Our StoryI kind of knew the proposal was coming as we had spoken about getting married a lot at the time. We spent the day in Bristol zoo near where we lived, unfortunately it was half term so every time I thought Ollie might get down on one knee, a gang of kids came racing round the corner. We walked up to see the view of suspension bridge after and sitting in the evening sun he asked me with the most beautiful art deco diamond ring. This is when the fun began. We are very lucky to be surrounded by some incredibly creative folk, who we really could not have done the wedding without them. I love weddings, I photograph them for a living so have been to my fair share. I can’t say it made the planning much easier but at least I knew where to start, which was getting my photography and video sorted!
The PhotographyI knew of Elly’s work through other people I had studied with or worked with in the past, but we’d never actually met. When we did meet, it felt like I’d know her for years! Her work is just so beautiful and she is an amazing soul. We have gone on to be great friends. Our wedding photos are just incredible and she has then gone on to shoot lots of our other friends weddings!
The VideographySo many people say they wish they had a wedding video done, so there was never any question. As I work with the most amazing film-maker, Jody Coffey, I knew I needed her to have something to do with the video. We have always discussed what a shame it is we never get to just go enjoy a wedding anymore so I knew I wanted her there as a guest, not working. We have done it in the past with our partnership, Jo & Jody, when she hasn’t been available to video a wedding, to send along a camera op and then she edits the footage. The lovely Angela Zoe Neil stepped in to video and what Jody did in the edit still moves me to tears. I’ve watched it hundreds of time and it is just the most important thing to me now.
The BrideMy spectacular mother made my amazing wedding dress. She has always been an incredible seamstress, and I knew she would understand what I wanted. My friend Lucy Heather is also a fashion stylist, and she helped enormously with the designs. I love 1970s fashion but also the amazing details of Edwardian / Victorian lace wedding dresses. And this is exactly what she made me! We bought a cheap long sleeved wedding dress off ASOS and basically took it to pieces and rebuilt it with silk, tulle and lace from various Goldhawk Road fabric shops. I also was very honoured to wear the veil that has been in Ollie’s family for years. His grandma and his mum wore it, it is over 100 years old!
The GroomOllie is very specific with suits at the best of times so this was going to be an important one! He is a DJ and at all the mod and soul night he plays at, everyone is always dressed to the nines, so he knew exactly the style and details he wanted. The only part I played was that I wanted him in dark green, which luckily when down fine.
The VenueWe spent ages looking for a venue. The only thing we knew was we wanted it to be in Yorkshire. I’m from Sheffield and we met in Leeds, and lots of friends and family were coming from Ollie’s hometown of Leicester so it just made the most sense. We wanted somewhere that was a bit of a blank canvas but that was old and industrial. We also really wanted to source all our own catering, run our own bar, etc. We found Standedge Tunnel and Visitors Centre (which didn’t sound the most romantic as the full title!) and just loved the space. We were already planning to do the legal bit the week before, so our lovely Grandmothers could attend, so it didn’t matter it wasn’t registered. As it is the old building for the canal, you can actually get a boat to the venue! We had booked amazing accommodation in Marsden at Crow Hill, so we all got ready there and then did a canal boat shuttle to get people there.
The DécorI had lots of ideas about décor, lighting and flowers. I collected all cut glass wine, champagne glasses and vases together from charity shops and car boots. I also had a really strong idea of how I wanted the cake table to look. My sister makes wedding cakes part time, and they are without a doubt the best cakes you’ll ever eat. We had the designs done before most people even knew we were getting married! I love dutch masters style, 17th century paintings so wanted to create this with massive dried flower toppers, rich materials and colourful fruit. The venue felt quite bare lighting wise, so I found Typical Type who do amazing lights. I love their Edison bulb boards and they were so nice to work with. I had so many ideas but really need help putting it all together. This is where Lucy Coyne came in. She is a family friend I’ve known for years, she is an amazing artist in Sheffield who works with lots of different mediums. One of the many amazing things she does is design and makes jewellery, so I asked her to make my wedding ring, which was really meaningful. She was an absolute godsend, in the lead up to the wedding and on the actual day in terms of all things décor and styling. She will be working under the company name Bowerbird so keep your eyes out for her!
I had decided quite early on to dry all the flowers for the wedding. Insane? Maybe. But it was incredible. My parents were saints, letting me take over their whole house basically with flowers hanging from everywhere! We were also really lucky to be given lots of florists off casts. My parents made friends with the amazing Swallows and Damsons, who were so generous every week giving us anything they were throwing away. We then had a session in Lucy’s studio space where we laid everything out, it was totally overwhelming all the amazing and weird flowers we had managed to source and some of the colours they still were. Lucy walked me round and made me pick out all of my favourites, and magically turned it into an incredible bouquet. I still have it now and it still looks beautiful. We also made all the cake toppers, centrepieces and bridesmaids' hair accessories and bouquets too.
The Wedding Party
I knew I wanted all the bridesmaids in green. They are all totally different girls so we decided to go with different dresses off the high street. It was so fun just shopping and them meeting up for a massive trying on day! On the day it was so special all having our make up done by my dear friend Lisa-Maria Thomas. As I’m in the industry, I know a fair few make up artists and there was no one I’d rather have there on the day than LMT, assisted by the also wonderful Jess Mills.
Even though we had done the legal bit the week before we wanted to have a ceremony and exchange rings in front of everyone. We asked one of Ollie’s old school friends to perform the ceremony. He is not only one of our best friends, he is also a philosophy graduate and wrote the most beautiful, meaningful and moving piece. We had it as a circle ceremony as we really loved the idea everyone around us being part of our marriage. My mum did a reading and we had handed out confetti to be thrown on the kiss. It was just be best moment surrounded by multi-coloured confetti as our brass band started playing! After the ceremony we had an A-Team of friends, led by both the amazing Lucy's, who turned the room round so we could have the dinner and party in there. It was incredible how quick they managed to make the space look totally different and just breath taking.
We spent ages finding our band. We knew exactly what we wanted and found the best band ever when we found Twisted Tubes. They played us out of our ceremony to the drinks reception and then in the evening everyone was dancing so hard the floor was bouncing. They are such an incredible brass band based in Manchester, we recommend going and seeing them play live anytime! Ollie has also always been in bands, and my cousin Phoebe Katis is a singer songwriter so I thought it would be a shame to not do a little open mic session. I had asked Ollie to play at some point in the day, as he is an amazing musician. He took a lot of convincing but said to leave it to him. This was my favourite moment of the day, maybe even of my life! He had put together a band some of our best friends, to play Call Me Al (a song that is the soundtrack to our favourite holiday), and I had no idea. They had never practiced together but all learnt their parts separately and it was just unbelievable I burst into tears.
We met the chef, Jan Cron (Tailored Chefs), when planning for my mum’s 60th, who came to the house and prepared us all a meal. We got on with him so well that we booked him for our wedding! We wanted sharing platters, sort of greek mezzes and tapas, and they seriously delivered. We also luckily got into Standedge at the perfect time as they had just bought a bar but were happy for us to run it ourselves. We had some of our lovely family friends running it and had an honest box with a ‘fill your boots’ policy of stick in a tenner and drink as much as you like!
I loved wedding planning, although it was stressful! We had so many spreadsheets and lists which really helped. We did a lot of it ourselves (by ourselves I’m including all our friends and family!) but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. It makes it so much more special when you know all the detail and effort that’s gone into everything. I already thought this before, being a photographer and all, but in light of a recent family tragedy, photography and video really are the MOST important things when planning your day. The people you choose to have around you in your life and on your wedding day are the best bit, so make sure you’ve got a record of them.