“The pictures are wicked! We’re so pleased!”

This was the first time I’d photographed a humanist wedding and hopefully not the last.

They chose the beautiful Bodenham Arboretum for their ceremony which was looked after by their Humanist Celebrant, Wendy Weavin.

The site covers 54 acres of mature woodland, specimen trees and shrubs and two chains of pools and lakes, integrated within a working farm in Wolverley, Worcestershire. The secluded area makes for a perfect, rustic outdoor wedding location. This suited Kayleigh and Dan well who didn’t want a traditional wedding, but instead opted for an outdoor humanist wedding ceremony in the middle of a beautiful wooded area in the arboretum.

There was so much to love about Kayleigh and Dan’s outdoor Bodenham Arboretum wedding. Where do I start? First the attention to details was impressive with the decor for their tipi. The weather was superb. Everyone had a great time. Best of all I had the privilege of recording it all for them! To top off a unique day, their wedding was featured in West Midland Your Wedding Magazine, where I’m often featured, and also on The English Wedding Blog.

I could go on and tell loads more about Kayleigh and Dan’s wedding, but first let me share some highlights of their day, after which I’ll let them tell you their story of how they met and how they planned their wedding.

Looking for a photographer for your humanist wedding celebration?

If you’re planning your wedding and are considering using Bodenham Arboretum or any other location for your humanist wedding celebration, I’d love to be involved. Feel free to contact me.

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Their Wedding Day in Their Words


How You Met:

We met at a bowling alley in Worcester more than 10 years ago.

How He Proposed:

Dan went for a run one morning down to Monkstone Beach (nr Tenby) where I was going to meet him at the end of his run. Monkstone is my favourite beach, we spend a lot of our summer weekends there and I have been spending time there since I was a toddler. It is a very secluded beach accessed by walking down steps in the cliff face.  As I rounded one bend in the steps the beach came into view and he had written “Kay you’re my world. Marry me?” into the sand. When I turned round he was there on one knee. It was very romantic.


The Bride Wore:

I wore a Mori Lee gown, which was significantly altered.  The front was cut to make a much lower v-neck shape, then the seamstress added beaded capped sleeves and beaded floaty detail on the back of the dress.

The Groom Wore:

All of the boys and the dads wore Navy, Ted Baker trousers, waistcoats and raspberry belts.  They had white shirts and raspberry coloured ties that matched with the girls bridesmaids dresses. Then they had brown brogue shoes.


I wore a champagne coloured silk chiffon cathedral length veil and a beautiful hair accessory from glass Oyster, Not on the high street.  The earrings and bracelet came from Thomas Sabo.

Hair/Make-up Done:

I had my hair done at my usual hairdressers but had a couple of practice runs beforehand. My make up was done by an excellent make up artist, Laura from Studio Beau. I don’t wear much make-up, so I don’t have many products or experience applying it.  It was a decision I made quite late on as I was thinking about buying some and doing it myself.  I’m really glad I had Laura to do my make up, she did a superb job, she used MAC products so I didn’t need to reapply at all. We had 2 practice runs with different looks to make sure we were happy.


Bouquets, button holes and top table decoration came from the florist (Whoops a Daisy).  The rest of the flowers (jugs, milk bottles and churns) we did ourselves. The bouquets had sweet peas, along with lots of small delicate flowers.  I told the florist about our countryside tipi wedding and took pictures of types of bouquets I liked and let her use her professional judgement.  We just told her we wanted small flowers, not all uniform and perfect looking, but more rustic and meadowy.

With the rest of the flowers we had a test run a few weeks before.  After the attempt we ordered flowers from the Birmingham flower market to collect a few days before the wedding.  They looked great, I was really pleased we decided to do the venue flowers ourselves (with huge help from my Aunty and Kate, Dans sister).


I made save the dates myself, the rest of the invites we ordered online from a shop through ebay.


Ceremony Place:

Because you are allowed to hold a humanist ceremony anywhere we had the service and the reception all at the same place, in the grounds of Bodenham Arboretum, luckily the weather was perfect on the day.

Neither of us are religious and we wanted a ceremony that was flexible and really personal to us, so for us a humanist ceremony was the best way to go. We met up with Wendy, one of the humanist celebrants in the West Midlands. She spent time getting to know us, then she wrote the entire ceremony for us.

We had readings by Steph, Amy (my sister-in-law), and mum read a piece that she had written herself.  On the day, the ceremony was perfect.  It was totally personal to us, it was quite emotional and so many of our guests commented on how unique and intimate it was. Particular praise was given to the group blessing we had at the end of the ceremony where all of our family and friends were involved.

Wedding Theme/Style:

We were aiming for a laid back, rustic, countryside kind of day


Reception Place:

We had a tipi in the grounds for our Bodenham Arboretum wedding.  We had 3 giant tipis, one for the dance floor, band and bar, one where we had our first meal and a cozy chill out tipi with a fire and lots of comfy furniture.

First Dance Song:

Tom Odell, Grow Old with Me


We were lucky and one of our very talented friends made our wedding cake.  We just wanted a single tier lemon cake to cut on the day.  My new sister-in-law made loads of cupcakes for people to have instead of traditional wedding cake.


Rather than block colours we tried to have floral prints running through the table and venue decorations, which complimented the girls bridesmaids dresses.

Decor Elements:

We sourced massive milk churns, whiskey barrels, wooden centerpieces, hay bales, jugs, milk jars and candles and had our initials K&D made from moss.  Mum and I made 3 huge willow hearts and we soaked willow for a week, which took hours to weave each one, but they looked excellent and filled the spaces perfectly. Then we brought and decorated small hearts to hang all around the tipi, which also looked lovely.

Each table name was a place that means something to us.  These names were burned into trunks on each table and acted as centrepieces.  Then we brought jugs and milk jars and put flowers in them.  We made the table runners, cutlery holders and place names, furnished the chill out area with wicker chairs, sofas and cushions, and we also brought a cupboard to display pictures and it doubled up as a station where people could have a cup of tea.

Unique Details:

I tried my absolute best to not have a generic wedding, neither of us are particularly traditional and we wanted a wedding that allowed us to have the day we wanted not what we knew would suit other people.  To do this we made lots of the details ourselves which added a more personal touch.

We made:
·      Giant willow hearts

·      Table plan

·      Cake stand

·      Table Runners

·      Cutlery holders

·      Place names

·      To guide guests from the car park to the ceremony we had pictures of us guiding the way along with song lyrics of the song that were sung as dad and I were walking down the aisle.

·      The bar

Extra Details We Loved:

·      Sebastian the magician entertained small groups of guests during our welcome drinks, until the main meal.

·      Bridesmaid dresses were made for each of the girls.  We brought the material and mix and matched patterns.

·      My mum read a piece she wrote during the ceremony.

·      We wrote our own vows

·      Had a few dance lessons for the first dance


Kayleigh’s Answer:

Being on the dance floor in the evening, stopping, looking around and being surrounded by all of our closest friends and family having a great time, laughing, dancing, chatting, relaxing and I thinking that the entire day was better than I could have hoped for.

Dan’s Answer:

The moment that I looked back down the aisle and saw my beautiful wife in a dress more beautiful than I could have imagined and looking better than I could have dreamed. She looked absolutely radiant.



12 nights in the Maldives


I think I could write a book. Some advice would be:

·      Lists are great, make lots!

·      Look at what you can buy or make yourselves, it adds a more personal touch.

·      We had no wedding Wednesdays so we weren’t allowed to talk wedding, we would watch a film or go for dinner instead.

·      Use friends and family where you can if you can definitely trust them to do a good job.

·      Make a decision and stick with it.

·      It’s a day for the two of you, so have it your way where possible.  Yes you want all of your guest to have a great time, but if you don’t want your great Aunty Flos next door neighbour there don’t have her.

·      I tried to not let it take over my life so I talked about it as little as possible at work, plus I wanted things to be a surprise for guests on the day.

·      Also I didn’t want wedding blues after we got back form our honeymoon, so I had little wedding projects lined up for after we got back.  I’ve made scrap books for my flower girl and from my hen parties.  I’ve organised to have my flowers preserved and put into jewellery.

·      Everybody says it but try and absorb the day, it truly does fly by.

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