Oh my, what a treat I have in store for you today with WWW readers Suzanne and Troy’s Marshwood Manor wedding in Dorset. Their day was a woodland dream, with bright, colourful flowers, divine styling and a meaningful handfasting ceremony in the woods. Wow.
There was so much emotion, with big smiles and lots of dancing thanks to the Ceilidh come evening. You will also find cute velvet sofas, a children’s play tent, gorgeous attire and the most amazing trio of wedding cakes. Plus nods to New Zealand where their romantic proposal took place. Oh so lovely.
Thanks ever so much to Grace Elizabeth for sharing these divine images and to Hedgehog Video for sharing their beautiful film. Enjoy it all.
Suzanne and Troy on WWW
Yes! It was an amazing source of inspiration for outdoors, natural and boho weddings that mainstream magazines just didn’t cover. Loved searching through all the photos and bright colours and informal photo styles.
Marshwood Manor Wedding
We had been together for 20 years and have 4 children so I had all but given up on Troy ever proposing. On a trip to New Zealand, somewhere very special to us as a family, we were on a walking track in the Abel Tasman National Park with family.
It was a perfect sunny day and we’d stopped for a beach picnic when Troy dragged me round some rocks where he’d drawn a big heart in the sand. The next thing he was down on one knee in the sand heart asking me to marry him with a ring he’d been carrying around all holiday!
A traditional wedding didn’t feel right for us after so many years together, we wanted a relaxed, outdoor wedding spread over an entire weekend that brought together the most important people in our lives. Incorporating New Zealand in our day was really important to us both, as well as making the ceremony about us as a family of six rather than just a couple.
Flowers – particularly roses – are my passion and I knew my whole vision would be based around flowers and bright colours, and we wanted live folk music throughout the day, very laid back with children, games, velvet sofas to chat on and a ceilidh!
Marshwood Manor in Dorset, which is just 10 minutes from home. As soon as we walked into the woodland it felt right, the quiet of the wood and ferns growing on the floor captivated us, we could have been in New Zealand. There is a trickling stream running through the wood, with a bridge across it to a ceremony bower, and log seating for guests. It felt spiritual and unique.
We knew straight away that it would be where we got married, and then I set about spending the next year creating a vision to make the barn and courtyard a floral dream. The venue came with 6 cottages, so was perfect for us to have a full weekend wedding with guests staying from Friday until Sunday.
As a plus-size bride, I was absolutely dreading dress shopping. I wanted something quite ethereal, with tulle and lace but that wasn’t too low cut. As soon as Covid allowed we travelled to Somerset Bridal in Minehead, that had loads of boho-style dresses in sizes I could try on, and I found the perfect dress; an A-line Stella York dress in tulle with lace leaves which was made for a woodland ceremony. I felt beautiful and confident in it.
We bought bridesmaid dresses for my daughters from Needle and Thread, they wore ivory midi dresses that were fully embellished with floral sequins in blues, greens and pink.
I never wear heels and have huge size 9 feet, so shoes were always going to be an issue! I needed something that could cope with a woodland floor, gravel courtyard and energetic ceilidh dancing! I bought the prettiest sandals from Bella Belle in the US, complete with a blue sole.
I treated my eldest daughter to Harriet Wilde blue shoes, with rose gold embellished heels, and my younger daughter had jewelled sandals from New Look.
Troy chose blue tweed suits from Marc Darcy, with paua-shell bow ties and pocket squares for him and our sons, to represent New Zealand. Our youngest son never wears trousers so we compromised with linen shorts for him and a dinosaur and fern shirt from John Lewis. We bought 3 shorts and shirts as we knew he’d get ice cream all down them!
They had brown and tweed brogues also from Marc Darcy, which Fyn managed to keep on for the ceremony and then they were quickly switched for flip flops. It was a relaxed wedding after all!
The Ceremony & Music
The wonderful Ellie of Wildflower Ceremonies took the time to really get to know us, creating the most incredible spiritual handfasting ceremony that drew on our love of New Zealand and the water, and our children’s loves including dinosaurs! Our eldest daughter, Chiara, sang while I walked down the aisle on the arm of Matte, our eldest son.
The woodland floor had been covered in vintage rugs and candles, and our talented florist had created a floral aisle and archway. Our younger children, Aurelia and Fyn, read A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton, a reading all about dinosaurs that had everyone laughing, and my maid of honour read “I carry your heart”.
We wrote our own vows, and Ellie even learnt a Maori blessing for us that had us in tears. My family in New Zealand made a handfasting cord for us, embellished with paua shells, and our parents and the children all added a colour ribbon that they personalised to bless us with messages that were significant to them.
It was absolutely pouring with rain in the morning, but I didn’t back down on having an outdoor ceremony. Guests were told to come prepared for being outside whatever the weather and as we began the ceremony the sun came out and dragonflies flew up from the stream beneath us, one landing on me, It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Music was a huge part of our day. We had a local musician playing before the ceremony in the woodland, keeping the guests happy while I was fashionably late! He accompanied our daughter Chiara who sang ‘A Thousand Years’ while I walked down the aisle.
During the afternoon we had a relaxed folk band who played in the courtyard while we all relaxed with drinks, a cream tea and giant games. And in the evening we had a full ceilidh band and caller. The ceilidh was an absolute highlight of our day, we danced the entire night and didn’t stop laughing the whole time.
Your Photographer & Filmmaker
Grace Elizabeth was our photographer, we completely fell in love with her style. She captured the colours and natural relaxed shots, and all the little details. She made us feel calm as soon as we met and had a great rapport with the children. Her images totally capture us and the day. I only wish I’d had her for the whole weekend!
Dave at Hedgehog Video was our videographer. We met Dave at a local wedding fair before Covid, he is just the loveliest man to have around you all day, totally professional, but we hardly noticed him at the same time. He created us a full film of the day, as well as a highlight video that is a masterpiece of editing which still makes me cry now!
The Styling & Decor
Ferns, New Zealand Paua shells and colourful flowers were the theme! The flowers led the décor, Floral Couture by Jay took all my wild ideas and created floral magic in masses of coral and pink roses and dahlias, and lilac and blue delphiniums and hydrangeas, with ferns running through them all.
I hired vintage velvet sofas and trunks to create lounge areas outdoors in the courtyard and marquee for the afternoon and evening reception. Who wants to sit in a hard chair at our age? And we hired lots of giant games like chess, snakes and ladders and crazy golf. I created a children’s play tent with a lace tent and vintage rugs, and there was a teddy inside for each child with a fern-printed name label around their necks.
We added personal details like the Paua shells my uncle sent over from New Zealand as place settings, and the girls and I folded a thousand paper cranes which we strung up and hung from the marquee roof and the back of the barn.
We had a painted wedding cake that incorporated the ferns with the coral and lilac roses and dahlias, a buttercream cake with fresh flowers that was dairy-free, and a single-tier cake painted with “I carry your heart”, the poem running through from a ceremony reading, and one of the handfasting cords from my Dad. Just in case that wasn’t enough cake we also had tables of vegan doughnuts and macarons, as well as an ice-cream cart!
We did a lot of the set-up on the Friday, laying all the tables with chargers and glasses ourselves, adding our own napkins, menus, and shell place settings. The fern and florals even ran through the stationary and signs, and bespoke fern jewellery made by a local jeweller.
Between Covid and children, this has yet to happen. We did go to the Legoland Hotel for a few days with the kids, but I’m not sure that counts! We’re hoping to get back to New Zealand soon now the borders are open again.
The ceremony because it was so personal, walking through the woodland giggling with the girls as we slipped in the rain and turning the corner to a clearing filled with flowers and our closest friends and family and Chiara singing.
Then emptying my dress of confetti and grasshoppers as we walked out into bright sunshine in the meadow as a married couple!
The ceilidh was a real highlight of the day, we laughed so much, I ripped my dress in so many places twirling and galloping, and it was worth every one of them!
Advice For Other Couples
Ignore all the traditions and do what’s right for you. We had a spiritual outdoor ceremony in the woods – and it poured with rain all morning after a 2-month heatwave. We expected complaints but it was utterly wonderful and so many people commented that they’d never experienced such a personal and joyful wedding before.
All our meadow seating and drinks had to be moved due to the morning rain, which happened seamlessly thanks to our fabulous on-the-day planner. Best advice I can give is get a planner/coordinator for the day so you can enjoy yourselves, and pick your suppliers carefully. We had such wonderful, talented suppliers, but there was one that was a disaster and this is where the planner on the day became invaluable.
Woah! What an incredible day.
Suzanne and Troy, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your very special Marshwood Manor wedding story with us.
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The post Luxe Colourful & Floral Woodland Handfasting Wedding first appeared on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings.