Lauren & Ashley’s Festival Tipi Wedding

We were super excited to introduce Spirit Lake as a new venue in 2018. A beautiful 30 acre spot near Dorking, featuring two pristine lakes, woodland, manicured open spaces and a novel walled garden.

Lauren and Ashley were the first to celebrate there with a festival style wedding – an absolutely brilliant day during which they used all of the unique space at this gorgeous venue and gave their guests a day to remember.

Lauren had fallen in love with this stunning venue on first viewing and knew it would be the perfect spot for herself and Ashley to celebrate with their family and friends, giving them the lake-side festival wedding they were dreaming of. Placing full trust in his future wife to choose the perfect place, Ashley didn’t actually see the venue until much closer to the date, but was in total agreement that this was the one.

Set up started on the Thursday morning with Surrey and Sussex Tipi Hire. The majestic peaks of the tipis could soon be seen rising into the air and the three giant hats looked wonderful down by the lower lake. Rustic tables and bench seating finished off the look, as well as the all important dance floor and stage area which would later become the platform for the band to take over the party.

Tables were laid with beautiful flower arrangements in individual glass bottles and jars, which Lauren had been saving up. Festoon lights, more bunting and lanterns were strung in the trees and along the edge of the lake to the camping village, where bell tents were set up for overnight guests by BayLily Bell Tents, including a luxurious bridal bell tent, which included a beautiful wrought iron double bed and comfy furniture.

The morning of the wedding dawned bright and sunny, and we were busy with final preparations; setting up the lawn games and children’s area in the walled garden; laying out hay bales by the upper lake for the ceremony; arranging flowers potted in assorted welly boots for the ceremony area; dressing the tractor trailer ready for the bride and bridesmaid to arrive in; and putting the finishing touches to the tables and the tipi dressing. Meanwhile, the Bride and Groom were free to enjoy their morning, getting themselves and their children ready for the big day.

The fab team from Free Range Cooks were busy on site from early in the morning, preparing a fantastic wedding feast, but more on that later.

Lauren and Ashley had chosen to have their wedding ceremony on the upper lawn, by one of our two lakes. As their guests arrived, they followed the pretty bunting marked path through the woodland, emerging onto the upper lawn, where they took their places on the hay bales laid out in front of a gorgeous willow and flower archway.

Ashley and his groomsmen were the first to arrive having stayed on site the night before, looking relaxed and smart in their ceremony attire. Ashley wore a Hugo boss shirt, chinos from Tommy Hilfiger and blazer from Reiss, with a liberty print tie and Panama hat. He later changed into a Hawaiian shirt from Next and shorts to match the groomsmen and page boys, all with matching Panamas.

Lauren arrived just before the ceremony was due to begin at midday, looking stunning in her Kate Halfpenny gown, sourced second hand from Gillian Millon in Teddington. She was accompanied by her bridesmaids, flower girls and more page boys, as well as her baby daughter to complete the family celebration. The children, the bride and bridesmaids all excitedly took their seats in the tractor trailer, fitted out for the occasion and had a fun little ride through the woodland to the ceremony lawn. Lauren and Ashley’s two sons, in their matching suits with Ashley, arrived with Lauren in the trailer and proudly accompanied her down the aisle.

Nadine from Nadine van Biljon Photography was on hand to capture the happy couple and their families during and after the ceremony, and as the blessing finished, guests took some time to explore the beautiful grounds, before being invited into the tipi for the wedding breakfast. 

Each guest was treated to a personalised drinks tumbler, which they could keep for the day. A nice little environmentally friendly touch. They could refill as they wished from the taps of the fantastic converted VW KombiKeg van. Prosecco, beers and soft drinks were also set up in the walled garden for guests to quench their thirst in the July heat.

All the hard work that had gone into dressing the tipis and the tables was worth it, as the guests gasped in delight at the lovely interior. Lauren and Ashley made their entrance to deafening cheers and applause. Guests enjoyed their feast of mixed meat and seafood paella or summer vegetable risotto, with salads and bread, all cooked al fresco in the sunshine in big pans.

Mains were followed by individual desserts of banoffee pie, Eton mess with summer berries, and rhubarb and custard syllabubs, which guests collected after the speeches to take to the walled garden. Here they found lawn games, Katie’s Face Painting and The Wandering Hands set up and ready to play. A good old sing along followed as they completed three fantastic set of acoustic covers with two guitars, a saxophone and perfect three-part harmonies.

Additional guests started to arrive mid-afternoon to join in the celebrations, as the drinks continued to flow and the laughter continued non-stop. More food was provided late afternoon by The Indian’s Next Door who served up delicious corn on the cobs, samosas, Indian wraps and bhajis, before the next round of entertainment began.

A first for us, Uke-Jam had arrived to entertain the guests with Ukulele Karaoke! Yes, you heard right! The band set up on the lawn area between the two lakes and gave out Ukuleles to the willing guests. And so another brilliant sing-along began, with Lauren and Ashley leading the way in full voice, much to the guests’ delight and applause. Once the Uke Jam was finished, Ashley and his band took centre stage to serenade his new wife and their family and friends.

And the fun didn’t stop there, as the light began to fade, the outside lighting began to glow and the bamboo torches around the lake were lit. Some of the bridesmaids set up a glitter station at the edge of the tipis to get the guests glammed up and ready for the night-time party.

Après Ski, a brilliant 5-piece band including vocalists, were quick to get guests up and joining in and so followed an unforgettable evening for Lauren & Ashley of dancing and singing along with their family and friends. At midnight the music switched to a silent disco to keep the party going until the early hours, when tired but happy guests made their way to their bell tents for a good nights’ rest.

Lauren and Ashley’s wedding was a beautifully personal and magical day and a resounding success. Our first wedding at Spirit Lake, it was an absolute pleasure to work with them and we wish them every happiness for the future.

We asked Lauren what were her highlights of the day? And if she had any advice for couples.

I loved the service. We had done it officially the week before, so the ceremony in the field was conducted by our two best friends, Ben and Eve. I loved the relaxed feel of the day, all the different bands and the street food made it feel like a real festival. 

The planning of an outside festival wedding was probably harder work than I imagined. You have to source everything from bins, ash trays, showers to fridge trailer as well as all the fun pretty stuff to get the right look, but the end result was incredible. We had the best day ever. We had so much fun and it will be a day we and our family and friends will never forget.

 A few final words from Lauren and Ashley…

When we decided we wanted a wedding festival in a field in Surrey, the first problem was, where do you find a field to hire? We came across Festa Fields online, we met Nikki and Kim who showed me a few fields.. They were mostly booked up for the date we wanted in July when suddenly Nikki called and told me they had just got access to a new space, just outside Dorking, called Spirit Lake. Calling it a field doesn’t really do it justice, it is a beautiful garden with a woodland area to walk through, a walled garden and two beautiful lakes. It has ample space for people to glamp in bell tents or to pitch up normal tents. We had over 110 people camping over. 

The owner of the field is a lovely, really laid back guy, we were his first event and he went above and beyond to help us make everything just as we wanted it. He even drove guests and the bridal party in on his tractor, which he had a trailer made specifically for us!

Kim was very helpful in the run up to the event, she arranged the toilets and generator and security for the day but also suggested some great suppliers from the tipi to the bell tents. She came to help us set up on the Friday and ran the wedding day for us. Even took our baby for a walk to get her to sleep. 

The day could not have been better! I highly recommend Fiesta Fields and Spirit Lake for anyone wanting a fun, laid back festival wedding!

Finally, we wanted to share a video put together by Danny Ovens (videographer and photographer) capturing the vibe beautifully.


Written by Kim Thackery, Fiesta Fields Event Coordinator
Thanks to Nadine van Biljon Photography for giving us access to these gorgeous pics
Venue available exclusively via Fiesta Fields, we also supplied our Essentials package including posh loos, power, security and on the day coordination
Tipis: Surrey and Sussex Tipi Hire
Bell Tents: BayLily Bell Tents
Daytime caterer: Free Range Cooks
Evening caterer: The Indian Next Door
Bar: Kombi Keg
Dress: Gillian Million
Florist: Diamante Flowers
Musical entertainment: The Wandering Hands, UkeJam, Apres Ski and Silent Noize
Face painting: Katie’s Festival Faces

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