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A Tropical Matara Wedding with a Tortoise Ring Bearer

Tortoise at Matara


To be frank, this wedding is a total treat for the eyes.

Harri and Ranjana wanted a venue with an outdoor component. They had previously travelled to Japan and loved the ornamental gardens there and are also huge fans of all things botanical. When they heard about a Japanese garden venue in England in which you can get married they knew they had to check it out. It was of course, Truly Quirky, Matara!


Japanese Water Garden Matara


Most of their family and friends are based in and around London, but they knew they wanted to pick somewhere a bit further afield where people would stay for the weekend.

They first contacted Matara around 11months before the wedding and pretty much knew as soon as they had walked out of the carpark and into the gardens. “We saw two other venues but they didn’t even come close,  the moment we saw the bamboo and Japanese maples, we were sold.”


Group shot at Matara


Matara has a stunning Japanese garden so was a big sell, they also wanted to have their own personal ceremony as well as the civil ceremony.  The cloistered courtyard and woodland area seemed perfect. Furthermore, the big house onsite for the wedding party was also a huge draw – they didn’t initially plan on using it but simply couldn’t resist. Outside, the gardens also afforded an opportunity to encourage guests to explore.


The House at Matara


A few questions to the couple:

Top three features of the venue? Firstly, the Japanese garden with the pond for our civil ceremony, the woodland clearing for our personal ceremony, the house for everyone to get ready and spend the night.

Did you stay? If so where and for how long? Did any of your guests stay? We stayed the night of our wedding in the big house onsite along with the immediate wedding party, around 18 in total. Our parents stayed in the zen rooms (again onsite). We booked out the Hunters Hall Inn (across the road) for around 30 of our other guests to stay. The remaining guests found their own accommodation in and around Tetbury.


Bridal Selfie Photo


Groom Getting Ready Matara


What was the food like, did you get caterers in? We were initially told that we would need to use Matara’s caterers but after explaining to them that we wanted traditional Sri Lankan food they were happy for us to find our own caterers. We therefore had traditional Sri Lankan snacks for the reception followed by rice and curries for the wedding breakfast.


We need to know ALL about that tortoise ring bearer please! Harri had always wanted a pet tortoise, and we got one back in 2016. We called it Ravitoto, named after a stew we had while travelling in Madagascar – there is no tortoise in the stew but we just liked the name. He/she is only 2years old now and fits in the palm of your hand.

We decided early on that Ravitoto would be the ‘tortoise ring bearer’ but we knew he/she would need a little help getting down the aisle so we put him/her on a cushion and got my niece to provide the ride. Harri made him/her a backpack out of a tea-light holder and some gold sprayed ribbon and the rings sat in there. He/she didn’t seem to mind. By the way we use gender neutral terms for him/her as we don’t know Ravitoto’s sex yet – that will only become apparent in about 3 years time.


Tortoise Ring Bearer on Cushion


The colours look divine, please tell me all about the colours and how you chose them. We loved the idea of a destination wedding but realised that having all our friends and family there was more important. So instead of taking them to the tropics we wanted to bring the tropics to them. The theme was tropical – thus we went for bright colours, greens, oranges and pinks. The groom and groomsmen wore tropical ties whilst the bride wore a tropical dress in the evening. We encouraged our guests to wear bright colours and tropical patterns. Tables were animal themed.


Matara Reception Colourful


Colourful Sri Lankan Wedding Matara


Tips for another couple choosing a venue? Consider getting married on a Friday – we were initially cautious about this as we worried some people wouldn’t come but soon realised that all the people we would want there would happily take a day off work. Plus you get the bonus of having the whole weekend to recover and see everyone. It works out as cheaper as well. Your dream venue may just become affordable if you consider a Friday.
Consider picking a location a bit further afield – it does make things logistically tricky but you get the benefit of having more people staying around for longer.

Try and do as much stuff yourself . We ended up doing all the decorations, including the flowers, as well as the invitations ourselves. Although this was a bit of work it was really fun doing it together as a couple and made the day even more special. It also saves a lot in costs – money that you can spend on other important things like booze.


Tortoise Ring Bearer with groom


Photographer Kevin Belson talks about shooting this stunning wedding at Matara:

Was this the first wedding you shot at Matara? We have shot there a couple of times before over the last few years. We shot a Glastonbury themed wedding there in 2013 and a Sri Lankan/English wedding in 2015 and we’ve shot a couple of weddings at Matara this year

Did Harri and Ranjana ask for anything out of the ordinary in terms of their photos? They had a second ceremony led by the Groom’s sister in the woods which was beautiful and emotional. They also asked for the group shot around the pond. Of course the most unusual thing was “Ravitoto” the tortoise ring bearer. We’ve had pets before but never a tortoise.


Beautiful flowers at Matara ceremony


What was your favourite thing about the venue in terms of shooting this wedding? It’s a venue where you don’t have to worry about time of year or weather. There is a variety of amazing spaces indoors or out and it makes life easy knowing that you are going to get fabulous photos without really trying. But if you do try the images are on another level again.


Couple & Wedding Party Sofa

Pink orange Wedding Decor Matara


Which features of the venue really appealed to you as a photographer? The overall eastern theme. Having many diverse settings indoors and outdoors small and large providing different moods.


Sri Lankan Wedding Matara Watersdie


Where there any challenges at the venue in terms of shooting at Matara?Trying not to steal the Kef 104.2’s from the house. Beautiful speakers which would sound and look fantastic in my house.  Apart from that no. It’s an incredible venue. One of our favourites and the staff are really lovely too which for us is the most important thing.




Who made it happen?

Photographer Kevin Belson

Caterers  Sri L Catering

Flowers  Triangle Nurseries Arrangements done by friends and family

Evening Dress  Samsoe and Samsoe (Ranjana wore a Sari from India for the ceremony)

Suit  Harry Brown

Cake  Made by sister of the groom

Hair Suzanne Hale



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