Afternoon Lovely People, I hope you all had a great weekend. We have an awesome festival inspired wedding to share with you all today which is full of quirky and colourful decor ideas and plenty of DIY detail. In fact, everything you see from the streamers to the stationery was done by the Bride and Groom and it was all planned in 6 months!
Helen and David said I Do on the 14th May 2016 at a Humanist Blessing on Helen’s parents farm, followed by a festival infused party in a tipi provided by Event In A Tent. Inspired by American outdoor weddings and Pinterest, their wedding was the perfect mix of personal touches, colourful decor and festival inspired vibes….
We tried to avoid sticking to one particular theme and instead wanted to keep it colourful and fun. Everything was eclectic, with a sense of home comforts brought into a festival-like set up and atmosphere.
Helen and David are both wedding photographers and are the team behind Helen Plus David. Having worked in the wedding industry for years, it was important for them to put their own personal stamp on their wedding and not conform to a set trend or theme for the day. They just wanted to put as much of their personalities into their wedding day as possible and to, most importantly, have fun.
Helen and David talk us through their day. Look out for their fab short film by Molly Jane Lewis at the end of the post.
A Running Track and One Knee…
I used to be a competitive 200m runner and so on a family holiday to Club La Santa, Lanzarote, last October David got down on one knee in the middle of the in-field of the running track (where I used to train) and proposed. Could tell by the nerves something was going on but was being quite dismissive of David’s behaviour until he popped out the ring. Very funny and took me by surprise completely.
Travel Inspired DIY Stationery….
We did our own invites based on images from our time traveling that also gave the right kind of feel for the day. David is a graphic designer which is very handy! Everything included our own Helen Plus David logo across the invites, vows and menus, and the order of the day was handwritten on a big blackboard so the guests could see what was happening where and when upon arrival. We tried to keep it really relaxed.
A Childhood Dream…
We had a Humanist Ceremony at the barn in the field at my parents home where Helen grew up. We hired some tipi’s for the reception from Event In A Tent and had an outdoor ceremony. Event in a tent also provided us with festoon lighting throughout the site and walkways connecting the tipi to the barn and the toilets.
I’ve always wanted to get married at the house where I grew up. They have a field out the back, loads of space and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since childhood. Plus it meant friends could camp and it was easy access. We didn’t want to be moving around too much from one venue to the other. It was as personal as it could have been. The campground opened from midday and we had a group of friends camp over. Our night was also spent camping, but we glamped it up a little and stayed in my parents camper van.
An Expression of Us….
The inspiration for our wedding was home-made, festival fun with all of our own personal touches. We wanted to incorporate all the quirky belongings that are just lying around at my parents place, involve the garden and the props available to us. We took inspiration from American outdoor weddings and Pinterest was really useful especially when looking at the decorating and flowers. We were keen for the wedding to be an expression of us as a couple. From the invites through to the music choices.
DIY Decor and Flowers….
It was all DIY, hands on deck. Paper streamers, flowers, pictures, vases, lampshades, foliage from the garden. Some things were thought of the day before, whilst other things were more planned in. We had so many flowers, I was a bit worried about ordering too much but it worked to have so many around. We also decorated some ladders, had a keep cosy blanket box for the evening and a pimp your prosecco box for the reception drinks and toasts. Apart from the catering and the band, everything was pretty much DIY!
A Joanna Heir Dress, Rainbow Shoes and Pearl Jewllery….
My dress was Joanna Heir from The Case of the Curious Bride in Manchester. I just knew it was the one when I tried it on. I had been trying to buy a dress online and just couldn’t quite commit to anything. Then the title of the
dress shop lured me in. It is a very elegant dress, simple but stylish with a 1920’s feel to it. It just felt so good when I tried it on.
After deciding on a 1920’s style dress it made sense to go along with this idea (for me) and so for my shoes I went with a pair of Rainbow peep toe satin shoes which suited the style of the dress perfectly, and were really comfortable too because they do half sizes.
For my jewellery I wore a Stephanie Browne, fresh water pearl head piece sourced from my good friends over at Liberty in Love. Worn across my forehead meant that it worked well with the style and it was very subtle, yet worn in this way gave a bit of a statement. I paired this with a vintage tiered pearl bracelet and a pear of fresh water pearl earrings. Both pieces had been bought for me on previous birthdays by David over the years.
My hair was done by Jessica Nurse. I have worked with Jess on and off since I became a freelance photographer in 2007! We have shared our profession together and become great friends as a result. She is someone I can completely rely on when it comes to organising shoots, getting creative on projects and always goes way beyond any expectations. She was the perfect person for me and the girls on the day and worked really hard to do hair and make up for me, the two bridesmaids, my mum and my flower girl.
A Humanist Ceremony, Streamers and A Piano….
We had an outdoor humanist ceremony led by our friend Dave, who is like family to us. The ceremony took place against a paper streamer backdrop set up using one of our photo backdrop stands. We had paper streamers everywhere and once my sister in law started to get going there was no stopping her. Greenery from the garden decked out throughout the tipi, furniture from wherever we could find it, hay bales dotted around and an assortment of props from lampshades to pictures, fake flowers, vases and succulent plants.
The readings we had at the ceremony were: ‘Unending Love’ by Rabindranath Tagore and ‘I wanna be yours’ by John Cooper-Clarke.
Music was played by my uncle on a Piano (taken from my parents home.) I walked down the aisle to Bach I think (although he hasn’t confirmed it). Martin is a professional concert pianist so I left it to him to choose for us, and it was so personal having him there to play. I don’t know what we walked back out to but it was a little bit more playful than the entry track!
British Garden Flowers….
I’ve always wanted to do my own wedding flowers and even attended a flower arranging session which was really useful when it came to making the bouquets and button holes. We went with a local wholesaler called
NW Flowers in Ashton. Flowers included: Sweet William; Larkspur; gypsophila; Eucalyptus leaf; Geraniums
Pineapples (Cephalaphora aromatica) and other British garden flowers, foliage and cow parsley from the
garden. It was a case of doing my research and seeing what worked for the style of wedding we were going for. No theme particularly but we made sure the button holes were consistent and the bouquets too. With the jars and vases on the tables it was a case of building up the flowers pot by pot and creating little collections that worked well together. As for the rest of the flowers we filled wine storage jars, larger vases and watering cans, decorated the ladders and just brought as much of the country into the tipi and surrounding area as we could. We also had a selection of succulent plants dotted around too.
Indian Street Food and A BBQ….
We came across our caterers at the Levenshulme street food night markets in Manchester. We thought again that we didn’t want to go with a typical wedding caterer, rather someone that we had met by chance who may be interested in catering for a wedding. At the time Neil was running a pop up restaurant once a month in his living room. This in itself was intriguing enough! He’d received rave reviews in the Observer and so we thought we’d ask him to see if he’d be interested…and he was. Since asking, he had gone on to set up a The Buttery in Levenshulme, so as time went by we felt more confident that he would be able to do it for us. When we went for the tasting session we knew we’d made the right decision. Neil is so creative and we just loved his ideas. On the day they set up their own gazebo, a gas fired barbecue and just got on with things. They were happy, we were happy and the guests were happy too! One of our main grievances with wedding is often the food, the portions (or lack of) and making sure the guests are not left going hungry. It was important for there to be a good variety of vegetarian food as well as our two favourite puds!
Our evening food was supplied by Lily’s in Aston-Under-Lyne. We went for an assortment of Indian snacks which were so tasty and right up our street. It’s the best South-Indian place around Manchester and having traveled to India we can compare it to the real thing. They are very affordable, very accommodating and very tasty indeed. We also had the cakes from the bake off on offer too. We are still eating those snacks, thanks to the freezer and my mum’s!
Friends of ours helped out with service and we couldn’t have done it without them. They ran a slick operation between them and we knew how much hard work they did. We operated our own bar staffed by friends and we did have some booze left over too which is always a bonus. You never want to run out of booze at a wedding!
A Non Wedding Photographer….
Our photographers were Molly Jane Lewis and us! Molly is a film maker by trade and we have worked with her on a few weddings and asked her if she would take on the challenge of photographing ours. We really wanted to have a nonwedding photographer there so that we could get something different and perhaps not-templated or too much following the trends. We want to bring in someone with a different take plus her filmic approach meant that we received images falling into that kind of feel. We also took a selection of photographs ourselves throughout the day and in the build up at our ceremony in Liverpool a few days prior. It was important for us to document a few things too, although as the day progressed we really didn’t have time to think about it…who can photograph their own wedding and really be in the moment? We just wanted to make sure all the fun was captured and we really feel it was. Molly very kindly passed on the raw files because we were keen to do the edit ourselves and put our own stamp on the images too. Molly did shoot some film for us too, just because she couldn’t help herself and as result we have a wonderful 1 minute snippet of the day, which just makes us smile and cry every time we see it! (Well me at least…it takes a lot for Dave to cry!)
The Great Wedding Bake Off….
We didn’t have one cake, instead we ran a cake competition! Our invites stated that they could enter the Great Wedding Bake off…the winning entries though were both the groom’s sister and mother!! Not a fix I promise! Although we didn’t have time to taste the cakes because there just wasn’t enough time, so it went on appearance. We later assessed that the Caribbean assassin would have won on taste and we still don’t know who brought this cake to the table!
Northern Soul & Funk and An Amazing Band….
Our DJ was Jim Spratling, one of my brother’s really good friends, who specialises in Northern Soul and Funk, which was exactly what we wanted. He really tailored the mix to the evening and worked well with the band too.
Our band, The Retrosettes played two 1 hour sets and were simply awesome. They made the night in all honestly. They are unique and fun and brought their new takes on classics and old takes on modern tunes. They also tailored their set to the feel of the party and we just couldn’t keep away from the dance floor.
I don’t think there is one particular moment, the day was exactly what we had imagined and more. It was so much fun and we just loved having all our fiends and family there to celebrate with us. We simply didn’t want it to end. Loads of laughs on the dance floor too. Always a highlight at a wedding. It was odd being on the other side of the lens but we kept coming up with ideas for photography so it was sometimes difficult to switch off the camera heads in us!
Don’t give yourselves too long to plan! It was good to only have 6 months to get everything organised because a) it meant that we had to get things in the diary, meet with suppliers and make decisions without having too many choices and b) we knew what our budget was and stuck to it. (We appreciate that 6 months isn’t very long though!!)
Try to make it as personal as you can! Being wedding photographers we see so many weddings that have the same touches, the same order, the same traditions. We wanted it to be a reflection of us, not our parents, or the ideas of a wedding venue…Whilst it’s good to have influences, stick to your guns and go with what feels right for you both. Have a realistic budget and be flexible…there are always things that are going to come up along the way, but prioritise what is important rather than spending for the sake of it.
If you are going for a DIY style wedding, give yourself time to do your research, collect everything over the time that you have from a planning point of view rather than leaving it until last minute. But be flexible, because when it comes to the finishing touches, your initial idea may not be quite right, so be prepared for things to change last minute! Finally – if your budget can stretch, prioritise a band…they really get the party going and move the wedding atmosphere to another level. Don’t let the bar be too far away because people will disappear!
Because we are photographers ourselves we feel we’ve had the chance over the years to take mental notes of the weddings we liked, didn’t like, or the one’s which just had nice little touches. This was what was useful in bringing it all together, that and the inspiration of the American outdoor weddings, exactly the kind of wedding we love to photograph. We’re really happy we pulled it all together in the 6 month time period we had, but we think having had experience of the industry perhaps pulling it together made it a little easier for us. We went away from it and said, ‘that’s exactly the kind of wedding we would love to photograph!’ so if we can pull together something that we love, then we hope to be able to photograph more weddings like ours in the future, because we know how much fun you will have, how much hard work goes into it and how great it is to have so many people together with you on one day to celebrate.
The Line Up
Venue: Parent’s Farm
Photographers: Helen Plus David & Molly Jane Lewis
Film: Molly Jane Lewis
Wedding Tipis: Event In A Tent
Bride’s Dress: Joanna Heir
Bride’s Shoes: Rainbow Club Peep Toes
Bride’s Head Piece: Stephanie Brown from Liberty in Love
Groom: Suit – Reiss; Bow Tie & Pocket Sleeve – Mrs Bow Tie; Shirt – Zara
Groom’s Shoes: Ted Baker
Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS & Dorothy Perkins
Make-Up: Jessica Nurse
Lighting: Not Just Lights
Band: The Retrosettes
Catering: The Buttery & Lily’s Indian Street Food
For more awesome festival weddings like this one, please view our real wedding section. It rocks!
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