Lewis and Emily wanted their wedding to be just like a small festival so really relaxed, informal and for everyone to join in and have lots of fun. They wanted to create a day that reflected them as a couple so they didn’t do many of the ‘usual’ wedding traditions such as a first dance or cutting of the cake. Instead they had lots of games for their guests to play like swing ball, badminton, hula-hoops, archery, poi, juggling balls, garden games, bubbles and football. They also wrote their own wedding vows, asked Emily’s Uncle to perform their blessing and gathered their guests for a Jewish inspired wedding dance at the end of the ceremony.
To keep their costs down, all of the decor you see is handmade. Even the beautiful flowers were ordered from Tonbridge Market and put together by Emily’s very talented Mum. Emily also kept things practical and on budget for her wedding dress by choosing a simple, yet beautiful, white dress from Monsoon which she plans to transform into a summer dress that she can wear time and time again after the wedding.
What strikes me the most about Lewis and Emily’s wedding is their determination to be true to themselves and not to feel pressured by the traditions many of us bow down too when planning our weddings. For example, Emily doesn’t wear any make-up or jewellery in her day to day life so why change things on her wedding day? She wore no make-up and only a simple necklace and I think she looks absolutlely gorgeous.
It’s weddings like Emily and Lewis’ that I love the most because their attitude to their day is exactly what it should be………..a lovely comfortable day full of all the things and people you love.
Over to Emily and Lewis….
A Mid-Air Proposal and a Big Yellow Smiley Face…..
We were on holiday in Turkey when Lewis proposed to me (MID-AIR) whilst we were parasailing high above the sea! It was truly magical up there, just the two of us. It was so peaceful and you could see everyone swimming in the sea below looking like little frogs. The parasail was a big yellow smiley face which was just perfect for us! It’s a moment we will never forget and luckily there was a photographer on the boat! As our friends and family were so generous towards our ‘honey fund’, we were able to enjoy another wonderful holiday in Turkey for our honeymoon. Lewis and I met when we were studying at the University of Brighton and were together for 8 years before getting married.
A Rustic Natural Festival Wedding….
Lewis and I both love the outdoors and we love the rustic, natural look. We both love camping and going to festivals so we wanted it to be just like that, but with all of our loved ones! Our guests were probably the biggest inspiration for our wedding because we wanted to create a lovely and memorable day for them.
Wedding Decor on a Budget….
The budget for our wedding was £8,000 but by the time we had finished it was probably nearer to £10,000. As an artist and designer couple, we wanted to make our wedding as handmade and as creative as we could. We had lots of money saving ideas but there were some things that we couldn’t do without. It was amazing having a field to do whatever we wanted with, but it did mean having to hire EVERYTHING from scratch – good job I’m really organised! We hired an amazing capri marquee, which was such a unique shape – very open and spacious. We had 160 guests, so we needed a very big marquee for everyone to be in just in case it rained! From the same company, we also hired: chairs, trestle tables, table cloths, cutlery, patio heaters, glasses, fairy lights, up lighting, coconut matting and a dance floor! We decorated the inside of the marquees with beautiful bunting, handmade by a woman called Zoe who lives in Lewes, like us.
We had a vague colour scheme of pastel pinks, blues, yellows and creams. The tables were kept quite simple – we cut hessian for the table runners and had small jars of flowers for the centre pieces. My mum and I wrapped the jars in hessian and a ribbon, (I knew the hanging ribbons I have been cutting out of my clothes for years would come in handy one day!). We also had paper lanterns hanging in the trees, a blackboard with the order of the day, solar lights guiding the way to the luxury porter loos (which even had carpet!), lots of photos of us hung with little pegs on some string, and our friends and family brought decorations to hang too. We had a table set with a vintage suitcase (lined with a Cath Kidston tea towel!) for our cards. On the same table we had a guest book with colouring pens and a wedding fingerprint tree which I drew. I love origami and so I made 500 peace cranes which we hung as mobiles in the marquee and later gave to people as presents to take home. For my hen-do I went to a festival with 14 of my best friends and the girls helped me to string the cranes and we also made hand-painted signs on old wood that we collected.
We borrowed some straw bales from a local farm which we covered with pashminas and people sat on them for the ceremony and then later around the bonfire. I spent the first night with my new husband in our little tent with ‘Bride and Groom’ on it, surrounded by all of our nearest and dearest. Our wedding was such a special occasion and everything we could ever have hoped for. My grandmother called it a ‘fairytale wedding’, which made all of our creative efforts worth it!
A Friend’s Field, A Handwritten Ceremony and A Jewish Dance…..
Lewis and I were legally married in Tunbridge Wells registry office on 14/08/14 (with just our parents), but on the 16/08/14 we had our ‘real’ wedding which was an outdoor celebration in the beautiful Kentish village of Matfield, near where Lewis grew up. Lewis and I both love the outdoors and so a festival style wedding with camping was the obvious choice for us, especially as we had 160 guests to invite! We briefly looked into outdoor venues with a wedding license but they seemed very few and far between and also really expensive. We had a small budget for our wedding and so luckily we know some lovely friends who own a large field, which they let us use for free. It was absolutely perfect for our wedding and provided a blank canvas for us to be extra creative!
We wanted our ceremony to be really informal and personal to us, so we wrote our own vows and one of my uncles performed a blessing for us under a homemade arch of flowers, (my mum was our ring-bearer!). We are blessed with such wonderful family and friends, lots of who are talented musicians and so music played a large part in our wedding. Another uncle of mine played the guitar as I walked down the aisle with my bridesmaids and my dad wrote a song especially for our wedding, which he performed on guitar accompanied by my mum and sister singing! Other family members read poems for our ceremony and my grandparents shared their wisdom having just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary! As part of the ceremony all of our guests wished us well through the arch and then we had a Jewish inspired wedding dance where everyone danced around us in a big circle whilst my aunt and uncle played an accordion and violin. We had a ceilidh band for the evening entertainment and also an open mic for everyone to join in! Family and friends came from so many different countries to celebrate with us and we knew it would be an amazing day just because everyone we loved would be in the same place at the same time!
A Perfect Dress and Dungarees….
I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a dress which I was only going to wear for one day, so I knew from the start that I wanted a simple dress that didn’t cost too much and could be worn again. I found my perfect dress in the Monsoon sale and it was the first and only one I tried on! I’m going to cut it shorter and dye it so that it can be my favourite summer dress. When I was younger, I was convinced that I would get married in dungarees…not many things go exactly to plan, but I did wear my dungarees on the morning and evening of my wedding day!
I bought my shoes from New Look for about £20. They are my only pair of heels and probably always will be! On the day, I also went barefoot and in the evening I wore my wellies!
My bridesmaids helped me with my hair. I was very relaxed before the wedding and I fell asleep, not leaving much time to do anything exciting! Just as well really because it was a lovely sunny day but very windy my hair got messed up in no time!
I never wear make up and so I didn’t wear any on my wedding day because I wanted to feel like myself and not be self-conscious.
A Tale of Two Ties…..
Lewis found a lovely blue suit and some brown shoes in Topman and he bought a white shirt from Cos. My dad lent him a tie which went really well with his suit and Lewis lent my dad a purple tie which was perfect for his!
White and Pink Flowers……
I left my mum in charge of the flowers! Her original plan was to grow wild flowers in her garden for us, but we soon realised that they wouldn’t survive the trip from Leicestershire! We went to a florist in Kent but it was very expensive because we used the word ‘wedding’ and so instead we ordered lots of beautiful white and pink flowers (mostly roses and jip) from Tonbridge Market and picked them up on the morning of the wedding. With lots of help from friends and family, my mum arranged the flowers into jars for the tables and also made a lovely bouquet for me and one for each of my bridesmaids. The men’s button hole flowers were made by a friend of Lewis’ mum who delivered them on the day.
Mix-Matched Bridesmaid Dresses….
My sister and five of my cousins were my bridesmaids. I wanted the girls to have the freedom to wear whatever dress they wanted and so we decided on a vague colour scheme of salmon pink and then they bought their own or wore one they already had. We only saw all the dresses together on the day but the different shades and styles worked perfectly!
My bridesmaids wore braids and jip flowers in their hair and they wore whatever shoes and accessories they liked.
A Vegetarian Wedding Meal….
Lewis and I are both vegetarian and so were lots of our guests, so it made sense to have a vegetarian wedding! We didn’t like the idea of having a formal meal with a seating plan, so we decided on a buffet which was way more relaxed and people were free to change seats and meet and talk to whoever they wanted. We often eat at Foodilic in Brighton and one day we were just about to ask them if they cater for weddings when we saw a notice on the door that said ‘We now cater for weddings!’ I think ours was their second wedding. We didn’t feel the need to do any food tasting elsewhere because we knew we loved the food and they were reasonably priced too. Four people came to help out on the day and they did a lot more than expected. We had so many different colourful salads and quiches and pastries that we can’t remember them all in detail! Everyone (even the serious meat-eaters!) loved the food and there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. Lewis’ parents kindly bought all of the drinks, which we kept in a large cooler box and on the day we bought lots of ice and put the drinks in buckets for everyone to help themselves.
Forget the cake, bring a dessert!
Instead of having one large cake, we decided to have our guests bring a dessert, which our caterers then arranged and served. We had an amazing selection, from fruit salads to gluten free and organic raw vegan cakes!
A Ceilidh Band and A Packed Dance floor….
We hired a wonderful ceilidh band called The Ship Band who played into the night. They were so down-to-earth and the caller was fantastic. Lewis and I wanted to make sure we had a band that everyone could enjoy dancing to together and they were perfect – the dance floor was packed! The band set up their equipment for us to have an open mic in their break (and even sound engineered it!). Lots of our guests (and Lewis!) performed, which was amazing.
Lots of our friends had never been to a wedding like ours and one of our favourite moments was watching everyone dancing around us, totally embracing the moment and enjoying themselves! I was so happy every time I looked around and saw that everyone was having a great time. Lewis’ favourite part of the day was as soon as he finished his speech, because he could relax after that! It’s hard to choose a favourite moment because there were so many highlights, but my three favourite moments were being at the top of a cousin pyramid(!), being completely blown away during the meal when our guests did a flash mob of a Les Miserables song (my relatives had changed the lyrics to be about me and Lewis!) and finally, sitting under an apple tree with Lewis in the orchard and knowing that we would be spending the rest of our lives together.
It’s your special day so you can do whatever you want, you don’t have to follow traditions if you don’t want to and you also don’t have to spend too much money to have an amazing day! Don’t be like me and try to do everything yourself though, delegate as many jobs as possible to friends and family – use their expertise, I’m sure they will be willing to help! Be prepared that everything seems to cost more than you expect and takes twice as long to organise. Everyone told us how quickly the day goes by and it’s true, so take time to really treasure the one day you have all your loved ones in the same place and don’t forget the most important thing is that you are marrying your best friend and everything will fall into place!
The Line Up….Photography: Rosko and Wallis Photography
Venue: Friend’s Field in Matfield Bride’s Dress: Monsoon Bride’s Shoes: New Look Groom’s Suit: Topman Bridesmaid dresses: Maid’s Own Flowers: DIY Catering: Foodilic Capri Marquee: West Sussex Party Marquees Toilets: South East Loo Hire Bunting: Beautiful Bunting Ceilidh Band: The Ship Band Stationery: The Graphic Designer & Miss Paper Cut Illustrations: Emily Wallis