This morning’s wedding has a special place in my heart for two reasons; the first being ‘literature’ – a theme that Eleanor and James cleverly weaved through every element of their wedding decor from their stationery through to their wedding cake. Honestly it looks the bees knees and speaks to the bibliophile in me and I’m sure will make plenty of you smile too.
The second is the pair’s approach and attitude to their wedding day – their determination to do things ‘their way’ but also to avoid becoming Bridezillas in the process resulting in a day full of joy and laughter for their family and friends.
And it doesn’t hurt that Eleanor’s dress is to die for and the boys look dapper in their tweed get-ups and that there are oodles of decorative details that you’ll just want to pin as well. Oh and that picture of the gorgeous duo walking through the blossom filled apple orchard? SWOON!
Eleanor The Bride: When we first started talking about what we wanted from our wedding, James and I were both sure of the same thing – we wanted it to feel personal, relaxed, and full of joy and laughter. We were determined to do things ‘our way’ and create a unique experience for us and our family and friends.
Every decision we made throughout the planning process always came back to the same question – “is this what we want?”. This stopped us getting caught up in wedding drama, and kept us focussed on the promise of ‘the perfect day’.
We didn’t intend to have a theme for the day, but set out to replicate our living room at home – we wanted it to feel like an extension of having all of our nearest and dearest over for a party. Because books feature heavily in this room, this ended up becoming a feature. We had stacks of books as centrepieces, and I designed the invitations to look like Penguin Classics. My Mum made an incredible four tier fruitcake decorated to look like a stack of old books. We also punched through thousands of pages of books to make heart-shaped, book page confetti. The reception venue were incredibly receptive to my mad-cap ideas, and helped us to hang hundreds of Penguin Classics from the ceiling over the tables to create the effect of ‘book chandeliers’.
We also featured our one true love – gin – by naming the tables after our 10 favourite gins, and using the bottles as vases.
We chose to DIY wherever possible: I covered jars with glitter and book pages and made the signs, favours and guest book by hand. We wanted the day to feel really personal and were somewhat brutal with our guestlist, which meant that every single person that came was someone very special to us. Knowing our guests in this way allowed us to tailor the day around our memories of them. The seating chart displayed Polaroid images of us and guests over the years – it was great for people to see photos that have been buried for decades make a reappearance!
We set up a ‘selfie station’ where our friends and family took a polaroid of themselves and stuck it in the guestbook. This has given us an incredibly personal momento of the day, and I know we’ll enjoy looking back on this for many years to come.
We also created individual favours which told a embarrassing or funny story about someone else on their table. A particularly fond memory of the evening was sitting down to eat and hearing clusters of our friends, some of whom had never bet before, burst into raucous laughter as guests explained the stories behind the revelations on the favours. It created an laid-back, humorous atmosphere and stopped the sit-down meal from feeling stuffy or forced.
That atmosphere really set the tone for the evening, and all our guests threw themselves into the barn dance with gusto! The barn dance is a great memory in itself – seeing people from across 3 generations, people who’d never met before, throwing each other round the dance floor was amazing. Everyone completely lost their inhibitions and the dancefloor was full from the moment the music started, right til the end of the night.
After the barn dance finished, we had a DJ for the last couple of hours, and we let rip! My dress was flowing and light which meant it didn’t get in my way, and I could get down and dirty with the best of them, as the pictures can testify…!
A Surprise For The Groom
We made sure to include touches of James’ personality throughout the day (for example, the confetti came in crisp packets that we’d painstakingly rinsed and dried, to demonstrate James’ unhealthy obsession with crisps!) But to show James that I’d been thinking of him throughout all of the planning, I wanted to surprise him. As he’s somewhat obsessed with cappella, I got in touch with the university’s a cappella group and asked them if they’d learn our song and perform it as a surprise. They were exceptional, and walking into the church to their beautiful arrangement of Imogen Heap’s Hide & Seek gave me goosebumps all over. The vicar and the best man were in on the secret and, looking back at the photos of James’ face when they started singing, I’m so pleased that there was an element of the day that remained a surprise, just for him.
Having our four best friends from university as the best man and bridesmaids (or brideslads to be specific) meant that the day felt like a celebration for our whole group. We’ve always incorporated “ceremonial jaegerbombs” into any reunion we have, and the wedding was no exception! Our gifts to the boys were luxury jaeger kits, complete with engraved glasses. After the speeches, we snuck off with our photographer, Hannah, to raise a somewhat unconventional toast to the last 8 years of friendship.
Don’t conform to the traditions that don’t suit you! Aspects of our day were quite traditional – getting married in a church, having a sit down meal, having a first dance – but we chose these elements because we wanted them and they meant something to us. However, there are lots of parts of the traditional English wedding that just aren’t our style. We stayed true to what we wanted and made a lot of choices that defied convention: 3 of my ‘bridesmaids’ were my male best friends from university; my Mum made a custom suit for my childhood teddy bear so that he could attend the ceremony as a guest of honour; I gave a speech as well as James; and we spent our wedding night in a house with eight other friends. All these elements added up to make sure that our personalities and preferences were present throughout every aspect of the day.
Also, for those that say that 6 months is too short a time to plan a wedding, I would heartily disagree! We didn’t ever feel like we had to ‘settle’ for something that wasn’t right for us due to limited choices, and we still had plenty of time to plan and organise. I don’t think we compromised on any element of the day, despite the short timeframe. If you’re organised, enthusiastic and have a clear idea of what sort of day you want, it will all get done! It also means that your excitement doesn’t waver, and you don’t have time to overthink or doubt your decisions.