The more weddings I see from The West Mill Derby, the more I fall in love with the place! The exposed brick, the Georgian paned windows and the gorgeous outside courtyard space make every single angle the perfect backdrop to your wedding photographs.
Today we’re sharing Sophie and Sam’s industrial but oh-so-stylish wedding day which is styled to perfection. There’s the perfect amount of sparkle from Sophie’s beaded Eliza Jane Howell gown and an extra addition of cute in the form of their little boy – anyone who is having lots of children at their wedding needs to read about the goodie bags they put together for the littles at this wedding, such lucky children.
The lovely images come from Han and Toby at Red On Blonde, whose weddings are always a pleasure to share…
Sophie The Bride: This was the part I was dreading. I am not a dress person in the slightest but I knew I wanted to wear one. I am a PE teacher by day and so it is safe to say Sam doesn’t often see me in the nicest of clothes, I wanted to seriously impress him! The dress I got married in was not the original dress I chose, leaving the dress purchase quite late meant I panicked and chose a dress that wasn’t right for me. Over the 4 months when it was being made I lost weight and my shape completely changed. When I tried on the dress again I just didn’t feel the same. When we first got engaged I lusted over the collections held by Fairytale Weddings in Towcester but for some reason never went. After a panic email I was down there and fell instantly in love with a beaded Eliza Jane Howell dress called Lauren. It was perfect and the seamstress worked a miracle to alter it in just 2 weeks by about 3 dress sizes. The girls at the shop were incredible and my panic quickly disappeared.
After getting over the dress drama, then came the shoes. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wore heels but for some reason I had in my head that I had to wear them. I spent hours agonising over the decision on the internet, adamant that I did not want bridal shoes. In the end my mum ordered some flat shoes from Charlotte Mills and they were perfect. So comfy and the six pence in the shoe was a gorgeous touch. They allowed me to feel ‘girly’ but let me party hard in the evening; the perfect combination. I decided to keep my accessories to a minimum and wore a statement headpiece designed by the fabulous Clemmie at Miss Clemmie’s Bridal Accessories. After meeting her she changed the design of one of her existing headpieces to fit perfectly into my hair plans. The only other jewellery I wore was a rose gold bracelet from Monica Vinader, bought for me by my hens.
The fabulous Janette at Hairplay created my hair up; she has been my hairdresser since I can remember. Make up was a much harder decision for me. I do not wear much in ‘real life’ and so I didn’t want to feel like a clown on the day. Thankfully I was recommended Jenni from Make Up by Jenni by our photographers. At the trial she was so welcoming and completely understood what I wanted. I felt truly beautiful on the day and my make up lasted perfectly. She was also on hand to help with zips, buttons and general mini dramas!
Sam was pretty good at running with all my crazy ideas during the planning process without question so I wanted him to have free reign on his outfit. Right from the start he said he wanted burnt orange details, which fitted my copper vision brilliantly. It was however a lot harder to find ties and pocket squares that didn’t look fluorescent orange! We bought the groomsmen their suits from Next as a way to say thank you. Sam’s suit was from the amazing Clements & Church. It needed to fit right and they altered it perfectly.
Neither myself or Sam are from the area we now live in so it meant we were able to find a venue we loved and did not feel tied to an area, all we knew was that it needed to be large! After viewing a few ‘conventional’ venues we stumbled across The West Mill in Derby. Raw brick walls, rusty ceilings and huge spaces; we were in love. It’s industrial nature fitted exactly with our theme and they were able to provide so many props such as crates and lanterns that made our job of transporting everything up the M1 much easier. The team was fantastic and the whole experience felt so personal, especially with the owners being so approachable and involved. Another draw for us was the fact that both inside and outside were incredible meaning it didn’t matter if the weather was bad, especially with our wedding being at the end of October in England! On the day Penny, our wedding planner worked tirelessly in the background making sure everything was perfect meaning we could just enjoy the day.
Not being one for convention I chose two materials instead of a colour for the scheme; copper and cement. As well as adding touches of autumn through pumpkins and pinecones, we also stayed true to our venue using light boxes and pin boards to create signage. Little details are important to me and in the countless blogs I read before our wedding day, they were what always stuck in my mind. We also made use of the huge space downstairs to create a children’s area full of toys, books and a tipi. We wanted parents to be comfortable and feel it was okay for their children to be children, the atmosphere they created was fantastic!
You know when you try to explain your vision through countless rambles and Pinterest images and you meet someone who just gets it. That’s Nadia. Her style is incredible and she just nailed every aspect from the gorgeous bouquets to the incredible ceremony backdrop. Originally we had planned to use cement breeze blocks filled with flowers for our centerpieces but they ended up being too heavy for the tables. After a panic look on the internet we found some plant pots at Ikea that looked like chimney pots. The trouble is it was the end of summer and stock was running low locally so our parents travelled the country to find the 15 pots needed. We definitely owed them a drink (or two) after that. Nadia added so many touches to the day that I had not even thought of, including spraying all of the tin cans I gave her copper and incorporating mini white pumpkins to sneak in my love for Halloween.
The Wedding Party
Bridesmaids – I knew from the start that I wanted to avoid the classic bridesmaid dress from a wedding boutique. I did look but I just never felt hooked in by them. After many hours searching on the Internet I fell in love with a dress by Aidan Mattox at John Lewis. The dresses ended up being a complete steal in the sale and looked absolutely stunning on the day.
Groomsmen – The groomsmen 3 piece suits were all bought from Next and gifted to the guys as a present. We chose matching accessories so that they all tied in together and Nadia created some beautiful button holes to complete the outfit.
Page boy – Our son Austin was the only young member of the wedding party. I tried to shop small where possible as I am a big supporter of working mums. His knitted trousers with braces were from Mabli Knits, a beautiful Welsh company specialising in childrens knitwear. His bow tie was handmade by Abigail at Rainer and Bear who I found through Instagram. She already stocked the perfect burnt orange coloured wool so it was meant to be. The outfit was made complete by the softest moccasin shoes from Wolfie and Willow, again found through Instagram. These shoes are my favourite as not only are they packed with the cutest details but over time they leave a little footprint on the sole.
On the day, the ceremony was just the right level for us. We are not formal people (fancy restaurants scare the life out of me) and we knew our son would never sit through a long service. In the end it lasted 15 minutes and it was full of giggles, especially when our son Austin danced down the aisle! Something I knew right from the start is that I wanted to walk down the aisle to a rock song; it is a special connection my Dad and I both share. We ended up choosing a Nickleback song; far from conventional but nothing else would have done. Our first reading read by the bride’s sister was an extract from Winnie the Pooh, one of our favourite books growing up. The second was a quote by Bob Marley called “He’s not perfect” and it was quite fitting that it was read by the groom’s sister. We are definitely not ones for mushy romance so these suited us perfectly.
Sam’s main job in the planning process was to find a band. The only instruction that was given was that Jimmy Eat World needed to be on the play list. After listening to countless 30 second clips and nearly giving up we found The Indie Killers through the Warble Entertainment website. Their playlist hooked us in straight away and the audio just confirmed everything. On the night they played for so much longer than they should have and their interaction with the wedding guests was just incredible. From playing guitars in the middle of the crowd to getting guests on stage; it really was a party to remember! They nailed every song they played, whilst taking requests through the night and stringing together songs in a way only they could.
We also hired a photobooth for the evening to add some entertainment for our guests and us. Oh Photobooth were perfect as an actual person and not a booth captured the photos so each one was incredible quality. Emma also offered to create a backdrop using our wedding colours if we didn’t fall for any of their existing ones, how personal is that!
Our caterers were organised through The West Mill, which made the whole process very straightforward. We attending a tasting day at our venue which was set up like a wedding and involved lots of couples who were getting married there, a great chance to share ideas. Jenkinsons did not offer set menus to chose from, instead you could mix and match any dishes to create the perfect menu for you. We chose goats cheese and fig parcels with sweet chilli dressing for starter. Main was slow roasted belly pork and pork fillet wrapped in Serrano ham with sweet potato and apple dauphinoise, braised red cabbage with a baby leek and pork jus – we just wanted to avoid chicken! Finally pudding was a white chocolate and Cointreau brioche with vanilla anglaise. The Cointreau was our little inside joke as it was the first shot we did together on a night out when we first met. We were very lucky to be at a no corkage venue which meant we could go to town with our drinks options. We managed to narrow it down to a mocktail station, pimp your prosecco bar and a metal crate packed full of beer.
The cake. Well, I mean just look at the pictures! It was a masterpiece both inside and out. Natalie at Yummy Little Cakes completely got our scheme straight away and as well as using some incredible decorating techniques, also created a beautiful cake, stand out of scaffolding boards and copper piping. The cake itself was packed full of so many flavour combinations but special mention should go to the top tier, coffee and whisky, which was saved for us as the ultimate hangover cure for the morning after!
Where do I start with these guys?! Seriously they were epic from booking (which included yummy biscuits) right through to receiving our beautifully crafted memory stick full of captures of emotion. Being very involved in the Instagram community through @austins.adventure I knew right from the start that photography was the most important decision, even more than the dress! Despite spending the last 18 months taking far too many pictures of our son I am definitely not one to be in front of the camera. Hannah and Toby’s documentary style suited us perfectly, minimum posing, maximum emotion. I wanted them to capture the moments we might miss and they did this and much more.
I wanted to make sure there were lots of personal touches scattered throughout our day. My biggest DIY project was the backdrop for our table plan which involved making THAT wax paper cone backdrop that is everywhere on the Pinterest wedding section. Thankfully I found round wax paper burger sheets from Lakeland that made the building of the garland a little less painful. Transporting it in one piece up the M1 was another matter however! The rest of the signage included a beer sign on a piece of wood I was given after boring an old man with my plans, a window pain rescued from a skip and given a lick of paint and a copper frame built by Sam holding a canvas welcome banner sewn and written by myself. On the tables Sam made all the candle holders out of cement and sprayed parts copper to add detail. These were super easy but really effective. The table plan itself was just a piece of gardening wire grid from a garden store sprayed copper and then the table lists were clipped on with copper bulldog clips. Nadia also added a flower arrangement to tie the whole thing in.
I really recommend printing off the table lists separately rather than on one big sheet as I guarantee you will have some last minute changes. Our card holder was made from an Ikea indoor greenhouse which we sprayed black and decorated with copper lights and chalkboard paint. Throughout all the details I tried to keep the fonts the same to make sure it all connected to each other. Sam’s sister and her boyfriend also made some personalised guess who games to add to our games corner to keep guests amused during the canapés and evening reception. Our photographers captured some fantastic game faces during these competitive matches! Our wedding favours were created by us as a reminder of our engagement in Barbados. We had personalised labels printed (designed by us) and stuck them on little bottles of Mount Gay rum and attached these to a glass bottle of coke. I also hand drew all the tags which doubled up as place cards to try and keep costs down. The favours went down brilliantly and were used as a forfeit to losing the speeches sweepstake. A final detail which was important to me as a parent was the children’s favours. I handed my mum 11 (yes 11!) personalised drawstring bags with a lists of the ages of the children and she did a wonderful job of filling them with all sorts of toys, food and activities to help little ones stay amused during the meal. We also decided to try and keep costs down by designing our own stationery. I took a lot of inspiration from RMW and tried to keep it simple.
It is your day so let yourself be you. If you want to walk down the aisle to a rock song, do it! If you don’t want to wear heels, don’t! Make a list right at the start of what is really important so when you feel like you are going off track then you can refer back to it. Ours was a relaxed atmosphere, keeping people fed and watered, with kick ass music. You need to feel comfortable as a couple so let your personalities shine and your happiness will prevail above all politics along the way.
Photography by Red On Blonde
- Bride Eliza Jane Howell
- Boutique Fairy Tale Weddings
- Bracelet Monica Vinader
- Shoes Charlotte Mills
- Headpiece Miss Clemmie
- Make Up Make Up by Jenni
- Florist Nadia Tullio
- Venue The West Mill
- Cakes Yummy Little Cakes
- Catering Jenkinsons Caterers
- Bridesmaids John Lewis
- Groom Clements & Church
- Groomsmen Next
- Guest Book Cartalia
- Band The Indie Killers
- Photobooth Oh! Photobooth