Afternoon Lovely People,

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

We have a very special wedding to share with your eyes today.

Rachel and Cooper got in touch with Festival Brides in 2014 when they were searching for a woodland venue for their wedding. At the time we were managing the beautiful Paper Mill in Kent and I personally showed them around the venue which they then booked a day later. I was absolutely delighted when Natasha Hurley, their wonderful photographer, got back in touch 2 years later to share the pictures from their beautiful wedding which took place on 23rd May 2015. It’s awesome to see what a fabulous day they had and to see them both so happy.

With a beautiful delicate backless lace dress from Minna, gorgeous Grecian style bridesmaid dresses from Topshop, DIY Decor, Welly Wanging and food inspired by Brixton market, Rachel and Coopers wedding was a relaxed day of good music, great food and fabulous people all having their own private party in the woods.

Look out for Rachel’s description of their genius idea of holding a raffle instead of favours – I would have been hoping for the gig tickets!

Rachel talks us through their fabulous day….

Ashdown Forest, Electric Fences and 2 Knees…..

We got engaged just down the road from the wedding venue in the Ashdown forest. It was a normal Saturday afternoon, wellie boots and woolly jumpers, romantic conversations about weeing on electric fences and a 2 knee proposal by a stream in the woods. It was perfect. Which is why getting married in the woods tied everything together.

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We  found the Papermill in Hawkhurst through Festival Brides and went to visit on a rainy January day and it was our first and last venue viewing as we knew it was the one. Our main criteria for a venue was that guests wouldn’t have to travel from the ceremony to the reception and could also camp to keep the party going. It was massive bonus that we could also get legally married on site in the actual woods!


The reception was up in the old barn, on the grass in front and eventually up the path to the Bonfire. About half our guests Camped over which was awesome.

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Printed Camping Mugs….

Stationary was designed by Coops Sister and Illustrator Pro. We used the same theme for invites, Order of service, Table Plans and also got it printed up on enamel blue and white camping mugs for the crew that made it for bacon sandwiches and coffee in the morning.
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Pheobe, Kitten Heels and Hunters Wellies….

My dress was the Pheobe Dress By Minna – a scandanavian design company with a small studio in the attics of an old church in Brixton. I originally thought I would have a short cut below the knee dress to go with the in the woods vibe but when I found this beautiful lace trained dress it was perfect, and I luckily didn’t get any mud on it all day. I wore Mint Green Peep Toe Kitten Heels from Office (+Hunters Wellies) and a Veil which was my something borrowed/old as my mum wore it on her wedding day. For jewellery I wore a pearl bracelet given to me by my sister on the morning of the wedding.

Coop, the groomsmen and the Dads all wore Blue suits from ASOS. His shoes were tan suede desert boot type shoes from Office  and all the boys also wore leather braces and different colour bow ties we had randomly picked up.

The bridesmaids wore Blue Grecian dresses with shots of silver thread running through, by Oh My Love for Topshop. We swapped out the silver belts that came with them for leather ones so they tied in a bit with the guys braces. Another highlight was that by the end of the night everyone was in warm leather jackets, Chunky Cardigans and comfy Trainers to keep out the cold and maximise the dancing potential.
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Woodland Flowers and Herbs…

We wanted the flowers to look like we had bent down and scooped them up from in the woods themselves. There were mixtures of wax flowers, cornflowers and hedge roses in the bouquets and on the tables. While the boys had button holes made from herbs.
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The ceremony took place in the woods at the Papermill in Hawkhurst, Kent. We were super happy to find a venue where we could get married outside, and when we tried out the sound system it was incredible, with the speakers hidden all around in the trees.

We chose Intro by The XX for my dad, the bridesmaids and I to walk down to. It was fun trying to walk down the slope and we had some good practices the day before trying to do it in under 2 minutes before the song finished.

We chose to have 2 readings: The first was by My Brothers and Sister and was an extract from Winnie the Pooh all about adventure and friendship and we chose it because we got engaged in the Ashdown forest near the 100 Acre Wood – the ears they wore were a surprise addition!

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said. “So why do you suppose we are such good friends, Piglet?” he asked as they walked down the road together.

“Because we have been on such great adventures together?” asked Piglet

“Yes, and they were all very frightening but wonderful adventures to say the least, but it’s more than that I think,” Pooh said very seriously, as if in deep thought.

“Well, maybe it’s because we look at the world together and agree about what we see.” said Piglet.

“That is true but we don’t see eye to eye on everything,” said Pooh. “You often think my pursuit and love of honey gets out of hand at times while I think it can never be enough.” Pooh smiled and patted his nice round belly absently as he said this.

“Hmmm…you have a point Pooh, there are times in your dreaming and your wonderings where I have come close to my wits end with you,” Piglet bemoaned to himself as he kicked a small pebble out of Pooh’s path as they walked.

“Yet still we are friends, in all these hundred acre woods we found each other and continue on,” Pooh mused to himself as he walked the road with Piglet.

“Why do you ask anyway Pooh?” Piglet turned to Pooh looking worried.

“Oh just a butterfly of a thought in my brain I get sometimes when I realize how lucky I am.” Pooh said smiling again.

“Oh.” Piglet said and smiled with him as they continued their walk down the road.

A A milne

Our second reading by Coopers friend Georgie was the lyrics from Passenger Seat by Death Cab For Cutie – about long roadtrips through different countries together.

Death cab “Passenger Seat”

I roll the window down
And then begin to breathe in
The darkest country road
And the strong scent of evergreen
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

Then looking upwards
I strain my eyes and try
To tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

“do they collide?”
I ask and you smile.
With my feet on the dash

The world doesn’t matter.

We walked back up through the Hay bales where all the guests were sat and the petals were flying to Bro’s by Wolf Alice, the lyrics are perfect and it got the party started for the rest of the day – we saw them a month later at Latitude festival and they were ace.

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Amish Rave and Home from Home Decor…..

Amish Rave was coopers original vision for the day but in the end we just wanted a day where everyone was super relaxed with good music, good food, and a party until the early hours under the stars around the bonfire with all our best friends and family.

We bascially moved out of our house for the weekend and put it all in a field! Blankets on haybales, old mirrors, metres and metres of bunting, festoon lights (that nearly ended in an A&E trip), Antlers, DJ decks on the piano, old science books and even a foxes head with a party hat on!
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Welly Wanging, Raffle and Good Music….

After the ceremony we had cakes, sausage rolls, beers and cocktails with a few rounds of viking chess and welly wanging, before the speeches. Instead of favours after the speeches we had a raffle which was good fun giving away gig tickets and charity shop grandad jumpers for people to keep warm in later in the night.

The music was a really important part for us because we knew that as soon as it started we would be dancing the whole time and would keep it going until the early hours around the bonfire. We got Coops brothers mate Al who can DJ to set up some decks on top of the old piano in the barn, and had given him a few definate songs we knew we wanted playing to mix in with similar stuff. We were going for a dance hall vibe with loads of remixes and the odd bit of grime and garage and house thrown in for good measure.
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An Awesome Feast….

We love Grabbing Brunch or a pre Night out Meal from Brixton Market, and French and Grace is one of the Best! We already had their cookbook and knew their food was awesome, Rosie helped us sort out a menu that would work for the venue and we knew there would be something for everyone. The awesome feast included butterbean and rosemary hummus (with spiced lamb); Caramelised fennel, feta and mint; Pork belly & sumac; Labneh with garlic and mint oil; Za’atar flatbreads served with pickles, tahini & harissa on the tables; shredded lamb, mint yoghurt, radish & cucumber tabbouleh and falafel, tabbouleh, tahini yoghurt.
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Favourite Moment….

Its hard to choose one stand out moment as it was all amazing. From peppermint tea and marmalade in the morning with my mum and bridesmaids to standing in the woods and looking down at all our guests from the top after we had walked up the steps, to dancing under the stars and hanging out with everyone in the sun the morning after. It was so good to see how happy and chilled everyone was all day.
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Any Advice….

Having a complete DIY wedding means the day is perfect but definitely takes up a lot of your time. Make sure you enlist lots of help which everyone is more that happy to do so always take the offer.

The Line Up

Venue: The Paper Mill
Photographer: Natasha Hurley
Bride’s Dress: Minna
Bride’s Shoes: Wellies – Hunter; Kitten Heels – Office
Groom: Suit – ASOS; Shoes – Office
Bridesmaid Dresses: Oh My Love for Topshop
Catering: French and Grace 
Tables and Chairs: The Old Wood Table Company
Flowers: Highgate Florist
Bell Tents: The Brighton Bell Tent Company


Wedding beauty on its way!

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