If a simple, emotional and beautiful wedding is what you’re after, then let me introduce you to Pieter and Noortje. Married in the Botanical Gardens in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, their wedding had a natural, organic and bohemian vibe. Their reception was held at De Waard van Kekerdom, a bar in Kekerdom, where they had a simple meal followed by an after party!
“We tried to make our wedding as personal as possible, with our own camper, a choir of 30 family members in the church and the band from the cafe where we met each other”, explained the bride. “We had our ceremony in a garden and afterwards had a simple but delicious meal at a not too fancy but very cosy restaurant. We didn’t want anything to be too cliché, we just tried to make it simple but very personal. A lot of our retro bohemian hippie kind of taste came through too, as well as our love for nature and being outside.”
When I saw Elisha & Russell’s wedding I knew they’d made the perfect choice in their photographer Joanna Brown. If you follow Joanna on twitter you’ll know that she loves her garden and grows her own veg, so the fact that this wedding was held on Magdalen Farm on the Dorset/Somerset border…well she must have been in her element! “The staff of The Magdalen Project at Magdalen Farm are amazing and even joined us on the dance floor and around the campfire at the end of the evening,” the newlyweds told me. “We loved that our wedding was helping to support the Wessex Foundation who encourage active learning in and about the outdoors.”
“I have a background in informal education with young people,” continued Elisha, “and Russ set up www.rocknrolladventures.com to encourage people to spend time in the outdoors which has evolved to organise activity and educational travel for schools and colleges as well as training camps and other holidays. We hope to provide a quality of service and a similar conviction shown by the staff at Magdalen. We found they really did walk the talk as they claim to do which meant excellent, tasty fresh local food and a friendly and happy staff team. And a deliciously relaxed weekend wedding for us in a beautiful place!”
The bride wore a two dresses – the first which she bought from ASOS and customised by adding some crochet lace hand-sewn by Great-Grandmother. “My Auntie Margaret is a creative wizard and offered to make a dress to my design as she had done for my cousin and bridesmaid Siobhan,” explained the bride. “Looking around for ideas of shapes and materials I found this dress on ASOS that the catwalk video showed to have a great flowing skirt that I thought would be a lot of fun on the dance floor! I showed it to my Aunt and described the changes I hoped to make. She found some lovely cotton, crocheted lace in her textiles cupboard which her grandmother had made and said we could use it. She used natural tea-dye to bring it to the same colour as the dress which was reshaped.”
The bride’s second dress came from Damsel in a Dress. “Closer to the wedding I was worrying that I might prefer to wear something more sophisticated (than my usual style!) for the ceremony and while looking for bridesmaid dresses on John Lewis website found the Damsel in a Dress dress – very different to anything else I’d seen and within budget! So the two dress wedding was decided. I felt sleek walking up the aisle in the Damsel in a Dress number and had a lot of fun skanking to the ska band and cosying up round the campfire until early hours in my free flowing skirt of my ASOS dress.”
It was the little and fun touches that made this wedding brilliant. For example, after the ceremony they had the Street Heat Samba Band to entertain their guests and playing late into the night were Skar Wars. The couple asked a number of their guests to make a cake instead of having a traditional wedding cake and they were helped by their friends and family with making and displaying the reception decor.
“We didn’t really identify a theme,” concluded Elisha, “other than we knew we wanted to create an informal event with as much time outside as possible. You could say our theme was evolving! I grew up loving the Dorset countryside and felt closest to my family when there, where our time spent together was focused on getting muddy in streams or eating picnics on the beach. Russ had enjoyed similar times with his family and it was his determination not to feel part of a ‘wedding machine’ of many, more formal venues, but focus on finding somewhere that we wanted to spend time with family and friends to celebrate our happiness and excitement for the future. We felt very lucky to find that in the venue and staff of Magdalen Farm.”
Joli & Gary eloped in San Francisco. They had planned to have a big wedding party afterwards with their friends and family at a biker bar in Palm Springs, but then Joli got pregnant and everything changed. So 7 months pregant, the couple had a kick ass celebration in the backyard of their Los Angeles home. They described their party as a celebration of “Love, Freedom, Wild, Raw, Family, FUN, Village, Community!” and that’s exactly what it was.
The couple’s friends and family all pitched in to organise the fabulous event, “My Mom and I made the centerpieces from thrift store found bowls and succulent plants from Cactus Ranch,” Joli told me. We had a photo booth made by Gary’s Brother, at the party and so people were asked to leave the bride and groom photos of them. Gary and his Dad (and sometimes my Dad and Gary’s Brothers and best friends) did all the lighting, built a mounted video screen, re-seeded all the lawns, planted flowers and herbs in every available receptacle including Gary’s old Doc Martens, laid walking stones, and built a dance floor on our deck for the event complete with moving disco ball!”
Their friend and photographer Jonas Seaman had similarly amazing things to say about this awesome wedding when he initially emailed me. “Their backyard wedding party was pure balls out celebration. Joli was decked out in a beautiful white cotton hippy dress with a furry sleeveless coat, a peacock feather in her hair, feather earrings, and what I believe was a cross-section of a tree branch dangling from her necklace. Although part of the time she had moccasin boots on, she also spent a good amount of time barefoot with henna designed feet. Barefoot and pregnant.”
“They had a tented dance floor and full bar. They put up hand painted signs pointing to the backyard. They had flowers in a pair of combat boots. They had flowers coming out of old wine bottles and cactus plants for table settings. Even their daughter Charlie’s Barbie Dolls were out partying in a little Jacuzzi. The atmosphere was so fun, so unconventional, and so full of real unfiltered love.”