It's getting colder here in the Northern Hemisphere, so this week we're celebrating woodsy, outdoor weddings while we can. Get ready for majestic mountains, placid lakes, and gorgeous forests for days.
The Offbeat Bride: Aimee
Her offbeat partner: Jon, IT technician
Date and location of wedding: Private Woodland Garden, Little Blakenham, Suffolk, UK — June 30, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our wedding day needed to fulfil two main criteria: everything about the day had to be as earth-friendly as was practical, and given that cost would always be an issue, we wanted to do as much as possible ourselves. I am a Heathen-Tradition pagan, and so wanted a pagan-influenced handfasting. Jon is nature-focused, but without the leanings towards the ancient beliefs that I hold.
I made my whole wedding outfit, consisting of a green organic peace silk corset in a Victorian style, but with a halter neck, with green and purple ribbons, and a matching fabric Victorian walking skirt. Jon wore a vintage-styled white shirt, and a black and purple waistcoat. Our two daughters wore purple knee-length halter neck dresses, and our two sons wore purple and gold waistcoats, also made by me.
The meadow outside the garden played host to our vintage tea party, with homemade cakes and scones, and our own strawberry jam. There was much Pimm's and lemonade, handmade bunting, and 1950s music. The evening celebration for around one hundred guests took place in our local village hall. There was a hog roast provided by friends of ours who breed their own pigs, a whole poached salmon, and a number of vegetarian quiches and salads, all made by Jon and various family members.
Desserts consisted of a seven-tier pyramid of chocolate-dipped strawberries, a chocolate fountain, and our own wedding cake made up entirely of cheeses. The cheeses were sourced from a local farm with a herd of pedigree Guernsey cows, who make their own cheese on the farm. We had Suffolk Gold, a Suffolk Blue, two whole Suffolk Bries, a small truckle of extra-mature Suffolk Gold, and six herb hearts of Suffolk soft cheese. The cheeses were arranged into a cake styled presentation by Jon, sat on a large slice of oak that he had been sanding and oiling for several months, with assorted fruits and flowers as decoration.
The entertainment for the evening was provided by Jon's bass playing and my singing, along with numerous other musician friends, many of whom we have played in local bands with over the years, and several with whom we still do. A number of singers, guitarists, and drummers took turns at performing, and put on an excellent show. There was time for one more surprise, and that was a 15-minute family-friendly burlesque performance.
Tell us about the ceremony:
The setting for the ceremony was a small grassed amphitheatre within a woodland garden in Suffolk belonging to Lord Blakenham, who was kind enough to give his permission for the use of this gorgeous location. With fifty family and close friends lining the terraces of the hollow above us, we took our places in the centre.
The ceremony was performed by Pete Jennings, a prominent pagan, Anglo-Saxon re-enactor, and published author, along with his partner Sue. It was as much informative to the mainly non-pagan guests as it was a handfasting. We ended with a huge horn of mead being passed around the whole of the spiral, culminating in the spraying of the remainder into the woods as a mark of respect to the ancestors and land spirits.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
We were both married in churches at our previous weddings, this time we did what we wanted.
What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Parts of it were hard work, especially keeping it eco-friendly. Our wish to do as much as possible ourselves certainly brought some stress and strain, but in the end it meant that the day was exactly as we wanted, and at a fraction of the cost of many weddings.
My favorite moment:
Saying our own vows to each other was so meaningful for both of us.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Theresa Peri
- Dress: made by the bride
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!