Thursday, 4 September 2014

Lovefest Wedding Extravaganza

My little sister Sarah got married to the very awesome Max last weekend. I normally try and keep my blog posts fairly short and to-the-point, but no amount of words and photos will do justice to how incredible the whole day was, so this one may go on a bit, in my quest to show how lovely the day was! It was really hard choosing photos to help show different aspects of the day, as there were simply so many photos and so many memories to choose from! 

Sarah and Max wanted to have a festival-themed wedding, with every aspect planned by themselves.  They booked Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre on Woodmill Lane in Southampton, where a wedding hadn't been hosted before. This was a perfect setting, as it was local for many of the guests, and was an ideal blank canvas. The centre already had toilets, a kitchen and power available from a lodge-style classroom in the grounds of the venue which was a great bonus. The planning included sourcing their own bar, alcohol, staff, marquee, furniture ...basically everything!

Months and weeks leading up to the event, Sarah and Max planned every detail and bought literally a whole room of their house [and then some] worth of stuff to create the wedding and to decorate it beautifully. The week of the wedding involved lots of collecting things and last minute planning. The day before the wedding is when it all came together. A small army of their friends and family pitched in, in different ways, to help create the wedding that Sarah and Max had dreamed about for so long. It was a very long day and everyone worked very hard. It was all worthwhile to see the Lovefest Wedding Extravaganza take shape and what an amazing result it was!

Daddy Kinnersley walking Sarah up the aisle

After a busy day of setting up, Max and I stayed at our friend Tom's house, along with Nick who had arrived from Guernsey for the wedding. Tom is a chef and made us an incredible breakfast of eggs mixed with cream, jalapeno peppers and spinach [dubbed 'Dragon eggs'], which is such a tasty start to the day! I had the absolute pleasure of being an usher for the wedding. As I finished getting my smart suit on, the two best men  - Steve and Jake - arrived in their matching posh outfits. We headed to the reception venue for one final check and then on to the church.

Meanwhile Sarah and her two bridesmaids Alice and my lovely girlfriend Emily were getting ready at Sarah and Max's houses, along with their housemates and my Mum and Dad. I popped in to grab some stuff on the way [keeping Max well out of the way, of course] and the house was literally a girly glitter bomb of make up, hair stuff and general girly weddingness! 

Sarah kept Max in suspense by arriving late [she forgot her bouquet!] but the wait was worth it as she arrived looking lovely and in style in a VW Campervan. The amazing camper van belongs to friends of friends Amy and Steve, who had only that morning got back from a three-week campervan holiday around Ireland. Their ferry had been cancelled, thus the later than planned arrival that morning. Owners Ash and Katie really pulled out all the stops to make sure they arrived on time, with their very sparkly vehicle! Much appreciation from many people, especially the happy couple, for all their efforts.

Helping my sister out of the Campervan and into the church

As everyone arrived at the church, I gave them an order of service and a kazoo. "A kazoo?!" I hear you cry!? Sarah and Max wanted to set the tone for the fun times ahead for the rest of the day, with the first 'hymn' of the service being All You Need Is Love by The Beatles, with added kazoo from the congregation in the relevant parts. The band you can hear in the background are friends of the happy couple: Alice [also maid of honour] on bass, Phil on cajon and James on guitar. Check out a short video of this below!

Mr and Mrs Dragon being showered with confetti!

After the ceremony and after lots of throwing of confetti and congratulatory hugs, we all quickly walked around the corner to the venue, which is conveniently a less than ten-minute stroll away. This is the first glimpse that most people had of all the hard work that many people had put in, and you could tell that people were really impressed! The newlyweds had ordered printed festival wristbands for Lovefest, which everyone was given as they walked in to the 'festival' entrance.

Lovefest wristbands

Sarah and Max had asked eight different friends or couples to paint a letter each, spelling out Lovefest. This was the main focal point as you walked in and was an ideal backdrop for many wedding photos. Emily and I painted the second Christmas-E [get it?!] which also had fairy lights all the way around it, to make it look even tackier as it got darker in the evening!

After everyone had a chance to check out the surroundings, it was time for lots of wedding photos with different combinations of friends and family [and with the amazing camper van!]  Below is a photo of my family, who don't get together as often as I'd like. It really was very lovely to all be together celebrating such a wonderful occasion.

My family

Sarah and Max with Bluebell the VW Campervan

Me and my very beautiful girl

After the photos were done, it was time to sit down in the marquee, which has been beautifully decorated. All of the guests were assigned a stage/table to sit at, which were named after Glastonbury Festival stages. The top table was the Pyramid Stage. Each of the stage decorations you see below were handmade by Sarah. I love the Lego band on the Pyramid Stage, and this had fairy lights around it too!

The wedding meal was a delicious BBQ, cooked and served by a local butcher shop. Everyone said the burgers and sausages were delicious, and my veggie alternatives were top notch too! A little later in the afternoon the pudding arrived, in the form of an ice cream van playing it's merry tune, as it parked up next to the marquee! This was a surprise to most of the guests and you could tell people really enjoyed the novelty of eating ice cream cones or oysters next to an ice cream van at a wedding! This was a really fun and nice touch by Sarah and Max.

After the meal it was time for speeches. My dad, the father of the bride, was up first. He did a very different take on his speech, telling a fairytale style story about a handsome prince called Max from Totton, looking for his princess from Swaythling! Hard to explain it if you weren't there, but it was great and really made people smile. Sarah and Max followed, with a joint speech, which they wanted to dedicate to thanking their friends and family for being generally awesome! It was really lovely and thoughtful and I'm sure lots of people will remember it for a very long time. The best men both did excellent speeches, both very different. All in all it was a full house of successful speeches!

My friend Stefan recently proposed to the lovely Jemma and they are planning their wedding next year. Stefan asked me to be his best man during the afternoon, which I am very proud and delighted to do. I'm going to start planning my speech now, as I have so much to fit in and I want to get it just right!

Space hopper race - two pairs of newlyweds!

Space hopper races - kids category!

Mixed age sack races

During the afternoon it was time for the Lovefest Sports Day, with space hopper races and sack races. Sarah had asked me to compere the races and it was fun commentating and encouraging people to take part. We did lots of races, both forwards and backwards and with different combinations of younger and older competitors. It was such a fun way to spend the afternoon and there are so many funny photos of different people that we spent ages laughing at afterwards! The rest of the afternoon was spent putting tents up [for those camping the night at the venue] and getting to know new people or catching up with old friends.

After most of the evening guests arrived, it was time for the happy couple to cut the topsy-turvy cake that my Mum's friend Kim had made. It looked great and tasted fantastic, with each layer baked a different flavour, including fruit, coffee, carrot and chocolate. I really love this photo below of Sarah and Max cutting the cake and being photobombed by my nephew who is licking his lips at the cake!

The happy couple cutting the topsy-turvy cake

After the cutting of the cake, it was time for the first dance. This was I Can't Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis. I've never seen so many other couple join in the first dance, which was really lovely.

After the first dance, it was time for the first band of the evening to do their first set. This band was Thrill Collins, who I've known for a long time, also being from Cheltenham. They play skiffle version of 80s, 90s and 00s pop covers and always have the crowd on their feet and singing away within seconds of starting! They are an absolutely ideal wedding band and it was great to see so many people who haven't seen them before enjoying them so much. 

As Thrill Collins started playing Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, they encouraged everyone to attempt 'the lift'. I decided it would be a great idea to get lots of people to lift Sarah over their heads, which turned into both Sarah and Max dancing on the shoulders of two very tall wedding guests [one being best man Steve and the other Jason, who Max randomly met at Reading Festival many years ago!] Check out the photo below of the shoulder-dancing fun.

Sarah and Max had planned wedding shots at the bar into their itinerary. With a completely free bar provided by Sarah and Max for the guests, most people were pretty well boozed already, before it was even DESIGNATED TEQUILA TIME!

Thrill Collins playing their first set of the evening

Shoulder dancing!

The wedding photographers were Emily's cousin Charlotte and her boyfriend Phil, who run a fantastic and professional photography company called Electric Blue. They set up a photo booth in the evening, where you could put on lots of silly hats and accessories for photos. This was set up quite differently to other photo booths I've seen, with a backdrop and professional lighting set up, but not in an enclosed space. This worked so well, as people could watch others having their photo taken, so it was much more fun and interactive than piling into a small box for photos. The turnaround on these photo booth photos was very quick, and I've posted a silly photo of me and my dad below. The rest of the photos from the day will take a little longer to be ready and I can't wait to see them all! 

The second band of the evening was a three-piece rock covers band called Stone Free. The bassist is Max's cousin Mario, who was a really pleasant chap to talk to, having met him for the first time earlier in the day. The evening entertainment ended with most of the guys wearing their ties around their head and Sarah and Max being absolute rock stars, singing along to Run To The Hills by Iron Maiden with the band!

As the band finished, Sarah announced that it was time to head to the campfire area to round off a perfect day. There were dozens of jam jars with candles in them lining the route to the camp fire area, which was deep in some woods at the venue. A few different people, including Phil and James who played at the church at the start of the day, played lots of covers which everyone sang to. Emily and I were pretty excited that James knew how to play Let It Go from Frozen!

As I said at the beginning of this post, it's so difficult to demonstrate what an amazing day we had celebrating the wedding of Sarah and Max, but I hope you get a bit of an idea of how great it was. 

Seeing them both so happy together and seeing the day they planned go so well made me an incredibly proud brother. The celebrations really reflected their fun and loving personalities and it was a real privilege to be such a big part of their special day. I will be remembering their wedding for many years to come and I'm sure I'll be telling people all about it forevermore! 

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Dragon :) 

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