Kate the Bride:
We were recommended Eliza from Eliza Claire Photography
by a team-mate from my hockey team who is also a wedding photographer. Eliza's style perfectly matched the look and feel we were going for, we wanted to avoid stuffy cheesy group shots and wanted to have much more relaxed shots of people having great fun, as well as someone who could capture the details we had put so much effort into creating for our guests. Eliza and her husband Rich (our second shooter) were absolutely fantastic, their ease with each other totally relaxed us when we went off, it was like they were guests and friends we had known for years. Rich even got involved with the cricket game that was going on! It was also a real compliment that they both wanted to stay long past the time they were meant to leave to stay and party on with us!
We chose not to have a videographer but had seen a friend use a really cool free app called Video Star to create mini-videos of the guests singing along to a song so we copied this idea and got one of our snap happy bridesmaids to go round all of the guests and create this fab video! It was lovely to see all of our guests young and old singing along to 1 Direction's Steal my girl! This plus the amazing slideshow Eliza created for us really brought the day to life and I still look back at it six months on and it brings a tear to my eye about how amazing the day was!
I was really lucky with my dress as we only went to two shops on one day. The second shop we went to was a local tiny boutique called Chobham Bride
that was opposite the church where we were getting married. I had been past this shop since I was a little girl and had always wanted to go in and try on their dresses! Louise who owns the shop was incredible she was so knowledgeable and truly gave us the personal experience, explaining which dresses suit which body types. I leafed through a look book and just chatted away pointing at styles I liked the look of and bits I didn't. Louise pulled out a few dresses and the second dress I tried on was the one! I chose a Pronovias White One Neive
. I wanted a dress that flattered my thin waist but hide my thunder thighs, one that was comfy and easy to walk around in as I was going to be climbing around in a field at home! We then altered the top to remove the lace so that I could wear a three quarter sleeve bolero giving me two dress styles in one, one for daytime and a strapless dress for the evening dancing! I also chose a gorgeous single tiered full veil with swarovski crystals all over it which glinted amazingly in the sunlight streaming through the church.
During the daytime I wore a simple heart tiffany bracelet which Andrew had bought me a few years ago on a trip to America. My parents then bought me some gorgeous aquamarine and silver tiffany earrings to match my blue eyes and the bracelet. My wedding and engagement rings were from GoldCraft in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham (we live in Birmingham and I work in the Jewellery Quarter!) In the evening I was looking for a beautiful statement necklace to showcase the strapless version of my dress I opted for a fabulously sparkly necklace from J.Crew
Not content with one pair of shoes I ended up having three! The first pair were a gorgeous pair of strappy and sparkly rose gold heels from Miss KG (however not the most practical for walking round fields but gorgeous all the same). My second pair of shoes gave me a little more support and were a bit more practical and were rose gold sparkles all over open toed heels from Dune
. The final pair were the obligatory flat gold sandals from Miss KG ready for the dancing!
As we were getting married within seven months of being engaged we didn't have a lot of time to save so needed to be as savvy as we could in saving money. One of my bridesmaids family friends was a keen amateur florist and was interested in helping us out, she had only really had experience of decorating a casket for a funeral before... but it was beautifully done! Marion was truly incredible! On the Thursday before the wedding we visited the New Covent Garden Flower Market
where I simply walked around and chose flowers I liked the look of and we bought tons and stuffed them all into two cars! Marion then spent two solid days pulling together fantastic bouquets and bunches of flowers to decorate our venue. Marion was helped by one of my long standing family friends who is a landscape gardener (who has won a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show!) Shelley built incredible natural bunches of flowers and foliage to decorate the pig sheds and the bar, as well as decorating a vintage bicycle. Mum had also spent months growing flowers around the gardens of the house and an incredible display using logs was made in front of the house (where our group photos were taken). The attention to detail was phenomenal.
Ever since I was a little girl I had always wanted a party at home (I grew up in an old redbrick farmhouse with a few fields and a paddock) but was never allowed one as our home was my Dad's pride and joy that he had worked incredibly hard to build and sustain. However we couldn't have imagined anywhere else to get married and he agreed and couldn't have been prouder to let us get married at home. Dad was always building new wood sheds to house animals, logs and cars began to build a new big shed at home which soon became fondly known as the 'wedding barn'. Our guests parked in the field next to our house, Dad and I had put in a kissing gate between the field and our drive which meant they all had to walkthrough it and give each other a kiss (it was something I remember doing with my mum and dad as a child!) Our drinks reception was held out the front of the house on the drive with games going on in the front garden (we're both pretty sporty so cricket and croquet were on the agenda!) when it was time for dinner our guests walked past the log sheds (where some of our photos were taken) through to the paddock where our utterly brilliant ushers (Richard, Michael) and a bridesmaids boyfriend (another Rich) had built tables and chairs out of logs and gathered lots of my parents garden furniture to create the perfect outdoor chill area. We had a medium sized marquee for our sit down meal. When I was a child I had always wanted a tree house (we didn't have a shortage of trees) however Dad had said he had planted the tree and was waiting for it to grow... Instead he built us the most fantastic outdoor bar! Beats a treehouse hands down! Mum and him still use the bar every week and it's staying in place until my 30th next Summer!!! I couldn't have ever imagined getting married anywhere else I've lived in that house since the day I came home from the hospital, I've gone through kiddie joy of playing with the animals, making up fairy stories, playing games in the tall grass, throwing teenage tantrums at not being able to walk home from school and escaping the stresses and strains of life by taking a walk down the field and sitting in my favourite spot on a railway sleeper over the stream.
We wanted a wedding that made everyone feel at home, relaxed and not stuffy or pretentious. Our styling was in keeping with the house... a little bit rustic but beautiful. We went for english wild flowers, with a traditional english country garden style - croquet, cricket, lace and hessian bunting, table runners, a wheelbarrow full of beer! We were even able to use an old dilapidated MG car as our Photo Booth!
Trying to save money we opted to make our cake ourselves, or rather we asked Andrew's nan to make them for us! Nan baked the base layer as a traditional fruit cake then the top two layers were vanilla sponge (as I'm fussy and don't like fruit cake!) Two of our bridesmaids Kim and Georgia then very kindly iced the cake with vanilla frosting the night before the wedding - I owe them a big drink!
Both Andrew and I are huge foodies and this was one of the most important parts of our day. We had been planning the 'fake hypothetical' wedding for years before he actually asked! We had the menu down to a tee but this meant we needed a caterer who would let us carry out the dream and Elizabeth from Home Cooking by Elizabeth
was the one! We wanted a bespoke menu with each course reflecting us, plus we wanted to use meat from my parents farm! Our canapés were american style with mini hot dogs, mac n cheese fried bites and mini burger crudités as Andrew had spent a year living in America. Our starter was served on the tables in picnic hampers with our favourite picnic food - chicken liver pate, pork pie, sausage rolls, salad and a lovely artisan loaf of bread, plus my Mum's piccalilli! The main was a roast leg of lamb (from our farm), hidden underneath one of the chairs on each table was a chefs hat and apron (decorated with our wedding logo!) the guests were then asked to carve and serve their own meat. We loved the idea of people being chilled out and interacting with each other. This all worked brilliantly except for my husband thinking it was hilarious to give one of my friends who's a surgeon the job of butcher... forgetting she didn't eat lamb! Our desserts were a traditional afternoon tea with mini patisseries served on vintage plates and a good cup of tea! We later served cheese and biscuits and had a fantastic hog roast in the evening (using a pig from our farm!)
Our bridesmaids dresses were from Ghost
, floor length in a pale green colour, we then matched the foliage and flowers to the dresses. And without meaning to they also matched the colour of one of our wedding cars!
The groomsmen and groom wore grey tails from Slaters
with a pale green tie to match. Andrew had also arranged as their presents cufflinks in the style of our wedding logo.
As an account manager for a marketing agency I'm all about attention to detail and the wedding was the perfect chance to develop our 'brand'! I work closely with a wonderful designer called Ash from Bawk Design who created a fantastic look and feel for our wedding stationery. My husbands nickname is Goose, and so Ash created a logo of two geese :) he then created an illustration of my parents house (after checking it out on google maps) and this formed the style for our wedding. The logo went on everything, our wedding favours were mason jars for our guests to use throughout the day, the cufflinks, the labels on the homemade piccalilli and homemade jams) and the aprons! We then had our stationery printed by a supplier from work who gave us an incredible deal! Definitely a perk of my job!
My mother is a piano teacher so the music was incredibly important. She arranged for a family friend to play the organ in the church, during the signing of the register we had a young talented singer called Izzy sing a few songs that were special to us Thousand Years by Christina Perry, Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton and Clair de Lune. My husband loves music as well and chose a fantastic band called The Friction
from Bands for hire they were amazing at bringing everyone together including Andrew's nan rocking out some moves with all of our guests! It was lovely to see everyone having so much fun and dancing in the wedding barn!
We were really fortunate that my Dad used to be a classic car salesman so cars have always played a big role in my life since I was a little girl. Dad drove me to the church in his shiny red E-Type Jaguar. Then I left the church in a different car... I remember him restoring this car from a rust bucket into to a gorgeous mint green MGA. I remember helping him to winch in the engine (with help!) when I was five years old. I love it so much that Dad even got me a mug and coaster with a picture of the car on. All I dreamt of was Andrew driving me away from the church in this car! Dad being a bit reluctant to insure Andrew on the car finally agreed! And I was thrilled for us to leave the church in the car driving down the high st that I had watched many other brides stop traffic on!
Hair and Makeup
I had my hair and make up done by a lovely girl called Olivia Mills
. She brought along a second make up artist called Purdey. Both girls were brilliant, professional and basically like having two extra bridesmaids to chat and gossip with!
Choose what's most important to you and that's where to put budget/effort into and don't compromise if you can! Ours was... 1. the guest list 2. The food 3. A free bar (we went to Majestic in Calais and saved over £1500! They even paid for our channel crossing!)
Don't be afraid to ask for help - Having a mainly DIY wedding can be exhausting and we couldn't have done it without the help of our friends and family.
Don't be scared to barter for a bargain but remember you get what you pay for (cheap price normally means cheap quality) - We didn't have a huge budget so needed to save money where we could. We tried to encourage suppliers to want to be a part of our day as a unique experience.
Make time for you and your loved one (leading up to it and on the day) - This advice came from lots of couples! We went out on the 'last single date' together three days for the wedding it gave us plenty of time to reflect on how amazing the journey had been so far, then on the day Eliza and Rich took us away to have photos (whilst guests were travelling from the church) the perfect amount of time to chill out just us the two of us (whilst Rich and Eliza snuck into the distance snapping away without us noticing!) Andrew also made sure to grab me and sit us down to watch our guests enjoying the day.
The night before keep it relaxing! We stupidly invited all the wedding party (bridesmaids, ushers, other halves, parents, grandparents) round for dinner at my parents house the night before. Everyone was way too tired and a little nervous/excited for the next day. Keep it small and keep it low-key - you want to be rested and relaxed for the big day!
Getting ready - Ladies, try to avoid having where you are getting ready in a main throughfare/busy place in the house. I kept on getting asked questions by suppliers about where to put the ice and being asked by my dad to sweep the driveway in my rollers! Choose somewhere tucked away if you can so you chill out whilst you're having your hair and make up done.
Enjoy every minute!