Magical Creative Wedding at The Giraffe Shed…
We are beyond excited to be able to share this dreamboat of a wedding, the first-ever at MMU supplier’s The Giraffe Shed.
We’ve swooned over the perfect countryside setting, the blank canvas modern barn with endless possibilities so it’s such a thrill to see how this American Groom and Welsh Bride created their dream day there. And what a day it was filled to the rafters with a shed load of incredible DIY projects – hand-dyed linens, custom artwork alter backdrops, hand-stamped place cards, home-roasted coffee favors and so much more.
The multi-talented bride even took a course to be able to master the floral styling on the day, with the exception of the bouquets which were lovingly prepared by the wonderful Grace & Thorn. And just wait until you see the bridal outfit, only an Odylyne The Ceremony gown with personalised Hermione De Paula veil.
Bravo Zach & Hannah, bravo.
Zach & Hannah…
How did you meet and get engaged?
Zach – We met in Northern California. She showed up to a music gig I was playing and I saw her across the room. I recognized her from a previous event so I made my way over and asked her to dance. Thinking I had been the one to make the first move, little did I know that she actually spotted me first and made sure I would see her.
Later that year, I took a surprise trip to Wales to visit her and her family. I showed up in her living room with the same bottle of wine we had on our first proper date. A few weeks later, Hannah thought we were on our way to Paris for a relaxed weekend. But on our second morning, instead of stopping for coffee like I normally would, we stopped in front of the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg gardens. I got down on my knee and asked her to be my wife! We had a friend who happened to be in Paris at the same time who hid behind a tree and popped out to take pictures for us. We spent the whole afternoon in the gardens.
Was there an overall theme to your day?
We floated a few different ideas: boho, Gatsby, 20’s, art deco, etc. and realized we were too creative and unique to plan around a style, so we planned around ourselves. We’re creative dreamers and wanted our wedding to have our fingerprints; I think we accomplished that.
How would you describe your day?
It was exactly that – it was our day. So many people tell you the day goes by in a blur, or that you’ll be so busy you won’t be able to eat properly. We didn’t accept those notions and instead managed to stay present throughout the day without a moment too slow or too quick. It was our favorite day and we remember it because we chose to be fully present. I realize that’s easier said than done, but when you can manage to let go of control and trust your preparations and your friends and family, the day happens. We accepted that we couldn’t control the outcome. We trusted ourselves, trusted the people around us, and found letting go to be an easy, seamless thing. We were relaxed and accepted the day as it came. It was the most present day of our lives.
How long were you planning it for, and what was the best bit?
We planned from America in 6 months! It was all done with a bit of a blindfold: picking a venue, setting up catering, arranging rentals, decorations, all gave our imaginations a healthy workout. It was a bit nerve-wracking choosing a caterer or venue you’ve never tasted or seen! Thankfully the most memorable part was finally seeing the Giraffe Shed together just a month before the wedding.
How was your day unique to you?
Hannah – We did everything ourselves with contributions and help from family and friends. My dad’s an artist, so he painted two large canvases for us that we used as the backdrop, my mum and I styled all of the venue through objects from vintage stores, Zach’s mom cooked a traditional dish from Louisiana for our reception and lots of friends came to help us set up. We made our own table seat charts from our favourite albums, we collected old speakers and spray painted them white to create an art installation and I took a course in floristry and made all of the flowers to go in the venue. We incorporated so much of ourselves into the day, and that’s why we chose the venue and tipi’s, because they were blank canvases for us to work with.
Wedding / Reception Venue:
We were having a hard time finding somewhere that didn’t offer a package deal. We love the welsh landscape, and when we turned up at the venue The Giraffe Shed, we knew we had somewhere that would accommodate what we wanted and actually welcome our ideas, while having a gorgeous landscape all around us. We wanted somewhere that felt really special and a space for nature. The small lake area and rolling fields were things we loved, and knew would provide our guests with different experiences. Having everything in one place for both the ceremony and reception was a dream, too. Most importantly, we LOVE Hannah, Neil and their family (and animals!). They are the dream team, and we are honoured to be their first wedding at the Shed. They are so accommodating, and nothing was too crazy or daunting for us to try and do at the venue (or if it was, they kept very straight faces). But all jokes aside, they were one of the biggest reasons why we chose The Giraffe Shed.
Wedding Marquee & Tents:
We had three tipis (one big, two small), as we wanted to create different spaces for our guests to enjoy. The small tipis included games for the kids, and art books and a chill out space. The largest tent had a living room set up with a record player, projector and films to watch and a photobooth in the evening. Our desire was for our guests to be able to choose what they wanted to do on the day, so the space really provided the areas where they could do just that.
Rachel and Chris from September Pictures were an international couple, like us, and they had done shoots at some of our favourite venues and spots in California and Nevada. We loved their style and it was evident that they worked with the client’s preferences. We felt they captured moments really well. It was such a joy receiving the photos in a wooden box with confetti after the wedding!
Hannah – I had searched high and low in London with my family and maid-of-honour before returning to America, but I didn’t find anything that felt right (though I did take advantage of trying on all of the top designer gowns!) I really loved visiting The Wedding Gallery on Marylebone road. It’s like a secret warehouse full of hidden treasures. You have to walk through a bookcase to get to it! They have everything, from table styling examples and stationery options to men’s cologne and dressing gowns. It is the dream department store for all things bridal! I really loved the dresses there, but also wanted to see what was on offer in California, as that’s such a special place for both of us.
When I returned to America, I asked Zach to come with me to some wedding dress appointments. It isn’t the traditional route, but made sense as he was the one who knew me best. We really enjoyed the experience, and knew that I would get a dress from LOHO Bride from the moment we stepped into their boutique. We instantly felt at ease, they had an incredible and diverse selection of dresses from international designers, and I got to play around with lots of veils and headpieces. We narrowed it down to a few dresses we liked, and then I chose the final dress without telling Zach.
I was so glad I’d finally found my DREAM dress! It’s called ‘Zoe’ and is designed by Odylyne The Ceremony (@odylynetheceremony). I love the way the silk and pleats make it float, and the amazing removable sleeves created an old Hollywood feel with boho elements. After it was made in LA, Zach brought the dress on the plane from the USA to the UK – it was the most valuable thing he’d ever travelled with!
Zach – My suit was from ASOS UK. I didn’t want anything traditional, especially not a blue suit (nothing against blue, but I’ve seen so many grooms wear it). Green has always been my favourite colour, so I googled it and saw Ryan Gosling wearing one, and felt that it was the same vibe I was going for. We ordered it online, and it fitted perfectly. I paired it with a collarless white shirt, a Reiss red spotted pocket kerchief, and light brown suede loafers.
Our flowers for the wedding party came from a small independent company in London called, Grace and Thorn. We had a mix of dried and fresh flowers in the bouquets and the wrist corsages that our mothers wore. Hannah took a course in floral installation, and we ordered our own flowers, and created the table and wall displays with them for the venue.
Our decor was a mix of vintage collectables that we gathered from various vintage stores and Ebay. The Pump Rooms in Cardiff is a warehouse that houses a variety of furniture stalls, so we bought a lot of our stuff from there. The rest was charity shop finds and small stores that we stopped by in smaller villages in the UK. We hand dyed all of our own fabrics for our table runners, and Zach roasted the coffee for our wedding favours. The scallop plates and gold cutlery were hired from Tipples, and we borrowed glasses from Majestic Wine.
This was the hardest part for us! It was difficult to find catering as being in America meant we couldn’t do tastings. The other issue was that most companies were overpriced. We started looking for companies who cater at festivals and street food, as they were more reasonably priced and could bring their own kitchen, but a lot were booked by that time. We found Relish (@relishcateringliverpool) through Instagram, and they were perfect. They were so professional and really joyful. We loved the way they contributed to the fun of the party and created a good atmosphere for our guests. The food was divine, and they accommodated all different diets. Hannah doesn’t eat meat, so they created the most amazing veggie burgers, and had a proper roast for everyone who were meat-eaters. Our nephews especially loved seeing the Hog head that they placed near the roast!
Our invitations were designed by an American graphic designer (@Saint.Lennon). They were simple with a tipi, a skyline and the date of our wedding on the front and details on the back. We had them printed in cream and black, and used marble effect wax to seal each envelope. Zach hand-made the place cards by using two different types of stamps and black ink. We had one stamp made that had our wedding hashtag (#thegrandcanons), and found an old french postcard stamp that we used for the front of the card. Zach used a quill pen and ink to write our guest names on the card, and they could re-use them to write a message for us if they wanted.
Bridal Hair & MUA:
Hannah – I found Bryony (@facebybryony) on Instagram. The make up was beautiful and natural, and she did hair which was a plus! We also had Zach’s sister who did some of the bridesmaids’ make-up, and another make-up artist called Sophie who did make-up and nails. We had a fabulous hairstylist, Jay (@j.c_hair), who did around six of the girls’ hair, and my mum’s. He was a hair wizard! They were all incredible and added so much joy and ease to the morning.
Hannah – My veil was a one of a kind piece from Hermione De Paula (@hermionedepaula). This was my favourite accessory to find as I loved visiting their beautiful townhouse studio in London with my mum and getting to try on all of the pretty couture veils. I loved that they had small selections of their designs, and you could have secret messages inscribed into the veil. I had lyrics of a poem embroidered into mine, it was pretty special! I’m so glad we found that in London, as it’s a city that’s close to our hearts too.
My parents bought my earrings and necklace as a gift for the day from Liberty’s. I had two pairs of shoes – simple white heeled sandals from River Island, and a matching silver pair for evening dancing from Clarks (their shoes are the comfiest!).
Music & Entertainment:
Hannah – We had an evening photobooth by Vintage Booth (@vintagebooth.me), it was so fun! It produced cool black and white shots that everyone got to take home, and they gave us a USB with all of the photos for us to keep. Zach and one of our groomsmen, Jerome, sang songs during the ceremony, one of which Zach had written for me. For the day we had a playlist of our favourite songs, including the dreamiest song, ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young for our first dance. After dinner and speeches we had Reba Kimber (@rebakimber_dj), dj for the reception. She had the best 90s playlist that kept our guests dancing!
What are your favourite details of the day?
Hannah – My favourite details were getting ready in the morning surrounded by my girls, with the anticipation of going to get married to my love! The view was incredible too, overlooking miles and miles of green fields, and I loved getting to watch the guests arrive.
Zach – I loved the slow moments getting ready. We had done all the work the day before so we really had time to enjoy the scenery, a cup of instant coffee (not my taste, but on this particular morning it was fantastic), and putting my suit on. Seeing her walk down the aisle is one of the best moments of my life.
Our other favourite moments were walking through the confetti tunnel in the afternoon, and running through a tunnel with everyone holding sparklers over us when we headed off from the party. We loved seeing everyone smiling, it felt really magical and special to see everyone we love and care about celebrating our marriage. The other bit was sitting in bed afterwards (also a favourite part of the venue, as it’s a short walk up the path from the shed!), and reminiscing about the day. We ate pizza in bed and watched La La Land.
What was your budget?
Our parents were generous with both time and money, so we were able to get the essentials that we both really wanted. We spent a bit of our own money as well. All in all it came out around 16,000 pounds. This included housing/Airbnb’s since it was a more secluded location.
Do you have any advice for couples currently planning their wedding, for either the planning or the lead-up?
It’s your day. Make it what you both want it to be. But if I (Zach) learned anything from Hannah during the planning, it’s that your guests will never forget the effort you put in to making the day special for them as well. I’m not sure how many times we revisited the seating plan, but we had a number of people tell us how that was so well thought out and they thoroughly enjoyed who they were sitting next to. Even the small details have an effect on the guest experience.
Trust yourself to make good decisions. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. There will be another option. If there isn’t, create another option!
Thanks Zach and Hannah for sharing your day with us and September Pictures for the photos – you can contact them HERE
Photography: September Pictures
Videography: Electic Reel
Venue: The Giraffe Shed
Flowers: Grace and Thorn
Dress: Odylyne The Ceremony
Veil: Hermione De Paula
CAke: Sam Sweet Treats
Groom Suit: Asos
Food: Relish Catering
Stationery: Saint Lennin
Hair & MUA : Face By Bryony
Music and Entertainment: