Effortlessly cool, vibrantly retro and bursting with festival fun, today’s real wedding is brought to you by Maria and Ricky. Captured by the slick, creative duo Zoe and Liam from ZT Photography, this Glastonbury Festival style wedding took place in a countryside working farm’s cow shed which transformed into an authentically unique and bright wedding venue. Set-up just like the real thing, ‘Dansonbury’ exudes the originality of our beloved Glasto. With ultra cool vibes, a classy touch of rock and roll and a bride with a very clear vision, this wedding has rocked Festival Brides HQ this morning! Our only wish is that we’d been invited to join the party………

I wanted it to feel like a festival with lots of music, dancing and laughter for all our friends and family – this is exactly what our wedding was! We created our own little festival, in a perfect venue in a country park so it really did feel tucked away from it all with a gorgeous back drop. I wanted a bright, bold, colourful wedding filled with love, music, laughter and lots of tomfoolery just like our visits to Glastonbury!

A treasure hunt with my beautiful ring and new fiancé as the prize!

Ricky was never one for big romantic gestures. We’ve been together for 8 years and due to circumstances with our apartment we were always delaying the wedding until we could sell our house. I didn’t want to be an old bride so I started looking into costs and we decided we could do it. So that was it, we were getting married! Being part of a large group of friends where most have been married for a while, I didn’t want to send out save the dates and spoil the surprise. Once we had decided on the venue and the date (which was 6 months away) that was it. We told my mum who was super excited but frustrated that she had to keep quiet, my Bridesmaids, Best Men and of course John who was designing the invites. After that no one else would know until a wedding invitation popped though their door a few weeks later!

Ricky still wanted to propose and he had a few weeks to come up with his plan. I had little faith but, after coming home on a wet and cold Friday evening, the house was in darkness, candles were lit and there was a huge bunch of flowers on the table with an envelope containing my instructions. It was a treasure hunt and my fiancé was the prize! It began at an old apartment I lived in where we first hooked up, then moved on to the Apollo where we went on our first date to watch the Babyshambles and then to our old place of work where we met. After a stumble in the dark around the quays, there he was waiting at the place we used to sit and eat our lunch together……ready with my beautiful ring. After a little speech (very little speech!), he asked me to be his wife, to which I of course said yes!

rock and roll ceremony…….

The ceremony was held at Sir A Brumwell Thomas Suite at Stockport Town Hall and I entered to ‘She’s a rainbow’ by the Rolling Stones. We signed the register to a string quartet versions of ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton, ‘Here Comes Your Man’ by The Pixies and exited to ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys.

We both chose a reading each, which neither of us knew about and these were read by our sisters. I chose Bob Marley’s ‘He’s Not Perfect’ which really sums up our relationship perfectly and Ricky chose ‘Marriage is Madness’. Again……. we both have a sense of humour!

We also asked 4 girlfriends to come up with a reading of their own which could be anything as long as it didn’t contain any religious content. They began with ‘I wanna be Yours’ by John Cooper Clarke, which I actually read at my sisters wedding. It was then followed by a truly unique reading, which consisted of different song versions of ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’……with Rickkkaaaay (Eastenders style!). It was hilarious and everyone was creased up but the saddest part was that when we watched the video back, it hadn’t recorded!

Vintage red minis made the dream wedding car convoy….

My first car was a mini and I still love the! It was the only car I would’ve wanted to take me to the wedding but after looking on line for various companies they all seemed very expensive and again it was a large chunk of budget I couldn’t justify spending. I then thought it would be worth getting in touch with some of the local mini clubs to see if anyone would be willing to help us out. We attended the classic car show at Tatton Park and met Janet Ritson from the Northwest Mini Club. I approached her and asked whether they could provide a car for our wedding. A few emails were exchanged and it was agreed that she could get us two minis. On the day we ended up with three as one gentlemen came along for the ride, so our convoy was three little red minis. Jan had even gone to the trouble of getting us a mini bottle of champagne and glasses for after the ceremony which was such a kind gesture – they had all done this out of kindness and it was one of the best things about the day!

Transformed from a working cow’s shed to a stunning festival wedding barn!

We held the reception at White Bottom Farm in Etherow Country Park which is the home of the Blackthorn Music Festival. The barn is a working farm’s cow shed which transforms in a beautiful wedding space. A friend of a friend had been to a wedding there the year before, so we found a phone number on the internet (as they don’t advertise that they do weddings) and one drizzly day in January we went up to the farm and met Karl & Jan the owners. The cows were still in the sheds at this point so it took some imagination to get an idea of how it could look once transformed!

Handmade bunting, painted flower jars and Glastonbury

We decided to call our festival ‘Dansonbury’. My friend Caroline MyCock helped me with my wooden signs and lettering which we placed in the barn. With the help of my mother-in-law we created 5 huge dream catchers using hula hoops which looked ace. There were hundreds of meters of bunting which my mum had lovingly sewn together. I bought bright fabrics to use on the centre of the tables and everything was brightly coloured.  We painted hundreds of jars for the flowers which people had been collecting for me for months prior. I used a lady called Rachel at Blooming Designs for the flowers. She was lovely, talked me through all the options and we discussed my budget. As it was such a huge venue and I worked next to a garden centre we had decided to use bedding plants for the tables, so Rachel just made the button holes and bouquets which kept the cost down quite a bit. I wanted wild festival bright blooms and she did an amazing job – they really were gorgeous and lasted weeks after. I bought crochet blankets from Ebay which we put over the sofas and the furniture was from a lovely lady called Jill at Aureum Events. We had the chiavari chairs and round tables which were all delivered with no problems. It was a big barn to fill so we had lots of day guests and then further people at the night. I had some old crates and ladders which we placed photographs on and had a prop box for people to dress up with. I had signs up like the Glastonbury ones for people to follow from the village to the venue and I even created a facebook events page with pictures and videos and general information. I posted regularly just to add excitement to the big day!

Preloved watters gown and converse with bling!

I had a good idea of what I wanted my dress to look like, I went to a wedding fair with my mum and mother-in- law and tried on a couple of styles. I liked the Watters dresses but they don’t come cheap and I was also told in a matter of fact manner by several dress shops that I wouldn’t have enough time to get one….so I started looking online at second hand dresses as I didn’t have the budget to buy new. I found a dress on ebay which was described as perfect, however once I’d received the dress it wasn’t meant to be and luckily the lady selling was fine with refunding me. I was then in a panic so I joined Preloved and a lady was selling a dress in Wilmslow which had never been worn as she’d changed her mind. It was a Watters dress and an absolute bargain – probably one of my greatest savings. My mum’s friend’s daughter was a dress maker for the Royal Exchange and had previously altered wedding dresses so I popped along to meet her. She was fab and checked over the dress, measured me up and got to work. She did such an amazing job! All the fine lace detail wasn’t lost even though the dress was being made a size smaller. She even put in some extra loops ready for the evening do as I knew the tulle would get in the way and be dragged around on the barn floor.

I bought a pair of irregular choice shoes off the net as I didn’t want the usual satin shoes – they’re all a bit too plain for my liking and I knew that I’d soon be out of them and into something more comfortable especially for dancing purposes! I bought some pearly girl shoes in blue with some floral and gold detail, and it turned out that they were pretty comfy, although they did get bumped for some snide converse with bling detail during the night.

Natural waves, pretty plaits and an eternity bracelet…… simple

I didn’t have a veil or headpiece. To be honest it was all a bit too much and I wanted to look natural so my hair was left down with curls and some small flowers which matched my bouquet were weaved into the plaits. My hair was by Lauren Blackwell, a local hairdresser from Dukinfield – having a festival barn wedding I really didn’t want my hair to look over done. It took a while to make decisions as I found myself becoming more and more indecisive with more of the wedding planning. Pinterest is great but also the devil as too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing! Lauren was patient and we got there in the end – she also did two gorgeous up-dos for the bridesmaids. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

I wasn’t fussed for jewellery, I don’t tend to wear it at all anymore so I simply wore a bracelet that Ricky had given me the Christmas before – an eternity bracelet by Thomas Sabo and that was all.

The Groom’s outfit was a tough decision as we had a small budget so thought about hiring but the suits he tried on were not a flattering a cut so we quickly decided to buy a Ted Baker suit. Yes it was expensive but he will wear it again and already has. It was a good decision as he looked gorgeous. It was teamed up with a paisley pretty green shirt and his shoes were also from Ted Baker.

’99 problems but a pitch ain’t one’…

We arranged bell tents through Anji at Tipi and Bell Tent Hire. They looked fab in a huge circle down the hill and some people also brought their own tents. I wanted as many people as possible to stay over just so that when we woke up we could have a laugh about the day and share our hangovers together. It worked out well as Meathead came prepared with a BBQ and cooked us all bacon butties – whilst people appeared from their tents still fully clothed from the night before. It was great for starting the clean up as well!

Great wedding bake off, Cornish cream teas, hog roast and a helping hand from Morrisons!

We began with cream teas as we spent the first four years of our relationship on holidays to Cornwall so it seemed fitting. I sourced these from Morrison’s as they were reasonably priced, freshly baked and dam tasty, and family members spent the task of putting jam and cream into individual pots.

We also decided to do a selection of charcuterie boards for the evening. Again I met with a catering lady at our local Morisson’s who helped me organise exactly what sort of amount we would need including various cuts of meat and olives etc. I also did a shop at Costco and the bridesmaids pretty much sorted all of this the day before the wedding. We were able to stick everything in chillers at the venue. Jan and Karl then brought all the food out at the evening which was a great help as I didn’t want it to become a family members responsibility.

I also organised a great wedding bake off, with prizes and categories for the various deserts. It was a bit of fun and a lot of friends got involved which helped save on the cost of a pudding.

For the main meal we looked at a few choices such as a converted VW fish and chip van, wood fired pizzas and hog bbq caterers. We love BBQs and we always said our wedding would have bbq food. so against better judgement we went with a hog roast. Everything seemed very reasonably priced and straightforward but sadly we had problems firming up the menu choices as the wedding got closer. In the end I washed my hands of them and had to leave Ricky to deal with it as everything else I was arranging was becoming too stressful. We finally had everything confirmed with exactly what food we wanted and various numbers. When we arrived at our wedding venue, after the initial hoorah of catching up with our guests, we noticed no caterers were here so Ricky then had to start calling them, they said they had got lost and eventually they turned up at around 5pm, when they should’ve been there for 3pm. This meant that everything was then pushed back, a delay on the food, the acts that sang and again it was better to just try and forget what a sham it was. Some of the food was cold, there were things we hadn’t ordered, it was a mess and I even made reference to the terrible service and food in my pre bake off speech – at least we could laugh about it! I was utterly disappointed, so I would advise people to really do their research when it comes to choosing caterers.

Move over Glastonbury…..Dansonbury is where it’s at!

We wanted our wedding to feel like a festival as we are both big music lovers and have been to many festivals and gigs together. My sister had an amazing singer called John Reynolds who performed lots of songs at her wedding – he even did some after hours singing so I tracked him down and asked him whether he could help – he was AMAZING and from the first time we spoke I felt like I’d known him forever. We discussed our budget and it wasn’t realistic to have a band as it would be too expensive, so we chatted about having artists playing. He gave me several names of people he knew and what they would cost, so it was just a case of choosing who we liked, looking through their playlist and choosing what tracks we wanted. John would have the last slot and he was mega -so happy that I found him! We had Shane Robertson and Danny Clarke who sang some great indie tracks. Amy Lovae who sang and played her saxophone which was epic and then John did a set before Nick Campbell took over on the decks.  We gave him a good idea of what we wanted and it was fab, everyone was dancing till the death.

Our first dance song, which I do love, is ‘Baby I Love Your Way’ by Peter Frampton which then kicked into the legendary David Bowie’s ‘Lets Dance’ – it was an excellent first dance, and there’s some epic pictures captured of it by Zo and Liam.

Favourite moment

There’s so many moments…..breaking into a fit of laughter with my beautiful bridesmaids and mum before we entered the ceremony room…. the fabulous readings which made us laugh….saying our vows in front of all our family and friends…having a private moment just the two of us, the journey in our mini convoy! Seeing all the hard work come together, the first dance, the speeches, seeing everyone enjoying themselves, the music, all of it! I would love to do it all again! I also loved the invites going out as a surprise and getting messages and phone calls hearing everyone’s excitement. It was fab and brilliant way to announce it.

Any advice?

Stick to your budget. It’s so easy to go over and there’s always things which crop up and surprise you. They’ll always be people who don’t turn up or mess you around last minute so try not to let it bother you….you’ve got enough on your plate! Take time to take it all in and get all the pictures you want.

If there are things you can do yourself or get friends to do then do it – any way to save on one area means you can spend it in another. Enjoy yourselves and stick to your guns. It’s your day and nobody else’s!

The line up:

Photography: ZT Photography
Ceremony Venue: White Bottom Farm in Etherow Country Park
Bride’s Dress: Watters
Groom’s Suit: Ted Baker 
Stationary and printing: Moving Moments
Furniture: Aureum Events
Cars: North Manchester Classic Mini Club



Wedding beauty on its way!

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