Wild garden documentary wedding photography at family home in Hertfordshire
Persephone + Jamie
When your family home has gorgeous grounds, woodland and enough space to fit a tipi then it sounds like an obvious choice to host a (mostly) outdoor wedding there. With gorgeous views of rolling hills of Hertfordshire as a background, the guests sipped Jurassic Park Themed cocktails, basked in hot sunshine and enjoyed outdoor hosted speeches before devouring in delicious food in an open tipi. The party moved outside for (home baked by bride’s sister) cake and gelato in time to watch the sunset. Persephone and Jamie transformed woodlands in truly magical place with strings of fairy lights, DIY cocktail bar and a dancefloor in the middle. It was our pleasure to offer our documentary wedding photography for this fun day. So many amazing moments, emotions and fun with smoke bombs and at the party. Here is what the couple said about working with us and their engagement shoot:
”We absolutely adored Jo and Raf’s photography style. We met with a few photographers, as we felt it was so important to click with them. We came away from our drink with JOASIS feeling like we had met new friends! Our engagement shoot with Jo, about six months later (!) reminded us of that – we went to Smithfield Market and the Charterhouse near our work, and had a lot of fun in the sunshine for an hour! On the day Jo and Raf were a very calming influence, friendly and supportive to the bridal party, and totally unobtrusive. A joy to have on the day and we would recommend you again in a heartbeat!”
Our love story
The story of when we met is amusing! We were both at University together in Cambridge, and one evening at the end of the Christmas term, our mothers were picking us up and staying at the same hotel overnight. They were on next door tables in the restaurant at dinner, got chatting, one glass of wine lead to a bottle.. they both left with exclamations of “Oh you must meet Persephone, her mother is absolutely charming” and vice versa! James bundled up to Persephone in a nightclub queue after the Christmas holidays, and the rest is history. Well, not quite. It took us six years of dancing around one another at University thinking the other was too cool, living only streets away from one another in London and sharing nights at Kennington’s South London Pacific and Sunday roasts, before coincidentally being sent to Dubai at the same time with work, before the magic finally happened! Fast forward five years and our mothers still enjoy sharing a bottle of wine, we still (occasionally) meet up in nightclub queues, and we look forward to hosting our first married Sunday roast!
What made you choose your family home as your wedding venue?
Persephone’s home was the obvious choice. It’s a stunning large woodland garden with hidden glades and ponds and secret walkways, not too far from London. Choosing a church was harder – we spent a hungover Sunday being whizzed around the local options by Persephone’s father, eventually opting for the stunning sixteenth century Whipsnade Church, high on a hill, beautifully timbered with a wonderful vicar….but seating only 70 people. Luckily all the men were willing to stand and sing and cheer loudly from the back!
Wedding dress and morning suits
Dress hunting was a nightmare! Persephone’s 6 foot height and cropped hair seemed to rule every dress she tried on, but eventually she found the stunning two-in-one Tara Lauren gown, made up of a sequinned slip with a nude tulle coat – embodying the softness of the garden and the fun of the late night party! The boys all wore morning suits, with their own fun coloured waistcoats and dinosaur ties!
We were inspired by the wild garden, and wanted it to feel as though it infiltrated and crept into everything. Our stationer (Vicky at Violet Paper Studio) was absolutely wonderful, creating that right from our Save the Dates through the invitations and the stationery on the day. She created bespoke designs that wove in the woods and the garden and British flowers, also reflected in the embroidery on the tulle coat of Persephone’s dress. Our little add on extra was James’ “Jurassic Clarke” bar, born out of our mutual love for dinosaurs (!) and cocktails…
Alison Teal was wonderful – she totally understood our creative ideas, came to do a site visit and fell in love with the amount of woodland foliage we could source on site for everything from the bouquet, to the floral arch, to the table settings right through to the buttonholes (made with lavender, sage and rosemary from the garden!)
The ceremony ended up being our favourite part of the day! We wanted it to be timeless so we stuck to traditional vows, but learned them by heart so that we could think about the words beforehand, and look into each others’ eyes and mean them! The Bride and Bridesmaids were played up the aisle by a family friend on the acoustic guitar playing “Edelweiss”. We chose a reading from Persephone’s parents’ wedding, as well as a Celtic Wedding Vow which ends “This is a marriage of equals”, which we both feel strongly about. Finally, Persephone’s sister chose a reading from Plato’s Symposium, which had some surprisingly modern views about love! The cheer from the crowd when we kissed was deafening and a moment I will always remember.
First dance song, cake and evening party
We don’t really have ‘a song’ but both loved Kiss Me from the times of drunken slow dances in nightclubs at University! We are lucky enough to have two friends in the music business (@iamsartory and @louisiii) who arranged and performed it live on the night in the woods under the stars!
We moved the whole wedding from the dining tent up to a terrace for cake and Gelupo gelato to watch the sunset. Persephone’s sister, Charis, made three cakes embodying the woodland and the garden, which were stunning and delicious – some of our favourite wedding stories are of people creeping off to the mobile fridge to pinch more wedding cake in the early hours! We loved Spencer Mac’s DJ set at Wilderness, and couldn’t say no to him bringing along a saxophonist and the percussionist from Groove Armada! We danced all night (with a brief bongo and sax interlude when the generator was restarted!) – he really reads the crowd! There are calls for a repeat ‘festival’ next year (without the wedding bit..!)
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
We loved the ceremony, but also driving off together in our convertible (!) because all the rest was still to come! Walking down and seeing the transformation of the woods into a party was phenomenal.
Wedding planning advice
We both have very busy jobs, and left a lot of planning to the last minute. There is just no need to do that! Get the best suppliers by being organised and booking things in advance. And don’t agonise over options! Go with your gut! Speak to suppliers on the phone to get a feel for whether you will work well together. And on the day – delegate! One thing we didn’t manage but we thought was amazing advice was to take an hour together the day before the wedding, when things are getting crazy – share a picnic or a lunch or a bottle of wedding champagne (!) and have some alone time. I wish we’d done that!
Photography: Joasis Photography
Florist Alison Teal
HMUA: Sarah Jane Green
Cake: Charis Bridgman Baker
Engagement and wedding rings by Maria Ridge bespoke
Bespoke Waistcoat by Peregrine & Jude
assisted by Shannon Edwards
Martin Keane @martingkeane with his new company a east by fire @afeastbyfire
Invitations/ Stationery Vicky @violetpaperstudio
Tents by @alternative_stretch_tents
Hey, you’ve come this far, may as well drop me a line. If you’ve got a date in mind, do get in touch swiftly. I only book in around 25 weddings a year and the popular dates (May - October) go FAST. So the sooner we get you booked in, the better!