Welcome back for part 2 of this University Wedding where the Bride Laura and her Groom Tim met. They had a ton of DIY details and Laura has heaps of budget savvy advice on ways to decorate your day so make sure you have a good read of the gems hidden away in her text.
Without further ado, lets enjoy the pretty!
Country Garden Blooms
Jenny at Jenniflower in Exeter was extraordinarily passionate about bringing my ideas to life and her shop reflected the style of our wedding perfectly. She kept my bouquet strikingly simple with Sweet Avalanche, Faith and Amnesia roses, in beautiful dusky shades for a vintage look, while the bridesmaids’ blooms contained more foliage and bit more variety.
We wanted to keep the simplicity of the chapel so we just put two large arrangements at the front that looked a bit wild and natural, with September Flower (multiple daisies on one stem) Larkspur, Delphiniums and Antirrhinams.
We continued the country garden feel through to the reception, with tins of varying sizes on each table and a selection of scented Stocks, flowering Dille & Mint, Astilbe, Antirrnhiams, and Lisianthus.
Tea Cup Pretty
I really liked the idea of the guests each having a vintage teacup, but with 114 sit-down guests, this proved too pricey. To get a similar effect, I rummaged through charity shops and managed to find about 30 beautiful teacups, popped a candle in each one and dotted a few on every table. It gave it a tea-party feel, but without the expense, and was a bit more original too! (Tim will kill me if I take credit for this though… it was completely his idea!) Towards the end of the meal, guests were taking the marshmallows from the jars and toasting them over the teacup candles!
We visited a few photographers before making our decision. One offered us a free engagement shoot to reel us in, but when we saw the finished photos they were so cheesy and posed that we really cringed!
Andrew Hawker is based in the south-west and was recommended to us by Tim’s sister-in-law who works in a wedding dress shop in Cornwall. We actually had his brother Steven and assistant Naomi because he wasn’t available on our wedding day, but they were incredibly talented. The style was much more relaxed and journalistic – they were fantastic at catching the little moments and weren’t remotely intrusive during the proceedings.
The package also included a CD – much more valuable to us than a photo album. We didn’t have a limitless budget for photography, but we knew how important good photos were, so we opted to pay for our chosen photographer until the end of the speeches.
This way we got some fantastic photos for the most part of the day, rather than some reasonable ones throughout the whole wedding. We still have some very amusing amateur ones from the evening party as well!
Marks and Spencer comes good…
We went for a delicious sponge and white chocolate Marks and Spencer creation, because they have such good value cakes, but added a bit of personality with a wooden-top cake-topper, lovingly created my Tim’s sister-in-law Sara. She even managed to make a mini replica of my dress, tiara and Tim’s suit!
Sara was also responsible for creating beautiful illustrations on our Orders of Service, and drew a gorgeous map of campus for us to send out with our invites. Her husband Nigel – Tim’s brother – works as a printer and produced all our orders of service and Invitations, sending me countless drafts when I kept making revisions to the designs.
They proved quite a valuable pair!
I certainly recommend making use of the skills of talented students! Even if you’re not getting married at a college or university, there may be ones locally that have talented musicians or artists who would love to build up their CV or portfolio. We asked the university choir to sing a version of Take That’s Rule the World while we signed our registers, and it was a great way to make the day unique without breaking the bank. They also sang the hymns throughout the service (thankfully masking our voices a little bit!). We got ten choristers for the bargain price of £200 – a professional group would have cost us far more.
We both adore old-school jazz music, but we wanted something that would really get our guests up and dancing in the evening. The Cadence were very reasonably priced but did a fantastic selection of crowd-pleasing rock ‘n’ roll, pop and Motown favorites. They even brought along tambourines and maracas so the kids could get in on the act! We still liked the idea of a jazz element to the day though, so we hired a jazz saxophonist and pianist to entertain guests during the drinks reception and meal. The duo created a wonderful atmosphere, but were a lot more cost-effective than hiring a full band.
The Sweetest Favours
I asked a few of my friends to keep aside all their old jam jars in the lead up to the wedding, placed a thank-you label on each one, filled them with retro sweets and covered each with a bit of floral fabric and some raffia.
Since the guests were staying in the halls of residence, I also painted some little wooden hearts, added fabric scraps and a little message, and placed them on every guest’s door with a little bag of humbugs, to get them nice and excited on their arrival! I painted some more wooden hearts and hung them on the trees from the halls to the chapel, so guests knew which way to go on the morning.
We had 12 children at our wedding, so I collected vintage looking toys (dominoes, teddy bears, etc), to keep them amused at the table. A lot of people thought we were bonkers to invite so many children, but they had a fabulous time climbing trees on campus and looking cute for photographs.
Luckily the weather was great on the day so they were able to run around outside, but we’d also set aside a room in Reed Hall with space and games to keep them entertained if needed.
I bought scrap fabric and collected fabric samples, which became the inspiration for a completely mismatched theme. I roughly cut a bit of fabric and placed it on each place card, and used a different piece of fabric for each table on the table plan.
I also bought a variety of mismatched vintage-esque frames from TK Maxx, Argos and Oxfam, and used these for the table names (which were all named after halls/ pubs/ student bars we’d frequented in Exeter!)
Tim proposed over dinner in the Ritz the day before Christmas Eve in 2008. Afterwards we celebrated by dancing the night away to the jazz band, and one of the songs they played was Cole Porter’s Night and Day. The lyrics are just beautiful, so we asked our band if they could learn it for our first dance. They really did it justice!
Advice from a Bride
Don’t be motivated by the need to impress others… Some people might have big, flashy extravaganzas, but if it’s not you, then don’t do it. If YOU love your day, then it will be obvious, and your guests will have a brilliant time too.
If you can find a lovely venue where the accommodation, service and reception are all within walking distance of each other, then don’t hesitate to book. Our guests could forget about cars and arranging transport, and completely relax for the weekend. Gathering everyone together for a little pre-wedding party on the Friday night was a great ice-breaker and helped ensure that Tim and I managed to speak to absolutely everyone.
Only do it if you enjoy it… your wedding day really shouldn’t be a chore, so give yourself plenty of time, set aside a few evenings and get cutting and sticking over a bottle of vino. And remember that it’s only one day… if you’re going to spend lots of money on something, think about whether you’ll be able to use those things again. Now I’ve got all my teacups and cakestands, I’m really enjoying throwing tea parties for family, and the mismatched frames on every table make fabulous gifts if I stick a wedding photo inside! I’ve also used my left-over fabric to make a very fetching patchwork cushion!
Flowers – Jenny at Jenniflower
Reed Hall (Venue) – Exeter University
Photography – Andrew Hawker
Entertainment – The Cadence
Stationery – Brides Sister and Brother-in-Law.
It’s just all so sweet and pretty isn’t it? such a radiant bride, Laura looks absolutely gorgeous. There’s just something about the pictures too that convey a really heartfelt, homespun relaxed vibe.
And if marriage is like a skateboard… these two look like they’re going to get the hang of it really really quickly 🙂