GREENUNIONS | A Woodland Wedding Weekend Full of Fun and Laughter in North Devon | Emma and Matt

1st April 2017


Emma and Matt were married at Beaconside House near Bideford in North Devon over a glorious early Autumn weekend.  This laid back DIY wedding, which was oviously packed full of fun and laughter, was beautifully captured by Emma at Freckle Photography. 

Today the lovely Emma (who is a wedding celebrant and coordinator by trade) and Matt are generously sharing their quirky and unique wedding, held deep in the North Devon woods, with us.  Over to you Emma ...

The Perfect Place

Beaconside House in North Devon ticked all the boxes for our wedding

We chose Beaconside House because I was looking for somewhere we could hire exclusively for 3 nights or more. I wanted hot tubs, some woods where we could have our ceremony, a country house that could sleep approximately 40 guests, and an indoor swimming pool. I was looking for something that felt laid back, where we could party until 7am with music playing, no restrictions! When we found Beaconside it ticked all the boxes and was a great price.

The Vision

Getting married in the woods made my heart sing

I’m a hippy at heart and I love fairies and angels.  Being in the woods, the sun, moon and trees made my heart sing.

I made all the décor, flower crowns, bouquets and pretty much everything you see myself.  This reduced my carbon foot print by avoiding things made in China or similar.

The Budget  

Having a wedding weekender is cost effective and super fun!

We had a budget for £8,000 and spent £10,000.  The budget was important but having a wedding weekender is the best. You can have a whole weekend with all your loved ones for the same price as a one day wedding at a hotel or grand venue.  That is definitely a great way to cut costs if you find the right place.

By choosing a celebrant to marry you, you can do it anywhere which means the venue doesn’t have to be licensed and can often make the hire cost a bit cheaper.  You can even throw your wedding in a park if you want - it’s free!

Note: You will still need to do the legal bit at a registrar’s office to get your bit of paper declaring you are lawfully wed. You can find out more here.

The Outfits

I ended up with a wedding dress I never thought I’d wear. It made me feel like a real woman!

I ended up with a wedding dress that I never thought I would have, but I knew Matt would like me in something elegant.  The gown made me feel like a woman rather than a girly princess, which is what everyone was expecting me to wear.

As a cover-up, I bought a fab gold sequin cape off eBay for a bargain at £3. I had spent ages looking for one so I was well chuffed!  I wanted boots that I would wear again as I’m a total boots girl and I loved them.

In the evening I changed into a rose gold sequin mini dress so I could party and dance hard!  

Matt wanted something casual but smart-ish, so we chose mismatched outfits from a store, and his waistcoat had belonged to his Dad.

Our bridal crew was made up of 5 men and 4 ladies. I wanted something colourful and fun for them too, so we chose green for the girls and  

I Do

The ceremony was the highlight of the whole weekend for us

For us, our ceremony was the highlight of the whole weekend. I asked the venue if they would mind me creating a ceremony space in the woods, and they said they wouldn’t!  No one has ever used the woods for a ceremony before, so it felt extra special and sacred.

Years and years ago I always said to anyone that asked, if I were to get married, I wouldn’t have a stranger marry us, or even have a formal wedding. I would have a magical love ceremony in the woods filled with colour, love and laughter because for me, getting married is about love not law.

We are super laid back people and we wanted some fun included in our ceremony. It just so happens that I’m a celebrant, so I planned and wrote the whole ceremony.  I asked my friend Gordon (who is Mr Unreliable in our group of friends) if he would marry us and he said yes!

Two weeks before the wedding everyone was messaging me wondering if Gordon was even going to turn up, knowing what he’s like, but on the day he surprised me by not only being there, but with his outfit - he was wearing a red cardinal outfit that he’d bought the week before in a fancy dress shop in Texas - it was hilarious.  I couldn’t stop laughing as I walked towards them up the aisle!

I loved that Gordon and Matt danced down the aisle together to The Rocky theme tune.

I loved that Matt and Gordon danced down the isle together!

My friend then stood up and gave everyone a short version of our love story.  Once I arrived my friend did a reading and we lit candles for my brother and Matt’s Mum and Dad who had passed away. We then had a fun group sing along to Bruno Mars’ tune – Marry you!  We had a ring exchange, a hand fasting and were glistened in glitter before kissing to the Top Gun theme, which happens to be our favourite film.  Then we jumped the broom representing sweeping away the past and jumping into the new.

I loved everything about our ceremony.  It was better than I ever imagined thanks to Gordon, he was amazing and so funny!  I wanted him to just be him, and he was, he totally nailed it.  

We did the legalities a month later at our local registry office.

The Guest List

We kept the guest list to all our closest friends and family and had 60 for the day with another 20 in the evening.  40 of our guests stayed at venue, most staying for the whole weekend.

The Feast

The cake turned out a bit different to plan!

We wanted something casual and not a meal that went on for ages and everyone who knows us well know I love afternoon tea.  Scones and cream are a favourite of mine and Matt loves his meat, so we had canapés, afternoon tea then a hog roast in the evening.  

I wasn’t fussed about the wedding cake, so we bought loads of fresh Victoria sponges and I bought toy action figures for the cake topper and dressed them to look like us.  They were meant to be placed totally different to what happened on the day. But my mum forgot what I’d asked. The cake ended up being piled high and it collapsed - LOL!

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

Everyone said the ceremony was the most unique and best they have been to

Definitely.  If I were to do it again, I think I’d go bare foot, have a recycled dress, wild flowers and solar light and candles and not go mad for all the extra bits.  The extras are fun but it’s not what lives on in our hearts and minds. Everyone said the ceremony was the most unique and best they have been to and they will remember it forever.  For me the ceremony was the most important part.

On reflection, nothing else matters.  I married my best friend in the woods witnesses by all my favourite people in the world.

Tips for other Couples planning to throw a Green Wedding

There is a fab venue in Bristol called Boiling Wells.  I only found out about it after my wedding but everyone should check it out. I t’s got amazing prices and I would love to marry someone there and create a fabulous ceremony for them.

Special Touches

We had a tug-of-war and a hopper race

We had a space-hopper race, limbo dancing and a tug of war, which was great fun to do in between the food, and a bouncy castle for the toddlers.

Later we had a barn dance band with caller which got everyone up, dancing and having so much fun.  It was a real highlight. We partied until about 6am and it was lush sitting around the fire pit with everyone as the sun was about to rise.

Top Tip from the Groom

Matt soon realised how much effort Emma had put in to the decor

Don’t leave it until after the wedding to realise that you should have helped more with DIY jobs that your future wife did all by herself ;-)  

Matt realised on the day how much effort Emma had put in and he wished he had helped more, but was super proud at how it all looked and all the little things she had planned.

What does Marriage Mean to you Both?

For us marriage is all about growing old together, laughing, in a loving relationship

For us marriage is all about growing old together, laughing, in a loving relationship where above all else we will always respect each other and be kind.  A journey where we will both grow as individuals, as a couple and as a family.

Thank you so much, Emma, for taking the time to tell us about your fabulous day.  Emma’s experience as an alternative wedding celebrant was clearly very handy when it came to planning her own incredible ceremony!  You can find out about her services by visiting her website.

And I was totally blown away by all the hand-made touches Emma added to her wedding day - what a triumph of DIY.

Many thanks too, to Emma at Freckle Photography for her amazing images which really make this wedding come alive! Scroll down and indulge in more of Emma and Matt's wedding day photos ...

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