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Rachel and Lee’s autumn lake house wedding with outdoor ceremony and sunflower bouquets for this boat loving couple // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

The first Real Wedding of 2017 is a little different because this time we travel across the pond to the beautiful East Coast of America. Rachel and Lee’s early autumn lake house wedding is a feast for tired January eyes. They held their wedding at Rachel’s family’s Lake House in Maryland under the hazy September sun.

Before we catch up with bride Rachel to learn more about this rowing boat-filled, sunflower-adorned day, a few words from to TNWC’s Charlie…

This wedding feels close to my heart, which might sound strange when I’ve never met Rachel or Lee, but I have got to know Rachel a little over the past year. Firstly she shared with me her nautical wedding invitations inspired by my own save the dates. I especially loved that the “tying the knot” element (inspired by this version of mine) had such relevance to their love of sailing.

Since their wedding, Rachel and Lee have been on the most incredible 12 month adventure sailing around America in their yacht. I have followed their adventures on Instagram and have kept in touch following their return to dry land, where Rachel has set up her own business Rachel Kendall Events. I am so thrilled that we get to share their wedding with you.

Rustic eco-chic nautical ‘tying the knot’ save the dates and invitations with hessian, lace and twine // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Rachel and Lee’s autumn lake house wedding with outdoor ceremony and sunflower bouquets for this boat loving couple // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Outdoor lake side wedding ceremony // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Succulent buttonholes // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Purple bridesmaids dresses and sunflower bouquets // Davey and Krista Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

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Why you should ignore everyone's wedding planning rules (including ours): An alternative guide to planning your wedding // The Natural Wedding Company

We felt it was about time that we put together our own alternative wedding planning guide, one that encourages and empowers you to create a wedding that reflects you as a couple. Many couples that stumble across our eco wedding directory and blog tell us they suddenly feel at home amidst the often crazy world of weddings.

“I felt I had an affinity with your blog that inspired me to be confident in creating a wedding day that was meaningful to us as a couple.”

Here are our top 10 tips to create an alternative wedding planning guide. Take what you want and leave the rest. We’re not here to tell you what to do or how to do it, we just want to empower you to make your own choices and create a wedding that reflects you.

1. Pinterest – The Bane Of A Newly Engaged’s Life?

Don’t get us wrong we really do love Pinterest (<< go see if you don’t believe us), we can get lost on it for hours and it really is a great source of inspiration. HOWEVER, please don’t let all the beautiful styled images freak you out and suddenly make you think you need to have things you hadn’t even considered. Use it as a tool for ideas and leave it at that, don’t get wrapped up in recreating every styled image you see. Unless of course DIY is your bag and you have the time to do it stress-free.

Wedding quote // Pinterest - The Bane Of A Newly Engaged's Life? // The Natural Wedding Company

2. Your Wedding Should Not Be Used As An Excuse To Spend Money You Don’t Have

Your wedding in not an excuse to spend more money than you have or are prepared to spend. Lots of couples will have a budget (in 2016 the average UK wedding cost – in our opinion an eye-watering – £25,000), but just because you set your budget at X amount doesn’t mean you need to find things to spend it all on.

Why not try working the opposite way. Start with no budget and by listing out the big things you’d love. Find out how much they cost, then list out your essentials and find out how much they cost. Add it all up. Finally, work out how much more you can, need or want to spend on your wedding. This might help you to focus on what you really want rather than just spending (or blowing) your budget.

It’s also worth accepting early on that (some of) your dreams will likely be dashed by “lack of money” (whether you are spending £2,500 or £25,000). Instead of feeling disheartened, see what you can dream up when you are forced to be creative and think outside the box, you might just get something even more wonderful.

An alternative guide to planning your wedding // Your Wedding Should Not Be Used As An Excuse To Spend Money You Don't Have // The Natural Wedding Company

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Gemma and Nick’s flower filled cottage garden wedding with homegrown sweet peas and pale blue bridesmaids’ dresses // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Hi, I’m Joanna, The Natural Wedding Company’s new Real Weddings features writer. My first wedding is one of those relaxed, family-filled days; brimming with joy and carefully chosen homemade details, it is unique yet classic and timelessly traditional.

Gemma and Nick, who met at university, were married in their beautiful local church and held their reception in a marquee adorned with borrowed bunting and homegrown flowers in the garden of Gemma’s family home.

We asked bride Gemma to fill us in on more details of this picture-perfect DIY wedding, captured by one of our recommended wedding photographers, Maureen de Preez. Over to Gemma…

Rustic hessian wedding table plan // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Gemma and Nick’s flower filled cottage garden wedding with homegrown sweet peas and pale blue bridesmaids’ dresses // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Homemade wedding cake decorated with real flowers // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Gemma and Nick’s flower filled cottage garden wedding with homegrown sweet peas and pale blue bridesmaids’ dresses // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Country wedding bunting // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Gemma and Nick’s flower filled cottage garden wedding with homegrown sweet peas and pale blue bridesmaids’ dresses // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Country wedding place setting // Maureen du Preez Photography // The Natural Wedding Company

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Bohemian hellebore wedding flower crown for Spring brides // PHASE 2 photography // The Natural Wedding Company

I don’t think I will ever, ever tire of a flower crown, a bold statement I know but if you take a look at today’s beautiful bohemian hellebore wedding inspiration and the to-die-for spring flower crown I think you would agree that regardless of fashion trends they are pretty timeless.

Today’s inspiration shoot was lovingly curated by Beamsley Blooms and shot by Phase 2 Photography  to showcase the possibilities of using seasonal British flowers for Spring brides and grooms, offering a stunning alternative to the more traditional Spring associated blooms. Clare from Phase 2 Photography explains, “The aim of the shoot was to let the pure, natural beauty of the flowers speak for themselves and give brides an idea of what can be achieved with these stunning flowers.”

Susanne from Beamsley Blooms goes on to give us a little more information about the inspiration behind the shoot for us…

Bohemian hellebore wedding inspiration shoot for Spring brides // PHASE 2 photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Bohemian hellebore wedding flower crown for Spring brides // PHASE 2 photography // The Natural Wedding Company

 Bohemian hellebore wedding flower crown for Spring brides // PHASE 2 photography // The Natural Wedding Company

Bohemian hellebore wedding inspiration shoot for Spring brides // PHASE 2 photography // The Natural Wedding Company

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A rustic wedding bouquet of fragrant herbs and a wedding cake decorated with flowering rosemary // Miki Vargas Photography // styling A Monique Affair // flowers Laura Miller Designs // cake Cakes Made By M.E.

I absolutely love it when rosemary is in flower, with those tiny pale blue flowers it takes on a new dimension to its very green version that we mainly see and associate with it here in England. We have featured rosemary and other herbs in abundance here on the blog because they have so many lovely qualities – their fragrance being number one in my opinion.

This simple white wedding cake decorated with flowering rosemary is a wonderful example of how you can achieve a pretty and less conventional look without spending lots of money or time. Invest in a great quality wedding cake, made from organic and fair trade ingredients, and then just decorate it simply with naturally grown herbs.

A rustic wedding cake decorated with flowering rosemary //Miki Vargas Photography // styling A Monique Affair // flowers Laura Miller Designs // cake Cakes Made By M.E.

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Seasonal spring arrangement with helebores and ranunculus // The Real Cut Flower Garden // The Natural Wedding Company

If you are a bride-to-be visiting our blog, it is highly likely that you adore seasonal, British grown flowers, just like us. Every year the weather fluctuates, but I still feel slightly anxious by the variations in the seasons and the impact that will have on locally grown blooms.

Perhaps as a bride-to-be this is something you have concerns about, especially after this long and unseasonably warm winter, followed by the recent cold snap with hail and snow across various parts of the country. And yet as I write this, today we have eaten lunch in the garden and have hats and flip flops on it’s so warm!

“I always worry about the weather…well I’m obsessed by it, but sure enough, the flowers defy nature and arrive at just the right time” – Helen, Bouquets and Butterflies.

Bucket of British grown narcissi // Organic Blooms // The Natural Wedding Company

Dreaming of a church filled with cow parsley

Every year as we enter spring, my mother likes to reflect on the weather in relation to the cow parsley and whether it would have been out for our wedding date of 21st May (I chose May because I love the cow parsley lined lanes of my childhood home in the Cotswolds). Now let me explain, despite getting married 5 years ago, my mum still contemplates this detail every year – I can quite imagine it continuing for many years to come!

I dreamed of a cow parsley filled church in which to get married, and this is what we got (phew). However, in the run up to our wedding there were lots of nervous moments – was the cow parsley going to be out or was it going to be over? So ever since, even as early at March, my mum starts to comment on the weather and it’s impact on the cow parsley’s development in their part of the country. Luckily I don’t have to worry about the status of the cow parsley, but I know there are many of you who will have similar anxieties.

“I think that Mother Nature throws us curveballs now and again, and that it’s how we [florists] deal with what we have that sets us apart” – Sarah, Floribunda Rose.

April spring flowers // Forage For // The Natural Wedding Company

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A Day in the Life ... Blue Poppy: a visit to their coastal cutting garden in Scotland with wildflower meadows in the height of summer // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Over the years of working in the wedding industry, I have come to realise that some of my favourite parts are the ‘behind the scenes’, the true getting to know the people behind a business, and this is what we hope to do with this series called A Day In The Life. Today we are up in Scotland with Cath from Blue Poppy, reminiscing about those hot summer days when the flower beds are bursting with colour.

If you’d like to see behind the scenes on some of our other recommended suppliers, then do check out the full A Day In The Life series so far, which includes fellow flower farmer florists Tammy from Wild Bunch, Natalya and Fiona from PYRUS, and Becca and Maz from The Garden Gate Flower Company.

So it’s over to Catherine to share her day in the life at Blue Poppy…

Blue Poppy wildflower meadow // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Blue Poppy dahlia patch // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Sweet peas at Blue Poppy // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Cath from Blue Poppy in their wildflower meadow // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

A coastal cutting garden

Last August, at the height of summer, the fantastic Chris and Gillian from The Curries came to document an afternoon with us. Looking back over the winter, we had time to reflect on what Chris and Gillian – seeing the garden for the first time – were able to capture.

Blue Poppy is myself, Catherine (florist), my mum Ann (gardener) and Frida (our old Jack Russell who patrols the garden and scares off anything likely to nibble seedlings). We run a florist farmer business from a small holding on the east coast of Scotland.

Blue Poppy Scottish cutting garden // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Jack Russell in the Blue Poppy cutting garden // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

British grown cut flowers // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

A Day in the Life ... Blue Poppy: a visit to their coastal cutting garden in Scotland with wildflower meadows in the height of summer // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

Blue Poppy cutting garden // Photography The Curries // The Natural Wedding Company

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