Handmade and Handfast

April 22, 2013 in
Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Jo Rose
Jo Rose

Jo Rose is a freelance illustrator and the creator of Deer Little Forest, an eco-friendly company that produces stationery and home décor made in the U.K. Jo lives with her husband Stu, their son Loki, and a little blue dog in New Forest, England.

Music and friendship brought Stu and I together. We first met as teenagers at a festival, and then again, many years later, while out listening to live music with mutual friends. Our shared love of art, music and general silliness led to two years of feeling-like-teenagers-again, and in 2010 we followed a dream and set off on a romantic road trip across California.

Our first morning on Venice Beach, coffee in hand, feet in the sand, watching dolphins playing in the sea, set the perfect scene for Stu’s proposed. It was a magical start to the most romantic road trip, and our love affair with California was set firmly in our hearts.

Nine months later, our beautiful son Loki Rose was born and our wedding plans begun. We wanted to celebrate our day by capturing the essence of our trip. We knew we had to get married outdoors, so a Humanist ceremony fit us perfectly; we just needed to find the perfect setting. Close friends owned a field, which was dotted with oak trees  — the very spot where, once, while dancing to music, Stu told me he would marry me. We had found our perfect location!

We knew our day would be completely handmade and would involve our family and friends. We asked our close friends Anna and Stu from Cooper Photography to shoot the photos and asked our mums to make homemade, rustic food. My dad built the table plans and beautiful chalkboards, which I decorated with dried flowers. I illustrated the invitations and designed the table settings, painting chalk-board hearts onto rustic trestle tables, and found unusual bottles, jars and vases from charity shops, filling them with hand-painted twigs from the forest and beautiful pheasant feathers. I also made the bridesmaids’ flowers and my own, including a flower and feather headdress made from yellow roses, babies’ breath, olive leaves and pheasant feathers.

When I started looking for my dress, Etsy was the first place I turned. Finding Grace Loves Lace set my heart racing: delicate, bohemian dresses, made by hand. I fell totally in love with the first dress I saw. With my heart in my mouth, I made a leap of faith and waited for my dress to come all the way from Australia. I can’t tell you how happy and excited I was when it arrived.

Our ceremony was held under oak trees adorned with fairy lights, designed and rigged up by Stu and his best man, Karl, and set to a playlist of our favorite music. We were married against a backdrop of flowing fabric strips made by my mum, at the end of an aisle made from bales of straw. It was so emotional to have our son Loki and our little Italian greyhound beside us as our ring bearers as we listened to the heartfelt readings from our dearest friends and family. The weather held off just long enough for us to read our own personal vows and to perform hand-fasting ceremonies, including planting an olive tree and releasing balloons and well-wishes into the sky.

Our party continued with the tastiest homemade food and the most delicious wedding cake, a classic Victoria sponge cake layered with strawberries and cream, piled high with even more strawberries. I’ve never seen a cake disappear so quickly. Live music from a local ceilidh band brought the folk element alive and got everyone up and dancing.


Our day was true to our hearts — a perfectly free-spirited adventure. A handmade and heartfelt affair, set barefoot, amongst nature and the family and friends we love.

All photographs by Cooper Photography.