Zillah & Jon's handfasting picnic wedding in a field

Updated Oct 12 2015

everyone say "A-HO!"

The offbeat bride: Zillah

Her offbeat partner: Jon, computer programmer

Location & date of wedding: In a field near Brighton, England, UK — June 5, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We are both lucky enough to have families that let us do what we wanted, so we did. We hired a field with a tap and had to sort out the rest. It was basically a mini-festival, with a picnic buffet and dancing until the small hours.truly handfasted!

Just because it was in a field didn't mean we missed out on home-comforts, we had a bar with fridges, sofas and a pool table. To keep costs down we did everything ourselves, and with a lot of help from our friends and family, we had the most overwhelmingly romantic and amazing day (and night) ever.

Tell us about your ceremony: We officially got married at the town hall a couple of days before, with only eight people present. We did that just to make it legal.Nanny Pat tying us together

The main ceremony and party was our handfasting, we had about eighty people there. We didn't need any "official" people as we had already done the legal bit, so we made it up ourselves. We got our friend to "call in the directions." Everyone turns to the North, East, South and West and shouts a loud A-HO! with their hands in the air. This was a nice ice-breaker.
jumping the hay bale!
Then everyone tied us together one at a time with their own ribbon/string/shoe lace/electric cable(!) that they had brought with them for their own personal reasons. This was a nice way to say hello to everyone and kind of like a "receiving line" but more fun. Then we said how much we loved each other (not really vows as such), and jumped over a hay bale! It was perfect.

Everyone brought unique items to tie around the couple during the handfasting ceremony.

Our biggest challenge: The generator failed and we had to get someone to come and fix it. The man who came was a hero and re-soldered the engine in the field at night, then hey presto, we had lights and music!

My favorite moment: The handfasting was very special, and very made-up on the spot! Luckily it worked out.

Our friend Dom gave a hilarious and touching speech.

ha ha point

My funniest moment: My husband was making a speech to welcome everyone and just as he said "as you can see, this is all a well oiled machine-" he knocked over his glass of champagne, and everyone laughed. I think they thought it was planned, but it wasn't, I have married Mr. Bump.

families
Look! Picnic tables and a basket!

My advice for offbeat brides: We were trying to save money, and did everything ourselves. I think it might have been wise to at least get someone to do the food!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Never trust a generator until you've seen it doing what you need it to do!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • We got the willow 'tipis' that we got married under from Creative Willow
  • The main tent came from Party on the Grass
  • My dress, the bunting, the napkins were all handmade by me.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Love the handfasting twist of having every guest bring their own 'rope' – what a lovely way to include everyone & focus on the meaning of the day! Congrats!

    • It was really lovely actually. We got given some lovely things- battery powered fairy-lights, a piece of cloth blessed by the Dalai Lama, a 'male to female' XLR cable (funny joke), the ribbon from my mother in law's wedding hat… Everyone thought so much about what they gave us. Now I just need to think of something to do with them all!

  2. WOW!! jumping a hay bale is just the cutest thing ever!! i love how your celebration was so loose and open and casual. you both looked so relaxed – everything a couple should be through their wedding day!!

    • Thank you, we were possibly a bit too relaxed and casual! We didn't know what we were going to jump over… then a friend of ours put down the hay bale, and it was the perfect thing!

  3. I wish we had a field somewhere to hand an outdoors ceremony. The only large area is our yard, but our yard literally backs up to the freeway. I can look out the window from where I'm sitting and watch traffic passing at 80MPH. Outdoor-weddings are just so peaceful and wonderful. This one is no exception.

    • We live in the town, but we hired this field from a farmer about 5 miles away from where we live. He rents it out to people who do similar things there all through the summer, there might be someone near you? Although if you live in the States I guess it could be very different there?

    • Well, that is a good question, and it is one that I kind of pushed out of my mind. I told myself it wouldn't matter if it rained, that we had a big enough tent to get everyone in. This was true, and we would have had a lovely time no matter what happened, but I'm really glad it didn't rain, it made the whole thing much easier. It was a massive gamble, but you can't stay in all the time in case it rains!

  4. Hand-fasting, picnic and hay bales… SQUEEE! Hoping for all 3 for our wedding too, but in a different style. Love this wedding, congratulations.

    (Oh.. and one quick question, do you think anyone was offended that they weren't invited to the "signing the documents" day? we were think of doing that in advance to but FH isn't convinced)

    • Hello, oh how exciting! Good luck! I would love to see some pics of yours.

      For the official registry part of our wedding, we just tried to emphasise how it was not the most important part to us. And how we would really love to have them at the handfasting. I think that people understood this once they saw how lovely the handfasting was.

      But we only have quite a small family, so I think it wasn't too hard to keep it to 8 people. The next biggest room held about 50 people though, and that is the one that most people go for, I don't know what it is like where you are, but maybe you could compromise with something like that?

      I hadn't really thought about the registry part, as all the focus was on the handfasting day, but the registry day was actually a really lovely day too. We all went for a nice meal afterwards, then just me and my husband went to a hotel in our hometown, we had a romantic walk along the seafront that evening.

    • Weddings really do bring out the best in people, I had never really noticed before, but everyone was SO LOVELY, it was quite overwhelming.

  5. Wow! This wedding is so inspiring, thank you so much for sharing! I am definitely going to use some of your wonderful ideas in our beach wedding in two weeks. I have some logistical questions- I love the idea of every guest adding a cord to the handfasting, but it seems like you end up with a lot of cords. Did you cut yourself out of the ribbons, or just not have people tie very tightly? Also, I looked at your flikr Bunting site and I am very excited! Can you direct me to a how-to site? Or do you have any advice on how to make them myself..thank you so much for any help!!

    • Hello Jill, Ooh a beach wedding! How exciting! Where abouts is it going to be?

      Yes, the massive amount of handfasting cords was quite enormous. We just made sure that no one tied theirs too tight, and then I slipped my hand out and my husband was able to remove it (which was good otherwise eating lunch would have been quite hard!) I did have visions of being in a tangle and trying to carry on the whole day tied together, but it was very easy to make sure I could get my hand out, so I wouldnt worry about it.

      BUNTING! no wedding is complete without bunting if you ask me. I just made up my own way of making it, but it is kind of like this tutorial- http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/12/02/how-to-make-a-bunting-holiday-decoration/
      With a few exceptions:
      *I use pinking shears to cut my triangles (or whatever shape) (no hemming needed)
      *I just use one piece of material (So each triangle is not double sided, but I have never found this to matter)
      *I use 1 inch tape and iron it in half, sandwiching the triangles as I sew
      * I don't bother pinning the triangles, I just make a mark on my sewing machine so I know when to grab the next one from the pile so they are evenly spaced.

      The best way to learn is just to have a go, it's really very simple and people aren't going to look at it that closely, so I wouldn't bother spending time making it look perfectly hemmed etc! Just have fun with it!

      • Wow! Thanks Zillah, I am really excited to get started on this project. I don't have a sewing machine, but I think I'll be able to do it by hand anyway. We live in North Carolina, so we're having the ceremony on a beach in the Outer Banks. I was already planning on having a directions blessing, but I love the idea of having everyone shout Aho! Everyone with their hands up made for some fabulous photos from your wedding. Thanks so much for the reassurance about the handfasting!

  6. hiya, ah! no sewing machine! I hadn't even considered that. Maybe you could use that magic hemming tape that you just iron, and you wouldn't need to sew. Wow I just looked at North Carolina on google maps, so different to where I live! One day I will come to the states.
    The shouting "A-HO!" was really great, and a good way to involve everyone and get everyone to loosen up a bit. I agree about the photos too, those ones are my favs.
    Have fun Jill!

  7. i just can't resist….offbeat bride zillah? 🙂
    i actually have an acquaintance that changed her last name to zilla so she could be bride zilla.

    your wedding looks wonderful, zillah. congrats on your marriage.

  8. I love the idea of having a huge celebration in a big field!!! And you both planned an amazing "mini-festival!" I've actually been looking at fields as I drive around all the back roads here in Indiana haha But I was wondering, what did you do about restrooms??

    • Hello, we hired porta-loos. (I think you call them porta-pottys in the US? -a bit like this, although we didnt have showers!http://www.toilethire.net/) Not the most glamorous toilets for a wedding, but also not that bad. We hired 4 normal and 1 disabled loo. They have small sinks with water. I would have like to have "compost" toilets, but they are a bit more tricky to get.

  9. Love it! I paid close attention to the answer to your rain question! We are doing something similar, but the hauling of everything into a field sometimes makes me feel worn out just to think of! Did you rent fridges and how did you get sofa's to the wedding????

    • Hi Emma, Ooh, good luck with your field adventure!
      Yes it was tiring, you need as many people as possible to help I reckon. We got a lot of stuff from http://www.freecycle.org/ – including the sofas and some floor cushions. We were looking on Freecycle for fridges, but it appears they are too valuable to give away, so we bought 2 second hands ones from our local Friday Ads. One of them didnt work- didn't check it til the day, so that was a bummer, one of them worked really well (actually it was a freezer) and we borrowed one from a friend. Any more questions I can help with, just ask! Good luck for the big day x

  10. I love this. So much.

    I'd really like to do something similar, but a lot of people have told me I'm crazy/ an outdoor wedding will be just as expensive as going to a hall of some sort after buying a tent and everything.
    What all did you have to buy/ rent to get the field wedding ready? You said tent and generator, but did you rent washrooms, etc?

    Also, you said you guys handled the food yourselves … what exactly did you have to do and what were you serving?

    Sorry for so many questions.
    As I said, I'd love to have a wedding like this, and if it's possible to do it without breaking the bank, all the better.

  11. Hi Zillah – Belated congratulations on your wedding- Michelle sent me the link to your very own field day and the fun and loving comes across wonderfully, what a marvellous day it looked.I All my very best wishes for a great time ahead to you both. Yolanda married Nic about 5 years ago in Las Vagas as they had to do a quick official one for her US residency status in the US – they live in Hollywood; there is due to be a ceremony on a beach somewhere in California at some stage, I guess it will happen eventually 🙂 Lots of love and happiness. Bobby

    • Hiya Bobby, I have only just seen this post that you did 2 years ago!! Sorry! thanks for the kind words, we had such a lovely day, I have just about recovered from it now, it took a lot of effort but was well worth it. Wow Yolanda's life sounds a lot more glam than mine! I would love to go to California one day. Lots of love to you too, zillah xxxxxxx

  12. Hey I can see that this was a few years ago now but wondering if you could help. Me and partner are planning to have a similar handbinding next year and live in your area abs wonderong

  13. Hey I can see that this was a few years ago now but wondering if you could help. Me and partner are planning to have a similar handbinding next year and live in your area and wondering if you could send me details of how you rented the field as not sure how to contact people who would let us rent one.anyhelp would be ggrand . Thanks

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