I have said it before, but one of my favourite things about looking through a wedding submission is the guests. Of course, all eyes are on the bride and groom, but you can really tell how glorious a wedding was from the guests, and just look how smiley everyone is in this one (apart from that guy with the beard, he’s concentrating real hard on that confetti).
I love that Izzy reworked (up-cycled/re-mastered? whats the word?) a Belle & Bunty gown that she liked, but wanted something a little different on the top. Harry Potter weddings will always remain amongst my favourites because I wasn’t really allowed to have one (sigh). Izzy’s answers are wonderful and their day looked like they had such fun, and that’s what it is all about right?
We designed all of our stationary ourselves. I love paper things and took the lead with design and Dave taught me how to use Photoshop. I had a stamp made up with a logo of a stag and doe and spent rather too much time cutting up muslin to sew and hand stamp for name tags. It was definitely a labour of love, but I was really pleased with the results.
I guess overall you could say our wedding was a rustic garden party with a hint of Harry Potter about it. I’m a massive Harry Potter fan and Dave proposed to me in the Great Hall at Leavesden Studios. It seemed fitting that here and there our wedding should have a nod to the Chosen One. There was one rule; it had to be subtle. I did try to be subtle, but as the date to the wedding drew nearer my subtlety gauge broke. I papier-mâchéd an Owl Post box for wedding cards, called our bar the Three Broomsticks, created a gin based cocktail called Liquid Luck and named all the tables after obscure animals and beasts. The doe and stag on our wedding stamp needs no explanation to Harry Potter fans and we had some humourous Harry Potter RSVP options.
We made a makeshift photo booth in my parent’s garage and put in a few Harry Potter props in with a glitter star background. I’m not sure I managed to be that subtle in the end!
In a similar vein, Dave wanted some references to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, so one of his friends delivered a reading from So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, and a little image of Marvin the Paranoid Android featured on one of our chalk boards.
Everything that was doable we made ourselves, but not without a lot of help. Friends and family helped fold, cut, fluff and hang over 100 paper pom poms for the marquee. My Dad cut up an old tree trunk for wooden rounds for the table names and cake stand. I spent ages learning how to design and draw chalk boards and Dave and I spent one weekend lashing together our wooden arch. And this is just a small handful of the things we made!
Our flowers were a big mixture of colours. I had trouble deciding what our ‘colour theme’ would be, so threw caution to the wind and decided on all of them! The bouquets, button holes and the flowers on our wedding arch were all done by the lovely Karen of Karen Lear Flowers and my Mum did all the other flowers. We had lots of friends and family collecting jam jars in the lead up to the wedding (there were hundreds of them!) and she worked tirelessly the day before with Sarah, my brother’s girlfriend, filling milk churns and jam jars with a mixture of flowers my Dad had grown in the garden and wild flowers. She even got up at 5am to go flower picking from the hedge rows the day before and my friends raided their gardens for extra greenery. We ended up with wonderfully relaxed looking flowers and the smell of all the sweet peas filled the marquee.
I’ll admit I’m quite fussy and I was no different when it came to my dress. I knew I wanted silk chiffon and lace, and something that would be relaxed and comfortable to wear. I also couldn’t bear the thought of spending large amounts of money on a dress, no matter how beautiful, that I would wear for one day. Very fortunately for me, my now Mother-in-law Val is pretty nifty with a sewing machine and she bravely took on the job of making my dress.
I do have a confession to make, which I feel a bit guilty about; half of my dress was a Belle and Bunty ‘Bunty’ dress that we took apart and reworked. I found it for sale on ebay, an ex-sample from a bridal shop, for a very small amount. The skirt was exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t like the top, so the skirt was detatched, an extra layer of silk crepe backed satin added and new top was fashioned from a beautifully delicate corded Chantilly lace. A few fittings later and voila! My dress was made.
Bride’s hair accessories/veil: I kept my hair simple with a flower comb of roses that Karen made for me and mine and my bridesmaids hair was all styled by Mandy of Loxx Hair. She really saved me as I was let down by another supplier with less than 12 weeks to go and when you’re getting married in July on a Saturday, it was certainly a mission to find someone.
Bride’s makeup: The wonderful Felicity Sheldon (http://www.felicitysheldon.com/) did all the make up for myself and my bridesmaids. I would thoroughly recommend her to everyone. She has a natural talent for knowing what will suit you, takes on board all your comments and is generally just a really lovely person. She’s also a super talented artist and very kindly agreed to create some illustrations of my bridesmaids and me that I could give as presents. Everyone loved their present and they were all unique to our friendships.
The perfume: I honestly didn’t give this much thought, I wear Chanel Chance and I wanted to smell like me. My Mum bought me a new bottle for the wedding as I’d run out.
We knew we wanted a venue that gave us the freedom to do what we wanted and after an unfruitful hunt for a venue we went back to the drawing board and realised the answer was obvious. My parents have a lovely garden with ample of room for a marquee, camping for guests and cars, so we gently cajoled them into hosting the wedding.
We booked a marquee and our wedding venue was sorted. Our next problem was how to actually get married…
The ceremony was very important to us both. Neither of us are religious so a church wasn’t an option, but we didn’t like the restrictions imposed by local registry offices. We wanted to be able to have a ceremony that reflected us individually and as a couple. After a bit of research we decided that a humanist ceremony was exactly what we wanted. We went to the local registry office to get legally married two days before the wedding and held the ceremony on the front lawn of my parent’s house with a local humanist running the ceremony.
Katie Drouet (http://www.kdrouetphotography.co.uk/)
Choosing Katie was really easy. We already loved her photography enough to meet her, but it was important that we found someone we would feel comfortable with. After we met Katie we knew instantly that we wanted to book her. Her style is very informal and relaxed, exactly what we were looking for. She’s super organised and friendly, and was so helpful in the lead up to the wedding and on the day. We were thrilled with the results and we couldn’t recommend her highly enough.
We knew we wanted the food to be of a good quality, for there to be plenty of it and for it to be informal, so we opted for a BBQ buffet for the wedding breakfast and woodfired pizzas in the evening. Finding a caterer was actually pretty easy. We decided on pizzas for the evening quite early on and we went to try Baytree Pizza (http://www.baytreepizza.co.uk/) on the Ipswich market. They’re amazing and we booked them the next day. Fortunately for us, they also cater events and weddings so it was a bit of a no brainer.
My Dad makes really good meringues and ice cream, so he actually made the dessert for us. He spent hours making a variety of ice creams, from peanut butter cup and mars bar to caramel and lemon sorbet all served with meringues and fresh fruit.
Wine and champagne was brought over from France by a friend of my parents and Dave and I set up a help yourself bar with spirits and mixers.
I spent ages locating large drink dispensers and mason jars which we served cocktails in post ceremony.
At one point we were going to make flavoured salt and infused oils to give as gifts, but in the end we made a decision not to give favours. Instead we provided drinks for everyone. As Dave put it, if you said to all our guests ‘you can have drinks or salt’, what do think they would choose?
I knew I wanted floral dresses for my bridesmaids and I really liked the mismatched look. My problem was I couldn’t find any material I liked. I guess winter isn’t the best time to be looking for a summer floral pattern! Amazingly, Liberty came out with a beautiful soft cotton lawn fabric in the spring and as with all Liberty fabric, they make them in several different colour ways.
My Mother-in-law, Val, made the bridesmaids dresses and each of my friends chose which dress pattern and fabric they wanted, so everyone had their own individual look.
I was pretty relaxed when it came to shoes and accessories and let them choose whatever they wanted.
The most unexpected part of the day was when my Dad gave his speech. Unbeknownst to us, he had bought himself a Sorting Hat and proceeded to give a metaphor for life and marriage based on the Hogwarts Express. Apparently he also bought a wand, but he sat on it and broke it! We were all very impressed with his effort and he looked pretty good in the Sorting Hat.
Finally, managing to get Dave’s parents, Doug and Val, dancing to Jump Around by House of Pain!
Dave opted for a very relaxed outfit for the day. We knew the weather was likely to be hot and a full suit seemed a bit much for him and his two best men. They found some lovely tweed waistcoats and wool ties and coupled them with navy blue chinos and brown brogues.
We haven’t been on our honeymoon yet. Our main priority has to been to buy our first home together, which we’ve just moved into. We’re hoping to go away somewhere this summer, providing the house doesn’t need too much work!
To keep costs down we opted to have an ‘iPod disco’. What we actually did was use Spotify to create a 5 hour long play list to take us into the wee hours. Handily, Spotify fades songs in and out, so there was very little to do other than curate the play list which Dave spent a considerable amount of time putting together. Our friend David leant us his PA system and another friend leant us some lights.
Our one extravagance was booking the Scintillo Quartet (http://www.scintilloquartet.co.uk/) and they were worth every penny. They played a mixture of classical and modern music and it really added to the relaxed atmosphere.
Our cake was a gargantuan creation of chocolate, raspberry and lemon cakes with chocolate ganache and ombre icing. All created by a friend of my Dad’s who just happens to be a patisserie chef. She did such an amazing job with the cake and it tasted delicious. We were still eating it days after the wedding!
DIY isn’t always the cheapest option and you definitely need to be prepared to give up a lot of your spare time. Don’t underestimate how much help you’ll need or how long things will take. We were incredibly lucky with all the things we managed to borrow and with the skills our friends and families had. Our wedding was very much a group effort and there’s no way we’d have pulled it off without everyone.
Remember to let go of everything on the actual day. Things will go wrong, but you either won’t find out about them or you just won’t care. It’s easy to get caught up in the details in the planning process, but on the day you’ll be more involved with marrying the person you love and catching up with friends and family.