Music has always been such a huge part of Mike and Ciara’s relationship so creating a wedding that was relaxed, casual and reminiscent of old festival experiences with friends seemed like the most natural choice for them.
Aptly named Wonkiwi Fest 2015, a play on Mike’s surname (Warncken or “Wonky”) and Ciara’s nickname (Kiwi after the fruit), Mike and Ciara’s festival wedding was a day full of family, friends, love and personal touches all punctuated with music and lyrics from various stages of their life together…..
We have an extraordinarily tight group of family and friends so it was important that the wedding was less about the day and more about the celebration of love. The outcome was a weekend full of love and laughter!
With festival style lanyards, wristbands, a white and sage colour theme, live music, cupcakes with wellies and a ‘big screen’ playing music videos by the ‘main stage,’ Ciara and Mike’s festival wedding will have you reaching for your apple cider so you can join in on the party!
Mike and Ciara talk us through their big day….
The Highest Sea Cliffs in Europe and One Knee….
We had planned a weekend in Donegal, Ireland to coincide with my step sister getting married, when we awoke in the morning we travelled to Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Whilst staring out at the misty Irish wild Atlantic way, Mike dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him with an ornate vintage ring he had chosen. He had hidden a picnic in the car and he arranged a massage, bridal suite upgrade and a surprise dinner at the scenic Lough Eske Castle – it was a magical and romantic day! The next day we were able to share the news with my mum who lives in Ireland, it was such a lovely touch to be able to tell her in person and see her reaction. And with the wedding date already set for exactly one year later, we were ready to begin planning!
A Champagne Gold Dress….
I found my dream dress in a champagne gold Maggie Sottero dress (called Emma). I purchased it from Bellissima Weddings in South Woodham Ferrers and the whole experience was just perfect! I chose a simple one tier veil which was colour matched to the champagne gold dress (also purchased from Bellissima Weddings.)
For my shoes I wore VERY sparkly gold peep toes by Kurt Geiger and I wore a vintage look necklace which was the “something old” from my mum along with some delicate droplet earrings.
Boho Hair and Blue Eyes that Pop!
I found Victoria Percival’s details whilst searching for a hair and make-up artist with a boho style – and I couldn’t have found anyone better! She knew what I wanted straight away and helped to create a curly updo which was casual and effortless but still elegant with a cute plait intertwined. Victoria also did my make-up which was kept relaxed and with the same colouring as the dress with champagne and mushroom tones which apparently helped to make my blue eyes pop!
A Casual Folk Look….
Mike wanted to go for a smart/casual folk look and chose to wear a tweed waistcoat from Debenhams, along with a white shirt and stone colour chinos from Charles Tyrwhitt. He accessorised it with a bespoke tie from Mr Skinny and a Swiss pocket watch gift from his family.
A Venue that was Key and a Video Wall….
We held our ceremony and reception at Blue House Farm, Sevenoaks in Kent (the home of our caterers). The venue was key for the weekend wedding we had planned, and finding it in Sevenoaks Weald Village was a lovely bonus as it is such a charming rural area surrounded by Kentish fields and old country roads.
We chose Katie Keen from True Blue Ceremonies as the celebrant for our ceremony, which was perfect. Katie told our story beautifully and kept the whole ceremony so relaxed and personal. We loved selecting the readings, which wasn’t hard as soon as we heard them. Two of them were personal to us as they are from songs – The Blessing by Celtic Woman and Brand New Colony by Postal Service. The last was a simple but heart-warming verse called “Twenty Years” – I still get choked up hearing it!
We decided that to capture the festival vibe we’d use a video wall which would show music videos throughout the whole day. This was a big feature of the day and lots of hard work went into it! We showed Snow Patrol’s incredibly visual “Lightening Strike” as I walked down the aisle, we then played Christina Perri “Thousand years” as we signed the commemorative certificate and as we left the marquee we chose Angels and Airwaves “The Adventure”.
A Sage and White Music Festival Theme….
We kept the wedding in a music festival theme, we didn’t want it to feel formal in any way! We had a sage green and white theme and to keep in theme with the festival we gave all of the guests a festival lanyard each with lots of information including the wedding line up and festival grounds layout. We gave everyone wristbands when they arrived and they had a Polaroid photo taken which we hung in the guest book gazebo for our specially made guest book.
We made our own sage green and white wooden signs for directions around the venue as well as gazebos, festival flags and games! In the main grounds we had a beer tent serving beer and cider out of vintage apple crates and pimms from a glass punch dispenser, all accompanied with kitsch paper cups for that festival feeling. We also added mini description chalk boards and papier-mâché letters spelling out our initials and WKF15 from hobbycraft.
For the games Mike wanted to bring some nostalgia from camping at old festivals when he and his friends would play some fun and albeit drunken cricket and football. We also chose to add loads of giant games and a tent full of toys and bubbles for the few children we had there.
Outside we had hay bales and blankets in a “snuggle up” area, an open guitar case for the wedding cards and a stunning step ladder foliage display created by Mike’s parents who are quite the green fingers! We added lots of lanterns, candles and fairy lights for that extra special touch for the evening.
Our sweets table had wedding cupcakes on our tree slices stand along with sweet jars, pictures of me and Mike when we were kids and wellies full of luscious foliage and white flowers!
For the table decorations we had flowers in shabby galvanised pots, jam jars and old baked bean cans – a staple at all festivals! For the table names we chose 10 of our favourite bands, we then used one of their albums as the main cover and some beautiful lyrics were included on the back. It was so much fun choosing these with Mike, it took us an entire night of listening to all of the albums over and over!
Also on the table were the place names, I struggled to find anything that I liked and finally decided to make my own using brown luggage labels, hessian string and a “to have and to hold” stamp. The main favour was the festival lanyard, so we both chose a charity close to us and gave charity pins to guests.
Before the first dances usually comes the cutting of the cake, but we decided that was too formal for us, so we did the “first drinking of the shot” instead! Everyone stood to watch as Mike and I competed to finish the dirty dr. pepper shot – and I won!
A Bouquet of Whites, Greens and Silvery Foilage….
I love all things foliage and wanted that to feature in the flower choices we made – it also helped with the sage green and white theme! We chose Frida and Sophia floral design to create the flower arrangements, I loved that they were friends and were so passionate about their incredibly creative boutique company. The flowers were stunning, especially my bouquet full of whites, greens and silvery foliage with a loose design and slight cascade. The wellies were really cool too! The bridesmaids also arranged some beautiful wild flower arrangements in jars we had collected over the past year to add a natural feel.
A Tiered Wooden Tree Stand and Plenty of Cupcakes….
We had decided a big cake and the tradition of cutting it was not for us, so we opted for festival styled wedding cupcakes which guests could help themselves to. We served the cupcakes on a huge three tiered wooden tree stand and chose three different cupcakes by Cakeabella. We chose brown wellies and grass for one design, our WKF15 logo for another, and sage green coloured cream on the others.
A Passion that shines…
Victoria JK Lamburn was our wedding photographer and we could never ever have enough words to thank her for her help, guidance and commitment to our wedding. So many of our guests have commented to us about how lovely she was as a photographer and how she captured so much of the entire day from 9am until 11.30pm! Vicky’s passion for her job really shines through and she makes you feel really at ease whilst snapping away!
Save Ernie and Big Screens….
Our entertainment was Mike’s band, Save Ernie who performed during the speeches. We also added a video wall which was heavily featured throughout day, we arranged our own set list of songs that we played via laptop whilst the music videos played for each song. It really added to the feel of night time at festivals with the big screens at the main stage!
There are so many to choose from! My favourite part of the day had to be the speeches. During the groom’s speech Mike unveiled a video on the video wall which he had written and recorded about our lives together. It was a faux rap / boyband video featuring his 3 best men (link here), taking a humorous sideways glance at our relationship. It was the single most hilarious moment of my life! Mike took so much time and effort over the speeches, which were all so heart-warming, especially when Mike’s dad joined him on stage to play guitar for a song dedicated to friends. Mike and the rest of the band performing together again after a few years away was so special – my bridesmaid Nicole even joined them to add some keyboards and backing vocals!! I’m so glad that we were able to have videographers from Hearts and Diamonds, James Grist (of James Grist Photography) and Jon Cook, with us to film the whole day – especially the incredibly unique speeches! Our video guys were so thorough and brought all the best technical gadgets and gizmos along, and lovely gents to boot!
Cooperation during the wedding is key, both being involved in every element of the planning – and late night planning should include wine! Remain as light hearted as possible and remember the reason why you’re working so hard. The planning should be as memorable and enjoyable as the day! If you can arrange anything for a second day I would recommend it, it meant we could catch up with people and we didn’t feel too manic and rushed on the wedding day – it also helped with that wedding “come down” feeling!
We had a budget from the start, mike is an accountant and I work in HR, and we both brought our own skills to it and became best friends with our spreadsheets! We tracked everything and set up a joint email to track all of the wedding correspondence. We called upon the skills of everyone around us to make savings in stationery, flower displays, music and all of the technical audio/visual work.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the immense set up the day before which was a lovely memory with of all our close friends and family pulling together and getting stuck in to the to do list I brought along on a clipboard (yes I was that person!)
We also made the decision to hire a huge house nearby for the weekend, all of our friends stayed with us and it was so special.
The Line Up
Photography: Victoria JK Lamburn
Venue: Blue House Farm
Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sottero, Emma
Hair & Make-Up: Victoria Percival
Groom: Tweed Waistcoat – Debenhams; White Shirt & Chinos – Charles Tyrwhitt; Tie – Mr Skinny
Celebrant: Katie Keen of True Blue Ceremonies
Videographer: Hearts and Diamonds (James Grist & Jon Cook)
Flowers: Frida & Sophia
Caterers: All Star Catering
Marquee & Furniture: Manor Hire Marquee