Laura the Bride:
I hated every moment of wedding dress shopping!! My own fault really, as my first experience was at a big American bridal boutique in London, on a hot and sweaty summers day, where about ten other brides were trying on dresses and none of the dresses I thought I would like actually suited me. It traumatised me so much that I didn’t try another dress on for a good six months, and I only did so really for my mum. From then on I had it in my head that I didn’t want to try on another dress. After sifting through magazines and spending hours looking at all the real brides on RMW (!!), I knew in my head what I wanted. I just needed to find someone to make it for me, at a reasonable price (I hate spending money) and within six months, because I had left it that late. Fortunately, I came across Ceris Davies
who had made the wedding dress for a friend of a friend. And I could not have been happier. Ceris is super talented, and super chilled, which totally rubbed off on me. I described what I wanted it to look like; Ceris drew up some options; I chose the one I liked; then I chose the fabric and then she made it. It was as easy as that. Whilst I asked for a low v neckline, long sleeves and lace, the main brief was to create a dress that I could dance in. Considering I just about managed to do the worm on the dancefloor (some might argue it was more slug), I think she definitely fulfilled that brief.
As for the shoes, well I just couldn’t decide what I wanted. I probably bought about ten pairs and in the end I got it in my head on the morning of the wedding that I wanted to wear my friend Naomi’s gold sandals, which I had seen her wearing the night before. How weird is that??? I think (hope) that this was the only real bridezilla moment that I had.
Hair and Make-up
As someone who likes to save money (this may become a reoccurring theme) I was set on doing my own hair and make-up, as well as my bridesmaid’s hair. I’m pretty good at a plait and we weren’t getting married until 2pm, so I figured that I had plenty of time. Turns out that I was the only one who thought that, and both my bridesmaids and colleagues nearly staged a coup. Luckily I got the hint and decided, with three weeks to go, to try and find someone who was free. After finding her on RMW I didn’t quite believe it when I got a reply off Grace from Lips & Locks
to say, by some miracle, that she was free. Grace’s style is really consistent and exactly what I was after. I had so much faith in her that I didn’t even bother with a trial. Somehow I managed to surround myself with the worlds most chilled out people, and Grace was definitely one of them. She was a brilliant person to be around the morning of the wedding and got just got along with everyone fabulously.
The Grooms Fashion & Accessories
Probably the easiest customers ever, we got Alex and the usher’s suits from good old Marks and Spencer
. They were perfect and the boys looked dashing on the day. Ties from ASOS
, which we coordinated with the bridesmaid dresses, topped their looks off.
I knew from the start that I would get the bridesmaid dresses from ASOS
as they have such a fab collection. It’s usually hard to please everyone and it was so important to me that the girls all felt really comfortable which, unless they were just being nice to me, they did. We went to BHS
(RIP) for the flower girls and got two gorgeous lace polka dot dresses… for an absolute bargain might I add.
When we first started our venue search there was one thing I was sure of; I didn’t want a barn. This was mostly due to the fact that my brother got married in one, and even in our adult years we’re still pretty competitive. We were therefore chuffed when we found a lovely venue right on the seafront in Kent, and locked a date in for September 2017. Not a beam in site. A couple of weeks later however, we got cold feet and pulled out. I had a long list of things we wanted from our venue, but it occurred to us that on site accommodation was right at the top.
We came across the Great Tythe Barn
again after previously dismissing it… because it’s a barn. But we noticed that it had lots of accommodation in the form of a big house and lots of little cottages, all in a sort of semi-circle around the main barn. On paper it was beautiful, but in real life it was even better, and we fell in love with it the moment we drove up the drive.
Allocating the accommodation was an absolute nightmare and made the table plan look like a dream in comparison. I also decided to provide food hampers for all of the cottages, so that everyone was sorted in the mornings and had enough to munch on for a midnight snack. Thank god for lovely Lidl, or else the whole thing would have cost a fortune. The stress of it was well worth it. We arrived the night before the wedding and had a big BBQ for about 50 people, which gave everyone a great opportunity to get to know each other. And then in the early hours after the wedding, when the DJ insisted he couldn’t do anymore encores and had to go home, it was a huge relief for everyone to be able to roll straight into bed. Seeing everyone again the morning after, and prolonging the celebrations that little bit longer, was the icing on the cake.
Rebecca and the team at the barn were brilliant, and helped to make the whole experience stress free. It was also lovely to get a visit from Rebecca on the morning of the big day, and despite managing weddings ALL the time, she still had a tear in her eye. So sweet.
What a church!! It was massive. Almost cathedral like. And it made for a pretty awesome entrance, if I do say so myself. It was also a 10 min stroll from the venue, so we got to enjoy the walk back and didn’t bother with cars.
Flowers and Decoration
I’m a black, white and grey kind of girl, but for our wedding I just wanted to surround ourselves with colour. We first visited the venue in May and all of the flowers in the immaculate gardens had come into bloom, which was really inspiring. I love flowers. I really do. And I am so glad that I found Jodie
, who is based in nearby Malmesbury. After seeing some pics of her arrangements I knew instantly that she was ‘the one’. She’s such a talent, and as a one woman band I still don’t know how she did everything.
She also put up with all of my rather ‘opinionated’ opinions, without a hint of a moan. And when I asked her to make a feature of all four of the massive metal chandeliers at the barn, which had never been decorated before, she didn’t bat an eyelid.
The first time I got emotional on the big day was when Jodie brought me my bouquet. I still can’t stop looking at pictures of it. It’s truly the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen. The Coral Charm peonies and the David Austin roses were the real showstoppers, along with the gorgeous stocks which helped to provide the perfect shape. Each and every flower and piece of foliage were just spot on, even the carnations that I insisted on. They’re so underrated!!
I even had a go at making my own floral backdrop for the cake using artificial flowers from Amazon and IKEA, and gold thread and a glue gun from Hobby Craft. It took me a whole week to make, painstakingly gluing about 200 individual flowers onto the thread. Typically, I ended up with a massive glue gun burn on my ring hand, but I like to think that the end result was worth it… sort of.
For me and Alex, entertainment was one of the most important factors of the day. Drinks receptions can often end up becoming a stop gap before dinner, so we really wanted to make the most of it. A giant white bouncy castle (for the kids, honest), a massive sweet table, kid’s goody bags, lawn games and a ‘pimp your prosecco’ station did the trick, but the thing that really made the day was the band, Drum n Brass. These guys were unreal. When it started raining, they moved themselves into the barn without any fuss and carried on smashing out tunes like Crazy in Love, Seven Nation Army, Golddigger, Spice up your life etc. The ‘hubby’ (still need to get used to that) and I just love a bit of brass, and it turns out our guests did too as everyone really went for it, dancing around the tables. More than one of our guests commented that it was the first wedding they’d been to where the party got going before dinner, which was music to our ears. We’re desperately trying to think of a reason to book the boys again.
The fun didn’t stop there as we had planned a couple of surprises throughout the meal. The first was with the meal itself. After our sumptuous vine tomato tart tatin starter (my mouth still waters when I think about it), the caterers selected individuals from each table, whom we had previously nominated, to go back into the kitchen with them. They were given a personalised apron with ‘#ChiefCarver’ emblazoned on it and then handed the leg of lamb to take back to their table and carve up for their fellow guests, which was met with raucous cheers.
Just as tea and coffee was being announced after dinner, Alex and I took to the microphone and asked one (flexible) person from each table to crawl under the table and retrieve a little package that we had hidden. Inside was a selection of fancy dress items including things like hats, glasses, wands and blow up bananas, which our guests instantly put to good use and helped to continue the fun.
And what can I say about DJ Sam
? Such a hero. We chose him based on a review that said he liked to encourage dance offs. Well they didn’t lie, and the dance offs didn’t stop all night. I always tell people that Alex is a ‘dancer’ and he likes to quickly point out that he’s not professional. But he does have a tendency to take over the dance floor and attempt various breakdancing moves, so we wanted to encourage our guests to feel equally as free to throw some shapes, and they didn’t let us down. Alex once joked that Rappers Delight would be our first dance, and whilst Bob Marley’s ‘This is Love’ was the first song we danced to, I had organised for Sugarhill Gang to be the second, and actually, it probably ended becoming more like our ‘first dance’.
I can’t help but smile whilst thinking about the cake. For us, it was the least important part of the day. We didn’t even want an official cutting of the cake. I therefore thought it would be nice for me, my 91yr old Grandma and my mum to have a stab at making it ourselves. All went well, until the icing. I watched many a youtube video, but we were pretty clueless. My good friend Laura jumped in to help finish the icing, but even with four of us mucking in, there was no mistaking that it was ‘homemade’. I’d asked Jodie to just cover up the imperfect parts with flowers, so when I saw the final product, which was covered top to bottom in flowers, I figured she was trying to tell me something ☺
I looked at SO many photographer’s websites but nothing seemed to grab me. Then I came across Eve
, and I just knew. If I remember rightly, it was quite late in the day when I sent the first email and the date of our wedding was one of, if not the last date that Eve had available for the summer. Fate? Yeahhhhhhh.
Eve is so much more than a photographer. She’s also a seamstress apparently, and spent a good chunk of the morning sewing my dress to my bra, whilst I was in it. She is also a magician. We decided not to have a second shooter (did I mention that I like saving money!!), but with Eve there was no need. The woman was EVERYWHERE, capturing all of the happiness around us. I just don’t know how she did it. I like to think that Eve went above and beyond for me and Alex because she just REALLY liked us, but having read lots of feedback from her other brides and grooms it’s clear that that’s just the kind of person she is, and the kind of photographer that every couple getting married needs in their lives.
I think that small touches can sometimes make a big difference. We came across a Dr Seuss quote which we thought totally summed us up, so we turned it into a sign and popped it on an easel. It ended up being one of the most photographed things on the day. We also saved a fortune getting it printed, along with all of our other stationery, through printed.com, after designing everything ourselves.
My mum spent pretty much the whole year leading up to the wedding creating her own brand limoncello (9 litres of the stuff to be precise) for our favours, which we decanted into mini Kilner style bottles that I found in Tiger for 50p each – one of my biggest bargains. For a mere moment we thought that our guests might take them home and cherish them forever as a momento of our big day. Who were we kidding, of course they were going to be used for drinking games during the speeches!!
We were also incredibly lucky to have help from family friends with sourcing the wine for the wedding. It came from a lovely vineyard owned by the racing driver Jarno Trulli and was some of the best wine we’ve have ever tasted. They even put our names and the date of the wedding on the labels, which was so kind. Luckily we had some bottled left over, which we will treasure forever.