Sussex Festival weddings DIY weddings Rustic weddings Tipi weddings

Wedding of the Week: Megan Falconer-Taylor and Julian Wolpe

06 Nov 2017

Megan and Julian's festival wedding in East Sussex was filled with character, rustic touches and DIY details

How did you meet?

We met at college, we were on the same music course. We started dating at 16 and after 14 years (some off, some on) Julian proposed.

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Tell us about the proposal.

Julian proposed on my 30th birthday while we were out walking my parents' dog on the South Downs in Lewes (where we both grew up).

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

Rustic/festival themed wedding featuring a nude, pale pink and cream colour scheme.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

Bentley Wildfowl in East Sussex. We wanted a blank canvas without lots of restrictions that we could personalise and create our dream wedding – it was also really important to us that we had a venue where guests could stay the night if they wanted to. We looked at so many places but everywhere seemed so constrained by suppliers, timings etc with limited freedom to create something personal. My mum suggested we look at Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum as she had done catering for events there in the past. Although it’s not your traditional wedding venue, for us it was perfect.

The Bentley Estate is sat on 90 acres of beautiful meadows and woodland near Lewes in East Sussex, and includes a Palladian manor house with formal gardens, a wildfowl reserve and motor museum. The bridal party had exclusive use of the Palladian manor house for bridal prep, and the ceremony took place in the formal gardens behind the house. The reception was in three hat tipi marquee in a huge private field on the far end of the estate, and all guests had the option to stay overnight in luxury boutique bell tents fully furnished with beds, rugs, lamps etc. We arranged for the miniature railway on the estate to take guests from the ceremony in the garden to the reception field. They venue is completely hands off, and it’s 100% dry hire, but if you are looking for a beautiful setting without lots of red tape that you can make completely personal this is the perfect place.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?

I actually only tried on one dress and immediately knew it was 'the one’. I always knew I wanted a Jenny Packham dress, so when I heard about a sample sale on Bond Street, just minutes from where I work, I jumped at the chance and me and a friend of mine ran down to the store on our lunch break. I tried on one dress (Jenny Packham Georgia) and knew it was the one – it was the perfect dress. I was back in the office with my wedding dress within the hour.

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Where did you find the suits?

Moss Bros – A bright blue suit with an orange tie.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

We ordered our flowers from The Flower Mongers, a company for DIY brides who want to create their own flower arrangements. We chose antique pink and cream avalanches roses as the main flower, combined with lisianthus, gypsophila and eucalyptus for greenery (ensuring we had enough for the bouquet, buttonholes and table arrangements).

For the bridal bouquet, we used pink and cream avalanche roses, gypsophila and eucalyptus decorated with cream ribbon. We made simple rustic gypsophila bouquets for tthe bridesmaids and gypsophila and twine buttonholes for the groomsmen. 

We ordered the table decorations (a mixture of the above flowers) in my dad’s collection of vintage vases and jam jars. We were very lucky to have so many friends and family help; we couldn’t have done it without them. We also used fresh cut ivy from the local wood to decorate the poles inside the tipi.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • The ceremony was beautiful - Julian’s sister and husband play in a professional string quartet who kindly played all music in the ceremony for us.  All guests were then transported to the reception field on the miniature railway where we had the big three hat tipi on one side and boutique bell tents on the other.
  • The drinks reception took place outside the front of the tipi, where we set up hay bails, a fire pit, lawn games, and a vintage photo booth caravan. We also had the miniature Shetland ponies that lived on estate entertaining children (and some adults) during the drinks reception with pony track rides.
  • My brother (a tree surgeon) created hand made wedding signs to create a festival feel. We decorated the tipi with ivy, flowers, ribbons and lanterns.
  • Each table was named after a book and we placed a copy of that book on the table.
  • We had handmade seeded heart shaped paper as wedding favours with personalised messages.
  • We had paella for the wedding breakfast which was freshly cooked outside in front of the guests during the drinks reception.  
  • We had a cocktail session after wedding breakfast, where guests could sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy a cocktail or two before the music started – we also had an alternative magician amazing guests with some awesome magic tricks during the cocktail hour.
  • Our band came on a 9pm and was an absolute hit, we had a seven-piece funk band, followed by a DJ and then a silent disco that went on until the early hours, along with a nice toasty fire outside the tipi.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Very nervous, but so so happy, especially when I saw Julian's face as I entered the garden.

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What was your most memorable moment?

All of it, but probably the most memorable and emotional moment for us both was the ceremony. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Doing absolutely everything ourselves – but this enabled us to create the dream wedding we wanted.  We couldn’t have done it without all the help from family and friends though.

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What was the most important investment for you?

The tipi marquee, but it was definitely worth every penny – it looked amazing and really made the wedding.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We chose Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher by Jackie Wilson as it’s an incredibly happy song and we knew that the band were so tight with this song.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

Megan’s mum (who owns a catering business) made our wedding cake. It was a homemade organic dark chocolate and cocoa cake decorated with a selection of seasonal edible flowers. 

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

Stop worrying about the weather – there is nothing you can do about it. It turned out to be glorious sunshine so all the worrying was for nothing.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

There was a local festival happening on the same day as our wedding which caused some bad traffic jams nearby so some of the guests cut it fine – nothing serious though.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

Sri Lanka. We left it four days before going on our honeymoon as we needed a couple of days to pack up everything (it was a big clear up job).

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

If you are planning a DIY wedding make sure you have a big group of friends/family that can help as you’ll need it.   

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Get the look:

Photography: Nicky Hill Photography, www.nickyhillphotography.com
Tipi: Holmsted Events, www.holmstedevents.co.uk
Paella: Crocus Paella, https://crocuspaella.com/
Floristry: The Flower Monger, http://theflowermonger.co.uk/
Bespoke handmade wedding guest book, favours, photo album: Highdown Bindery, www.highdownbindery.co.uk
Photo booth: Inifinity Photographic, http://infinityphotographic.co.uk/vintage-caravan-photo-booth/
Magician: Leon Simmonds Magic, http://leonsimmondsmagic.co.uk/index.html
Band: RH Live, www.rhlive.com/evening-bands/soul-city

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