The best thing about this gorgeous weather is that anyone having a marquee wedding can breathe easy. And Clare and Richard put so much effort into their marquee wedding that they absolutely deserved the sun to shine down on them. The flowers, décor, favours and hair and make-up were all created by family and friends.
It just goes to show what you can achieve if you put a bit of time and effort in to doing something, and that a wedding doesn’t have to cost an absolute fortune! With the sun shining and your best friends and family around you, it’s easy to remember that the best things in life are free…cheesy but true.
It’s almost like Joseph Hall has captured that message in the images – the light is beautiful and the whole thing just looks so dreamy and ethereal.
Enjoy the sun dappled gorgeousness lovely readers!
Escape To The Country
Clare the Bride: We really wanted somewhere outside with lots of green. We both enjoy escaping to the countryside and wanted a relaxed country feel. We ended up having the reception at Sandridgebury Farm in St. Albans. The site is for a marquee, which enabled us to design our reception from scratch. Dorothy and Rodger at the venue were very helpful with lots of contacts. The horses in the field next to the marquee were an added bonus!
In order to keep costs down my sister Ruth did my make up (and ended up getting roped into doing the entire bridal party!). We went for a brilliant make up lesson at Mac on 3, in Selfridges. This cost £50 for an hour’s tuition and you then got to that money back if you bought £50 worth of products. Predictably, I ended up spending more than £50 but it was well worth it to give my sister the confidence boost she needed. Ruth’s make up, plus some eyelash extensions for the day made me feel very glamorous on the day. I knew I wanted my hair up with some plaits. I was delighted with the end result.
Heart Set On Packham
I really wanted a simple dress – I’m quite tall so wanted something slightly Grecian feeling and floaty, rather than big and puffy. I was convinced I was going to get something second-hand from sellmyweddingdress.com but made the mistake of trying on Violet by Jenny Packham. Despite not being a sparkly girl, I liked the fact that it was a very simply dress, with just a touch of razzmatazz! The headpiece (also Jenny Packham) made me feel very Downton Abbey!
Once I’d found the dress, I was checking sellmyweddingdress.com every day but to no avail. Eventually I found a lovely boutique, The Bridal Gallery, that was doing a Jenny Packham designer day with 10% off and that was worth the journey to Northamptonshire!
Accessories were something I left quite last minute. Every time I tried the dress on, I tried the Jenny Packham headpiece too, so getting it was inevitable really! I also knew I wanted a long veil to add a bit of glamour to the simplicity of my dress. The church where we got married is gorgeous and very ornate, so simplicity was key for me.
My sisters and I all got given a pearl necklace from our parents following their trip to Vietnam. My best friend Grainne ended up borrowing my set so that was the bridesmaids sorted. The night before the wedding, I didn’t have any jewellery – I felt the detail on the dress and headpiece was enough. My lovely Dad however had other ideas and presented me with a lovely set of pearly earrings to wear down the aisle.
Green And Purple
We got the bridesmaids dresses from Phase Eight. My sisters and best friend Grainne are actually a scarily similar shape so there were no dramas about finding different styles for each of them. I knew I wanted a shade of green or purple but had no fixed idea and asked them to keep their eyes out for anything they liked on the high street.
We hired suits for the men, choosing not to match the Bridesmaids in terms of colour but instead compliment it with a sage green. Rich was keen to wear tails as he wears a regular suit to work every day.
Our theme was ‘homespun’ with huge input from friends and family. Once we had chosen the Bridesmaids dresses, we knew we wanted purple and I also wanted lots of green to show of the lovely outdoor setting. Pinterest was great at gathering ideas and we had some serious pom-pom making, bunting sewing, paper dove cutting and jam jar painting workshops as a result!
I was particularly proud of the photo bunting my mum put together, including photos of both mine and Rich’s parents on their wedding days. It was a great point of interest for guests as the majority of them featured on it somewhere.
Front Room Turned Florists
My wonderful Mum did all of the flowers. My parents’ front room looked like a florist in the days leading up to the wedding. We went to a flower market on the Wednesday morning and bought what we fancied the look of. We ended up with a beautiful combination of roses and anenomies, as well as sprigs of rosemary to add scent. In preparation, Mum went on a bridal floristry course at the Academy of Flowers in Covent Garden. Although quite pricey, I think she saw it as an investment, as I am one of 3 daughters!
A Talented Bunch
The ceremony was amazing and we tried to get lots of friends and family involved. My aunt did the reading a biblical love poem, Song of Solomon: chapter 8, v 6-7. We found the website yourchurchwedding.org very helpful when trying to pick one. We also had friends read the bidding prayers and Sonnet 116. Despite its popularity, I love this poem and its sentiment.
My friend Rosie made the ceremony particularly special by singing as we signed the register. Her husband Paul, played the organ for the whole thing too, making it feel very personal. We are lucky to have such talented friends!
Up-Beat And Fun
The reception was awesome. We had an amazing band called Motown Gold, who in-between sets provided a disco. The dance floor was packed all night long and people had to be dragged off at the end of the night. We are not a very soppy couple so the idea of a slow, smoochy love song was too much for us. Instead we opted for upbeat and fun for our first dance, with Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson as our choice of song.
Good, Fresh Food
Food was always going to be a very important part of our big day. We both love good, fresh food so were keen that nothing felt remotely ‘mass catered’. After a disastrous few tastings (who knew you could get a jacket potato wrong?!) we came across Dan at Kingfisher Caterers. Everyone we have spoken to since the wedding has commented on how delicious it was and their team were really professional on the day.
We got our own event manager who looked after the timings etc so we didn’t have to worry about anything at all. They were also very happy to serve canapés (made by my friend Sarah) and our own desserts (made my lovely sister Martha, my Mum and Rich’s Mum). As well as this, they set out our evening buffet (lots and lots of cheese) and ran the cash bar.
I made the favours myself – two chutneys and one jam with different coloured fabrics covering the jam jar lids. I loved the hand stamped luggage labels that we tied on each one with the guests names on. We used these to label the array of puddings too and I think they helped create a lovely ‘homespun’ feel to the marquee.
Post Cards And Luggage Labels
As keen travellers, we knew that the tables would be themed by countries and we were lucky enough to have a friend who is a designer kindly offer to make these for us. James put together some amazing table signs incorporating photos of us on our travels, as well as the table plan itself. Each table list looked like a luggage label. Sadly James and his wife Erica (one of my best friends from school) were not able to come over from New Zealand for the wedding itself, so these acted as a lovely reminder of them during the day.
I enjoy making and crafting so knew that I would be making the save the dates, invitations and orders of service myself. After an initial trip to Hobbycraft, I got my ideas finalised, before then ordering the card I needed online – this was much cheaper than buying the whole lot in Hobbycraft.
Instead of a guestbook we decided to have a postcard washing line. Guests had to pick a postcard and write their messages to us on the back, before pegging them to the line. There are some hilarious ones as the night progresses, as people have drunk more and more homemade sloe gin!
Use Their Skills
My main piece of advice would be to take advantage of the skills and talents of friends and family. People genuinely seemed to relish being a part of the build-up and being able to offer help towards the big day and it was lovely to look around and see the fruit of everyone’s labour on the day itself.
I would also highly recommend doing certain things yourself. We saved an absolute packet doing things like the stationery ourselves and it made it feel very personal and special on the day. It was also another excuse to spend quality time with my bridesmaids in the months before the wedding!
Dress – Jenny Packham at The Bridal Gallery Finedon
Bridesmaids – Phase Eight
Table Names – James Harvison
Band – Motown Gold
Catering – Kingfisher Caterers
Venue – Sandridgebury Farm
Photography – Joseph Hall
It just goes to show that you should spend whatever YOU want on your wedding, if you want to go DIY crazy, do it!
The post card pegging idea is great and I always love the idea of using photos of your parents wedding days.
Also, on the sunshine theme – doesn’t that lemon tart look like the sun? So deliciously yellow and bright.
Lots of love,