How gorgeous is the back of Emma’s dress?! I’m in love! I think her whole Bridal look is perfect actually – boho but stylish and a little bit sexy. Exactly how I’d like to look on my own wedding day.
Images come from RMW fave, Frances Sales, who Emma and Mark discovered via a competition right here on these very pages! Hooray! We do like to see a story come full circle. Enjoy this one lovelies and have a gorgeous weekend.
Emma The Bride: We knew right from the start that we wanted an intimate natural outdoor wedding with our own written vows, and a barn reception afterwards that we could completely decorate and style ourselves. I had wild dreams of marrying underneath a big oak tree, but we really weren’t sure if this was realistic to be honest. When we began searching for barn receptions we found Hookhouse Farm and booked a visit right away, as it said on the site that they book up two years ahead and only have a few wedding each year. We initially fell in love with the stunning exposed beams in their 17th century barn and their no frills real working farm setting, but it was stepping out on their land and spying a huge oak tree far in the distance of one of their fields which instantly clinched it and we booked it without even considering any other venues.
The more we talked about the details such as themes, colour schemes and suppliers, the more it made sense with our pretty small budget to do as much as we possibly could ourselves to keep costs down. Luckily enough, I’m a pretty creative person and enjoy doing crafty things! It started with the wedding invites which took a long time but came out beautifully and set the scene for the theme and venue of our special day. For décor and styling, we had a rustic theme in mind and “our story” was a focus point for a lot of the finer details and decorations, and I picked up various items from here there and everywhere during the 18 month wedding planning process to bring this vision to life. We made hanging hearts out of old book pages, and strings of bunting and tissue pom poms. Looking back, I don’t think a week went by when I didn’t make or pick up something linked to the wedding in that time. In fact, it was such a massive undertaking that I’ve now decided to hire out my rustic wedding to other potential rustic brides in the NW of England (where we now live) who want to create a similar theme but perhaps don’t have the energy or time to source like I did.
I’m so glad we did a DIY wedding, but we simply couldn’t have done it without a lot of family and friendly help to set it all up the day before. We also couldn’t have done it without the on the day help from Ella our tireless superhero wedding planner who took care of all the things that we simply couldn’t set up beforehand which allowed me to turn up on the day without feeling stressed! If you are considering a DIY wedding I really can’t stress enough the important of hiring someone for the day to take care of things so that you don’t have to and can just enjoy the day you’ve spent so long and so much money planning!
I knew exactly what I wanted my dress to look like the day after we picked our venue, so much so that I had drawn a sketch which I eagerly took around bridal boutiques hoping to find something close. I didn’t, so settled on something equally beautiful but unexpected for me and thought that my dress was sorted. However, for a number of reasons I didn’t end up wearing this dress on the day, and was extremely lucky to find the wonderful bespoke dressmaker Cynthia from Oui Madam Bridal Atelier who had last minute availability to make a dress based on the sketch I had originally drawn. I am still baffled as to how she did it, but in under six weeks and many 4hour round trips to Windsor later for fittings and my sketch had been brought to life just in time for the big day! It was a really expensive part of the wedding but I can’t express in words how happy wearing my dream dress made me on the day and I am glad I trusted my gut and had a bespoke dress made and would recommend the same to others if you have a clear vision of the dress you want.
I imagined wearing a flower crown rather than the traditional veil, and flat sandals to really keep things relaxed and boho so I designed my own flower crown via the company Summer Blossom based in Australia which was shipped to me in very good time. I took a gamble on some pearl and diamante flat sandals online from China and was absolutely surprised with how lovely they were when they arrived! I struggled to choose jewellery but last minute found a gorgeous bracelet and earrings set from Debenhams Alan Hannah bridal section.
I had a hair and make up artist booked who did my tousled waves on the day, and I chose to do my own make up. I did end up getting a little help on the wedding morning with applying some lashes as I got a bit stressed whilst trying to put them on and she saved the day! Her assistant also did my bridesmaids hair dos, and two of the bridesmaids had their make up done too and everyone looked gorgeous.
One of the most important aspects to our wedding planning was the photographer, as we knew after the day was over that would be how we would remember and relive our day. We knew we were looking for an unobtrusive, natural and relaxed approach to the photos, but someone who wouldn’t miss the amount of detail that had gone into each DIY element of the day. Quite frankly, we needed someone awesome, but at a price we could afford. It wasn’t looking good, many that we liked were way out of budget, and others within budget simply didn’t have the wow factor we so desperately craved. In the end, I entered a competition right here on Rock My Wedding for the amazingly talented Frances Sales, and we were delighted to hear that we had come runners up, and won half price wedding photography. I had to pinch myself, her work was out of this world and we really got excited for the wedding from this point on. We even got a pre wedding engagement shoot which not only helped us prepare for being more comfortable in photos on our wedding day, but resulted in some stunning couple photos for us to keep.
Given that we weren’t getting married in the traditional way, we needed to find someone to perform our dream outdoor ceremony. After we met with Diane Tasker, we knew she was the perfect missing piece to help us plan our intimate ceremony. We were able to have a ceremony that completely mirrored our relationship; romantic, humorous and real. We decided to write our own vows, which was magical on the day and had us both in tears! Because we wanted to marry outdoors, we had to privately do the legal bits a few days beforehand in our local registry office, which we purposefully didn’t dress up for or invite people to, so as not to take away from the real day at Hookhouse Farm.
We decided to keep costs down by having generous sized canapés followed by a wholesome and informal BBQ which felt in keeping with our rustic theme. As we both have a huge sweet tooth, we put together our own dessert table full of goodies (which my mum was a great help in both the planning and execution of this!), a sweetie table and decided to order takeaway pizzas and put out other snacks out for the evening ourselves which went down well.
My mum and sister had originally planned to make me a naked sponge, but we later discovered that our accommodation facilities weren’t up to this and so I got lucky with a ridiculously good value Wowcher deal on the delicious sponge cake we had from Anns Designer Cakes. We chose a gooey chocolate sponge for the bottom tier, then a lemon and a red velvet cake for the second and third tiers. The guests raved about the chocolate layer for weeks!
The Wedding Party
I had already decided on a peach, ivory and hessian brown colour scheme so for the bridesmaids I sourced a company on Etsy called RenzRags who are based in USA, as they had just the right peach colour and fabric for the dresses. The girls each chose a style that suited their shape from high street shops and we sent over photos and measurements and she made them each a bespoke dress to measure. This saved me a lot of money and they arrived within a month, which was great! For accessories I got them sandals from New Look and handbags from Accessorise to complete the look. The flower girl already had a beautiful white dress from her communion so we just added some peach accessories to it (from Renzrags) to match the bridesmaids.
Mark was in charge of the boys attire, and picked a gorgeous blue suit from River Island which luckily happened to be on sale! He teamed it with braces and a bowtie for something a little quirky and different for him and I think he looked so handsome! He also picked the ushers lovely grey suits from Next and some braces to match.
We really wanted a live singer to create an intimate and romantic feel to our ceremony and Rob Austen who we found via Tailored Entertainment surpassed all of our expectations. You can hear his stunning voice on our wedding video – its speaks for itself! Our guests still talk about him – he was sensational.
Later on we hired a DJ to get a guests’ groove on, and it worked!
Having had a little look on YouTube and online, I decided I would be adventurous and save some extra money by doing my own flower arrangements and bouquets. We sourced the flowers through an online wholesaler. Given that we had a rustic natural theme to the day, I didn’t want fussy centrepieces but instead opted for single roses to match my colour scheme and handfuls of gypsophila and a type of flower which looked a lot like daisies. I made the bouquets the night before and I wasn’t sure what they would turn out like but I loved them and knowing the saving I had made me love them all the more!!
Marks wedding gift to me was the horse and cart, as he knew I really wanted a hay cart and horse to be involved in the day and we just didn’t have the budget to cover it. Due to the original lady we hired being involved in a serious accident weeks before our wedding she put us in touch with a friend who kindly stepped in just the week before the wedding. It was one of my favourite aspects of the day for me so I can’t thank Emma from Surrey Hills Carriages enough.
This was a last minute decision, after going to a friend’s wedding and loving seeing a video from their special day. We are so glad we went ahead in the end as the video contains our vows, as well as the wedding singer’s version of the song “How Long Will I Love You” which I walked down the aisle to. I’ve watched it so many times already and recommend that if you can’t afford going for full day videography cover then consider a highlights video like we did as your wedding day goes so fast and feels very surreal and it’s so great to be able to see the action a second time.
Photography by Frances Sales
- Venue Hookhouse Farm
- Decor Hire My Rustic Wedding
- Wedding Planner Surrey Wedding Company
- Bride Oui Madam
- Celebrant Diane Tasker
- Food Catered by Justin
- Cake Ann’s Designer Cakes
- Bridesmaids Renz Rags
- Groom & Groomsmen River Island
- Flower Crown Summer Blossom
- Hair Lucy Pardoe
- Singer Rob Austen
- DJ Wayne Smooth
- Horse & Cart Surry Hills Carriage Company
- Videography Adorable Moments