our original priorities, and as a result we had a day that we entirely designed ourselves, and we felt represented us, both as individuals and as a couple.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Kate Gray Photography
Venue & Catering
Wootton Farm Estate
The Lime Bar
Beautiful World Tents
Hermione de Paula
Bridal & Bridesmaid Jewellery
Astrid and Miyu
Groom’s Custom Cufflinks
Wedding & Engagement Rings
Marc In The Lanes
Hair & Makeup
Cakes by Alexandra
Brighton Print Centre
Hire A Brolly
Wow, so gorgeous.
Many thanks to Robyn and Harry for sharing with us these simply wonderful wedding celebrations xo Lou