Bringing their love for the outdoors to life, Lucy and Christopher’s big day back in July is the template for the perfect tipi style wedding, taking place in the mother and father of the bride’s back garden in Yorkshire. Cue plenty of picturesque country backdrops and even a rainbow!
Going for a DIY approach, the couple paired lots of quirky, rustic themed decorations with a pastel palette, not to mention plenty of inspiring, local touches – from the personalised water glasses to beers from their local brewery and platters brimming with Yorkshire goodies.
As well as supporting a host of independent suppliers, including the Flowers from the Farm network, there’s a heartfelt charitable component to their celebrations and even their honeymoon, with different elements of their wedding giving a little something back to the community. Feeling inspired to do the same? Let’s hand the blog to Lucy to tell us more…
With images by Paul Hawkett Photography.
lucy says: We got engaged while we were staying at a cottage on a remote sheep farm near Keswick in the Lake District at the end of October 2017. After a long walk we came back to dry off and whilst I was cooking dinner in my pyjamas, Christopher got down on one knee in front of the log burner and asked me to marry him. We had no phone signal so couldn’t break the news to our friends and family until the next day, which made it even more special!
We got married on 28th July 2018. With me being a teacher, getting married during the summer holidays made sense, and we didn’t want to wait another year to tie the knot.
Despite currently living in Surrey, as I grew up in Yorkshire, the north has a very special place in our hearts and we spend a lot of time visiting family there and generally enjoying being outdoors in the area. We got married in All Hallows, the stunning Anglo-Saxon church in Bardsey, the village where my family lives. This was an intimate and special place for us, and the ceremony was made particularly personal as Alan, the Reverend from the school where I teach, travelled all the way up to conduct the ceremony.
We wanted a relaxed, informal wedding reception and knew straight away that we wanted to hold this in the fields behind my parents’ home, which have picturesque views out across Yorkshire.
Early in our wedding planning we were lucky to stumble across Totem Tipi, who are part of North Yorkshire Council. Not only were they amazingly lovely to work with, and the structures themselves are stunning, but knowing that our money was going to help disadvantaged young people in Yorkshire cemented our decision to have a tipi wedding. This suited our style perfectly and received so many compliments from our guests; not many people get fairy lights and a fire pit at their wedding!
Due to the setting and reflecting our love of the great outdoors more generally, we wanted our wedding to have a relaxed, rustic vibe with really beautiful personal touches. In my spare time, I run a charity in India, and it was important for us to use local suppliers and to give back to the community wherever possible.
We also wanted to create a true Yorkshire welcome for everyone coming up for the wedding! We are both creative and like a challenge so weren’t put off by the difficulties involved in organising a DIY wedding, even though we had no idea what that would involve at the time!
We started off imagining a really rigid colour scheme but in the end went totally the opposite direction by incorporating lots of different pastel colours to reflect the beautiful shades of the flowers and fauna of the Yorkshire countryside. Chris’ favourite colour is purple so we reflected this in the outfits of the ushers and the stationery.
After a nightmare wedding dress shopping trip, I was thrilled when Gill Ford, a dressmaker who is a close personal friend of the family, agreed to design and make a bespoke dress for me. The top priority for the dress was something pretty, simple, and which I could laugh, dance and eat in! Gill embraced this vision, and I had so much fun travelling to the workshop with my mother and grandmother to work on the dress in the lead up to the wedding. I adored the lace and fabulously soft silk, which I chose from the James Hare factory in Leeds. Whilst I started out unsure if I wanted a veil at all, Gill persuaded me to try a full length one. This created a really ethereal effect, completing the look.
Chris and his ushers wore grey morning suits, which we hired from a small hire shop near our home in Surrey called Dapper. We personalised the look by choosing grey herringbone ties from Harris Tweed for the boys, and a matching Harris Tweed waistcoat for Chris, who finished his outfit with a purple tie.
The Isle of Harris is particularly special to us as it is the site of our first holiday as a couple, and we adore the tweed, which is made in the homes of islanders. Our first purchase as a couple was a Harris Tweed throw, which we have in our home, so as a surprise for Chris, I arranged for the boys’ gorgeous buttonholes to be wrapped in strips of this fabric. All of the plants used in the buttonholes were symbolic to us; there are some beautiful lavender fields near our home, and the thistle reflected our joint Scottish heritage.
My lovely bridesmaids are all different ages and builds and it was so important to me that they should all feel pretty and comfortable so they could enjoy the day. I was delighted to find something which worked for all the girls from Dorothy Perkins, with the floaty dresses mirroring the cut of my dress and fitting all the girls nicely with minor alterations. The colour was a lovely soft green, and the girls wore beautiful clips with a spray of white flowers; they looked like beautiful woodland fairies!
Hair styling was taken care of by Amy and Jenny from Westrow Street Lane, who spent most of the morning at my house, and did a fabulous job. They were both so calm and Amy, who did my hair, took so much care and effort creating a soft, bohemian look to complement my flower crown. I have really thick hair and Amy designed an ingenious way to tuck sections up underneath the rest of the plaiting so that the effect of the back of the dress was not entirely lost!
In line with our aim to give something back to the community where possible with our wedding, we were delighted when Classic Car Hire North offered to hire us a vintage Morris Minor belonging to Autism Plus. All profit from hiring the car goes towards projects at the charity, including helping the individuals to learn car maintenance skills and developing independence. ‘Betty’ was a real highlight of the day – driving away from the church and for a quick loop around Wetherby (our nearest market town) waving at everyone was an amazing adrenaline rush!
As soon as we saw Paul Hawkett‘s photographs, we knew we wanted him to photograph our wedding. We were actually nervous waiting for him to reply about whether he was available or not! It is unsurprising he has won awards for his work; he has a real talent for placing couples within their landscape, and with such a personal and beautiful setting for our wedding, it was important that we were working with someone who could do this justice. He was wonderful on the day, fitting in perfectly with our families and guests, and we are so happy with his beautiful photos.
Flowers were a central part of the day and important to creating the overall effect we were looking for. I was lucky to be put in contact with Claire Clark, of Pear Tree House Flowers. She is part of the Flowers from the Farm network, which celebrates UK flowers and supports growers nationally. Claire uses beautiful seasonal cut flowers from her garden overlooking Ilkley Moor, which I had the pleasure of visiting twice in the months leading up to the wedding.
My bouquet was predominantly white and green, tied with a pale pink, hand-dyed ribbon of heirloom silk, whilst the adult bridesmaids carried similar smaller bouquets with more pale pink blooms. We decided that my younger bridesmaids should carry more youthful bunches of sweet peas in a mixture of pastel colours; they smelt divine! Claire spent a long time working with me to design my dream flower crown of small blush roses and other soft white flowers, which totally completed my bohemian look. We were absolutely delighted with how it all came together; Claire is so artistic and we were so pleased to be able to use local flowers.
My mum, grandmother and mum’s friend Val spent the morning before the wedding filling jam jars and vases with a combination of flowers from their gardens and buckets of flowers from Claire. We also had milk churns filled with flowers at the lychgate at the church, and at the entrance of the tipi. Flowers from my grandmother’s garden were also used to decorate the church, with a beautiful last minute pair of window decorations crafted by my aunty Rachel and cousin Charlotte.
As it was so hot this summer, we were really worried about everyone having enough water to drink on the day, and so we decided to have personalised water glasses made with our names and date of the wedding on as favours for our guests, which we sourced from confetti.co.uk. This was a genius brainwave as everyone loved them and they added something special to the table arrangements, as well as saving on washing up afterwards!
My sister Polly made our cake, a Victoria sponge with buttercream icing, which looked stunning. Although she loves baking she had never attempted anything like this before and it was worth the risk. We also created our own wedding ‘cheese’ cake, sourcing our favourite British cheese directly from the creameries, and serving with our own homemade chutneys.
Food is important to both of us and our priority was relaxed dining with local, delicious Yorkshire produce. We opted for a hearty grazing platter of Yorkshire goodies like sausage rolls and pork pies, followed by an enormous hog roast with lots of yummy salads and sides, all provided by Homegrown Hog Roast. Alice and her team did a fantastic job and we had lots of comments from people about it being the best wedding food they had ever tasted!
We decided to provide our own alcohol and an open bar for the entire evening. We had a lovely weekend a few weeks before the wedding travelling over to Majestic’s warehouse in Calais. Majestic were fantastic throughout, providing us with wine coolers and glasses for free as part of their service.
We initially considered getting friends and family to help themselves to alcohol, but the ideas of trying to rotate ice and keep everything cool became too stressful, so we called on Bar Events UK to send us a couple of staff. This was one of the best decisions we made and worth every penny; Tammy and Jonathan kept everyone topped up and rotated bottles into chiller bins all night.
We also had North v South beer on tap – one from our local brewery (Pilgrim) in Surrey, and one Black Sheep in Malham. We served Harrogate water on the tables and ordered in lots of premium soft drinks from the supermarket for the drivers and non-drinkers!
As entertainment we had a disco from Night Owls in York, and the DJ was fantastic, keeping everyone dancing to cheesy classics right until the end of the night. It was quite a sight seeing my entire family grooving away to the Macarena!
There were so many little personal touches which made our day special. I designed our order of service and menus, again trying to create a rustic, rural theme. We had lots of fun using scrap wood from skips (with permission) to paint and create all our signage, including the pallet which became a central feature of the wedding. I also hand-stamped the name place luggage tags and got up early on the morning of the wedding with bridesmaid Catherine to add rosemary and lavender from the garden to the place settings. Catherine also made our guest book, whilst my grandmother sewed metres and metres of bunting which festooned the tipi. We used a huge amount of brown and purple twine on almost everything!
Our favourite part of the day was arriving at the tipi, where everyone was already waiting, and having all our friends and family in one place celebrating us becoming husband and wife. It was so exciting to see it all coming together after so many months of planning, and to see how much fun everyone was having, whilst sipping a nice glass of prosecco.
We have both travelled widely before, but as we met after our backpacking days, have never had the chance to do it together. Therefore, whilst it may not seem like the usual choice for a honeymoon, we chose to go to Colombia, a perfect fit for us; deserted beaches, eco-lodges and jungle, as well as some amazing whale-watching! We are also travelling to visit my charity out in India at the end of October for more celebrations.
My biggest tip for other Brides Up North would be not to obsess about the weather! Despite promising not to look, I was in tears the day before the wedding due to the terrible forecast, which suggested on the morning of the wedding it would be 90 per cent rain all day. They ended up being wrong; as you can see from the photographs we had every type of weather from brilliant sunshine to torrential rain, and crazy wind! Everybody has a fabulous day regardless and it is all part of the fun; we ended up with a rainbow, as predicted by bridesmaid Catherine, giving us some amazing photos. Just make sure you have some wellies and an umbrella if you are doing an outdoor wedding.
I used Brides Up North so much when planning my wedding, and particularly reading the real weddings section! Whether getting ideas for suppliers or finding ways to incorporate personal touches into our wedding, the amount of creativity and energy on this site is inspiring. I loved seeing how other brides’ equally beautiful weddings had come together.
Having a DIY wedding was much more challenging than we anticipated, mainly in terms of building an infrastructure around the effort and ensuring the costs for this don’t spiral. If you do something similar, make sure you talk through with your marquee/ tipi provider what they require in terms of electricity and water, and how they can support you in this area of your planning. There are so many things to think about, from how you can facilitate your caterer, and whether you need a generator, through to organising suitable toilets. Totem Tipi were amazing in helping us to understand all of this and without this level of advice we would have been struggling.