A Festival Wedding With Colourful Smoke Bombs, Wild Flowers + a Bride in Eliza Jane Howell

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A Festival Wedding With Colourful Smoke Bombs, Wild Flowers + a Bride in Eliza Jane Howell

I’m so pleased to be sharing this sweet, summertime celebration with you today because it features a bride in a gorgeous, embellished dress by one of my favourite wedding designers, Eliza Jane Howell.

We’re longtime fans of these ever-elegant, era inspired dresses, and delighted that the label is part of our supplier directory, Little Book.

If you’re in search of vintage glamour, then do head over to their website, as the new 2020 collection, The Roaring Twenties is a treasure trove of tassels, beads, pearls and feathers. Primary School Teacher Louisa, and her love, Ali, who is a Head of Sales, were married on the 27 July 2019 at the beautifully named Spirit Lake, Dorking, in the Surrey Hills; an idyllic outdoor venue surrounded by woodland, complete with a walled garden where Louisa and Ali said their vows.

Chris Bradshaw Photography + Follow

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Invaluable on-the-day coordination was provided by Fiesta Fields and these gorgeous images were captured by Chris Bradshaw.

“We decided to have an outdoor, festival themed wedding, as we love festivals, and have been going to Glastonbury together since 2013. I didn’t really follow a particular colour scheme; instead, I wanted as much colour as possible.”

“We chose to get married at Spirit Lake because it is a beautiful outdoor venue. The landowner, Bruce, is very flexible and even offered to give tractor rides for our guests! I love planning (not surprising as I’m a teacher) so I very much wanted to plan this event myself, with the help of Ali and my side-chicks (bridesmaids).”

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Stationery was designed by Louisa’s friend Laura, who runs The Stationery Garden (Laura is currently on maternity leave, but do check her website for updates) and I love the vibrant splashes of watercolour, which looked wonderful alongside vintage floral china.

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Louisa’s friend, Steph Chick, took care of make-up, as well as a lovely curled and braided hair style, to which they added a long, twisting hair vine of floral inspired pearls and crystals by Luisa Vass.

“I loved the beaded detail all the way down the dress, and felt comfortable with the shape of it. I added some pearl beading around the neckline and bought a belt from an Etsy shop called Bridal Beading, too [sadly unable to find any details about this Etsy shop].”

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To choose her wedding dress, Louisa visited boutique Gillian Million in South West London, and found her beautiful and romantic, vintage inspired gown by Eliza Jane Howell, with its layers of wonderfully crafted embellishment, lace and tulle.

“Gillian is very lovely, and puts you at ease as soon as you walk into her shop, which was very helpful for me as I found the pressure of finding ‘The dress’ quite overwhelming. She has such a gorgeous range of dresses, especially if you prefer a vintage/ boho look.”

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Louisa’s shoes were by Freya Rose, with super-pretty mother of pearl block heels, and she also wore elegant fan shaped drop earrings from Liora Jewelry (sadly unable to find further details), as well as adding her go-to perfume, Gucci Bloom.

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Louisa and her bridesmaids carried gorgeously abundant bouquets of light, bright summer blooms, including pink peonies and waxflowers, lilac and purple lisianthus, scabiosa and cheery chamomile daisies.

These, and all of the wild, meadow inspired floral arrangements were by Louisa’s friend Lucy Priest (sadly, no details provided) who is a teacher and aspiring florist. Lucy, I think your work is exquisite.

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“I took Ali on a surprise weekend trip to Bruges for his 30th Birthday around Christmas time in 2017. When we got there, we decided that I would plan the first day’s activities, and he would plan the following day. On the second day, Ali was really keen to go on a ‘romantic’ walk through Minnewater Park, which is known for its beautiful lake Lake of Love, with a cute little footbridge known as Lover’s Bridge.

“As we strolled through the park, he was telling me the story of a young girl called Minna who fell in love with a man called Stromberg, whom her father didn’t approve of. After being told to marry someone else, she escaped into the forest and died in Stromberg’s arms.”

“We found somewhere to sit as he claimed that his foot had really bad blisters! I remember just watching the swans swimming in the lake feeling none the wiser that he was about to propose! What he said was a complete blur, I just remember feeling so excited to marry him. We then went to a restaurant in the park called One. We ate, drank wine, and called all of our friends and family to tell them the good news!”

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Ali and his groomsmen looked fantastic in matching herringbone tweed suits from Moss Bros. Whilst the groomsmen went without ties, Ali added one to his outfit, and they all had matching floral print pocket squares.

“We met 9 years ago at a house party in Bristol. We were both studying there at uni. After seeing each other on a few more nights out, and getting to know each other more, we found out that our home towns were next door to each other, so needless to say, we suddenly became very excited about the future.”

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The bridal party drove to Spirit Lake in a wonderful, pastel blue vintage VW Campervan (sadly, no details provided about transport), which made for a very stylish entrance!

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The flowers went perfectly with the bridesmaids’ blush pink, polka dot tulle dresses from ASOS, embroidered all over with delicate blooms, and Louisa’s bridesman’s outfit – a crisp, white shirt with blush pink trousers and loafers (no details provided about this outfit).

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Ali, his ushers, Best Man and loved ones had gathered in the venue’s walled garden to await Louisa’s arrival, and to the sounds of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love, she walked down the aisle together with her mum.

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The couple were married by old family friend and Surrey registrar, Julie Bickerdike, and made their vows to each other in front of the charming, whimsical backdrop of two open doors, which were decorated with floral hoops.

“We wrote our own vows, which made the whole ceremony very personal. We both enjoy watching Love Island, and I started mine with, ‘So, I have coupled up with this boy because…’, which got a few laughs (before the tears!)”

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There were two ceremony readings – He’s Not Perfect, by Bob Marley (changed to ‘she’!) and Taylor Mali’s brilliant, How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog, as a nod to the couple’s love of dogs. There was also live music from singer Robyn, who the couple booked through Bands For Hire.

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The couple were married by old family friend and Surrey registrar, Julie Bickerdike, and made their vows to each other in front of the charming, whimsical backdrop of two open doors, which were decorated with floral hoops.

“We wrote our own vows, which made the whole ceremony very personal. We both enjoy watching Love Island, and I started mine with, ‘So, I have coupled up with this boy because…’, which got a few laughs (before the tears!)”

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After the ceremony, Louisa and Ali went around the lake and into the woods to walk and take in those feelings of just-married joy.

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“Our photographer Chris Bradshaw and his wife are such amazing photographers. They were so good at taking photos without us even realising they were there!”

“We told Chris that we didn’t like posed photos, as we both feel quite awkward in front of the camera, and we were so pleased with the amount of natural shots they got of us and our guests.”

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The couple held their reception in a spacious, open-sided pole marquee, which was decorated with colourful flags, festoon lights and lots of bunting.

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“The children at my school helped me to make colourful festival flags, which we put around the perimeter of the tent and around the lake. They also helped me make some dream catchers, which we hung from trees around the grounds. A few women who attend my mum’s church made some beautiful bunting, which we hung behind the bar to add some colour. “

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As guests enjoyed lakeside drinks, Louisa and Ali made quite the entrance, chauffeured by Spirit Lake owner, Bruce, in the back of his rather fine tractor!

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Tables were decorated with vases of flowers, and Louisa strung garlands of silk flowers (sourced from Hobbycraft) around the marquee, on the wooden pallet table plan, and across the festival inspired glitter station table, too.

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The wedding feast was a fun, relaxed affair, with delicious canapes courtesy of Sophie Martin Catering, followed by picnic boxes (also by Sophie Martin) and a hog roast from Spitting Pig Co.

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Speeches followed, alongside tea and coffee, as everyone helped themselves to the array of homemade cakes and bakes on the dessert table, from Louisa and Ali’s Great Wedding Bake Off.

Cocktails were served by The Jam Jar Cocktail Club, and guests settled into the festival party spirit with the help of the glitter bar and colourful smoke bombs.

“Our friend wrote a song for us, which he called AliLouYah. He sung with his guitar to the same tune as Hallelujah, but added new words, which were about me and Ali and how we met. He performed it in the evening, and it was such a special moment for both of us, especially when we heard everyone singing along with him. Our first dance was to L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole.”

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“Our evening entertainment was Step ‘n’ Soul, who are a 7 piece band with a male and female singer. Katanya has such an amazing voice. No-one wanted them to end!”

“There were lots of times in the lead up to the wedding when I wished we had just paid for a wedding planner, as it was very time consuming doing it all ourselves, but in the end, I felt so proud of how the whole day ran, and it was exactly how we both wanted it.”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“My wedding day was honestly the happiest day of my life, and it was purely down to the fact that the whole day reflected us as a couple, the decorations were handmade, the vows were written by us, and we threw an occasion that was refreshingly different, particularly for the older guests.”

“My mum and I were really advocating girl power at the wedding, as we both made speeches. My dad passed away five years ago, and my eldest brother offered to do a speech for me. My mum was quick to say no to him. She wanted to do it, and she had some hilarious stories to tell on the day.”

“It was also really nice having the freedom to bin the tradition of the bride sitting there in silence and smiling while the groom and best men say their speeches. I was able to thank my friends and family personally rather than leaving that all to the groom.”

“Also, I know that a lot of couples worry about keeping people on the dance floor throughout the night (I have been to weddings where the dance floor has been empty even when the band were playing!). Firstly, choose carefully where you put the bar. We positioned ours right next to the dance floor so that people didn’t have to travel far. Secondly, your guests will follow your lead. Ali and I stayed on the dance floor all night, and that’s where our guests stayed, too!”

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“Remember that your wedding day can run exactly as you want it. Bin traditions if you don’t like them, or keep the ones that you like. It’s your special day, and your chance to throw one hell of a party for yourselves and all of the people you love.”

Louisa and Ali, thank you so much. Your day looked like so much fun, and what a lovely setting, too! Huge thanks to photographer Chris Bradshaw for this beautiful collection of images, too.

Over the years, we’ve featured many gorgeous brides wearing dresses by Eliza Jane Howell, so if Louisa’s dreamy dress has left you wanting to see more, then do take a look right here.

Until next time!

Love, Laura

Credits & Thanks

Laura Callan

Laura Callan View all Laura's articles

Laura is a freelance writer and content creator who loves telling stories. She has keen eye for photography and art, and lives with her husband, cats, and huge amounts of books.