Outdoor Wedding

beneath the trees: an outdoor humanist wedding at the woodman inn – rosie & michael

06th November 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

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A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (48)

A spur-of-the-moment, last-minute decision saw today’s real wedding couple Rosie and Michael heading out into the glorious 25ᵒC sunshine for their emotional humanist wedding at The Woodman Inn. With staff working hard to set up the pretty scene for their vow exchange with only an hour to spare before the guests arrived, it just shows how, no matter how much you plan your celebration beforehand, sometimes going with the flow on the day can yield even more spectacular and memorable results.

We love the little creative displays throughout the wedding, such as the outdoor drinks bar with its vintage crate and tower of lemons and limes, and the giant love letters perched on a wall and accented with frothy greenery. The floral backdrop to the top table at the wedding breakfast is a gorgeous touch and has been designed like a photo frame to perfectly surround the bride and groom in colour – forwarding-thinking when it comes to the photographs of the speeches.

As often happens, Rosie ended up choosing a wedding gown in a style she really didn’t expect to go for – and she looks absolutely stunning in it. As Rosie advises, go to your dress appointments with an open mind and be prepared to try on lots of different styles, as you never know which gown you’ll fall in love with until you slip it on and experience ‘the moment’! Tell us more, Rosie…

With images by Rebecca Parsons Photography.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (50)

rosie says: We got engaged at home. We’d both finished work for the Christmas break and when I came home Mike was suspiciously quiet! He took me into the living room and I spotted a new present under the tree and assumed it was an early gift. But then he told me to close my eyes and, when I opened them, he was down on one knee. It still didn’t dawn on me what was happening, as the box in his hand was bigger than a ring box. He then opened the box and took out another box, and I was still convinced it was going to be earrings … and then there was the ring. I was so surprised because we had talked about getting married a few months before, as Mike got offered a job in the USA; however, this fell through, so I didn’t think it would happen so soon!

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (61)

Our wedding date was 5th May 2018. We were so lucky with the weather; it was 25ᵒC and we ended up getting married outside. We held both our ceremony and reception at The Woodman Inn, Thunderbridge. The venue, setting and staff were all amazing and made us both feel very excited. We opted to have a humanist wedding. Neither of us are religious but we have both been to weddings done by a registrar, and we just felt we wanted something more personal. We met our celebrant Val Turner twice before the wedding so she could get to know us, which was a lovely touch. We had two or three drafts of the ceremony, so we were completely happy with it and knew what to expect on the day.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (42)

A humanist ceremony is not legally recognised in the UK, so you can hold them anywhere. I was getting ready on the morning of the wedding and the events team (Jordan and Hannah) came to the room and asked if we wanted to do it outside (it was clear blue sky and 25ᵒC). So, I said yes, if Mike was happy. This was all an hour before our guests were arriving. They did everything, and it was a complete surprise for me when I walked out, as I had no idea what it looked like – but it was amazing and really made the day so special.

We would absolutely recommend the Woodman Inn to other couples. Jordan and Hannah were great in the run-up to the wedding, showing us round and answering the many questions we asked! Then, on the day, the whole team was fantastic. They did all the rearranging for our outdoor ceremony and made the gardens look amazing. They really looked after us and our guests from start to finish.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (71)

As a theme, we went with a fairly rustic/woodland style to tie in with the venue. As you can see from the photos, we had amazing flowers which formed most of the decoration and which tied in with the season as well as the venue. I also made my own bunting, which we ended up using to form an aisle for the ceremony. I am so glad I made my own, as I have kept most of it and gifted lots to friends and family.

For the colour scheme, we went with pastel colours – blue, pink and purple. These colours are my favourites and I thought they went well with the time of year we got married.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (8)

For my dress, I initially thought I wanted something really lacy, but I actually chose a dress with no lace in the end. I got my dress from Dotty Bridal in Holmfirth: a strapless gown (another thing I didn’t want!) by Lou Lou Bridal. It was in a really interesting floral brocade pattern with a full skirt. I added a lace crop top for the ceremony, which I removed for the evening. I also opted for a beautiful long veil with tiny pearl details. It was so far from what I expected to go for, but I felt amazing in it. It was so flattering, elegant and a real statement dress. It really is true when people say go with an open mind and expect to be surprised by what you like. The staff at Dotty Bridal were absolutely amazing and really made my whole experience very special.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (11)

Mike wore a Hugo Boss suit. As we had a small wedding and Mike only had a best man and one groomsman, we purchased the suits. As we had a relatively non-traditional wedding, we knew we didn’t want a traditional morning suit. He chose a beautiful grey suit, which really complemented the colour scheme of the wedding and the pink bridesmaid dresses. The two groomsmen wore grey suits from Next, to complement Mike’s suit. Mike took his brothers out for the day in Leeds and, in typical male fashion, had chosen and bought the suits within about half-an-hour!

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (18)

The bridesmaids all wore different dresses. We chose a colour together (pink) and I then suggested they pick their own dresses. We had so much fun; we had a girly day/night in Chester and the girls chose their dresses and shoes. We went for short pink dresses, which were all from ASOS in the end. It was nice because I knew the girls were happy and got a dress that suited them and was comfortable for a long day. We all did our own makeup using Charlotte Tilbury products.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (19)

Our photographer was Rebecca Parsons Photography and I would highly recommend her. We chose Rebecca based on her documentary-style photos. We didn’t want a whole album of posed and staged photos. We wanted to capture the essence of the day, the emotions, and she really did that. There is a mixture of funny moments, emotional moments and absolutely beautiful images. I found her through the Brides Up North site, which I loved, and it gave me loads of ideas for decorations, inspiration, etc. too.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (31)

When it came to the flowers, I had a bouquet and so did the bridesmaids. We also did buttonholes for all our day guests. Emma the Florist did them – I knew before we even got engaged that I wanted Emma to do the flowers. She is amazing and so different.

For other decoration, we had bunting outside and for the drinks reception, as well as two olive trees (from the florist) and the flowers were the main decoration. We had a welcome table which featured the order of the day and seating plan done by Emma’s brother (@thechalkboardartist). Jamie did the order of the day/seating plan and a welcome sign, which we kept.

Emma also did a huge floral backdrop, which went behind the top table. I still get emotional when I see pictures because she completely blew me away. The amazing thing is that the majority of the backdrop was done using fake/preserved flowers! We also had some large LED ‘LOVE’ letters from Add Vintage – they were great as they delivered and collected them and did all the set-up for us the day before.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (36)

As favours, we did miniatures for each guest, so we did their favourite drink and put their name on a gift tag and this doubled up as the place setting. We also used a photo as part of the place setting. These were photos of me and/or Mike with each guest. They were a great talking point, as we tried to find fun photos.

Our cake had five tiers and was from Booootiful Cakes. Lynne came recommended by the venue and we went for pale pink (a bit girly for Mike!) but it was stunning, and we got some great photos.

The wedding breakfast was provided by the venue and it was all amazing. We ate at the venue a couple of times before we chose the wedding menu and loved all of their food. We went for ham hock terrine to start, beef cheek for main and sticky toffee pudding to finish. We went for what we thought would be crowd pleasers and they didn’t disappoint! We had red and white house wines and they went down well too.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (40)

For the entertainment, we used the house DJ, which was hassle free as the venue arranged it. All we had to do was provide some suggestions and indicate our style of music! I also did a speech and I’m so glad I did. It gave me a chance to do my own personal thanks to people, as well as giving my side of our relationship.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (57)

I had two favourite parts to the day – the ceremony and the speeches. The ceremony was really special and personal. We also had two readings: one from one of the bridesmaids and one from my mum. It was so nice that people contributed, and my mum even made Mike emotional, which is a tall order!

The speeches were great. Mike started and did the thank yous. He also spoke about us, which was really sweet. I went next; I was so nervous but that quickly disappeared when I got going. My mum and dad were a wreck beside me, as they had no idea what I was going to say. Then there was father-of-the-bride and best man. Both were different but equally great. My dad is not a very ‘showy’ person but the speech was perfect. He really captured me and my personality and showed how much they both love me.

The best man struck the balance of humour and sentiment perfectly. We got great laughs and smiles.

Lots of my favourite photos from the day are when the speeches were underway. Rebecca managed to get great ones of the guests, as well as some hilarious faces from me and Mike. But this just summed up the day – so many great emotions!

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (63)

Our honeymoon comprised five days in New York and four days in Las Vegas. We decided not to do a beach-type holiday, as Mike doesn’t really enjoy them and I get bored easily! We did loads of walking and sightseeing in NYC; we absolutely loved it and would definitely go back there. Las Vegas was like nowhere either of us has been before. Everything is so vast and extravagant. It was great fun and there were so many things to see and do. We did a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon and had a champagne breakfast, which I would highly recommend and was a highlight of the trip. Mike even took his wedding suit and we got dressed up one night and went for cocktails and a posh meal.

A Humanist Wedding at The Woodman Inn (c) Rebecca Parsons Photography (66)

My top tips for other Brides Up North would be to choose your venue and photographer early. And set your budget! Plan together – it can become quite stressful and you spend so much time planning. I heard so many stories where the brides did everything and I am so glad we did it together. Mike even sat through the flower appointments, but it was all time we could spend together and we both knew exactly what we wanted and what the day would look like.

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