When it came to planning their beautiful wedding, Stephanie and Steve knew that they wanted to have an unpretentious and laid back day that was good fun, relaxing for their guests and a true reflection on their personalities and the things they love to do. Held at the beautiful Hadsham Farm in Oxfordshire on the 25th July 2015, they put on a rustic Glastonbury inspired festival wedding that captured the laid back vibe they were hoping for with awesome entertainment, great food and excellent music for everyone involved. Of course there was a Tipi or two and a camping field for all of their guests. They also kept their day personal by including lots of DIY elements (look out for the Kids Tent sign which was finger painted by their 2 year old daughter), a ceremony arch using home grown flowers, a wooden sign table plan and a Handmade Sylvanian Family Wedding Cake made by one of the bridesmaids!
Captured brilliantly by Emma Stoner Weddings, Stephanie and Steve share their secrets to planning an awesome handmade festival wedding…..
Santorini, Flowers, Candles and One Knee….
Neither of us had ever been in any hurry to get married and had spent years agreeing that it probably wasn’t for us, but things changed when our daughter Amber came along in 2012 and started to talk about wanting to all share the same name and do things properly at last. Last summer we went island hopping in Greece and Steve popped the question on the beautiful island of Santorini. It was perfect and private and typically Steve complete with flowers and candles that he’d stolen on our way home from a beautiful sunset rooftop dinner. It was quite a brave move considering a few days earlier I’d told him that if he ever got round to asking I’d probably say no just to keep him on his toes, so it was a genuine and amazing surprise and of course I said yes!
A Lace Dress with Flowers in Her Hair….
My dress was an Ellis Bridal ivory lace gown with sleeves that sat off the shoulder. I LOVE the beautiful detail and the material is just gorgeous. I had fresh flowers in my hair which my lovely hairdresser from Fairytale Days had done beautifully and was somehow still in perfect condition the morning after!
I had an idea what I wanted from my dress, but no idea whether it would be right when I tried it on. After four shops and too many sparkly, satin and A-line dresses to count I felt more confident than ever that what was in my mind would be right I just needed to find it. When I saw the Ellis bridal gown it was exactly what I was looking for and I loved it instantly when I tried it on! I had all the under layers removed so it fell straighter which I felt was more flattering for me.
A Venue That Ticked All The Boxes….
We knew we needed to find a laid back venue where we were free to plan exactly what we wanted and use any suppliers we chose and where people could camp over afterwards and of course we wanted somewhere beautiful to hold our ceremony and accommodate the all-important tipis. Hadsham Farm ticked all those boxes. It was only the second venue we visited and I think we knew on our way down the alluring driveway that this was the one. We had a number of other viewings booked and we trudged along to two or three more before just cancelling the rest! The setting at Hadsham Farm is so beautiful with the wedding site overlooking the lake and surrounding countryside but somehow it feels enclosed and personal.
A Laid-Back Vision with a Festival Vibe….
From the very start we shared a vision of how we wanted our wedding to be. We knew we wanted it to be a laid-back, fun and unpretentious affair, which reflected us and the things we enjoy doing. We knew we wanted to get married outside and for it to have a mix of natural and rustic decor and a music festival feel and we straightaway knew we needed tipis! And of course, we knew we wanted a good party! Our awesome DJ Ryan did not disappoint and the lighting looked brilliant in the tipis at night and the dance floor was overflowing all night!
DIY Decor, Home Grown Flowers and Finger Painting….
We were determined to make the day as personal as possible by making as much as possible ourselves and were so lucky to be surrounded by such a skillful bunch of family and friends who helped us make this a reality. From the beautiful personalised wood slice candle holder, place names and homemade fudge favours to bunting, table cloths and napkins, to the beautiful wooden cake stand signposts and rustic bar. All the plants decorating the ceremony and the wedding arch were grown by family and the jam jar flowers were arranged ourselves. Even our two year old daughter Amber finger painted the colourful sign for the kids tent!
A Personal Ceremony with Beautiful Readings….
Our ceremony was conducted by an independent celebrant, Fiona, who was amazing! She was so tolerant of our poor organisation skills and the fact we only gave her half the information she needed at 9pm the night before. We had so many lovely comments about how personal and enjoyable the ceremony was and I think we felt relaxed as we’d been able to have a practice a few days before at our legal ceremony – so relaxed that I managed to put Steve’s ring on the wrong finger. We had one reading which was a personalised version of Edward Monkton’s ‘a lovely love story’ by two of our bridesmaids and the second was our friend Ben who had put some thoughts together about love in its different guises. Both readings were so beautiful and heartwarming and we had left it as a surprise for us to hear them and both managed to reduce me to tears! Our processional music was Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros, we had Elbow’s ‘One day like this’ for the register signing and finally ‘Do your Thing’ by Basement Jaxx to exit. We chose them all as they were bands we had seen together over the years and all hold such good memories for us.
A Homemade Wooden Cake Stand, Amazing Cakes and The Sylvanian Family….
Our cakes were AMAZING!!! We had originally asked Hannah, the brides sister to make our wedding cakes as she makes really good cakes. We had given her the briefing that we wanted chocolate one, a coffee one and a lemon one and they were to be displayed on a wooden cake stand that the father of the groom built. The gorgeous fruit cake with my childhood favourite sylvanian in personalised outfits was a complete surprise on the day. They all looked fantastic and tasted delicious and it was even more incredible considering Hannah had given birth 5 days before and baked and decorated them all whilst looking after a very tiny baby!
Games, Fun Decor, BYO Alcohol and Body Art….
We tried to make the day as fun as possible for everyone attending so we included lots of games, activities and food for the children and adults too. We had outdoor ball games, bubbles and a kids bouncy castle to marshmallows and sparklers round the fire in the tipi. We had collected glass jars that we filled with snacks such as pretzels, nuts and popcorn and we bought all our own drinks so that everyone felt able to indulge. We had put lots of thought into the decor with lanterns, bunting, homegrown herb planters and scattered dried flowers. In the evening we hired the incredible Mayfly Body Art to come and do face painting. She was supposed to be there for 3 hours but ended up staying for 5 and a half as It was so popular with young and old alike, with the designs getting bolder and more random as the evening went on.
Beautiful Photos from A Glastonbury Festival Approved Photographer….
Emma was great. Her photos are beautiful and completely capture the feel of the day. We spent weeks researching photographers before we came across Emma and are so happy with our decision. Of course it helped knowing she was asked to photograph Glastonbury festival, one of our favourite places, so we knew we had found someone likeminded. I think the photos speak for themselves.
We loved every part of the day and have been reminiscing ever since. I think just seeing all our favourite people together in one place, all smiling and having fun, tops everything else. The amount of love we felt was so overwhelming on the day and the time, energy and effort from so many of the guests to bring it all together on the day is still so mind-blowing. Considering it had been raining all week and a months worth of rain had fallen the day before the wedding whilst we were trying to set up, the sun coming out whilst I walked down the aisle, was also just bliss.
Having only ever organised one wedding, which was somehow cobbled together through a mix of good intention, luck and very skilful and generous friends and family, I’m not sure we’re we’re qualified in giving too much advice to others, however, stay true to yourselves and make your day personal to you and of course don’t forget to enjoy the party! Oh and maybe set a budget and stick to it, it’s kind of important!
The Line Up
Photography: Emma Stoner Weddings
Venue: Hadsham Farm http://www.hadshamfarm.co.uk
Bride’s Dress: Elllis Bridals from Confetti Bridal
Bride’s Hair: Fairy Tale Days
Celebrant: Fiona Braclik http://www.henleyceremonies.co.uk/Welcome.html
Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy from Daverays Watford
Face Painting: Mayfly Body Art http://www.facebook.com/mayflybodyart
Catering: First Choice Caterers
Flowers: Castel Flowers
Tipis: Tipi Events
DJ: Ryan Dale