Didn’t get tickets to Glastonbury? Don’t fret! This bold, boho wedding will knock your socks off. All the ingredients for a fabulous festival wedding are included, from bell tents and tree-hung hammocks, to fire pits and wildflower meadows, to an array of musical and creative entertainment – as well as a traditional church wedding ceremony – we really wish we’d scored an invitation to this sunny Somerset celebration. With colourful bunting wedding decor and bright, locally-grown flowers keeping the feel-good feeling high, we truly are finishing the week off on a stunning note with this one.
Alex and Mat managed to pull off their wedding with a modest £5000 budget. And what an AWESOME job they did too. Sometimes stripped back, unfussy weddings are the best.
I know we say it all the time, but really – it is just about the LOVE. And this wedding has that by the bucket load.
The 50s style Bridesmaid’s dresses were all made by Alex – they look so fun and colourful in the sunshine and look gorgeous on each and everyone of her six Maids. Alex also designed her own dress and then accessorised it perfectly with a gold Matthew Williamson belt and studded shoes.
All of the food was made by friends and family and the décor was either collected or hand made in the run up to the wedding.
I particularly love the quirky sketches of people’s faces as place names too, such a unique idea and all hand drawn by Mat. Oh yes, AND the flowers were grown in their allotment.
What a ridiculous talented and thrifty pair. They definitely achieved their aim of creating the greatest party on the smallest budget.
Big Wedding On A Budget
Alex The Bride: A small wedding was never an option for us (large families and great friends) but a small budget was always a reality so we had to get creative. As we started to plan we listed what we knew we wanted on our day; good food, too much booze and good music all for under five thousand pounds. We were incredibly fortunate that our friends and family were really keen to muck in.
One of the best man offered a field with sweeping views of East Sussex to hold our reception in – it’s free, it’s stunning and it’s a no brainer. We found a local venue that did a discounted rate for a weekday wedding and the date was set.
Vintage plates were collected from charity shops and boot fairs. The bridesmaids were happy to wear dresses made by a first time dress maker – the bride! The flowers were grown in the allotment. The canapés and menu were made up of dishes cooked by friends and family. The party was held under a circus style tent hired for a nominal fee from a family friend. We had the best day of our lives even if we had twice the budget we would not have changed a thing – it was perfect and personal.
Un-Pretentious But Stunning
Our ceremony was at Wadhurst Castle, East Sussex. To be honest we found the reception venue first and worked backwards from there. This place was un-pretentious but stunning. It had glorious gardens and the option to get married outside if the weather was nice. The reception was held in a friend’s field a few miles away. It was idyllic, unique and set the theme for our whole day.
Just The Best Me Possible
I did my own makeup – I knew I wanted to look like I do most days (liquid eyeliner flick) but the best possible version of. I went to local MAC counter and asked their advice. They gave me a makeup lesson and taught me a few tricks that meant that I could take my everyday look to the next level for the day. My hairdresser at The Chapel, Tunbridge Wells, did my hair. I knew I wanted it up, nothing fancy, again just the best version of my everyday look – the top knot.
Bespoke Evening Gown
I trundled round a number of bridal boutiques with enthusiastic bridesmaids and encouraging mother but I didn’t find a single dress I liked. Instead I tried on evening dresses and noted down what shapes suited me best and what I liked. From there I sketched a dress and took it to a local dressmaker Angela Webber she turned my ideas into a reality and knew exactly what she was doing – she was fantastic.
Spikey Shoes And A Spangley Belt
I wanted to accessorize, to put my stamp on the white dress. Cue gold Matthew Williamson bangle belt. I scoured eBay for months until one popped up and I got it for the 10th of the price. I found a fantastic pair of kick-ass spiky shoes from the internet too as soon as I tried them on with the dress I felt like me, something I didn’t when I tried on all previous dresses. The spiked earrings were from ASOS.
Vintage Vogue Design
We were greedy we had six bridesmaids and two best men. We didn’t have a theme really, we just wanted bright colours, nothing too matchy-matchy. I found a vintage Vogue pattern in a classic 50s shape, the sort of dress that flatters all shapes.
I found some fantastically bright cotton from a local shop, to give them a modern twist I put different coloured clashing zips down the back. I loved sewing the dresses, it was something I hadn’t done before and the girls were really up for it – no matter how rubbish they turned out – true friends. The girls provided their own shoes and accessories. The best men chose their own outfits.
Beg, Borrow, Steal
We wanted bright colours. We took the colours of the bridesmaids dresses as the guide. We used material scraps from the dresses to make bunting. We bought paper pompoms off eBay to hang from the tent. As soon as we were engaged to set our friends and family a little task – find vintage dinner plates for less than a pound. It got competitive between, who could find the best looking plate for the least amount.
Within a matter of months we had amassed the 112 dinner plates we needed. We bought 50m of very cheap material to use as table clothes in bright blue. A friend spotted a shop taking down their window display and picked it up for a small donation to charity- hundreds of paper birds – which we used to decorate the exterior of the toilets.
We bought hay bails from a local farm and built sofas, covering them in throws bought from Ikea. A friend recently got married so we inherited 100 jam jars to use as tea light holders. We sourced vintage glass bottles from car boot sales for the table flowers.
Home Grown Blooms
We tried to grow most of our flowers on our allotment. We successfully grew enough for the brides bouquet and the button holes. We supplemented the bridesmaid bouquets with Dahlias bought from a local flower stall. In the vintage glass bottles on the tables we had Sweet Peas. They smelt wonderful and added a slightly lighter touch to the rest of the bold decoration.
Relaxed And Fun
The bride walked up the isle to Johnny Cash, Walk the Line, played on the mandalin and guitar. We had two readings chosen by our friends. We walked out to Eye of the Tiger. It added a real sense of humour, which was perfect for our relaxed day.
Out Danced The Generator
The musicians (our friends) came to the field to play for a few hour whilst people ate canapés and drank champagne. Our first dance was to You’ve Got The Love by Florence and Machine. In the evening our friend DJ’d. He started with a Northern Soul vibe so that everyone could join in. As the night went on he moved onto some good old pop. Everyone was up and dancing until the generator ran out of fuel.
We didn’t have any favours, instead we sketched every guests face onto recycled card to act as place names. It’s the same thing we did with our own faces for our wedding invites. Our menu was as a result of our incredibly generous friends and family. People offered to cook, we provided the food and they provided the time. We had homemade pork pies, aubergine cheesecake, french bean salad, butternut squash salad, oat biscuits, cheese straws, couscous salad, mackerel pate, chutney, pickled onions, lemon drizzle cake and greek baklava.
The only pre-made food we had to buy in was bread and locally sourced cheese. The menu told everyone who made what and provided a great way of people to find out who was who. The picnic boxes were served one between six in old wooden wine crates that we collected from wine merchants around the country through the year – another mission!
Our late night disco snack were venison sausages. The deer was a wedding gift from the family (that had been grazing the field we had our reception in!) who leant us the field and we had them made up into sausages by a local butcher.
We kept drinks simple, presecco, white and red wine, ale and lager. We hired glasses from Sainsbury’s – they are free!
Find Your Face
We only had three very long tables. We had a seating plan but people were asked to ‘find their face’ to work out where they were sitting. Watching people searching for their sketch was lovely to watch – seeing people recognise the characters and then finally find their own and laugh was one of our favourite moments of the wedding.
Enjoy Every Minute
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – those who love you are just excited about the wedding as you are and will love to be involved in any way they can. The days leading up to the wedding we spent in the field, cutting the grass, raking the hay, building the marquee and decorating. Being involved in every part meant we enjoyed every minute of putting it together – seeing our hard work turn into our wedding.
We had bought a cheap marquee to house the dance floor, the morning of the wedding the tent had blown off the frame, we hung fairy lights from the frame and people danced under the stars.
Very Kind People
Our wedding was the best day of our lives and it was down to the kindness of people lending their skills and time. Andrew Marshall kindly offered to take our photographs – he fitted in and he was everywhere. All the photos we love of us we don’t remember him taking. He captured the day, he added to it rather than distracting people.
Angela Webber the dress-maker should get a special mention for understanding the mad ramblings of a woman who cannot draw and creating the dress she wanted.
The guests at this wedding must have felt like the rest of the world had disappeared…it’s like time actually stopped and nothing else existed – except for this magical gathering in the forest.
The photography by Marshal Gray is breathtakingly beautiful. Love and happiness radiate from each image. It just shows that after all the options and decisions – the most important thing is celebrating your love with family and friends.
Prepare to be transported to an enchanted land!
The Great Outdoors
Sarah The Bride: fforest farm in Ceredigion, South Wales was the perfect location for us. We began our venue search with a blank canvas, and just knew that we wanted to find somewhere unique, that reflected our personalities. We found the great outdoors with enchanting beauty, and a quirky, vintage yet rustic feel, also fairly unique in what it had to offer.
Favours From Friends
My make-up for myself and my two maids of honour was done by my wonderful and all round talented friend, Emily Howells, who is beautiful and has a passion for elegant beauty.
My hair was also done by my lovely friend Nicola McRory, secondary science teacher by trade, however also very clever with sculpting hair do’s. She also did the hair for my two maids of honour.
The bridal dress was called Eden by Jenny Packham, chosen before I knew I was pregnant and fortunately for me the design of the dress really complemented a bump. I chose it because of its pure vintage elegance, to me it was simply stunning, and stood out from the hundreds of dresses I had tried.
It was purchased at Eternity Bride in Warrington, they were wonderfully friendly and helpful, with an amazing seamstress for dress alterations (even for an unexpected baby bump!)
The Groom wore a Harris Tweed jacket which he bought for £35 from a vintage store in Liverpool called Pop Boutique.
My shoes were from Benjamin Adams and I wore a headband from Glitzy secrets. The pearl bracelet I wore I made from my Granny’s broken pearl necklace. The earrings I wore were my ‘something borrowed’ – from my maid of honour Fiona Thompson (they were her grandmothers).
My maids of honour Alana Gaffney and Fiona Thompson, wore cream lace dresses from Debenhams. They also wore beautiful pearl drop ear rings by Pandora, which was there thank you gift.
My two flower girls, (my 2 year old daughter and 3 year old niece) were dressed in ivory Monsoon dresses. They wore a diamanté headband from Monsoon, similar to the vintage style headband I wore, and beaded shoes from John Lewis.
The Best Men, brother to the Groom, Tom Shooter and best friend John Yates, wore tweed jackets from Moss outlet store in Cheshire oaks. The groomsmen all wore navy trousers from Burtons.
It All Just Fell Into Place
We didn’t really have a colour scheme but we did want vintage, so I guess that was our theme…country vintage; with a fusion of rustic and elegance. I don’t think there was an original idea or theme agenda, it just all fell into place as we found what we loved! Also the venue offered just this, adding bits of our personality with things like the floral bunting and music themed table plan.
Wild Spring Flowers
The flowers, wow, I was so impressed, they were blooming stunning!!! Again, a close friend did these, Gemma Bithell, an exceptionally talented florist. I wanted ‘spring season’ and ‘wild theme’, and I got that and so much more. As I said to her I couldn’t have imagined better!
The ceremony was a humanist ceremony as we are not religious. It was conducted by my Uncle Rod. We did the legal bit just before the ceremony, keeping it short and sweet.
The procession was to ‘Home Again’ by Carole King. The groom had arranged for some of our amazingly talented friends to play this! It was a wonderful surprise for me. The song means a lot as it was the first song we ever danced to together.
We had a poem and two readings. The poem was beautifully written and read by my uncle Rod. We did not choose the readings as we wanted our friends to choose. The first reading by a close friend, Angela Griffin, was ‘Union’ by Robert Flugham, this is beautifully sincere and genuine. The second reading was by a close friend Craig Wakerley from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.’
We had The Riviera from Manchester as our band, our guests were very impressed. They played django Reinhardt gypsy jazz style covers of contemporary songs! We thought they were very quirky and unique.
Our first dance was to Dark Side from the album ‘Scissors in my Pocket’ by Polly Paulusma.
Complements to the Chef
The food was catered by fforest, with an Afternoon Tea for the more formal bit…speeches and toasts etc, followed by an informal evening hog roast. The food was stunning!!! We had complements from all our guests.
The cake was designed and made by another extremely talented family friend, Fiona Durling, the design was based on my dress. The design was a wonderful surprise for us; it perfectly complemented the day, the theme, and the dress. It was so stunning and elegant!
Designed By Us
Our save the date cards and invitations were all designed and hand made by us with recycled materials. We wanted them to reflect the outdoor, rustic theme, and our personalities.
The table plan was mainly designed by the groom after we spent hours trawling through record collections.
We had a DIY photo-booth with a digital camera, but we also had a vintage polaroid camera set up for use so that we could have instant keepsakes that couldn’t be deleted!
Whatever you are doing today and however you are feeling, I promise that this wedding will make you smile.
There are sunflowers for a start – possibly the happiest flowers of all time. And the biggest, most fluffiest rabbit that I have EVER seen. And lots of lovely yellow things – yellow socks, yellow ties, yellow wellington boots and a yellow VW Camper van.
Ali and Ian held their joy-filled ceremony and reception at Ian’s parents’ house. The effort that they all put in is phenomenal. Ali created her own jewellery bouquet from vintage brooches collected by her and her family. They also made the bunting, the too-cute yellow gingham stationery and the rustic signage.
The Father of the Groom spent months preparing the lawn (This must be a Dad thing – I know mine would be envious of those perfect green stripes) and Ian the Groom rigged up generators, power cables, microphones and speakers.
But the hard work was definitely worth it – this wedding looks like it was an absolute blast.
Personal & Warm
Ali the Bride: We got married in September 2012, in Ian’s parents’ garden in Nottinghamshire. We had a humanist wedding, as we wanted the freedom to have the ceremony where we wanted, with words that meant something to us. This was a great decision, as Ingrid, our celebrant, did a fantastic job, creating a service that was so personal and warm. It also meant we got to have two weddings, as we did the ‘legal bit’ a few weeks before at the local registry office, which was a great excuse for a slap-up meal, plus a second wedding dress!
Polka Dot Tulle
I always knew I wanted a shorter-length dress, so that narrowed my search quite quickly as they are relatively thin on the ground. I did try on a whole range with my mum and aunt, just to be sure, but they agreed with me that the 1950s-style dresses worked the best.
The assistants kept trying to put me in lace, and, much as I like it on other brides, it’s not me at all – I wanted clean, simple lines. I never thought I’d find a dress that met my ever-growing criteria (not strapless, no lace, with polka dot tulle…), and was about to settle on a perfectly nice dress, when one day I was working over near Manchester and finished early.
A few weeks earlier I’d found a place near Liverpool, that was the only UK stockist of Fancy New York dresses, but it’s so far from my house, I couldn’t justify a special trip. But when I found myself nearby, with a spare couple of hours, I thought it was worth a try. I rang Emma at Look Darling and she agreed to see me straight away. I dashed over, tried on the Madeleine dress – and that was it. It was just what I wanted. Emma was so helpful, and arranged for me to get polka dot tulle, that featured on another dress, added to the Madeleine. To top it off, it was less expensive than others I’d been looking at. So well worth the drive!
I got my petticoat made by David at Petticoat Perfection, who was absolutely lovely, and spent a great deal of time on the phone to me working out what I needed. I never realised there was such a science to petticoats – layers, tiers, weight of fabric, binding…but it arrived a week later and suited the dress perfectly.
The dress alterations were done by my friend Zoey at the brilliant Iris Bartholomew Couture. She is very used to dealing with stressed out brides, and did a fantastic job of calming me down at my final fitting two days before the wedding, as well as making my dress fit perfectly.
She also made my veil, from an extra piece of polka dot tulle I’d bought with the dress. Originally I’d wanted a proper birdcage, but they are normally made from very loose weave net – with my fabric, I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing. So she created something close to that, which allowed me to not trip over! She also made me an ivory 1960s-style shift dress for our civil wedding a few weeks before.
Although normally I’m a fan of big dangly earrings, I decided with the veil there was enough going on, and went for simple pearl earrings, my ‘something borrowed’ from my mum.
As soon as I saw a brooch bouquet, I knew that was what I wanted. I know 99% of brides won’t agree with me, but I’m really not that fussed about flowers, whereas I LOVE jewellery, so holding a bouquet of sparkly jewels really appealed to me! I started collecting brooches from charity shops, with a vague idea I’d make the bouquet up nearer the time.
Once friends and family found out I was collecting, they gave me pieces too, which was lovely. Even my dad got into it, and found me some costume jewellery that had belonged to his aunt, so it felt like every piece had a real story. In the end my mum and I made the bouquet 3 days before the wedding. She came to the rescue with a flower holder and lots of wire, and we spent the evening weaving it all together. I actually had tiny scratches all over my hands on the wedding day!
Whilst browsing for brooches, I came across a lovely 1950s set of white jewellery – a big brooch and matching clip-on earrings. I wore the brooch on my dress, and the earrings as shoe clips.
Shoes For Something Blue
I really struggled to find the right shoes. I wasn’t sure on the style, but definitely wanted them to be blue. I always thought I’d treat myself to some Manolos or Louboutins for my wedding, but as we were having it on a field, I knew I’d ruin them within 10 minutes, and really couldn’t justify it. In the end, I found two pairs and couldn’t choose between them, so I wore them both!
For the ceremony I wore pale blue suede shoes from Faith, with the earrings as shoe clips. In the evening I changed into some bright blue shoes from Rachel Simpson. They were in the sale for £25, which for her beautiful shoes is an absolute bargain.
A Neater Version
I went to Mac with my sister for a make-up lesson and treated myself to a load of new products, so on the day I did it myself, with Kate reminding me what we’d been taught.
I wanted my hair like a neater version of its usual wavy self, probably a nightmare brief for a hairdresser. But Tim from Catherine Carter did a great job. He had me in rollers overnight, which caused much amusement when we all went to my local pub the night before the wedding. It worked though, and on the day itself, the big 50s waves stayed in all evening.
My bridesmaid Andrea lent me her lovely sparkly pearl hairband she’d worn at her wedding, which I wore after I’d taken the veil off.
As I said, I’m not that into flowers generally, but I do love sunflowers for their yellow, cheery disposition. Luckily they were just about still in season. So we ordered 40 sunflowers from a local florist, and dished them out. My bridesmaids held three each simply tied together with ribbon, and the rest of the wedding party had a sunflower each as an oversized buttonhole. We put the last sunflowers in the wedding cars (our campervan, and Ian’s sister Helen’s campervan) and around the venue.
I liked the idea of having plants rather than cut flowers on the tables, so in theory they would last (not sure why I thought that, as pot plants only last about a week longer than cut ones in my house, but I live in hope!). Chilli plants are my favourite, so we potted them in Heinz tomato soup tins – I’m a big fan (my perfect hangover cure!) so had plenty of the tins around.
Bright Blue Skies & Sunshine Yellow
Of my four bridesmaids, two live outside the UK, so a joint shopping trip was never going to work. Plus they are all very different, and all have good taste, so I simply asked them to pick a bright blue dress of their choice. There were a couple of changes in the lead-up (one due to pregnancy, one due to an incident with hair dye!) and on the day, they all looked brilliant and complimented each other perfectly.
I got them all the Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes in different colours, which are so cute anyway, and having plastic shoes on a field seemed a sensible idea. George even wore hers again a few months later at her own wedding.
Ian asked the groomsmen to wear a suit of their own, and he gave them a yellow tie each and a pair of yellow socks. He didn’t want a formal look for them, so they all looked individual and themselves which was great. We also gave our dads the yellow accessories.
Ian always, always wanted a brown 3-piece checked suit with a blue thread. After searching the high street, he realised he was not going to find it, and went to a local tailor to enquire about getting one made. He was happy to make it, but only had Harris-type tweed which is far too heavy for the style Ian wanted. But, after a trip to a mill shop in Bradford, we finally had the fabric and a tailor. Ian’s best man Ali decided to go for it as well, so the tailor made up the two suits. After a bit of debate around the cut (they wanted slim-fit, not standard ‘farmer’ tweed fit!), they turned out spot on.
Ian also upped the ante and got a matching cap made out of the fabric, so he ended up with a 4-piece!
A Video Surprise
Anna Clarke was the first thing we booked. She has a way of using light and colour that is really distinctive. We met Anna and her husband Simon at our engagement shoot, and we all got on really well. They got photos of Ian smiling, which no-one before has ever managed to do, so I knew they had special talents! On the day itself they fitted in seamlessly, and we are so thrilled with the final pictures.
Simon is a videographer and he did us a ‘mini’ wedding film, which was a complete surprise and cheered us up immensely when we returned from our honeymoon feeling rather flat. I never thought I wanted a video, but I’m so glad we have it now.
We went for a cake-of-cheese, which was really an excuse to visit The Cheese Society in Lincoln several times for tasting sessions. We chose delicious local cheeses and it didn’t all get eaten on the day, meaning we had a ready supply in the freezer for several months.
Ian’s mum also made us 2 cakes as a surprise, one with tractor cake toppers as a nod to the farm setting, and one with bunny cake toppers, to represent our two pet rabbits who I reluctantly admitted couldn’t be there on the day. So in the end we had a cake table with 3 cakes!
Our catering was by Black Peppermint, and we can’t praise them enough. Food and booze are very high on my list of things that make life worth living, so we wanted a proper feast, and that’s exactly what we got.
Adam came up with the idea of a mini picnic as a starter, which perfectly suited the picnic-benches-in-a-tent feel of the day. We wanted everyone to dig in and share. We also ended up with a fourth course, a ‘pre-desert’ of lemon brulee, because we couldn’t chose between that and chocolate tart for pudding – so we opted for both!
The Perfect Soundtrack
Everything else about the day was relaxed, but we wanted something to be formal to signify the importance of the day. So we chose The Heyes Ensemble to play during the ceremony and drinks. Ian knows them through work, and it was lovely to have a classical touch to the day. Our friend Nick is a great musician, and he played and sang ‘Your Song’ for us during the ceremony, which was beautiful.
In the evening, we had a band called the Hijackers who we found through an agency. They were fab, and played just the right mix of songs. After they finished, DJ Ian took to his decks and it turned into a bit of a 90s club for an hour or so! Our friends loved it, our parents less so!
Ian installed the sound system in the tent. There is nothing worse than not being able to hear the speeches, so we wanted a system that could be used by everyone from my dad to the band. It worked a treat for us as we had all the different performers use the one system, including everyone doing their bit on iTunes into the small hours.
We chose ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ by Randy Newman, from Toy Story, because the lyrics are adorable, and it’s short, and because we like Buzz Lightyear!
As our venue was Ian’s parents’ garden, they did tons of work to make it look special in the months leading up to the wedding. The flowers in the garden were lovely, and Ian’s dad mowed the lawn twice a week all summer so it was perfectly striped on the day.
Our venue was two giant teepees from PapaKata, who were so professional and helpful. The teepees are beautiful structures, which look great in the day, and get even cosier at night if they are lit properly.
The music and lighting were really important to us. Ian has now set up a company doing music and lighting for weddings, because we realised it’s so hard to get what you want.
For the ceremony we had bright lighting so everyone could see, and then as dusk fell, put on the fairy lights we’d strung up everywhere. We installed pin spots in the roof structure to light up the tables – we wanted a cosy ambience for the meal, but you still need to see your food.
For the evening, we lit up a mirrorball which filled the tent with twinkles, and changed the atmosphere using colour washes of blue and purple. To give it a real edge, we hung scanner lights to get the party going.
Outside, Ian installed festoon lighting, which made the site feel like a proper festival. Helen and our friend Kati made what seemed like miles and miles of bunting, which we used inside and out. It really gave the whole venue a ‘decorated’ feel and we are eternally grateful to them for doing such a mind-numbing job, which neither of us would have got around to.
Helen also made us yellow gingham napkins for all the guests, and a table cloth for the cake table, which added to the picnic theme. What a star.
We made the wedding stationary ourselves, based around the yellow gingham. Ian drew a cute annotated map for the invitations, and I did matching menu cards and orders of service. They were printed up by Lefaprint, who turned them around in 48 hours which was excellent, and very necessary as like a lot of things, we left it to the last minute!
There Is No ‘Should’
During the planning, we got sick of people saying ‘should’ – you should have this, you shouldn’t do that – so the only advice we can offer: there is no ‘should’. Do what you want, because no-one else will notice at the end of the day apart from you two. They will all have a good time regardless.
As we had the wedding at home, we had to deal with all the boring stuff that a venue would normally takes care of – loos, generators, power lines – but it was worth it to get the sort of day we wanted. We were also lucky that all our wedding party and partners turned up the day before to help out with all the last minute stuff, which was so kind, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
There’s not many of us that can say that they’ve got married and have held their wedding reception in a headmaster’s garden at a real life school. But Alice and George did just that in July earlier this year.
Their beautiful ceremony took place in the Charterhouse School’s chapel – an exquisite building that is most definitely a far cry from the scrappy hall that I used to have assembly in when I was a young lass.
The newlyweds then headed over to the house of George’s father who happens to be the Headmaster of Charterhouse School to continue the celebrations.
And just wait until you see Alice’s dress, folks…it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Headmaster, Vicar and Toastmaster Too
My now father-in-law is the Headmaster of Charterhouse School, but also happens to be a vicar, so he married us in the chapel and acted as the toast master for the day.
The wedding was on the first day of the Olympics, so the night before with my bridesmaids (and one usher) we watched the opening ceremony in the hotel bar as we ate some food.
Original French Lace
The wonderfully fabulous Jane Bourvis made my dress (there is no other way to describe her!)
I work in Portobello where her shop is and I was passing one day and popped in not knowing it sold wedding dresses, and before George had even asked me!. When I was in there I saw this amazing dress and thought it I ever get married that would be my perfect dress.
George proposed three weeks later the day after my 30th birthday, on the long walk to Windsor. One lunchtime I thought ‘Oh wow that dress!’, so I went back, tried it on, and that was the dress I purchased.
It was half made and so Jane and I worked together to create my perfect dress. I have a degree in fashion design and so it was a brilliant collaboration of ideas, and lovely to be able to have some input. So many dresses are off the shelf, so it was extra special to see it evolve. The original piece of lace was over 125 years old and came from a French auction house, and was a stunning champagne colour.
Jane did a fantastic job and I still pop in to see her and have a good chat.
A 1920’s Original
I was very lucky girl in that Jane Bourvis lent me this exquisite original 1920 head piece. I had been looking for one for ages and stumbled across hers deep in the piles of beautiful things in her store.
It happened to be one of the few things that were not for sale so she kindly let me wear it; I will be forever grateful!
I had my hair put up by Harrington’s in Guildford. I think I might be rather fussy about my hair as the trial was supposed to take half and hour and I was in there three.. oops, but they were very patient.
Shoes Can Be A Logistical Nightmare
For my shoes I used a company called Rainbow shoes, who dye to match.
Trying to get six bridesmaids into the same pair of shoes is a logistical nightmare!
We got there in the end with some Dune wedges with gold straps. I went with wedges as they are easy to walk on in the grass that had a more country feel.
I realised I had lost a pair of the bridesmaids shoes the night before the wedding. Luckily, one of my bridesmaid’s boyfriends came to the rescue and tracked a pair down on the morning of the day and completed an hour round trip to go and get them. The missing pair haven’t shown up!
I had both my own and the bridesmaids’ hair done by the lovely Louise from Laura Mercier in Guildford. She did a fantastic job and didn’t even mind when she left the room for 5 mins and came back to find my naughty bridesmaids with their fingers in the make-up bag and in the eye shadows!
A Very Talented Mother-In-Law
I am very lucky that my now mother-in-law is a very talented florist so she helped me with everything. I wanted a very loose and country wild feel. We went to Longacres Nursery in Bagshot, which is amazing, huge and full of every flower imaginable whilst being very reasonably priced.
We visited Longacres on the Wednesday and put the arrangements together on the Friday. I collected lots of jam jars and raided my grandpa’s shed for old oil cans which I put flowers in.
As my bridesmaids dresses were a multicoloured floral jacquard design I wanted to keep the flower girl dresses and George/groomsmen’s outfits as plain as possible. The dresses were from Jigsaw, I used to work there as the print designer, so it was a dress I had worked on which made it very special.
I actually got the flower girl dresses made in China using this website. The website is amazing, and the service was so quick. It was a bit of a risk as I didn’t know what champagne colour would look like but as a complete fluke it was exactly the same colour as the slip of my dress! They were a bargain at £30.
The flower girl shoes were little sparkly pumps from Monsoon.
George went to Savile Row and the Hackett store to get his waistcoat and tie with his brother (best man) and Father. He got a gold foulard design tie and a plain sand coloured waistcoat.
A Natural Style
I was really struggling to find an affordable photographer who was very natural in their style. I wanted somebody who could take shots as natural as possible so they did not look too contrived. I was recommended Harriet Gill of Weddings Vintage by a friend; she was fantastic and exactly what I was looking for.
She was brilliant on the day and was the perfect choice. She arrived the day before in the middle of my meltdown (every bride has one once!) and was just so lovely!
A DIY Cake
I really do not think you need to spend too much money on the cake as you can buy brilliant plain ones and be creative. I bought 4 plain tiers from Marks and Spencer and some ribbons and my mother put it together the night before, and finished it of with some wild flowers.
Blue Suede Shoes
We hired a jazz band, the Blue Suede Shoes, from Function Central who played a great 2 hour set of funk and swing set to get everybody dancing! Afterwards a friend, who is a very talent DJ, played for us!
As George’s father is a vicar our first dance was to ‘Son of a Preacher man’; the lyrics in it are very apt!
A Dab Hand In The Kitchen
George made Nigella Lawson’s chilli jam for all of our favours and I made the labels and stuck them on with string tied around a fabric top. We had an old school luggage tag that had everybody’s names on it as their place names on the table.
Alice In Wonderland
The marquee was in my parent’s in-law’s garden which is an old Gertrud Jekyll design, it is already naturally very beautiful, and so I wanted to bring the outside in. We pulled all of the sides of the Marquee up so it was more like a giant gazebo. We bought some giant white balloons and some helium and put them on the tables and on the entrance to the tent.
There is a separate summer house in the garden which we used as the children’s table for when the speeches were taking place, and put up some pink bunting for them.
As my name is Alice, I wanted a slight theme to the day (Alice in Wonderland) and thought it would also compliment the walled garden. I had small touches around like little signs, saying; rabbit hole’ and this way to the party etc.
We didn’t really have a strong colour theme as I think sometimes it can look a bit much with everything all in the same shade, we wanted something that felt a bit looser, which meant I could play with lots of different wild flowers in multicoloured shades.
I made quite a lot of things for the wedding. I designed and made the invitations with George which was a real labour of love…not so much after 100!
I couldn’t find any black and white checked bunting and so I decided to make it myself…150 metres later! I also realised on the day I only needed about 20, hahaha, so if anybody wants some bunting, get in touch!
For the table plan we used an old amazing frame we found on the street and painted it white with a hessian background, then typed out the plan on brown paper. I bought some cardboard numbers and the pinned them on to the board.
My best friend helped me create a mood board at the beginning which was a massive help as it meant I could visualise exactly what I wanted. I had had all these ideas flying around and millions of blog images and felt a bit overwhelmed with everything I could do.
Creating it helped me focus on exactly what I wanted the day to look like, and what I needed to buy, where we could save money with things to make and how to show other people what I wanted, eg with the flowers etc.
It also helped me show George, and he said yes and no to things he definitely didn’t want.
My top tip is…give men specific tasks! I would get a bit stressed and say why aren’t you helping I have so much to do, and he would say well “how do I know what needs doing when it’s all in your head! I am not a mind reader”. They don’t really care about the visual things to much, just present them with a choice like “blue or green” and they can say yes or no, not “what colour do you think”?
We started with lots of ideas and worked back to what was realistic. It’s impossible to do everything; you need to know when to stop, when to delegate and when to let go. Remember it’s really all about the love not about the napkin shades!
Get the major things sorted first, your venue, dress, food, theme and cars; the rest will follow!
When I was worrying about family politics and what people would think of various elements of the wedding, somebody said to me if anybody is there that is not wishing you all the best and wanting you to have the perfect day then that’s their problem not yours!
Right about now I’ve developed a sudden urge to go out purchase some antique lace. Alice’s dress is simply dreamy.
She also has some sound advice too. If any of you are experiencing anxieties about family politics or even worrying about people’s perception of the wedding, then you’re not alone. I certainly had my own fair share of drama.
I absolutely 110% agree with Alice’s philosophy that it’s their problem not yours. If you’re able to, try to let it float over your head – it simply won’t matter on the day anyway because it’s about you two as a couple and the love you have for one another.
She’s a wise girl is Alice.
So come on folks, what do you think? Which part of George and Alice’s day do you love the most?
Oliver and Sian married on 11th August earlier this year. After a gorgeous ceremony at a nearby church, the wedding party were invited to a glorious reception at Oliver’s parents’ house – Cadeby Hall – complete with a lake and high tea on the lawn.
And that’s not all folks…There’s a beautiful boat festooned with blooms, the sweetest pageboy and a swing. Yes that’s right folks…a garlanded swing!
And I haven’t even got started on the decadent frothiness of Sian’s dress.
The title for our wedding this morning takes its inspiration from Oliver and Sian’s first dance… and what a dance it was. But more about that in a minute.
The laughter, love and romance that epitomises Oliver and Sian’s wonderful day has been captured perfectly by Emma B Photography.
It was the only dress shop I went to and they were absolutely fantastic, they couldn’t do enough for me. We not only bought the bridal dress from Agapé but also the bridesmaid dresses and the mother of the bride’s outfit too.
The dress was not what I thought I would have gone for but I knew it was ‘the one’ as soon as I put it on; it just felt so right (and comfortable).
That Extra Something
I chose a veil from Agapé Bridal Boutique that we attached a flower to (originally from the dress) just to add that extra something.
My shoes were very simple ivory kitten heels that had a strap around the ankle and a diamante buckle.
In the run up to the wedding, my mother-in-law treated me to a Jemma Kidd make-up lesson. They taught me lots of great tips for a natural wedding look so on the day I was able to apply my own make-up with confidence.
My hair was put up by my fantastic hairdresser Nicole at the Barrie Stephens salon in Narborough. The bridesmaids, my mum Linda and my mother-in-law Jill’s hair were all styled at the same salon.
All the flowers were created by Flowers by Stephanie in Hinckley and they were absolutely incredible. All the bouquets and button holes were beautiful and our table centres were huge cocktail glasses filled with flowers.
It made quite an impact when you entered the room. There were so many comments about the gorgeous flowers and Stephanie worked extremely hard to make it all perfect for us.
The groomsmens’ morning suits were hired but their ties were bought to match the bridesmaids and they all looked very handsome.
Oliver wore a morning suit and a beautiful waistcoat and tie that had been made for him in London.
She captured our special day from beginning to end and we have so many natural and beautiful photographs of the day. I was really nervous about the wedding photographs because I really don’t like having my photograph taken but Emma put me completely at ease; it helps that she is such a great friend!
She even did an engagement shoot with us a couple of weeks before the wedding so that we could get used to having our photo taken and we were both really happy with the results. I could not have asked for a better photographer; she was absolutely fantastic.
The Perfect Design
Our cake was made by Handmade by Hannah. It was a 3 tiered cake made of chocolate, lemon and carrot cake. We worked with Hannah to come up with the perfect design and we went for a vintage look.
Our entertainment started with a bang with the Casablanca Steps a group of four talented musicians who played a variety of pieces from the 1920’s and 1930’s whilst our guests had tea and champagne on the lawn.
The Casablanca Steps continued to play whilst we sat down to dinner and they provided some fantastic moments for our guests enjoyment.
They were then followed by Campbell Bass a very charismatic singer who sang a range from ‘The Great American Songbook’. The entertainment was finished off with a DJ who took us into the early hours of the morning.
Our first dance was to Etta James ‘At Last’, we have both always loved this song. I have danced since a very young age and Ollie really wanted to learn a ballroom dance to perform in front of our guests. We did a foxtrot that we put together with the help of my dance teacher Tracey Taylor and it went really well.
Tea On The Lawn
Our reception was at Ollie’s parents house in Cadeby and we had a marquee by the lake.
When we arrived back from the church we had tea and champagne on the lawn surrounded by the bunting that both myself and my mother-in-law had spent months creating. Our table plan board was made using some of the material left over from the bunting.
Cards and presents were left in my Nana’s old blue suitcase that also had bunting draped around it; another vintage touch. We gave roses to the girls as their wedding favour.
We had fireworks out by the lake in the evening that definitely had a wow factor for us. The car that took us to and from the church was used in the film ‘The Mummy Returns’ and as we are both massively into films it was such great fun.
A Short Ride
Make sure you go for a short drive together in the car after the service, we did and it was amazing to spend just that bit of time alone before we arrived at the reception.
Take some time during the day to step back and take it all in because the day goes so quickly. Above all, enjoy your special day!
If there’s one thing I love about this wedding then it’s the amount of fun that everyone is clearly having. Seriously there are beaming grins on each and every face and that’s what weddings are all about, right?
And that boat, I just want to drift away complete with book and blazing sunshine. Isn’t it dreamy…
And if I can have as much fun as the two distinguished guests are experiencing on the swing when I’m older then I’ll be a happy girl indeed.
Congratulations Oliver and Sian, you guys so obviously had a blast.
I always find the weddings I love the most are the ones I wish I could have been at. The ones that really make me jealous of all the fun they were having. And the images I really love, are the ones filled with colour.
So you might have guessed… I Really love this wedding!
Folly Farm is such a beautiful place with green fields and amazing natural stonework throughout that I decided I wanted to keep the flowers simple, light, pretty and unobtrusive during the meal so guests were able to enjoy the surroundings.
Central Rose in Bristol took my colour scheme of country blues, pinks and purples and created petite, simple bouquets for the bride, bridesmaids and Mums and buttonholes for the boys using freesias, hyacinths and roses.
In a moment of frugality I went to the local garden centre and bought pots of daisies and colourful plants to use as table decorations – they looked great next to the bunting and cost a fraction of the price of having elaborate arrangements made!
Bright, Colourful Photography
Finding a perfect photographer was a big deal for us, and after a lot of research we found Albert Palmer, whose bright, colourful, fun and beautifully shot photographs really caught my eye.
Our photographs are sensational – Albert managed to capture the narrative of the day perfectly, from the emotion of getting ready and walking down the aisle to the dancing later on.
We are so lucky to have such a wonderful record of the day – our friends and family can’t get over how fab they are and we can’t decide which ones to print!
As our new surname would be Robertson, we thought it would be nice to make our guests our own flavour of Robertson’s Jam! We spent a year collecting jars and John designed his own labels and spent two days in the kitchen making marmalade, propped up on his crutches.
Even though the marmalade was inexpensive to make it was a really personal and thoughtful gesture that our guests loved and will remind them of the day – we’re still getting texts from people saying how nice the marmalade is.
A Rustic Theme
Folly Farm is a naturally stunning place, and the general areas didn’t much decorating but the marquee we hired to have our meal needed some TLC. I hired some beautiful bunting from a friend which looked stunning against the white of the marquee and brought a real brightness and vibrancy to the photographs and atmosphere. In keeping with the rustic theme we had scented candles on the tables and tied our napkins with raffia and used parcel tags for place names which was a a really simple and cost effective solution.
Our tables didn’t look polished and perfect but I didn’t want them to – I wanted my day to be fun and relaxed not stuffy and formal. The only thing that didn’t go to plan was the rain – we weren’t able to open the sides of the marquee to look at the view, but in the end it added to the intimate and friendly feel of the marquee which comes across in the pictures.
We didn’t want a traditional wedding band – working in a music venue means that I have particular taste in music and know exactly what I like and don’t like, and as soon as we saw Fromage en Feu play at our local bar, we knew we had to have them at our wedding. Their lively folk songs and energetic playing had everyone dancing, but we had to adapt the traditional wedding song where the bride and groom are lifted in the air on chairs due John’s broken leg! The final celebratory song Mazel Tov was a rousing and fitting end to the set, and we were thrilled to learn later that their set contained the same songs that they played the week before at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. DJ Moneyshot then continued the party with indie hits and classic party tunes chosen by John and our guests.
We ummed and ahhed about a first dance song for a long time – being music lovers we felt that a lot of the ‘alternative’ first dance songs had been done to death. Then John found a great version of the Sister Sledge song Thinking of You sung by Paul Weller, which mixed our love of dance and indie music perfectly. It was a special moment, even when the PA developed a fault and kept cutting out!
Design and Decor
To be honest, I’m not a real wedding person. I never dreamed about my dress when I was young and my only real wish for my big day was that it fun, relaxed and that my guests got drunk!
Fortunately, apart from being stunningly beautiful and close to Bristol, Folly Farm was a venue that allowed us to plan our day exactly as we wanted – we could bring in caterers, a bar and a marquee as we liked and we had the venue for the whole weekend with rooms for our guests to stay. So, although this took a lot more organization than an ordinary wedding it ended up being much more personal and special and our guests appreciated that.
Working at a music venue was a godsend as I called in favours from a lot of my contacts. I’m a lucky girl because Humberto from H Bar at Colston Hall made me a stunning Mediterranean buffet with a choice of 4 desserts and Claire from Colston Hall managed my bar with the help of Bath Ales which meant we had the real ale and cider we really wanted. So my first tip to getting what you want is to find a flexible venue and call in favours!
I would also have been lost with my wedding planner Hayley Porter (email@example.com) who spent many afternoons before the wedding going through logistics with us and ran our day smoothly and without stress. Hayley and a lot of my friends also came to the venue the day before to help us set up which meant we had the marquee decorated in record time and meant I was much less stressed. So tip number two – enlist help on the day before!
Advice from a Bride
I was worried at the start of planning the wedding about how to make things personal and special, but as we got thinking it came to us surprisingly easy. John is really creative and many of the special touches on the day – our chalkboard table plans and the unique ceremony music were down to him and made me realize how lucky I am to have a husband who is so thoughtful and imaginative. We signed the register to Tender by Blur and walked back down the aisle to my favourite Richard Hawley song, so whenever I listen to these songs in the future I’ll think of my special day.
In general I was thrilled by how everything came together at the last minute and managed to look beautiful, coherent and planned even though we didn’t plan things to a minute degree. Being less Bridezilla and more laid back meant that I could enjoy the day much more and meant less stress for everyone around me. I had an incredible day surrounded by my friends and family having a great time, and I realized that on the whole the little worries pale into significance when you’re marrying the person you love.
So, we are loving the Royal Wedding. Thats a given. But although a match made in heaven (Royal Wedding meets Wedding Blog) it’s also somewhat of an ironic relationship… after all Kate is hardly going to be doing it her way, is she?
Not so todays bride! The antithesis of the Royal wedding, totally irreverant, relaxed, casual and her-day-her-way, Polly (and Josh!) are just as much of an inspiration. And a welcome break from the Regal anticipation, ready for some full on flag waving tomorrow. Bring it on.
But first, meet Polly, and her seriously laugh-a-minute, crazy write up!
A Magical Garden Party
We were married on Saturday July 25th 2009 in Granny Pixie’s garden….The ceremony was held on the drive outside Cedar Court, our family home where my mom & her 3 brothers grew up and I spent all of my childhood playing amazing games of hide & seek, building dens and 20 for sunday lunch was all part of ‘the norm’!! It was a scruffy old house, all dusty with a funny smell…. the most magical home in the world!!
As soon as I phoned Pixie to tell her Josh (who I call ‘tree boy’ because he is a tree surgeon and climbs tress all day!) and me (Polly) .. (Josh’s mum and dad call us ‘Posh and Jolly’ its a good spoonerisum, full of irony!) Anyway… what was I saying.?! oh yeah, telling granny we were getting hitched…. she said “well of course you are, and it will be here” Infact when I first took Josh to walk around the fields of this precious loving land, in our early ‘dating days’ he said, quite out of the blue “you’ll get married here.” In my fariy tale la la world I thought then. “we’ll get married here”!!
The Deed itself
Well we actually did the official marriage bit on the Wednesday 22nd in Lichfield registery office. I wore a ‘hand me down’ Aunty Pauline’s vintage sequined pearl white ‘dream girls’ dress. So that cost only £50.00 to be re lined and have the back cut out and a massive slit put in!! (she was slimmer than me when she was 21! (40 years ago) so the alterations were to allow me to breath…
The magical garden party dress I found in Kendals, Manchester. It was on the Sale Rail in ‘ANOUSHKA G’ and cost £80.00. I wasn’t sure what I wanted really but it needed to be fairy tale like and I love flowers and butterflies and sparkle… My best friend Flippy saw it and called me over, I knew it was the dress I was going to buy!
Prior to this, me and my sister-in-law has tried a few on, I LOVED Jenny Packham designs and had wedding dress envy when my friend floated down the isle in ‘PAPILLION’. I booked an appointment at the Jenny Packham boutique and me and fabuolus Andrew Stephen Lavin went to try some on….. A perfik full grey sequence dress I fell in love with… just too too too too too too expensive! This was a wedding built on fresh air and love, not ridiculous spending and so I let the idea of ‘designer’ go… the ‘trying on’ experience was all I really needed!
When we went engagement ring shopping in York we found this amazing Jewellers called ‘Cavendish Jewelers’ They specialise in vintage and 2nd hand pieces. I noticed a pair of Art Deco diamond and rose quartz earings in the window… sooooooo pretty! anyway I was quickly told thats not what we’d come for and so I turned my attention to the rings… I had the moment when I put on an Emerald and Diamond Art Deco ring and my eyes filled with tears… I left the shop and Josh appeared 10 minutes later in a full sweat having buckled under the presure of the purchase and inserted his pin number incorrectly 3 times!! After frantic phone calls and a beer or 2, I had my fairy tale ring. On our wedding night of the 22nd, Josh produced the earings I’d seen in the window… so spoilt, so happy fresh air and love and a lot of tears… needless to say, I wore then to our garden party wedding on Saturday along with my great grandma ‘Lady T’s’ emerald and diamond necklace! I had worn it to my mom’s wedding in 1981. The morning of my fairy tale day, I woke up to find it next to me, on the pillow with a letter from mom…. it was an effortless choice of accessories, Love mostly! With a load of fresh flowers to twine it all together in my curly hair!
I brought my shoes before the dress… full multi coloured glitter sparkle from Nine West. They weren’t expensive – about £50.00. I loved them, but was never intending to skip around the fields in heels! So after walking up the drive to meet my man, strutting in the sunshine all sparkles and smiles, to Areatha Franklin. I then changed into a pair of gold HAVIANA flip flops and danced and skipped till I dropped!
On Wednesday Flippy did my hair and make up. She is like this sunshine of creative magic and she heated up the rollers, painted my face and I felt like a Hollywood screen goddess!! Glam but not over made up. On the Saturday for the garden party Shabaz ‘Shabba’ Hussain ‘The Fabulous’, the best creative hair magician this side of the Mississippi!! One of my bestest friends and dream weaver….curled and pinned my locks with fresh flowers and dazzle. Flippy and my very glamorous cousins painted my face…. I was a fairy princess, Titania from Midsummer nights dream. The look was soft, easy, pretty but not try hard or heavy. I didn’t want to look ‘different’ and so ‘coiffered’ I would be uncomfortable and Josh would be like ‘what have you done with Polly?!’ Infact he made me promise I wouldn’t do that!! I trusted my friends!! (I’d had the hen doo, they’d done their worst, so no more pay back was in the wings waiting!!)
Wild flowers, meadow flowers, any flowers that were at the flower market at 5am on the Friday! Me, Lala, Flippy and Chalky went on a mission and spent £70.00. this made my bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, loads of button holes and fillied tea pots and coffee pots to the brim with flowers….
Chalky made the bouquets and button holes! She is clever! And Pops and Joe filled the tea pots and coffee pots for the tables and made the most beautiful centre piece at the head of the top table! Pop’s and Joe are just so special. It was the two of them that ‘saw’ my fairy tale and from the very beginning built it with us!
We had a planting day in May, all the family gathered at Granny Pixies and planted sweet peas, those that couldn’t make it planted pots at home and brought them to the garden on the Friday!! It was brilliant fun. Everyone loved being involved. Pixie called it the ‘Armarda’! I was also given a load of silk flowers that my girlies twisted and weaved around a chandelier fitting and hung on of the trees!
The bridesmaids brought their dresses themselves!! I said a purple, lilac, mauve-ish pallet… but be comfortable and make sure it’s something you’ll wear again! I don’t think you can dress people in something totally out of character and expect them to feel relaxed and happy… especially when they have such individual style… it worked, they are all stunning so I knew it would!!!
We Heart pictures
There is only one! HECTOR MORA!!! Hector and Charlie together (We Heart Pictures) are just mind blowingly brilliant at capturing love, at seeing magic… We had no idea what we ‘wanted’ other than nothing formal!! I honestly cannot tell you how utterly brilliant they are. I have never seen wedding photo’s like it. You see for yourself! My friend had them do her wedding after seeing our album!
Queen of Cupcakes
My friend Babbit, queen of cup cakes made us a 2 giant cup cakes for tree boy & polly pocket and a hundred or more little ones!! They all got eaten, the kids were all sugar loved up! But the fairy tale castle cake was a total and complete surprise! I had no idea until I saw it on the wedding day! Momma Brown had kept the whole idea a secret. It was a triple layer fruit cake that she decorated with turrets!
This was a wedding built on love and friendship… my friends from uni are very talented and Tim played the guita and bobin the double bass and my cousin with a voice like velvet sang Sister Sledge ‘I’m thinkin of you’ as part of the ceremony! I cried… it was goose bumply beautiful!!
Bunting…. over a thousand metres of it! Made lovingly by me and Flip in the kitchen!! My Mom and Momma Brown posted us triangles and between us we pinking sheered and stitched what felt like miles and miles of it!! It went all around the top terrace, the marquee and the fields… it looked ace!
Because we we’re in Pixie’s garden and the Marquee went up on the Thursday we had access when we wanted and no short time scale to get it all done! Don’t get me wrong, it was a hard grafting sweat shop but we did it and enjoyed it!
I guess because I had a ‘vision’ of how I wanted the day to feel… the process of building it was dreamy… It wasn’t stressful (although to be fair my mom is pretty organised and dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s with stuff I might have forgotten about!) like table clothes and helpers!!
The marquee company gave us 240 old seat pads…. and I hoarded any fabric I could… borrowed a few staple guns, set up a sweat shop in my lounge and covered every single one in colourful, crazy fabric!! they looked like tubes of refressers when we were getting them to the tent! Everyone helped.. even at school ( I teach Art & Photography) the lovely ladies on reception were bringing my in bags of material! I have to say the seats looks stunning! The idea was that after tea and scones, you could take your seat pad into the field to sit on while you ate your picnic!
The ‘High Tea’ was set out in the marquee and was the only ‘formal’ bit of the day. All the tables 4 rows of tressels we’re laid up with mish mash china that my mom, dad & joe and I had been buying up from charity shops and car boot sales for the 6 months prior to the wedding! The Norm and Hat had car booted coffee pots and tea pots and the babbit lent us her hord of cake stands too!!
A Booming Dance Floor
For the evening we had a band… about a 9 piece band we’d seen at a friends wedding and had danced all night on a booming dance floor. They travelled up from Bristol ……. They were awesome… really fun. We wanted live music for the main part. After they had finished around midnight we had a mate DJ Mike spin his 7” records… when he had beer breaks someone else produced bag of records and so it was open decks really!
Another of my best friends Jo ‘The Norm’ and Jon ‘The Hat’ who own a pub in Salford ‘The Kings Arms’ (which is THE most ecclectic fusion of proper beer, busking, knitting, art and theatre you could ever put in one building) built a bar, but up lights and video projects all over the garden and in the trees and marquee… it was a visual sensation… Ken even played the video of the ceremony onto the ceiling of the tent!! Bloody brilliant!
Family Favours and DIY
On the Friday we asked family and close friend to come and help build up the wedding! They did!! we had people laying tables, putting up dressing tents, and ting up bunting. Josh spent the day hanging in the trees hanging lanterns I got my students to help me make at the end of term!! All in all the wedding was a festival…. soooo much fun! Built on love and friendship.
As a result we have now set up a shabby chic wedding hire kit.. we have 300 tea cups, saucers and side plates… 100 tea pots cake stands and miles of bunting….. if any one wants to share the love email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!!
Top tip…. have a picnic – saves £1000.00’s of pounds, mingling aound a field was so much fun, people playing badminton and football and frisbee… and enjoy the adventure. It’s the best party you’ll ever go to!
Welcome back and consider today’s wedding your daily dose of sunshine. Perfect for planning week this bride created stunning DIY decor and the reception food, entertainment and vibe were exactly what they wanted. A real ‘their day their way‘ wedding mixing traditional elements with a relaxed bohemian reception.
We knew that Simon was the ideal photographer for us as soon as we sat down with him for a chat and saw some of his previous albums which were incredible. We loved his relaxed and natural style and his stunning photos really reflect the atmosphere of the day.
Neither Andrew or I like being in front of a camera, and he managed to put us both at ease. Needless to say, we absolutely love the results.
The chapel itself didn’t really need decorating, so we opted for a single large statement arrangement near the altar.
For the marquee, we used a mix of soft flowers in shades picked out from the fabric that we used for the napkins and bunting, all arranged in jam jars that we collected (or pinched from our neighbours’ recycling boxes) over the months leading up to the wedding.
Although I knew roughly what I wanted for the marquee, our florist, Jamie Aston, really brought those ideas to life and they surpassed my expectations on the day.
Andrew’s mum made our delicious cake, which was inspired by one we found in a book by Lindy Smith. The layers were lemon, carrot and chocolate sponge, so there was something for everyone.
The cake topper was custom made for us by Hillary from “Bunny With a Tool Belt” on Etsy, and is now a lovely memento of the day.
We were inspired by previous weddings that we’d been to to make a contribution to a charity as part of the day. We opted for Oxfam Unwrapped wedding favours which let us give each guest something worthwhile, and to some extent to match a gift to the guest.
One thing we realised about having a marquee is that it involves a lot of extra work. We were there for most of the day before and after the wedding, and only got everything ready with the help of our amazing friends, family and suppliers.
We opted for a traditional canvas marquee from Simpers, which set the tone for a more rustic style for the reception. We picked up on this by keeping the tables fairly plain, using plain muslin which we folded to create simple table runners – very affordable compared to hiring linen. We decided to use yellow alongside the green for the reception, and I found Heather Bailey’s ‘Pop Garden’ fabric range which I used to sew bunting and napkins for each guest using all of the different designs rather than trying to be too co-ordinated.
Our main decoration came from coloured paper lanterns and poms which we strung across the marquee. My thanks go to Rock My Wedding and Jung Lee’s fantastic book for those ideas. I’ve got our friends to thank for how well they turned out though, as we had to dash to our rehearsal and leave them to hang them!
As it was mid-summer, we didn’t need to worry too much about lighting, but for the evening we used a mix of mercurised glass candlesticks, tea lights and tiny LEDs in a few of the paper lanterns that we suspended from the ceiling to offset four uplights in each of the marquee corners. The path from the marquee to the gate was lit with candles in paper bags which looked so pretty after dark.
As a conversation starter we created mini play-doh games inspired by the board game Rapidough. We stuck a little sticker inside the lid of each pot of play-doh with a couple of modelling challenges written on each one. Unfortunately the pen rubbed off a few resulting in a “fetish penguin” among others! The best model of the day was an immaculately modelled computer with keyboard, mouse and all.
Instead of place cards, we made created tags which we hung from the chairs with ribbon. Our guests had a choice of meal, so we rubber-stamped a picture on each tag to remind our guests of their pie choice.
Food and Games
Instead of the standard wedding breakfast fare, our caterers were Pieminister Pies. Pieminister is an institution in Bristol, where we live, so it was great to have them come all of the way to Cambridge. We were able to give our guests the choice of four delicious pies which were served with mash, peas and ‘groovy’. We didn’t worry about starters, and instead opted for substantial canapes, which were all sourced from independent suppliers, including the amazing ‘bread egg boxes’. Pieminister’s team went above and beyond to make sure that the whole evening ran smoothly.
We set up a volleyball net which was incredibly popular after dinner and meant that lots of our guests could get involved in the same game.
We also booked the brilliant band Happy Hour, who got everyone on the dance floor once the sun had gone down. I can’t recommend them more highly.
They also learned “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” for our first dance – Andrew and I went to some swing dance classes before the wedding so that we had a few moves, although I hadn’t really anticipated how difficult it would be to dance in such a full skirt!
Advice from a Bride
So, my only advice would be not to worry about keeping everything too themed or matching and simply do what feels right at the time. Also, enjoy planning all those little details – you’ll miss it when it’s all done!