Alice and Gareth’s Homespun, Festival Style Country Wedding in Dorset by Paul Underhill

Today’s wedding is bursting with colour and is full of English country goodness! Alice and Gareth held a fun filled festival style wedding at Shillingstone House in Dorset on 28th May 2022 and it really is a joy of a wedding. They are massive Glastonbury fans, so wanted to incorporate a bit of Glasto magic into the day. They did this with a chilled vibe, plenty of handmade games, gorgeous flowers and plenty of glamping tents. The whole day is just amazing, the country style rustic decoration is incredible, so much attention to detail with all the hand made projects, I just love it. Big thanks to Dorset wedding photographer Paul Underhill for the fab photos.

Pure festival fun with massive Glastonbury vibes!

How did you allocate your budget?
We set out with an idea of budget in mind, and worked hard to stick to this. We had to spend quite a lot on simply ‘making it work’ as we were essentially in a field – so a lot of the budget went on the logistics of making things work so we kept costs down on other aspects where we could.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
Our biggest spend was definitely our marquee as this company also provided the generator, the lighting, the flooring, the tables, chairs, PA system, stage and the generator. But so worth it! As a family we did the table flowers and decorative flowers ourselves, but worked with a professional florist for the bridal party flowers.

How did you choose your photographer?
We had already seen Paul Underhill’s work on Instagram as we had seen him years ago photograph a wedding at St Aldhelm’s Chapel. We loved how the photos seemed totally unique to the couple and not a one-shoe-fits-all approach. As it was the height of COVID, we spoke to a few photographers on Skype and Paul stood out to us as the most friendly and down-to-earth. Neither of us particularly like being in front of the camera and we liked how non-prescriptive Paul was with how he set out to capture the day. He just felt like a friend.

The dress
Alice chose her shoes from John Lewis from their Rainbow collection, Alice had to choose ones with a very small and chunky heel as she knew she would be spending most of the day outside. Alice also loved the fact you can dye the shoes a different colour after the wedding and is going to get them dyed coral soon. Accessories – Alice stuck to just earrings, and wore Tiffany pearl earrings, her 21st birthday present from her parents, and a gorgeous flower crown from Martha and the Meadow. Alice’s dress was from Pascali, a bridal shop in Poole.

The suit and Bridesmaids 
The suit was from Moss Bros, tailored to suit. Alice gave all six bridesmaids a swatch of fabric and asked them to choose a style of dress that they would feel comfortable in. This was a great decision – everyone looked unique and totally happy! Bridesmaids chose their own shoes and Alice gave them all a personalised engraved necklace, matching, to wear on the day.

Theme or colour scheme?
The bridesmaid dresses and groom’s party ties were a deep, dark red. There were splashes of this throughout, for example, we painted the table numbers this colour and also the candle holders were this colour. But mostly the entire wedding was a celebration of colour – from the floral crown in the bride’s hair, to the flowers all down the aisles in front of the pagoda, to the flowers on the tables, to the colourful bunting, to the flowers in the gardens of Shillingstone House. The brighter the better!

Flowers & Decor
Vintage lawn games which we made from scratch on the lawns of the venue, vintage tea cups with Pimms (thanks to Simply Love Vintage) while the Soul Choir performed (which Alice sung with), bunting, real tea lights, hessian chair backs, flowers in watering cans on wooden logs on each table. Bird cages filled with flowers hung from the top of the marquee on grapple wires. Gareth’s wonderful mum decorated the pagoda with the most colourful and versatile array of flowers. It was the most stunning backdrop.

Pimms on arrival and homemade rhubarb gin and ginger ale in vintage tea cups for guests on arrival. Wedding breakfast was a feast of spatchcock chicken, Cajun salmon, rump steak, vegetarian (or vegan option) parcel of goats’ cheese, vegetables and cranberries. Served with couscous salad and charred spring onion | roasted sweet potato, pomegranate and ricotta | baby gem, roquette, radish, shallot and citrus dressing | pea, broad bean and feta | spicy slaw. Essentially a fantastic salad bar to accompany the mains. Dessert was a choice of baked chocolate fudge tart or classic Eton mess. The evening food was fantastic wood-fired pizzas, followed by a selection of cheeses and chutneys.

Wedding cake
We had a three tiered cake, the top and smallest layer was Biscoff and salted caramel, and the other two layers were chocolate hazelnut and lemon and elderflower. We were delighted that the top tier was vegan – to keep the bride happy!

A choir sung on the lawns after the ceremony while guests enjoyed welcome drinks. The band was Quinn’s Quinney and on the Sunday afternoon, the day after the wedding, we had Lee Randall-Dove perform while guests enjoyed a BBQ.

Who supplied the stationery?
Two of Alice’s bridesmaids designed the wedding invite. Alice and her mum hand painted and designed all of the menus, the table plan, the place cards and the signs for toilets and showers etc.

Where did you go on your honeymoon
We disappeared to Mallorca for a few nights for some sunshine straight after the wedding, but are saving for a special honeymoon in 2023. Destination TBC…

Personal touches
Alice’s friend Kayleigh sung three songs in between the services. We had two ceremonies – the legal ceremony, which we kept as short as possible, and then the most wonderful handfasting ceremony with Ellie of Wildflower Ceremonies. Alice was barefoot for the handfasting – a dream she always envisioned. The ceremony we chose was earth, air, fire and water. It was spiritual and a highlight of the day for Alice and Gareth. We made all of the lawn games – Alice’s parents were an absolute triumph and helped with so many elements of the day. Gareth’s mum decorated the pagoda with all of the flowers. Alice’s uncle and his husband designed all of the table flowers and flowers for the aisles for the ceremony. Alice and her mum painted all of the menus, place cards, table plan and signs for the toilets and showers. As a surprise to every single guest, Alice performed the saxophone with the band on the evening. We deliberately picked the bar because we could choose the beer that was served and chose Eight Arch Brewing and they served our favourite beers. Alice sung with the Choir as part of the welcome drinks, she has been in Sound of Soul for 10 years and always knew she would want the choir to sing at her wedding.

Special moments 
For Alice, walking down the aisle with her dad while Florence and the Machine ‘Stand by Me’ played, walking barefoot down the aisle. For Alice, becoming Mr and Mrs outside in the fresh air. For both, the uniqueness of the handfasting ceremony. For Alice, singing with the Choir and playing the saxophone on stage and everyone being surprised. For both, playing lawn games with guests. For both, the speeches and laughing so much it hurt.

Advice for other couples
Don’t be afraid to make it your own and don’t get too caught up on being ‘Instagram perfect’.

Biggest surprise
How much our faces hurt from smiling and laughing, the entire day – from start to finish, was filled with so much love. We were so blessed, it was magical.



Supplier Shout Outs



Paul Underhill

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