Hayley & Ray

August 2018

From New York to The Woodlands

8 years ago, Hayley and Ray met through mutual friends while on a night out and never looked back! “After having our daughter in 2016, we decided to become an official family. We got married in New York City in May 2018. To celebrate with our family and friends we had a blessing at The Woodlands in August.”

Searching for the perfect venue

“When looking for venues we found that many of them reminded us of formal dinners or conferences that we often attend for work and we wanted the opposite of that. We wanted to find a relaxed, open and comfortable venue with lots of outdoor space.”

The Big Day

Hayley and Ray ensured that every part of their day was filled with fun, “We had an outdoor blessing from one of the groom’s close friends, followed by drinks, photos, a meal, speeches, a disco and finished off with more food in the evening!

“We made most of the décor ourselves, from the welcome signs to the name cards and centre pieces, so they fit perfectly with our rose gold, geometric theme. Our tables named after our favourite action films from the late 80’s and early 90’s.”

Hayley wore a gorgeous beaded ivory dress, neutral to the different coloured bridesmaids’ dresses, “The bridesmaids chose their own dresses and handmade their own flower hoops by crafting haberdashery hoops with foliage wire and ribbons. The bridal bouquet was mainly foliage from Eden flowers in Thrapston.”

To coordinate with Ray, his two best men wore handmade green tweed jackets and waistcoats finished with buttonholes which were also handmade by the groom himself!

As the celebrations continued into the evening, Hayley & Ray made sure there was time before the meal to get their photos just right, “We used smoke grenades for our photos giving a dreamy and magical touch! Both the sit-down meal and the Mexican evening food was a big hit, as was the Rum Bar! We had a delicious, rose gold cake from Love Life Eat Cake in Oakham.

“We provided raffle tickets for evening guests so that they could choose their own drink from the bar. Music was provided by DJ Andy Hilders, who used to DJ at the club we first met in, and we provided a playlist for when he wasn't playing.”

Lasting memories

The weather was fantastic on the day of the wedding and provided the perfect opportunity to make the most of The Woodlands’ outdoor space, “We’ll always remember seeing all our family and friends gathered outside in the sunshine. The venue is just the right size to not lose people and the bar being in the middle of the two function rooms keeps everyone central. The surrounding cabins were wonderful and meant we got to see all our guests the following morning.

“It’d also be impossible to forget the laughter and randomness of releasing colourful smoke grenades!”

Advice to other couples

“Try to get everything done at least a week before the wedding day, giving yourself a fake earlier date is a good idea, we left a few things as we were busy crafting the decorations and it can easily get a little stressed. It’s also useful to provide your photographer with a list of all the photos you want as the quicker the photos are taken the more time you get to spend with your family and friends. Also, less it more! Don’t spend lots of money on small details as often these things don’t even get used.”


“If you’re looking for somewhere you and your guests can feel at ease in a woodland retreat, we would absolutely recommend The Woodlands. The staff were wonderful, we had a few hiccups during the day that became minor with help from them and the bridal party and it was fantastic to have a shot of tequila brought over to us half was through the evening!”

Photographer credit: Darren, Hayley's brother. 

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