Gemma and Ben

Wed-Fest at the Marina!

Ben and Gemma Cooper booked The Boat House for their wedding before it was even open – and their July 2016 wedding remains one of our all-time favourites…

Love at first sight happened twice for Meir couple Ben and Gemma Cooper. First when a then 14-year-old Gemma borrowed 16-year-old Ben’s coat because she was cold, and secondly when the couple spotted Aston Marina’s new Boat House venue on social media.

In fact, it was photos of the Boat House’s launch evening that triggered Gemma to set a date for the big day, as she explains:

“We’d been engaged for three years and we weren’t really looking at venues, but I saw the Boat House on Facebook following the opening night and instantly fell in love. That week I made Ben and my best friend Christie drive with me after work to go and view it. Even though it wasn’t open we knew that that was where we wanted to get married and, on our first meeting with Aishah in November 2015, we made a booking for the following July – so it then turned into a hectic 8 months!”

With the date set, the couple went about planning a Festival and alcohol themed wedding; drawing inspiration from Ben’s love of music and the fact that the couple first met outdoors. With the initial idea of a ticket-style invitation ‘WedFest’ was born, and a unique and fun-filled wedding began to take shape.

Gemma & Ben Photo Shoot

All in the detail

Considering Ben and Gemma planned their entire wedding in just eight months, the level of detail that went into bringing ‘WedFest’ from vision to reality is impressive. The couple worked with Daryl Heath at Trowers Creative to come up with their Festival Ticket ‘Wedfest’ invites. With a style for the day established, they also worked with Daryl on other elements – including personalised lanyards for all of the day guests, a seating plan designed as a Festival Line-up and welcome sign. Each table was named after a different music festival, with the names written on handmade wooden plaques.

Tables were dressed in a rustic, country style with tree trunks filled with different sorts of flowers chosen by the florist, LW Lewis Nursery. This reflected the relaxed theme with the only brief given that each display contain a Pink Germini to tie them together. The top table featured a long tree trunk laid horizontally with spaces for the Bridal and Bridesmaids’ bouquets to be displayed. The venue decoration was completed by sculptural letters of Love, I do and a love heart from Love Letters Midlands placed strategically around the indoor and outdoor space, along with wellies that Ben had filled with flowers as a fun touch.

Festival feels…

The festival theme continued with the favours – miniature bottles of Smirnoff Vodka for the ladies and Jack Daniels for the men presented with Pepsi and a personalised mason jar for each adult guest. Children had personalised plastic bottles and a gift bag full of goodies to keep them entertained; plus there were plenty of children’s games laid out on the green outside the venue to keep younger guests entertained throughout the long day.

Grown-ups weren’t left out of the fun – each table had a selfie stick along with a WedPics app business cards to encourage guests to share their pictures of the day. The couple even provided guests with sunglasses and flip flops to change into; all of which added to the laid-back festival vibe.

The cake also echoed the festival theme – cupcakes decorated with muddy puddles, bottles of beer and flowers were topped with figures modelled as the Bride and Groom sitting outside their tent, a concept that was bought to life by Hayley at Jasmine Bakery.

The Boat House’s extensive outdoor space, of which the wedding party had exclusive use, also offered the perfect backdrop for 10 glamping tents to accommodate the Bride and Groom, the groom’s men, bridal party and other friends overnight. Provided by Bears and Butterflies, the camping experience brought the festival theme full-circle and allowed the party to continue into the small hours – photographer Sam of Samantha Jayne Photography also recreated the couple’s wedding cake topper scene with them sitting outside their real life ‘bridal suite’.

Gemma & Ben Venue

An epic line-up

With any great festival it’s the line-up that counts – and WedFest certainly didn’t disappoint. The couple exchanged their vows in an outdoor ceremony under bright blue summer skies, followed by drinks and photographs in The Boat House’s extensive grounds.

The wedding party then headed into the Boat House at for a sit down three course meal; with a starter of Tomato Soup followed by Tarragon Chicken main and Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream to finish. Gemma’s Step-Dad Steve oversaw speeches from the Bride, Groom, Father of the Bride and the two Best Men in his special role as Master of Ceremonies. The party then moved outside again with bands SeaShanks and Black Water Trading providing live music – the Groom also joined the bands on stage as lead vocalist for several numbers, as guests continued to enjoy the glorious weather. Guests were then treated to ice creams from an ice cream van supplied by Chris Kirkham at Ella Bella, with 50 more guests arriving for the evening celebrations.

Party through the night…

‘After party’ guests were treated to a BBQ on the veranda before the new Mr and Mrs Cooper headed onto the Dance Floor to Paolo Nutini’s ‘Candy’ which, after the first verse, merged into the much faster ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ as the couple ad-libbed their routine.

With the first dance complete the couple guests joined the couple on the dance floor, and the dancing continued right through till 1am with disco Snoopy’s Roadshow keeping the tunes coming until it was time for guests to leave. The Bride, Groom and their overnight guests then retired to their glamping area for the evening. Summing up their big day, Gemma said:

“The day was everything we dreamt of and more. We’d like to say a special thanks to our parents – Ben’s mum and dad Tracey and Bryan, my mum and step dad Dianne and Steve and my dad and step mum Alan and Lynn as they were all a huge help.

“Finally, we could not have achieved what we wanted without Aishah from the marina – she was the most amazing Events Organiser. She made our day run smoothly and worked a lot with us on the build up to make sure that everything was correct.”


To discuss how your dream wedding day could become reality at The Boat House, contact our events team on 01785 819702 / info@astonmarina.co.uk. If you’d like to find out more about Beth’s fabulous wedding cakes, visit www.bethlaurencakes.co.uk or pop into her cake showroom and Cake & Coffee Parlour on Radford Street, Stone.

Photos provided by Jodie Brennan Photography – http://www.jodiebrennan.co.uk/