170 cupcakes, 292 shots of Jagermeister, 68 bottles of Prosecco, 112 bottles of wine, 180 light bulbs, 95 metres of bunting, 1 vintage campervan, 143 wonderful guests & 1 immense wedding. They’re pretty cool statistics aren’t they?
But I have to start this post by telling you that you are about to be sick. Sick with envy at Charlie’s hair. My goodness. It is the stuff of dreams. She might actually be a mermaid.
Aside from her epic mane, the wedding is also, dare I use the word again, immense. I feel a certain closeness to this wedding. There are a few things about it that remind me of my own; sharing platters for food, the handmade elements, the bare do-whatever-you-want-to-it venue. It’s such a wonderful wedding and the photography by On Love And Photography is epic. Such a clever idea using their guests as their something old, new, borrowed and blue. Look out for those photos. Sit back and enjoy your invitation to Charlie & Tom’s wonderful day. Charlie also has some very sound advice for all you brides to be.
Charlie The Bride: We married on 2nd August 2014 at Festival Hall, Alderley Edge. Our dream wedding was one full of laughter and celebration but that was relaxed and warm. Our budget was extremely tight so we chose to hand-make the majority of our wedding, but with the help from a few friends! Everything was done ourselves from the decoration of the hall, handmade bunting, designing the invites, table plan and order of service, place mats, favours, dessert, wedding signs and circus letters and flowers… This wedding was a direct reflection of our personalities, style and love for one another and our friends and family.
We looked firstly for a venue that could accommodate our numbers, 110. We searched for local church/village halls but struggled with size. Finally we came across Festival Hall, Alderley Edge, with its parquet flooring and theatre feel. Ashley was very laid back, relaxed and open to our ideas. There was no catering restrictions, extortionate corkage charges, the drink selection was extensive and reasonably priced.
St Mary’s Church, set in Nether Alderly is one of the most quaint and beautiful churches I have ever been to. It is warm and welcoming and the Reverend James Clark Milnes, is relaxed, entertaining and sentimental. The service was short, heart felt and full of humour. My mother read exerts from the bible and my Mother in Law wrote her own ‘ditty’ for Tom and me. It was personal and intimate.
A lot of hours were spent on the internet, eBay, Etsy and Pinterest putting together our ideas. I would love to say this process was 100% enjoyable but that wouldn’t be telling the whole story. Unlike many grooms, Tom had some very definite ideas on what he wanted, and in the majority of cases after careful deliberation we were in agreement, but the few times we weren’t it was battle of wills to see who got their way. Tom with his eye for a bargain and my eye for detail made a great combination, where we couldn’t find what we wanted for the right price, we turned to our resources, such as family, friends or workbench and started making.
For the tables we used long hessian rolls that we cut to length for the tablecloths, with lace runners. These were decorated with cut logs centrepieces, decanters (acquired from months of charity shop acquisitions), spray-painted mason jars and bottles with tea lights. The jars were filled with wild flowers sourced from an eco-friendly British flower supplier (see later). My mother and sister assembled these on site. The flowers added vibrant, warmth to the room. The place mats were disposable doilies (from Etsy.com) with chevron bags with luggage tag name places, with our wedding stamp (www.englishstamp.com).
The Dress & Accessories
I really struggled with the dress, in all my searching I didn’t have the famous ‘Dress’ moment that is fantasied about and personified in the movies. In all honestly I wasn’t overly impressed with a lot that I tried on. I wanted something natural, unstructured, elegant and that I could dance the night away in. I liked bits of dresses but not one dress bowled me over or dissolved my accompanying family friends to tears!
I took my inspiration from 1920’s and approached Julie, a dressmaker at Village Bride, Marple Bridge. We drew up a design together and negotiated price. One thing I could not compromise on was the material… It had to be silk crepe. I chose the colour to suit my skin and colouring, and opted for champagne rather than the traditional ivory.
I always knew a veil was not for me, I’ve seen so many brides struggling with veils, and I didn’t think it suited the style of the dress so I opted for a hairpiece instead. I search a lot of sites and found most of my inspiration on Etsy. I found what I wanted from vieledbeauty, it took about 6 weeks to arrive. I must warn you though I did have to pay customs charges on some imported items so be aware of this.
I chose ‘mikey’ bracelets from House of Fraser, the rose gold, champagne pearl and diamante detail matched the hairpiece and dress. I wore 2 stacked Pandora rings on my right hand- one was the bow ring that I bought a matching one for my sister/maid of honour as a gift on the day. Finally, I wore Jenny Packham No.1 earrings from Debenhams.
The Epic Hair
Getting my hair right was important to me, my mane of red, curly hair can be intimidating and hard to control at times. I wanted a romantic, soft style with natural structure. One of my work colleagues, Victoria Pollit offered to help me out when I explained the trouble I was having. On the day she did a fantastic job, sticking to the brief and letting my hair dictate its own style. She also did a fabulous job with the bridal party hairstyles.
Bridesmaids & Best Men
To tie in with my dress I was looking for something with a 1920’s feel but not overly flapper themed. I found my inspiration from Pinterest but soon realised the Jenny Packham No1 dresses I had set my heart on were no longer in stock. So I turned to the internet and set about my search and sourced it BNWT on EBay. The second dress I found was the beautiful infinity dress at a Jigsaw outlet at Cheshire Oaks. There were the most beautiful dresses for 2 of the most beautiful people I know.
I gifted my bridesmaids with a silver bow bracelet for helping me ‘tie the knot’, these were purchased at vintagestampjewels (Etsy.com).
Again to tie in with the informal feel of the day we got 3 shirts from the casual range at T.M Lewin where Tom later got his suit. The best men wore 3 piece grey suits, and we got the ties from M&S. I purchased moustache handmade tiepins from Etsy, which tied in with our overall wedding theme.
We prefer the rustic charm of wild flowers to the highly polished, coiffured floral arrangements. This style suited the laid back feel of the venue and our budget better. We approached a local British ecological wild flower grower. I met with Lesley a couple times and exchanged emails to gain a common vision for the flowers, but ultimately I put my trust in Lesley and her flowers. Some brides may find this set up stressful, not knowing what flowers would be good for the day, but I enjoyed the excitement of the ‘lucky flower dip’. Lesley supplied us with her best picks and gave us buckets of wild flowers for the room and tied the bouquets, posies and button ties. Again I opted for the tousled, wild charm of British flowers for my bouquet, with colour and energy to reflect the day and mood.
There was no room for compromise when it came to the food. We are both from families of food critics so we couldn’t let the side down when it came to taste and quality. I was put in contact with Craig from the Secret Garden Catering Company. Craig was so encouraging, honest but full of enthusiasm for our day and our vision, and together we brainstormed and came up with our food ideas. Canapés would replace a starter and an American BBQ would provide tasty and wholesome food, that wouldn’t run out and with options to suit all requirements. We were adamant to avoid people queuing at a buffet table. We wanted the meal to be a chance for people to bond and meet, so we designed sharing platters from the BBQ, and these were served to the tables. Craig and his staff worked to time, budget, efficiently and were extremely hard working and friendly. During the food we took an opportunity to sit back and watch as unlikely pairings were conversing and sharing dishes.
We were incredibly lucky when it came to cakes. A family friend made the signature wedding cake with delicate sugared flowers in muted pastels and lace detail, kept it simple and elegant. My close friend, and baking enthusiast, handmade the 170 cupcake ‘rose bucket’ centrepieces for the tables as a wedding gift. The rest of the cakes on the cake buffet table were made my friends and family.
Our wedding guest, Sam Burrows, provided the music at the church and during canapés. I walked down the aisle to ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, and Sam played beautifully while we signed the register. During canapés, Sam and ‘Uncle Bob’ had an open mic session keeping our guests entertained while we had our photographs taken.
The evening’s entertainment was by ‘The Ruby Miller Band’. I found the band on SilverDog music. The agency was very professional and helpful. The band was amazing, they surpassed our expectations and kept the whole wedding on their feet all night.
On Love And photography’s Giulia and Sophia are probably 2 of the loveliest most professional, creative ladies I have met. The wedding double act are the right balance of subtle and assertive, they captured us and our guests at their silliest, soppiest, funniest and most genuine moments, and most importantly they listened to us and our vision and captured it perfectly.
Having a dress made from scratch was a more difficult process than I imagined. It takes quite some time for things to fall into place, so don’t be disheartened.
We had a few disasters along the way, our original caterer and band pulled out 4 months before the wedding, the venue on the day of set up had a workshop going on, our local Reverend was on holiday the week before the wedding so we couldn’t get our Banns certificate….all these issues we overcame…and we were so much happier with the final result. Don’t panic if things don’t go to plan, it all works out on the day!
Using a wedding website was really helpful to communicate with the guests, because you can edit it along the way and keep the information on the invites concise, referring guests to the website for further information.
I used a wedding planning app, to ensure I kept on top of things and didn’t forget any key things.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the wedding world or the money people expect you spend! Remind yourself what the wedding is about and what’s important. It’s about having all the people you love in one place, at one time and routing for one couple!
I only wish I had recorded the speeches and ceremony, if you are in any way indecisive about whether to get a videographer, I would do it or get someone to film your speeches and ceremony, these were real highlights and my only regret is not recording these.
We now have some rather large light up circus letters and nowhere to put them!! A lot of decanters, jars, and wedding paraphernalia in our garage!! What would we have done without EBay during and now after!!