Grace and Liam’s Story…
We have been married for just over 6 months now and we still love to reminisce about our day. A day that we would more than likely still be saving for if we hadn’t won a competition. A day which was everything we have always wanted and dreamed of.
In July 2017, I entered a competition whilst sat in my pjs scrolling through my news feed to win a dream wedding and honeymoon. I told Liam about the competition when he arrived home from work and he just laughed at me, as though to say ‘dream on’. So when the newspaper who ran the competition called to confirm we had made it to the final 10, we were in complete shock!
We spent the next week asking friends and family to vote and jumped on to Facebook to spread the word. We didn’t think we stood a chance against the other 9 finalists. Yet again, we were in complete shock when we got the phone call to say we had received the most votes. It feels so surreal just talking about it. If you had asked me my opinion on competitions before, I would have told you that they’re all a big fix and no one actually wins these things. But here we are!
How did you decide on an outdoor tipi wedding?
Prior to winning the wedding, we were planning a very small get together at either the registry office or a local wedding venue. Our attitude at that time was fully centred around our non-existent budget, and after being together for 9 years, we simply wanted to be man and wife. That was all that mattered. So when we won the competition, which gave us a budget of 15k for a wedding venue of our choice, we knew we had to disregard our old plans and go big!
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we wanted to make it memorable. We wanted a party and for our wedding to be remembered as a fun, relaxed day for everyone. To us, everything feels right in nature so we instantly knew that we wanted an outdoor wedding. Being outdoors is a big part of our lives so we just couldn’t imagine any other setting to say our vows. As well as drinking under the trees and partying under the stars.
I found Sami Tipi on Instagram and loved everything about their tipis and their locations. It was love at first sight! Especially when Jodie sent me photos of The Secret Garden in Derbyshire. It was perfect! It was special to us as we share a lot of special memories in Derbyshire, and it was local-ish! We visited the secret garden and it was even better in real life. Set in a beautiful, quiet village in a secluded area of pine trees and its own lake. It was a little slice of heaven. We decided to have our full day there, our ceremony in a small woodland area and the reception in the tipis.
What did you wear?
I wore a dress by Kelsey Rose, which was purchased from a local, independent bridal boutique. It wasn’t a dress that I initially thought I’d go for. I had dreamt of a floaty, boho slip dress. However after giving birth to a huge baby boy just 6 months before my wedding, I felt I needed something more structured to flatter my shape. I loved the classic design of my dress and I feel like it suited the laid back vibe that we wanted to create.
How would you describe your theme/styling?
We hired Tara, the stylist behind Tickety Boo Events, to beautify our day. Choosing Tara was easy, simply from seeing her work at one of Sami Tipi’s open weekends. We fell in love with the boho/romantic details which she had created inside the tipis and the surrounding areas.
Tara created a beautiful scene for our ceremony, as we chose to say our vows in the small woodland area. Making an aisle using glass tea light holders and a macrame backdrop, which suited the natural environment perfectly. She went the extra mile by creating a children’s corner, complete with goodie bags and mini toadstool garlands!
We didn’t focus too heavily on a theme or style. I feel like we pinched aspects of different styles! A little bit of boho, botanical and rustic romance. All we really knew was that we wanted to create a laid back feel which also represented our love of nature. Oh and fairy lights – we bloody love fairy lights! 🙂
How did you feed your guests?
Again with the menu, we really wanted to keep things simple, fun and laid back.
In homage to my husbands Spanish routes, we decided on paella and tapas for the daytime. We hired Gary, from Your Paella, who cooked fresh tapas in huge steel pans. As well as a tapas platter of patatas bravas, tortilla, olives, cheese and breads. It went down a treat mixed with sunshine and sangria!
And what about the evening?
For the evening we wanted stone baked pizza and Jodie recommended Biddulph’s Pizza for the best taste experience. She was right! The team set up a small marquee outside their van and served the most delicious, fresh pizzas and garlic breads. To this day, our guests still talk about those pizzas! They definitely were a highlight of the day!
How did you choose your photographer?
Choosing the right photographer was a big deal for me and we definitely hit jackpot with Emily & Katy. I’ve never been a fan of posed wedding photographs so I already knew that I wanted to find someone who would capture the natural moments. And that’s certainly what they delivered.
Emily & Katy made everyone feel so relaxed. They were both so friendly with all of our guests and just got on with it without anyone actually realising, which is exactly what we wanted. A big thing for me also was making sure Liam felt comfortable and that we could get some nice images together on our day. Liam absolutely hates having his photo taken yet Emily and Katy managed to make it all feel so natural. We ended up with a lot of really beautiful shots.
The location obviously helped again massively and some of my favourite photos were taken when we sneaked off into a field behind the lake at sunset. The sunshine was so golden and looks amazing in contrast with the green fields. I really couldn’t rate Emily and Katy more, it just felt like two friends were there taking photos and that made such a difference for us.
Jodie was so helpful throughout our planning process by recommending and arranging most of our suppliers, which we are so grateful for. I’ve been unorganised for pretty much my whole life so throw in a toddler and a new born and my head was a shed. Jodie really helped us pull everything together and took a lot of stress off our shoulders.
Any Top Tips for future Sami Tipi couples?
A small tip which we learnt is to avoid a buttercream wedding cake for a tipi wedding in the middle of a heatwave. Cake fail! Although it did provide entertainment to see a melting cake in the corner. We both agreed that if that’s the only thing to go wrong then we did pretty well!
My biggest advice for planning an outdoor wedding would be to not stress the small stuff. Details & styling are lovely and can obviously make or break a venue, but once you find that dream location and then match that with a Sami Tipi wedding, you’re already on to a winner. Ourselves and our guests were blown away by the finished product. Seeing the tipis next to the lake and the atmosphere that they created was perfect. The styling was, of course, an added bonus and set a romantic mood but don’t stress if you don’t have the time to do DIY bunting or make your own quirky favours. You really can let nature do all the hard work!
We just wanted a laid back day with our loved ones and that’s exactly what we got and how we will remember our wedding day. A beautiful day in the sunshine.
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