It’s been a while since we shared a truly home spun, village hall wedding with you all and this one fits the bill perfectly. Amanda and Sam stuck to a budget of £5000 for their wedding day and pulled off the sweetest, most fun of occasions. I absolutely love the thoughtful details – second hand books specially chosen for each guest as a favour, flags to represent their British and American backgrounds, playlists with choices from the entire wedding party…
The whole day looks like a traditional village fete which just warms the soul. Throw in a piñata and some classic American drinking games with the obligatory red cups and you’ve got yourself the perfect wedding celebration.
The one thing we never recommend saving on though, is the photographer. Amanda and Sam entrusted Neil Jackson with the job of capturing their wedding, appointing a lot of their budget to the images. Definitely a wise choice – these gorgeous images will last them a lifetime.
Amanda The Bride: I had pretty much no idea what I was looking for in a wedding dress. I wanted something with a vintage feel, but I couldn’t even narrow it down to an era of dress that I had in mind. I ended up being drawn to tea-length dresses after feeling consistently drowned in longer gowns. I’m so glad that I went with a shorter dress on the day! Our wedding was in July and the day ended up being perfectly sunny (a shock turn of events for North Yorkshire) and we spent 95% of the day outside.
Sam The Groom: I never pictured myself wearing a suit on the day, and I’m not sure a tailored suit would have been the right look for our venue. I bought a great pair of brown chinos and had them tapered a little, a fitted heavy cotton shirt and a simple but elegant blue blazer. Amanda had already surprised me with my brogues (the finest and most comfortable shoes I have ever worn) – I feared that as I hadn’t worn them in that the new leather would cut my feet to pieces, but the quality was so good that they were a pleasure to wear. My outfit was rounded off with a mint green bowtie. We all wore them: best men, ushers and my Dad. It made us feel like a real team.
I’m originally from New Mexico whilst Sam is a Yorkshireman. Once we decided to do the ceremony in England, we started our venue search in London, where we were living at the time. Nothing really spoke to us (or was in our price range). We really wanted to have our wedding in a small village hall that we could take over for the weekend, and Sam suddenly remembered Hackness Village Hall (outside of his hometown of Scarborough) one day. We went up together to see it and thought it was perfect. It had forest on one side, gorgeous views of Yorkshire hills and valleys on the other and tons of land for us to base the majority of the day outside.
Our colour scheme was mint green with pops of coral and a rich gold. We had quite a tight budget (£5000) so most of our decor was DIY. We stuck to a fairly classic village hall style. Amanda’s mom and Maid of Honour are both primary school teachers and were amazing at putting together colourful wall murals, making pompoms and helping with bunting. We were able to get all our hay bales, wheelbarrows and tin baths from a farmer down the road. We spent pretty much all day on Friday doing all the setting up for the wedding (on Saturday) but it was so worth it!
Melanie did the most amazing job with our flowers. I wanted wild and cheerful and she provided that in lashings. I didn’t want anything too neat and tidy. She even whipped up some baker’s twine patterns to glue onto the tins that we had collected for the table centrepieces. But all our bouquets really took the cake!
The Wedding Party
We weren’t particularly keen on a formal wedding as we are fairly boho in our daily lives, so the general dress code was “garden party”. All our my bridesmaids came over for the wedding from America, and because they were already spending so much money and making such a huge effort to get here, I didn’t want anyone to have to feel forced into wearing something that I made them wear. I gave the girls a colour scheme and told them just to wear anything they already had! Coincidentally, two of them ended up wearing the same dress! Sam’s groomsmen wore khakis and button downs with the bow ties that we had purchased for them.
On the day, all our friends and family traveled out to Hackness on the open topped bus. They were all sitting outside on hay bales when the bridal party arrived. It was such an amazing moment to not only see Sam at the end of the aisle, but to see faces from all over the world that I hadn’t seen in years on either side of me. We met when we were first in drama training at LAMDA in London, so we had a plethora of talented actor friends to help us throughout the day. We were even lucky enough to have my friend, Shri, officiate. We wrote our own vows and had readings from Phillip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”, Phillip Larkin’s poem “Solar” and Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Rings”. Our super talented friend, Nicky, performed Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” on the guitar whilst the bridal party walked down the aisle.
One of the highlights of the day were our wedding speeches. We went for a slightly un-traditional mix of speakers. Sam gave a groom’s speech, Amanda’s maid of honour gave a speech and Sam’s two brothers (as duel best men) gave a speech. They were all so varied in tone and style, but were a phenomenal collection.
Besides having Nicky play guitar during the ceremony, the rest of our music was played off very long iTunes playlists that we had painstakingly made for each section of the day in the months preceding the wedding. On our wedding RSVPS we asked everyone to suggest one song that they wanted to hear and we made sure that everyone’s suggestions made it in somewhere in the day. We bought our own speaker from Maplin, as it ended up being cheaper than renting one. If you’re self DJing your wedding, our biggest piece of advice would be to give yourself way more time than you think you need to make your playlists, and have multiple backup methods!
Other special moments throughout the day: Amanda loved doing pinatas as a child at parties in New Mexico, so we made sure to have one at our wedding. She knocked it down on the first swing and then our page boy finished it off! Because we had so much outdoor space, there were also lots of impromptu games of a strange baseball/cricket amalgamation. Much later in the evening, all our American guests challenged our British ones to a full-scale game of “flip cup”. Things got a bit unruly but it was loads of fun!
We split the food for the day between our two cultures. For canapés in the afternoon, we had vats of tortilla chips and different types of New Mexican salsas around for guests to help themselves. Then later in the evening, for dinner, we had a traditional hog roast with many different types of salad, and a vegan chilli. Amanda is a very keen baker, so our cake was really important to her. We wanted a semi-naked lemon drizzle cake and Louize made a spectacular cake for us. Multiple people later told us that they don’t usually like wedding cake but that Louize’s creation was something special. As a surprise for Amanda, Sam also commissioned Louize to make some peanut butter chocolate and cookies ’n’ cream cupcakes for the dessert table as well. We filled up multiple tin bathtubs with ice and dozens of bottles of prosecco, and had local kegs from the Scarborough Brewery.
Amanda has her own blog and Sam is a photographer so our photographer was always going to be our biggest expense since photos are so important to us both. We spent countless hours scrolling through wedding photographer sites, but once we found Neil we knew that he was the perfect match for us aesthetically. Neil went to the Mount Hotel where Amanda and all the bridesmaids were getting ready and then went back to Sam’s mom’s home where he and the groomsmen were. We didn’t want anything too posed and wanted to focus on catching as many natural moments as possible.
Advice? When you have a small wedding budget, prioritise the thing that is most important to you. It would have been fun to have a live band or photo booth, but in the end, we knew that these things would have no bearing on our day. Use your wedding as a day to let your personalities shine!