I had an amazing time being part of Lee and Lowri’s wedding at Ocean Kave in Westward Ho earlier this year. They are a lovely couple and did an amazing job organising a truly unique wedding. I’d love to ramble on about it myself, but I believe this can only be done justly through Lee and Lowri’s own words so please do read about the wedding, planning and advice at the end of the blog.
Lee & Lowri:
“Where the hell to start? We are still floating, after the amazing day that was our happy ending. We have both gone through a lot of painful times to get to it which made it all the more special. I ( Lowri ) had gone through a very acrimonious divorce and moved to Devon, to heal by the sea, near where I grew up. Gradually colour and happiness began to return to my life and, once I decided to dip my toe in the water of dating, I met Lee, and that was it- even more colour and happiness!
We have 6 kids between us, 3 each, and only one girl can you imagine the chaos when they are all with us,? Putting a blended family together has been challenging with some great highs and lows, however throughout it all we knew we had found each other and that this was meant to be.
Once we got engaged (involving a ring bought in a little Greek jewellers with lots of kissing of Lee, and a Christmas stocking filled with bubble bath and a ring) we knew one thing , we wanted this to be a celebration of all the amazing close friends and family who had supported us, and at times dragged us through some tough times, and shared the good with us. We also knew we wanted nothing to be impersonal because of that, and so we set off….
We both wanted to get married by the sea in Devon, finding that venue that would let us have our wedding seemed impossible, and then I stumbled across Ocean Kave’s website. We booked it the day we saw it, the date worked out round when we knew we would have all the kids. When we first saw it the kave was there and a field, the reception room wasn’t even built, but the ability to fill this space with us ( not in any egotistical way!) making it a truly personal day excited us. They suggested we got married in the kave ( yes it’s a cave) at twighlight having kicked off the party at 2 pm which sounded great to us as we got to enjoy the fun we had planned, and it removed formality. Besides which getting married in a cave at twighlight on a stud farm overlooking the sea hit us as fairly Devonian.
As for the dress, I googled quirky alternative wedding dresses , I knew it had to be red, I knew a basic shape, but finding a quirky alternative dress that was still beautiful , enhancing and not too way out there was not as easy as I assumed it would be, and then I found the couture company. I tried really hard to find someone more local but once I’d seen Jo’s dresses nothing lived up to them. I booked an appointment and all I can say is the whole process was a dream. Jo got what I wanted from the start , but with my laid back nature remained flexible enough to alter the personalisation half way through when I finally decided what I wanted, a heart for each of my boys, and a purple butterfly ( explained later) and cherry blossom. All I can say is that Jo , along with my hair and makeup , made me look like I imagined I would on my wedding day, what more can anyone ask for?
Apart from my dress my extravagance was my hair and makeup – I have curly hair which does what it wants, I didn’t want to straighten it on the day, but thankfully my hairdresser also does wedding hair with her friend who does makeup – doing my own makeup went out of the window after my trial, which I am truly thankful for as it it all stayed perfectly in place all day.
My one traditional bit was the something old ( my grandma’s opal engagement ring so she was with me) something new ( my bracelet) something borrowed ( a hankie from my mum) something blue ( a sea glass anklet with “love peace and flip flops” that Lee had given me) I even had a silver sixpence in my shoe. Tradition ended there.
Once we started compiling our guest list we realised a third of our 70 guests were going to be kids (and one dog!) , the majority of them teenagers, who would be without their lifeblood of wifi on the day. Creating chaotic wonderlands has been something I have rejoiced in since the birth of my first child, and it only gets more fun as they get older, and so I came across the Prop Factory, with unlimited ice cream, popcorn and candy floss, as well as a range of vintage games including the truly Devonian welly wangling, knowing when to stop booking their stuff was one of the hardest parts of the wedding. Thankfully we got a few things thrown in through their competitions and niceness including the amazing Flossy the candy floss horse. I was touched that Liberty even died her hair to colour coordinate!
I had always said if I ever got remarried I wanted a VW campervan, but we were staying on site and I couldn’t justify the cost for a day for a 1 minute drive, until I came across vdubandaway who offered me an hours hire, we even hired Pearl our VW for a weekend away beforehand. When asked if I wanted a chauffeur in uniform it was a hell no moment – then ( I think jokingly ) I was asked what I wanted them to wear as they could do boardies and flip flops, the resounding yes may have surprised them but our incredibly cool driver Nils was perfect and even acted as photographers assistant at times.
My maid of dishonour was obviously my best friends she’d been with me for 15 years and seen me through nearly losing all 3 of my boys, and moved to Devon a year before me , as a belly dancing horse whisperer who owns a unicorn, who else would perform the handfasting we knew we wanted after the legal ceremony? Her daughter Annie has always been my surrogate daughter , along with Lee’s daughter Beth I thought I had my girls, and then came Sophie. Sophie is 16,she is the daughter of one of Lee’s best friends, and she happens to have lupus disease ( systemic lupus erythematosus) we met the weekend before she was diagnosed, and there is no doubt in my mind or her mum’s that if it hadn’t been for that meeting Sophie would not be alive. I’m a GP and Sophie presented with some worrying signs so I sent her mum to taker her to the doctor that week, soon she was in ITU with drains in her heart. She had a flare the week before the wedding and we didn’t know if she would make it until 2 days beforehand , but she did. The reason for putting this in is to explain the purple butterflies which were scattered throughout ( including on my dress) as the lupus society symbol , bonding in such a way is very deep! She’s an inspirational teenager who virtually always has a smile on her face and rarely complains.
We had a lot of small details running through the day , that many would not have been aware of, which is how it was meant to be , the words of our song on Lee’s button hole, our cheese wedding cake sat on welsh slate we picked up in Snowdonia ( I’m Welsh) decorated in maple leaves ( I grew up in Canada) and cherry blossoms which are on Lee’s tattoo. And so to our temporary tattoo booth, for various reasons tattoos are meaningful to us, so we decided to have a temporary tattoo booth, complete with Lee & Lowri tattoos- one of the highlights was putting one on my father in law who despite being a retired submariner in the Navy for 26 years hates tattoos !
We tried to pull the kids and their loves in through details, lego minifigures as favours , favourite sweets on the DIY sweet buffet, sweet tree centrepieces and cheese for Beth! Our 6 kids did the only reading An Apache wedding blessing, they were all truly spectacular throughout the day in their helpfulness.
There was a LOT of DIY , we wanted it to be our wedding, our favourite bit was the photoboard we did on an old fashioned screen with bunting saying “ thank – you for being part of our journey” everyone there ,and the few who couldn’t be, were on that board. I made miles of bunting, followed by table runners and chair ties, and even made mini bunting for the invites. Lee got to grips with double sided tape for confetti cones. I painted and made our tattoo table from an old tea chest, made biscuits and chutney as favours. Finally the cake, “Let’s make the cake” I said, “it will be easy” I said – I cook cake a lot, let me tell you there is a reason wedding cakes cost a lot. My kitchen porn ( kitchen aid mixer) worked non stop for 10 hours making cake, the frosting was made in an industrial mixer, The kids were dispatched while I put the four layers together ( short tempered moi??) and Lee ( a former baker ) iced it while all 6 kids iced cupcakes. Finally we had a four tier top heavy cake to transport down a short but bumpy road from our holiday cottage to the kave. Thankfully my son took pictures of my dad and eldest son lying in the boot with the cake between them – Lee wasn’t sure which he wanted more the cake to arrive intact or my dad to end up covered in cake. It arrived and was decorated in amazing edible flowers , we are rather proud of it in hindsight.
I don’t do happy tears, but they didn’t stop that day, I welled up when I saw our 6 beautiful children as were driven down to the Kave in the VW campervan, but I knew I was in trouble when the amazing singer we had played “our song” ( The story by Brandy Carlisle) as we walked into the Kave together – that was it, and there were many to follow, during our personal vows and after.
My maid of dishonour Sarah, performed our handfasting after the legal ceremony using a piece of Welsh Harris tartan combining as she put it the welsh side of my family and the Harris side of his. It honestly was the most amazingly special moment , I can only describe it in her words as I don’t have words to express it:
“ I do believe in soul mates and I felt I was witnessing the joining of two souls. I know you were in love before but there is something very different about the act of commitment”
We all have a bit of star wars nerdiness, hence the boys cufflinks were all star wars related ( as was my adapted hair slide and garter), and I adapted an R2D2 tin into our ring box , and finally a certain issue of Rock ‘n Roll bride magazine had a DIY your own sugar skull with mosaic tiles, I may have put a star wars twist on it ( made on my Valentine’s birthday because that’s what you do on your birthday) !
The day dawned sunny and cloudless which meant all our small touches of flip, flops, sunglasses, deckchairs and blankets got well used, though the rain ponchos were thankfully untouched.
We had debated long and hard over a band and singer , as we could have done with saving the money, we decided we needed someone who could play in an outdoor garden party/ fete atmosphere, as background music, sole entertainer inside and also as dance music – not a lot to ask! After many days listening to clips we booked Roger, and only wish we had booked him for longer, he learnt our song, played us in to the ceremony , played outside and in, sang for our first dance and dancing to uptown funk with my Maid of dishonour is one of the most memorable moments. A DJ to follow was easy, we wanted a personal wedding and Lee’s nephews are Dj’s and agreed to do it – watching them work together was really special for all Lee’s family.
Ocean Kave were truly amazing, once they’d worked out the ethos of our wedding and that we really were that laid back and didn’t care where the tables went, they ensured everything ran smoothly, they even put a drone up on the day so we have aerial footage. The persuasion, along with my now husband that it really would look amazing if I made table runners and chair ties to match the MILES of bunting I’d made is a sore point ( don’t tell them they were right!) They even came up with a secret joke on the day and folded each tables napkins in a different way in deference to our lack of stress over the formal details. They did things we didn’t know we needed but afterwards its some of these things that stand out. We had an amazing wedding planner and on the day coordinator as part of the venue who lifted numerous weights off our shoulders which made the day much less stressful and ensured it flowed smoothly.
Finally our photographer Andreea , what can I say, we feel we are truly blessed. We hate having our photos taken, we hate most photos we have, Andreea made it fun, she took charge without being bossy ( a REALLY hard skill!!) and I can not describe how incredible the pictures are – see for yourself. She really got us as a couple and captured the essence of our day. We will be forever grateful for Rock ‘n Roll bride and her for the incredible images we have as memories of our day – we both now have pictures we like with us both in, and are struggling over which to get printed! As for the engagement shoot, we all got a bit wet – my shoes haven’t recovered and I suspect Andreea still has sand in places we won’t mention. Finally, something I hadn’t considered, a female photographer ( who is kick ass at doing up corsets!) is a huge advantage during some of the getting ready moments.
And now to our first look, because we weren’t doing the whole grand entrance or walking down the aisle thing, we decided to do a first look to give us that moment and some together time, The cottage we were staying in had a balcony so we first did a picture where Lee was below with his back to me, and I was going to walk out onto the balcony above him without him turning, as I was walking out Kathy from the venue was walking towards Lee chatting to him and as she saw me shouted “oh my God! oh that doesn’t help does it Lee” .It did however help me feel even more amazing! Lee was then blindfolded with our Welsh Harris tartan before I went down to the garden. The photographer MAY have upped the suspense by making him wait just a while longer and barring me from going outside ( lots of giggling inside ). However the intensity of that first look moment was indescribable and we both still well up at the thought.
I can only say it was a sublime day shared with people who have made our lives special and have ensured we both got to our happy ending, we would include our “vendors” in this. We don’t like calling them vendors as they became part of our day and felt more like friends – they all went above and beyond what was required and expected of them and we can only say thank- you
Favourite moments – first look, ceremony and handfasting ( not many dry eyes including the vendors!) and dancing with my maid of dishonour
Favourite DIY – our photoboard documenting the people who had got us there and the reason for our wedding
Wedding inspiration – the people who had got us through t bad times while enjoying the good
Wedding theme – colourful chaos!
Wedding budget £10000
What did we splash on – venue and dress
What did we save on – most things! All main vendors made sure we got great deals and went above and beyond what we paid for/ For our décor we made most and tried to ensure we would reuse anything we bought afterwards (we now have a sweet buffet at home much to the kids delight). I bought in sales, on ebay and Etsy and if buying multiples negotiated a discount.
What we wish we’d done differently – Met 20 years ago ( kids aside) , booked the live singer for longer, remembered to put the gerbera’s in Darth Vader’s eyes!
Tips for other couples– do what you want, what made us happy was having the day we planned, choose your vendors carefully and build a relationship with them and give them some free reign within your parameters they are the experts, don’t be scared to change things last minute, ensure you feed the kids enough sweets to make at least one sick!”
Ocean Kave – http://www.oceankave.co.uk/
Photography – Andreea at vevi wedding photography- http://vevi-wedding-photography.co.uk/
Dress by Jo at the Couture company- http://www.the-couture-company.co.uk/
Hair and makeup by Beautiful Days Devon- http://beautifuldaysdevon.co.uk/
Games/ popcorn/candyfloss/ice-cream and video by The Prop factory (also known as very vintage hire) https://www.veryvintagehire.co.uk/contact
VW campervan “Pearl” vdubandaway http://www.vdubandaway.co.uk/
singer Roger Styles http://www.rogerstylesevents.com/
Edible flowers for cake by Maddocks Farm Organics http://maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk/
Officiant – registrar
Handfasting – Sarah Matthews ( Maid of dishonour)
DJ Danny and Ethan Pickthall
Bride’s shoes – Gina
Bride’s bracelet http://www.ireneandozzie.co.uk/http://www.ireneandozzie.co.uk/
Men’s button holes – Etsy seller love accented https://www.etsy.com/shop/LoveAccented
Lee’s cufflinks Etsy seller White truffle https://www.etsy.com/shop/whitetruffle
Bride’s anklet Etsy seller SeaGlassJewelryEtsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SeaGlassJewelryEtsy