A Sweet and Romantic, Shabby Chic Inspired Wedding at a Temple in the Woods…

I am in such a privileged position, doing what I do, I get to pour over endless images of couples in love, beautifully photographed – those perfect, wonderful moments one that one day in a lifetime when all that matters is love, and the coming together of two individuals who love one another.

I first became acquainted with bride and photographer Tarah Coonan after her engagement shoot featured on Love My Dress in June last year.  I remember at the time feeling all full of excitement when Tarah told me that they had booked Lillian and Leonard to shoot their wedding. I adore Lillian and Leonard and am excited to hear of photographer Cara and Nye’s impending move from Scotland to London – more on that at the end of this feature.

Tarah and Nathan’s wedding took place on 6th August last year at Temple in the Woods, Holkham, Norfolk, followed by a reception at Whitwell Hall, Reepham, Norfolk. What a stunning venue and perfect backdrop for these romantic and dreamy images.  I love the sense of wild flowers and the woodlands playing such a key part in the day…

Tarah’s dress was a design by Augusta Jones called ‘Juno’…

“I tried on so many and so disliked dress shopping. I was so self conscious and just couldn’t get used to seeing myself in a wedding dress. I had something else in my head, something more relaxed, but those kind of floaty dresses didn’t feel dressed up enough or they made me look pregnant…”

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Lillian and Leonard


“I was finding it so disheartening, especially as I kept reading about brides trying their first dress on and knowing it was ‘the one’, then I saw a photo of ‘Juno’ by Augusta Jones in a magazine and went to see it at Morgan Davies Bridal in Islington. It was more money than I wanted to spend but I was so relieved to find something I liked, although I had reservations about it the whole way through up until the day! Then, on the day, I felt beautiful and it was perfect…”


“I loved the floaty lace on the skirt and the delicate lace bodice. I changed the sparkly sash to a brown/champagne one and it felt a lot more relaxed and me then.”


We didn’t have a florist as we really wanted to do the flowers ourselves, we love country garden flowers and we had both been on a bouquet making course run by the awesome Martin and the Magpie, so felt confident.

We ordere”d wholesale flowers from Flowers4florists and Triangle Nursery. We also ordered the most gorgeous, wonderful garden roses from The Real Flower Co. – White Mischief, Groupie and Heritage. They smelled amazing!

My bouquet consisted of blue delphiniums, pink astilbe, chamomile daisies (tanacetum), White Mischief roses, cream stocks, love in the mist (nigella), eucalyptus parvi.  I tied them with an elastic band and covered the stalks in natural raffia...”

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“The bridesmaids wore the ‘Petazeta’ dress from Mango.  Their dresses gave a nod to the 1950s and were cream in colour with a pretty flower print and cross over back – they even had pockets!  We loved them immediately.

I had wanted all my bridesmaids to wear a completely different knee length high street dress in the same pastel palette, but it turns out that that is really difficult to sort out!! When we saw these they suited everyone and two have worn them at weddings as a guest since which made me happy that they could wear them again…”


“The bridesmaid bouquets were bunches of chamomile daisies. I loved these! They suited the dresses so much….”

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“The buttonholes were blue scabious and lavender (the scabious shrivelled up by the drinks reception!) and the confetti were petals that fell off the groupie roses while doing our flowers and dried delphinium petals from the past 18 months (they are our favourites so every time Nathan bought them we dried the petals afterwards).

We loved our flowers, as you can see!”





“I bought absolutely loads of LED fairylights from eBay and strung them everywhere. We also borrowed some outdoor connectable fairylights which went in the main room, as there were only 3 plugs in there, which wasn’t enough for the other length lights.

My brother and brother-in-law worked so hard all day stringing them everywhere, even outside from the house and around the gazebos. They looked wonderful and really made it magical, better than I dared imagine…”


I bought manila labels from a stationer online. I spent 8 hours printing each name by hand using typewriter style stamps bought from eBay. I had to do each one twice, ones for place names and another with a table number stamped on it for the table plan…”


“I wanted to put the table plan in an antique picture frame but never ended up getting one! In the end we strung them in the hallway on plain string with tiny pegs from eBay and people loved them. Although a lot weren’t sure what to do and a rumour started that you were meant to take the tag with you to find your seat so half disappeared off the clothes line!!

We were meant to have large paper mache numbers from Hobby Craft but they never arrived so we tied another tag with a number stamped on them onto the jam jars and people managed to find their seat fine!”


We love pudding so we couldn’t decide on a wedding cake (and couldn’t afford anything other than fruit cake)! For our second date we bought some slices of cakes from Patisserie Valerie and shared them on a bench in the park. It was a special memory so we bought four from Patisserie Valerie (Black Forest Gateau, Strawberry Gateau, Framboise Gateau and Valerie Chocolate Mousse).

We also bought some others from Byfords in Holt, just up the road from the venue (lemon sponge, Victoria sponge, chocolate and orange sponge, lemon tart and a Baileys cheesecake) but they also have an online shop.  They were all delicious!!

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“My bridesmaid Nikki made cupcakes with gorgeous starry sprinkles the day before and everyone loved those too.

My friend Debs cut out little bunting from material left over from our large bunting, and we strung them on bakers twine between bamboo skewers. I also came across little red hearts one day in John Lewis but didn’t know whether they’d come in useful – we ended up sticking them onto toothpicks and putting them on some cakes too.”

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I did my own makeup on the day because I am a bit of a control freak! But I did go for a hair and makeup trial with Elbie Van Eeden, who was wonderful. She taught me how to put my makeup on properly, showed me how to do it and then wrote down exactly what products she used.

I love knowing how to do my makeup now, I love my Make Up Forever foundation (my skin has never looked so perfect, especially after my 6 month Eve Lom regime!) and am so glad I went to her. Most important to me was turning up still looking like myself, and I did, just a little more polished!”


“My shoes were Touch Ups Lucy Dyeable Wedding ShoesI wanted to find some delicate wedges to wear as the walk into the ceremony was all grass and I didn’t want to struggle in front of everyone watching. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find any. In the end I bought these and they did the job. Although I danced in bare feet for the evening because I completely ignored all advice to wear them before the actual day and ended up with blisters!

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“Nathan wore a Hugo Boss grey suit with white shirt. Although he wished he had worn his brown House of Fraser suit because he thought that it fitted him better. I think he looked gorgeous.

Nathan had two best men, his best friends Oscar and Donal. Donal is my cousin (which is how we met, he and Nathan have been friends since they were 5 and one day I came to visit Donal in London when I was 17. We went to a party and the next day I wrote about him in my diary with little hearts around it, and told my best friend that one day I’d marry him. But we didn’t see each other again for 8 years until I moved to London, bumped into each other and saw each other every day, going travelling and moving in together after just 3 months!

The best men and ushers wore their own suits, in either grey or navy blue. They didn’t wear ties either…”


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Tarah didn’t walk down the aisle accompanied by anyone as tradition would dictate, she simply arrived to meet her groom, accompanied by the song ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole…





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“My sister was quite pregnant and wore a flowery maternity dress from ASOS which looked lovely.”


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“I spent a year collecting cut glass cake stands from eBay. I only bought them if they were under £5! I actually bought far too many but will be selling them on, we just don’t have room to keep them all sadly.

The cream two tiered cake stands with Nikki’s cupcakes were from Laura Ashley, I waited until the were on sale and they worked well with the others..”


“The bunting was a DIY job! I collected old shirts from friends and family and spent evenings cutting around a cardboard stencil triangle/ and semi circle. My bridesmaids, Nathan and I also had an evening where we all sat and cut them out too! My bridesmaid Louise then sewed them onto bias binding tape and they looked fabulous!  We had bunting coming out of ears and put it everywhere, all over the walls, above the sweet table, behind the cake table, around the gazebos outside and above the doorways…”


Behind the sweeie table was candy striped polycotton material bought from Fabric Land for about £3 per metre. It was just taped to a white board! The jars were from Ikea and there were a couple of cut glass cake stands for bon bons and coconut ice.  Sweets were from http://www.sweetswholesale.co.uk/ and we bought a whole mixture of coconut ice, flying saucers, bon bons, haribo heart throbs, jelly babies etc. We bought flumps from Sainsburys and swirly lollipops from eBay.

I bought pink and white striped candy bags from eBay.

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People kept asking us what our colour scheme was, what our theme was. Early on we decided to just answer honestly – ‘a bit shabby, just like us’ and that was pretty perfect!

We had pie and mash because we wanted rich food and we love pies. We had fairylights because our own house is decorated with them as much as possible inside and we think they make everything look magical. We had bunting because we love country garden fetes. We had a cake and sweet table because we love colourful sweet shops and both have much more of a sweet tooth than anything else. Everything we chose we chose because we would do it at home if we could. If we wouldn’t put it on the mantelpiece then it didn’t make the cut. If we wouldn’t eat it normally then we didn’t have it.”



A friend was going to DJ for us but I photographed a wedding a few months before and they had an amazing band playing. I asked the singer Neil if he would come down to Norfolk to play for us and we knew he was the one for us when he responded with ‘That sounds great, I’ll be swimming the River Nene the next day in Peterborough so that would work well’!

We could only afford 3 members of the big band as we hadn’t budgeted for one at all, but they were fantastic, coming into the  crowd to play and getting everyone onto the dance floor for the last song...”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom…

“At the end of the day you’ll be married, the same as someone who had no details, who didn’t spend as much… as long as you concentrate on the marriage part and not the wedding then you’ll be fine.

I photograph so many weddings and thought I wouldn’t get caught up in it but I really did. I felt so much pressure. My husband would take me aside and say to me, ‘We want a cake/sweet table, not everyone has been to 30 weddings this year, stop worrying!”.  And I did need that sometimes. But my favourite part of the day – the ceremony.

The way I felt, the way we looked at each other, the photos from that moment. Yes, the cake table was nice, the fairy-lights looked amazing. But I got to marry Nathan and that is what is truly awesome. Don’t lose sight of that part.”

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…can you even get over how beautiful a wedding this is? I adore everything about it, everything is so relaxed and ‘just right’.  Tarah, Nathan, thank you so very much for allowing me the pleasure to share with my readers. You are a beautiful couple inside and out, and I’m so delighted you had the day of your dreams.  Huge thanks as always too, to the amazingly talented Lillian and Leonard

“Cara and Nye from Lillian and Leonard were our photographers. I first came across Cara from reading A Practical Wedding and seeing their graduate post on there. I saw a link to her blog Peonies and Polaroids and emailed her, asking for advice on how she DIY’d their flowers on the day.

We had a few emails  back and forth and she was a great help – I used her original email to help me order our own flowers! I loved her photographs and then found out she and her husband actually had a wedding photography business up in Glasgow and I begged them to take our photos. Over the next 18 months Cara put up with endless essays from me and over time they became such good friends, especially as I started photographing weddings myself a year before our own.

We were proud to have them at our wedding, they knew how stressful it was for us but we knew that they understood us, and so we trusted them (although I did keep asking them what lens they were going to use when!). We couldn’t have wished for more beautiful photos.”

By the way, I mentioned earlier that Lillian and Leonard are relocating from Scotland to London at the end of the year  – they are also now taking bookings for down south from November 2012 onwards.  I strongly suggest you look them up if you are after beautiful, timeless, romantic images just like these – you can see more from Lillian and Leonard on Love My Dress here.

I’d love your thoughts on this wedding my loves, what do you love most? Those beautiful flowers, the incredible venue, that dress? Let’s show Tarah and Nathan some love for sharing their beautiful day. Are you planning to DIY like Tarah and Nathan did?

Much love everyone, have a great morning.


Photographer – Lillian and Leonard
Bride’s {also a photographer} website – Tarah Coonan
Tarah & Natah’s Engagement Shoot – ‘Blubells, a Flower Crown and a Vintage Camera’
Wedding Venue – Temple in the Woods + Whitwell Hall
Brides dress – Augusta Jones, Juno 
Brides accessories – green Art Deco drop earrings, £5, EBay
Brides Shoes – Touch Ups Lucy Dyeable Wedding Shoes
Grooms Suit – Hugo Boss + white shirt from TM Lewin + Paolo Vandini ‘Papillon’ shoes in black
Bridesmaids – ‘Petazeta’ dress from Mango
Flowers – Flowers4florists + Triangle Nursery + The Real Flower Co. – all self-styled/arranged
Cake – Byfords in Holt + made by friends
Entertainment – Red Stripe
Cake Stands – EBay + Laura Ashley
Sweet table – + vases from Jam Jar shop


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.