Belle and Matt’s beautiful DIY village hall wedding is the ultimate example of how to use your wedding budget wisely. A clever balance of DIY projects and help from friends, but spending in all the right places like on photography from James Frost, a stunning wedding dress by Anna Kara and incredible food. I feel like this is how to get married now. It’s stylish, special and celebrates the couple’s personal story, but it’s not ostentatious.
Look out for the vinyl favours, each one sourced personally for every guest. Such a special touch and a reminder that favours don’t always have to be displayed on the tables. If you’re hoping to have a gorgeous wedding on a budget, then make sure you’ve listened to our latest podcast episode, and read this feature – both of which cover exactly that.
But in the mean time, enjoy this magical day…captured beautifully by James.
Anna Kara Wedding Dress
Belle the Bride: Every bride sets out thinking they know what they’re looking for in a wedding dress. I always knew that I wanted something slightly different, if not even that ‘bridal’ at all. However, from seeing my dress online to, trying it on, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was the first dress I even tried! I knew that this was the dress I would be wearing when I walked down the aisle to greet me future husband! The distinctive cobweb lacing, the delicate angel wing detail on the back and the low cut neckline made me feel sophisticated and sexy. Anna Kara designs dresses that are so lightweight and easy to wear that I instantly loved the feel of the dress. I knew I would able to wear this dress and feel comfortable all day long.
With Matt being 6ft 6 I really needed a lot of height from my heels! I hunted long and hard and eventually found my dream shoes in Aquazzura. Earrings were from a designer that I found by chance through Instagram – Faris Jewelery. Her designs are both bold and sculptural and I fell in love with the ‘Swing Earing’. A week before the wedding I bought a garter from The Wedding Garter Co. The team there were incredible and managed to get it shipped out in time, despite being such late notice as they are all handmade to order.
Seeking something a bit more unique but still traditional, we found The Vintage Suit Hire which was just down the road from us! They are a family run business and offer 3 styles of suits – we went for the Southwold suit and they provided such a lovely service, right from the inquiry to the follow up after the hire. We sourced a matching tie for the groom and groomsmen to wear from ASOS. After trying many shades of mustard and gold ties we loved the tie from Noose & Monkey. As a gift for all the groomsmen, they were bought a set of braces each from Sharp & Dapper, which were gold and patterned and of a high quality.
The Village Hall Wedding Venue
We chose to get married in the village of Lilley, in-between Hitchin and Luton, where the bride’s parents live. It is a quiet, small, country village that doesn’t have much more than a local pub, a post box and a church! The church is St Peter’s Church which is an extremely picturesque church with stained glass windows, a rather cute little entrance and walkway of ancient yew trees and lots of green surroundings. About a 30 seconds walk down the road was the village hall that we used for the reception. We were told the village hall had a maximum capacity of 90 people, which when used in the past had been a tight squeeze at that! To this day I’m not quite sure how we managed to squeeze a grand total of 132 guests into such a small space, lets just say it had a very intimate vibe on the day!
The hall itself was a shell and we spent countless days and nights figuring out how to bring our vision of the wedding decor to life. We knew it was a small space and needed to think of ways to create room for a welcome reception before sitting down for the wedding breakfast (just in case of rain as with any UK wedding!) We found The Country Tipi Company just a few miles from Lilley in the village of Codicote. They put up a beautiful tipi, decorated with fairy lights. It was such a feature of the event area and made a stunning impact as our guests arrived at the venue. We created a festival feel by bringing in picnic benches, old wooden barrels, bamboo torches, and a fire pit from Belle’s parent’s home.
Our whole wedding scheme and decor was very much a DIY job. The furniture that was used in the tipi was either stuff we already had from home or bought through eBay or gum tree. The faux sheepskin rugs, the curtains that were hung behind the top table and in front of the stage and some of the plants in the tipi were all an Ikea trip. The macramé hanging behind the bride and groom was a project of Belle’s, she was determined to learn the skill and create the beautiful backdrop. Belle’s mum bought festoon lighting for the hall from Lights4fun and they were strung out across the ceiling of the hall.
We wanted to create a real rustic aesthetic so we had long rows of wooden trestle tables that also enabled us to fit more guests in. The table names were named after some of our favourite bars or clubs that we’ve been to together over the years. The glassware was important to us so we hired mixed coloured antique wine goblets from Classic Crockery. To compliment them, over the year leading up to the wedding we collected numerous quirky antique glasses and goblets from local charity shops or car boots for the toasts. Matt’s friend Mia Warner did our signage for us which included the bar sign which we named Tiny Nick’s after one of our groomsmen, as well as a beautiful welcome sign that adorned the entrance to the venue. Collecting empty spirit bottles of various shapes and heights from Bar Azita where we work made the candleholders. We then got all the family together one afternoon to spray paint them copper – this worked out a much cheaper option than buying candle holders as the spray paint only cost a fiver!
Our wedding favours were vinyls! We loved listening to vinyls in our flat together and thought it would be a really special keepsake for all of our guests. So we collected them from car boot sales or charity shops and hand picked a vinyl for each guest.
Matt studied graphic design at university – all of the stationery, table plan, order of services etc were all desgined by Matt.
Matt’s friend from university, Isabel Crossman was our florist. The hall needed a lot of flowers and greenery! All of the flowers she used were seasonal. She dressed the huge macramé hanging behind the top table and we had two gorgeous big displays to use in the church which were then carried across and used in the tipi. On the stage just in front of the top table was a crazy display of flowers that looked as if it was growing from the stage! Issy completely exceeded our expectations! For the window dressings she went out into the fields near the hall and collected greenery. Our family, groomsmen and friends helped the day before the wedding filling numerous bottles with flowers for the tables. We managed to camouflage the ugly strip lights in the hall by hanging greenery over them. It was absolutely lovely for everyone to get so involved in the setting up.
We are both Christians so it was important that we had a traditional Christian church ceremony. Belle’s Spanish pastor did the wedding sermon from her time growing up in Spain. We had many special moments thanks to friends and family doing both readings and prayers. One particular show stealer was a poem written by our brother-in-law Seth Willis, called “Be David, Goliath”. It was a bit of a play on Matt’s height but most of all was advice for marriage with Christian values at the centre.
During the arrival drinks at the reception, we asked jazz duo Colin & Neil to play. They have played at Belle’s family restaurant for a long time now and it added to a really nice atmosphere. For our entrance into the hall for the wedding breakfast Belle’s brother-in-law André (André Saxman Brown) played us in on the saxophone to the tune Baker Street – a long time favourite of Belle’s (and also her late Grandad). It really was so special and set a high mood for the rest to follow! DJ Phoebe D’abo put on a truly amazing party in the evening. There was no moment in the evening that the dance floor was not full! As the evening went on Andre smashed it out with phoebe, accompanying her on the sax – it was hard for him to resist!
Buen Apetito catered for our guests and they really did a truly amazing job! Delicious canapés were filtering round when the guests arrived; meanwhile Andy had a grand setup of 3 huge different paellas stewing on display to wet the guest’s appetites! The paellas were so authentic that even our Spanish guests were complimenting the food so highly and rushing back for seconds!
Our cake was something slightly untraditional, although we’re definitely not the first ones to do it. We sourced different cheese wheels at different sizes to build a cake tower of cheese. We both share a deep love of cheese and it was an obvious choice for us. Belle’s mum assembled and dressed the cake for us, which was such a special touch.
James Frost was our photographer for the day, and he definitely took our breath away with the results! We were looking for someone who was very natural and candid, looking to steer away from anything overly stylised and something more voyeuristic, and his portfolio definitely fit the bill. We’re over the moon with the results, as you can see from this blog post he really captured the day and the atmosphere!
Karl Joseph filmed our wedding for us. He was really great on the day, managed to run around and capture both the grooms getting ready and the brides. He was always around but as with the photographer, the guests and us hardly noticed them both and they were very discreet! We haven’t seen the full video as its still being edited, but he sent us a lovely two-minute preview, which was beautiful and very well edited together!