Sian and Stu’s outdoor wedding is full of individuality, meaningful touches, casually cool couture and fun. A bride who carries a textbook bouquet and plans a laboratory style bar for her guests is absolutely my kind of geek.
With images by Chelsea Shoesmith.
Sian says: We got engaged just before Christmas 2012 back where I grew up in Anglesey, and we were married on 23rd August 2014. We were lucky enough to be able to choose the summer bank holiday, with the intention of our families, who would be travelling, to be able to enjoy the long weekend.
We had the wedding ceremony at Heaton House Farm, and the reception in a nearby field owned by Fairborough’s Farm. We love the beautiful scenery in the Peak District and the Staffordshire Dales. We were very keen on having the Tipis for the reception, and centered our search on finding venues with outdoor spaces with great views, which we found in spades in Rushton Spencer. The Tipis were provided by Peak Tipis.
I was keen on keeping the decor and styling quite rustic and natural in order to keep in line with the look and feel of the Tipis. We also wanted to feature a bit of science and chemistry, as both of our careers are chemistry based. It was a fun little juxtaposition with all of the natural elements.
I picked the colour scheme – neutrals with blue accents – to inject a bit more colour into the decor of the Tipi without looking at odds with the the colour of the canvas.
I fell in love with infinity dresses while looking for a bridesmaid dress that would suit all three of my very different bridesmaids. I found Coralie Beatrix on Etsy who also makes bridal infinity dresses and loved the idea of being able to wear the dress in different ways as the day went on, and being able to choose complementing shades for my bridesmaids. My own dress was actually custom made for me by my mum, Linda, which is amazing to have something so personal.
For the boys, we chose Edinburgh Woollen Mill waistcoats, BHS trousers, Burton shirts and stag head lapel pins from River Island. We wanted something more relaxed and casual than the traditional suits, whist still looking put together.
My bouquet was made out of pages of an old chemistry textbook, glued together rather messily by me and my mum in the dead of night a few days before the wedding. I loved being able to make as much as I could for the wedding, but I did superglue my fingers together on several occasions on this particular project!
We met with a few photographers and found Chelsea Shoesmith who has worked at the venue may times before, which gave us a lot of confidence. Of the photographers we met, she had the perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness, and throughout the planning process and the wedding day put us at ease and got the best out of us. She was totally on board and enthusiastic about doing a ‘First Look’ photo shoot too. This allowed Stu and I to see each other just before the ceremony and calm our (his) nerves and get some portrait shots in, leaving us with more time after the ceremony to get the group shots done and get back to the day. I’d recommend this to any couple who aren’t fussed about only seeing each other coming down the aisle for the first time; we aren’t traditional in that sense. I’d recommend Chelsea to anyone, and already have!
Glass jars were collected for me by various people and we decorated them ourselves using various techniques, including authentic Trearddur Bay sand collected by my niece in the summer. I found so many amazing ideas on Pinterest but had to reign myself in and only use a few to keep things looking cohesive! The bunting and cutlery sleeves were made by Stu’s mum Lynn and were some of people’s favourite features (a lot went missing)! We have kept some bunting and plan on putting it up in our first nursery as a little reminder of the day.
The first concrete decision I made about the wedding was that instead of giving our guests favours, I wanted to make a donation to Cancer Research UK. Like all families, we have lost and won battles with cancer and I know that all of our guests would appreciate the gesture.
My sister Rachel’s chocolate orange cake has long been one of my favourites, and asking her to bake our wedding cake was a total no-brainer. We had four layers: chocolate orange, carrot cake, lemon drizzle and vanilla sponge. We also have an amazing log cake board cut and engraved by my uncle. I’m going to have to start baking in order to use it again!
We had a barbecue consisting of lamb, ribs and sausages, salads and breads supplied by Vanilla in All Seasons. I think the best testimony we can give was that one of my friends had to be sent back to the table as he was up for second helpings within minutes before everyone had even been fed! In the end I think there were some people going back for thirds… fourths… fifths…
We supplied the drinks ourselves, with a master plan of having a chemistry lab/bar set up. In the end it wasn’t as grand as we first set out, as it turns out some of the lab glassware was extremely fragile! We also had mini-kegs of beer from Stewart’s donated from our friends Charlotte and Jamie after being a big hit at their own Tipi wedding.
For the ceremony music we had string and instrumental versions of a couple of our favourite songs by Incubus and The Cure. I think there were only a few people who noticed!
We also asked our friends’ band to play, and they ended up doing an acoustic set with a few of their own songs and a few covers that they knew we’d like, then played a carefully selected playlist in the evening. It was tough to put together as there were people with very different music tastes, but I think we managed to pull it off pretty well. We actually shared the wedding playlist with our friends afterwards, too.
During the day we had a few outdoor toys, bubble machines etc for the kids (and big kids) to play with, which they loved.
I would recommend this venue to any couple, especially those who just doesn’t get excited by the ‘standard’ weddings they see, and want to shape their own day.
I realised the time half an hour before I knew we were supposed to finish and pack up, and I was desperate for it not to end; for it to carry on with us all singing and dancing. There were little details that hadn’t gone exactly to plan or that I hadn’t thought of, and I knew that none of them mattered at all because I’d just had so much fun all day with all the people that I love most around me, and I could see how much fun everyone else was having, too.
With the money generously gifted to us by our guests, we went on a last minute all-inclusive holiday to Cyprus, where we both got to put our feet up and plan absolutely nothing after the stress on planning the wedding!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that I’ve been assured that it’s normal to feel like you haven’t spent enough time with each guest – although I certainly tried!
the big picture