Wedding at Middle Coombe Farm, Devon
Into The Woods
From vows beneath an ancient oak to stargazing around a campfire, Rachael and Graham's woodland wedding was filled with magical and memorable moments "Graham loves the great outdoors so for my 31st birthday we hiked up Mount Snowdon," recalls Rachael. "On reaching the top we found a sheltered outcrop to have lunch and, as we were ready to leave, Graham got down on one knee and proposed. He pulled out two glasses and a bottle of champagne that he had brought up the mountain in his backpack!"
Nature lovers Rachael and Graham chose Middle Coombe Farm for their weekend of festivities, allowing them to enjoy everything from two separate ceremonies to a hot tub, accommodation and swimming pool in one scenic spot.
Picking a starting point of summer for their seasonally themed woodland wedding, the pair used the flowers as a key component for achieving a beautifully 'green' look. "We carefully chose flowers and foliage that was abundant and available locally," explains Rachael. "We made sure that it was recycled or recyclable, from dried petal confetti wrapped in a Nepalese book to biodegradable plates and cups."
"We wanted the wedding not just to look good, but smell amazing too," she says. From fragrant multicoloured sweet peas grown in a friend's allotment to Rachael's mum's homegrown blooms, the floristry was a sensuous mix that also included alchemilla mollis and love-in-a-mist.
Legally married on-site in the Cider Barn, the pair then led their guests to another magical location for one of their favourite moments of the day. "We each took a jar of flowers and had a procession up the hill to the woodland for the hand tying ceremony, placing them at the base of the 500-year old oak," says Rachael.
Every detail was infused with meaning: Rachael's ethereal dress, for example, was made by her godmother using her grandmother's silk nightdress and a vintage 1940s' lace gown, while a table of photos of people who could not be there, including Rachael's father who died just six months before the wedding, had a prominent position. "We had a toast in his honour too," remembers Rachael.
From a tug of war to a cake competition and a home-stocked bar featuring booze made by Rachael, Graham and their friends (with all donations going to Bhimkori Earthquake Relief to help rebuild the village that the couple had previously visited), the party was personal, thoughtful and fun-filled.
The locally sourced vegetarian canape feast catered for all dietary requirements while reflecting the couple's global adventures, featuring the likes of edible wild flower salad, Tunisian baked aubergine and Nepalese sweet potato alongside a lip-smacking hog roast. Following the feast, an evening of drinking and dancing ensued, complete with an impressive first dance: "We took swing dance lessons in Bristol where we were living at the time so we had a few moves to bust out!" The celebrations finished in fitting style "around the camp fire stargazing with a bottle of homemade cherry brandy!"
"Go local," recommends Rachael when asked for her top planning tips. "We found that people were much happier to help out and give us samples when we went to see their shops and talk through our ideas in person." She adds: "And a cloudy sky really does make for excellent photos, so don't panic about the weather!"
Photography Pip and Simon Wedding Photography pipandsimon.co.uk
Venue Middle Coombe Farm coombefarmwoods.co.uk
Groom's outfit Suit TM Lewin tmlewin.co.uk waistcoat from Top Man topman.com
Flower girls Gap gap.co.uk and H&M hm.com
Catering Feast Without Fuss feastwithoutfuss.co.uk
Cheese cake Wildmoor Delicatessen wildmoor-deli.co.uk
Copyright Wed magazine 2017