Homespun and beautiful are exactly what spring to mind for this bright back garden wedding. I just love it when a couple pour their absolute heart and soul into their wedding and it’s apparent for all to see in the DIY decor and vibes of the day.
A rainbow of colour definitely fills all the images by Marianne Chua Photography and can be seen in the hanging ribbons, fabulous florals and rather helpful tub of sunnies. Not to mention all the lovely stationery and signs designed by friends.
Bride and groom Christina and Jordan are absolutely beauts and will have you smiling from ear to ear. So grab a chair and take five to enjoy every moment.
Christina the Bride: I must have tried on hundreds of dresses in countless shops, in every style imaginable. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but nothing felt right. I had a budget, but foolishly didn’t see the harm in trying on dresses costing three times that! It was one of these dresses, which I had tried on as a bit of a joke as it wouldn’t suit me at all…. covered in sparkle, with a massive train… that turned out to be the one I couldn’t stop thinking about. So I googled like mad, phoned around, and managed to get it at ‘only’ just over double my budget. However as the months passed I grew to hate my dress, convinced that it felt uncomfortable. When sitting in a favourite pub I had always noticed the studio opposite – Jenny Burch Bridal alterations. I booked an appointment with her, and she totally changed the way I felt. With a faultless alteration to the fit of the sleeves she made me feel comfortable, happy and confident. I’m so glad I found her! I’m also pretty darn lucky, as my oldest friend is Catherine Wilson @catherinelouisaw_makeup. She made me feel so beautiful, kept me calm, and had me ready early. She also introduced me to Charlotte Tilbury’s amazing lipstick, ‘Pillow Talk’! Now every time I smell it I’m transported back to that morning.
The groom was also lucky to find a brilliant personal shopper in Reiss, who guided him to the ideal three piece suit and oversaw the alterations to make it fit perfectly. I knew a colour coordinated tie would be far too cheesy for the look we wanted, but wasn’t sure what the alternative was. Luckily it jumped out at us in Ted Baker, a silvery grey blossom pattern that worked with the beading on my wedding dress. Sold! The search for the grooms shoes was far harder than mine (which only involved looking in my wardrobe!). We felt like we’d trawled through every shoe shop imaginable, until we stumbled into Simon Carter in Brighton. Smart, stylish but not stuffy, they were just what we were looking for.
“I’ll have my wedding in my parent’s garden,” I thought, “How hard can it be?!” Well you’d never guess, quite a lot goes into creating a wedding venue from scratch! I’d realised I’d need a marquee, but it turns out you need toilets, festoon lights, electricity, speakers, and a million other things. We turned a shed into a self serve bar, and another into a tea and coffee area. My family were incredible, digging up the vegetable patch, planting thousands of flowers in my colour scheme, cutting a hole in the hedge so I could walk up an aisle. My sister even laid a patio with her bare hands, managing not to damage her wedding nails. The day before the wedding, 30 of our closest friends and family spent the day setting everything up as I directed from my clipboard. Amazingly, I managed to stay calm and collected throughout this day, but only because I had planned every single minute detail in advance. Top tip if you have helpers setting up – get ready made food delivered so you don’t have to waste time making lunch – we had piles of sushi for everyone to tuck into.
It was really important to me that our wedding wasn’t typically ‘girly’, and that my husband liked the style as well as me. I wanted rich, bright colours, splashes of paint, dymo printing and nothing cliched – which can be tricky in the world of weddings! B&Q probably hate me for taking so many of their paint colour samples, but they were useful to give to everyone involved when looking for colour matches. With the help of my tribe I made almost everything to decorate the wedding. My Mum dried masses of rose petals, and I learnt calligraphy to decorate a hundred pick’n’mix bags to put them in. Hubby’s Mum and Nanny flew from New Zealand and cut out 2000 paper hearts to thread up across the trees. His sisters happen to be a stylist (Holly Isabella) and an illustrator (@gottabekittyme), so wrote out my signs and arranged my decorations far more stylishly than I ever could. My friend Sam brought to life my vision of a watercolour and dymo seating plan and place cards. Emily and Charlotte washed out an unmentionable number of jam jars. My sister Jo made a bar sign using corks (which is still in place on my parents shed). I was so happy with how everything turned out as it felt fresh, fun, and so so personal.
I’d imagined that I could pick a few flowers from the garden and that would do me for centrepieces. However as the wedding drew nearer, I realised that this probably wasn’t the best idea! My friend Gemma and Black Bird Blooms came to the rescue and sourced bucket-loads of gorgeous flowers for me, then Jordan’s talented Auntie Linda arranged them into jam jars for the tables. They looked bright, beautiful and relaxed. I’d also planned to grab a bunch of hydrangeas on the morning for my bouquet, and a few sprigs for button holes. But again, thank goodness I changed my mind and popped down to a local florist. York Street Flowers made beautiful bouquets for me and my bridesmaid, and button holes for the wedding party.
Wedding Party Fashion
Having just my sister as my bridesmaid meant I could be pretty chilled out about finding a bridesmaid dress. I wanted something that she liked and looked great in, and we found the perfect thing in T K Maxx of all places. The colour was spot on, the deep v back echoed my dress and even after alterations the whole thing only cost sixty quid. Being an absolute shoe fiend, she paired it with some rose gold beauties whose thick heel stopped her sinking into the grass.
The ceremony felt like a dream, and we re-live it all the time, going back to the spot we were married whenever we’re in the garden. It was a humanist ceremony, conducted by a celebrant. Samantha Kelsie is so amazing, its hard to believe she’s real. As an avid RMW addict, I had heard her mentioned several times, and then saw her directly recommended. I got in touch and its probably the best thing I did, closely after saying ‘yes’ to the proposal!
The wedding ceremony she wrote for us had us in tears from the first reading. She was also the on-the-day coordinator and along with her assistant Kate, she made the whole day go perfectly. She started the ceremony early to avoid the rain, she stopped any of the guests from finding out there was a power cut and she made everybody cry during the ceremony, even the musicians The Lady Godivas!
Guests arrived to Pimms in jam jars and string musicians playing under a gazebo. We had a bucket of heart shaped sunglasses for people to help themselves to, and garden games scattered around. I had planned for this to continue after the ceremony, however as soon as we had grabbed our glasses of bubbly a thunderstorm began! We all sheltered under gazebos, with even the musicians continuing to play under the shelter. Looking back on it now, this could have ruined things, but in reality it seemed to bring everybody even closer together – people who hadn’t met before were laughing together as they shared umbrellas and passed bottles of bubbly between themselves. Luckily it didn’t last long, and we were able to enjoy the evening sunshine after dinner. During our first dance, we had arranged for my friends to let off confetti cannons, which was great for changing the pace and getting everyone onto the dancefloor. Our band were the perfect mix of cool and fun, and didn’t seem to mind our friends joining them on guitar (the effects of a help-yourself bar)! We finished with a bonfire and blankets under the stars, and I wore a jumper printed with my new name over the top of my wedding dress.
Food was another area that I had underestimated when I first started planning our wedding. I naively thought I’d get a hog roast, make a few salads, and do the whole thing for a couple of grand. But this was probably the thing which caused me the most stress in the wedding planning process. We ended up finding caterers CBH Catering to do most of the food – canapes in the garden for starters, then sharing platters of meats, salads, potatoes and bread in the middle of the tables for guests to help themselves to. After dinner we headed outside, and had individual tubs of gorgeous Jude’s ice cream, which I had delivered from Waitrose. This handily got all of the guests out of the marquee as it was cleared to make a dance floor. Our cake was from M&S, but it fitted the theme so well it seemed like fate. Instead of an expensive cake topper I bought a heart shaped sparkler from The Card Factory for a whopping £1.99, which added a bit of fun to what could have been seemed a cliched moment! We finished the evening with bacon butties and fish and chips in cones, as a nod to our seaside location.
What can I say? I went from thinking I’d manage without a photographer, to falling head over heels with Marianne Chua’s images. I found her on, you’ve guessed it, RMW! She is super cool, and there’s definitely nothing boring or staid about her photos. We didn’t want to miss any time with our guests, so she just took a few moments to take some couples shots, yet came out with a good range of different portraits.
I’d read countless blogs telling me I couldn’t miss out on a videographer, but they were completely out of our budget. I was worried it was an essential that I was going without, however it turned out I found a much better alternative. I decided not to get too drunk on our wedding day, and as a result I remember every single second of the best day of our lives.
Final Thoughts and Advice
Organising a wedding yourself, from scratch, can be more work and stress than you would imagine. Be prepared for that when you take it on. Be prepared for your budget to be completely unrealistic as well. I had thought I could do a wedding for a reasonable amount of money. I was wrong. But despite all that, it’s worth it. Getting married to the one you love is hard to describe, but you’ll think of it every day for the rest of your life. Whatever goes wrong on the day, even a thunder storm and a power cut as I had, doesn’t take anything away from how magical and dream like the whole thing feels. It really is the best day imaginable.