A very warm welcome to Phoebe and Nick and their glorious Yew Tree Lakes wedding this fine Monday morning, which was held in East Sussex during the summer of June 2018. They truly had an outdoor celebration, complete with outdoor ceremony surrounded by a wildflower meadow and a tipi reception with views on to the lake. It looked so magical.
They added a lot of DIY touches and decorations too, including home-made Sloe Gin favours and stylish stationery. I love all of the pretty blooms (hello there beautiful flower arch!), the giant helium blooms and the delicious looking cakes. Yum. Also look out for a special nod to their romantic proposal.
Charlotte Hu Photography thank you so very much for sending us these joyous and vibrant images.
Nick’s always been a king of winging it, and a situation turning out in his favour. We went to a til-dawn ball in June 2017, and he took the ring with him for the evening. Somehow, we ended up in a hot air balloon at 5am, and he asked me to marry him just as the sun was coming up over the city!
We found out quite quickly that some venues can box you in with what is possible and what isn’t, and we didn’t want to have a wedding that would be repeated a month later almost exactly with another couple! On the flip side, it felt almost overwhelming having all the choices available – the time of year, the location, indoor or outdoor, catering etc. Eventually we realised that what we wanted couldn’t be achieved at the locations we were interested in, so looked into having a summer, outdoor wedding (a bold move in England), and involved as many independent people and companies as possible.
The Planning Process
The year of planning we had was so much fun! We had a book which held our plans, sketches, calculations, samples, drawings and thoughts. It doubled as a scrapbook, which was so helpful to show suppliers the vision we had in mind and inspiration we were drawing from.
Once we had the main structure in place of location, food, and drink, we planned the rest of the day based on walking through it as a guest, thinking about how to make it a comfortable and enjoyable day from their perspective. I was glad we had gone through it in such detail, as it ended up being one of the hottest days of the year!
In trying to make the day as fun as possible for our guests, we had enjoyed lots of testing and activities along the way – designing and lettering our wedding stationery, collecting the wine from France, carving our rings, taste-testing the dinner options, collecting an (enormous) hot air balloon basket from Canterbury, and baking 100 quad-choc-chip cookies to have as late-night takeaway snacks for our guests. We booked a weekend away a few weeks before the wedding, and enjoyed the time together painting the thank you notes and lettering place cards – it was a perfect pre-wedding escape!
We chose Yew Tree Lakes in East Sussex to be the backdrop for our day. They have wildflower meadows surrounding a lake, and we loved that they only have a handful of weddings a year to ensure the land has time to recover and let the wildlife grow. We had exclusive use of the site, and the owners cut only the sections of meadow we needed, leaving the rest to grow up high for the wildlife to thrive in. It was perfect – we put a three-hat tipi at the highest point, looking out over the lake, and bookended it with a bar (The Dawdling Duck – a converted horsebox), and Up In My Grill.
The Readings & Music
We went for two readings: How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali, and Union by Robert Fulgham. Our friend reading the Taylor Mali forgot the print-out, so everyone chuckled as he held his phone up getting signal to Google it!
A talented friend of ours played a Bach Violin Partita during the ceremony, and Nick and his friends played together as the band for the dancing – the live band were amazing, got everyone dancing, and really made the evening!
Your Outfits & Accessories
My wedding dress was a quick purchase – my mum, sister and I headed to Brighton for the day, tried on a handful of dresses and decided on the one to go for over pizza. I’d never had a strong vision of what I wanted to wear, but as soon as I tried on a shorter dress I knew it suited me, and the day outdoors we had planned. I went to The Most Curious Wedding Fair a few months before the wedding and fell in love with the craftsmanship of the shoes by Faber Novella. I ordered a colourful pair, which have been so much fun to wear since the wedding too!
Nick and the groomsmen hired suits from Ted Baker in navy blue, and the buttonholes were created with some leftover flowers from our afternoon at the Sussex Cutting Farm.
The bridesmaids were living in Fiji and Dallas before the wedding, so trying on dresses was a little difficult! We decided on navy dresses from Monsoon, and necklaces from Carrie Elizabeth Jewellery.
The Details & Décor
Phoebe created all of the stationery and details for the day, from the doughnut wall to the monogram place settings and invitations. One of our favourite pieces was a huge framed mirror, which displayed the seating plan. So many details and inspiration came from The Most Curious Wedding Fair – full of independent people and companies specialising in their passions. Polly Crossman drew a gorgeous map of the site for people to use on the day, which went inside the programme.
We enjoyed making litres of Sloe Gin over the winter with sloes from Yew Tree Lakes itself, which we then bottled up as favours for our guests! To match the wildflower theme of the location, we bought edible flowers from Maddocks Farm Organics to put in each of the champagne glasses at the reception, too.
We had our ‘formal’ pictures taken in front of a huge de-commissioned hot air balloon basket, to which we attached giant bubble and confetti balloons – a nod to Nick’s best winging-it win a year before. It made the most colourful backdrop, and our guests loved taking photos in it!
One of the best bits of the day was finding each other again at 11pm, and watching the fireworks display. It was wonderful, and ended the evening perfectly.
One of the bridesmaid’s godfathers had recently studied floristry, and we were keen to involve as many people in the wedding as possible, so kindly, Sam created three bunches of flowers for the bride and bridesmaids. He used our wedding colours as the base and tied them with beautiful colourful ribbons.
Our flower arch was a work of art created by another talented family friend. We ordered flowers and eucalyptus leaves from Triangle Nursery, which arrived the day before, and Elaine created a beautiful arch.
For the decorative flowers, we had so much fun going to the Sussex Cutting Farm together the day before the wedding and cutting two buckets of flowers to pop in jam jars on the tables. It was serene to walk through rows and rows of flowers and cut mismatching colourful stems!
We’re lucky to have so many talented friends – our friend Deni made four cakes for us in vanilla, oreo, lime and coconut, and raspberry ripple flavours. The flower cake was completely stunning!
We had a couple of trays of Meringue Girls kisses, and a huge doughnut wall with chocolate sprinkle and glazed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme on it. For the evening, we baked cookies for people to have as a snack or take for the munchies on the way home! We had tea to go with the cake, and made a huge Kilner jar of mini heart crumbly fudge. One of the funniest observations of the day was one of the small children running across the dance floor with fudge hearts falling out of his pockets!
I’ve followed Charlotte Hu on Instagram for a couple of years, so I was delighted when she was available to shoot our day! She’s friendly, blends in and captures moments perfectly. We had the best time with her in Oxford for some engagement pictures a few months before the wedding – she took the most beautiful pictures.
We had an amazing time in Barcelona, eating a total of about 190 tapas between us! We stayed at the Yurbban Passage Hotel, which has a happy hour with free, local wines every day!
Advice For Other Couples
Find a photographer whose style you love, and think about having an engagement shoot with them too – it helps you be less awkward on the day! We also hired Laura Devine from Devine Bride for our on-the-day coordination – I can’t say enough good things about her – I’d encourage anyone with a dry-hire wedding or very DIY-heavy wedding to contact her!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Charlotte Hu Photography
Up In My Grill
Yew Tree Lakes
Wow. Didn’t Phoebe and Nick look just gorgeous and fireworks to end the day, perfect.
Thanks ever so much to Phoebe and Nick for sharing with us their really special wedding story xo Lou