The Brief

A 21st Birthday celebration at the top of a winding hill, through a wood, overlooking a lake on a private estate… themed as an Enchanted Fairy Tale Forest for 260 guests – for drinks, dinner and dancing, and the late night reveal of a secret rave cave…

The Solution

Design planning incorporated the outdoors and the woods as well as two large connected marquee spaces. Outdoor settings included playful ideas to bring the theme to life with the woods as the backdrop. – a luxurious giant red drape set between the trees welcomed the guests, who then passed a fairy tale sign post and entered our reception marquee though a double door dressed with giant wooden stumps cut by the amazing estate team, moss, ivy and flowers, and studded with candles. A real, live friendly toad was found amongst the stumps just hours before the party started… waiting to be kissed?!

Inside the first marquee, the feel was magical, with “faded opulence” as the key styling guide. A 6m wide bar dressed with hops, flowers and trailing greens, taxidermy and natural elements for a beautiful, feminine centrepiece to the reception. Overhead, opulent multi-layered drapes met at the apex, where birdcages were hung dripping in fairy light and greenery. The fabrics tumbled to the floor, over white linings, which had occasional showers of magical fairy light shining through them. Furniture was carefully curated in a mix of velvets and aged wood, and chalk-painted bric-a-brac, set in small groups for intimate gatherings, with quirky side tables, rugs and gold-sprayed fruit and flowers mingling with and set inside the items, peeking out of drawers, trailing along the mirrors…. Giant Baroque mirrors further dressed the walls, one housing the table plan, and a couple of items of furniture were painstakingly dressed entirely out of moss as if they had grown out of the ground, which was not boarded or carpeted, but was the natural grass of the site.

Through the clear PVC wall panels guests could see the inviting outdoor spaces accessed through the side of the marquee – a quirky outdoor sitting room complete with a free standing fireplace, pallet furniture trimmed with hessian and lace, and hay bales surrounding one of the fires outside the steps of a prettily dressed and comfortably furnished shepherds hut, complete with LED lighting for safety… The fantastic giant wooden bench chairs were skilfully hand made by the estate team, from oak felled on the estate, and were lifted into place by their sturdy farm machinery. A single oversized chair brought a bit of Alice in Wonderland humour to the fireside.

Dinner was called as darkness fell… guests we directed through an enchanted garden gate standing on tree stumps, surrounded by ivy trellis and bark, mosses and flowers into the secret, overgrown, candle-lit garden in a second, connected marquee for dinner.

The Dining Room was entirely candle lit with a little careful highlighting from the lighting team, focussing the eye on the completely transparent panelling showcasing the night sky, dressed with suspended tress and branches overhead and around the eaves, and overhead antlers and wreaths draped in ivy and hops, hung with candles in twine-suspended jars.

The natural grass flooring continued in the dining room, tables clothed in a mix of a natural sage colour and gold sequins featured stunning tables centres: a mixture of delicate bell jars encasing mini woodlands, mosses and flowers, and giant candelabras wreathed in flowers and ivy, dressed with the animal skulls and holding towering gold candles.

After dinner, with the dance floor alive and kicking, guests roaming back into the faded, opulent drawing room found a garden fountain had appeared, growing up out of the grass in the centre of the room, serving chilled strawberry daiquiri….

Sometime after 2am the crowd was lured to the stretch tent slung artfully between the tall trees and tucked deep behind a hilly outcrop, under the cliff of an old quarry. Draped in camo netting, and dressed on the underside with abundant lengths of floristry, the natural dance floor was the guests’ home for the next six hours. Flanked by rocky outcrops and ferns, the outdoor “Day bed” appeared out of the darkness complete with iron bed head, drapery, bedside tables and suspended jars full of glowing candles, ideal for lounging and watching the revellers dance into the night.

The last minute miracle….

An enormous rain storm on night 5 of the installation and into party day threatened to fill the stretch tent ceiling to bursting with rain water, waterlogged the ground and meant mud…. mud… mud… Working with the marquee team for last minute solutions, and the awesome estate management team for heavy lifting gear, within a couple of hours the water had been moved of the stretch tent, inch by careful inch, by the farm’s JCB, the mud surrounding the whole party site had been spread with beautiful fresh wood chippings, and the entire dressing team was put through it’s paces reviving all the outdoor settings after their drenching…. Ready for a beautiful, clear evening. Candles lit, and off we go…