So, here we were, the day before the wedding! Waiting by a gate next to the Halliloo Valley Longhorn’s grazing in a field. The children had all been dropped off at school and nursery – and we were waiting by a track ready to start setting up!
Amazingly (I say this as we organised it all by ourselves) - everything turned up (including my brother to help us). First our toilets and generator arrived on a flatbed truck from Brandon Tool Hire. When planning an outdoor reception in the middle of nowhere, these are very important components. Depending on what you are powering, I would recommend a 10kva generator, we mainly needed to power a sound system and lighting, and this is probably the most reliable size. We went for two toilets as there would be a maximum of 80 guests. The truck managed to manoeuvre well off-road and the delivery guy was very friendly. We hired these over the weekend to be collected on the Monday.
Behind us came the guys from Marquee 2 Hire in their van, they immediately started to set up our Trapeze Marquee. We had ordered the 30x40 foot one. First they laid out a large blue sheet on the ground, to measure out where the poles were to be placed, before the structure gradually started to go up. We had coconut matting on the grass and a rubber matted dance floor. The guys also strung up fairy lights around the outside edge of the marquee, we used a rope light around the dance floor and had four uplighters in each corner. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how much stuff came out of this van – it’s like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag! We had six large round tables with folding legs and 48 white plastic chairs. The whole thing took around two hours to put together. Again – this was now ours until Monday.
Mum and Jon were also now on site and helping to hang decorations. Tom (his family own the land) was busy cutting the grass and making way for a parking area.
When we arrived in the morning – we noticed a slight issue. Somebody had pinched our tipi poles!! These poles had been hand cut by Lee, with permission of course, and we’d camouflaged them in a large tree. There were nine poles, each 15 feet long, not easy for somebody to take, who knows where they ended up?! This meant Lee spent a good hour or so, cutting down new poles. Paul and Lee put up the tipi and tied ribbons and a windsock to the poles – I have to say, it looked pretty cool.
At lunchtime, I had to pick up my son from pre-school, luckily the sun was out so he didn’t mind joining us. Paul hung the tree swing, which had been built by my Dad, on the large Oak tree - along with my ribbon curtain and Finley tested out the swing for us.
I was in charge of “pom pom fluffing” I had 12 tissue pom poms to fluff up! We also had various honeycomb balls, five lots of bunting, paper lanterns, jam jar lanterns with tea lights in and bamboo oil torches, ribbons and dream catchers to hang in the trees. My Dad turned up with some more tables and chairs, including a large table built from pallets. The tables were covered with old net curtains, each with a jar, and a couple of old fashioned bottles in the centre to be used for our flowers.
Again, I had to leave to pick up my daughters’ and my friend’s girls from school. Sharon had treated to me to having my nails done for the wedding, so I headed back to her house for my first ever manicure! I went for a pale copper colour. We then headed back to our secret location as my auntie and cousin had also arrived to help out with another table, and drinks dispensers.
Lee had managed to get some straw bales, for £2 each, from a farm next to the White Bear pub in a little place called Fickleshole which is near Warlingham in Surrey. These were kept in the marquee overnight.
I left in the early evening to go back to Mum’s house with the children, we had fish and chips in the garden. Mum had to go and put my Nan’s hair in rollers, and all the kids were bathed and had their hair washed – then it was my turn. By the time they had all actually gone to bed it was after 10pm – I think we were all feeling pretty exhausted!
Then it was time for flowers.
For the girl’s posies, I went for sweet william, lamb’s ears, gypsophila, nepeta (aka cat mint!), sweet rocket and a pheasant feather. These were bound together with stretchy green florists tape and left to soak overnight.
In my bouquet I had fennel, Allium bulgaricum, sweet William, lamb’s ears, irises, anemones, sweetpeas, foxgloves, lupins, marigolds, bleeding hearts and yellow aquilegia all hand-picked from the beautiful Blooming Green along with a few pheasant feathers. Again bound with florists tape and left to drink overnight.
I then prepared the succulents for the buttonholes. I decided to only make two, one for Lee and one for Fin. I had to use wire to create a stem on the bottom of each succulent, I then wrapped each wire with florists tape and set these aside until the morning.
Mum then helped me put various flowers in the little apothecary bottles, which were then added to a crate ready to be taken up to the venue in the morning. My last task of the evening was to measure the wire out for my flower crown and wrap it in florists tape. This took us up to midnight!
Meanwhile - Tom was sleeping in a tent up by the marquee over night to guard it and Lee had also popped up there late to check that everything was going okay.
The next, and probably hardest task of all, was to try and sleep!