This is the perfect post for a Friday, Not only is it breezy, beachy and super-full of sunshine – perfect for lifting our spirits on this miserable (still! – um, it’s June!) Friday. It also has some brilliant snippets of advice between the stunning photographs. If you didn’t read Part 1, go back now and have a look, then come back and read this part!
Being a designer/general arty-type, Stephen was determined that we had images of our day that were visually pleasing to his particular style. His exact wording to prospective photographers when describing the sort of thing he wanted was: “A selection of black and whites, bleached, rich or vibrant colours (think movie poster) and a couple of safer shots just in case we grow old and boring……A touch of drama …Creative compositions”. I, on the other hand, was not so sure what I wanted – although I very much agreed with Stephen when we looked at some photographers work on-line, that we both preferred the photo-journalism style.
A general cruise of the internet found us 3 photographers that we then met with, but even before meeting them, our favourite images were those of Bournemouth-based photographer Phill Allen. His pictures just seemed so thoughtfully composed, yet captured a split second moment – suggesting to us he had a real eye for a good picture. His work also seemed so consistent – so important when you only have one day to catch it!
After chatting to all 3 photographers, our decision was clear to us – we wanted Phill Allen to photograph our wedding. Not only were his pictures amazing (it would seem that so many photographers have adopted a photojournalism style but Phill was the only one we saw whose pictures showed a true narrative), but we really liked him too. He appeared to us someone who really enjoys people, and therefore really enjoys his job. He was honest and open, both traits that Stephen and I really value.
We were in no way disappointed. The Photographs that we have of our wedding are outstanding. They are not only beautiful, but a true reflection of our day – we are so pleased to have them as a lasting memory of our amazing day.
When it comes to flowers, I’m pretty clueless – and there wasn’t anything obvious that sprung to mind for flowers, when you considered our theme. We decided fairly on, then, that we didn’t want flowers for our table centrepieces. Thinking about what we’d seen that we’d liked, and with some great advice from our fantastic florists, Kerry and Laura, at Penn Hill Flowers, we came up with fish bowls, with sand at the bottom and shells, floating candles, and grasses around the inside of the bowls. The candles carried our colour scheme of tiffany blue into the centrepieces and the sand, shells and water were all suitably beachy!
For the bouquets and button holes, we went for white flowers – as blue flowers are fairly hard to come-by! As I said, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to flowers, so Kerry and Laura were really helpful, showing us pictures of some of the sort of things we might like to go for. I fell in love with lily-of-the-valley, but unfortunately having a whole bouquet of that was going to blow the budget, so mine and my bridesmaid’s flowers were hand-tied bouquets of cream, small headed flowers with lily of the valley and panicum grass.
The men’s buttonholes were single, cream Avalanche roses, with foliage. Stephen’s also had some Panicum grass and lily-of-the-valley incorporated.
Shades of Grey
Having succumbed to buying a dress (rather than making it myself) I decided that my creative efforts would go into making our wedding cake. This, at least, could be completed weeks before our wedding day and would not need to be subject to any last-minute alterations! From a very practical perspective, then, fruit cake was chosen, as it can be made so far in advance!! I had in my mind that I would keep it simple – a stacked, tiered cake – either round or square, and decorated with shells or pebbles, to tie-in with our beach theme.
I very clearly recall the conversation that Stephen and I had regarding the shape of the cake – it went something like this:
Beth: What shape wedding cake shall I make – Shall I go for round or square? (I’ll be honest, it was a token question, I thought he would leave the decision to me).
Stephen: (after some thought) Both of those are a bit dull – couldn’t you make something a bit more interesting…a sandcastle shaped cake maybe?
Beth: I don’t think so – might be a little bit tacky.
Stephen: What about making a cake that looks like stacked pebbles…
…and so the idea was born! And so, with the help of my Mum, the two of us just about managed to create pebble-shaped cakes and I’m sure Stephen and I are the only couple in history that has ended up with a grey wedding cake! Did it look home-made? Yes, very much so – but it was one of many very personal touches to our wedding day and I loved being involved in doing it.
Wanting to be a little bit different, but not wanting to break the bank, we made CD’s of some of our favourite songs for our guests. As they were all songs that had featured somewhere in the day, we called it the “Sound Track to Our Marriage Day” – Stephen made cardboard sleeves for all the CDs. It was important for us to give our guests something that would act as a real reminder to our day.
As well as the CD, I painted everyone’s first names onto pebbles, to use for the name place settings. I was pleased to see that the majority of people took these with them too – so they ended up serving a double purpose!
Althought the chairs at our venue were very lovely, we went for chair covers with Tiffany-blue sashes, to bring our colour into the wedding breakfast room. We also continued the beach theme throughout with scattered shells (collected by Stephen and myself from the beach…and painstakingly cleaned!), naming the tables after some of our favourite beaches and with the pebble place-name settings. Stephen, who designed all the stationary, had included a 3-shell motif, and that cropped up on the orders of the day, the table plan, the table name cards, the CD cases for the favours – even the children’s treasure hunt clues!! We did our best to really tie everything together.
Children of the 90’s
Although, strictly speaking, not entertainment, we had a harpist play for our ceremony. I love the elegance and romance of the Harp, and it really suited our venue. We met Jess King-Holforth at a wedding fayre at our venue, and she played beautifully. I walked up the Aisle to Cannon in D by John Pachabel – so beautiful on the harp, it really added a special touch to our ceremony. She also played some of our favourite contemporary songs on the harp for the signing of the register, which was a lovely touch.
Being children of the 90’s, Stephen and I share a love of alternative rock…indi…brit-pop….call it what you will. We also love live music – even if it’s just a guy with his guitar down the pub, so the obvious choice was a live band. We also reckoned on a band doubling up as the evening’s entertainment, in a way that a disco/DJ never would – you can still enjoy watching a band, even if you don’t fancy a dance.
Not knowing any live bands that we thought would fit the bill, we hunted around the internet and came across Warble Entertainment, an on-line agent for entertainers of all sorts. The site was great – you could listen to clips of the acts, which all had reviews, and felt more confident that you were hiring through a reputable agent. We still felt, just very slightly, that we were taking a bit of a gamble…what if they were a let-down?!
We really needn’t have worried. The Indie Killers were brilliant. Brilliant musicians, unbelievable showmen and incredibly professional. They learnt our first-dance song to play for us (Athlete’s “Half-light”) and then played 3 amazing sets – with a DJ option set up between sets, perfect for those who would prefer to dance to some of the more classic wedding-party tunes.
Although it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup-of-tea, having a live band was a real wow factor and talking point of the evening. I wouldn’t hesitate to make the exact same decision again!
As I’ve already mentioned, our first dance was to Athlete’s Half-light, played live. Not a typical first dance, by a long shot, but very special and personal to us.
The song was released in 2005 – a time before Stephen and I were a couple, but were best friends, but both knew in our heart-of-hearts that we were soul mates. It was also a time that I was planning an open-ended trip to New Zealand. The song really struck a chord with me, and I learnt to play it on the guitar (an instrument we both play), and would play it to Stephen, sat in his garden. In my last week in the UK, at the beginning of September 2005, some of the lines in the song seemed to hold real meaning to the both of us:
“So when I see you next, we’ll make the most of it, tell the sun to start moving again”
“but all that I’ve seen, means nothing to me, without you”
Unbeknown to either of us, neither could listen to that song after that week without a tear coming to our eye, and thoughts of what could have been. But of course, the story didn’t end there. I was back after a year, and the feelings we’d had hadn’t changed. And the rest is history!
As neither of us are particular fans of the lime light, so a big dance number it was not – more of the “A-Frame shuffle” as we like to call it, but lots of people joined us up on the dance floor.
Advice from a Bride
The thing that made our day so very special to us was including the things that we loved – the blessing down on the beach, the live music in the evening – even the food was the type of food we loved. So many of our guests told us that our day was a real reflection of us. One of my big tips to other couples would be to, at the beginning of the planning process, to sit down and think about what is really important to you – what you want to get out of your day and what you want people to remember about it afterwards.
On the day, just relax and enjoy – and try to take in as much as you can.
Try on as many wedding dresses as you possibly can!! Even if you think you know what you want, try different things on – you’ll never get the chance to do it again!
Don’t be too ruthless with the guest list…there may be budgets to be stuck to, but at the end of the day, you’ll want the people you care about the most to be there, so don’t cut people out just because of numbers (although if you don’t want them there, that’s different!) – you could end up missing them on the day.
Photographer – Mister Phill
Venue – Italian Villa, Compton Acres
Flowers – Penn Hill Flowers
Stationery/Table Plan – Groom
Harpist – Jess King-Holforth
Wise words and brilliant advice from a very down to earth bride! 🙂
Have a Beachy Breezy weekend folks!