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Sara and Tim wanted their wedding to be fun, easy going and fairly informal so what better way than to encapsulate all of these things by putting on their very own festival wedding with all the trimmings….

I’ve always shunned formality, it doesn’t come naturally to me – I find it all a bit intimidating – and we’re both extremely social, so I guess our festival wedding came from there. I love all the thought and decoration that goes into festivals, particularly ones like Rob da Bank’s Bestival, and was extremely inspired by him and his wife Josie’s efforts.

Held on the 20th August 2016 at their stunning home in Chichester (if ever there was a location more perfect for a festival wedding then their home is it. It has a gorgeous lake, plenty of land, camping paddocks and even a chalet pub! Amazing) their wedding was everything a festival wedding should be. There was good food, plenty of entertainment, festival flags, colourful decor, handmade signs, a cocktail bar, bunting, paper lanterns and festival wristbands. They came up with clever ideas such as hangover kits for favours, a basket of flip-flops for sore feet and little bottles of Jagermeister for each guest as a nod to Tim’s love of skiing and all things Alpine. They also had the most AMAZING Burrito Bus come and serve the evening food and an Alternative Choir to get the party strted that just sound brilliant. Oh and did I mentioned that Sara is wearing Grace Loves Lace?

Get your pens poised people as this is a wedding that I am sure many of you are going to be inspired by and you are most certainly going to want to make a note of Sara’s awesome advice at the end of the feature. Here’s a little snippet for you:

Just make sure your day is what the pair of you want. People will try to enforce their ideas, tell you you’re doing it wrong or how to do it better. Tell them to bugger off. In a nice way of course!

Sara and Tim talk us through their perfect day….

Bruges, St Bonifacius Bridge and One Knee….

It’s not the most romantic story I’m afraid. It could have been, but wasn’t! I adore Christmas, so in December 2014 Tim took me to Bruges. On our first night there we got fully stuck in to the Belgian beer (deadly!) and I woke up with the WORST hangover of my life. I was so poorly. Tim was desperate to get out and ‘sightsee’, particularly the St Bonifacius bridge. Now, with him not being much of a bridge fan, I think if I was in my right-mind I may have seen it coming! As it was, I didn’t. I was just contemplating being a little unwell over the side of the bridge (we’ve all been there, don’t judge me!) when Tim said my name in the voice usually reserved for when I’m in trouble. I spun round and then he then got down on one knee, at the top of the beautiful bridge, and asked me. I said ‘alright then!’ I soon got over my hangover. Distraction is key! Lots of tourists, who had been being discrete, suddenly came over to congratulate us. It was awesome. We then went for hot chocolates and burgers.

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Grace Loves Lace and Purple Glitter Pumps….

My dress was The Loriel by Grace Loves Lace. I saw it on their website before I’d seen any dresses over here in the flesh. I fell in love with it and nothing compared. In the end I sent my measurements and ordered it blind. The first time I saw it was when it arrived, beautifully packaged, all the way from Australia. I wore a fresh flower crown, made by Sarah of Driftwood Flowers with the dress. It had lavender in it, which I got whiffs of all day long. My bridesmaids also had matching crowns and the mini maids had little flower wands.

I wore custom purple glitter pumps with matching ribbons as my shoes, made by Etsy company, Princess Pumps in America.

Tim wore a tweed waistcoat from Potters of Buxton, which matched all of his many groomsmen. He also wore a tweed jacket over the top, which was lent to him by friend and groomsman, Mikey. He wore them with cream chinos, a white shirt and brown shoes.

Tim and all the groomsmen, including our dads Peter and Neale, wore Gordon family dress tartan ties. As both of our families have Scottish heritage, my dad researched to see whether our clans ever went to battle! (Fortunately not!)

My adult bridesmaids wore marching dresses by Maids to Measure. They wore a Frosted Fig colour Regent dress. They had matching flower crowns to me and wore pointed toe lace-up shoes. We all wore backless Maiden Forms stick-on bras. An absolutely bloody Godsend with a bit of extra ‘fashion tape’ for security!

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Dewy Natural Make-Up and Loose Waves….

Charlotte Gardner of Polka Dot, based in Chichester, did all our hair and make-up. We had our hair down and styled in loose waves. My make up was very natural with a dewy base (Mac Face and Body, Makeup Forever HD and Shu Uemura powder), blush and a soft brown cats eye. It was ace and lasted all day after she set us with Urban Decay make up setting spray.

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Our Home, A Chalet Pub and Camping in The Paddocks….

Our reception venue was our garden at our home Ryefield Park, in Oakwood, Chichester. We knew when we moved in we’d love to celebrate at home. We’ve not been there long and the family that had it before put in some incredible features like the little chalet pub and the pond. We opened the paddocks up for people to camp in and hooked up a water supply for them. Everyone came and went from the house too, it was fun chaos! They came for meals and showers, it was very much an open house. We had a few campervans and lots of tents. Some family stayed the whole week and have asked to come back!

The morning after the wedding, we had rented a tea urn and bought all the bacon in Sussex to give people bacon sandwiches and a brew to help them get over all the cocktails!

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Five Cakes And Party Bags….

All five cakes were made by our family. My sister Fiona made an unbelievable chocolate cake, a Victoria Sponge and a lemon drizzle, my mum made a coffee and walnut, and Tim’s mum made a traditional fruit cake. A family friend made some exquisite wildflowers out of icing to decorate them. It was like the best WI stall ever.

I bought coloured paper party bags and pink napkins to invite people to take some home as we had enough cake for 400 people. I woke up the morning after the wedding with a massive bag of it next to me.

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Every Little Thing She Does is Magic….

The outdoor ceremony was held at Goodwood Cricket Club’s thatched pavilion — the ceremony was held under a white stretch tent. My Dad and I arrived in his old restored MG Midget. Tim arrived in an Audi R8. The music was performed by Steel Strum, a duo (Alex and Simon) who we found busking in Chichester North Street. They played guitar and a steel drum and played lots of cover tunes, including Supergrass’ Alright, Bruno Mars’ Marry You and Sia’s Titanium. They performed The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does is Magic as the bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle.

We decorated the ceremony area with ropes of flowers at the alter and urns of flowers in the aisle. All were provided by Sarah Newman of Driftwood Flowers in Lavant. We had jugs (painted by my mum, Barbie) and filled by Tim’s mum, Janet and family and friends, dotted along the aisle.

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An Italian Feast from A Michelin Star Chef….

My friend and chef Robert Thompson of Thompson’s Restaurant on the Isle of Wight did all our food for us. It was incredible. He was the youngest chef to get a Michelin star and now runs his own phenomenal restaurant in Newport. A very handy friend to have! We wanted a huge Italian feast, all served in big bowls so everyone could help themselves. It was all inspired by my best friend (and bridesmaid) Francesca’s Italian mum Angelina. She made the most incredible meals that would last for hours. Fran and her family sadly lost Angelina to cancer earlier this year. It made it all the more poignant.

For our evening food we had a double-decker burrito bus, provided by Southsea-based Al Burrito. Epic. Drunk people really benefited from the filling Mexican food!

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Colourful Decor, DIY Favours, Handmade Pillows and Pot Plants….

We decorated the tipi with colourful paper lanterns, lots of homemade signs, colourful rain macs, hangover kits, boxes of truffles, homemade brightly-coloured pillows on the rattan furniture, tiki lanterns, millions of colourful candles, homemade bunting, festival flags and best of all, both of our mums grew pots and pots of flowers and plants to decorate the whole place. It was glorious. My mum Barbie also made two scarecrows, which looked A LOT like us! They still live in the garden. The pond was surrounded by strings of lights and colour-changing lights on the water’s edge and in the trees. It was really beautiful when the sun went down.

We also rented a big and gaudy, but great fun, MR & MRS sign from Lizard Audio. It could be seen for miles and really brought it together.

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An Alternative Choir, A 12 Piece Band and A Disco….

For our music I put on a playlist I made during drinks and speeches and dinner. During pudding, the Southsea Alternative Choir got everyone up and dancing in the afternoon. They were awesome and had me and Tim up on stage at the end to sing Hey Jude with them!

Following the choir, we had the 12-piece Blue Lion Band who kicked off by playing our first dance for us live. We had Touch Me by The Doors. They then played some excellent covers.

I then put on another playlist I made, which started with a 90’s dance music revival. Watching my mum and dad dance to Rhythm is a Dancer was immense. The dance floor was full from the moment the choir started to the moment the last revellers gave in to the alcohol, at about 3am.

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Favourite Moment….

I think the immediate moment after we said our vows. It was sunny, the wedding band Steel Strum kicked off with their guitar and steel drum, everyone was smiling and Tim had tears in his eyes. All I could see was sunshine, flowers and smiling faces.

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Any Advice?

Don’t do too much in any one go. It will quickly become a miserable, stressful, weight on your shoulders if you’re not careful. We planned everything ourselves and just did one small bit a day, and some days we just didn’t think about it at all. I had friends who said they were constantly doing ‘wedmin’ when they were planning theirs, and I couldn’t bear the idea of being dominated by it like that. It is a wonderful occasion, and should feel like that all the way through. Also, take some time to make some bits yourself if you’re so inclined. It connects you very personally to your day, and also dolloping paint onto things, while sitting in the garden, listening to Test Match Special, was so chilled.

Shortly after the wedding, my mum told me she had been diagnosed with cancer. She hadn’t told me while we were planning the day. She said it had been the most wonderful distraction for her and she had the best day ever. It added a whole new poignancy to the day. She’s undergoing treatment now, and is doing brilliantly. She’s the bravest woman I know.

The Line Up

Photography: Joe Burford
Ceremony Venue: Goodwood Cricket Ground
Reception Venue: Bride & Groom’s Home
Wedding Tipis & External Lighting: Katah Events
Bride’s Dress: Loriel from Grace Loves Lace
Bride’s Shoes: Princess Pumps via Etsy
Hair and Make up: Charlotte Gardner of Polka Dot Hair and Make Up
Groomsmen Waistcoats: Potters of Buxton
Bridesmaid Dresses: Maids to Measure
Catering: Thompson’s
Toilets: A First Class Flush
Light-Up MR & MRS: Lizard Audio
Flowers: Driftwood Flowers
Festival Wristbands: Wedfest
Ceremony Band: Steel Strum
Choir: The Southsea Alternative Choir
Evening Band: The Blue Lion Band
Wooden & Rattan Furniture: City Furniture Hire
Evening Catering: Al Burrito
Flags: Event Flag Hire

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