(Warning: If you read this blog for travel tips then this mega post with all our wedding details probably isn’t for you. But it’s got lots of pretty photos so you may like it anyway)
Love, love, love. Our wedding was a day filled with joy. The rains came but so did the sun – and it shone at all the right moments. I’m not someone who has dreamed of the perfect wedding all their life – I wasn’t even sure about marriage until recently –but it went down as one of the best days I’ve ever had. I married my best friend and was surrounded by all my favourite people in the world – and that alone was a recipe for wonder.
We spent a lot of time planning the wedding in the year leading up to it and took pleasure in all the little details. I spent hours on wedding blogs and found them really useful, so this post is my contribution to the field. I hope it’ll be useful for all you brides and grooms to be. Happy wedding!
Watch the video highlights
We got married at Cornish Tipi Weddings near Port Isaac in Cornwall. Neither of us are from Cornwall, we just saw the venue and fell in love with it! The whole place is gorgeous with lush woodland, a beautiful lake and little glades for camping/tipis. There are about 28 tipis of varying sizes, as well as plenty of room for camping so all our guests had the option of staying on site, and we also stayed in a tipi in the same field as all our wedding party. We wanted it to feel like a little festival. About 70 of our friends and family stayed on site while the others stayed in local B&Bs, hotels or holiday homes.
There is a also a great little yurt cafe on site where we all ate the night before and had breakfast on the wedding morning.
We both got ready at the site along with everyone else who was staying there. I spent the morning with my bridesmaids, and Steve with his groomsmen. One of my good friends did my make-up and I hired a local hairdresser called Emma Kate to do mine and some of my bridesmaids’ hair. I went for a trial a few months before so I knew she’d do it well. We had power running to one of the tipis so she did most of the bridesmaids’ hair in there, but when it came to me, the power cut out so I had mine done in the marquee!
There’s a little pavillion in one of the glades at Cornish Tipi Weddings that has a license so you can get married there legally rather than go to a registry office.It’s a magical area and it’s one of the things that made us fall for the venue. A stream runs behind the pavillion so you can hear the water running as you say your vows. And afterwards, there’s a tipi opposite the pavillion where drinks and canapés can be served from.
Our ceremony was non-religious and we wrote our own vows. I walked down the aisle to one of our favourite songs, Om Nashi Me by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. While we were signing the register, a few of our friends played an acoustic version of Joanna Newsom’s Bridges and Balloons and The Lava Song from Pixar’s Inside Out. We had three readings: one by Steve’s Mum, one by a mutual university friend, and one by one of my cousins/bridesmaids.
One of the readings was a quote from a blogger, which I thought very apt 🙂
“Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times.
“Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you. A love that will never dilute – even when the waters get deep, and dark.” by N’tima Preusser
And another was a quote from the novel Stoner. We heard it quoted on one of our favourite podcasts (Sugar Radio by Cheryl Strayed) one day and loved it instantly:
“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” by John Williams, Stoner
The venue has its own marquee, but it wasn’t big enough for all our guests (around 175), so we hired in a bigger one from Coast2Coast Marquees. It took a while to choose one as initially we had our hearts set on a kata tent, but quickly found out they’re super expensive. Traditional marquees are also more expensive than the shorter steel frame ones (clearspan), but we really wanted the height, so in the end we opted for something in the middle and got a steel-framed traditional marquee. The steel poles aren’t as pretty as the wooden ones, but it had the height we wanted and it saved us over £1,000. The marquee came with lights, flooring, and a dance floor, and the team who set it up were brilliant. They also hung all our bunting. We hired all the furniture from a separate company called Trevarno. The venue also left their marquee up so we used that as a space for games.
The whole wedding was travel-inspired, and we spent a lot of time on all the little details. In homage to our time in Mexico, we used papel picado to decorate the ceremony pavillion and the marquee. Every table was named after a different place we’ve visited and Steve made beautiful laser cut signs with maps behind the lettering. We also put a few photos from each place on the tables and stuck them in little plant pots. Some of my favourite things were the terrariums that Steve made for every table; he bought lots of little props and made scenes for each one, such as tiny people riding dinosaurs or worshipping around a giant crystal (that one went on the Ubud table, of course!).
We collected photos of all the wedding guests (preferably on their own wedding day) before the wedding and had intended to hang them all on a tree in the ceremony area. the wet weather meant we couldn’t so we hung them up around the marquee instead.
In the ceremony area, we hung a wall hanging that we bought in Peru.
We also had a little table in the corner of the marquee with a variety of things on it, including a suitcase for cards, the cake, and lots of jars of sweets. That table was also home to a special memorial for my parents. In the wedding invitation, we gave everyone a piece of paper and some instructions on how to make an origami crane. Everyone who remembered to bring theirs hung it on the little tree in memory of my Mum and Dad.
Our wedding favours were also really special. When I was growing up, my Mum had a money plant, which I inherited when she died. While we’re travelling, it lives in Steve’s parents’ house, and for our favours, Steve’s Mum made over 100 cuttings from the plant and put them in little pots. Now all the guests at our wedding have one of those plants in their homes.
I had a lot of fun trying on wedding dresses and kept changing my mind about the style I wanted. It came down to a choice of three: a 20’s style dress by Jenny Peckham; a vintage dress from Jane Bourvis in Portobello; or the one I eventually chose from Charlie Brear. I felt so comfortable in the dress from the very first time I tried it on, and I was really happy with my choice. I love Charlie Brear’s style and one of the great things about the dress I chose (the Voulaire) is that it could be adjusted in various ways – for example, I added the sleeves and the belt. I had intended to wear a pair of glittery sandals on the day, but because of the rain and the mud, I ended up wearing a pair of bright pink wellies – I actually think they made the outfit 🙂
Steve got his suit from a fantastic taylor in London called Nathan at Tweed Addict. We visited Nathan a few times at his workshop in Hackney and were dazzled by his array of more than a thousand different tweeds. Steve chose a navy one, flecked with other colours including shades of purple and red. And he chose a brightly patterned tweed for the waistcoast. He looked very dapper 🙂
The flowers were incredible and it was all thanks to two of my bridesmaids, Frances and Louise. In the months before the wedding, Frances, Steve and I went to New Covent Garden Flower Market in London and realised we could buy lots of flowers for a bargain price in comparison to what you pay a florist. Frances and I have similar taste so I knew I could trust her to choose the right ones. So on the Thursday before the wedding, she and Lou bought loads of flowers and drove them down to Cornwall in their van with Tom, one of my bridesmen. Lou and Frances spent the whole of Friday arranging the flowers for the tables, the bridesmaids’ bouquets.
They also made the groomsmen’s button holes and what they came up with was incredible.
The only thing they didn’t do was my bouquet and flower crown, which I ordered from a lovely local florist called George Mackay. Two of my bridesmaids had the same beautiful idea and gave me a locket with a picture of my parents inside so I hung that from the bouquet.
We ordered lots of natural confetti from Shropshire Petals.
The food was one of the the most important parts of our day. We spent ages trying to decide what to choose and went through many different plans. Our first plan was to hire a few food trucks, but it was more expensive than we’d imagined and we also realised we quite liked the idea of one person managing the whole thing. That’s what led us to Fee Turner who turned out to be the best choice we made for the whole wedding. Besides cooking incredible food, Fee was also an incredible resource of knowledge and support. From knowing what size marquee to get to helping us plan the order of the day, she was invaluable and I’m not sure what I’d have done without her. Many people said it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding.
Steve and I are both vegetarian so we were tempted to have an entirely vegetarian menu, but in the end we decided we didn’t want that to be the talking point of the wedding – we have a lot of meat-loving friends and family and didn’t want everyone focussing on the lack of meat. Our compromise was to offer an almost entirely vegetarian menu with a side of meat for the main course. That way the focus was vegetarian, but people could choose to add meat if they wanted.
We split the food into a few different stages: a first round of canapes and cocktails after the ceremony; a second round of hot canapes and cocktails at the marquee field; and a sit-down main course and dessert/cheeses in the marquee.
This was the menu:
Post ceremony cocktail reception
Vietnamese spring rolls with crunchy veg, coriander and dipping sauce
Bagel toasts with sunblush tomato and basil puree and tomato
Quails eggs with celery salt, crushed pepper & sea salt
Drink: Prosecco cocktail with elderflower, cucumber, mint, lime and soda.
Marquee field drinks reception and games
Risotto balls rolled in parmesan
Tiny vegetable pasties with green chilli and mango chutney
Carrot and courgette fritters
Drink: Paloma cocktail (tequila, grapefruit and lime)
Sit-down meal in the marquee
Vegetarian chilli with butternut squash and kidney beans
Marinated pork skewers
Red rice saffron pilaff
Guacamole, sour cream, limes
Charred flat bread, rosemary & sea salt foccacia, carrot & thyme etc
Summer leaf salad of raddichio, chicory, curly endive etc with Dijon mustard and olive oil dressing
Drinks: Wine, beer, cider
A sharing platter of:
Orange and almond polenta wedding cake
Dark chocolate brownies
Eton mess with passion fruit and raspberries
Scattered with strawberries and flowers
Fee also made our wedding cake, which, as any readers of this blog will know, was one of my top priorities! I love the ‘naked wedding cake’ style and fell in love with a particular photo of of one on Pinterest. It was pure coincidence that it turned out that Fee was the person who had made that exact cake – it was meant to be! The cake was orange and polenta flavour with buttercream icing, and Fee decorated it with sunflowers. We served it as part of the medley of puddings, and it was definitely one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. The cake topper came from Lula Flora on Etsy.
We didn’t go for the traditional set of speeches. Instead Steve and I both gave a speech before dinner; Steve’s dad gave a speech between the main course and dessert; and then two of my bridesmaids (one friend and one cousin) and one of the best men spoke after dessert.
Luckily for us, we have lots of talented friends and three of them DJ’ed for the night. We had asked all our guests to request three songs so the DJs played from that list and more. They did a brilliant job.
We also had lots of games in the second marquee, such as giant Jenga, swing ball, and Pucket. In the evening, we hired a photo booth for a few hours, which went down really well and resulted in some hilarious photos!
One of our very talented friends runs an awesome business called Fancy Features where she creates giant colouring-ins for events. She made one especially for our wedding, which the guests coloured throughout the day. We now have it hanging in our lounge and it’s a beautiful reminder of the day. Everyone loved painting it too!
The wedding party
The size of our wedding party was somewhat ridiculous. I had 11 bridesmaids, plus six little bridesmaids, and two bridesmen. And Steve had two best men and seven groomsmen. Trying to co-ordinate what all the bridesmaids should wear was a bit of nightmare, but we got there in the end. For the little ones, I chose some colourful tutus and t-shirts, and I gave the older ones a palette of colours from which they could choose a dress. I love how colourful they all looked. And the groomsmen all wore tweed to match Steve’s suit.
Other little extras
We sat all the children at one table and gave all of them a disposable camera and a list of things to capture, which worked well for entertaining them all.
And we had a selection of colourful umbrellas for the rain, which we definitely needed. As soon as the speeches finished, it poured!
On the night after the wedding, we lit lots of little lanterns and floated them on the lake as a little memorial for my parents and all the other people who couldn’t be at the wedding. We had intended to do it the night before the wedding, but the wet weather meant we couldn’t.
The photographer and videographer
Another really important choice for Steve and I was the photographer and videographer for the day. We’re both quite picky and wanted beautiful photos and footage to capture the day. We looked through hundreds of photographers and eventually chose Sarah London as we both loved her style. We definitely made the right choice as you can see from all the photos here. She’s amazing! Sarah also did our engagement photos.
For the video, we chose Ben at Foster Filming. We had seen some of his videos and knew he’d do a great job. We especially loved the cinematic feel to his footage. We’ve seen the first cut, which we love, and we’ll post the final version on the blog once it’s done.
Let me know if you have any questions. I know how mind-boggling planning a wedding can be!
Thanks to Sarah London for all the photos on this page 🙂