Neale & Monique’s Glamping Wedding

Today we have our first glamping wedding here on The Pretty Blog! So those of you who are not familiar with the term, it refers to luxury camping. You know, the type of camping trip where you don’t have to lift a finger. Creative couple Neale and Monique knew one thing and that was that they did not want a traditional wedding. They even considered eloping! Monique says, “We had been introduced to a company called Featherdown Farms. It is a glamping company, they go into working farms and set up these awesome tents that you hire out. They are very chic, with proper beds and wood ovens …”.
So then they got the idea to have a Wedstock wedding. They even designed the invites to be like festival lanyards. And that is exactly what we love about this wedding. It has such a natural, festive feel. We also adore Monique’s short wedding dress, and all the gorgeous and fun stationery.South African photographer, Sam Maber, went all the way to the UK to photograph this stunning wedding!

Tell us your love story. How did you meet and fall in love?

It was in Spring 2005 that Neale and I first met at work. I had not long started a new job at an advertising agency called Elvis Communications. I worked in the studio as a creative artworker. We all sat in one side of the room, which had a open plan corridor that ran down the centre from the reception to the meeting rooms. We were very busy at the time so employed a freelance creative team to come in and help. This is where Neale (the art director) and Leigh (his copywriter partner) entered the building! Whenever anyone new comes in everyone on both sides of the room seem to freeze and stare as they watch them walk down the corridor towards the meeting rooms. It is an intimidating gauntlet of eyes taking that first walk. Needless to say a lot of heads turned and after they were out of ear shot I turned to my manager and said did you see the second one with the blue eyes? He was very handsome. Likewise Neale later admitted that he had done the same thing to Leigh when he got into their meeting room; did you see the girl with the dark hair and dark eyes peeking over the top of her screen? WOW! A group of us very quickly became friends at work and the more we got to know each other the more Neale and I both knew we would be together. As cheesy as it sounds it was love at first sight then following that we just had some obstacles to get out of the way before we could be together.

So how did he pop the question?

At the end of July 2010 we went to Canada with some friends of ours. We then headed up North to spend a week tucked away in a secluded little cabin on our own island in the middle of a lake doing nothing but canoeing, fishing, eating, drinking and relaxing. It was beautiful. There was no one else about except for us six so we felt very lucky to be where we were. Three nights before we were meant to be leaving there was a particularly beautiful sunset slowly creeping in. The others were getting dressed into warmer clothes and Neale asked if I wanted to take a little walk to watch the sunset from the highest point on the island. Wrapped in beanies we took our camping mugs and bottle of rosé with us and found an excellent rock that we could perch on. Slowly Neale turned the conversation round from what a great day it had been to telling me how happy he was we were together and how much he loved me, loved being with me and wanted us to be together for ever. I replied back how happy I was till I suddenly realised he had slyly shifted his position from sitting on the rock to gingerly kneeling in front of me. He had also kept hold of my hand and was now staring intently into my eyes. I felt hot. I became really nervous and quite giggly as it dawned on me what exactly was happening. And when he said do you want to marry me I of course burst into tears! Tears: the most terrifying reaction for a man; is she happy? Is she sad? I looked down and he was holding a little yellow plastic daisy ring over my finger with a silly but scared look on his face. It felt like an age before I was able to hold my breath long enough to utter a very big and happy YES. I was on cloud nine. I loved the daisy it was very cute but I won’t lie I was very impressed when he did pull a little box out of his pocket and inside was a solitary glittering diamond sitting on a small soft pillow. We sat grinning at each other gathering our emotions before we were able to walk back down to the cabin. When we entered the other four were startled and worried as they could see I had been crying. Tanille exclaimed, “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”. “No you crazy lady, I’ve just been proposed to!”. We had celebratory nachos and fillet fajitas for dinner and a lot more rosé.

What were the highlights of your big day?

Seeing Neale standing there all nervous at the end of the tipi with a big grin on his face as I walked in. The second highlight was seeing everyone’s reactions to all the hard work that we put in organising everything. They loved the detail. The setting was magical and we had made the farm into a little mini vintage festival, which we branded Wedstock.

Any advice for brides-to-be?

Don’t be put off by how big the task before you is. As long as you have your vision you can make it happen. We did everything ourselves and found the challenge of finding out the smallest details so rewarding. Just ask, people will always help you out.

What part of planning the wedding drove you to tears?

Nearly not being able to hire a tipi for the weekend we had booked. The weather is generally so unpredictable in the UK that weddings push further and further into the end of summer. The first weekend of September being the most popular one of all. Schools have gone back and the weather has been sunny for the last four years in a row. This meant that it was hugely popular. When I managed to find a tipi company I booked out his last two tipis. We couldn’t have done Wedstock in a marquee. It just wouldn’t have worked.

Your best wedding planning tip for brides?

Have a wedding book that you carry around with you everywhere. You will make lists of lists, and sub-divide those lists. You will think about it constantly and what you need to do when, so it pays to write everything down so you feel like you have it all in one place.

How did you keep your big day budget friendly?

Just think bigger is not always better. You can make a beautiful occasion by keeping it very simple. The people that will hopefully be attending your wedding will be there for you and not for how much free booze and food they can get out of you.

What song did you choose for your first dance?

We weren’t going to do a first dance. It is all part of the wedding formula we wanted to avoid. I walked down the aisle to Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal and then we walked back out to Fleetwood Mac You Make Lovin Fun. Saying that, when our band Skinny Lister kicked off in the middle of the evening, Neale grabbed my hand and jumped around the dance floor with me

Did your wedding include any DIY projects?

Quite a few, we designed all the invites and any supporting POS that was needed for the big day. Both being from a creative background made this easier for us. Neale made and painted the wooden tent signs. I made up little tea, coffee and sugar jars for each of the tents. You had to take all your own food and supplies with you when staying at a Featherdown, so we had to think of supplying everything from water bottles to toilet paper for each tent, as well as making up hangover breakfast baskets for the morning after.

How does the wedding reflect your personalities?

We love projects, Neale loves to stretch his imagination. If he is the client there is no stopping him in terms of what kind of creative output we will have. I was the mac monkey putting it all together, printing it out and mocking it up. The glamping idea epitomises us perfectly – we love being outdoors but to a limit. We love new and old things, we love vintage, so collecting all the old crates and bottles and buckets was just like a glorified second-hand shopping trip. Neale loves ebay, so many things were sourced through there. After the wedding we used most of the items we bought around the house.