This morning’s beautiful bride Rachel and her husband Adam said that they ‘wanted the flowers to be natural looking and as colourful as possible’ but it strikes me as I look at all the delicious images that this description could be applied to the whole of their rustic inspired big day.
There is simply oodles of inspiration in today’s nuptials and all planned within their budget of 12K. Yes folks you don’t need to spend a King’s Ransom to have the day of your dreams; Rachel and Adam’s wedding day is proof of this. I adore Rachel’s ‘sherbety’ maids complete with their heart-shaped sunnies. The plethora of DIY is pretty darn good too – there’s signage and bunting and bikes and drifts of wildflowers that make my heart leap. Plus I love the fact that Rachel used our handpicked directory – The List – as a bit of a planning bible too.
All in all there’s just so much to love and pin and smile at…come and take a look.
The Bride’s Fashion
Rachel The Bride: I’m the most indecisive person EVER. I knew I didn’t want a meringue. I didn’t want to look like a toilet roll holder. I knew I wanted something slim fitting and elegant. I knew I wanted a ‘statement’ detailed back, no lace, no veil – something a bit different (whatever ‘different’ actually means). You’d think this strict list would make it easy, but no. I went to 12 bridal shops in total, in both London and Shropshire and I must have tried on over 100 dresses. As the search went on, a particular dress kept popping up in my head – ‘Indienne’ by Cymbeline. I’d tried it on months earlier at Mirror Mirror in London, and I knew I needed to go see it again so I went back there with my sister and something just clicked, I shed a happy tear and knew it was the dress for me. Hurrah! It was elegant and slim fitting with just a hint of lace, simple but intricate. It was the kind of dress you have to diet for and can’t wear spanx with…luckily I’m a girl who likes a challenge!
The Groom’s Fashion
Adam and I met each other when we were both working on a TV show, so we’re lucky to have a close friend Lynda (our ‘TV mum’) who’s a fashion stylist. Neither of us knew much about mens’ suits so we asked if she’d come shopping with us. Our only brief was for Adam to look dapper and ‘a bit Mumford and Sons’. Lynda knew our budget and took us straight to Austin Reed; she immediately picked out a lovely tailored navy soft tweed suit and some smart brown brogues, and Adam loved them. Such a painless and speedy experience, it put me to shame!
I grew up in Shropshire and we decided to get married there – living in London, we both wanted to escape the city for a rural country wedding. Our small budget quickly ruled out lots of venues. Neither of us fancied a church wedding and I dreamt of getting married outdoors with a marquee reception and guests camping in bell tents. We realised that a humanist ceremony would suit us best and give us the flexibility to get married wherever we liked…so we hit google and the search was on.
Mum and I looked at EVERYTHING.
From campsites to pubs, farms to village halls, we were texting each other links in the middle of the night and racking our brains for unique but affordable venues. After a small and stressful drama with a place I’d fallen in love with that fell through, Mum came across Wistanstow Village Hall. It was a pretty black and white building in a quaint little village, complete with a small field that we could use for the outdoor ceremony, and a blank canvas with complete flexibility to do whatever we wanted. And being a village hall, it was a total bargain. We thought we’d make a long weekend of the wedding (why the hell not?!) so we hired a fantastic farmhouse nearby which slept over 30 people. We crammed our friends in and it became the ‘party house’ – we were all in the hot tub on the wedding night and had a hog roast there the day after.
We chose a laid back country vintage theme, which suited the venue and allowed me to run riot with crafting and making. It was a great way to save money but more importantly for us, it made the wedding feel really personal.
My indecisive mind ruled that I couldn’t possibly pick one colour and stick to it. That was just too hard, and too risky. So we decided to have a rainbow palette – mainly pastels but with some pops of bright colour. We stumbled across a local company, Festoon – run by a lovely and creative lady called Ruth. We hired lots of items from her including fairy lights, table linen, vintage suitcases, old books, vases and trinkets. She taught us how to make tissue paper pom poms (not as easy as it looks!) and I bought lots of coloured paper lanterns from ebay. We strung fairy lights down the length of the hall, hung the pom poms and lanterns from the beams and it really transformed the space.
I designed our ‘save the date’ cards and wedding invitations, drawing pictures by hand and printing and sewing them together (a painfully fiddly but ultimately rewarding job). For the wedding favours and doubling up as table place names, my little sis and I filled paper bags with retro/heart shaped sweets and attached a homemade name badge to each one (made from patterned paper, rubber stamps and a kiddies badge making kit).
The badges went down a treat and some of our guests were still wearing them the next day! My parents collected loads of scrap wood and Adam, my sister and I spent a weekend in the garden getting creative with power tools – hammering, sawing and hand painting signs to dot around the venue. I made the table plan with Polaroid photos of all our guests pegged on to string, and made paper flags to attach to straws. We bought selfie sticks to pass around throughout the day (share the stick and send us your pics), and I hired fabulous giant light up letters from Doris Loves which we put on the stage – they made a great centre piece.
Outside in the field we set up rows of hay bales for the guests to sit on during the ceremony, and attached bunting to garden canes to frame the seating area. We took a risk and didn’t organise any shelter…not even a little gazebo. Everyone thought I was mad, but I put my faith in the great British summertime and got lucky! I punched out hundreds of pastel paper hearts, attached them to wooden kebab sticks and we dotted them around the grass.
Instead of confetti, we bought bubbles for our guests to blow as we walked back down the aisle. The day before the wedding was a huge joint effort from family and friends – it took almost 12 hours to set up and decorate the venue with people high up ladders, lifting and carrying, flower arranging, pom pom fluffing and last minute crafting. We really couldn’t have done it without them (and we were all fuelled by my Mum’s homemade fruit and lemon cake).
We wanted the flowers to be natural looking and as colourful as possible. My Mum’s good friend Gill is a keen gardener and had just set up a business, Gillyflower – and she kindly offered to take on the challenge. Ruth at Festoon also turns her hand to floristry so she helped too. The brief was pretty simple – ‘colourful, wild, natural – as if you’ve just picked them from the countryside’. My Dad even got involved and grew a load of wild flowers on his allotment!
Gillyflower filled the venue with flowers – inside and outside the hall, in the field, everywhere was spilling over with colour and greenery. She made a beautiful display around old ladders and an old bike at the entrance, and a pretty arch for the ceremony. Ruth at Festoon used foraged and seasonal flowers to make my bouquet and the posies, buttonholes and corsages for the bridal party. My bouquet was sooooo pretty, I loved it so much that I carried it around all day and refused to throw it for the single girls to catch.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I had four bridesmaids – my two sisters and my two best friends. We didn’t have a lot to spend so we searched long and hard, scouring the high street and online shops. We came across a brand called Jarlo who have an array of lovely dresses so I ordered a few different styles for the girls to try on, and amazingly they all shared the same favourite – the Florence. It only came in lilac and pink, but Jarlo gave the option to order custom colours so we ordered one in blue and one in mint green. The girls looked so pretty and everyone commented on how lovely they looked. One guest described them as ‘sherberty woodland nymphs’ – they totally were!
Because we had a humanist wedding, we did the ‘legal bit’ a few days earlier in the local registry office with just our immediate family there. It was actually a lovely way of doing things, and I cried so much during the legal ceremony that it was all out of my system so on the wedding day I was just giddy with excitement (and didn’t ruin my make up!). On the big day, the ceremony was perfect. I walked down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Sun’, and after the ceremony we walked out to ‘Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours’. We had a wonderful wedding celebrant who met up with us months earlier, and wrote a lovely service which generated lots of laughs, smiles and a few tears.
Our Mums did the readings – ‘Love is a Temporary Madness’ from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and ‘A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton’. Instead of a hymn, we all sang ‘All You Need is Love’ and my sister accompanied on the violin. Adam and I wrote our own vows which was important to us. It sounds cheesy but being outside in a field, in the fresh air, close to nature with all our friends and family around us made it so perfect.
A friend recommended a singer and guitarist that she’d met travelling – Tom Lukas. I listened to his version of ‘No Diggity’ on YouTube and knew we had to have him at the wedding! We booked Tom to play during the reception drinks and he was fantastic, playing a huge mixture of covers ranging from hip hop to Ed Sheeran. We both wanted a DJ for the evening but didn’t know anyone in the area, and were worried about ending up with a cheesy ‘Phoenix Nights’ kind of DJ. I looked on the RMW List and found Wedding Jam, so I phoned and had a long chat with Paul who runs the business.
He immediately put me at ease, was on the same wavelength as us and said he’d come from Liverpool to DJ himself. It was only later we realised that Adam and Paul went to college together and he knew lots of our guests! On the day, Paul was brilliant. He played an incredible mix of songs and the dancefloor was always busy – we’ll never forget the moment he had our elderly relatives dancing their socks off to Rage Against the Machine!! We bought some fun props for the disco, like glow sticks and inflatable guitars – everyone let their hair down and danced so hard that that we were seriously aching the next day – always a good sign of a fun night!
For our reception drinks we had a keg of local ale from the brewery 5 minutes down the road, the Shropshire Lass – it seemed appropriate! And we had jugs of Pimms and gin and tonic, bottled lager and booze-free homemade elderflower cordial. We wanted an informal meal and liked the idea of sharing platters and tapas. We found a lovely caterer who was totally flexible and helped us to plan a menu to suit us – for starters, tapas boards were passed around each table with chorizo, olives, manchego cheese, bread, oil and dips.
And for the main course they brought out huge platters of peri peri chicken, grilled steak, halloumi and salads. It was really yummy and a really fun and informal meal. We love ice cream and I found a local company that make their own creations with flavours ranging from salted caramel to gin and elderflower. They had a really cute yellow ice cream caravan which parked up in time for dessert, and all the guests spilled outside to tuck in.
We both knew how important it was to find the right photographer. During my extensive venue hunt I came across Andy Li and was immediately drawn to his photos and particular style. Andy and his wife Leanne work as a team and we met up with them quite early on and really got to know each other. Andy came to London for our pre-wedding shoot and took some fantastic urban photos of us on the Southbank.
They both came to the registry office on the legal day and took some lovely close family pictures. On the wedding day itself, both Andy and Leanne fitted in perfectly – they were fun, made everyone feel at ease and they dashed around capturing every moment as it happened but without causing any fuss. They were with us from early morning until the party ended – in fact Andy said we broke the record for the longest he’d ever spent at a wedding! We also hired a really fun vintage style photobooth for the evening and got some hilarious photos.
Initially we decided against having a videographer mainly due to budget constraints. But when I started looking into it, the more and more I wanted one – and I managed to convince Adam that it was essential! I spoke to our photographer Andy Li and he said he was planning on expanding into videography as well as photography, and that his wife Leanne could do a video for us. It was ideal, and on the day nobody even had any idea they were being filmed. When Andy emailed us the ‘taster’ video it was so lovely – I burst into tears and every time we watch it we smile.
Hopefully our wedding shows that with a bit of creativity you can have still have a fabulous wedding on a smaller budget. My advice to future brides would be enjoy the wedding preparation as much as you can – you’ll look back and miss it! If you have lots of DIY elements like I did, it’s very easy to get caught up with Pinterest and create an impossible amount of work for yourself.
Try to scale it back a bit, prioritise and just do the things that are most important to you – you have to draw the line somewhere. At the end of the day, it’s a big party with all the most important people in your life, so you’ll have fun whatever happens. Planning our wedding was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’m hoping to start my own party hire and craft business….so watch this space!
Photography by Andy Li Photography
- Bridal Gown Indienne by Cymbeline
- Bridal Boutique Mirror Mirror
- Maids Jarlo
- Light Up Letters Doris Loves
- Photo Booth Vintage Booth
- Groom Austin Reed
- Caterer Pedros
- Ice-Cream The Shropshire Ice-Cream Company
- DJ Wedding Jam
- Guitarist Tom Lukas
- Florist – Decor Gillyflower
- Florist – Bouquet and Buttonholes Festoon