Eleanor and Ben’s big day is so full with amazing DIY projects that I really don’t know where to begin! Aside from building their own venues…I’m not sure they could have created anything else themselves for their wedding.
The table plan is my personal favourite project – it’s such a simple idea to thread strings from a hole next to a name, into a hole next to a table number – but it looks so cool and contemporary and I bet they’ll be lots of Brides thinking ‘I wish I’d thought of that!’
Not only was all of the decor made by this creative pair, but Eleanor’s dress and veil were made for her by a friend too. This resulted in a beautifully fitting dress, made from a heavy pure silk in a golden mushroom colour, with lace over the top and crystal band. And it’s absolutely perfect for her! I love the addition of the red Swarovski crystal button on the back too.
Enjoy all of the detail, this really is a wedding full of colour and fun…and some seriously amazing images of the wedding party dancing flash mob style…
We first saw The Monastery online but didn’t think it was within our budget. Only after visiting one Sunday afternoon did we realise that it really was the most perfect venue; we immediately felt at ease and the staff weren’t pushy but incredibly friendly. And not only is it a breath-taking building, it’s a charitable organisation too. Both working in design and architecture, we loved the thought that profits from our wedding would help fund the continuing work maintaining the building.
We found Anna Clarke online, we loved her website – it was stylish and well thought out and unlike some that we looked at, it expressed personality which appealed to us. We had a skype chat and I think hit it off quite well, we liked Anna’s relaxed style and wanted to feel comfortable that we wouldn’t have a photographer barking orders to guests. We have been told by guests that they really didn’t notice them for most of the day Anna and Simon (her husband) worked with us and the guests and we think we got some brilliant shots of the day as a result. Anna and Simon was incredibly enthusiastic and cheerful helping us get over the crazy amounts of rain they were both hardworking to make sure they captured some awesome photographs (here’s where they both blush).
For my dress, I know I didn’t want anything off the rack but went to a few boutiques to try some on before deciding that I would take up the offer from an amazing friend to make my dress! Michelle Barton aka Shell did some sketches with me one evening and we didn’t alter it much from the first ideas, we found fabric in the local fabric shop – an amazing heavy pure silk golden mushroom colour and I sourced a lace to go over the top and crystal band for the waist from Platinum Bridal. Shell worked incredibly hard on my dress including a custom made corset, we had some work parties making the buttons for the back and even her Mum shipped a red Swarovski crystal button over from NZ, it was an amazing experience having a custom made dress, big props to Michie!
Shell made a veil which was my weapon against walking down the aisle which I was dreading; it was full length at the back and half at the front so I could hold my bouquet.
My jewellery was a combination of a borrowed bracelet from my Sister that she had for her wedding day, a pearl necklace that I made myself which I added red Swarovski crystal hearts to and made some earrings to match. On the morning of the wedding I also got a beautiful silver necklace and bracelet made for me by my Sister – the necklace had a silver heart and an E with a single teardrop pearl; she also made all the Bridesmaids a silver heart necklace each to wear on the day which was an amazing surprise. My Mum, Hilary, had made me a hair slide from a piece of the crystal waist band from my dress and some silk samples. I also wore my Grandmas pearl ring as my old item.
My Bridesmaids were also in custom made dresses, we found a shop online called Dig For Victory and took a trip down to Brighton where Eleanor the owner took measurements and the girls tried on different styles and chose what they felt the most comfortable in. I was happy with mismatching styles and fabrics but wanted different shades of Teal and Aqua. We teamed the dresses with red shoes and for my flower girl we found a perfect fabric and Ben’s Mum, Christine, made her a gorgeous little dress from a Vogue pattern.
Ben and his Brothers (both best men) ended up with an amazing on sale air force blue suit from Reiss. I found some brilliant mismatching turquoise/teal tweed waistcoats from Topman that only needed the buttons changing to make them better, we even added a single red button to Bens waistcoat to tie in with mine, not that he knew at the time. Ben had a tie from Reiss, and a yellow pocket square with matching yellow socks. You’d probably never guess but in a last minute panic the ushers used red umbrella sleeves as pocket squares in a moment of genius in the taxi on the way to the church!
We’d started off with red, teal and yellow as a colour scheme but I think it ended up more rainbow, the underlying theme I guess could be classed as homemade! I basically didn’t know when to stop making things, I was loving it so much – filling evenings with creativity and fun! We had wedding favours of jams and chutneys all made by us or my Mum, origami I’d learnt at school and had always dreamed of a room filled with flying birds but we settled for them hanging from the candelabras as the ceiling in the Monastery is unreachable, and little winged hearts for the place settings.
I have one incredible friend that continued the making of the cranes after a girls night that didn’t produce anywhere near enough (but we had fun). We also had paper flowers on the backs of all the ladies chairs. Pretty much if you could make it yourself, we did, and it helped the budget go further.
My Sister made us a surprise Photo Booth, an amazing screen with holes cut in it and frames on the front with family wedding photographs. It was such a brilliant surprise and we loved it! We are both from a very talented creative families I cannot count how many hours must have gone into the whole organisation of the day.
I added marbles to the bottom of the flower vase jars for weight and colour, they were all from my collection that I’ve kept from childhood. We had posies down the aisle that were separated into jars around the tables at the reception and large arrangements in large vintage sweets jars we’d got on eBay.
I was dreading the ceremony, walking down the aisle and speaking in front of all those people…but I loved every second of it! The whole thing was very special our good friend and Bens mum both did a reading. Because we’d attended the church Nigel the Rector could talk about us as a couple personally which was great. My Mum singing Ava Maria after we signed the register was just amazing, I’ve heard her sing it many times before and at weddings but it felt so extraordinary for me on the day!
Through the day I’d complied a Spotify playlist we had on through the PA system and in the evening our good friend Ben Turner known amongst friends as ‘Disco Ben’ was our dj, having someone that knows what we like and took the time to personalise a playlist from Justin and Madonna to The Strokes and Sinatra was incredible.
We took a while deciding on a first dance as neither one of us wanted to get up there and dance in front of a crowd, we didn’t want anything overly romantic and all tracks that were special to us just aren’t danceable in that way; so we ended up with You Make Me Feel So Young, Frank Sinatra. It had the right amount of cheese to make it not painfully sappy and let’s face it, it’s from the era of couples dancing, but to mix it up we went straight into Young Hearts Run Free, Candi Staton – one of my all-time favourite tracks. For the first dance all we did was use a YouTube video and spent 15mins learning a simple two step (teaching Ben how to lead, as we never dance together formally) and just went with it freestyle on the night.
We had also another special addition, we asked our friend and Bens brother, Nathaniel to organise a flash mob and got a Facebook group together with people we thought would be ‘up for it’ and then left them too it. We ended up with Lets Have a Kiki, Scissor Sisters, a good choice as there is a YouTube video of the already choreographed dance that they sent out to people, they had a rehearsal at about 8.30pm in secret on the night and came out to pull off a brilliant flash mob with such little practice.
We were lucky that the chef at the Monastery was brilliant. We chose to have a chicken liver parfait with seasonal chutney; confit duck leg with boulangere potatoes, spinach and a sherry jus; vanilla crème brulee with mini doughnuts and a berry lassie, the food was awesome. We had a sweets and cake table behind which we had a projection on the wall scrolling through old photographs, friends and family had also made cakes and we had bought sweets from a cash and carry, filling jars and plates for people to graze on throughout the day, I’m not sure if this pleased the children or adults more?!
The cakes were made for us by Bens brother Nathaniel, baker extraordinaire (we’re trying to convince him to go on the Bake Off this year). Basically I’m not a fan of fondant icing so we went with a butter icing and due to the number of guests we decided to have a selection. We had a Red Velvet with Chambord and vanilla icing, a Lemon sponge with Cointreau and a Hundreds and Thousands Vanilla Victoria Sandwich.
Stationery was very important so we enlisted our friend and graphic designer Dave Kiely to help (he probably regrets it). From place names, table plan, invites, order of service, signage, our story and menus, Dave was there to help all along the way. I had an idea for a table plan that made people work for their meal by following a coloured thread from their name to the table number and we had OSB board cut at B&Q to mount it on.
We also bought vintage looking tickets for the bus, asking people to pay a small amount to get from the church to the reception which the ushers gave out as people arrived. They were double tickets that the users kept back half and we held a raffle during the speeches for all those that travelled by bus which I think worked well.
Try to relax – it’s easier said than done, but the important thing is the people you love and remembering that got me through the day. We’re neither of us big on getting up in front of people and you feel an enormous amount of pressure for everyone to enjoy themselves.
Do it your way, listen to advice from others but if you want something in a particular way then do it… but not in a silly you’ll-be-paying-it-off-for-the-rest-of-your-lives-manner! I think people thought I was mental the amount of making I did in 6 months, but it helped me get to the day.
My Stepdad’s speech was lovely and I was so pleased he wanted to do one, we told people they didn’t have to make a speech but the usual suspects at a wedding all stepped up and in front of over 100 people did a brilliant job! Bens speech was just ‘phenomenal’ – I’d never have expected him to run around with such flair chatting away confidently on a mic (and using the word phenomenal quite a few times)!! Ben’s brothers made me feel really part of their family and it was great to realise that is what I had become.
We are sooo lucky to have such a great group of friends and family that all supported us in the lead up to and on the day. We also had usherettes – apparently people don’t tend to choose female ushers and we were advised with the amount of people arriving at church we would need more than 3 and that of course girls are good at organising.
We couldn’t afford to go on honeymoon straight away but Ben booked a secret minimoon which he told me about during the first dance. We stayed in a Gypsy Caravan in the Scottish Borders, and Winder Hall our namesake in the Lakes.
I wish I’d learnt how to smile with less vigour I was so happy I was rarely thinking about my expression – but I look like Toni Colette in Muriel’s Wedding walking down the aisle and at first I was a bit argh, but now I just think I was happy and there is no controlling emotions sometimes so try not to judge yourself too harshly! But a huge thanks to Anna and Si for taking some photographs of me that I don’t actually hate (my own worst critic).