A Real Fun-Packed Festival Wedding
For this real festival wedding we are talking pops of colour, buckets of flowers, festival style flags, smoke bombs, glitter bars, slip ‘n’ slide shenanigans, fire-pit musings and bridesmaids in barrows. And that’s to name but a few!
I was thrilled when Charlie and Grace agreed for me to write about their fun-filled festival wedding. Clothes designer Charlie and Lecturer Grace (now Mr and Mrs West) with delightful toddler daughter Doris were the stars of this beautiful festival style wedding – WESTFEST! They booked our woodland wedding venue for a 3 nights and 4 days wedding extravaganza. Planning an extended weekend wedding like this is not for the faint hearted! Read on to find their top tips here!
What Inspired Your Festival Wedding?
Grace and Charlie’s main driver at the wedding planning stage was that everyone would enjoy themselves. They wanted everyone who came to their festival wedding to feel excitement, fun and joy.
‘It was about creating a festival-feeling sense of excitement and surprise’, said Charlie.
‘We wanted the atmosphere to be full of fun and joy.’
Each day of the weekend wedding had a focus. They wanted their friends to feel totally relaxed and to have no sense of obligation to join in if they didn’t want to. It was about having options, being included, being together and feeling free to come and go at will. Just like at a festival!
Friday: Party Preparations, Picnics and Pizzas
The festival wedding began on Friday afternoon when Liv arrived from Stowford Flowers. Buckets and buckets of gorgeous sunflowers, daisies and soft summer blooms were delivered. While the nine bridesmaids selected flowers and made their own bouquets, a help-yourself picnic was set up on rustic pallets in the shade of the festival-style stretch tent.
Friends and family (dressed in festival wedding crew tshirts – designed by Charlie) nibbled and chompled while flags were staked, tents were claimed and hand-painted signs were positioned. Breakfast bacon was stashed in the freezer and ciders were chilled in the fridges. The rustic banquet-style tables were laid and the picknmix confetti bowls were positioned. Best of all was the larger-than-life custom made festival wedding sign ‘WESTFEST’ to guide guests to various parts of the woodland and meadows.
With preparations well under way, the Pura Vida gang in charge of the evening grub rocked up at the farmhouse so everyone could create their own perfect pizza. Football was played on the farmhouse lawns, drinks were drunk in the courtyard and deliciously different perfect pizzas were demolished as the evening progressed.
Joyful murmurings were heard as bedtime approached and everyone fell into bed – happy to be together to celebrate Grace and Charlie’s wedding the next day.
Saturday: Festival Wedding Day!
If you have ever been to a festival, you will know that there are always plenty of set-up jobs to do. A festival wedding is no exception! Grace and her bride squad laughed all morning – making the most of the ‘getting ready phase. There were nine bridesmaids (the youngest was only six months old) so plenty of frocks, flowers, crowns, bags and sandals to ring and arrange. Each bridesmaid had chosen her own – raising charity shops to grab a bargain and reduce fast fashion waste.
Meanwhile, snacks were arranged in gigantic trays and an outside pallet bar was stashed with chilled drinks and a ‘personalise your own’ festival wedding cup sign. Wheelbarrows were loaded with ice and bottle of Devon cider. Soft drinks and beers were piled high in generous heaps and lined up to welcome everyone with a self-serve selection.
A children’s play area was arranged with rugs and trugs of toys and the stretch tent was festooned with colourful cricheted blankets folded onto ladder rungs. Jam jars of freshly cut blooms and personalised play kits were places with name cards at table places in the Old Dairy barn. There were child-sized musical instruments and song sheets. Each person had a job and everyone knew what to do.
Errrm. . . .I am just going to say that festival bride Grace’s colour coded spread sheets helped!
The Outdoor Wedding Ceremony
Charlie and Grace had planned to marry in an outdoor ceremony at the hill-top willow cathedral. As the morning sun moved round and disappeared behind threatening clouds. . .it became clear that Plan B might be needed.
Sure enough – right on time (and in true festival style), the rain came in and a tractor trip to collect the chairs from the willow cathedral to the wet weather stretch tent was called for! This actually turned out to be a great bonding exercise! All the festival wedding party revellers rolled up their sleeves and helped move the chill-out zone furniture to make room for the ceremony chairs!
The bride squad processed – led by a saxophone rendering of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ from the farmhouse to the ceremony stretch tent. Daughter Dottie led the way with their cute dog Pablo (wearing a ‘She Loved Me First’ neckerchief). And the youngest bridesmaid (only six months old) was paraded into the tent in a specially decorated wheelbarrow! The Devon Registrars were not in the least bit phased by the change in plan and conducted a beautiful ceremony with readings of poetry and enthusiastic singing of songs.
And then the rain stopped and the sun came out!
Legal and Lovely
A funky neon-pink ‘Crazy in Love’ sign perfectly framed the register signing table while everyone sang ‘Don’t Stop Me Now!’ with the aid of a backing track. This of course then led to a part of the wedding ritual that everybody loves – the confetti casacdes! We think (in our humble opinion) that it should be the law. That every festival wedding must have a cascade of beautiful flower petals!
So – you get the idea. We love a confetti moment! So we were thrilled to find that Grace (and Charlie does as well. A gorgeous selection of scented herbs and wild flowers included daisies, roses, lavender, bay and rosemary. Each was chosen for its special meaning and symbolism. They were offered to their guests in a selection of beautiful and exotic bazaar type bowls – and this made the occasion extra special!
More celebratory drinks and a mega snack selection were enjoyed while Emily Davies (the first act in a live musical line-up) sang gentle background songs. By then, the sun was well and truly out again so Grace and Charlie’s guests enjoyed dramatic smoke bombs, played Space Hopper races and bubble games and a table was set up for Beer Pong.
Then came the feasting! And what a fabulous feast it was! Chef Tim Golder from La Cantina has an amazing smoker called ‘Peggy Sue’. She’s like an old-school steam engine that’s been cunningly re-invented. The most delicious range of locally sources meats were smoked (and smoked cauliflower for our festival bride) and served, followed by speeches (both funny and heart felt) and a whole lot of laughter!
The First Dance
The early evening sun began to mellow as the wedding guests made their way along the woodland trails between the glades. This was a first for Higher Holcombe. The silver birch ‘church’ had been festooned with up-cycled curtain fabric bunting. It was the perfect setting for Grace and Charlie’s First Dance! Surrounded by sentries of white-barked trees and all their friends. It was such a beautiful and romantic part of their festival wedding.
The festival wedding vibes carried on into the evening back at the elegantly rustic Old Dairy milking parlour. The glitter bar tempted even the least likely to get sparkly. Everyone partied late into the night, dancied to live music band LazySnacksOfficial followed by DJ Heldt with an irresistable play list. This was just perfect for a festival wedding with dancing until the tiny wee hours!
Sunday Brunch, Slip ‘n’ Slide Shenanigans and Evening Firepit Musings
Next morning, newly weds Charlie and Grace emerged from the Hobbit House Honeymoon Hideaway and were first on the scene in the camping meadow. The bacon butty brigade (in true festival wedding style) were ready and waiting when the megaphone messaging system called everyone to a relaxed late breakfast. The flower-filled jam jars were moved to outside tables so breakfast was served alfresco.
And the brown sauce had not been forgotten. Another festival wedding law: You have got to have brown sauce on a brunch time bacon butty!
Sunday afternoon’s offering featured a really l-o-n-g slip ‘n’ slide powered by a hosepipe from an outside tap. Gigantic inflatables (including an enormous slice of pizza and a camouflaged army tank) (yes – you read that correctly)(!) were all captured from unusual anagles with a friend’s drone.
That evening, Grace’s dad was seen brandishing his BBQ tongs in a flurry of burgers and sausages. Later, they gathered around the crackling logs where the mood was more mellow and contemplative. Everyone’s energy had levelled out. This was the time for gentle musings over the gorgeous fun-filled memories that everyone had made.
Oh – and there were marshmallows for toasting (toddler Dotties’s fave).
And, as far as we know, there were no burnt sugar lips with ‘mallows that were too toasty hot!
Monday Morning Moving On
A festival wedding needed (without doubt), great supporters all the way through. Extending their wedding weekend by an extra night meant there was no rush or worries at the end. ‘Barrows were lined up for collection and colourful blankets folded away. A team in the farmhouse sorted food for sharing and soon, all too soon, it was time to go home.
Other Wedding Party Priorities?
Both Grace and Charlie wanted their festival wedding to be as locally sourced and as sustainable as possible. They looked for ways to make tweaks so they could reduce waste and look local.
So they served Devon ciders, beers and soft drinks. They bought flowers from Grace and Doris’s favourite florist (who grows her own). The bridesmaids bought dresses from charity shops. They found pretty extras on FB MarketPlace. They painted signs on chipboard offcuts and served the picnics on delivery pallets. The table flowers were arranged in repurposed bubble-glass yoghurt pots and Grace reinvented builders’ dust sheets as table runners. They looked really lush!
The couple’s two-year-old, Doris, (who believed that this was actually HER wedding) (very cute) (!) meant that they wanted everything to be child-friendly, to happen outside and to be active. They really did not want people to be on their phones. Staying true to themselves was an anchor.
So what was their top tip?
Keep it simple!
Just Stay True To Yourself
I was super keen to discover the secret to how Charlie and Grace pulled everything together. I wanted to know how they made everything work. They made everything look so easy!
Their advice is, ‘Stay true to yourself.’
They said that picking theings that they likes meant that everything just came together. There was no particular style or colour. They said that picking things that they liked meant that everything just came together in a great big flurry of fun filled festivities. Their focus was on picking things that they thought everyone would enjoy.
From the outside, I coud see the anchor to all that planning. It was all in the spreadsheets! Grace is a lecturer (in social care and inclusion). She has to be well organised for her work. But my goodness – those spreadsheets were a work of art! I am fairly sure that Grace also invented colour coding!
Charlie wanted thir festival wedding to be ‘an experience’. He designed the festival style t-shirts that everyone wore on the set up day. This really set the tone – as everyone felt so included. They loved, and are so grateful for all the flexible help and gret support they had. It is so cool to be reminded that every guest is there for you both and that they believ in you. How much better can it be!
So – what were their ‘stand out’ moments?
- The Friday night pizza party (thanks to Pura Vida from Exeter)
- The fun they had with some smoke grenades
- The Sunday night firepit chat
Top Planning Tips?
- Keep it simple
- Stay true to yourself
I have loved writing about this beautiful couple, their lovely friends and family and one of the happiest and most memorable of last year’s weddings. Thank you both so much, Grace and Charlie! You rock!
Festival Wedding Dream Team
I loved the way that Charlie and Grace chose Devon florists, frocks and photographers!
Here’s a shout out to the teams that were part of their wedding weekend.
Photography by Angel from Ivory and Grace
The arch and Crazy in Love sign from Nicola at Rustic Love Hire
Beautiful flowers grown by Liv at Stowford Flowers
Charlie’s cool suit came from Moss Bros
The Friday night pizza party was sorted by Pura Vida in Exeter
The amazing smoked food was from Chef Tim Golder