Derbyshire Wedding

glamping with love. a diy wedding at woodthorpe hall – linsey & tom

Julia Smith

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (15)

Today’s DIY wedding on the edge of the stunning Peak District is a step-by-step lesson in how to plan and execute that sought-after tipi-style wedding with gusto.

With no overall theme or colour scheme in sight – the couple, Linsey and Tom, show us what it really means to personalise all those finer details. We’re talking flowers, decorations, tables runner, the wedding cake and even the confetti cones, with family and friends all contributing in their own special way. And we just adore the picture-perfect results (and think you will, too…).

Serving up pie and mash, pizzas, Aperol spritz and gins galore, with a Caribbean steel band, toasted marshmallows, sparklers and a silent disco to boot, this wedding was more akin to one big outdoors party. Surely, the best kind of wedding celebration there can be?

With images by Alex Abbott Photography.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (16)

linsey says

: Tom’s mum and step-dad have a place in Nice, so we tend to go out once a year to relax and get some sunshine! In 2015 we were there for a week, and a couple of days in we had planned to go to Monaco for the day. We ended up getting off the bus a couple of stops early and it turned out that Tom had hired a boat for the day as a surprise (he had secretly done a course to get a powerboat license earlier in the year). We went out on the boat and about 20 minutes later we stopped – we were way out in the bay in front of Nice and Tom was pointing out that we could see the place where we stay, and when I turned around he was on one knee!

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (38)

We chose the 9th September for our wedding. We wanted a couple of years between getting engaged and married so that we could enjoy being engaged and so that wedding preparations could be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

We got married at St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Hathersage. We love the Peak District – both of us grew up nearby so have spent a lot of time there. We knew from day one we wanted to get married there. Most of our friends and family are close by too which was definitely a big factor.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (12)

We began the venue hunt for our reception by looking for barns in the Peak District and places where we could put some sort of marquee. In the meantime, my mum had come across a venue called Woodthorpe Hall – a private 17th century country house set in 2.5 acres of gardens on the edge of the Peak District. Mum had kindly booked us a viewing as she knew it was somewhere we might love. Within minutes of being there we knew it was where we wanted to hold our reception. They only do seven or eight weddings a year and we were the last wedding of 2017 for them!

The gardens at Woodthorpe provided the perfect location for us to put a marquee / tipi and would allow us to spend a lot of the day outdoors. I want to say it was also the perfect blank canvas for us to really make the day our own, but that plays down how stunning the gardens and setting of this venue are! One of the most appealing things for us (apart from the setting) was that we weren’t restricted and could put glamping tents and motorhomes in one of the fields next door, so our guests could stay over if they wanted to.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (40)

We initially fancied a sperry tent but after visiting a tipi open day we fell in love with the idea of having a tipi wedding! The indoor fire pits, wooden tables, and general rustic feel really appealed to us – as did the fact that they could withstand whatever the British weather might throw our way!

We didn’t really have a theme, we wanted the day to be relaxed, enjoyable, not too formal, and to reflect our personalities. Our main aim from the beginning was for our family and friends to be able to let their hair down and have a really good time – we knew that if they were having fun, we would be able to properly relax and enjoy it with them!

We didn’t have a colour scheme, although I am superstitious and so didn’t want any red and white together (which Tom was more than happy to go with due to footballing reasons!).

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (54)

I chose a Maggie Sottero dress from Nora Eve in Chesterfield. As with the venue, this wedding dress shop was a find by my wonderful mum (she really missed her calling as a wedding planner)! I had no particular style in mind, just something quite simple and comfortable (and not too expensive). The dress I ended up wearing was one of the first I tried on, and I loved it from the beginning (as did mum, and one of my bridesmaids, who also came along).

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (1)

We didn’t want anything overly formal for Tom or the groomsmen, and quite fancied more of a tweed look, but they seemed to be very expensive! Nora Eve had just opened up a menswear store Grays Menswear, and they had great selection. Tom ended up picking a blue tweed suit with a knitted bow-tie. We could buy the trousers, waistcoat and jacket separately, so Tom, my dad, Tom’s dad, and my granddad wore the whole lot, but the groomsmen just wore trousers and a waistcoat without the jacket.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (7)

The bridesmaids wore Maya dresses which were ordered from ASOS. We were able to get them in short or long, which I was keen to do so that the girls could choose which they’d prefer. We also managed to find some lightweight scarves that pretty much matched the dresses, so the girls could wear these if it was chilly.

My hairdresser, Emily, did mine and my bridesmaids’ hair. Emily was fab – it was like she was part of the bridal party. One of my closest friends, Chloe, did my makeup.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (18)

My dad has always been into cars and he’s had a stunning white 1972 MG Roadster for a number of years now. I have always known I would want dad to drive me in it if I got married, so it was an honour for me to be able to ask him to do this and there’s no other way I would have wanted to arrive at church – this part of the day was a real highlight for me! After the ceremony we were driven by Paul (one of the close family friends) to Woodthorpe Hall in his 1967 Morris 1000 convertible to a soundtrack put together by Paul especially for the day – it was absolutely perfect.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (25)

Our photographer was Alex Abbott, based in Leeds. We were keen to document the day without us having to spend too much time away from our friends and family (and the food and drink!). We loved Alex’s documentary style, and his preference to keep group and posed photos to a minimum.

We chose to arm a number of our guests with GoPros and asked them each to film a certain part of the day – this gave us some brilliant and hilarious footage which Tom is currently editing into a home-made video!

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (20)

Me and my mum did the bouquets – they were a mixture of florist-bought peach coloured roses, various types of eucalyptus, thistles, greenery from the garden, and flowers grown by Tom’s dad and my mum’s friend Lyn. We absolutely loved creating the bouquets ourselves – I wasn’t fussed on a specific look, just something simple and not too structured. My mum’s close friend Elaine kindly did our buttonholes for us, which we loved! We also had corsages for the bridesmaids and ladies in the family from Valerie of Dore. Tom’s mum did our flowers for the church, which looked beautiful.

Where to start with the reception decorations!? It was pretty much all DIY and so many people played a part: we had wooden frames made by my dad to hang in the trees as a photo booth area; my dad made two easels and about eight blackboards for various signs (which were painted by my mum and written on by one of our incredibly talented bridesmaids); and 100s of jars of all shapes and sizes were collected by loads of people. Tom’s mum made all the table runners and decorated each napkin with twine and rosemary; Tom’s step-mum and step-sister decorated all the gin jars with personalised tags and twine; Tom’s step-mum and one of my bridesmaids made the origami elephants; my mum and Elaine made all the white tissue pom poms; and two of my bridesmaids helped me paint and label the arrow location sign which Tom made, scrub the Hendo’s bottles and re-label them with the personalised labels. They also made the confetti cones, with the help of Tom’s step-mum and step-sister.

We made our table plan with various sheets of wrapping paper, brown tags and twine. We also printed photos from our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding days which were hung behind the top table.

Around the rest of the tipi we hung loads of photos of family and friends. We also had sparklers, blankets in case it was cold, marshmallows for the fire pits, lanterns from our house scattered around the tipi, and tiki flame torches around the garden outside the tipi. Woodthorpe Hall decked the gardens out with fairy lights and lanterns, which looked so lovely in the evening!

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (28)

As for flowers, Tom’s dad and my mum’s friend Lyn both have allotments and were kind enough to grow a huge number of flowers for us for the venue – they were so colourful and looked really great in the tipi and spread around the gardens. Tom’s dad provided a huge number of beautiful dahlias, along with sweet peas, and Lyn provided at least 12 buckets of various homegrown flowers.

The tipis went up on the Wednesday before the wedding, so we were able to have three brilliant days up at Woodthorpe Hall before the big day, which we very much class as part of the wedding – family, friends, and Dick and Sue (who run Woodthorpe Hall) couldn’t do enough for us and between everyone we turned the blank canvas of the tipis into a venue that was even better than we could have ever hoped for!

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (34)

We gave personalised Henderson’s Relish bottles as wedding favours. Tom is from Sheffield, and so has Hendo’s on everything, and we both live here now so there was no other option for us really! Plus, it was the perfect excuse to have pie for the meal!

We had a semi-naked wedding cake decorated with real edible flowers, made by my very talented mum – it was really beautiful, and tasted as good as it looked.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (33)

Jo’s Pantry were our caterers. They provided canapés during reception drinks, and for the meal we had meat and potato pie with mash, veg and plenty of gravy. Pudding was cheesecake. We wanted lots of good, hearty food and that’s exactly what we got – all of it was absolutely delicious and the clean plates spoke for themselves!

In the evening Sunshine Pizza Oven did a fantastic job keeping everyone’s energy up for dancing by serving delicious pizzas from their wood fired oven. They even added a special hendo’s pizza to their menu just for us!

For drinks, at the reception we had an Italian fizz (brought back from Italy by Tom’s dad), Aperol spritz, a variety of local beers, and some beers from further afield that we took a liking to on our holidays. For the meal, we settled on a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and a Montepulciano from Italy.

In the evening we had a gin bar, run by Woodthorpe Hall – Dick and Sue’s son impressed our guests with their in-depth knowledge of every gin! It was a really lovely surprise for us (and our guests) – we have kept the tasting notes so that we can re-create the drinks. We also supplied the usual drinks for the evening bar, and Woodthorpe Hall provided a barrel of their home-brewed cider.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (39)

In terms of entertainment, one of our best friends, Gareth, sang The Prayer during the church ceremony. This was a huge highlight for us, the song is beautiful – it was quite an emotional few minutes, and one we hope to never forget. We then had a Caribbean steel band at the drinks reception who were incredible – they brought the sunshine and blue skies with them and created such a wonderful atmosphere.

In the evening we had a DJ – Paul of Spirits High, followed by a silent disco which went on until the early hours of Sunday morning – our guests loved it. I would highly recommend it to anyone toying with the idea or considering a venue with an early music cut-off!

We hired glamping tents so our guests could stay overnight. The venue also set up a campfire for us in the camping field, which was a perfect way to end the day. On the Sunday morning my dad and uncle Steve cooked bacon and sausage sandwiches on the barbecues for everyone.

A memorable part of the day for us was the Woodthorpe trolley fire – when it dropped dark, Dick and Sue got a fire going in a shopping trolley, it is a tradition for the venue, and really was a talking point for the guests!

One of my best friends supplied glow bands for the evening which were so much fun – seeing family and friends of all ages with glow band halos and necklaces was a very memorable sight.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (41)

I would recommend the venue in a heartbeat! At times it felt quite daunting to have to source each part of the wedding separately and to get to grips with how it would all come together, but Dick and Sue at Woodthorpe Hall really helped with the whole process.

It is really difficult to pick our favourite part – we loved every minute of the day. If we were pushed, we’d probably say the ceremony and the drinks reception. Our vicar, Jude, led a beautiful and personalised service, one of Tom’s best men led the prayers, we had a few readings which were read so well, and as mentioned earlier one of our best friends stunned us all with his amazing and powerful version of the The Prayer. To then be able to completely relax during the drinks reception with all of our friends and family in the sunshine, to the sound of the steel band was unforgettable for us.

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (52)

After the wedding we went to Singapore to watch the Grand Prix – Tom has wanted to go to that race for ages and the timing of it seemed too perfect to not go! Somehow, my mum managed to get us into the garage with Williams – this really was a once in a lifetime experience! The original idea was to go away in January (to give us time to save after the wedding), so we stuck that plan out and headed off to Alaska in January to go dog sledding – it was an incredible trip and we would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of cold weather (down to -40) in a heartbeat!

A DIY Wedding at Woodthorpe Hall (c) Alex Abbott (50)

We have three top tips for other Brides Up North. Try and take a few moments throughout the day to take in what is going on – it goes by so quickly but this definitely helped to stop it from being a blur when we look back on the best day of our lives! Don’t worry about the weather – you can’t control it so try not to waste time stressing about it. Think about how to keep the day interesting and enjoyable for your guests. For us, we knew that if we could see our family and friends enjoying themselves then this would make the day even more perfect!

In the run up to the wedding, I spent a lot of time looking at the ‘real weddings’ section on Brides Up North – it was so helpful to get tips from other brides and to get a feel for the types of things that we wanted to incorporate into our wedding day.

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