Helen The Bride:
My (Helen’s) Aunty Wendy is a costume designer and maker and she kindly offered to make my wedding dress. I’ve never been big fan of dresses, so I helped Wendy design a two-piece outfit I’d feel comfortable in. We had a couple of shopping trips in London and chose the blush coloured fabric from The Berwick Street Cloth Shop
. Every last detail, especially the piping on the sequin top, was made with love! My daytime wedding shoes were the Carvela Jamie Flat Slip On Sneakers
- a bargain at £30 from TKMaxx- it was love at first sight with that sparkle. In the evening, Tom surprised me with a pair of LED trainers for the dancefloor!
Tom wanted a tweed suit and found his navy blue Ted Baker suit at Bicester Village
near where his Best Man lives in Oxford – I (Helen) had nothing to do with it and didn’t see it until the day. Tom wore blue suede brogues from M&S
(ever the practical man!) The LED trainers in the evening were a bargain buy from eBay!
After meeting in Sheffield, buying our first house in Sheffield, and getting engaged in Sheffield, it made sense to get married here too because it means so much to us. We started looking at wedding venues and thinking about marquees and tipis, knowing we wanted something outdoorsy and natural. We saw some lovely places in Sheffield and the Peak District, but ended up falling in love with a tatty (but quirky) barn belonging to friends of ours, just outside Sheffield in Holmesfield. As soon as we saw the incredible view from the barn we knew straight away that was where we wanted to party! It wasn’t a wedding venue, but was perfect for what we wanted to do, it just took a little bit of imagination...! We started planning pretty much straight away after getting engaged and started cleaning up the barn in January – at times it was hard to imagine a beautiful summer’s wedding as we stood in the wind and rain sweeping the floor! Thankfully we were happy with its rough and ready charm and were relieved it didn’t rain on the day as we unsuccessfully tried to repair the holes in the roof!
This was a DIY wedding in every aspect. DIY wedding venue, DIY decor! We took to Pinterest for inspiration, had a vision and held on to it until it turned into a reality! We designed and made the invites ourselves, with help from Mum Carole and using a stamp we had made online. They were pretty simple, as we gave guests all the information about the wedding on a website we made on www.gettingmarried.co.uk
Everyone pitched in with our “Scrapheap Challenge meets Art Attack” party- we had our Mums Ali and Carole making bunting, spray painting jars with copper spray paint, collecting pine cones, growing flowers, and making hessian table runners. We had friends growing succulents, collecting jars, lending us bunting and festoon lights. We made our own signs, table name signs and blackboards by painting wooden boards with blackboard paint. We made the table plan with an old wooden pallet. Then in the final days we had all hands on deck sweeping floors, laying tables and dressing up the barn! The drapes were made from white scaffolding net, an idea my Dad had - it was so much cheaper than any other fabric! And Aunty Wendy’s creative flare did us proud again as she made the wedding archway. We hired the trestle tables from a company called ‘Wooden Bench Hire
’ and the mismatched vintage chairs were from Poppy Trading Company
. Our photo booth was a pimped up old car we found stored in the barn!
We grew lots of our own flowers. The day before the wedding, our friends and family helped with the flower arranging. We’d spray painted lots of jars and tin cans with ‘bright copper’ spray paint and bought some geometric copper candle holders from Aldi! The bouquets and button holes were from Petalis
in Sheffield - we wanted a freshly picked wild flower feel with pastel colours. Not knowing much about flowers, Catherine from Petalis was amazing - she knew exactly what we wanted, loved our laid back attitude and she even wrapped off-cuts from the wedding dress around the bouquets.
We had a fun and relaxed ceremony in the sunshine at the barn, overlooking the amazing view across the valley. Tom welcomed our guests and directed them straight to the bar whilst they waited for the festivities to begin. I (Helen) entered the field with Mum and Dad to the song “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King (Broadway version, not Disney!) and everyone had a sing-a-long with pints of beer in hand to Bill Withers "Lovely Day" and the Lighthouse Family "High". Friends Charlie and Sophie did a reading complete with mic-drop and Tom's sister Stephanie read a poem, adapted for us called "he never leaves the seat up". Tom did his speech during the ceremony which meant he could relax for the rest of day. He certainly set the tone for the day for requesting that everyone has as much fun as possible at our “crappy village fete meets Glastonbury” party!
After the ceremony, a friend of ours, Tom Spence played acoustic guitar in the afternoon - to give the day that festival feel. We had lots of lawn games to keep everyone entertained in the sunshine, including a game called “bags”, DIY Kerplunk, sack races, giant Jenga and Tug-of-War was a highlight of the day. Safe to say everyone got really stuck-in (literally)!
Our first dance was to ‘The Modern Love’ by Bloc Party, it took a while for us to choose it (we reconsidered Gangnam Style!), but we wanted something by a band we’d seen live and were so happy with our choice.
In the evening we had a band called Groove Anatomy
, a 6 piece band from Leeds who we found on Freak Music. We knew we wanted live music and we wanted a saxophone. They were absolutely amazing, playing a couple of sets and keeping the dancefloor filled all night long! They even arranged a surprise human-arch exit for us, even though we were very reluctant to leave the party.
Our entertainment didn’t stop there, as our best friends had converted their car into a “disco taxi” for our drive back to Sheffield...!
Three tier DIY wedding cake of course! The industrial-style cake stand also known as the Starship Enterprise was made by Dad Bill for my brother’s wedding three years earlier. We dusted it off for the three cakes - Chocolate guinness cake (Nigella recipe) made by sister-in-law Laurs and Katherine, victoria sponge made by cousin Lucy and fruit cake made by Tom’s mum Ali.
Our day caterer was PJ Taste
, a Sheffield based company who source their products locally. They embraced our idea of charcuterie sharing boards and feasting platters, continuing our DIY theme of build your own canapés! So. much. cheese. One of our first decisions during the planning was that we wanted honey-glazed roast ham, our favourite! And that’s exactly what we got, served with amazing salads, new potatoes, breads and condiments! The lighter option was much appreciated on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year.
Our amazing friend Ted Finley who owns The Itchy Pig Alehouse
in Broomhill, Sheffield organised the bar and bar staff. He was embracing the opportunity to expand his mobile bar business and used our day as his not-so-dry run! Safe to say we drank the bar dry and can’t thank him enough for keeping the beers flowing all day long! In the evening we had Proove Pizza
, again from Broomhill in Sheffield come along and make stone baked pizza to order – it was perfect!
We wanted a quirky, non traditional, fun photographer to complement our unconventional wedding! And boy did we get what we wanted!! Kate
was so fun to have around, she has a great way of blending in, she makes friends with everyone and her energy is unbelievable. We still can't figure out how she managed to capture EVERYTHING! We love every single photograph, especially all the face-plants during sack-races, the dancefloor grooves and our favourites are of the tug-of-war! So many people have said “everyone looks so happy” when looking at the photographs – so we really couldn’t ask for more!
Do what you really want, in the way you want to do it. DIY isn’t for everyone, but we love a challenge and were fortunate enough to have the time and support needed to make it happen with very little stress. Enjoy the preparations and cherish every moment because it goes so fast! Smile when things go right, smile when it goes wrong! Oh, and it’s a celebration of your relationship, so party hard! The only thing we are left wishing for is...to be guests at our own wedding!