Today we bring you a beauty of a Festival Wedding….Submitted by Nick Tucker, who is quite frankly a wicked wedding photographer. His images capture the spirit of a wedding in a reportage way using only natural light. The outcome means your day is documented with timeless and intimate detail. The exact mood and expression of the day can be treasured and remembered forever…….we just love his work!!!
So here it is… Wedstock, a three day wedding festival on a beautiful farm, amid bluebell fields, in North Wales.
Words by Sarah and Dan (Bride + Groom) – Sarah was 8 months pregnant, so we had to wait a while to get her story. We are also pleased to announce the safe arrival of their beautiful baby boy – Celyn.
We met at ‘The Big Chill’ festival in 2008. Dan was a friend of a friend and a big crowd of us hung out and had a great time together. I left thinking I had made a new friend and I went back to Liverpool, Dan went back to Manchester, and we got on with our lives. However we all still kept in touch and occasionally met up for drinks. One night, 8 months later, let’s just say turned into three days…. And that was it. I never wanted to leave his side again. We talked for hours and hours, and I felt like I’d known him a 100 lifetimes before this one. But I had a burning desire to travel the world so after a year of having a brilliant time dating, I told him I had to fulfil my dream. Wonderfully Dan was ready to just drop everything and come with. Within 6 months we had packed/rented/sold everything and spent 9 months having the most amazing adventures round the world, of which every second is now cherished. For those of us that have been travelling 24/7 with someone, they will know that 9 months of travelling round the world together if the equivalent of 30 years of married life!! Going travelling certainly shows you how you work as a couple, when we got home I was very comfortable with the idea of commitment. We just love spending time together, and have very similar outlooks and ethics which I think is important. We look out for each other, and with Dan by my side I feel I can do anything. I’m already planning our next big adventures with our new family! Another visit to Kathmandu, some surfing, some boarding, and cycling down Argentina’s Route 40!
Ha! A long running joke between us would be that when lying in bed at night I would always ask him to ‘tell me a story’, to which he would always reply… ‘I don’t know any stories!’. Then in December of 2010 I lost my late nana’s diamond ring she had given me and was hugely upset about it. So late on a bright Christmas Eve night, after a lovely meal out with family, we took our dogs over some fields and Dan said he would tell finally tell me a story. He then narrated the story of us to me whilst we walked in the snow wrapped in each other, the story ending in a marriage proposal. He produced a ring that an amazing jeweller in Liverpool had created that had a design of points of a journey inscribed on it with a random line, to represent the great things we’ve done together, with the line not being straight because the path of life and our journey will always have its ups and downs. And inside was a thin inlay of silver, from a silver chain that his parents gave him on his 18th birthday that he never takes off. It was inlaid and he said that his chain had been with him all his life, and now I would be. I cried. It was very beautiful. And very romantic for Dan!
We love festivals… We met at one, we’ve both been to lots and we’ve had some of our best times with a big gang of us having fun together with great music, beer and sunshine. We also love camping and being outdoors with our friends. And to celebrate all the great times we had at ‘The Big Chill’ and how we found each other there was no other type of wedding we wanted really. We wanted to re-create a festival as much as possible…. great music, live acts, food and beer but without the festival costs! We also wanted to make sure that people could attend without a big cost attached, as we didn’t want anyone’s heart sinking when they were invited. So we had to be able to offer free camping and a BYO attitude for our great musician friends who don’t have a lot of cash. We wanted everything to be wonderful on very little money!
We booked the venue in July 11 for our wedding in May 12, but we didn’t really start trying to get stuff together until November. One we had the venue and big top organised we could focus on the seemingly hundreds of little decisions that come with organising a completely DIY festival wedding!
We didn’t want to go above 10k, but then we added some extras like an amazing photographer and fairly large acts and nice food. It went to more like 15k by the time we had finished! And that was with a lot of money saving ideas! But on the initial planning we didn’t account for some large costs, nice flushing toilets and hot showers don’t come cheap! I think it could still be done under 10k, with some cutbacks.
The venue was held at Carreglwyd Estate in Anglesey. It was absolutely perfect for a wedding. We looked at dozens of venues around Wales but they were all lacking something or just couldn’t provide everything we wanted. Carreglwyd Estate is absolutely beautiful, with a wedding license, lake, bluebell filled woodlands and gorgeous buildings. But more importantly the whole estate is totally flexible so you can visualise the wedding you want. We also thought that as the venue was so naturally gorgeous it would need far less dressing than other places to make it fit for your dream wedding.
My dress deserves a blog on its own! Not having a budget for a designer dress my multi-talented mother-in-law (Pat) stepped in and offered to make me a dress to whatever design I wanted. I really liked Temperley designs, and after trawling the North West for fabric, we decided there was nothing good enough so a trip to London was required. I had this dream of a floaty ethereal design on a size 8 frame but three weeks before our trip I found out I was pregnant ! This threw up all sorts of different issues for our festival wedding (but we didn’t want to cancel!), so we had to rethink our dress ideas. We brought the most beautiful French oyster silk and hand beaded lace which was £250 a meter! (I only brought a bit…) from a Soho Silk House. Then I had a look at maternity wedding dresses and decided they were all horrible. I didn’t want to look like I was sitting on a toilet roll so Pat and I used a variety of standard patterns that we merged and got creative with to design my dress. Pat was really inspirational and had so many good ideas. In all honesty there wasn’t many dresses that I could wear that would make me feel any less than a baby elephant so close to birth, but Pat really created a dress that I felt lovely wearing. The silk draped beautifully over my bump and the vintage beaded lace gave me sleeves and detailing on the top. Pat appliquéd the beaded lace under my bust and I felt lovely in it. And most of all the whole design process was so much fun and I ended up with a truly individual dress. The dress materials probably cost around £450. Not just content with making me the most amazing dress, Pat then knitted me a gorgeous mohair ballet cardigan for the evening.
HAIR AND ACCESSORIES
My hair was kinda a last minute thing after changing my mind at the last minute. The problem with designing a wedding dress as we went along was that the dress ended up being more structured and more sophisticated than initially planned, and so our hairstyle ideas changed. The flowers were lovely and provided by a local florist who really took the time to go through what we wanted. We wanted a vintage theme with faded colours so stuck to traditional flowers like roses and lily of the valley. I always wanted a circlet as well. As the whole look was very vintage my something borrowed was Pat’s grandmothers original 20’s necklace, my something old were the earrings I found on Ebay from the same era. My something blue was a big Victorian dress ring given to me by my great auntie Mary, and my something new my dress! An 8 month pregnant women’s feet are nothing to be displayed…..Considering the uneven ground, my additional weight, balance problems and the fact I was planning to dance all night I was looking for something massively supportive and comfortable whilst tying in to the vintage look. I found some very simple t-bar flat shoes that I had dyed to match the dress (Mollie by Rainbow Club), which were so comfortable they were a life saver. And they kept me dancing!!
LITTLE MAIDS AND PAGEBOYS
Pat again! Not content with designing me the most beautiful maternity wedding dress, she also designed the bridesmaids and pageboys outfits. She made the dress again through adapting patterns, we kept the waists dropped and Pat dyed the lace collars with tea. Pat designed the waistcoats and we brought flat caps to match. The florist designed little hand tied bouquets to match mine. They looked gorgeous. The littler children were my sister-in-laws children, Seren and Harri, and the teenagers long terms friend’s children Libby and Jo.
We had lots of ideas for dressing the site, but the overall logistics of creating a two day festival whilst working full time and being heavily pregnant took all our resources, so this meant this is when our saviours stepped in! The lovely Hannah painted our signs for us but Wedstock was made really lovely by Dan’s sister Mel Hinchliffe. She was AMAZING. She made literally hundreds of meters of bunting from jumble sale scraps, and square gauze bunting to look like the Nepalese prayer flags Dan and I loved on our travels in Nepal. Mel made butterfly and heart willow withies and laminated love poems that we hung all in the woodlands and around the site. Then, because she’s lovely and knew how heavily pregnant and struggling I was, she took a week off work to come and dress the site for us. We can’t thank her enough, I feel pretty lucky I have her as a sister now.
ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE KIDS
Again, Mel to the rescue! We had a lovely old Girl Guides tent with its own bunting that we had as a kids tent, and Mel and friends donated kids toys and slides etc to fill it with. Mel also provided face painting, and we had no idea our friend Simon Snader was a balloon modelling wizard! We had all the circus equipment on the Sunday but to be honest…. kids would have a great time with some sticks, insects and each other!
Ozzy and Molly. They’ve been my hairy buddies for many years, particularly Oz who was first dog, and it was really, really important to me that he be about. He’s very old and recently survived a stroke and cancer, to be honest he’s probably in his last year of life which breaks my heart. I just wanted him to be here for the wedding and birth of our baby, to hand over the baton of family….. but he’s doing really well and now our baby boy is a month old and he’s still with us. Now he will always be with me now in our wedding photos, which makes them even more special.
The good thing about the venue was that it has really high end accommodation options near the beach and in the woods. Just because Dan and I are big outdoor festival types didn’t mean I’d get my mum in a tent! We didn’t want to torture our guests so part of the festival theme was that guests could have the weekend they wanted. If people wanted to stay in luxury accommodation, buy alcohol from the bar and eat at our concession stall they could do. If they wanted to camp for free, drink Strongbow and eat pot noodles they could do that too! Between 120-150 camped, and even though it was absolutely freezing they definitely had lots of fun!
We had the most amazing food! One of our clear ideals about Wedstock was that the food be local, really good quality and lots of it. One of our pet peeves about weddings are hotels where you pay £40 or so a head for dry chicken and potatoes!! We weren’t bothered about fine cutlery or seating plans or anything like that, but we did want quality food and lots of it for people. Being on a budget though and feeding about 250 people meant a lot of DIY effort to achieve this. A friend of mine put me on to some fantastic chefs from one of the best restaurants in Liverpool. They were really happy to come and do some catering for us. We sat down and worked out a menu with Tom Heavyside, one of the chefs, and decided on a variety of salads (cous cous with almonds and pomegranates, potato salad, green salad and tomato and balsamic salad) a hot dhal, flat bread and marinated spring lamb or rump steak from the estate itself. For the veggies we had portobello mushrooms and halloumi cheese kebabs. The food was delicious, everyone piled their plates up and lots of people kept going back for more. It did feel a bit surreal talking to the local butcher the week before about how many animals he was going to get off the local farmer but the food was really outstanding and worth it. We brought in the desserts from a great company in Liverpool which make beautiful individual deserts to supply restaurants in Liverpool. Another thing that was important for us was that we were environmentally aware as possible so we spent a lot of time sourcing wooden cutlery and biodegradable plates etc. We sourced a green skip hire firm that recycled all our waste and even our black bags were biodegradable.
We provided tea and coffee all weekend, bucks fizz for the ceremony, a wedding breakfast with beers and wines and cava for the toasts (we went on a booze cruise earlier in the year to keep down the costs). Around that we had the real ale tent from Syras Circus, mexican street food from the lovely Lucha Libra (who also rustled up breakfast for the cold campers) with tequila shots and frozen margaritas from Lucha Libra as well. Part of the festival vibe is nice food and drink and our mexican food and real ale tent went down a storm – although with them selling pretty strong ale and our ceremony at 11.30 in the morning, you can imagine there were some early casualties….
Our cake was absolutely beautiful, a real work of art and again a wonderful gift from my Dad’s partner and her daughter (my best friend – long story!) who said they would make us a cake. Dan wanted fruit, I wanted sponge and we just felt we needed something simple really, but when our cake arrived it was amazing. Lisa and Barbara had spent weeks making sugar flowers and painted it to match our wedding colour schemes. We were really moved, it was a shame to eat it but it all got scoffed over the weekend!
We are very lucky and know lots of great bands and DJ’s that played for us for our wedding. We had bands that played everything from blues to space rock to psychobilly and DJ’s sets that ranged from a ‘back to the summer of love’ set to ‘guilty pleasures’ to Dub ‘n’ Jungle. Our friend Wes Side Storey kicked off the wedding evenings dancing with a funk soul party set, and the mighty SMOOVE & TURRELL finished off with a 2.5 hour live PA that was AMAZING! Booking Smoove & Turrell was one of the best things we did. We’ve seen them play live a few times and partied to them at a Big Chill together and they’re very special to us. Everyone loved them and they a great time partying with us too, it was awesome. I totally forgot I was heavily pregnant and danced my ass off until we were forced to finish by environmental health!
MOST TREASURED MEMORY
For me it was getting married to the boy I love with our baby inside me, with all my friends watching I guess. At the end of the day that’s what it’s about. Or having an amazing time dancing in a circus tent with fantastic lights and sound to Smoove & Turrell with my boy right beside me and thinking, ‘this rocks!’. I loved every second.
DAN’S FAVOURITE MEMORY
Wow, where to start… Sarah and I giggling all the way through the ceremony, our friends’ Ukelele version of ‘God Only Knows’, Smoove & Turrell raising the roof, circus toys and Dub music in the sunshine… To be honest, every time I looked around and saw all friends and family enjoying themselves at OUR festival wedding, it put a big smile on my face.
TOPS TIP FOR OUR READERS…
Just remember, it’s YOUR wedding – do it your way, don’t sweat the small stuff and remember it just comes down to you marrying someone you love. Everything else will fall into place.
Thanks Sarah and Dan for sharing your super special and extremely cool festival wedding with us!!!
Be sure to check back on Monday to find out Sarah and Dan’s awesome first dance song!! It’s a gooden and great for getting everyone on the dance floor….
Photographer – Nick Tucker www.nicktuckerphotography.com
Music and bands Jo Hinchliffe – Guitarist – firstname.lastname@example.org www.mervingersh.com www.smooveandturrell.com/blog/ www.mugstar.com www.myspace.com/billandged www.myspace.com/thehangmen soundcloud.com/m4rsh
Flowers – Jan Jones – Ty Blodau. www.tyblodau.co.uk Jan Jones. Ty Gwyn, Caeathro, Caernarfon, Gwynedd. LL55 2SL
Cake – Home made
Wedding breakfast – Tom Heavyside private catering email@example.com
Catering van – Traditional Mexican street food. Lucha Libra www.facebook.com/luchalibreliverpool
Brides dress – Patricia Gadd, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01248 601868
Brides accessories – Brides own
Bridesmaids – Patricia Gadd, email@example.com 01248 601868
Groom – www.johnemonk.co.uk