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Louise and Toby’s secret wedding in the woods in Shere, Surrey with Clare West Photography

The jury is out as to whether today’s wedding is more of an “Ewok party” or a “secret wedding in the woods” – and our beautiful bride and gorgeous groom can’t decide! What’s for sure is that this is one of the best weddings I’ve seen – and it really fits both descriptions beautifully. Weddings should be a magical adventure in every way, and Louise and Toby made theirs so much more than that – it’s just brilliant!

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Their wedding photographer is the very lovely Clare West, a documentary photographer based in Reading. She comes very highly recommended by today’s star bride and groom, and I love that she captures the details of the day so beautifully. Louise told me, “Clare took time to capture a lot of the little details and delicate touches that we had spent so long working on.” For me that’s really important! Details and special touches are the frame around the essence of your wedding: just as you’d place a cherished photo in a special frame, if you wrap your wedding in prettiness then you want to have detail photographs in your album to recreate the atmosphere of your day around those magical moments, right?

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Find out more about Clare West Photography:

www.clarewestphotography.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/clarewestphotography
@ClareWestPhoto
http://pinterest.com/clarewestphoto/boards

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Everything from the wedding invitations to Louise’s dress, the incredible setting with bunting, stamped place settings, naked cake – I could go on! – gets me excited. This is a fabulous wedding and I want to be in it. Do read Louise’s wedding report at the end of the feature – she writes as beautifully as she smiles and dances! Enjoy.
claire gould calligrapher signature

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Our wedding report: Louise and Toby

Wedding photographer’s website:

http://www.clarewestphotography.co.uk/

Were you pleased with your wedding photographer?

Yes. Very much so!

Wedding venue:

Bentley Copse. Shere. Surrey.

Can you describe your wedding in a single sentence?

Friends and family brought together for a humanist celebration in a woodland now full of happy memories.

What was your reaction to seeing your wedding photos for the first time?

Joy. Clare captured the feel of the wedding so well, despite us making life particularly difficult for her all day (not on purpose of course!). Example: during the wedding ceremony, we paused to sort out the canopy above the campfire seating. This resulted in us drenching all Clare’s photography gear with about 200 litres of rainwater. Sorry…

In addition to capturing the key moments, and some humorous shots of those attending, she also took time to capture a lot of the little details and delicate touches that we had spent so long working on. A real treat.

Your wedding style and theme:

Lou says: “Secret wedding in the woods”.

Toby says: “Ewok party”.

Any happy tears on the day?

Oh yes.

How did the two of you meet?

Watching and playing music.

How long did you spend planning your wedding?

About one year.

Best bit of budget advice?

Spend money on what matters most to you. Also, posting invites is more expensive than you expect.

Wedding invitations and on the day stationery:

Homecrafted by us and printed by Lou’s Maid of Honour (Louise Stevens). We attached a camping badge as Bentley Copse is a Scout campsite and Lou a Cub Scout Leader. A fair few people earned theirs by bringing a tent and staying the night! Good effort!

Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?

Yes! My mum burst into tears of happiness when I put it on for the first time!

Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:

Beverley Lister at Evangeline Rose (www.beverleylister.co.uk  /  www.evangeline-rose.co.uk)

Glitz and sparkle: the bride’s accessories:

Hair jewellery made by Laura Gowers (bridesmaid). Pearl earrings and bracelet were heirlooms from my recently deceased Nana.

Shoes switched for hiking boots at some point during the evening!

The groom wore:

Linen suit from Ted Baker (www.tedbaker.com).

Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?

Dresses from New Look, customised by Sally Rose – Ruby’s mum (Ruby was a bridesmaid)

Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?

Sonya Pearson, a good friend, kindly worked her magic.

Wedding flowers:

Louise’s mum (Sara) and Lucy Woodruff (www.lucywoodruff.com). Hops from The Hop Shop (www.hopshop.co.uk)

What do you remember most about the wedding ceremony?

Entrance of the bridal party to the sound of “Real Love” by John Lennon, covered by Regina Spektor. Spellbinding.

We had a humanist ceremony, led by Rosemary Taylorson (www.rosemaryceremonies.co.uk) that included the tradition of hand-fasting and tying the knot in the most literal sense.

Reading out the wedding vows we had each and kept secret is something neither of us will ever forget.

Special mention for the ushers (Jon B, Jon H, Steve V, Dan H) who put in WORK organising and actually building the venue! Don’t imagine that constructing a workable wedding in a wood from scratch will not require much effort…

Wedding readings?

Rosemary led the ceremony so beautifully, and read out a lovely summary of how we met and our story so far.

Lou’s sister (Hannah) read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

Toby’s stepbrother (James) read and excerpt from The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach.

General styling – did your venue need much decoration?

Yes. The venue was a wood!

Once the tipis were up, we were very lucky to have so many of our friends and family able to come along and help prepare the site. It was a big effort! Paths were swept (largely by Louise’s mum Sara) and lined with branches. The campfire area was covered in leaves collected from the surrounding forest (Thanks Steve Valiant!). We decorated the tipis, trees and paths with a selection of candles, rose petals, picture frames and some homemade hessian bunting along the aisle.

The wedding cake: traditional or quirky?

Victoria sponge. Made by Lou. Very yum. On an oak base and decorated with ivy and sugar roses by Lou’s mum’s friend Jakki!

Entertainment:

Before/during/after ceremony we were lucky to secure bassoon quartet Reed Rage (www.reedrage.co.uk) who played a selection of arrangements. Including “The Final Countdown” as the bridal party arrived.  J

At the evening reception, the 18-strong big band sound of JetStream Jazz (http://www.jetstreamjazz.co.uk) got everyone dancing in the tipi. Thanks to Tim Ebbels for arranging this as it was amazing.

We were also blessed to have our good friend play some tunes. George happened. That is all.

On the day tips and advice:

If it rains continually for the entirety of your outdoors wedding, just go with it. Make sure people come with sensible shoes!

What’s the best thing about being married?

Contentment.

Quick supplier list for other brides and grooms:

 

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in 2011 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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