Lily & Gareth’s crazily colourful, beautiful and eclectic marquee wedding, with Benessamy Weddings and Marta May Photography
I may overuse the word epic to describe the weddings I feature on here. Today’s though… well it feels as though epic doesn’t come close. So I’m bringing you Lily & Gareth’s spectacularly legendary wedding which I have a feeling will knock you off your FEET! This gorgeous pair made their day individual, full of joy and colour, stuffed it with bags of personality and left me reeling in a rainbow of glorious images. Lily’s dress is by our favourite Jo Fleming – and it is literally the most beautiful creation I’ve seen any bride wearing, ever.
You’re going to LOVE this, I promise!
Wedding photographer’s website
How did you choose your photographer?
Through some extensive web research and then through recommendations from other photographers who were unavailable.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
Yes. Marta and Artur are an amazing couple and go above and beyond to get what you want from your pics. We didn’t want any set up / formal pics, but more a photographer who would capture the atmosphere of the day. Artur definitely did that! Our main thing we wanted was for everyone to have fun, and the photos captured that perfectly.
Did you hire a wedding planner?
Yes – Val Mattinson of Benessamy Weddings. Val was amazing. I asked her to help around 3 months before the big day. We had a big wedding for 200 people in a marquee at home, and it had become clear to me that I was going to need a lot of assistance with logistics and sourcing certain things. How do you get a water supply into the middle of a cow field for example? Which is the best agency to use for staff? I also really didn’t want to spend the actual day stressing and troubleshooting. Val was amazing from the get go. She has great contacts and asks all the right questions. She listens and then does everything she can to make your ideal scenario a reality. She is super calm under pressure, never stressing or worrying. Without her, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the day as much as I did. Hiring Val was probably the best decision I made.
Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?
We were very lucky – we put a marquee in the field next to my mum’s house. So it was special, as we effectively had the wedding at home. A big shout out should go to our Marquee company: https://covertecstructures.co.uk/ Firstly, the marquee had to be pretty massive as we had 200 guests and I was paranoid about there being enough space and room for everyone to be on the dance floor at once. I also didn’t want too much of a traditional / white marquee as it didn’t fit with our overall colourful / eclectic vibe. Covertec were amazing from the get go. Nothing was impossible. They suggested using the clear marquee structure, which worked brilliantly. The actual build itself was also very challenging: weather was not on our side!! Mark and his team basically built a village in treacherous conditions and ensured it looked beautiful for the day. They were even there on the morning itself as there was a torrential downpour and Mark wanted to ensure there were no leaks and everything was ‘just right’. They also went above and beyond – hanging extra props / murals / structures all around and working with the florist to help move some big structures. They were amazing.
Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?
We loved our outfits. Colour played a big role in our wedding, and that was reflected in the outfits. Lily: I always knew I probably wasn’t a white dress sort of bride. As a redhead, my absolute favourite colours to wear are blue and green. I knew I wanted something a bit unique and definitely striking. I found Joanne Fleming on instagram and fell in love with her designs: https://joanneflemingdesign.com/. I got in contact and went down to visit her in Brighton. She is a superstar and after I explained the rough thoughts I had, came up with a gorgeous design. A couple of fittings later, and I had an amazing bespoke dress for the day. Gareth: Gareth has a big connection with Africa and has spent a lot of time travelling there. He knew he wanted a ‘bright’ suit, so when he came across an African print suit designer online, he chose the fabric he wanted. They sent a suit in his rough measurements, which he then had tailored to fit.
Did you hire a florist? Tell us about any floral amazingness
Our florist was amazing. Her name is Miss Pickering and she is based out of her shop in Stamford, Lincolnshire. She doesn’t do many weddings as the shop is so busy, so we were very lucky to get her. We asked for some really big and bold floral creations, including 2 x massive 10ft pineapple constructions made from flowers. Miss P loved the colourful brief and the creativity and ran with it! She created endless amazing displays, which matched the various backdrops in the marquee, using all the weird and wonderful props we had acquired. Her creativity and talent is endless. https://www.misspickering.com/
As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?
We love both sweet and savoury and couldn’t decide on one thing… so we had a lot of cakes! First off we had an amazing tower of cheese cake, supplied and assembled by local deli Emerson & Wests of Market Harborough. Then Gareth’s dad Huw is an amazing baker, and made 3 massive cakes of varying flavours (carrot, ginger and coffee). And then finally we wanted to create a real visual display of sweet treats that people could nibble on later if they wanted a sugar rush to help them keep dancing. We found local baker Emily Davis and her company ‘Baked’. Emily made us an array of insane creations that not only looked incredible, but tasted amazing.
Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves
– Pallets at the drinks reception. The idea for the drinks reception was for Guests to mill around the courtyard in front of the house, enjoying drinks and canapes. In order to ‘brighten up’ the courtyard area, I had the idea of creating pallet drinks tables that people could use as makeshift bars to chat around. We got hold of some pallets from a local farmer the week before the wedding and spent a day painting them bright blue. Then our florist dressed them with flowers inside the pallet ‘gaps’ and pots of floral creations around them. They became really lovely features. When guests moved into the marquee for the wedding breakfast, we moved a lot of the flower displays in and dressed areas around the marquee.
– Oyster bar. Gareth and I love oysters, so we used one of our blue ‘pallet bars’ as an Oyster table for the drinks reception. We made a chalk board ‘Oyster Bar’ sign and then I found an old weathered long wooden bowl that worked well as an oyster holder. We had a lovely guy shucking the oysters, and then guests were able to help themselves and add dressing / tabasco etc.
– Marquee mural. The marquee was a really big space but I wanted to make sure it was as colourful and vibrant as possible. Flowers obviously helped but I knew we’d never be able to have enough to completely fill it. In particular I was concerned about the 15m long side wall that was due to be plain white. The wall that hid the toilets / kitchen etc… I didn’t know what to do with it. I was talking to my very creative sister-in-law Lucie about this, who said ‘why don’t I paint you a mural that we can hang along the wall?’ I don’t think she realised quite how much work she was taking on! But she made the most incredible and colourful floral mural by painting onto a massive roll of canvas, which we then hung up along the plain white wall (see above!). It ended up being the making of the entire marquee and brought everything together. It was the backdrop for all the floral displays and it hid the ugly toilet and kitchen entrances perfectly. Since the wedding, three other brides have rented it for their weddings, and now my sister-in-law has started a business providing bespoke murals / designs: @mrswilson_decorativeart
– Pineapple table name stands: Pineapples were a bit of a recurring theme at the wedding. There were two massive floral pineapple sculptures in the marquee. Then I had the idea that we could use pineapples to act as ‘stands’ for the Table Name Signs. We had the multicoloured table cloths, so then I thought it could be fun to spray paint the pineapples in multiple colours. Gareth uses a lot of spray paints in his art, so we experimented with what he had lying around and the result was great. We found a local fruit wholesaler who was able to provide 50 pineapples two days before the wedding at a bargain price, and then we had a fun afternoon spray painting them! We sliced into the top leaves so that the table signs sat neatly in them. It worked really well.
– Table cloths: To add to the multicoloured / tropical vibe, I was keen that we had really vibrant table cloths. After searching endlessly online for multicoloured / patterened linen, I couldn’t find any that I thought would work. In fact what I really wanted was a mix of loads of different prints. It was then I got the idea to use fabric offcuts. I sourced loads of different fabrics, both online and in shops. My superstar mother-in-law Sue then painstakingly sewed and hemmed them into cloths that fit our tables.
– Table favours: Gareth and I talked about table favours quite a lot and about the fact that we wanted Guests to have something really personal. We also wanted something that could work as part of the place names (two birds, one stone). Gareth is an artist and he was ordering canvases online one day when he spotted these mini canvases that are a couple of inches across and come with tiny easels. They were perfect and pretty cheap. Gareth painted them in an array of styles and colours and we hung little place name labels over the top, so each guest received their own personal artwork from the Groom. People were seen fighting over them at the end of the night! Lots of friends have sent us pics of their canvases now hanging in their homes, which is really lovely.
Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?
We actually got married at the local registry office on the Thursday with just our immediate families present. Really simple vows and no readings. Then we went for a lovely lunch altogether in the ‘room upstairs’ above the local deli. We had the room to ourselves and enjoyed a wonderful meal. On the Saturday we decided not to have a ceremony, but rather a drinks reception followed by marquee wedding breakfast and party. We were all about ‘the party’!
What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?
Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon. We definitely don’t have the skills to pull off an amazing routine, nor the guts to do a romantic slow dance, so we knew we wanted a song that would get everyone up and going after the wedding meal. This song is a guilty pleasure for both of us that we both secretly love. We were really keen not to be up there dancing alone, so we hatched a plan… we hid face masks under every seat (half of Lily, half of Gareth). We revealed this to the guests just before the first dance and asked them to pop them on and join us on the dance floor so that we could have our first dance en masse. It was slightly terrifying seeing our faces everywhere, but also really fun and got everyone up on the dance floor!
Favourite wedding suppliers
Mrs Lucie Wilson: marquee mural / painted creations:
Make-up: had the lovely ‘Make-up by Jenni‘, who was fab:
Dress: bespoke design by Joanne Fleming (at a very affordable price!) –
Gin Bath: This was a really fun thing we had at the Drinks Reception. It’s an actual bath tub and gin comes out of the taps! Guests helped themselves and LOVED it. They went on about it for months!
Birdie photobooth: We wanted a really unique photobooth and came across Birdie through some online research. The campervan style booth was amazing and guests piled in to take amazing pics.
The Distractions: We had a three piece band providing music for the drinks reception. These guys were great!
Beer: We had beer on draught provided by local brewery Braybrooke Beer Company… Guests have gone on about it being one of the highlights.
Food: Our caterers were the amazing 10 Greek Street, which is a really popular restaurant based in Soho in central London. Not many people know that they do weddings on the side. The food was insane and they worked with us to create a completely bespoke menu. We asked for big platters and sharing plates, which went down a treat. The food was utterly delicious.
Marquee Company: Covertec Structures. See review above. Amazing service and great marquee.
Prop Hire: I wanted lots of animals ‘dotted’ around the place to help with decoration and go with our African / animal theme. Managed to source some amazing animal props from More Production: http://moreproduction.co.uk/ We had an elephant, a giraffe, a lion and some flamingoes!
Giant mirror table plan: https://www.nerissaeveweddings.com
Balloon arch: We had an amazing multicoloured balloon arch in the marquee, created by the incredible Bubblegum Balloons. Look at @bubblegumballoons to see some of the insane installations they do. In hindsight I should have had more!
Grass animals: my mum found this amazing company called Easigrass that make massive animal sculptures out of artificial grass. You can hire or buy. We hired 2 x bears and a lion. Guests loved posing with them.
Loos. We didn’t want trailer loos, but rather an actual room built onto the side of the marquee. My mum searched high and wide to find Andy Loos, who were great and provided real loos that actually flushed!