A Woodland Wedding Ceremony with a Celebrant
Updated: Mar 14
In April 2021, I was approached by Wareham Forest Weddings to link up with other likeminded suppliers who shared the same values and ethics to launch a competition for a couple to win their dream wedding.
Just four weeks later, the winner was drawn and Wareham Forest Weddings were delighted to announce that Hayley and Andy had been chosen and accepted.
From the moment we met via zoom, it was so clear they were the perfect couple to have won. With two little ones under 2, they had always pictured themselves having a Celebrant-led woodland wedding in Dorset, but they couldn’t really justify the cost of getting married with having a young family, dog Luna and cat Sheldon. The joy in their faces as we chatted through what they were picturing was all-encompassing.
The turnaround time from announcement to ceremony was just four weeks and the couple were
knee-deep in plans with the other suppliers such as the giant teepee tent company, caterers, the
venue, stationery, floristry, styling and general wedding logistics.
Usually my timeline is 6 months to prep and write a ceremony - they had just 2 weeks to return their individual questionnaires for to write their first draft. Unbeknownst to me, Andy hadn’t yet proposed to Hayley so he was incredibly busy trying to help plan the wedding in four weeks and also buy her dream ring and plan the engagement!
One of the first things Hayley shared with me was that her mum referred to them as “tree people.”
They had a deep connection with nature and had previously lived on a nature reserve tracking woodland animals, star gazing and Andy was really into bushcraft. Wareham Forest suffered an almighty forest fire in 2020, so I was keen to draw upon their love for nature within their ceremony and help the forest itself heal through this very special wedding blessing ceremony.
Hayley and Andy were really keen to involve their children in the ceremony, in one aspect. They
chose a sand ceremony to include little Albert and Willow.
For their second ritual, they loved the idea of handtying but when I suggested tree planting, their
eyes lit up. I found a lemon tree and wrote a bespoke ritual for them surrounding, “when life gives
you lemons” - pretty apt for new parents!
They were on the fence as to whether or not to include a reading and didn’t want anything religious included. I found June’s Picture by Annette Wynne and knew they wouldn’t be able to resist these stunning words:
"Let me paint June's picture—first I take some gold,
Fill the picture full of sun, all that it can hold;
Save some for the butterflies, darting all around,
And some more for buttercups here upon the ground;
Take a lot of baby-blue—this—to make the sky,
With a lot of downy white—soft clouds floating by;
Cover all the ground with green, hang it from the trees,
Sprinkle it with shiny white, neatly as you please;
So—a million daisies spring up everywhere,
Surely you can see now what is in the air!
Here's a thread of silver—that's a little brook
To hide in dainty places where only children look.
Next, comes something—guess—it grows
Among green hedges—it's the rose!
Brown for a bird to sing a song,
Brown for a road to walk along.
Then add some happy children to the fields and flowers and skies,
And so you have June's picture here before your eyes."
I suggested this reading to them as this particular month was important to them with both Albert
and Willow being born in this month and they also got together in the month of June. Once they
read through their first draft, Hayley messaged me to say she was in tears at the level of detail and symbolism included.
With the script signed off, I ordered their wooden vow books and hand-wrote their vows I had
written for them both. Included in every ceremony, if requested, is a white linen teepee and toy box to keep children occupied during the ceremony. I gathered this together along with the lemon tree, plant pot, compost, trowels, sand ceremony resources, keepsake script, folder and certificate ready for the big day.
I arrived at the venue the day before to do a walk through of the ceremony, organise positioning
and chat through all of the excitement of their day. Hayley flashed her new sparkly engagement
ring, given to her by Andy the week before in the forest.
The excitement was real for us all and as morning came, it brought the most glorious June sunshine.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the wind had fallen and forest was peaceful. It was the most
dreamiest set-up you can imagine. I met with the wedding suppliers and the venue a few hours before, set up our ceremony table and got into the zone. Andy, the groom arrived looking dapper and chilled with his family.
1pm came and the ceremony was set to start. As soon as Canon in D (Pachelbel’s Canon) played, everyone’s eyes filled, overcome with emotion. As Hayley turned the corner with their children, Andy crumbled as I quickly passed him a napkin from the pub - he hadn’t come prepared! She was a vision as she walked down the aisle and as this incredible couple stood before me, it was in that moment I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Everything fell into place and I started their bespoke ceremony, surrounded by trees and their loved ones.
The ceremony went incredibly smoothly, logistically and emotionally. Hayley and Andy were so
involved in the wording and the rituals they had forgotten they were being watched until the end
when they led everyone out of their ceremony.
As we gathered for a welcome drink to toast the happy couple, they were absolutely beaming. A
grandparent wondered over and remarked, “it’s as if you knew them! It was absolutely magical and
a delight to watch.”
My brand was brought to life in that moment they exchanged vows under a giant teepee frame in the forest and I can't wait for our next woodland wedding!
Amazing Suppliers involved:
Photography: Sadie Osborne Photography
Tipi: Coastal Tents
Venue: Wareham Forest Weddings
Trees: White Stem
Styling: Melissa Rose Designs
Photo Booth: Dorset Photo Booth
Catering: Pizza with Love
Stationery: From Sally With Love