162-Portrairts- Will & Sarah

My goodness do we have a wedding to share with you today!

Shot beautifully by Alex Robertson Photography at the beautiful Kingston Estate in Devon, Sarah and Will’s Festival Wedding Extravaganza has completely blown me away and you are about to find out why.

Set over 3 days, their wedding started on the Thursday afternoon where guests were greeted with bunting, festoon lighting and Chinese lanterns to hang around the venue followed by a delicious Goan curry and an evening of catching up, beer and a mini zoo! Friday was Pirates Day where everyone enjoyed a bit of fancy dress, Pirate themed games, a canoe ride and picnic. Saturday was the main event and started with Bridal Yoga and Highland Games in the morning, a beautiful outdoor ceremony in a walled garden in the afternoon and an evening of Ceilidh dancing! They even managed to squeeze in a ‘Speakeasy’ style after party in what used to be Kingston Houses’ cellar which went into the early hours of Sunday morning. Wow! What a weekend they must have had and if the pictures are anything to go by, it looked like it was a lot of fun.

A lot of our friends & family had travelled a long way to join us, my bridesmaid from Australia and Will’s bestman from Singapore, and we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. We also had a lot of young children coming, twelve under five, so we knew we needed to have a really family friendly event.

As well as having as much entertainment as possible, Sarah and Will also wanted their wedding weekend to be as much about the serious stuff as it was the fun stuff. It was important to them to get the balance just right so for their outdoor ceremony, they went for a calm approach in a very pretty natural setting. Special care and attention was taken to writing their vows and they had a ring warming during the ceremony where each guest held their rings and took a moment to pause and wish them well.

Personally, I think they achieved the balance beautifully.

Sarah and Will talk us through their fabulous 3 day wedding!

‘I know we agreed not to do this but……..’

Will & I met at a wedding in Edinburgh in 2011, I lived in London and Will was training as a GP in Cornwall. In December 2013, once Will had completed his GP training, I took a sabbatical from the BBC and we went travelling for 5 months. We agreed to not get engaged whilst we were travelling; however, after spending 4 days hiking the Quilatoa loop in Ecuador, Will surprised me with a night in a clifftop spa, I was completely unaware, even when he pulled a bottle of dessert wine from out of his backpack and uttered the words ‘I know we agreed not to do this but….’

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A Mini Zoo, Pirates, Pizza and Lots of Laughs….

Will & I arrived on site with our parents on the Wednesday evening, we spent the evening and next day setting up; building a stage for the ceilidh, rigging shower units, setting tables and managing the constant flurry of suppliers. Our guests arrived from Thursday afternoon onwards, and on arrival were handed bunting, Chinese lanterns and festoon lighting to put up everywhere.  On the Thursday evening we all gathered in the cobbled courtyard for a Goan curry, cold beer and awaited the Mini Zoo – the albino hedgehog and baby meerkats were big hits!

Friday was ‘Pirate Day’. After a pirate themed breakfast, the whole party (Nanny and our family dog included) paddled down the River Dart in Canadian canoes, stopping off for a ‘Pirate Picnic’ on the riverbank. My Dad handcrafted 10 boats for a ‘Pirate Race Game’ and one of our wonderful friends surprised us by building their very own boat for the trip. The weather was a little wet in the morning and being surrounded by our wonderfully enthusiastic soggy pirates still warms my heart.

Friday evening we hired pizza ovens and some family friends organised gooey s’mores. My Dad had put together a Powerpoint of family photos of both of us growing up that also included a lot of our guests and drew lots of laughs.

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Bridal Yoga, Highland Games and A Skiffle Band….

On the wedding morning, we kickstarted the day in an overgrown orchard with ‘Bridal Yoga’; with an age range of 1 to 64 years old. Next up was ‘Highland Games’ that included wheelbarrow, egg & spoon and sack races as well as welly tossing.

I got ready and had a mini-picnic with a gaggle of female friends and family, while Will hosted pre-ceremony prosecco in the walled garden where the wedding ceremony was being held, guests trickled in and our skiffle band played.

After the ceremony, hoping to create a relaxed, afternoon fete like feel, we had garden games set out in the adjacent garden; we had set out a coconut shy, Kubb, giant jenga, mini-golf, darts, strongman hitter and croquet. A VW ice-cream van served ‘Sarah Sundaes’ and ‘William Waffles’.

Afterwards, we had the Wedding Breakfast in a barn, flowed by a ceilidh. Once the ceilidh finished at midnight we moved onto the ‘Sankford Speakeasy’; an afterparty in what was once the cellar of Kingston’s main house.

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A Lynn Ashworth Dress, A Handmade Dress & Alex Monroe….

My dress was ‘Windsor Halls’ by Lynn Ashworth from Boa Boutique. My Mum and Nan came down to London seven months before the wedding and we spent a weekend hunting for a dress and drinking prosecco. I made my veil (with lots of help from my Mum and Will) and bought the material from Walthamstow market and proceeded to cover most of the house in glitter.

On my feet I wore sparkly gold heart heels from Chase and Chloe and for my jewellery I wore gold ‘Lilly of the Valley’ Ear-rings that my Mum wore on her wedding day; gold Alex Monroe bumble bee necklace that my parents bought for my 30th birthday; a garter made by my Mum and my wedding ring which is ‘Chrysanthemum’ by Alex Monroe, it is wildly impractical but I absolutely adore it.

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Long and Loose Hair and A Beard Trim!

From the start I knew I wanted to have a flower crown and to wear my hair long and loose. Jodie was fab and suggested weaving in a braid. On a day-to-day level I’m not brilliant at managing my hair, it’s normally gets stuck in a bun or left to dry by itself, it was such a relief to be able to trust someone else to be in charge.

Will was coincidentally reviewing London barbers in the months before the wedding and had a beard trim at The Ottoman Crew a few days before we went down to Devon.

Claire from the ‘Pop Up Salon’ did the make-up for my Mum, Nan, two bridesmaids and a lick of lipgloss for my flowergirl and even popped over the afternoon beforehand to do our nails. I can’t rave enough about Claire; it was an absolute pleasure to spend my wedding morning in her company.

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Colourful, Wild and Rustic Flowers….

I adore flowers and the utterly fabulous Jan from JW Blooms helped us with everything we needed. Jan has a flower field in Somerset and provides beautiful, fresh country flowers and a wealth of ideas. We loved the idea of colourful, wild and rustic flowers direct from a field. 

I really wanted to wear a flower crown and bought a handful from Topshop and Camden market to show Jan, we popped into the flower field on route down to the wedding, and played with flowers that were in season, which essentially involved me holding up flowers to my head and asking Will ‘does this look ridiculous?’

My bouquet was made up of sea lavender, California poppies, cornflowers, dahlias, jasmine, sweet peas, myrtle, Russian sage, agapanthus and Shirley poppies.

My flower crown was made up of ‘Bergundy Ice’ roses and dahlias.

Will chose Scottish thistles for the buttons holes for groomsmen, bridesmate and our Dad’s

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Kilts, Family Tartan and Tweed Jackets….

Will wore a kilt in his family tartan ‘MacMillan Ancient Hunting’ with a tweed jacket and coordinated cravat. The outfit was commissioned through McCall’s in Aberdeen and handmade wooden dinosaur ‘Tri-Sarah-tops’ cufflinks.

The Groomsmen and Bridesmate wore kilts of their own choosing, with the group’s matching tweed jackets hired separately from Debenhams.

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A Walled Garden in Deepest, Darkest Devon….

We had a civil wedding in a walled garden filled with pear trees in Kingston House in deepest, darkest Devon. Kingston has cottages, several gardens, a central courtyard and a barn. We were also able to hire the adjacent field from a local farmer in order to set up 20 yurts. The lovely Sarah & Jamie who own Kingston Estate were really open to our ideas and bent over backwards to help us.

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Boots Filled with Flowers and A Ring Warming….

Thankfully the sun shone during our ceremony as our backup plan was on the understanding that our friends and family are ace and would ‘just get wet.’ As a tentative backup plan my parents brought a few umbrellas and Will’s brought ponchos…

Welly boots filled with flowers lined the aisle. We decorated the pavilion with urns filled with flowers and covered spaces with ivy and flowers.

Once our guests were sat down we had a ‘ring warming’; our rings were passed around our guests and they were asked to hold them, pause a moment to wish us well, or even just think happy thoughts.

Will’s father, Ted, read ‘For a Wedding’ by Kate Clanchy.  A dear friend of Will’s, Livvy Harrison, read an excerpt from Jerome K. Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat.’

Our mothers were the witnesses.

We wrote our own vows, I swallowed back a few tears and laughed throughout, it was very special.

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You & Me….

We wanted a fun and lively skiffle band for the wedding day and so were chuffed to bits to find ‘Leigh Delamere and his Gordano Skifflers’.  The band played from the pre-ceremony drinks through the afternoon, till we went into the barn for dinner.

As guests arrived, our Groomsmen and my Bridesmate Jamie handed out bubble guns & maracas along with the ceremony programme, so everyone could dance along with the music. My Dad & I walked up the aisle to ‘You & Me’ by ‘Penny and the Quarters’. We chose ‘I’m a Believer’ by The Monkees for everyone to sing during the ceremony and then left to ‘Aux Champs Elysees’ by Joe Dassin.

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Pirate Decor, Kilmetres of Bunting, Street Signs and Lavender….

Pirate day was awash with inflatable parrots, treasure chests, temporary tattoos and skull & cross bones. My Dad built a life-size pirate ship’s wheel along with mini pirate boats.

My Mum and Nan made kilometres of bunting from what felt like the material of my life; bedroom curtain material that I had as a 5 year old, my grandad’s dressing gown, even my dad’s old jeans. There was also tartan bunting for the Highland games & white bunting with our initials for the ceremony.

Will made a streetsign with all the locations and distances that were important to us. He also made a giant ‘Sankford Speakeasy’ sign complete with lights for the afterparty.

Will’s Mum collected lavender and ivy from her garden; we decorated the barn with the ivy and used the lavender in the yurts.

I was born and grew up in Singapore so family friends bought lots of Chinese lanterns.

We gathered photographs of our family’s weddings and displayed these in bright frames. I really enjoyed seeing the styles of wedding dresses throughout the ages.

Otherwise, our décor mostly consisted of big white water jugs filled with colourful flowers.

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A Barn, Rolling Green Hills of Devon and 20 Bells Tents….

Our reception was held in a barn onsite at Kingston Estate. One side of the barn is a wall to ceiling window looking over the rolling green hills of Devon; as the sun set our ceilidh band started up. 

We struggled to find a venue where a large group could stay onsite, with a range of family-friendly accommodation that would also enable us to be married outside. We were lucky that Kingston had just opened up as a wedding venue and Will found them through the power of Google, about a week after their website went live!

Cariad Canvas provided bell tents & a pamper tent (hairdryers, straighteners etc.) which were pitched in the field beside the venue. We decorated the inside of the tents with lavender from Will’s parents’ garden. Outside the tents we had foam heart signs and colourful windmills. Will made a map of the tent ‘streets’ which were named after main streets in cities close to our hearts: London, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Truro.

Goan Curry, Pizza and Homemade Wedding Biscuits….

Cru Events were amazing; really flexible and happy to bring our ideas to life – they even helped us find a babysitter when one cancelled on the day of the wedding.

Cru provided a delicious Goan curry on the Thursday evening, cold breakfasts on Friday and Saturday morning (croissants, pastries, fruit, bananas, and yogurt) and hot breakfast rolls on Sunday morning (egg, bacon, sausage). Cru helped us with a riverside ‘Pirate Picnic’ on the Friday afternoon, even lugging chairs, tables and the entire cutlery to the riverbank. After the wedding ceremony Cru provided canapés after the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. We really liked the idea of sharing platters on the tables, with everyone able to help themselves, fitting in with the relaxed atmosphere we hoped to create and Cru had just the thing we wanted.

We spread the speeches (mine, my Dad, my Bridesmate, Will’s Bestman and Will) throughout the meal, the tables were named after stations between London Paddington and Truro, a nod to the 5 hour trip either one of us completed nearly every weekend during our London – Cornwall dating and our love of the South Coast. After the main course, Will & I stood up to announce ‘All Change’ – our groommen and bridesmate donned Ticket Conductor hats, blew train whistles and handed out ‘train tickets’ to all the guests to their next stop. Will & I then watched to see if the hours we spent table planning would work, and enjoyed 20 minutes of pandemonium as everyone hunted out their next table.

We asked our guests to bring traybakes, and used these for dessert on the Thursday evening, throughout Friday and also for a mid-morning snack before the wedding ceremony – no rumbling tummies during the vows!

Pizza Dragon provided pizza ovens and salads on the Friday evening.

My Mum and Nan baked beautiful wedding biscuits for the wedding evening and Will’s Mum slaved over chutney that we had alongside Cornish cheese in the ‘Sankford Speakeasy’

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Ceilidh, Whisky and Wild Music….

‘License to Ceilidh’ was our amazing ceilidh band. All our friends know how much we love a ceilidh and there was never any doubt as to whether we would have one at the wedding. We had a good mix of people who had grown up with ceilidh and a lot for whom this was their first time; the idea is to imbibe as much whisky as possible and attempt to stay vertical. The beauty of a ceilidh is that everyone can take part, young or old, experienced dancers to beginners and even those with two left feet. We had a caller, who walks you through the dances and aims to rein some level of order through the chaos and wild music.

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Favourite Moment….

My favourite moment was the ceremony; it was very emotional and felt like the heart of the day for me. My second favourite moment was at midnight on the eve of the wedding, scrubbing off our Pirate Day temporary tattoos and debating whether I could get married with a giant octopus on my arm.

Will’s favourite moment was when the music started to accompany me down the aisle; he felt like the whole weekend was really fun but at the moment that the wedding party started walking down he was really truly happy, and able to relax as it all became reality! He also really enjoyed doing his speech as everyone was so amazingly supportive and well hydrated…

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Any Advice….

Confetti bombs are amazing!

We spent the night together before the wedding, both up till 1am in solidarity writing out our speeches, and we also saw each other on the morning of the wedding. I jumped out of bed at about 6:00am to start prepping for breakfast and moving tables in the courtyard & Will dashed off to sort out the barn for the dinner. We caught up with each other again at breakfast & just after ‘Bridal Yoga’ for final touches to the barn. I can’t imagine not seeing Will on the morning of the wedding; logistics-wise, we had a lot of things that could only be done on the day and also we were putting on the wedding together. Everyone is different, if you want to spend the night together then do it, if not then don’t, it’s your day enjoy it as you want!

We ummed and ahhed over whether to get a videographer, but with everything going on and our now no-existent budget, we felt it was too much; so we hired Go Pros for Pirate Day and my brother filmed the ceremony and speeches on his camera.  I’m so thrilled the ceremony and the speeches were captured, the quality is fairly ropey but it was so lovely to be able to relive all this with video as well as still photos – the different dimension to our memories that this added at times was well worth it. Luke did a great job and we were so grateful to him!

The Line Up

Photography: Alex Robertson
Venue: Kingston Estate
Bride’s Dress: Lynn Ashworth
Groom: Kilt & Tweed Jacket – McCalls
Bridesmaid Dresses: Coast
Flower Girl: Dress – Monsoon; Fairy Wings – Etsy
Hair: Jodie Lywood
Make-Up: Pop Up Salon
Catering: Cru Events
Flowers: JW Blooms
Mini Zoo: Animal Lectures
Canadian Canoes: Canoe Adventures
Bell Tents: Cariad Canvas
Skiffle Band: Leigh Delamere and his Gordano Skifflers
Personlised Beer: Honest Brew
Ice Cream VW Van: Vee Double Moo
Ceilidh Band: License to Ceilidh
Favours: Wildflower Favours
Tables, Chairs & Mirrors: The Plank Company
Decor & Props: Prop Factory
Crèche: Gilly’s Helping Hands

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Wedding beauty on its way!