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A Chilled Out DIY Hilltop Tipi Wedding

Get yourselves ready for the most inspiring laid back wedding.

Set on a hilltop in Stanbury, outside of Haworth, these two planned the greatest 'backyard' tipi wedding - think of festival meets summer holiday, meets the Bronte sisters! Speaking to Ruth and Michael when we met in Hebden Bridge (after their return from an epic working trip to New Zealand) they said they had been incredibly blessed with the time to plan and bring together their DIY wedding. I hesitate to use the word DIY, as somehow it suggests that a wedding organised by a couple themselves, as opposed to a team of planners, coordinators and staff, may be less spectacular, and nothing could further from the truth. Having the ability to pull all of those aspects together and create the vision of the day you've been planning is no mean feat! As a documentary wedding photographer who appeals to the most laid-back couples, looking for relaxed days full of fun with family and friends, I am often capturing days that include elements of DIY (I think it comes with the territory of wanting your day to be personal) and Ruth and Michael's day was on a whole new level of home-made wedding cool.

When I say that these two could write a book on being a chilled out DIY bride and groom, I well and truly mean it. They could teach us all about how to rock do-it-yourself wedding planning. The very nature of a wedding planned by a couple themselves lends itself to tonnes of character and Ruth and Michael's hilltop Haworth wedding day had seamlessly woven elements of their lives, characters and personality throughout.

Our day began, a little grey for a summer wedding, with bride and groom prep. It's something that I love being able to offer - an insight into both mornings and the full story told. Ruth, bridesmaids and family were getting ready at her familial home in Stanbury, just a stone's throw from the tipi, ready and waiting atop the hill, where there was a little buzz of final preparation activity. These two have incredible family and friends who pitched in to bring everything together.

Over at Hewenden Mill, outside of Cullingworth, Michael and his family were enjoying using the beautiful 18th century cotton mill, which they had booked full use of. Hidden away in its own valley at the end of a private road and surrounded by trees, it was a pocket of tranquility from which to enjoy their weekend wedding plans.

Michael was soon joined by his groomsmen to get ready and toast the day.

With lots of time to spare, the groomsmen were picked up in the wedding camper - a 1966 VW split screen called Patrick, with the classic colour split - Paddy is sea blue topped with white and he's a beauty!

Ruth and Michael had the splitty to enjoy for 3 hours, so Ruth was soon climbing into it herself, for the ride to church with her dad.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Haworth, was packed with family and friends, happily chatting as they waited, Michael passing the moments with his best man at the head of the aisle. Accompanied into church by 2 friends on keyboard and flute, guests stood for Ruth's entrance and Michael looked for his first sight of his bride.

Amongst hymns, prayers, readings and a blessing, Ruth and Michael exchanged their vows in a peaceful, traditional Catholic ceremony.

While these two signed the wedding register, waiting guests listened to the musical duet and then raised the roof as the couple left as new husband and wife!

Outside there was a whirlwind of confetti-passing, each petal collected and dried by Ruth, and there was lots of it to go around. Forming the longest and most enthusiastic confetti toss procession I've seen, they were cheered on their way, stopping for a few quick hugs before we were off to the tipi.

The wedding reception kicked off with champagne, music and much admiring of the decorated tipi and the views over the Haworth hillside. From local vendors (very aptly named for the location - think lots of Bronte) to the setting itself, there was a touch of the literary weaving its way through the day.

Here is where the DIY magic came into its own. Michael and Ruth had hand-folded 1000 cranes; they could be found adorning the tipi's seating area, lit from above and creating a spectacular chandelier. That was just the beginning - these two had filled giant MR and MRS balloons, stacked crates, added a pegboard timeline for the day, brought flowers, fairy lights, home made pickles for their Cheese Cake (pass me a cracker!) and added photographs of themselves as children to each table for much guest amusement.

While guests settled in, kicked back and got familiar, we snuck away for 5 minutes' quiet. Ruth and Michael had their eye on a scenic spot just up the track from their tipi and their very accommodating camper chauffeur kindly drove us up to the location, where we could enjoy the views of the moors stretching away before us.

Overlooking their top hat tipi, lush fields and Lower Laithe reservoir, Ruth and Michael caught up on the night before, while I got familiar with the undergrowth to capture their couple's photographs! With little thought for mud and nettles, these two walked and talked.

Back at the reception, the vibe was that of a lazy summer holiday. Michael and Ruth had borrowed the use of a neighbour's field for their location. The tipi was fronted with deck chairs for soaking up the countryside views, giant Jenga and Connect 4 as well as cricket bats were there for the taking, and for making the most of a fun summer afternoon with family and friends.

In between speeches and a shared feast of freshly prepared food, kids and adults headed out to enjoy the luxury of all that space and the freedom it afforded.

Ruth and Michael's wedding would not have been the same without friends and family, who travelled across the globe to join them, no effort too great to celebrate the marriage of these two adventurous souls (I cannot wait to see the list of New Zealand travel recommendations these two seasoned travellers are compiling for Al and myself!) They thanked all of those who had helped to create such a spectacular day, without whose time and understanding it would not have been possible and toasted to those who had travelled so far.

These two twirled their way through a disco-ball-sparkled first dance and were soon joined by EVERYONE! Their musicians for the day, South West Band, got the party in full swing and immediately had the whole crowd on the dance floor, arms in the air, singing their hearts out to tune after epic tune. Michael even joined the band to sing the first song of their second set for the evening, the talented groom!

The dipping summer temperature gave the girls the chance to wear their bespoke denim jackets, they were perfect for the wedding these two had created.

After sneaking off for one last photo opportunity alone, a reservoir-side stroll and a little glass of fizz to celebrate, the newly married Michael and Ruth returned to the party for many more hours of fun, followed by lunch at the family home the day after their wedding, everyone invited.

What a way to start married life! If you'd like to find the companies who helped in making Ruth and Michael's DIY dreams come to life, they're all here:

Caterers: Aperyer (

Bar: Bronte Bars & Events (

Wedding car: Bronte Camper Hire (

Flowers: Rosa Rugosa ( Makeup: Charlotte from Beauty in Bloom, Skipton ( )

Cake: Maria Webster (

Band: Southwest Band (

Personalised Denim Jackets: Bespoke (

Brides Dress: Rime Arodaky (

Suits: Moss (


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