I’m Helen and my husband is Matt. We’re from Liverpool and Preston respectively but we married at St George’s Church in Georgeham, Devon followed by a reception at nearby Croyde Bay Holiday Village on the 20th April 2012.
Croyde is the most beautiful little surfing village and I’ve been going to Croyde ever since I was weeks old, and my parents and grandparents holidayed there well before I came along, so I see Croyde Bay as my spiritual home. Not so much an annual holiday, but a pilgrimage. It’s a lot more modern than it used to be but Croyde Bay Holiday Village is essentially, a good old British holiday camp – hi de hi and all that! The food was amazing and the Holiday Village were great at helping us accommodate all of my crazy ideas! I have been an avid fan of Rock My Wedding…. checking it daily since I got engaged. I admit, sometimes 4 or 5 times… In amongst the daily checking of RMW, making mood boards and craft items, I’m not quite sure how I got round to doing anything else to be honest! We had a weekend wedding complete with a sports day, fancy dress party and surfing lessons.
I found my dress at the second bridal shop that I visited, although I didn’t quite know it at first! Lots of brides seem to just know that their dress one ‘the one’ but I had quite a few dresses that I absolutely loved! I immediately fell in love with the entire Jenny Packham collection. Her dresses just make you feel like a Grecian goddess, but then I tried on Tabitha by Charlotte Balbier at Belles Bridal in Liverpool. The classic lace, the hourglass shape… this was going to be tough! Maybe I could make a few costume changes like Sarah Jessica Parker at that awards ceremony? The budget wouldn’t allow it, but a girl can dream, right? Anyway, after much debate and tryings on and seeing Kate Middleton in all her lacy glory, I made my choice, Tabitha and I were meant to be. It only took me about 4 months to decide! Plus it passed the ultimate test, I could dance and jump in it! Geraldine at Belles Bridal was absolutely fantastic and made me feel so at ease right from the beginning.
I’d always wanted a flower for my hair but I was struggling to find one that was just right and not too expensive. Then I spotted two very cute little hair flowers in H&M. £1.99 – bargain, thank you very much! I bought all of my jewellery from www.notonthehighstreet.com. I had freshwater pearl earrings and a bracelet with a little blue heart charm attached. Neither were expensive and my bracelet doubled as my something blue! Matt also gave me a beautiful horse shoe charm which I attached to my silver charm bracelet!
Which Shoes To Choose?
I bought three pairs of shoes (indecisive?). My first were a gorgeous pair of pink glittery from Dune which I especially liked as for every pair bought, £50 was donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. However when I took them home I didn’t feel like they really went with the dress! So I ended up buying a gorgeous and classic pair of shoes from Rachel Simpson called ‘Tilly’ to wear during the day and then I had a sparkly pair of silver flip flops from Dune for the evening! I ended up keeping the pink glittery pair though and wore them for the fancy dress party the following day where I dressed up as Jessie J.
The bridal party hair was done by Tangles in Braunton. I went in for a trial the day before the wedding and on the day everyone’s hair just looked amazing and exactly as we’d hoped. It was pretty windy taking photos up on the hill so my hair ended up all over the place though!
I debated whether to get a makeup artist, but I’ve never really liked it when anyone has done it before so I decided to do it myself. I used a mixture of MAC and Lancome makeup.
Bright And Happy
I love flowers and I love colour so wanted the day to be as bright and happy as possible. We started collecting jars about a year before the wedding – we ended up with hundreds! The flowers were done by the lovely Debbie of Teasels in Braunton, Devon. I gave some mood boards and lists of the flowers and colours that I liked and she suggested more that might work with them. I collected lots of different ribbon that matched the colour scheme and Debbie tied these round the jars. I wanted a mix of wild and non-wild flowers and pretty much gave Debbie free reign to organise them as she wished. The only thing I was quite specific about was my bouquet. I wanted a mix of gerberas, daisies, sunflowers, carnations and tiger lilies. The bridesmaids had slightly smaller versions of mine. Each of the buttonholes were different, with Matt having a big sunflower for his.
The bridesmaid dresses were probably the most difficult aspect of the wedding to organise. I have four very different bridesmaids, who all like different types of dresses. I looked at having them in different colours and different styles as we were struggling to find a dress they all liked. One day whilst I was browsing online, I came across some beautiful Tiffany Blue bridesmaid dresses. I knew that this colour would look amazing on all of the girls, plus it would be a fantastic contrast to the flowers. However when I looked in the shops, I really struggled to find dresses in the exact shade I wanted. Taking into account all of their body shapes, I drew some pictures of different dresses and there was one that they all seemed to like, so armed with my pantone references and sketches, I went off to meet Maxine, a dressmaker from the Bridal Lounge in Liverpool. Maxine had been recommended by a friend of my mum’s. She was great and managed to source some material in the EXACT shade of blue I wanted! The dresses turned out really well and I had four very happy bridesmaids.
For presents for the girls, I bought them all some earrings, a bracelet and a hairflower from Accessorize. I also like to make bracelets so I made them one each, designed to their personality. I also got them each a personalised mug from www.photobox.co.uk, which had on lots of photos of us together. I thought that would be a lovely daily reminder of our friendship.
We told the groomsmen and dads to wear grey suits. We got ties and shirts for all of the men, but the suits were all different. We didn’t want everything to be too matching, and the setting didn’t really lend itself to anything too formal. All of the bridesmaids ended up in the sea at the end of the day!
Matt looked so handsome in his Ted Baker 3 piece suit. His tie was from Debenhams and his shoes were also Ted Baker. He looked so handsome stood at the end of the aisle and my nerves just fell away and I couldn’t stop smiling as soon as I saw him grinning back at me! I bought him a pair of pink VW campervan cufflinks to match our VW Campervan wedding car.
Keen And Enthusiastic
Our photographers were the wonderful Jo and Simon of Shoot photography. We spotted them on Rock My Wedding and after meeting them for coffee one afternoon we knew they were the photographers for us! They were so keen and enthusiastic about our wedding and our ideas. On the day they were just brilliant, completely blended in with the rest of the guests whilst still managing to capture some great shots. With there being two of them, you get amazing shots from different angles. One of my friends actually described Simon as ‘part photographer, part ninja’! They were just brilliant, I would highly recommend them!!
We Lurve The Cake
Matt’s mum actually teaches cake decoration so she made the cake for us. I gave her pictures of the different types of flowers we were using and she worked her magic completely. The flowers looked absolutely amazing. The top tier was a gorgeous chocolate sponge and the bottom two were traditional fruit cake. I usually don’t like fruit cake but this was gorgeous! I think I ate my own body weight in cake after the wedding. I was certainly popular at work!
I made the cake topper using Fimo. Having never made anything from Fimo before I was very pleased with how they turned out! Although Matt did have slightly more of a suntan than I had intended!
A Barn Dance
Our entertainment was done by the lovely Louise of Croyde Bay Holiday Village. I’ve know Louise since I was sixteen when she first started performing down at Croyde Bay with her band ‘Mainstreet’. She got everyone up on their feet doing barn dances, the Gay Gordons, Virginia Reel, Red River Valley etc. Despite her best efforts, there was a bit of chaos during the line dances and the Red River Valley Valley with people going the wrong way and people misplacing their dance partners during the dosey doe’s and changes. But it was all brilliant and everyone was in fits of laughter! We followed that with a disco and partied until the wee small hours!
More Than A Woman
I do a bit of ballroom dancing as a hobby, but it’s not really Matt’s thing. We knew people would be expecting some kind of ‘routine’, but we didn’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect first dance, so we decided to go for the comedy approach. We made a short film to precede our first dance which was the fake build up to our dance, using the Strictly Come Dancing theme. It followed our adventures week by week, showing clips of our ‘dance practice’ and ‘interviews’. We did latin, ballet, street dance and finally disco. We roped in four of our friends to play different dance teachers, much to the delight of all of our friends and family.
For the actual dance, Matt donned a fabulous white, flared suit and I did a quick change into a flowery, floaty number and we did the ‘More Than A Woman’ dance from Saturday Night Fever. Complete with lift at the end. Ever since, every time we go out Matt has half our friends asking to be picked up and swung around (this includes the boys)!
Place Setting Favours
I’m not that keen on favours in general as I’ve often seen them left on the tables at the end of the evening which I think is such a shame when people go to so much trouble! So I decided to double up my place settings with my favours and I made a little puppet of each of my guests! I ordered some people shaped lollipop sticks online, then gathered pictures of all the guests through Facebook and my own photos and made individual outfits for each person. Shoes and all! I’ve no idea how to use photoshop so I had the arduous task of re-sizing all of the heads so they were relatively the same shape. I did this using a template picture of one of my friends with an appropriate head size, cropped the heads copied them into powerpoint slides, saved them as a picture and then printed them out. Finding appropriate photos for 120 people and then making the outfits and sticking it all together was quite time consuming, but it was totally worth it in the end. Everyone LOVED the puppets, playing with them and dressing them up with bits and pieces from the tables. Most have taken theirs home to frame!
Miles Of Bunting
I, with the help of my lovely friends made almost all of the decorations. The venue hadn’t really ever decorated the room before, so when I showed them my ideas they were a little surprised. But when I turned up a couple of days before with miles of bunting made by my parents and lots of tissue paper pom poms and lanterns, they seemed quite excited and helped us hang all of them from the ceiling. We bought lots of lanterns from The Hanging Lantern Company and Ikea.
I made the guestbook on www.photobox.co.uk. The book was a bit like a yearbook and contained lots of pictures of me and Matt over our 9 years together.
I made all of the table names using photos I took when I was travelling in Africa and all the tables were named after African animals and tribes. I bought tons of scrapbook card and ribbons from Inspirations in Preston to make the table plan, signs for the guestbook and card table to match the table names.. I attached the table names to some kebab sticks (glamorous) and they were very handy as I just slotted these into the jars.
With the scrapbook paper and ribbon I also made matching heart wreaths which hung on the ends of the pews in church.
Our car was a VW Campervan. Our original company let us down a few weeks before but we were really lucky as Mark from vwcampervanhire.com stepped in and saved the day! They even wrote our names on the side of the car!
The menus, invitations and Order of Service were done by a friend of my dads. I showed him a drawing done by the very talented Victoria Scott who did the imagery for the Love Lane Caravan Park and he did a very similar drawing, but made it personal to us.
The confetti used to decorate the tables was from The Real Flower Confetti Company. They have a massive range of real petals in lovely colours.
Apart from the unbelievably lovely ceremony, my favourite part of the day was doing the group shots on the sand dunes. We wanted the group shots to be a bit different and fun! Trekking up the dunes in my dress was not as difficult as I thought it would be! It was cold though! We all had on cardigans and coats and just threw them off for the photos. Instead of ‘cheeese’ we shouted ‘look warm’! I am a massive fan of jumping shots so we threw in a few of those for good measure! Took a few takes to get it quite right! We’d been praying for sunset, but the weather had been awful all week but we got really lucky and although it was a bit chilly on the day, the sun was shining and we got the beautiful sunset we’d hoped for.
It was just the most lovely, magical day that I’d hoped it would be. Everyone was happy, laughing and smiling all day. Just perfect.
As for advice…
Mood boards are amazing! Collect ideas from blogs and magazines. It really helps you pull together your ideas and colour schemes and know what will work for you! You will soon get a clear idea of your preferences.
Plan well, but don’t let it take over your life. Make it the day you always dreamed of but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Plan it around the things you like and try not too worry too much about everyone else having a good time. People will have fun!
I know it can be difficult, especially if you are a control freak like me, but – delegate, delegate, delegate. Your friends/family will all have different skills, make use of them! People love to be involved and it takes the pressure off you! It’s no good if the whole day is just planned inside your head, the last thing you want on the day is people constantly asking you what needs to be done, that will take away from all the socializing and fun to be had. Even if it’s a small job like moving some flowers from one place to another, switching the lights down… anything. You’ll never have so many people wanting to do you a favour and not complaining about it in the slightest ever again!
Don’t worry if not everything happens the way you thought it would, the only people likely to notice are you and your husband (actually, most men wouldn’t even notice)!! It’s your day and whether it rains or it’s glorious sunshine, this is the day you picked so embrace the weather!!
Enjoy every minute. This is the one time when everyone you love is in the same place at the same time. They are all there for you!
Take everything in and try to keep your head up, especially walking down the aisle and seeing your husband to be for the first time.
Make sure you eat in the morning!
Have a bridesmaid on hand to make you think of something funny just before you walk in!! Helps with the nerves.
Do what you want to do as it’s YOUR day!
Be prepared that you may not get quality time with everyone – it’s a busy day, but try and get a few minutes with each person and make them feel special. I found the line up was a great way to ensure I spoke to everyone. But most importantly make sure you get enough time with your closest friends and family, especially your parents and new husband/wife. Take a minute together during your day to stop and think – wow this is all for us!!!!
Venue – Croyde Bay Holiday Village
Dress – Charlotte Balbier
Florist – Teasels in Braunton
Groom – Ted Baker
Hair – Tangles in Braunton
Photographer – Shoot photography
Lot’s of great advice there from Helen. I think one of the key points is that people really do love to be involved. Utilise the skillset of your nearest and dearest and it will make your W-day planning just a little bit easier.
Thanks to Helen and Matt for sharing their big day with us… Right about now I want a VW Camper van more than ever.
Oh, and Helen – If that really is your first attempt at making something out of Fimo then you are going places my dear.