Natalie & James' day out at the zoo wedding

September 16 |
The Wedding Car
Photos by James Keates

The offbeat bride: Natalie, project support officer

Her offbeat partner: James, broadcaster

Location & date of wedding: Whipsnade Zoo, UK — October 2, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We both love zoos and when I discovered that a zoo not far from where we live was able to host weddings, I kept it in the back of my mind. This was before James had even proposed! Fortunately, he was more than happy to have the wedding there, too.

Wallaby!
I really wallaby at this wedding.

Our cake was different to most, too. Instead of tiers, we had steps, which matched the type of cake my parents had back in the 1970s when they got married. We used customised Kidrobot Munny figures for cake toppers too. Our table runners were pashminas I picked up at a market, and negotiated a really good deal with the stallholder.

Our Cake Toppers

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was swift and simple, which gave us more time for the photographs and for our guests to go and enjoy the zoo later in the day.

We Meet Again

Our biggest challenge: We spent nine months planning, doing a bit each weekend. There were times, even as close as a couple of months before the day, when we were wondering how all of our ideas would work together. What may appeal to one guest might not necessarily appeal to another, but you have to trust that every one there is there for you and will accept whatever you've done and the choices you've made.

The Groom & Boys

Our colour scheme made it a little tricky at times. We chose autumnal greens, golds, and browns and it was limiting when trying to get that matches that. For example, I didn't find bridesmaid dresses until four or five weeks before, and even then the dresses needed to be lengthened. I managed to find a good dressmaker though. Lucky for us, we were married off-season when they weren't very busy.

The Bridal Party

My favorite moment: It was great to see everyone's reaction to being at the zoo. We wanted our day to not just be a celebration of our commitment to one another, but also give people an opportunity to have a day that would be as fun, as interesting, and as enjoyable as it would be for us.

Little Lions

My funniest moment: Feeding the giraffes at the zoo in full wedding gown and suit!

Feeding Savannah

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Our tables! We'd seen these amazing crystal trees at a wedding fair back in February, which I really wanted. Our place holders were made by cutting up tree branches. I was petrified that the whole thing would just look like a mish-mash of different ideas but on the day, it all fit together well.

The Crystal Trees

My advice for offbeat brides: Call in all the favours you can. For example, we asked James' mum to make our wedding cake and his best man designed our invitations, table plan, and order-of-services. James even asked a very high-ranking person at a major record label if they could supply us a band for the reception. They couldn't, but did send back a really sweet email saying that if they could have, they would have.

The Order Of Things

And smile sweetly when other people give you advice. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to take it. Some had valid points, but in the end, James and I made the decisions that we thought worked best for us.

First Kiss Blushes

Together

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. A wedding at a zoo, what a fun idea! Looks like a great day with all the smiles on everyone's face and you both looked great. I love the colours you chose and your venue is fantastic! Btw your fascinator's to die for!

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    • Thank you! My wife's fascinator was custom-made by a friend who also designed our flowers, both the bouquets and buttonholes.

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  2. So jealous! I LOVE your wedding and I love the zoo idea. We love love zoos and wanted to have our wedding at our local zoo, but it was way too pricey and had no place for a ceremony, just the reception. (Which made the potential venue cost higher.) Also, your dress is so pretty!

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    • Ha, thanks! Our anniversary gift from our sister-in-law was tickets to the zoo too!

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    • Thank you! It certainly made for a unique experience, but Natalie was a little worried about her fascinator; we were told to remove our buttonholes/bouquets as the giraffe wouldn't have any issues in eating whatever she could reach!

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  3. I adore the second to last picture in the article. The look on Natalie's face is priceless. You can just tell how excited she is to be getting married!

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  4. I love your dress! Can you tell me the designer?

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    • I'm so sorry Lynsy, I never saw this until now! Truth be told, I'm not sure and even Nat can't remember! What I can tell you though is that at the reception one of the bridesmaids had her face painted like a butterfly (we got a face painter in to keep the kids entertained before the evening reception) and then hugged my wife as she passed, smearing the dress with a rich mixture of pink and blue paint that she then had to wear for the rest of the evening! In conclusion: face painters – good idea, but maybe not at a wedding.

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  5. What a great way to get some really unique pictures, who else has a wedding photo of them with a giraffe in it? Cool!

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  6. Gorgeous. I love the colour scheme. I'm not surprised it made things a little tricky; I've been looking for fabric like that of the bridesmaids' dresses and it's a nightmare to find! Congratulations, you're a beautiful couple.

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    • Thank you Jan! I believe Nat ended up looking around in all sorts of places for the right fabrics – one of the best places she looked in was an Indian dress shop, that had loads of intricately detailed pieces.

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  7. This looks fabulous! What a wonderful idea! And seriously? The second to bottom photo and the pure joy on your face made me tear up. You look gorgeous. :)

    Oh, and I just ADORE the crystal trees!

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    • Aww, thank you Ezza! Yes, the crystal trees looked amazing. In the evening (we also had the reception in the same room), there were LED spotlights in the pots that lit them up!

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  8. What's not to love about a zoo wedding? Unless you're scared of animals, I suppose! Looks like it was a fabulous day and loads of fun.

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  9. What kind of branches did you use? Any advice on DIYing them?

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