Wow. Just look at that venue!!! Mansfield Traquair has to be one of the most breathtaking venues I’ve ever come across and it’s in the beautiful city of Edinburgh too, one of my all time favourite cities.
English Groom Andy fully embraced Bride Yvette’s Scottish background by wearing a kilt – and very dapper he looked indeed. Yvette looked beautiful too, wearing an Essence of Australia gown with such a pretty neckline and lace overlay.
And in another nod to their heritages, the blooms combine pretty Scottish thistles with delicate white English roses. So pretty.
This morning’s Bride Connie works in the wedding industry, and when you look through the gorgeous images of her and Henry’s big day from Noel Deasington, I don’t think it will take you long to figure out what type of supplier she is…
Oversized, brightly coloured floral arrangements bursting with dahlias and a huge bouquet filled with trailing foliage?? Yep, Connie is a florist!! And it’s not just in the flowers that Connie and Henry’s creativity pours out – the pair often work at festivals and have managed to capture the vibe perfectly in their wedding day. The rainbow tassels hanging from every possible surface, endless summery cocktails served from a van, the bouncy castle and the relaxed look of the wedding party all contribute to the hedonistic, party feel.
I love weddings like this – capturing perfectly a cracking party on camera makes it look like time stood still while a secret celebration of love and family unfolded in the rural countryside…
Nick and Hayley chose to have a DIY wedding primarily because they couldn’t find a venue that suited their requirements at a reasonable price. So, they decided to have the legal formalities at a registry office and then held their own ceremony and reception the following day in a barn on a farm near Rochester in Kent.
Once they had decided on an DIY W-day though it was full steam ahead, and then some. Get ready to admire what is probably one of the most DIY’d weddings we have ever featured here on RMW.
The Official Stuff
Nicks brother and wife, my close friend, were our only witnesses at the registry office. We kept it more than informal as we were still wearing the scruffy old clothes we were cleaning the barn in earlier as we did not have time to go home and clean up. After the legal bit was done we went our separate ways and did not see each other again until I walked down the aisle the next day. That meant that we had not spent any time together as man and wife and we had not exchanged our rings. The ceremony did not have to be legal so we asked a family friend to lead the short service, which we wrote ourselves, to keep it as personal as possible.
I never imagined that I would get married, let alone wear a traditional wedding dress. When we got engaged I insisted I would be wearing an inexpensive brightly coloured dress. So my final gown surprised not only myself but Nick and our guests.
As I started to look around I realised I wanted something vintage. I went to a bridal shop and tried some dresses but they were just not me! Some women may empathise when I say my “mummy tummy” meant I could not fit most original vintage gowns and the lightweight ones were a no no! So I opted to have the dress made. I was recommended a wonderful dressmaker called Gillian Andrews, who conveniently lived less than a 5 minute walk from my house! It was very daunting as I never really knew how it would turn out or if it was “the one”. However, Gillian was fantastic. We put together elements from a few dresses that I liked and the dress evolved with each fitting. Her attention to detail was amazing, hand stitching lace applique around the neck, hem and shoulders and sewing on 90 buttons. If I had to do it again, I would have the same dress as I know it was my one!
I had told Gillian that I was definitely wearing a low or kitten heel which was ideal as the width of the lace meant it could be cut to the floor without seams. Unfortunately I could not find anything that I liked and I had had my eye on these shoes from Irregular Choice for some time. This lifted my dress off the ground but with dressmaker magic she was able to re-design the bottom and actually created a small train and heavier swing to the skirt which looked amazing.
I love vintage hair, particularly victory rolls; I only wish I could do them myself. I absolutely love my hair style and had it done for my hen do as well as we went to a burlesque cabaret. It was created by vintage hairdresser Krissy from topps2toe. I decided not to add any head pieces or clips as there was so much detail on the back of the dress.
I did my own makeup, which consisted of lipstick. A friend painted my nails late the night before the wedding as there was no point or time to have a manicure as the hard-core cleaning over the previous days had ruined my nails. Even on the day of the wedding I was up at 6am, cutting fruit for the Pimms and went up to the barn to put the finishing touches before going to the hairdressers!
Our wedding, as does most peoples, revolved around a budget. It would have been extremely difficult to order pre-arranged flowers because until the day before we did not know how the barn would look finished or how many displays we would need. I opted to Pick Your Own as it was considerably cheaper. Two days before the wedding I went with my mum and 2 sisters to Blooming Green Flowers in Maidstone. Armed with a bucket and shears each we spent 2 hours in a peaceful meadow, whilst the sun was starting to go down, picking beautiful flowers. It was blissful after a nonstop week and a day of cleaning. My mum and sister arranged the flowers at the barn and made the bouquets and button holes. There was no colour scheme in mind, so I chose my favourite flowers from the ones we picked and they made the bouquets. The flowers cost £200 in total!
The Girls And The Boy
We have now all been each other’s bridesmaids, even if I made them wait a while! It was important to me that they were comfortable in their outfits. I did not have a style or colour in mind, we just shopped until we found something they were both happy with. The dresses were from Monsoon. The shoes I did inflict on them though as whilst they are amazing, they weren’t winners in the comfort stakes! There was obviously a reason why Kurt Geiger shoes were £20! My younger sister, Rheanna Lingham, is a jewellery designer and made the necklaces to match.
Nick is not a man comfortable in suits. We wanted him to wear something that suited him, as well as the venue and the style of the wedding. He loved the braces but he chose to wear the waistcoat to stand out from the TWO best men. We purchased all their clothes from high street and on line stores. The braces were from eBay! I was excited to see Nick dressed up as he is a black t-shirt and shorts kind of guy and I was not disappointed.
Our photos are by the wonderful Wookie Photography. They are relatively new to the photography scene but have a blooming business in wedding flowers called Wookie Flowers. They needed to build up their portfolio and we wanted vintage photos on a budget. We knew we did not want to have traditional posed pictures, rather natural photos of us all caught in the moment and they did that to a tee. I had hoped to have set up a photo booth but ran out of time. So they set up a booth at short notice and it was not until we saw the photos that we realised how much of a hit it was with our guests.
Amy and Frank were really accommodating with our (my) requests, including the brilliant group shots on the back of the tractor trailer, even if Frank got stuck on the roof of the outbuilding was elevated on! Most people actually thought they were wedding guests because they were so unobtrusive. I chose not to have them at the house because it was so hectic and I had my hair done at the salon.
We heard Nick Woods play at my cousins wedding and we loved him. He is an amazing singer, song writer and guitarist. There is always that often lifeless time between the end of the meal and the evening guests arriving. People are full up and not ready to dance so we wanted to fill it with atmosphere and chose Nick to sing and play acoustic guitar. Our meal was a bit later than expected so he started whilst we were eating and it actually worked out to be perfect.
My uncle is a DJ, so we called on his services for the evening disco.
We are extremely lucky to have had yet another family friend provide the catering. The barn is not equipped for large scale cooking so we had a hog roast and warm buffet. Followed by individual pots of ice creams, served in a vintage metal bathtub. This meant we did not need to hire more crockery, kept washing up to a minimum and the kids loved them. In the evening, we wanted hearty food that you could hold in one hand with a drink in the other. We had chunky bread, cheese, sausages and the left over hog roast. Instead of a cake, I, my mum and others made a variety of cakes which provided perfect nibbles throughout the night.
The Paper Pretty
To keep the costs down we made our own invites. I simply cut out profiles of us on black card and typed the words with a vintage typewriter, scanned it together and took it to a local printer. Including the twine, they cost less than £45. It sounds simple but I must admit it took a number of attempts to get the text correct as there was no spell check, centering or delete!!
It took 2 days and an army of helpers to transform the beautiful dusty barn. One end was dressed for dinner and the other for the ceremony. When it was over the bales were pushed to the side to clear the floor for dancing. The bales I covered in material cut up from duvet covers that I brought for £5 at a boot fair.
I saw the crochet jar holders on the internet and a friend’s mother in law knitted them for me. I put a sign up at the hospital where I work for empty jam jars and collected over 300. They were used for candles, pimms and vases and then recycled.
The white lightshades a colleague brought in the Philippines, which made them cheaper!
I wanted to keep the tables simple as the flowers had loads of colour in them. We brought the heavy cotton and my mum made full length table cloths, which was more effective and cheaper than hiring them. Again we brought the hessian by the metre and cut to length. I followed the stationery theme through by tying the napkins in the same butchers twine and stamping the date on a brown luggage label, which we had also sent as a save the date. We did not do a table plan, which I think surprised guests but it worked well. It meant that parents could sit as close or far away from the kids as they liked!!
I made the mini cake bunting and cake flags one night whilst Nick was on a late shift and Nick and I made the large N and H letters out of polystyrene, covered in hessian and fairy lights. I had to buy the polystyrene in blocks over 2 metres big. I must have looked like a mad woman as I broke it up in the car park to fit in a Peugeot 107!!
Since the wedding people have asked if it feels different now that we are married and I would have to say yes!
Nick and I worked as a team to pull off one of the biggest events we will probably ever host in our lives. We are so proud that we were able to achieve what was a successful and enjoyable day for everyone and it has brought us closer together. If it was not for the help of our friends and family none of this would have been possible and for that we are eternally grateful.
A DIY wedding is not for the faint hearted and certainly not for the pampered bride! You need an army of help and a lot of commitment. We were extremely fortunate to have friends and family who range from a caterer, farmer, DJ and jewellery designer. I really enjoyed the planning and making and when we sat back at dinner and took it all in, we were both really proud of what we had created. Even the clearing up the next day was fun as we reminisced with everyone whilst we did it. And the fact that Nick misplaced our hotel key and we spent our wedding night back in my parent’s spare room caused much amusement for all.
Hand on heart, I can say I never got stressed out, don’t get me wrong it was hectic, tiring and mentally draining but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Because… As Hayley says – It was hectic, tiring and mentally draining but it made them both proud. A Do-It-Yourself wedding day is certainly not for everyone, but this total extravaganza shows what you can achieve if you decide to jump in with both feet and get yourself involved with every aspect of W-day design and planning.
Call on the skillsets of your friends, family and loved ones too. You will more than likely find that they will be only too happy to help.
And Jon certainly cares for Nicky. Jon put up with Nicky’s one and only bridezilla moment and trusted her instinct, which was demanding to have photographer Eliza Claire capture their day. And how glad are we that she stamped her feet a tiny little bit and got what she wanted.
There’s a Candy Anthony dress, pom poms, a seriously stunning venue and even a bit of beach action.
Happy Monday all. I know you’re going to enjoy this one.
Nicky The Bride: We got married on the 8th September 2012 at Highcliffe Castle in Highcliffe, Dorset which is near Christchurch on the south coast. We had a civil ceremony and I walked down the aisle to Elbow ‘One Day Like This’.
My dress was from Candy Anthony. I had seen shorter 50’s styles and utterly fell in love with them. I also had always loved the movie ‘High Society’ and imagined getting married in a 50’s style dress, just like Grace Kelly at the end of the movie. I loved the variety that they could provide in such a simple dress shape and when I tried on the rose lace overlay I knew it was perfect. The ladies at Candy Anthony were so helpful, warm and friendly and we had great fun at my fittings.
Veils and knitted flowers
Having a 50’s dress I really wanted a bird cage veil and some sort of hat/headpiece/flower type thing to wear during the day. I was put in touch with a milliner called Bundle Maclaren by a friend. Bundle was fabulous and designed me a one of a kind head piece with detachable veil. She helped me to work within my budget and I just loved the resulting piece.
In the evening I swapped the headpiece for a knitted flower I made myself. I wore earrings from Glover and Smith. I had a bracelet with a Blue John stone set into it which my sister (Jenny, my chief bridesmaid!) gave me on the morning of the wedding. Blue John is a semi precious stone, which is only found in one mine in Derbyshire, near to where our grandparents are from so it was very personal. I had a beautiful string of pearls which Jon gave to me to wear and a family heirloom ring with sapphires and diamonds (which was my something old, borrowed and blue!). I loved the effect of a few small, subtle pieces which were all very personal and had real family meaning. I felt like I carried a little piece of everyone with me as I went down the aisle.
The Perfect 50’s Look
I went for a relaxed up do, which went well with the style of dress and headpiece. Similarly for my make up I don’t usually wear much so I was keen not to look like I had been tangoed! Laura at South Hair really understood what I was going for and helped me to create a natural look with 50’s eyeliner and plenty of (very subtle!) false eyelashes. I also had my lashes tinted a few days before so that there would be no panda eyes!
Shoe wise I went for white and silver Irregular Choice shoes with a big flower on the toe. I love their funky designs and they are so comfortable, plus I have already worn them again as they aren’t specifically ‘bridal’. In the evening I swapped into a pair of flat, two toned swing dancing shoes which I have had for years but they are perfect for a spot of Lindy Hop (more on that later…)
Rose By Name…
My flowers were provided by Jules Florist. There had to be roses – my maiden name is Rose so that was a definite. My bridesmaids all had white bouquets of one single flower (freesia, roses and hydrangea) while my bouquet combined all three flowers in a mixture of pinks and whites. The freesia and roses made everything smell gorgeous! Our table flowers were large displays in giant martini glasses (as a nod towards our love of cocktails!) which looked sensational. The chaps all had roses as their button holes- all the grooms men in white and Jon with pink.
We decided early on that we wanted a relaxed feel to our big day and one of the main decisions to help support that was to go for lounge suits for the chaps rather than tails. This nearly caused one of the major arguments of the whole planning process as my dad was dead set on tails. However after some gentle explanations that tails wouldn’t be happening we bought grey suits from Moss Bros. Jon wore the same suit/waistcoat/cravat combo as the rest of the boys but he had shoes and shirt from M&S and as a present to all his grooms men he bought them all matching Pantone socks to go with the cravats. He looked so gorgeous as I walked towards him up the aisle and I was so proud to be his nearly wife!
Our colour scheme was my favourite colour – duck egg blue with pinks and whites so we had our bridesmaids in a similar colour dresses to the boys cravats. These were from Monsoon with home made sashes and more knitted flowers.
A Little Bridezilla Moment
We found Eliza through Rock My Wedding and she was the cause of my one and only (to my mind anyway!) Bridezilla moment. We both loved her style and really wanted that beautiful light that she captures in our photos. Her colours are always beautiful and we really clicked with her ability to tell a story. We spoke to her on the phone and she said that she also had another couple interested in the same day that she was speaking to on the phone from Australia the following day. At this point I decided we had to have her there and then and insisted on putting down a deposit IMMEDIATELY without meeting her. My family thought I had flipped but the thought of not having her do our photos was awful! She was a god send on the day itself, actually helping me into my dress as well as being a font of wedding knowledge! Having seen our photos now I know that I did the right thing by stamping my foot just a little!
Spoilt For Choice
I set my heart on a naked tiered Victoria sponge cake with fresh flowers on it, which I thought really worked with the relaxed feel we were going for on the day. Then Jon’s Aunty and Nanna offered to make us a fruit cake so we were utterly spoiled and went for both! It was great to be able to offer a choice for the more traditional generation (my Nan was insistent that it just wouldn’t be a wedding without a fruit cake!) and a lighter option for those who aren’t a fan of fruit cake (or marzipan, those crazy people!) Both cakes were brilliant and we topped off the fruit one with a knitted bride and groom which I made and customised to look like us.
In the evening we had a 17 piece swing orchestra – Swing Unlimited Big Band who are a local group and were just fantastic. They got everyone up and dancing with a mixture of traditional big band and swing mixed in with some really funky tunes. Our first dance was to ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ which was great to Lindy Hop to and one that the band could play just like the original Nina Simone track so we were able to practice at home beforehand. I did some swing dancing at university so it was important to me that we did a little bit of Lindy on the night. Jon and I went to a few lessons and I was so proud of him. All his family kept commenting that they didn’t know he could dance!
The Little Touches
We really wanted to give our guests a little bottle of spirits each to make cocktails with but when we looked into it, it would have been so expensive. So we bought empty 50cl bottles and corks from eBay and filled them with home made Sloe Gin and tied name tags to each one with ribbon. On the reverse of the tags was a cocktail recipe to use the gin in! We also gave out vintage hankies to all the la-dies at the ceremony and had hand made napkin rings too. We really wanted to show our family and friends how much they mean to us and felt that a few little touches like this could do just that. Besides, we thought if there were loads of mini sloe gins left that wouldn’t be a terrible thing for us but in fact there wasn’t a single one left behind!
A Talented Groom
We went a bit nuts in Ikea buying candles which went on every available surface, ditto with pompoms (which I made with some help from a tutorial from Martha Stewart) for the dancing room but they looked fab. We hired two big nets of fairy lights for one wall of the dancing room too, which really gave a great atmosphere to that room which otherwise might have been quite plain. Drawing on Jon’s creative talents I really want to mention that he de-signed all our stationery bits – from the Save the Dates to invites to menus to order of ceremony. He created a font that we used for everything and that really helped to tie things together and make it look great and then hand drew loads of illustrations in pencil. Even our black cat Milly was there – we wanted to include her even though in reality she was miles away in a cattery! Jon now takes commissions from newly engaged couples!
I think it’s important to remember that this may be one of the very few times in your life when everyone that you love will be in one place at one time. That in itself makes the day brilliant so try to enjoy it as much as possible. Budgets are important too, when I fell in love with a pricey frock I committed us to doing as much DIY as possible but that really helped us to stretch our creativity and put as much of us into the day as we could. There wasn’t a single aspect of the day that we didn’t put a little bit of ourselves into and I think that made our day so special to us and one that we will remember and treasure forever.
So there you have it…our modern day Grace Kelly. It’s so inspiring to see and hear about how a wedding look came together. Nicky’s attention to detail with her carefully chosen accessories and ensuring she got just the right veil to compliment her dress gives me tingles. Everything looked so beautiful.
And isn’t that the softest looking bouquet you ever saw? Also, who spotted the use of bubbles instead of confetti? LOVE.
If you are a super talented W-day photographer then who do you choose to take your W-day pics? Tough one eh?… But of course the answer is – you find yourself another super talented W-day photographer…
And so that is how it came to be that Debs Ivelja shot the Wedding of Caro Hutchings. Or, as I should really say, the wedding of Caro and Simon.
We have a lot of love for Caro at RMW and I must admit, there are some newly emerging emotions flying around for Debs too after looking though this trove of beauty. Seriously folks you are in for a treat today.
Charlotte was in raptures over the bouquet (a little bit roadside chic actually!) and the dress and the cake and the veil.
Wait I’m not done… And the menu’s, the lampshades, the upside down hanging umbrellas. The streamers, the portraits…
Let me put it another way. She LOVES this wedding. So do I. So, get ready to fall in love as well.
Our Wedding was at St Peters Church. We then got a boat from Marlow to the reception venue, Monks Barn in Hurley.
My dress was from Phase Eight. I always knew I didn’t want a big extravagant dress so started going down the bespoke route but soon realised how much it was going to cost. I was talking to a friend describing my perfect dress and within in a week she had called me and told me she was sure she had just seen ‘my dress’ in the John Lewis window. I investigated and soon found out it was by Phase Eight. One of my bridesmaids and I went up the following Sunday and I bought it 18 months before the wedding. For me it was the perfect, simple, lace dress I had always wanted and completely affordable at £350.
The Veil Of My Dreams.
My earrings were a gift from my mum, I wore my mums sapphire ring (borrowed and blue) my hair piece was from etsy and my veil was purchased during a holiday to Spain with my girlfriends… I saw it in the window of a tiny little random shoe shop which had two wedding dresses and two veils. it was so beautifully made and I knew it was the veil I had always dreamed about. My granddad had told me during my first communion to ‘wear my veil’ as he was too ill to make it to that. He died not long after, so I had always known I had to have a proper ‘catholic’ veil in his memory and finding it with my girlfriends was a really special moment.
Three Pairs Of Shoes.
Shoes were the biggest problem!!! I didn’t want bridal shoes as I wanted to wear them again.. I knew I wanted something a bit different but just couldn’t find anything that wasn’t peep toe (I HATE my toes!!) or with a huge platform. I love the shoes in Irregular Choice but the pair that I loved were ridiculously high. So after many many searches I opted for the ridiculously high ones (4.5 inches). I loved them and thought I would see how it went. I bought a back up pair also from irregular choice for when the pain was too much. I also ended up wearing a pair of sandals for the evening when my feet just couldn’t cope anymore. I did end up wearing 3 pairs throughout the day.
Keep It Simple.
I knew I wanted my hair and makeup to be really simple with the veil and maybe have an up do for the evening. I am really lucky that my cousin is a professional hair and make up artist so she did a fantastic job of making me look good and the best bit of all was she was there all day for touch ups and in the evening a total hair transformation.
Pick Your Own Blooms.
The flowers I found one of the most difficult aspects. Given the option I would have been in Covent Garden market the morning of the wedding buying my flowers to make my own bouquets etc. But I knew this was not very viable. After speaking to many florists who either were way out my budget or were over complicating what I wanted I had lost hope until weeks before the wedding I found Rachel at Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire. Green and Gorgeous own a picking field on a farm. Rachel was able to make the bouquets and buttonholes for me and also pick all the other flowers I wanted from her field and deliver them 2 days before the weddings for us to arrange into vases. I walked with her around her field pointing at the flowers I liked and disliked (no roses allowed) and she got them altogether for delivery. It really is the best concept for someone who doesn’t want the fancy displays and it keeps the costs down massively.
Colour Is The Key.
Having 6 bridesmaids means that the outfits could have easily spiralled out of control. Something I suggest you think about if you are contemplating a lot of maids!! We ended up organising a shopping trip to London but I wasn’t overly hopeful we would find anything. We were all amazed at the options on the high street… We settled for a dress from Matthew Williamson at Debenhams and my mother in law made sashes that matched the colour of each maids shoes. The groom and best man got there suits from Ben Sherman and the ushers all had suits from Marks & Spencer. The ties and all the accessories were left to the groom to sort out with a few colour guides but obviously nothing that he stuck to but it all looked great with the bridesmaids. From the outset we knew we didn’t want a colour scheme and tried to tie it all together with the yellow, purple and blue variations but colour was the main theme of the day.
The Right Man.
Simon looked amazing and although I really didn’t have any say in his outfit I honestly couldn’t have pictured it any more perfect. He showed me what he was wearing a week before the wedding and when he tried it all on for me I got such a feeling of calm and I just knew he was the right man for me. I bought him some customised cufflinks to open in the morning. They were handmade with a map in them of where he proposed to me in Moss Landing, America.
Relaxed And Laid Back.
As a wedding photographer myself this was the hardest decision. Not because I couldn’t find anyone that lived up to my expectations but simply because I love so many other photographers that I wanted them all!!!! I knew Debs previously and after a few emails and a coffee I knew she would be amazing and fit in with the relaxed and laid back nature of the day. She was so incredible throughout the day and captured the memories that we really will treasure for the rest of our lives . Some of my favourite shots that she captured were of my dad and I in the morning as this was all a bit of a blur but looking back at these pictures always makes me smile.
My cake was an absolute triumph!!! A really dear friend of the family Pat Bridges has always made cakes for friends and family and when asked she was more than happy to help. I gave her no real direction except I wanted three different flavour sponges and something really simple. It really was the most beautiful work of art and I spent ages just looking and admiring it. It also tasted absolutely amazing.
Ready To Rock.
Simon always wanted a live band for the evening and after much deliberation we chose After Dark. My brother is a guitarist and a few days before the wedding he approached them to see if he could play with them. This was one of the bests bits from the evening and everyone was dancing and rocking out.. even my 90 year old nana.
The Sweetest Feeling.
We choose ‘I get the sweetest feeling’ by Jackie Wilson. Simon is rubbish at leaning song lyrics and during a car journey to the Alps I taught him every line to this song until he learnt them. So for us it was a great choice that held happy memories and wasn’t too slow and gushy.
After so much deliberation we opted not to really have favours but something that could double up as the place name and a sort of favour. To keep with the umbrella theme we bought lot’s of cocktail umbrellas and wrapped a piece of paper around the stick so they could double up as place names. What was really fun was that everyone ended up wearing them in their hair.
The Best Find Ever.
We had always wanted a blank canvas venue that we could dress our own way. This was one of the most important sides of it for me – Simon’s being a free bar. We came up with a very loose theme of umbrellas while we were travelling. We were in a restaurant in Vietnam and they had hung umbrellas from string to create a ceiling… We thought is was so cool and wanted to replicate it at the barn. I have a really good friend Barty who really did ‘get’ my ideas… With Simon helping they hung about 30 umbrellas that I had collected from the ceiling, suspended over the dance floor. It looked amazing!
One of my bridesmaids, Sophie, then found the beautiful umbrella centrepieces in a shop on Hayling Island. These literally were the best find ever and without them I really don’t think the umbrella thing would have made any sense.
Other key details were the drapes I made to cover the black doors that acted as a lovely backdrop for the speeches. The suitcases I found in my nanas loft that we used to house pot plants from the mums’ gardens. A really special suitcase that belonged to my Bampa which had his initials on… This housed all the presents and cards. We put a marquee up in case it rained and this acted as the coffee, cake and sweet tent. I love old lampshades and hung them above the sweet table with coloured pom poms to dress the marquee up a bit. Photos were also hung around the marquee of family and friends.
As it was a dry hire venue we built our own bar and bought copious amounts of alcohol including ‘Fort Simon’ and ‘Chateau Caroline’ wine. I then customised it as a ‘Pompey’ bar, which is the football team Simon supports, we also met in Portsmouth so it is a special place to both of us. I found loads of Pompey memorabilia on ebay and decorated it for him as a surprise.
It is so hard to put into words how special our day was to us and I think the fundamental thing everyone kept saying was that it was completely ‘us’. So many special moments from my dad driving me down to the church in his beloved Porsche to walking down the tiny isle in the same church as my confirmation and seeing Simon’s face at the end of it. Having a boat party to the venue and seeing everyone’s reactions as they walked in to the barn.
What also stands out is the week before the day, which we spent in the barn, setting up with all our friends and family rallying to help. The experience as a whole made me realise how lucky we are to have such amazing friends, family and best of all each other – and that’s what a wedding should be completely about in my opinion.
If you are thinking about having a wedding in the UK then ‘Umbrella’s’ is a pretty safe theme to go with I reckon – So why has no-one done this before?
I don’t know what to say for fear of repeating Charlottes stream of consciousness from earlier.. I too seriously love all the stationery, I’m loving line drawings at the moment – and that umbrella ceiling? Words properly fail me.
Also – serious car envy over here – a camper van and a porsche for wedding vehicles? Very snazzy indeed! Mahoosive thanks to Caro and Simon for sharing this groundbreaking and seriously imaginative colour feast of a wedding.
First of all, you have to excuse the pun. I love a pun so when I heard that the Rock Star of the wedding industry, Steve Gerrard had journeyed up to Sheffield there was really only one title worth considering. It also might be worth noting that Tim & Carla’s wedding did not break the bank. 🙂
Their big day took place back in June at Whirlowbrook Hall in Sheffield. It was a small intimate affair achieved on a modest budget. You’ll learn that big names and fancy labels aren’t really Tim & Carla’s bag. You’ll also learn that scouring vintage thrift stores, making considered choices from the High Street and artful budget allocation (on what really matters to you) can make a wedding as beautiful and unique as… well as beautiful and uniqueas this one right here. Enjoy…
All Shock And No Frock.
Although a really pretty frock was important for me, having an amazing designer dress wasn’t. I ended up taking a few different styles of dresses and sending them to a dressmaker in China who whipped up a wedding dress for me from scratch in a couple of months. I didn’t enjoy trying on wedding dresses in bridal boutiques and was pretty mortified when I was put on a pedestal and cooed over. I was dressed up like a doll and told to stand on a box to see how the dress looked with everyone looking at me. Oh the horror… Not only did this make me around a foot higher than everyone else around me (which made me feel daft), I also had no idea how the dress would have looked on me as I am, i.e. with my bottom half a foot shorter! I appreciate the reasons for doing this but could image nothing worse than ordering the dress then going to subsequent fittings only to realise I temporarily looked like a skinny leggy blonde for a damn good reason. And that’s not because I am one unfortunately. A cruel trick!
I did fall in love with a dress which was over £2,000 but my dress wasn’t one of the major priorities for the day and I didn’t want to take budget away from aspects of the day that were more important to us, such as the venue, food, photographer (the amazingly awesome Steve Gerrard), vino, honeymoon… The plan was to try get a dress made and if it didn’t work out, I could possibly get the one I liked most from the bridal shop. Bit of a gamble but…
My dress wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but it was made from silk (patch tested with a lighter on arrival!), constructed really well (confirmed by my seamstress) & I absolutely loved it because it was mine. And for considerably less than the dream dress, I was ecstatic. It honestly didn’t feel like a massive compromise. The style of the dress probably wasn’t the most flattering for my curves but I just didn’t really care – I wanted a mermaid/trumpet shape to my dress and that was it really, so I got one and I loved it.
Vintage Blue Topaz.
Accessories were pretty standard. I made a veil from netting from John Lewis to wear for the ceremony & later swapped that for a flower from Monsoon which I clipped to some Merry Widow netting which I sewed Swarovski crystals on to. Ridiculously easy and all in all cost around £40 for them both.
I wore a vintage blue topaz ring courtesy of Grandma. A bit of a tribute to a wonderful lady who would have loved the wedding day… I had another ring that Tim bought me which was very similar but chunkier gold which replaced Grandma’s later on in the day. I couldn’t decide which one to go with so used both 🙂
My shoes were a blush/nude colour with a snakeskin design on the leather, glitter and big clear jewels on the front, courtesy of Kurt Geiger. They were probably around 4″ but the front platform made them really comfy and, although I don’t wear heels very often, I didn’t moan that my feet were hurting once! I just realised the description of my shoes makes them sound like part of a 70s costume but they were nice, honest.
My bridesmaid’s shoes were the real beauts though – OTT Irregular Choice gems that would have made Marie Antoinette smile.
My hairstyle for the day was the bane of my life for a good few months. I decided to start growing my hair 18 months before the big day and had quite adventurous plans considering the style then was asymmetric and around 2″ max on one side. I went to a local hairdressers armed with a few pics, they put my hair up & I thought ‘that’ll do nicely’. That was around 3 weeks before the wedding and was a mahooosive weight lifted. If you can get your overall image sorted early on, it’ll save a lot of stress when you can do without it!
I ended up getting my make up done because I didn’t want to look exactly the same as I do every day. My one look is big fat black eyeliner but I didn’t want that for the day. When my make up trial came round, we tried less heavy eye make up look. I looked like someone else. I went for the black eyeliner. It would appear I don’t like change…
Vintage Bottles And Peonies.
On the day the thing that I was most impressed with (but didn’t have a massive amount of control over) were the flowers. Loved loved loved my bouquet & the peonies were the nicest I’ve ever seen. My main requests were big peonies and craspedia and the florist carried on the theme throughout the venue decorations. We scoured antique shops for vintage bottles for a good year before the wedding which was a lot of fun, and these were used as table centerpieces.
We originally wanted use my Grandad’s old battered typewriter as an alternative to the guest book but we couldn’t get the bloody thing working. Instead we challenged our florist to make the rusty old thing look pretty. Monica Hewitt, you did us very very very proud.
Small But Perfect.
Our wedding party only consisted of one bridesmaid, one groomsman and my sister’s little ‘un Evelyn who we both absolutely adore. Frances has been my best friend since we were 4 years old and Tim has known Matt from playing out on his bike over 15 years ago.
We got Matt a grey suit and tie and he picked up his own pink shirt and brown shoes. And very dapper he looked too.
Frances (AKA my human accessory) looked gorgeous in a silk dress from Coast and THOSE shoes.
The colour scheme was a bit vintagey with a twist, using a minty/aqua colour (taken from France’s dress, bright pink (Tim’s tie) & blue (Tim’s suit), and we tried to tie all the decorations in with that.
Hot In Reiss.
Tim looked absolutely gorgeous on the day and I felt so proud to be marrying/have married this hot hot HOT man! He bought his navy suit from Reiss and an awesomely awesome (to the max) shirt from 1 Like No Other from a store in Sheffield.
Tim doesn’t wear suits at all and so to see him dressed up to the nines in a beautifully cut suit was really special. I think it’s obvious he loved his outfit – if you’re not comfortable it really shows. It’s the groom’s day just as much as the bride’s (in theory anyway), and it’s important not to overlook their outfit whilst being neurotic about your own.
Stevie G. Super Cool.
Our photographer Steve Gerrard was one of our first wedding bookings. His style of photography is artistically modern with more than a hint of super-cool. Because you’re around your photographer a lot, it’s really important to get someone who is on your wavelength & Steve was very much that.
I really enjoyed his blog and felt like I knew him (& his family!) before I met him. This did make me feel rather stalkerish though (in a similar way to looking through someone’s holiday pics on Facebook), but it was lovely to see how other people planned their wedding. Through Steve’s pictures, I could kind of get an idea how our wedding was going to be portrayed and what our album was going to end up like which was really exciting.
This Isn’t Just Cake…
Our cake wasn’t a priority on the budget plan so we decided if I couldn’t have my stupidly fantastic cake (like Planet Cake’s ‘Village Fair’ creation), then I wasn’t bothered about mid-range one. Our cake was from M and S and was a chocolate sponge with white chocolate icing. And scrummy is was too. We ended up bringing the top layer home because there was a bit too much and tried our best (but failed) to eat it all the day after the wedding.
The cake sat on a glass cake stand we got from Ikea and spray-painted the underside dark blue. It was little things like this other people probably didn’t notice but I did and I think it looked fabulous.
Our DJ for the evening was a university student who runs a company called Amplified Entertainments. He was a really lovely guy and had a screen on the front of his equipment to play a slideshow of our pictures. That was a really nice way to include some people who are unfortunately no longer around and bring them to our wedding. As well as showing Tim & me growing up over the last 10 years together and displaying some all-round daftness!
My favourite song was saved for walking down the isle rather than the first dance. Every holiday over the past few years has been accompanied by Scott Matthews (MP3 version, unfortunately not the man…), and I have memories of listening to him on every one and feeling generally very very contented. I chose ‘Elusive’ to make my grand entrance to, and it worked perfectly for us.
Our first dance was ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream. It’s a song we’ve both loved for years, and in the run-up to the wedding I would often sing this to Tim very loudly & purposefully out of tune during the 7.30am car journey to work. I found this hilarious, Tim didn’t always.
The lyrics ‘I’ve been waiting so long, to be where I’m going, in the sunshine of your love’ – so so nice although the whole ‘waiting’ thing wasn’t overly appropriate since we’ve been together since ages 17 & 20.
Our favours were Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne truffles which were seriously yummy. The kids’ favours were paper bag with toys, sweets and colouring books in. I would highly recommend this to keep the little dears entertained – it’s a long day for them and without the luxury of a cheeky vino, they get bored easily!
The venue decorations were kept to a few statement pieces. There were a few pictures on the wall in the venue which our amazing wedding co-ordinator Emma said we could replace with our own. She worked so hard to put all our little wedding decorations up, decorate tables etc – it’s people like Emma who give you the confidence that your day is gonna be hitch-free (no pun intended).
We bought some picture frames from antique/junk shops and spray-painted them. We ended up with a bright pink frame with a canvas of Scott Matthew’s ‘Elusive’ in, a dark blue mirror, and a gold frame which Tim made into a clock. Tim’s clock marked out the day’s events at the relevant times and acted as a bit of an order of service. I think that was one of the best decorations. We also had a chalk board which was updated with the best dancer throughout the night. That did give us a good giggle when we dug that out a few weeks later 😀
Carrying on with the spray-painting theme, we found a wooden cupboard box by the side of the road with a note saying ‘free to a good home’. That home was ours. We spray-painted it an aqua colour, distressed the edges with sandpaper, Tim cut a slot out the top & voila! – a box for cards.
We bought & restored a black Victorian frame (which came with a really creepy chalk portrait in – he’s still in the cellar) and used it for the table plan. Another of Tim’s creations, made using photos of our guests instead of names. Just a bit of fun really and hopefully made our guests smile.
I spent quite a long time making paper heart garlands to hang down one window of the venue. They were made out of vintage sheet music & I sewed mini pink bells on the bottom. They actually ended up looking quite pretty – they’re included in one of our favourite pictures from the day. Steve Gerrard, you’re a diamond. One of the music sheets had a bride and groom on the front with a large banner on the top which said ‘TOO LATE NOW’. That was too good to cut up so I framed it.
The venue was one of the many things we got very right. The food was lovely, the place is pretty and all the staff were seriously super. And we took our own wine. We served Balfour Brut Rosé for the toast which was a scrummy English pink fizz. And I stayed on that all day 😀
Nearest And Dearest.
What really made our wedding special were our guests. We didn’t have the budget to pay for a big wedding, and the thought of getting married in front of people I haven’t seen for years (or possible have never even met) made me really really nervous. We had our immediate family and best friends there and that was exactly what worked for us.
Tips I would give for brides-to-be are:
Try and plan your wedding around things you enjoy. If you’re really into music, put some work into making sure you get it spot on. If you’re a crafty person (creative, not sneaky), get online for inspiration and get that glue gun out. Don’t let your wedding become a chore by taking on projects you don’t find fun.
Try not to fall out/have digs at your husband-to-be. Planning a wedding is stressful and it’s inevitable you’ll find ways to air those grievances, on the whole just try to play nice and try to have a giggle whilst you go.
Prioritise what’s important. Once you get researching, your priorities may change but unless you have in infinite budget (lucky you!), somethings you just have to compromise on. And that’s hard when you’ve tried on your dream designer dress, picked the most amazing cake, researched the most expensive flowers…
Try not to bore work colleagues, friends, family with talk of the wedding all the time. It’s exciting for everyone involved but you don’t want people to be bored of hearing about your wedding when it’s not even happened yet. Try to keep a bit of mystery and a few nice surprises for your guests to enjoy on the day.
Use the time with your photographer as a good excuse to get a few nice cuddles in with your new husband. It’s a busy busy day but it’s all about the two of you getting married – make sure you share a nice amount of time with each other.
Finally, the most important thing is the two of you making wonderful vows to each other. If there’s one day that you should let minor hiccups slip, that should be your wedding day. Good luck with you planning!
Cara says it all there at the end – which has saved me a job. I know what you’re thinking…. it’s Friday and Adams gone all lazy and he’s already winding down for the weekend… Well it’s true. I am. So there.
Happy Friday folks 😉
P.S Reiss are definately making my favourite high street suits at the moment… their cut and quality of tailoring in the suits and shirts are unbeatable – Tim made a great choice, im off to check out 1 Like No Other now.