REAL WEDDINGS: A Ffabulous Fforest wedding camp

31st May 2015

Image: Aga Tomaszek

The lovely people at Fforest told me about a wedding they hosted last Autumn and when I asked what was special about the place this is what they said:

“Fforest is a place of magic at any time of the year. Spring and autumn are our personal favourites. Photographers often talk about the ‘golden hour’, the time of the day when the sun begins to dip and casts a magical soft golden glow.  Autumn is the golden hour of the fforest year.  Lower light and soft hues of red orange and gold in the landscape all around. Faint woodsmoke hanging in the air. We call it ‘glowtime’.  A little chill later in the evening maybe, but a time for gathering together in our tiny 200 year old pub, in our newly restored listed farmhouse and cosying up around roaring fires, with family and the best of friends.”

Autumn is the golden hours of the fforest year

Chloe and Dafydd’s wedding embodies all these things and their fabulous Autumn wedding day last October 2014, photographed by Aga Tomaszek is best described by Chloe with Aga’s beautiful wedding photographs:

The Venue

We chose to get married at Fforest Camp, Cilgerran on 25th October 2014.  The venue and its location were really special for numerous reasons. Dafydd and I lived in New Zealand for a couple of years and the owners of Fforest also lived there for a bit.  What they have established at Fforest meant it felt like a home from home - we’ve been missing the Antipodes ever since we left. We lived near a huge forest in New Zealand and spent much of our free time biking and hiking there. I yearned to get married in a forest and Googled ‘outdoor wedding’, ‘rural venues’, ‘forest wedding’ and so on … until I found Fforest. We set a date and sent a deposit before we had even visited!  Fforest was the perfect venue. We visited for the first time just after the winter storms in 2013 and I couldn’t have loved it more.

Fforest felt like a home from home

The Guests

We hosted just under 100 wedding guests. Daf’s family are from Wales, his Mum was born about five minutes down the road from Fforest so a fair number of her family still live in the local area. My family live in Essex so it was a bit further for them to come! A few of our New Zealand friends were able to come over for the wedding too, which was wonderful.

Image: Aga Tomaszek

Did you have a Budget - Did you to Stick to it?

Well … what we thought we’d budget at the beginning and what we actually spent in the end were very different! But we were meticulous about keeping track of costs and were very fortunate to have help from both of our parents. It was a considerable expense and unsurprisingly, the majority of the costs related to feeding and sheltering everyone for the weekend. My parents chose to pay for the accommodation because they thought no one would come otherwise (camping in Wales in late Autumn). Charming! 

Guests stayed under canvas in domes, camp shacks and tipis

The Atmosphere

Our (my!) main inspiration was to have a natural outdoorsy wedding, somewhere beautiful and rural. I wanted to look around and see trees, flowers and wildlife. And I love autumn – I love everything about it. We had log-fires, golden leaves, clear crisp air and cloudless starry skies - oh, and a bit of rain, after all it was October in South-West Wales.

I loved everything, golden leaves, clear crisp air and cloudless skies

I wanted the wedding to have plenty of personal touches – I didn’t want it to feel like it could be anyone’s wedding, I wanted to see parts of ourselves, our families and friends everywhere I looked.

We were able to have a legal wedding ceremony in the little Bwthyn (pub) before our humanist ceremony in the giant hat tipi. It was very personal and memorable. We had a tea party in the barn – lit by candles, with mismatched vintage tablecloths and crockery. Later, we danced to a local jive band and DJ until late…

The Bwthyn is licensed for weddings

The Eco-Elements

As I said, Fforest was the perfect venue. They have a tipi, a veggie patch, huge fire pits and wonderful old stone and slate outbuildings. They grow and make a huge amount of food themselves - granola, jams, bread, cakes, soups, pizza, salads, while almost everything else is sourced locally - honey, beers, the amazing hog roast.

Fforest has tipis, fire pits, old stone and wooden outbuildings

The bonus is that everything happens all in one place – most of our guests stayed under canvas in domes, camp shacks and tipis (the outdoor showers drain into a reed-bed so we bought lots of green toiletries).

I tried to make as much as I possibly could for our wedding. I made and decorated our wedding cake (my favourite fruit cake recipe that I dig out every Christmas – my parents love it!). We’ve kept a tier that is (not so) jokingly for any future children! I made gingerbread men for the place settings – the spices are so wonderfully autumnal. I had also made some sloe gin and marmalade vodka to go with the prosecco after the ceremony (and we collected some sloes from the Fforest hedgerows on Sunday morning after the wedding to make a special anniversary vintage bottle!). Finally I enlisted my friends and the long-suffering Daf to make a few decorations for the barn.

A typical Fforest wedding tea

Our other suppliers – the DJ, the band, the florist - were all local. Jill from Designer Blooms created a bouquet, tipi decorations and jam jars filled with flowers. Not knowing much about flowers (!) I asked for something natural and seasonal and loved the results.

The Invites

For the invites, I made a website and put all the information on there, but Daf was such a stick-in-the-mud he insisted that we couldn’t invite everyone by email! Hmmm… In the end it was a compromise, we sent one A6 invite with the date, venue and the website address and asked everyone to RSVP online. I then sent final details by email the week before. We didn’t have any printed order of service or menu cards either. It worked incredibly well.

The Outfits

I had two dresses (one for each ceremony) - I know, that wasn’t a particularly eco choice!   But the short white dress I wore for the legal ceremony was bought with the intention that I would be able to wear it again - hopefully for a nice anniversary dinner this year!  The wedding dress was an extravagant this-is-my-one-and-only-wedding-splurge. It’s all wrapped up and I’m insisting that the daughter we don’t have yet will HAVE to wear it one day!

I wore a short white lacey dress for the legal ceremony

Daf bought a nice suit, his one-and-only, with the same intention that he would wear it again and again. Similarly with his groomsmen … we didn’t want a theme or matching outfits, so they wore suits that they already owned. I just wanted everyone to be comfy and warm and not to have to spend too much money.  

Dafydd a suit - his one and only!

The Honeymoon

Since our friends had come all the way over to Wales from NZ we didn’t fly off on a honeymoon. Instead we had a ‘friendly-moon’ in Snowdonia. We all went mountain-biking together, hiked the Horseshoe Trail around Snowdon, visited a local brewery, rode on the local steam train and visited Portmeirion and Bounce Below - underground trampolines in a disused slate mine!

Can you be both Stylish and Green on your Wedding Day?

It helps if your venue has eco values but even if that is not the case, there are plenty of things you can do to create a stylish green wedding.  

Fforest has strong eco values

Tips for Brides throwing a Green Wedding

Think carefully about your venue. Enlist the help of your nearest and dearest. Make every effort to shop locally and seasonally.

Image Aga Tomaszek

Special Touch

My dad plays in a 50’s rock and roll band and wanted to record us a song for the wedding. I thought we would play it during the ceremony but he decided upon ‘Never Can Tell’ by Chuck Berry. A most suitable choice (well, apart from the ‘teenage’ bit!) but a little too fast for the ceremony, so we thought we’d have it as our first dance. I got a little frantic thinking ‘we’re terrible dancers – we can’t jive!’ before it struck me that it’s the song John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance to - hilariously badly - in Pulp Fiction. We looked ridiculous but I couldn’t imagine trying to pull off three long minutes of serious dancing so it suited us down to the ground! My dad burned us a CD and it lives in our memory box.

My Dad sang 'Never can Tell' by Chuck Berry

Fforest is a handpicked partner listed in Green Union's wedding directory under the category Venues.  For more information please visit their website

Now just sit back and enjoy Aga's stunning images of Chlo and Daf's ffabulous glamping wedding weekend!

The flowers were created by a local floristWe had our legal ceremony in the BwthynAfter our legal ceremony in the BwthynSimple berries and seasonal foliage decorated the buildings The colours of AutumnImage by Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga TomaszekImage Aga Tomaszek

Thank you so much, Chloe and Daf, for sharing your stunning wedding camp story with us all and I wish you every happiness in your future together. 

Images by Aga Tomaszek

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