REAL WEDDINGS: Hanna and Guy’s quirky fantasy fiction back yard wedding with hand made elements

14th January 2016


I am totally bowled over by Hanna and Guy's beautiful and personal wedding photographed by Joanna Ornowska of Images for Life.  Here is the full story told by Hanna herself.  

“We got married last summer in Guy's mum's garden in Cambridgshire and it turned out to be the most fantastic wedding festival weekend ever …

The Venue

We looked at endless venues for our wedding, and none were quite right - some were too grand, some too impersonal, others not flexible enough and most, eyebrow raisingly expensive!

Then we realised that we already had the perfect venue in the family. Guy’s mum has a two-acre garden behind her little bungalow that she’s been cultivating for years, and it’s a little slice of magic in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

There’s an apple orchard, a paddock filled with cow parsley, a hidden outdoor pool and an ancient stable that we converted into a bar area.

We had a humanist ceremony under a grand old tree at the bottom of the garden and celebrated afterwards, first with a ceilidh, and then with a fabulous rock ‘n’ roll band.  

The tent was hired from a nearby villageThe mermaid lagoonThe viking tavern in the shed and playing card cluesThe decorated party tree and mown paths through the cow parsleyThe band led us through the cow parsley to the terrace for Champagne

The Guests

Around 100 people were invited and, to our surprise, almost all of them turned up! Many of our friends got the train from London with their camping kit and arrived the night before the wedding, camping out in a field we borrowed from a neighbour.

My family drove up from Sussex and others came from Durham, Wales and even New York. 

Our guests camped in a neighbouring field for the weekend

Did you have a budget? Did you stick to it?

Yes, we set ourselves a budget of £8,000 and went over it by around £2,000 in the end - mainly because my dress expenditure was far more extravagant than I’d originally anticipated!

We saved on the marquee (hired from a local village), the food (Guy’s brother is a chef and did lunch for free) and obviously on the venue. We splashed out on two excellent bands, plenty of alcohol and snacks, some incredible decoration plus lighting effects for the evening.

My dress bust the budget!The food was vegan and produced by Guy’s brotherAll the food was locally sourced by a vegan chef

The Atmosphere

The aim was to create the relaxed feel of a family festival. Many of our guests arrived the night before for a ‘bring your own’ barbecue and then camped and we laid on a basic breakfast the morning of the wedding.  We had a wonderful celebrant called Hannah Wroe Gill, who delivered a genuinely touching and personalised ceremony which brought plenty of us to tears (including me!).

After the wedding ceremony we all wondered up to the terrace for champagne before heading for lunch in the marquee.

Finally, guests were entertained by a ceilidh and a band. It was a packed day with plenty to do, and no time to get bored!

The wedding cermony was incredibly movingOur humanist celebrant was amazingWe had our ceremony under a huge cedar treeThe music was an integral part of our whole day

The Eco Elements

Both of us are passionate about animal rights, so it was important to us that our wedding reflected our values. We opted for a completely vegetarian wedding, with a delicious picnic-style lunch and most of the ingredients were sourced locally.  Supper was laid on by a local vegan caterer.

Our photographer Joanna Ornowska is also a vegan and runs an environmentally conscious wedding photography business using sustainably sourced materials.  She also donates a portion of her profits to promote green and charitable initiatives.

Many of our decorations were handmade as well, including wooden hearts sprayed gold and hung on the trees, and a collection of gingerbread men - one for every guest.

I made a gingerbread man for each guestMany of our decorations were hand made

The Invites

We handmade our wedding invitations using kraft card, old gold ribbon and parchment paper and included hand a made map of the garden showing all the different areas - including the ‘pub’, an Alice in Wonderland-style tea party, ‘Mermaid Lagoon’ (the swimming pool) and the ‘Party Tree’ - it took us absolutely ages, because I watercolour painted all the maps by hand!

We decorated the ‘Party Tree’ too, and that’s where we held our wedding ceremony.

The Outfits

Guy didn’t want the standard, modern look, so he hired a Regency-style suit from a place in Cheltenham called Regency Groom.

I found a beautifully simple second-hand Jenny Packham dress (which was way beyond our budget).  My sister created my wedding bouquet and hair garland by hand using home grown flowers from the garden.

My shoes were a £7 bargain and both the bridesmaids and groomsmen were told they could wear whatever they liked, which worked really well.

Guy hired a suitThe bridemaids wore whatever they wanted Guy hired a regency style suit just to be different!

The Honeymoon

We’d gone over our budget with the wedding, so for our honeymoon we decided to go cheap and have a staycation.  My grandfather lent us his little flat in Newlyn, Cornwall, and we spent a few days on the coast walking, eating and generally relaxing.

After all the stress of planning and hosting a big event, it was just the low-key break we needed.

Can you be Stylish AND Green?

It depends on what you mean by stylish. For me, it means going your own way and not having the same wedding template as everybody else.  So yes, you most definitely can host a stylish and eco-friendly wedding!  

Tips for Brides Planning to throw a Green Wedding …

There are plenty of eco-minded wedding suppliers out there if you’re prepared to look, like those listed on Green Union, from venues and catering companies to photographers and even lighting suppliers.

And you don’t have to be particularly crafty or imaginative to add plenty of your own personal touches, either. For example, I found an invitation set that I liked and then used it as a template to make my own invites.

Hanna's Other Tips

Pick a loose theme that you can weave your own style around. Both of us are obsessed with traditional children’s books and fantasy fiction, so we chose children’s stories as a theme for our wedding.

This meant we could bring in lots of different elements - a ‘gingerbread house’, treasure map invitations, a tea party, a Viking-style tavern where drinks were served, a Mermaid Lagoon complete with a wooden boat in the swimming pool and a ‘Queen of Hearts’ croquet lawn.  Fantastic!”

A ginerbread house wedding cakeOur fantasy theme meant we could indulg our childhood dreamsWe played croquet on the lawnThe day was busy with loads of fun things to do
Thanks so much to Hanna Prince and Guy for sharing their fantastic wedding day with us, there are so many brilliant ideas here for you to build your own wedding around.  

Here are 5 tips I picked out of Hanna’s wedding story that could help you on your planning journey:

  1. Using your own, your family or a friend’s back yard or field for your wedding really helps to keep expenditure down.
  2. It’s such a good idea to set yourself a wedding budget and try not to go over it, unless you really have to!  Over the next weeks and months, along with Green Union’s lovely new wedding planning consultant, Claire de la Motte, we've got loads of practical things to talk about like wedding budgets (on the blog next week) and getting organised … essential to a smooth wedding planning journey.
  3. Don’t forget that even if you are having your own private wedding ceremony, you will still need to go to a registry office to do the legal bit.
  4. Encouraging your guests to take the train keeps the total carbon footprint of your wedding nice and low.
  5. Village resources are surprisingly extensive and often for hire at little  cost. You can hire all manner of things from your local community like tents, the village hall, a skittles alley, tables, etc.

This very personal and natural wedding was photographed by Joanna Ornowska - she can be found in our wedding directory.


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