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Happy Tuesday Lovely People!

And what a gorgeous one it is too. Loving the sunshine today and the fact that it is still light in the evenings at 7pm. I do love our long summer evenings and it’s only going to get better from now on!

Today we are sharing part 2 of Gareth and Rachel’s amazing rustic outdoor wedding. If you missed part 1 then click here.

Gareth and Rachel had a 3 day wedding extravaganza with their legal ceremony on the Friday, full day wedding on the Saturday and a BBQ on the Sunday. Their venue, the stunning Fforest, provided the perfect backdrop and setting for their homemade ethereal and rustic wedding and provided 200 acres of stunning welsh countryside for their guests to explore over the 3 days. It also had onsite accommodation in the form of eco friendly domes, lodges and tipi tents so their close friends and family could stay for the weekend and create a little home from home.

Pretty much everything you see in the pretty decor has either been handmade or sourced by Rachel, her Mum and family. Even the cake was made with love by Gareth’s Mum and we love the beautiful bunting Rachel’s Mum made from Rachel’s old baby/toddler clothes – such a unique and lovely idea.

I know this is not the first time I have said this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but Rachel and Gareth’s wedding is currently top of the list of my favourite weddings featured on our festival pages so far. The venue has blown me away and their wedding is just so beautifully relaxed. The photography by Debs Ivelja is also stunning.

So without further ado, I am going to hand you over to the lovely Rachel.


Inseparable for 7 Years…..

Gareth and I have known each other for 13 years by the time we were married. We were close friends at university, but even though we secretly liked each other (and never told one another!), we never timed it right with other relationships. We finally got together when we started playing in a band together, much to our friend’s relief! We’ve been inseparable since for 7 years, and now live together in Oxford with a gorgeous little spaniel called Willow (who was there for our whole wedding, she even wore a little lace collar made by my Mum!).

Gareth proposed when we were on holiday in St Lucia. We had just climbed a huge mountain called the ‘Grand Piton’. We had a guide with us and I was pretty sweaty, but the view from the top was incredible. Gareth furiously scribbled a note to the guide when I was not looking, that he wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him and would the guide kindly leave us in peace for 5 minutes. The guide nodded vigorously and shot off. I noticed the commotion, and thinking we were leaving set off after the guide! Luckily, the guide had understood enough English to understand what was going on, and so tried to send me back to Gareth by telling me he ‘needed toilet’. A rather embarrassed me then walked back to Gareth, only to find him looking fairly nervous and getting down on one knee! Of course I said yes, and we were in cloud nine for the rest of the holiday! Back in the UK we designed a green sapphire ring together, with a wave twist and two little diamonds.

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A Three Day Wedding Extravaganza….

Our three day wedding extravaganza was set in the stunning and completely unique Fforest in west Wales. Gareth was brought up in Wales, and is so passionate about the country that we knew we had to be married there. I stumbled across Forest cymbin after an online search for a rustic outdoor venue where all our friends and family could stay for a long weekend, and instantly knew I had found somewhere special. It was the only venue we visited, and it was love at first sight. They only had one date left for the summer of 2013 so we booked that day! Fforest is set in acres of rolling woodland and meadows, with beautiful tipis and domes on wooden decks scattered amongst the countryside for guests to stay in. The place oozes rustic charm with a gorgeous old stone bwthyn (pub), giant tipi overlooking the meadows, firepits, vegetable patches and greenhouses, and a cosy sauna. My mind was already swimming with ideas and excitement when we visited Fforest for the first time – it is the perfect blank canvas for a relaxed and creative wedding for nature lovers. The only risk…. it is Wales after all, so it might rain! (we did re-visit the venue once before the big day, and were there in wellies and waterproof trousers with howling gales, yep that worried us!)

Saturday was the big ‘proper’ day. And we woke up to blue skies and hot sunshine – amazing! Everyone got together for a delicious organic BBQ fry up in the morning, and then we spent a lazy morning putting the final touches to our venue and getting ready. Our guests meanwhile went for walks to the beach or chilled in the sauna.

Sunday was another lazy start, and another wonderfully hot day. After a final breakfast at FForest we all headed down to the stunning little Mwnt beach for a beach party, with a picnic and beach games. Everyone jumped in the sea to cool off (yes, in Wales!), and we could not believe our eyes when a pod of dolphins came into the bay to join us. I was getting confused as to whether this weekend really was my wedding, or heaven….!

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A Herringbone Suit and Funky Shirt….

On Saturday Gareth wore a grey herringbone suit and waistcoat from Next, teamed with a funky shirt he found in the shop too. He wore his fathers old watch, in memory of the amazing man we sadly lost 6 months before the wedding.

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An Ethereal Wedding Dress….

I wore a Cymberline lola dress. I found the whole wedding dress shopping experience a bit pretentious in London (you could only try on five, and often had to pay for the privilege!), and there were very few dresses that had the ethereal floaty look I was searching for.  The Cymberline dress was picked off the rail just because I thought the tulle layers looked like fun – when I tried it on though the fit was gorgeous, the tulle layers were really romantic, and it was relaxed and pretty enough that I could imagine walking through the Fforest fields in it. And Mum and I agreed it would look good with wellies if it rained!

For my shoes I was thinking of muddy fields and rain when I went shopping which instantly ruled out anything white, satin or with a heel! I fell in love with the prettiest flat sandals I have ever seen – they had an embellished leaf on them which was perfect for our FForest setting. They were from Lola Cruz and I’ve had plenty of wear out of them already.

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Flowing Curls and a Waterfall Braid….

I had my hair in a very relaxed style, with flowing curls and a waterfall braid threaded with tiny gypsophilia flowers. My hairdresser from Talking Heads did an amazing job of creating my relaxed and ethereal style. I went for a trial a few months before the wedding and she said it was such a nice change from all the hairspray coated up-dos most brides ask for!

Bobbi Brown Lipstick….

Makeup was a little bit of a stress for me. I don’t normally wear much, and just wanted to look like myself… only a bit better for my wedding day. After 3 makeup trials, all of which made me look orange or downright tarty, I decided to just do my own. It was a great excuse to have ideas from friends and buy lots of lovely new products that I now wear loads. I particularly loved the Bobbi Brown lipstick, Laura Mercier blusher, and Mac eye pots I bought. And in the end, I looked like myself on a good day, and doing my own makeup together with my bridesmaids was good for calming my nerves on the day.

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Something Borrowed…..

On the wedding day I wore my Mum’s bracelet as my ‘something borrowed’. Gareth’s mum then kindly gave me some money to buy a necklace and I picked out an antique 1930s little beauty as my ‘something old’ from the terrific shop Fur Coat No Knickers in London.

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Fresh, Summery and Mismatched….

I was looking for a fresh, summery and mismatched look for the bridesmaids. I had a vision of 4 dresses all in different shades of neutral. However after a failed shopping trip with the bridesmaids where we discovered no shops were selling neutral colours, I later stumbled across two gorgeous flowery dresses from Monsoon Fusion and John Rocha that I took a punt on. Luckily my punt was right – I loved how they looked on the day in the woods and meadows.

I wanted my bridesmaids to feel as comfortable and beautiful as possible, so gave them free reign to wear what makeup, hairstyle, shoes and jewellery they liked. My only condition was that it would look effortless and not too formal. My best girlies looked gorgeous on the day.

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Not a Dry Eye In The House…..

We had a humanist ceremony in the giant tipi. Although we had already legally married on the Friday (see part 1) to us this ceremony felt like the real wedding. We wrote the whole ceremony and vows ourselves, and chose readings too – this was such a special process to create together, and made for a very moving ceremony that meant a great deal to us. There was not a dry eye in the house, even the blokes were looking up at the sky! I’m not a very weepy person, but I somehow managed to cry though the whole thing! Our celebrant, Lisbeth Johns, was really good and such a lovely person.

Our vows:

These my love, are my promises to you:
I bring you my love and my loyalty
I honour you as you are and for the person you will become
I promise to be at your side through good times and bad
To hold you close and listen deeply to you
To cherish you and nurture your dreams
And to give you space to grow and flourish.
I make this pledge as a sign of my love:
I give you my hand and my heart
As a sanctuary of warmth and peace
And pledge my love, devotion, faith and honour
As I join my life to yours.

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Soft Flowers and Grasses….

On the Saturday I wanted something that looked like it had just been swept up out of the meadow. We went for soft flowers and grasses in the Saturday bouquet, with splashes of colour; gypsophilia, purple waxflower, blue cornflower, tiny fever few daisies, pink clarkia, asparagus fern and the wonderful craspedia yellow pomp om flowers. My bridesmaids had a purer version of my bouquet, with ‘snow on the mountain’ leaves. All our bouquets were wrapped with lace I had brought. The groom, ushers, ‘brushers’ (my brothers as bridesmaids ushers!), and our parents all had buttonholes with variations of the flowers I had in my bouquet.

My Mum and I spent a whole year collecting pretty jam jars and decorating then with lace. We hung them down the aisle, and had them all over the venue, and crammed them with beautiful wild flowers and grasses from the florist and gardens of Fforest.

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A You and Me Theme….

Gareth and I’s theme for the wedding was ‘you and me’. Our vision was to have a relaxed and outdoorsy weekend with our most favourite people in the world, that was immersed in and designed around everything we loved as a couple. It was a celebration of our lives together in the most truest sense. The further it was from the satin bows on chairs type of wedding, the better! I also loved all the weddings I saw that were themed around a midsummers night dream – this is where I got the inspiration for winding ivy and fairy lights around everything (there is now not much ivy at all near any of our houses!!!!)

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A Fun Tea Party….

After the ceremony we had Pimms in the sunshine, then a fun tea party in the barn with scrummy homemade sandwiches, cakes and the traditional speeches. We then had some down time for our guests in the afternoon, they were free to relax and do what they like – we put on garden games, a DIY photobooth, wishing tree, fingerprint tree and old fashioned sweet stall to keep the busy ones entertained! Gareth and I meanwhile went off walking with the photographers around the site, which meant for a really relaxed shoot and some precious time together. We then brought everyone back together for a hog roast, and had a live band playing in the tipi until late. We lit Thai lanterns and sent them all floating up into the sky. And then in the wee hours of the morning we lit all the firepits and everyone gathered round and toasted marshmallows before bedtime.

Fforest provided all the food for the weekend – it comes as part of the package when you book the whole site for the weekend. And they are fantastic cooks to boot. We munched our way through melt in the mouth cakes, salads from their gardens sprinkled with edible flowers, and the most divine homemade sandwiches and hog roast. And did I mention that there was steaming tin mugs of tea on tap all weekend! All the food was served in rustic tins dishes and beautiful antique crockery. Yummy to look at, and eat!

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A Homemade Vision….

Fforest provides a wonderful blank canvas set in nature, and you can essentially do whatever you like there. For a whole year, I had the best time pouring through ideas and working with friends and family to bring my homemade vision to reality. Everything we made was filled with love and so very us. The bunting was made by my Mum from all my dresses when I was a little girl. The pebbles we painted with our guests names on for table places were collected by my parents from the beach where Gareth grew up in Wales. The tiny paper hearts for the tables and around our feet in the ceremony were cut from old maps (we love to travel) and music sheets (we love music), thanks to lots of cutting help from our friends. Our ceremony backdrop was a stunning waterfall of hand sewn fabric hearts, and origami paper hearts made from old maps and music sheets, a labour of love for my Mum and family during the year. Each heart took 20 minutes to make! I also painted wooden signs for around the venue, drew a fingerprint tree, framed photographs of the weddings of our parents and grandparents, and had little antique framed pictures of Gareth and I round the venue. One of our talented friends made gorgeous paper flowers and strings of paper words for us to hang up around the venue. And our lace jam jars glittered from the trees in the evening with tealights, and we hung white Moroccan heart lanterns in the forest. The most popular decoration was a basket full of fun sunglasses we had bought for our guests with a sign ‘Don’t get blinded by our love’!

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Gorgeous Photography…..

If you pick Debs Ivelja to photograph your wedding, you really have made a special choice. Her work is gorgeous. Photography was one of the most important things for us as I am a keen photographer. First of all, having Debs at your wedding is like having your best friend with you at all the important moments in the day – she has a beautiful and easy going personality that will instantly make you will feel like you have known her forever, and naturally makes you feel relaxed on your wedding day. To top that, she is incredibly passionate about her photographs and subjects – she bent over backwards to get the shots we wanted, and her enthusiasm on the day was infectious. And she brought a second photographer with her, Charis, who was the prefect compliment to Debs. The wedding photographs are pure sunshine filled beauty that are timeless and capture the essence of the weekend so perfectly. Debs is hands down the best investment we made on our wedding day. We’ve been left with precious photographs and a dear friend. Thank you for making our wedding last forever Debs!

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A Three Tiered Iced Fruit Cake….. 

The cake was made with love by Gareth’s mum and her friend in their little Welsh village. It was a whoppa iced fruit cake with three layers! We carried it from a welsh farm to the wedding in a Henry Hoover box balanced on Gareth’s knees in the car (very heavy!). And rather amusingly at one point in the weekend one of our friends went looking for a hoover only to find a cake!

I had bought little lovebird cake toppers on Etsy, and printed out a picture of how I’d like the cake covered in little flowers. Gareth’s Mum and other helpers set to work on the morning of the wedding with tiny flowers we had ordered especially from the florist (gypsophilia and tiny purple waxflowers), and the result was completely stunning. I could not have imagined a more beautifully decorated cake – delicate, rustic and not fussy.

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An Amazing Band, Glow Sticks and Blow Up Guitars….

Gareth and I have played in various bands over the years, he is the guitarist and I am the singer. And so good music had to be a big part of our wedding. We pushed the budget out for a band that Gareth knew from his ski season and which we had heard play at a friend’s wedding before. Fourplay  are unbelievably talented, and it is absolutely impossible to stand on the sidelines while they are playing. They really kick-started the party in the evening, and we got a lot of praise for them. A great investment for the wedding! We bought glow sticks and blow up guitars for a bit of fun too!

We also had two incredibly talented friends from a previous band playing ‘Everything’ by Lifehouse and ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting for our ceremony on the piano and cello. They were superb.

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Favourite Moment….

Oh my gosh, too many to list. Being in a candlelit room with our nearest and dearest and promising to spend our lives loving one another. Walking into the ceremony on Saturday seeing all our homemade hard work looking blooming amazing amongst a sea of smiling faces and my husband to be. Seeing our friends laughing and relaxing in the sun. Being told time and time again that this was the best wedding they had ever been to. Having a quiet moment picking wild flowers in the sunshine in the gardens in Fforest. Falling asleep in a dome under the stars knowing the fields around us were filled with our favourite people. Feeling wonderful in my dress in the evening sunset. Swimming with dolphins on the Sunday. Every single speech. The sunshine – it was everywhere that weekend. Feeling so completely and utterly loved and happy.

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Any advice for couples planning their wedding day?

Enjoy every single moment of the preparation, and do not stress about anything… not even the invite list! Involve your partner, family and friends in making decorations for the day, it makes for a very special experience, is kind to your budget, and seeing all the results on the day is pretty overwhelming! Don’t be afraid to make spreadsheets and lists! Ask a friend to video a few bits of the day on a camera – the speeches, the ceremony & your first dance. Invest in a great photographer – after the wedding is over, this is all you have left to transport you right back to that day! If you have quite a few bridesmaids and ushers like we did, give them each a little list of things to do on the day – this meant Gareth and I were free to enjoy the whole wedding and didn’t have to worry about any little details. Everything you put into the wedding that represents you, will make for the most special day you could have imagined. And sign up to Pinterest, it’s a treasure trove of ideas!


Photographer: Debs Ivelja Photography
Venue: Fforest Weddings
Brides Dress: Lola from Cymberline
Bride’s Shoes: Lola Cruz
Bride’s Jewellery: Bracelet – Brides Own, Necklace – Fur Coat No Knickers
Groom: Suit – Next
Bridesmaid Dresses: Monsoon Fusion & John Rocha
Flowers: Fforest onsite Florist
Decor and Styling: DIY
Catering: Fforest
Cake: Homemade
Band: Fourplay

Thank you so much to Rachel and Gareth for sharing your beautiful summer wedding with us and to Debs Ivelja fro such gorgeous images.

Does anyone else want to escape to Fforest with me for a long weekend!? Those views are just magical and one of those eco friendly domes has my name written all over it!

Rachel and Gareth’s first dance will be appearing under Independent Love song later on today so don’t be a stranger.

Big Love

Festival Brides xxx

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