As promised we have the fabulous Wilderness Festival wedding of Jessica & Benoit, photographed by Jess’ dad Martin Phillips. This couple chose to do things their own way and chose the most amazing and unique venue. Having just celebrated their first wedding anniversary Jess is here to tell us about their three day wedding.
What was your budget? We kept the budget pretty realistic and only spent on things we really wanted to have. By being creative and thinking about it a bit differently, we managed to create something utterly unique. We had entertainment from top international musicians, boutique glamping, Michelin-star chefs and a private Laurent Perrier champagne tent, but for a tiny fraction of what you’d imagine!
How would you describe your wedding theme? A bohemian wedding extravaganza, held at award winning Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park in the Cotswolds. We spent three amazing days of revelry with 75 of our close friends and family, everyone camping in canvas bell tents and enjoying the great outdoors in the ancient oak forest and all the wonders of this incredible festival.
Just some of the activities we took part in were: swimming in the lake, doing vinyasa yoga in a yurt, eating delicious food cooked by Michelin star chefs – in beautiful banqueting tents, watching a huge variety of bands, outdoor theatre spectaculars and dancing until dawn – deep in the forest with amazing light shows, DJs and acrobatic performers in the trees.
What was your favourite part of your wedding? There are so many it’s impossible to choose, but here goes!!
Tell us about your Wedding Dress Knowing from early on that a “proper” wedding dress and anything white would be a bit of a nightmare, especially if we got unlucky with the weather, I pretty much knew I wouldn’t be wearing one on the day. It also helped considerably with the budget! I did go and try on a few with my mum as we were so excited to do that, but whilst I tried on a few that looked fab, I just knew that it wouldn’t work for our style of wedding. I did, however, fall utterly, head over heels in love with an exquisite floor length veil with beautiful beaded detail, and a very bohemian look. It was at the lovely Victoria Valentine’s shop in Abergavenny, and I just had to have it. Bearing in mind that I didn’t have a dress at this point, it was a bit of a backwards way to do it, but my mum saw how much I loved it and we duly left with the beginnings of my outfit!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? My maid of honour was my friend Michelle who I’ve known since school. She is the kindest, most vivacious person you will ever meet, with such lust for life it’s totally infectious! She is is a creative genius and was invaluable in helping us make all the little fun bits that helped pull the wedding together. Then I also asked my best friend from university, Mike, to be my sort of Best Man, or ‘Brides Man’, as we called him! He is the most fun person you could ever wish to have around you, and has such a sense of mischief and the biggest heart – there was nobody else I would have considered to be my right hand man. He even did a speech for me which was totally amazing and made me so proud to have him as one of my closest friends and longest standing partner in crime!!
Why did you choose your venue? We had been to the Wilderness Festival the year before, not long after getting engaged and it just seemed like the perfect setting.
Tell us about your photographer Well, he’s my dad!! There was just no way we could ever consider using anyone else. We of course wanted mum and dad to be able to enjoy the day, and be in the photos too, so my uncle took some extra shots, as well as my brother – they both have a great eye for photography, it must run in the family!
How did the proposal happen? Benoit had planned a gorgeous weekend trip away for us in Lake Como, where he was going to propose with the stunning vintage pear cut diamond ring. He and our neighbour Laura had been working on the ring for the last couple of months. Laura, the super talented owner of Tomfoolery, a jewellery shop in Muswell Hill, London, had made the ring with Benoit’s input, looking through dozens of pear cut diamonds from Hatton Garden diamond traders until he found the perfect one, I had no idea it was all happening in secrecy!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? I designed a website with loads of content and useful info to help everyone feel more comfortable, as we were very conscious that many of our guests would be going to a festival for the first time! We hired and set up canvas Bell tents for those who wanted them, and they were great! And for everyone who was camping, we made little “survival bags”, complete with wet wipes, bottled of water, ear plugs, eye masks, alka seltzer, and other bits and bobs!
What was your first dance & why? We didn’t really orchestrate a first dance, but definitely had a very memorable moment amidst the crowd, with a load of our friends and family as the moon was rising. The ultimate romantic crooner Burt Bacharach was on stage. Benoit had his French cousin’s little girl, Luce, on his shoulders and everyone was dancing with each other, singing and laughing, it was so much fun! We carried on doing that until about 4.30am (minus the kids of course!)
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? We gave ourselves rather a lot of work to do and much of the final details couldn’t be done until we were actually on the festival site, so it was quite mad at times! But everything came together just as we had dreamt it would, so it was all worth it and we would do it all again in a heartbeat! We knew we would be creating something that nobody else could ever replicate, and there was no chance of it being dull in any way. It was totally unique and the “We must be crazy!?!” moments finally gave way to the “I can’t believe we are actually pulling this off!!” moments!
Do you have any advice for future couples? Don’t think you have to stick to the formula, keep it about you and what you are about as a couple, be brave, be creative, and above everything else make it unique. Really go for it with your ideas, work together and you can find a way to make it happen.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? Just be yourself and work as a team.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? I loved all the creative bits, making accessories, designing the invitations and website, making the flowers, and also seeing how involved and excited Benoit was, he was the driving force behind what we did. He was totally involved in every step – he’s a great project manager and I couldn’t imagine having a wedding where the groom is just going through the motions or doesn’t have much of a say in it.
Photographer: Martin Phillips
Wedding Planner: US!!
Ceremony Venue: Wilderness Festival, a little spot in the sunshine on a grassy slop overlooking the lake
Reception Venue: Wilderness Festival– the Angela Hartnett banquet
Bride’s Dress: Topshop
Bride’s Shoes: Own shoes
Bride’s Headpiece: Victoria Valentine Bridal in Abergavenny.
Bride’s Jewellery: Ophelia
Groom’s Outfit: We spent time shopping in London’s Brick Lane and vintage shops to find a bohemian style outfit in the colours we wanted. Combined with a few great finds on Ebay.
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: From And Other Stories in London
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: I made a floral crown for her
Cake: We didn’t have one
Flowers: Made myself, using blush coloured anthurium, Early Grey roses, rice flowers, eucalyptus and mocucella
Hair: Done by Louise from Tabitha James Kraan in Stow on the Wold
Make Up: Did myself, using products by Stila, Trish McEvoy, Percy & Reed hair products
Band: London Grammar, Hozier, Chet Faker, Metronomy, Burt Bacharach, Jessie Ware, Gregory Porter… and many more!!
DJ: Zero 7, Futureboogie, Artful Badger…
Stationery: Made ourselves – with a Wilderness forest theme. Individual boxes filled with moss, acorns, butterflies and the invitation, designed by my dad, and decorated with dried leaves, feathers and grosgrain ribbon
Caterers: Angela Hartnett and Laurent Perrier
Any Reception Decor/Props: All made by us
Transport: None, we walked through the festival site alongside the edge of the lake
The Wedding Album
Wow what a spectacular wedding!! I think you’ll all agree that Martin Phillips did his daughter proud with these gorgeous images! Thank you all for the submission.