Afternoon Lovely People,

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend.

We have a beautiful woodland wedding to share with you all today.

Rhi and Jon wanted their wedding to have a casual atmosphere and for all their guests, some of which who had come from as far as New Zealand, to feel relaxed and at home. Being creative people they wanted to make as much as they could themselves so pretty much everything you see, from the cake to the wedding buniting, is handmade. Rhi even designed and made her own stunning wedding dress and Jon did all the stationery. These two are both super talented and it shows in their gorgeously unique and very personal wedding.

Starting with an awesome engagement story, Rhi tells us all about it….

A Jack-In-The Box Proposal….

My mum came over from New Zealand to stay with us at Christmas in 2012. There we were all sitting around the tree on Christmas day. Jon passed me a present, which I opened to reveal a jack-in-the-box. Completely oblivious yet slightly perplexed I played the game and out popped Jack with a ring on his arm ‘ Will you marry me?’ written on his chest. I stared at it for an eternity, it wasn’t until I heard my mum gasp that I realised why Jon was by my side on one knee. I couldn’t stop grinning all week and Christmas will be forever more special for us.

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A Rural and Rustic Wedding Venue….

The moment we got engaged I become consumed with finding the perfect venue for us. I felt like once this was done, we could secure ‘our date’ and it would all come together before our eyes. We were engaged at Christmas and it took til March to secure our dream venue. The long dark evenings of Winter were spent hunched over the laptop, researching every rustic barn venue in the South East. I just couldn’t find anything that fit with our outdoor DIY style wedding ideas, until I stumbled upon the Festival Brides blog! Reading the real weddings on Festival Brides I felt at home at last and realised how many other people wanted to do similar things to us.

We wanted to get married outside in the UK, but we didn’t fancy having to do the legal bit first and then have a blessing outside. So we were delighted to find The Paper Mill venue in Kent, where we could legally marry in the woodland under the gazebo made from the wood around it. 

Our guests would all be travelling to the ceremony, some from as far away as New Zealand, so we wanted the wedding to be all in one place. We wanted to have some kind of back up plan in case the great British weather didn’t go to plan. We figured a Barn venue was our best bet, it felt more safe to have a permanent structure! The Barns we first looked at were all a bit too ‘weddingy’, with white curtains and pristine floors etc.  We knew we wanted something more rustic and rural, where we could put our own stamp on it. The barn at The Paper Mill was ideal, complete with hay on the ground and doves nesting in the eaves.

Camping, A Bonfire and an Acoustic Guitar….

With all our guests travelling from all around the world, we were delighted to be able to offer them camping and a place to crash that night. It didn’t appeal to everyone though, so luckily there were plenty of B&B’s and hotels near by. I had some odd looks when telling people I would be spending my first married night with my new hubby, in a tent, in a field in Kent, surrounded by family and friends! But my new husband and I couldn’t see sense in leaving the party we worked so hard to create! So we carried on celebrating into the night with a huge bonfire by the campside. My brother played guitar as we sang songs into the wee hours. It is a moment I will treasure.

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A Handmade Wedding Dress, Headpiece and Jewellery….

I always knew I would make my dress.  I admired the fact my mum made her dress and all her bridesmaids dresses, so it’s been something I wanted to achieve. After countless hours on the internet and many magazines later, I settled on what I thought would be my style. Just to be sure though, I sampled plenty of styles in the dress shops, I wasn’t going to miss out on that special experience of being the Bride! Little did I realise was just how many different styles of white dress you can get these days. The next couple of months consisted of me changing my mind, buying several dress patterns and playing with different ideas all before making the first cut! Time was ticking away so I had to take the plunge. I think that was the hardest part of making my dress, the fact that you can have everything, all in one dress! Where to stop!? Luckily I narrowed down the ‘must haves’ out of a dress and what would suit the venue then cut the fabric before I could hesitate. I mixed two seventy’s dress patterns together to create the style I wanted, changing the back and straps to be lace. I added a sash with flower detail and hand sewed beading and applique lace to the bodice. It was really satisfying to see the finished garment come together into something I was proud to wear.

In keeping with the handmade theme, I made my headpiece from recycled chains off an old necklace and beads from broken earrings. I wanted a simple band with pearl detail on the side, which I achieved draping two chains across my forehead and linking with pearl drop details.

To go with my headpiece I made myself some pearl drop earrings, very simple in style. My bracelet was a special heirloom lent to me from my Grandma. It was given to her by her Grandmother and has been worn by the brides of my family. I felt privileged to wear it AND it had pearls on it. Win.

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Rustic Farmer meets East End Gentleman….

Jon was nearly as fussy as I was with his outfit. His vision was very particular. Imagine rustic farmer meets East end gentleman. Jon managed to find his dream suit – then saw the price, we headed back to the high street. Eventually he put together a mismatched herringbone suit complete with braces, blue printed chambray shirt and a matching blue bowtie. He wore his grandfather’s pocket watch with a charcoal waistcoat and his special concorde pin, given to him by his father.

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Recycled Shirting Fabrics, Old Books and A Capri Tent….

Our venue was so naturally beautiful we didn’t have much decorating to do! I made 100m of bunting out of recycled shirting fabrics in our theme colours. I will not be doing that again in a hurry. But it looked great, very village fete. We collected jars and old books for a year. We acquired a kitch lounge suite for our makeshift photobooth and stuck it outside for a natural backdrop on the grass. We created blackboards from recycled wood and made signs to direct our guests. The barn is normally used for storing hay so we needed to provide furniture. We chose a most wonderful company called Virginia’s Vintage Hire who provided an amazing service as well as beautiful vintage style furniture that suited our venue so well. We highly recommend this company. As more summer thunderstorms threatened we hired a capri tent to have as additional cover next to the barn, this came in handy for setting up all the food and storage overnight.

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Freshly Picked Wildflowers….

We wanted to create a freshly picked wildflower look to the venue, so that’s just what we did! We used Hitchin Lavender Farm and Blooming Green Flowers as our flower suppliers. At Hitchin Lavender farm for £4 you get to roam the rows of a huge lavender field, whilst picking your own bunches. This was an amazing experience to do before the wedding with my mum and maid of honour. Mind the bees! We also used the PYO (pick your own!) service at Blooming Green Flowers, where they provide you with a bucket for £50 and let you loose into their field of flowers where you get to pick til your hearts content! Or bucket is full, whatever comes first. We ended up with more flowers than we new what to do with.

For my bouquets I wanted to put them together myself and chose dried flowers from Winterflora. This was a brilliant idea and gave a real rustic look to the bouquets, and we all enjoyed the flower arranging experience, laying out the different types of lavender, grasses and barley on my kitchen table. We also created the gentlemen’s buttonholes from these, tied with lace and twine. Hayfever anyone?

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Jon’s talented sister Laura made our cake for us. We weren’t very forthcoming in our ideas of what we wanted but somehow she managed to get some images out of us and came out with the most impressive cake! We went for a naked cake, dressed with fresh cream and fruit and topped with the Bride and Groom of the Sylvanian family rabbits! I love Sylvanian families. Also perfect for the woods.

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Skinny Love and A DJ….

My talented brother agreed to play guitar and sing for us during the ceremony. He entertained the guests with his harmonica and sweet singing skills. I walked down the isle to ‘Skinny Love’ by Bon Iver, not a dry eye in sight. We exited to ‘All I want is you’ by Barry Louis Polisar. Amazing!

We asked a friend to DJ for the night. I’m really pleased we did this, we gave him an endless list of songs we thought wedding appropriate and he was able to judge the mood of the room and groove accordingly.

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Favourite Moment of the Day….

The whole day was perfect and we loved it all, though I would say my favourite part was walking with my dad down the aisle. It was such a special moment and I felt so happy.

For Jon, I think he enjoyed everything much more after the speeches were over! He loved the Bonfire we shared with our guests, singing around the fire into the small hours.

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Any Advice for Couples Planning Their Wedding Day….

Do it your way! The whole day is about celebrating you two, so stamp your personality all over it.

The Line Up

Photographer: Hannah Mia Photography
Venue: The Paper Mill
Bride’s Dress: Handmade by Bride
Bride’s Shoes: Amazon
Bride’s Headpiece and Jewellery: Handmade by Bride
Groom: Suit: River Island; Shirt – Topman
Flowers: Hitchin Lavender Farm & Blooming Green
Bouquets: Winterflora
Caterers: Australian BBQ Caterers 
Furniture: Virginia’s Vintage Hire 
Toilets: Four Jays

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