Nick and Hayley chose to have a DIY wedding primarily because they couldn’t find a venue that suited their requirements at a reasonable price. So, they decided to have the legal formalities at a registry office and then held their own ceremony and reception the following day in a barn on a farm near Rochester in Kent.
Once they had decided on an DIY W-day though it was full steam ahead, and then some. Get ready to admire what is probably one of the most DIY’d weddings we have ever featured here on RMW.
The Official Stuff
Nicks brother and wife, my close friend, were our only witnesses at the registry office. We kept it more than informal as we were still wearing the scruffy old clothes we were cleaning the barn in earlier as we did not have time to go home and clean up. After the legal bit was done we went our separate ways and did not see each other again until I walked down the aisle the next day. That meant that we had not spent any time together as man and wife and we had not exchanged our rings. The ceremony did not have to be legal so we asked a family friend to lead the short service, which we wrote ourselves, to keep it as personal as possible.
I never imagined that I would get married, let alone wear a traditional wedding dress. When we got engaged I insisted I would be wearing an inexpensive brightly coloured dress. So my final gown surprised not only myself but Nick and our guests.
As I started to look around I realised I wanted something vintage. I went to a bridal shop and tried some dresses but they were just not me! Some women may empathise when I say my “mummy tummy” meant I could not fit most original vintage gowns and the lightweight ones were a no no! So I opted to have the dress made. I was recommended a wonderful dressmaker called Gillian Andrews, who conveniently lived less than a 5 minute walk from my house! It was very daunting as I never really knew how it would turn out or if it was “the one”. However, Gillian was fantastic. We put together elements from a few dresses that I liked and the dress evolved with each fitting. Her attention to detail was amazing, hand stitching lace applique around the neck, hem and shoulders and sewing on 90 buttons. If I had to do it again, I would have the same dress as I know it was my one!
I had told Gillian that I was definitely wearing a low or kitten heel which was ideal as the width of the lace meant it could be cut to the floor without seams. Unfortunately I could not find anything that I liked and I had had my eye on these shoes from Irregular Choice for some time. This lifted my dress off the ground but with dressmaker magic she was able to re-design the bottom and actually created a small train and heavier swing to the skirt which looked amazing.
I love vintage hair, particularly victory rolls; I only wish I could do them myself. I absolutely love my hair style and had it done for my hen do as well as we went to a burlesque cabaret. It was created by vintage hairdresser Krissy from topps2toe. I decided not to add any head pieces or clips as there was so much detail on the back of the dress.
I did my own makeup, which consisted of lipstick. A friend painted my nails late the night before the wedding as there was no point or time to have a manicure as the hard-core cleaning over the previous days had ruined my nails. Even on the day of the wedding I was up at 6am, cutting fruit for the Pimms and went up to the barn to put the finishing touches before going to the hairdressers!
Our wedding, as does most peoples, revolved around a budget. It would have been extremely difficult to order pre-arranged flowers because until the day before we did not know how the barn would look finished or how many displays we would need. I opted to Pick Your Own as it was considerably cheaper. Two days before the wedding I went with my mum and 2 sisters to Blooming Green Flowers in Maidstone. Armed with a bucket and shears each we spent 2 hours in a peaceful meadow, whilst the sun was starting to go down, picking beautiful flowers. It was blissful after a nonstop week and a day of cleaning. My mum and sister arranged the flowers at the barn and made the bouquets and button holes. There was no colour scheme in mind, so I chose my favourite flowers from the ones we picked and they made the bouquets. The flowers cost £200 in total!
The Girls And The Boy
We have now all been each other’s bridesmaids, even if I made them wait a while! It was important to me that they were comfortable in their outfits. I did not have a style or colour in mind, we just shopped until we found something they were both happy with. The dresses were from Monsoon. The shoes I did inflict on them though as whilst they are amazing, they weren’t winners in the comfort stakes! There was obviously a reason why Kurt Geiger shoes were £20! My younger sister, Rheanna Lingham, is a jewellery designer and made the necklaces to match.
Nick is not a man comfortable in suits. We wanted him to wear something that suited him, as well as the venue and the style of the wedding. He loved the braces but he chose to wear the waistcoat to stand out from the TWO best men. We purchased all their clothes from high street and on line stores. The braces were from eBay! I was excited to see Nick dressed up as he is a black t-shirt and shorts kind of guy and I was not disappointed.
Our photos are by the wonderful Wookie Photography. They are relatively new to the photography scene but have a blooming business in wedding flowers called Wookie Flowers. They needed to build up their portfolio and we wanted vintage photos on a budget. We knew we did not want to have traditional posed pictures, rather natural photos of us all caught in the moment and they did that to a tee. I had hoped to have set up a photo booth but ran out of time. So they set up a booth at short notice and it was not until we saw the photos that we realised how much of a hit it was with our guests.
Amy and Frank were really accommodating with our (my) requests, including the brilliant group shots on the back of the tractor trailer, even if Frank got stuck on the roof of the outbuilding was elevated on! Most people actually thought they were wedding guests because they were so unobtrusive. I chose not to have them at the house because it was so hectic and I had my hair done at the salon.
We heard Nick Woods play at my cousins wedding and we loved him. He is an amazing singer, song writer and guitarist. There is always that often lifeless time between the end of the meal and the evening guests arriving. People are full up and not ready to dance so we wanted to fill it with atmosphere and chose Nick to sing and play acoustic guitar. Our meal was a bit later than expected so he started whilst we were eating and it actually worked out to be perfect.
My uncle is a DJ, so we called on his services for the evening disco.
We are extremely lucky to have had yet another family friend provide the catering. The barn is not equipped for large scale cooking so we had a hog roast and warm buffet. Followed by individual pots of ice creams, served in a vintage metal bathtub. This meant we did not need to hire more crockery, kept washing up to a minimum and the kids loved them. In the evening, we wanted hearty food that you could hold in one hand with a drink in the other. We had chunky bread, cheese, sausages and the left over hog roast. Instead of a cake, I, my mum and others made a variety of cakes which provided perfect nibbles throughout the night.
The Paper Pretty
To keep the costs down we made our own invites. I simply cut out profiles of us on black card and typed the words with a vintage typewriter, scanned it together and took it to a local printer. Including the twine, they cost less than £45. It sounds simple but I must admit it took a number of attempts to get the text correct as there was no spell check, centering or delete!!
It took 2 days and an army of helpers to transform the beautiful dusty barn. One end was dressed for dinner and the other for the ceremony. When it was over the bales were pushed to the side to clear the floor for dancing. The bales I covered in material cut up from duvet covers that I brought for £5 at a boot fair.
I saw the crochet jar holders on the internet and a friend’s mother in law knitted them for me. I put a sign up at the hospital where I work for empty jam jars and collected over 300. They were used for candles, pimms and vases and then recycled.
The white lightshades a colleague brought in the Philippines, which made them cheaper!
I wanted to keep the tables simple as the flowers had loads of colour in them. We brought the heavy cotton and my mum made full length table cloths, which was more effective and cheaper than hiring them. Again we brought the hessian by the metre and cut to length. I followed the stationery theme through by tying the napkins in the same butchers twine and stamping the date on a brown luggage label, which we had also sent as a save the date. We did not do a table plan, which I think surprised guests but it worked well. It meant that parents could sit as close or far away from the kids as they liked!!
I made the mini cake bunting and cake flags one night whilst Nick was on a late shift and Nick and I made the large N and H letters out of polystyrene, covered in hessian and fairy lights. I had to buy the polystyrene in blocks over 2 metres big. I must have looked like a mad woman as I broke it up in the car park to fit in a Peugeot 107!!
Since the wedding people have asked if it feels different now that we are married and I would have to say yes!
Nick and I worked as a team to pull off one of the biggest events we will probably ever host in our lives. We are so proud that we were able to achieve what was a successful and enjoyable day for everyone and it has brought us closer together. If it was not for the help of our friends and family none of this would have been possible and for that we are eternally grateful.
A DIY wedding is not for the faint hearted and certainly not for the pampered bride! You need an army of help and a lot of commitment. We were extremely fortunate to have friends and family who range from a caterer, farmer, DJ and jewellery designer. I really enjoyed the planning and making and when we sat back at dinner and took it all in, we were both really proud of what we had created. Even the clearing up the next day was fun as we reminisced with everyone whilst we did it. And the fact that Nick misplaced our hotel key and we spent our wedding night back in my parent’s spare room caused much amusement for all.
Hand on heart, I can say I never got stressed out, don’t get me wrong it was hectic, tiring and mentally draining but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Because… As Hayley says – It was hectic, tiring and mentally draining but it made them both proud. A Do-It-Yourself wedding day is certainly not for everyone, but this total extravaganza shows what you can achieve if you decide to jump in with both feet and get yourself involved with every aspect of W-day design and planning.
Call on the skillsets of your friends, family and loved ones too. You will more than likely find that they will be only too happy to help.