Afternoon Lovely Peeps,
Do we have an amazing festival wedding to share with you today, and when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING!
Think garden festival, deckchairs, Mexican waves, gypsy caravans, poetry slams, bake offs, acoustic guitars, bubbles, wood signing, DIY decor, pizzas, fire dancing, live music, a dance off, glow sticks and laughter and you’ll start to get a feel for Erin and Ben’s fabulous wedding. Their guests had been told to expect the unexpected and the unexpected was most certainly what they got!
Held at the beautiful Copper Beech Glade at Markington Hall in North Yorkshire and with a boutique ceremony by Festival Brides favourite Jan Shillito of Celebration Ceremonies & Weddings, Erin and Ben’s unique woodland festival wedding is right up our alley. In fact, their wedding is exactly the sort of wedding I would want to recreate if was getting married today. It’s informal, fun, eclectic and above all a reflection on the things they love to do…..
We wanted to steer clear of anything stuffy and formal and to give everybody a really good time – we knew we wanted it outdoors and we knew we wanted a good party! We took the kind of things we do to have fun with our friends, and put it on a bigger scale.
Erin and Ben also offer some brilliant advice throughout this post so pour yourself an apple cider and enjoy reading their wedding story.
Over to Erin and Ben…..
Deckchairs, A Mountain, Uni Friends and One Knee….
It all started at our local ski slope at uni, so it was fitting that Ben proposed while we were sat in deckchairs on the mountain whilst on holiday with our uni friends. It was the best experience having everyone there to share in our excitement and to celebrate straight away.
Jewellery with Meaning….
Ben gave me an earring and necklace set of sterling silver and grey pearls on the morning of the wedding. I also wore a Clogau silver and rose gold bracelet given to me by my Dad on the day we got legally married at the registry office, which matched the lapel pin that I gave to Ben.
A Bespoke Wedding Dress Made By a Friend….
The second hardest part of the planning process was The Wedding Dress. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice presented on blogs, in magazines and on Pinterest was one thing. Emotional response ranging between indifference to loathing to said dresses was another thing. I had no idea what I was going to wear. I wasn’t even sure if it would be white or full length. Most of all, I didn’t like wedding dresses. This presented me with A Problem.
Luckily (for me, probably not for her!) I have a very talented friend who was kind enough to offer to make my wedding dress for me. After going to a couple of bridal shops, feeling ridiculous in most of the dresses and creating an INTENSE Pinterest page, Susie stepped in and refined the vision into one amazing, simple dress. She also made a lace top for me which I could remove for the evening and replace with lace capped sleeves. I love that dress and I am forever grateful to Susie for saving me from dress induced hysteria.
My late night full length sequin Topshop gown was a last minute purchase from Ebay and saved my day dress from death by UV paint.
With my dress I wore a floral headpiece made by my godmother Aggie and the cathedral length ‘Cassie’ veil from Minna.
Plum and Pigeon….
Bridesmaid dresses initially were a bit of a headache. All I knew was that I hated the matchy-matchy weirdness of grown women and flower girls all wearing identical dresses. I really wanted to be able to give the girls each a dress that they liked and that they might wear again. Rose from Plum and Pigeon has a boutique locally in Altrincham that makes vintage style dresses that fitted the vibe of the day perfectly. The girls had a choice of dress styles from Rose’s collection and a choice of fabric from the palette that I’d decided on, so they had a made-to-order dress that suited them and they were comfortable in.
A Venue that was Completely Perfect in Every way…..
The hardest bit of the entire planning process for us, by far, was finding a venue. We had a list of essentials that included having the ceremony and reception within walking distance, a campfire, room for camping and no curfew. Our ‘desirables’ included a woodland setting somewhere in the Sheffield area. Unsurprisingly, few wedding venues approve of all night partying and open flames and so we were stumped, feeling dejected and morale was low.
After extending the search further afield and to include camping and glamping sites, we stumbled across Markington Hall. A quick email to ask the owners William and Julie if they would consider hosting our wedding and a visit later, we were in love and it was booked. The only compromise was that amplified music had to be turned off earlier than we had originally planned, but we were happy to take the hit because the venue was completely perfect in every other way. William and Julie have been an absolute pleasure to work with, generously hosting our many pre-wedding meetings and going the extra mile to help us get everything just right.
A hand-fasting ceremony with a Mexican wave….
We weren’t sure which way to go with the ceremony. We didn’t want anything religious and didn’t want the ceremony to ‘stand for’ anything in particular. We found Jan Shillito at Celebration Ceremonies and Weddings who designed, copy written and conducted our ceremony which was held in a fabulous backwater location at the privately owned Markington Hall in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Jan had some really good ideas and together we came up with something very personal that was really special to us. The unconventional set up for the ceremony might have raised a few eyebrows in the planning phase with the outdoor setting and amphitheatre of deck chairs, however everyone loved it on the day. It had an intimate feel and everyone felt like they were a part of the ceremony. Having our siblings do the readings and our Mums do the hand fasting made it a real family occasion too.
Together with Jan we created a ceremony area nestled in the circular woodland “Copper Beech Glad” which is a beautiful area surrounded by tall ancient yew, oak and copper beech trees. We wanted our ceremony to be memorable, unique and to reflect our personalities, love of travel and bluebird days snowboarding. Jan suggested we use deckchairs to reference Ben’s proposal and we also created a small stage in the centre which we covered with Ben’s rug collection picked up along his travels.
The atmosphere was incredible. I made my entrance to a chilled acoustic medley played by our good friend Jordan. I was welcomed by our family and friends with cheers and a series of Mexican waves circling me as I stood with Ben! The words, lyrics and readings came together to describe “our love” and what we mean to each other and told the story of a free-spirited couple who don’t need the world to be happy. It included an adapted version of “How we fall in Love” by Jeanette Winterson, an extract from an interview with Brian Sibley and Roald Dahl, “A lovely love story” by Edward Monkton which was read by our brothers and sister.
Our guests had bubbles at the ready for our walk down the aisle but couldn’t help themselves. Half way through the poetry slam “Lets make a love” by Glastonbury poetry slammer Tony Walsh aka Longfella, the bubbles started to fly! It felt like a dream and was a tearjerker moment.
At the end of the ceremony Jan suggested we had a signing of the wood instead of certificate which we could keep as a memento of our day.
So many of our guests came to tell us later how special the ceremony had been. We started without much of a plan, were adding things right up to the wire (personal promises!) and it came together into something that was really emotional for us.
A Bloody Good Wedding Cake….
Ben’s sister Sarah flew all the way back from Australia for the wedding and then made a bloody good wedding cake! Neither of us like traditional fruit cake, so we had a sponge and buttercream masterpiece with three different flavours: vanilla and homemade plum jam, orange and pomegranate, rose water and pistachio. It was truly splendiferous and the many practice runs were greatly enjoyed by all. We served it up for dessert with a vanilla ice cream from The Moocher.
Seasonal Flowers, A Workshop and Peonies….
Jane at Blooming Yorkshire gave us a half day workshop in her garden a couple of weeks before the wedding so we could get to grips with arranging. She provided buckets of locally grown seasonal flowers for the wedding which were arranged by my godmother Aggie and bridesmaid Lizzi. I love peonies, so we made the most of them being in season and ordered some from English Peonies. We also included a peony from Markington’s garden in my bouquet.
Elbow Grease, DIY Decor, Ikea and Handmade Signs….
The costs mount up quickly when you’re planning a wedding, so we did as much of it ourselves as possible with a lot of help from a lot of friends and family. Our parents were priceless in helping us to achieve everything that we wanted.
Pinterest was a treasure trove of ideas, too many sometimes, but my (Erin) main criteria was absolutely no bunting. Surprisingly Ikea was invaluable, sourcing the fabric for the table runners, carafes, coloured glassware, star lanterns and much more.
We tried to keep things as ecologically friendly as possible and opted for recyclable crushed bamboo plates and bowls with wooden cutlery for the tableware.
Ben’s new hobby, carpentry, came in very useful. He produced all the signage from reclaimed timber and crafted a yew bench for guests to sign as well as many other bits and bobs.
A Bake Off…..
Several guests asked if they could bring something with them and we ended up deciding to have a Bake Off table. Ben stirred up the competitive spirit by sending the guests a photo of the prizes – wooden platters made by his own fair hand. The competition was fierce and we were extremely impressed by the standard set.
A Pop Off….
There were so many little ideas that manifested themselves to be really great parts of the day. For example, Father of the Brides’idea to give each table a couple of bottles of fizz for the toast and to get everyone to simultaneously pop the corks – a ‘Pop Off’. The Godfathers penalised the two tables who popped too early, ending up in a hilariously entertaining dance off that we were very glad not to be part of.
We first spotted Warren’s photography through a wedding blog submission. Despite the blustery, overcast day the photographs were beautiful and we knew Warren was the one for us. As part of his package he includes an engagement session, which we were sceptical about at first – wouldn’t it be really soppy and embarrassing?! The location we chose was the ski slope in Sheffield where we first met, which is now derelict. Warren put us at ease straight away, and it was invaluable getting to know Warren and his shooting style before the big day. We absolutely loved the photographs and ended up using them throughout our stationary.
Disco Wed and A Packed Dance Floor….
Relatively late in the planning process we decided to abandon the Ipod idea and booked DiscoWed straight away. Our absolute nightmare would be to have a stereotypical ‘Wedding DJ’ and Simon was anything but that. He was immediately on our wavelength and rose to every occasion – the first dance, the impromptu dance off, the surprise father/bride dance with a bespoke mix of Sweet Child of Mine – everything. Simon absolutely excelled on the night – the dancefloor was always full and we have no doubt that he could have kept it full if we’d partied all night.
The evening’s food was provided by Honest Crust. When we booked them, they had a little trailer pizza oven and now they are something of local celebrities with a prime position in the Altrincham Market House. Their pizzas are so good, we struggled to find one better on honeymoon in Sicily.
Bring Your Own Booze and a Keg of Local Beer….
We looked into hiring a bar but it was getting quite complicated; restrictions on amount of wine we could provide, costly deposits and we would require a temporary event license. In the end, all of the wine and prosecco was purchased from Majestic and Tesco in the New Year sales and kindly stored at our parents’ houses (thanks again!). The father of the bride and the godfathers dutifully sourced a keg of local beer and we had bring-your-own for the evening party.
The ceremony – bubbles, woodland, deckchairs and lovely people.
Seeing all your close friends and family come together for your day is really moving and it is so touching to see people from different parts of your life mixing and enjoying each other’s company. You can plan a decent party down to a T, but really it’s the people that make it an amazing party.
- Take the time to get a venue that will let you do the things you want, most of them have far too many restrictions
- Do your research before choosing your suppliers – don’t feel that they have to be wedding specific, look further afield than the wedding fairs/websites, they all come with a big mark up. At our local food market there was some really amazing food, they weren’t advertising for weddings but we just asked and got some amazing deals.
- Get an on-the-day coordinator. Lucy was worth her weight in gold, from the pre-planning to make our ideas into a practical reality to saving us from disaster on the day when we suddenly found out we needed a generator with 24 hours to go.
- Call in favours from talented friends and family – having our friend Jordan play during the ceremony, my Grandpa’s jazz band during the drinks reception, my dress made by Susie, ‘The Godfathers’ as the MCs, Sarah’s cake and all the flowers by my godmother made it all the more special, not to mention the hard graft put in by the parents. Fortunately, people love to be involved. Our crack team of helpers the day before the wedding were indispensable.
- Never underestimate the talents of a good DJ
- Straight tables are way more sociable than round tables
The Line Up….Photography: Howelljones Photography
Venue: Markington Hall Bride’s Dress: Bespoke Design by Susie Leyland Bride’s Shoes: Gold Sandals by Aldo Bride’s Make-Up: Claire Dickinson Bride’s Hair: Ashley Tyrrell Groom: Jeans – Levis; Waistcoat – Ted Baker; Trainers – Nike Bridesmaid Dresses: Plum and Pigeon Boutique Personal Ceremony: Jan Shillito at Celebration Ceremonies & Weddings Wedding Coordination: Lucy Wright Events Sperry Tent: Papakata Afternoon Catering: The Moocher Pizza: The Honest Crust Company Coffee Van: Bob the Coffee Man Flowers: Blooming Yorkshire Bell Tents: Glampit Deckchairs: Sophie Likes Toilets: Elite Hire Transport: Yester Year Cars Reception Musicians: Grandpa Basey’s Jazz Trio DJ: DiscoWed