Mia & Martin's backyard teepee party wedding

Spinning and Spinning
Photos by George Torode and Victoria Nightingale

The offbeat bride: Mia, Social Media Fondler

Her offbeat partner: Martin, Company owner and all-round computer geek

Location of wedding: Fulham Town Hall for the ceremony, Martin's parents back garden for the party, London, UK

What made our wedding offbeat: For a start, we got engaged in June, and set the date for August. We didn't see the point in a long engagement since we didn't want a traditional white wedding. It seemed just a case of organising a party. We made a point of making everyone refer to it as "The Party" and tried very hard to remind everyone it wasn't a big deal. We had already decided we were going to spend the rest of our lives together — this was just a formality, and an excuse for a big party!

Bride and Father

On the other hand, we did want to include lots of our traditions and quirkiness. I am Russian, but was brought up in Scotland, and now live in London. Martin grew up in the English countryside but is half-Scottish. We're both keen skiers, and had spent the previous winter in Canada doing just that.

Martin's a computer nerd and I'm obsessed with Doctor Who, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and polka dots. I wanted all of that to somehow be included without being too tacky.

Arriving at St James's Park

I had a Man of Honour, my bridesmaids didn't match, and Martin only had one usher, his best man. We didn't invite anyone except immediate family to the reception, much to a lot of people's displeasure.

We had our party in Martin's parents' back garden. Instead of having a marquee, we had a teepee, which we decorated ourselves with bunting, pom-poms, and balloons. Our centrepieces were potted multicoloured flowers which doubled up as wedding favours since we spray painted "m♥m" onto them. We printed our own wedding invitations using an XKCD cartoon strip. [Editor's note: yay for Creative Commons licensing!]. We had no DJ and instead there was a Céilidh band, a bouncy castle, and an old-fashioned bicycle ice cream van.

Epic Rain

I scream, you scream, we all scream…

Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was the bog standard-type of affair. During our party, we had a traditional Russian Bread and Salt ceremony where the groom's parents welcomed me into their family by presenting me with a loaf of bread and some salt, which Martin and I were supposed to feed to each other. Another family tradition we seemed to have upheld was rain on our wedding day. Martin's parents had a rainy wedding day too!

Exchanging Rings

Did I drop something?Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was probably my dress. I had decided to go for a '50s-style prom dress with polka dots and lots of petticoats that I bought from eBay. My mother on the other hand, had kept a picture of the exact wedding dress she wanted me to have in a drawer by her bed for about ten years, and got very emotional when I refused to get a "real" wedding dress.

I finally agreed to try it on. The problem was that all that my mum had was a picture ripped out of a magazine ten years ago. I had to go on a wild goose chase trying to find this wedding dress. But with my mad search engine skills, I managed to find the dress! I warmed to it because it was made by an independent, local designer. So we went down to the shop to see about trying it on.

As the wedding was about five weeks away at this point, we weren't very optimistic. But the girls in the shop did everything they could to squeeze me in and it was finished about three days before the wedding. So it was a little stressful, but at least I definitely knew I wasn't going to change shape before the big day!

Phonebox

The other obstacle to do with the dress was that I didn't tell my groom that I would be wearing it. I had to go to all my fittings in secret, and he never guessed there was something going on until I walked in to the registry office. The look on his face made it worth all the stress.

Mr & Mrs Hewitt

My favorite moment: I didn't think I would get emotional, but when we were pronounced husband and wife I was so happy, I just laughed and laughed. Our recessional song was "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish," so I think most people thought I was laughing at that, but I was just so happy.

YAY

After the wedding when we went back to a hotel, we were so exhausted we decided to just have a bath. But we ended up flooding our room with bathwater and had to run around trying to find all the towels in the room.

Bridesmaids #2

My funniest moment: Apart from nearly flooding our wedding night hotel room, the whole reception was hilarious. My dad and his best mate got absolutely plastered on vodka. Since both of them are crazy Russian scientists, they decided to explain to everyone how a thermonuclear reactor works using the samovar (a traditional Russian tea urn) as a prop.

Cheese

My Dad's speech was in the form of a PowerPoint presentation because that's all he's used to.

My Dad's Speech ("lecture")

My Maid of Honour decided to just propose a toast to honour (to getting on her, to staying on her, and if you can't come in her, come "honour") in front of Grandma!

Grandma & Auntie Beryl

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I wasn't really sure about the cake. I couldn't make it in advance because it was a sponge, but if it was a disaster, I wouldn't have time to make another one. I started making it at around 11:30 p.m. the night before the party and had to ice it on the day. My mother-in-law ended up helping me with the icing. She was a total lifesaver because I only then realized I had no idea what I was doing!

Wedding Cake

Rainbow Cake

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? We really do love each other a hell of a lot, otherwise we could never have survived the stress. While we were both completely calm and laid back about the whole thing, everyone around us was running around like headless chickens. I think if we had a long engagement, we probably would have ended up eloping because six weeks of stress was more than enough!

Champagne

There were a few people who were overly involved and became upset by our choices. It really got us down, so at that point we decided we weren't going to listen to what anyone said and just got on with things our way. We were very happy with the result.

Confetti

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. I beyond love your dress! Way to go you! I had to change the color of my dress for my mother (to white), but it too grew on me.

    You look absolutely thrilled- what better indicator of a wedding?

  2. I think "teepee" is the wrong word here. It's got open sides for one thing, and it's a lot bigger than a typical teepee. There are many kinds of tent habitations with a conical shape, that doesn't make them all teepees. I know Brits don't have the same history with Native Americans (as the name would suggest, ha), but calling something like that a teepee over here would make me uncomfortable.

    Not judging anyone personally, I'd just consider changing the word is all. Otherwise, looks like an awesome wedding!

    For reference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipi

    4 agree
    • I didn't mean to cause any offence but I think that the word teepee has very different connotations depending on which side of the pond you are on. In the UK it is common to call any conical tent a teepee, not because we are looking to insult anyone, but just because that is how the word is used over here!

      8 agree
      • Good to know! Thanks for clearing that up for me. And congratulations on an awesome-looking The Party.

  3. "My Maid of Honour decided to just propose a toast to honour (to getting on her, to staying on her, and if you can't come in her, come "honour") in front of Grandma!"

    Love it!

    Where did you get your teepee from? I think I've tried every company in the country but as I'm in Scotland it's a little harder so any names are appreciated. We're basically having the same reception! Except mine is called 'the BBQ' 😉

    1 agrees
  4. Hi Sarah,
    The teepee is from http://www.stunningtents.co.uk/ they were the most local company we could find, about 20 minutes down the road from where we had the party, so they are based in Hampshire, but the chap did mention that he's done several weddings in Scotland, they just drive up overnight!

    hehehe I like "the BBQ" awesome! We did toy with the idea of "the spitroast" but that probably would have been too much! 😉

  5. That dress is so beautiful and simple. I dream of getting married in a dress like that. And you had Barrowman's florist? Insane!

  6. The cake is so normal on the outside and crazy rainbow on the inside! I love that… and that the bride made it herself. Wow!

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