Charlotte Balbier

pompoms & pineapples. la sposa for a festival themed wedding at natural retreats – michelle & james

June 12th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (33)

Regular readers of the blog will know that Brides Up North fully endorse festival weddings, so much so that we now dedicate several of our wedding fairs to this style of celebration with our epic WEDFEST tour that travelled the north of the country in May.

Fresh on the other side of those uber cool events, we were thrilled to receive the wonderful big day of Michelle and James who demonstrate how it’s done with their fun and fabulous big day in the Yorkshire Dales.

To achieve the colourful and carefree vibe for their festival style wedding, Michelle, James and an army of friends and family descended on their chosen venue with streamers, pompoms and plant chandeliers, transforming its blank canvas into something pretty awesome!

Cue a big, brave, DIY-flavour wedding with bold flamingo and pineapple motifs, tattoos and glitter, a gin bar and mezze-style food.

All of this styled out against the rolling hills of the Dales, plus a timeless La Sposa dress. We spoil you, we really do…

With images by Masha Unwerth

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (21)

michelle says: We got engaged at home 20th April 2016. James bought a huge bunch of tulips, my favourite flower, and left a trail of petals through the house leading to more tulips spread around the living room. I found him down on one knee with a lovely sapphire engagement ring.

We had two weddings (I know, greedy) – the first was a legal ceremony on the 20th of April, exactly one year to the day we got engaged. This was a smaller affair with a registrar and just our immediate family.

Our second wedding on the 22nd of April with 120 of our nearest and dearest friends and family. It was conducted by two of our closest friends, who wrote the ceremony without our assistance, so there were a couple of surprises!

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (38)

We got hitched at Natural Retreats in the Yorkshire Dales, and had both our ceremony and reception there. It’s a beautiful site with accommodation for nearly 100 guests. We were able to have a whole weekend of parties and got to spend quality time with everyone instead of feeling rushed. The venue was a blank canvas which we transformed with a small army of volunteers who hung, draped and stuck – they basically built an amazing wedding for us!

We chose a few very loose themes: gin, pineapples and flamingos. We also chose to create three rooms, each with a distinct ‘feel’.

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (45)

The main ceremony/dance space and bar were as colourful and fun as we could make them with a bit of a festival vibe. We added a photo booth, a glitter and tattoo station and built our own bars from pallets which looked fantastic. James’ friend Pencil Girl created our wedding stationery and we had the design printed into temporary tattoos.

In the dining room we wanted a very clean and classy look with lots of plants instead of flowers. We created our own hanging foliage ‘chandeliers’, built and planted the table centrepieces ourselves and each table was assigned a gin bottle instead of table numbers.

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (26)

I chose a La Sposa wedding dress from a boutique in Manchester. I decided it was the one for me because of the beautiful detail in the bodice and the plain but flowing skirt and train. The A-line cut suited my shape and I loved wearing it all day!

James did a lot of research into what he wanted to wear and chose to have a suit made by Beggars Run in East London, which he absolutely loved. He accessorised with Ted Baker shoes and socks, a vintage pocket watch (a gift from me) and Tatty Devine cufflinks.

The chief bridesmaid, my best friend Laura, chose a dress from Coast. It had a navy blue top with a turquoise skirt and floral detailing. The dress wasn’t a traditional bridesmaid’s dress but it went perfectly with the relaxed feel of the day. We also had two flower girls who both wore ivory dresses with a navy waist band from Etsy.

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