Happy Monday lovely People
I hope you all had a chance to throw a snow ball or two over the weekend!
When you are engrossed in the wedding industry everyday, it’s quite rare to still find a wedding where all aspects, from start to finish, inspire you. Tina and Paul’s wedding has done just that which is why I have been so looking forward to sharing their story with you all today.
Everything about their wedding I love! From the entrance ‘Juhurstbury’ sign leading to the brilliantly executed strip search area, to the ‘sponsored’ festival goodie bags filled with practical and fun gifts. Their ideas of bringing the festival experience to life for their guests are insightful and I’ve certainly made a few notes whilst putting this post together!
If you’re a victim of train cancellations today and are stuck at a station then grab yourself a coffee, tighten your scarf and gloves, pull down your woolly hat and read through this beauty of a festival wedding………..it will make you forget the cold for at least 10 minutes or so!
A Festival of Our Own….
It was July 2011 when we came up with the idea of a festival wedding. Sitting on a bench, drinking mulled cider at the Kendal Calling Festival, I looked at Paul and said, ‘imagine something like this for our wedding’. After much chat, and a few more ciders, we really started to get the wheels in motion as to what a festival wedding could be.
Whilst we’ve never been to a wedding we didn’t enjoy, we also weren’t excited about the prospect of round tables, pink bows and a local DJ. We really wanted our wedding to be something magnificent, memorable and which truly represented who we were as individuals, but mutually brought us both together. As lovers of Glastonbury, with me being a Judic and Paul being a Fairhurst, Juhurstbury was born.
We looked at many venues, many barns, but all either seemed very conveyor-belt like (in by 8am, decorations down by midnight) or we couldn’t camp – and festivals are all about camping. We eventually found a great spot in Wise Wedding Venue – a fantastic woodland spot in Tonbridge where the owner, Sam, just happens to be a great carpenter and lighting technician. The woodland, coupled with two tree houses, lights throughout, swing sofas, a pond and a marquee simply shouted ‘Juhurstbury’ at us.
Generating ideas for the day simply flowed. Through a spreadsheet, we managed to ensure that both our ideas were being listened to, noted and acted upon. We tried our best to include every possible idea we could.
Arriving at Juhurstbury
We wanted people to feel like they were at a festival right from the start, from our website to the dress code – strictly no traditional wedding garb, festival chic and tweed all the way, to our ‘entry tickets’ invitations and the signs placed en route to the festival. Upon arrival, the guests entered the festival site under a “Welcome to Juhurstbury 2012” sign created by Paul’s Dad, and were greeted with a festival wristband and a festival branded bag full of goodies including sweets, glow sticks, suntan lotion and a bin bag (to wear, sit on or fill up!). Once they headed into the main festival site, they were greeted by a live band, Chicken Shed Zeppelin, made up of a double bass, guitar, fiddle and banjo, and a refreshing glass of Pimms.
As we had held a small civil ceremony in Brighton, it was great traveling to the ceremony with my dad and the bridesmaids in a gorgeous 1970’s campervan, driven by the uber-cool Craig, whilst seeing people checking in to “Juhurstbury” on Facebook and sharing pictures of themselves at the event!
Hoping and praying for the sun to shine (it did) we set up an area for our wedding ceremony in the woods, complete with lampshades hanging from the trees, a rug, side units and flowers. Not keen to opt for too much tradition, we both walked down the aisle – Paul with his mum to the Rolling Stones’ Little Red Rooster and me with my dad and bridesmaids to the Pet Shop Boys’ Suburbia. We had asked two dear friends of ours, Marc and Andy, to ‘marry’ us in a woodland clearing – a magical moment for both of us when, for the first time, we saw all of our friends and family gathered around and had the fun moment when the guests were all asked to declare “we do!”.
It was imperative, at this stage, that the photos required did not take up too much time in our day and Heather Shuker was absolutely fantastic – her creative approach, coupled with her ability to simply capture the moment in short, sharp snaps, ensured that our photos did not leave us feeling like we were away from the party for too long.
Bringing Juhurstbury to Life…..
The site provided a great building block for entertainment variety and festival-type endeavours. Inherent to the site, guests enjoyed a fire pit, clever lighting throughout the woodland and across the pond, full size sofa swings hanging in the woods plus a tree house giving views across the site. We had our talented guests bring their guitars for a sing-a-long by the camp fire, joined at times by the Americana band.
We added to the site with hay bales, more deckchairs on the ‘village green’ and over by the camp site we brought in a fish and chip trailer serving complimentary food.
The next morning we’d organised for a local café to deliver coffees and bacon butties to feed the hung-over masses as they mucked in with the clear up operation.
Entering the marquee was probably one of the highlights of the day. As fans of Proms in the Park, and with the jubilee being on everyone’s mind, we gave everybody union flags and, upon a bugle being sounded, we were introduced as Mr and Mrs Fairhurst and entered the marquee to Land of Hope and Glory, with everyone waving their flags.
The marquee was huge and a real blank canvas to allow our ideas to come to life. We were keen to ensure there was lots’ going on for people to enjoy, look at and take part in.
We kicked off with a 70’s-style living room, an idea that came off the back of a marquee I saw at a recent festival, however it was Helen Ruff who brought it to life and created a living room beyond my dreams. From the fake fruit to the typewriter in the corner, the living room became a focal point for relaxing, playing games and eating fish and chips. We also managed to pay a little homage to family and friends who were no longer with us by putting up old photos on the sideboard.
We created a beach at the side of the dance floor, as a nod to our Brighton home, complete with ‘sand’, buckets & spades, deckchairs and beach balls.
Meeting people who can truly understand what you are trying to achieve is so important and we found that person in Helen Ruff. Specialising in creative weddings, Helen had an eye for idea (“let’s hang loads of lampshades from the trees in the woodland for the ceremony”), an ability to simply nail the table layout (trestle tables, wooden chairs with beautiful, mismatching china crockery, old fashioned glasses and wild flowers) and to provide the source for fabulous service (the Doily girls were fantastic) and food (through Jam Queen, we had a variety of canapés, hog roast and a delightful Pimms jelly).
My brother is a huge whisky fan so when he offered to run a little whisky tasting stand for us, we couldn’t refuse. David took himself off to Scotland to source a great variety of local whiskies, whilst we worked on creating the space including a chesterfield-style rocking chair, sideboard, 1950’s radio and many tasting glasses (all sourced from car boot sales and Gumtree). Kicking off at 7pm, the whisky tasting was supposed to last an hour but so many guests were enthralled by it that it went on for several hours.
We had a bar serving free drinks, including scrumpy and local sourced ales. Two of our guests manned the bar when the contracted staff came to the end of their shifts and had a whale of a time bossing everyone about! To enhance the stage for recorded music, we built a DJ booth out of MDF and covered it with old LP sleeves.
We hung a multitude of bunting, much of it homemade, around the marquee, along with large blown up images of our favourite photos of ourselves. In the corner we created a very British tea and cake stand, complete with china plates, mismatching cake stands and gingham cloth. A friend of ours made all of our cakes, including our wedding cake (a campervan en route to Juhurstbury with myself and Paul hanging out of the windows).
A festival wouldn’t be the same without great music, and live music in particularly. We opted for two live bands – Chicken Shed Zeppelin and Mix Tape. Chicken Shed played two stints for us, both outside. First, they played as guests arrived and were welcomed to the fabulous Americana sounds of a fiddle, double bass, guitar and banjo as they drank Pimms.
We really invested a lot of time into the music, knowing what we liked but also what everyone else would also very much enjoy. Kicking off the music onstage was the First Dance. This led to a full on disco set for the next half hour.
Next up was Mix Tape who hit the stage at 9pm with a whole host of Indie and rock favourites – ensuring no one left the dance floor. With inflatable microphones and guitars many certainly felt like they were a rock star that evening – culminating in the band passing microphone out for us all to be the star of their final song.
As fans of the Beatles and Rolling Stones respectively, we then opted for a ‘Beatles v Stones off’, alternating each song from the bands – with everyone standing by their band and shouting louder whenever ‘their band’ came on. Later on we opted for ‘Indie Heaven’, dedicating an hour to many of the great Indie songs from the 90’s and beyond – with songs ranging from The Smiths to the Vaccines.
The evening in the marquee came to a close with Silent Disco. Working to a simple, but brilliantly fun, concept we had my brother and friend create a playlist each. Anyone who had a headset could then switch between playlists and dance to their songs they most fancied, whether it be something cool like Hot Chip or flicking over to some YMCA. The Silent Disco was a massive hit – with people desperate to get their hands on a headset (we thought 40 would be enough!). It certainly saw the mass party come to an end in brilliant fashion.
Favourite Moment of the Day……
There are so many happy memories from the day, from walking down the aisle as the sun broke through the clouds to entering the marquee as Mr and Mrs Fairhurst to a bugle, flag-waving and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ playing out over the speaker. We felt a little royal, just for a day.
Advice for Couples Planning Their Wedding Day……
- Spend time working on the concept of your wedding. As soon as you have belief in the concept you want to run with, the ideas will simply start flowing.
- Work with like-minded people. We were so lucky to have Heather and Helen working with us to create our day. Both offered a uniqueness and creativity that we couldn’t have been without.
- Be inclusive. We had our guests and suppliers truly bought into delivering the concept. We tried not to separate suppliers from guests in how we involved people. One of the bands partied with us all night, camped over and helped clean up in the morning.
- Create a spreadsheet. I’m lucky in that I love spreadsheets but it was imperative for us to manage a list that included absolute actions through to hopeful desires – all mapped to cost. This ensured we totally kept on track with everything we needed or wanted to do, within a timescale that ensured limited stress.
- Neighbours, car boot sales, charity shops, eBay and Gumtree are fantastic. We had so much fun sourcing props for our wedding and the things we didn’t want afterwards, we sold on.
- Don’t feel like you need to comply with ‘wedding tradition’. Your wedding is about you and your partner celebrating each other’s love for each other – do it the way you want to do it and don’t feel obliged to follow a more traditional route. Our guests and suppliers had so much fun at our wedding yet several were wary of it initially!
Big shout out to Tina and Paul for sharing their wedding with us today – you are a couple after my own heart – and to Heather for taking such awesome photos!
We will be posting Tina and Paul’s first dance in Independent Love Song this afternoon so don’t be a stranger!Big Love Festival Brides xx