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Morning guys + gals

If you’re an avid instagrammer/iger then (between the @festivalbrides feed and our personal accounts) you probably already know that team FBrides attended the UH-MAZING In the Woods festival this weekend (hereon referred to as ITW). Now, I need to fill y’all in on a couple of things, especially if you’re new around here (welcome!)

First up, you should know that this incredible music and arts festival is held in the Festival Brides Secret Woodland Venue in Kent, she’s a diverse kinda woodland! Secondly, you may or may not know that my beau and I got married at this exact venue almost a year ago (read more on that here, oh and here!). Cue photos and large dose of cooing and nostalgia on my part…

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Ok… So now you’re all up to date, and I’m done getting all teary eyed at our wedding shots (soz, guys!), I thought it’d be kinda cool to fill you in on our usually serene, peaceful woodland’s wild side; her true festival roots (sorry, I’m not sorry for the tree-related pun!) as well as what’s it’s like to revisit your wedding venue and see it in a completely different light!

So, let me take you on a tour of our Secret Woodland: behaving elegantly as our wedding venue and when she let her hair down last weekend!

The Quarry

The Quarry; the main stage for both the ITW festival and indeed, where the ‘main event’, a.k.a. our wedding ceremony, was held. Sat listening to the beautiful folky tones of Laura Marling, the vivacious beat of Shopping or watching a sea of festival goers bounce to the 90s nostalgia Toddla T delivered late Saturday night, you’d find it laughable (no really, Kelly and I actually found ourselves giggling) to think that the very same woodland transforms into a sea of tranquility, with cathedral-like height and delicately dappled light, perfect for your wedding day!

Mainstage 2Setting up our ‘main stage’ the morning of our wedding

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Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetMy beau hard at work filming for Festival Brides, more that on the blog soon!

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetCan you see the wedding gazebo behind the main stage? Surreal, right?!

But such is the versatility of this magical woodland! It was absolutely captivating to see it so alive with throngs of music seekers, young lovers and  families. There’s nothing more enchanting than watching others fall in love and enjoy a woodland clearing that you stood in and thought: ‘Yeah, I think I’ll get married here’. It’s like sharing a really awesome secret!

Of course, almost a year on we had to selfie, for the memory book and all that!

Mainstage 3

So now, if we back track down the path that my beau and I chose as our aisle (yes, there are multiple aisle options at this incredible venue and it makes for fabulous fun keeping your guests on their toes!) we’ll come to our next stage…


The Laurel Lounge

So, off to one side of the ceremony glade lies another magical dell, that has a very believable ‘undiscovered’ air about it. A canopy of Laurel trees, this domed clearing played back drop to some of our favourite wedding photos. Cue more nostalgia…

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It’s safe to say that this dreamy space maintained its magical essence for the duration of the festival. Staging the gloriously dynamic, near orchestral at times, Laura J Martin (a new, and much loved, disovery for us!) and the hauntingly beautiful folk of Marika Hackman. The Laurel Lounge, this leafed cave we’d come to love, was brought to life for us as the memories of our wedding day and the new sounds filling our ears merged into one sense of incredible fondness.

Seriously, if you got married in these woods, you need to revisit them at next year’s festival, it’s really magical!

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Laurel 5The gentle dome of the Laurel Lounge

Laurel 2…and one year on, same spot

The Surrounding Fields

As I mentioned earlier, we took the aisle into the side of the woodland on our wedding day, meaning we drove across one of the fields that surrounds the woodland (complete with sheep!) to reach our aisle. For the duration of the ITW festival, we called this field ‘home’!

This was probably my favourite aspect of the weekend: being able to just chill (with my coffee and a bacon sarnie in hand, thanks hubby!) and soak up the gorgeousness of this wedding venue. Living up in Leicestershire, I only saw the woodland once before we got married there, and we only held our ceremony in the woodland, so spending 2 days and nights lounging in this back field, taking time to wander through the woodland was a luxury I never imagined having and it’s left me all the more in love with the place!

Back field 1 Back field 2My mama’s vintage camping mug. Not sure she’s gonna appreciate me using the word ‘vintage’ (soz, ma!)

Back field 3 My hubby rules. ‘Nough said!

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Of course, we weren’t here just to play (although we did do a lot of that!) here’s a little behind the scenes on our Festival Brides shoot, again in the surrounding fields, you can see the main woodland in the background!

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetEntertaining Kelly’s gorgeous mini, #FloJo, in between shots! Multitasking at its best with the lovely Hector of We Heart Pictures

Music Fest vs. Wed Fest

So obviously, there were some massive differences in seeing the woodland’s party side and we’ll come to those in a moment, but somethings will always remain the same…

…Simple cotton bunting being one of them. This stuff just works in the woodland, whether you go for a skinny triangle in natural linens, as we did…

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…or an amazing petrol blue/coral/sunshine yellow square shaped bunting, as we saw a the festival, it’s hands down the easiest and most enchanting way to dress those gorgeous trees, whilst still letting the woodland do the talking!

Another thing that most definitely remained a constant in the woodland was the intimacy of its spaces. Whether it was the main clearing (‘The Quarry’) or one of the smaller glades, you could hear every word and totally lose yourself as you watched the performance. Just as our guests felt completely immersed in the ambience of our wedding…

NO CHANGE 2a Above: my gorgeous sister-in-law singing at our wedding and below: one of our best friends performing as we walked down the aisle 


…So we were absorbed by the magic of the ITW festival’s performers, especially this late night, chilled session with Charlie Cunningham (no relation to our Kelly, FYI!)

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Ok, ok, I can hear you saying it: ‘Spill it, Clare! What was different?!’

So sure, aside from the obvious differences (900 plus festival goers), there were some elements that shed an entirely new light on this Secret Woodland Venue. First up: seeing the woodland at night! Dramatically uplit, the super tall trees of the main clearing were breath taking and the multitude of hay strew paths, dressed with a sea of warm festoon lighting, enhanced the woodland’s enchantment all the more!

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And of course, it was a festival, so the woodland spaces became a playground for adults with beaches, inflatables, beaten up doors to leave messages on, feathered canopies and life size woodland creatures!

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If you’ve been a bride here, if you plan to be in the near future, or if you’re just intrigued by this magical woodland, I couldn’t recommend seeing her in all her glory, alive with happy souls and dressed to the nines for the In The Woods festival any more highly. I, for one, left feeling so inspired; more of that in the coming weeks!

Sneak Peek

So, for now, hold that thought and watch this space over the coming weeks for our Festival Brides shoot and video, as well as more styling posts inspired by the woodland!

Peace + Love

Clare X

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Wedding beauty on its way!