Afternoon Gorgeous Peeps, hope you all had a great weekend.
Today’s real wedding is such a great example of how you have to embrace the great British weather if it turns on you on your wedding day. We all know that the weather in Blighty is unpredictable and it is just something you can’t control. Despite having visions of a lovely sunny day with all of their guests chilling outside the gorgeous Barmbyfield Barns, the venue for their wedding, it rained on Ellen and Alex’s day. In fact it didn’t just rain – it poured! Rather than having their mood dampened by the uninvited rain drops, Ellen and Alex embraced it. They grabbed an umbrella, headed outside and still manage to capture some awesome couple shots with a full face of smiles.
Ellen and Alex’s ELfestivAL was a mishmash of all of Ellen’s loves rolled into one which luckily for her, Alex was happy to indulge. Music festivals was their main inspiration but they also incorporated a bit of Mexico through the food and colours and paid homage to Ellen’s Celtic roots with Ceilidh themed bands.
Ellen shares with us how it all came about and all of the fabulous suppliers that helped make it happen.
Get your pen ready peeps as you are about to be introduced to the red carpet of Festival Wedding Suppliers.
An Advent Calendar, A Reindeer and One Knee….
We had gone to Scotland to visit my grandma for Christmas and whilst travelling back on Christmas Eve, Alex began acting quite strange saying he had to rush back home to collect something. He’d also put together an advent calendar which I had to open a draw for each day but with us being away, I’d not had chance to open the Xmas Eve one. I did wonder whether there might be a ring in the draw after whatever he’d collected just because of the way he was behaving but sadly there wasn’t and then he said he felt really ill so I figured I’d read the signs completely wrong! On Christmas Day morning, we had to get up really early to go and tend to my horse before family lunch so I was feeling tired and a bit grumpy that I’d got the previous day wrong. He asked if I’d like to open one present before we set off and brought me out of my sulk by making me laugh with a silly reindeer toy.
I then turned round and he’d brought out my real present…..which was my engagement ring. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember what he said because I sat there in a bit of shock and suddenly felt very grown up!!!
When Alex proposed, my girlfriends took me out to celebrate and I was discussing how I’d love to have a festival themed wedding. One of them came back to an idea we’d had for my 30th that I never managed to pull off. At the time it was to be called festivEL in homage to my name, my love of music and all things festival. Pointing out to her that it wasn’t all about me this time, she then came up with the genius name ELfestivAL! I put the idea to Alex and we both commented that it sounded a bit Mexican/Latino sounding. We absolutely love Mexican food (hence the catering) but we were worried if we went down that route too much, having unfortunately never been to Mexico, it would be confusing to guests. We therefore just used the darker colour spectrum that Mexican and Latin festivals often favour, to form the basis of the reception.
Hair & Make-Up By A Friend….
I am very lucky to call Catherine Elizabeth a friend. (We used to have ponies together as little kids). She is one of the best in the wedding industry but as a friend she kindly did my hair and make up as a wedding present.
My bridesmaid is also a trained make up artist so I asked her to take care of herself and my maid of honour who both looked equally fabulous on the day.
A Bespoke Dress, Gold Accessories & A Sapphire Ring….
Pinterest is a dangerous thing for getting carried away and I’d seen a dress on there that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It originated from Australia and it was possible to get it shipped but the costs were definitely out of our budget. At the time I was looking, I couldn’t see any other sites that seemed to offer a similar look and for some reason I got it in my head if I walked into a bridal shop, I’d get put in a meringue and be too polite to tell them I didn’t like it so I asked fellow industry suppliers about reputable wedding dress makers and over 10 independent replies all recommended Legend Bridal Design. When I met them, I showed them my inspiration but they gave it some tweaks to make it individual and then over several fittings, they brought it to life.
As soon as I saw Charlotte Mills shoes, there was no contest. I am slightly obsessed with sparkly things and metallic so another strong theme for the day was gold. I therefore went with her peep toe Gold heart heels.
I had buttons all the way down the back of my dress so my hairdresser said my hair needed to go up to show that off. He also said no long veil so I looked into headpieces. To match the gold touch on the shoes, again I took inspiration from something I’d seen (this time on Etsy) and I asked the amazing HF Couture to create something similar – it had gold coloured brass feathers attached to a headband and then gold veiling to go over my face for the day and to be removed later on.
Other than my engagement ring, I only wore one other piece of jewellery, which was a ring my grandma gave me to wear which had been her mothers. It had sapphires in so it was my ‘something blue’. Sadly due to my grandma’s age, she was not able to travel to the wedding so it felt lovely to be able give a nod to her as well at the wedding.
Family Tartan, A Brick Barn & Do’s and Don’ts….
We chose to use a celebrant who I’d met through my event work to marry us at Barmbyfield Barns. We were blown away by her experience so whilst couples can legally get married at the venue, we chose to keep the legal part a bit of a secret and popped down to the registry office a few days before to keep the 21st as our main day – this is the day we will celebrate going forward.
I was very keen to give a nod to my Celtic heritage with the ceremony so a friend of ours who is a professional bagpiper, piped me down the aisle to ‘Take the Highroad’. This was a bit of a joke as the TV series was filmed in Luss, Loch Lomand where my late grandparents lived. We asked anyone also with Celtic heritage to be brave and wear a Kilt – It was a must for my dad’s side of the family (much to my dad’s dread, having to wear ‘fancy dress’ as he called it). My family tartan is the Macleod, which is predominately green and blue, and with blue being both Alex’s favourite colour, and mine we used it as the main colour for the wedding.
The ceremony barn takes care of itself in beauty; it is a brick barn filled with fairy lights and large pillar candles in every nook and cranny so we just asked our florist to add some sympathetic touches which she did using blue organza ribbons tied to shepherds crooks to hold some wild flowers in place which she placed sporadically down the aisle as well as some old shutters at the front of the aisle decorated with flowers just to hide the heating vent in the barn!
Jan the celebrant, worked her magic writing a beautiful script based on conversations she’d had with us, but Alex’s parents really stole the show in the ceremony. Jan suggested that they give us both a piece of ‘old fashioned’ advice based on the books of ‘Don’ts for Husbands’ and ‘Don’ts for Wives’ and then a piece of modern advice based on the fact they’d been happily married themselves for 43 years. We didn’t know until the day, but they’d not shared the advice they’d both picked from the books or shown each other what they’d each written to us. It was absolutely fantastic and everyone was crying with laughter. We also had brilliant readings from Alex’s sister and a good friend of mine.
Last but not least, we had a very special reading by my maid of honour’s children who did a rendition (complete with picture story board) of the ‘Lovely Dinosaur’ by Edward Monkton.
We exited to the bagpipes again but this time our friend had written us our very own tune ELfestivAL which was our festival name.
Festival Wedding Decor with a Mexican Twist….
You can’t have a festival without camper vans and vintage vehicles so as well as arriving in a VW camper called Stanley, outside we had a French Citroen H van called Hector who served our welcome and reception drinks and then teas and coffees throughout the day. We also had a camper van as a photo booth for guests.
The idea for our decor was to make the barns look a bit like a big top tent without ruining its natural beauty so we used the aforementioned Mexican colours when selecting a variety of lantern sizes to hang from the barn beams.
We used the same colours when buying crepe paper streamers, which we used to completely cover two white breezeblock walls to make it look like the tents walls. We bought a huge roll of AstroTurf to look as close to real grass as we could get it and we made a huge runner for people to kick off their heels and dance the Ceilidh down it. Our other big piece (and our second surprise to actually see on the day) was some huge illuminated lights which had the pun ‘till death do us party’ spelt out and changed colour on rotation.
Bringing the gold accents back in, I chose some material that had it in the thread and my mum painstakingly stitched it all into shape to make 6ft round table cloths for 10 tables. The tables were then decorated with big Sombrero centrepieces and each guest had an individually grown succulent (from our garden) potted into hand sprayed gold pots with their names made onto wooden planters which acted as their favour as well as their table placing. We provided little take away boxes on the tables for them to be put in to take home and guests also got a little musical instrument on top of their menus so they could make a lot of noise at speech time.
We invited a lot of kids to the wedding as most of our friends now have them and I’ve seen how hard it is for guests to arrange childcare when attending events. For the children, we created little suitcases which had sticker books, activity packs, bubbles, bouncy balls and colouring in pens. We created a tent for presents to be put in and wellies for the cards. My maid of honour is brilliant at coming up with puns and tag lines so she thought of ‘thanks for pitching in’ to be hung above the tent.
In the barns there are two blackboards for writing whatever couples fancy. We’d already had ‘order’s of the day’ printed so we chose to have a quote from one our ceremony readings on one of the boards and ‘Welcome to ELfestivAL’ on the entrance one.
Finally, we wanted to do a take away party bag for everyone so as well as guests plants and musical instruments, we hand made hangover kits for all adults which had a chocolate bar, a stick of chewing gum, a tea bag, coffee sachet, a plaster and a strip of painkillers in. A slice of cake also got added to each bag.
A Festival Inspired Wedding Cake…..
One of the very first events I worked was to assist at a vintage fair. There was a trader exhibiting her cake modelling and I was in awe of her talent. I would always talk about her work to Alex and showed him pictures all the time on social media so as soon as cake came into the conversation we knew it had to be her to make it. We talked her through our theme and certain styling details we’d be including on the day but really gave her free rein to design what she wanted. When we saw the mock up sketch we were both so excited about how it would pan out.
It was one of the only two things at the wedding we didn’t get to see prior to the big day so as soon as the ceremony was over, we sneaked into the reception room so we could see it before anyone else!
Two Bands and A Ceilidh….
Having a festival wedding, music was one of the most important factors to us and where we focused a lot of the budget. After our friend piped our ceremony, him and his wife performed as a Celtic acoustic duo whilst guest had reception drinks and canapés.
After our wedding breakfast we had another band who reformed for the night for us; two of them are also friends of ours. They do amazing covers of country, Americana and rock and roll songs and a lot of our friends love them as we used to go and watch them all the time growing up.
We then picked a Yorkshire Ceilidh band to go back to that nod to heritage again. We wanted to put them on a bit later as Ceilidh’s can be a bit marmite so we thought a few drinks might encourage people to get up but we needn’t have worried as the dance floor was packed!
I was desperate for a sunny day to relax for hours outside but sadly that wasn’t meant to be and we had torrential rain for most of it. It meant we had to let guests into the reception area earlier than I’d intended and due to all the kids it meant, they were diving into their table packs and creating chaos. It wasn’t how I’d envisaged it but once I let go of that ideal, it was so lovely to see them all playing together and having so much fun which is really what we wanted guests to say our day was about. On reflection our ceremony was also so special to us due to its individuality and uniqueness.
Listen to all the clichéd advice that people give you and of course hire a wedding planner! They may be clichés but they are actually also true. Before getting married, as a planner I could only recount what I’d heard from others but I ignored it all and was a total hypocrite when it came to my own. This also ties in with the planning. Of course I’d say this but even if you want to do all the pre-work yourself, you will not enjoy your day as much if you work it. I wish I’d done more of the relaxing because (as people have told me) it really does go so, so fast!!
Lastly, where possible, take advantage of your close friends and wedding party’s skills as they are all there to make sure your day is amazing. As well as the things I’ve already mentioned, our usher hand made the big ELfestivAL sign we had outside and there were so many little touches that people helped us with that added up to make the day what it was. In addition, most people have cottoned onto Pinterest but it really is such a great tool for inspiration and the fact you can keep the boards a secret means you can plan as many parts as you want without certain people finding out. We had a main secret board so we didn’t spoil any surprises for guests that may follow us on the site and then my bridesmaids and me also had one with all the details I wanted to keep a secret from Alex such as my dress inspiration. Etsy is also an amazing site for getting more unique details. We used it a LOT and it’s where I found things such as the hand made wooden name places, our personalised order of the day, our personalised confetti bags, and our crazy confetti itself, which was called Unicorn Poop!!
The Line Up
Photographers: Todd and Moore
Venue: Barmbyfield Barns
Celebrant: Jan Shillito at Celebration, Ceremonies and Weddings
Brides Dress: Legend Bridal Designs
Brides Headpiece: HF Couture
Brides Shoes: Charlotte Mills
Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS
Bridesmaid Shoes: Topshop
Hair and Make up: Catherine Elizabeth
Cake: No more Tiers
Flowers: Fleur Adamo
Bagpiping and Celtic Acoustic: Camhanach
Yorkshire Ceilidh Band: Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Caterers: Hog and Apple
Transport: Love Dubs Campers
Photo Booth: Sweet Rides Camper Hire
Drinks Van: Kirks of Kilburn
Lanterns: Hanging Lantern Company