What Shirley Did… Decor Decisions.

Afternoon lovelies …. this month I’ve been trying to pull together my venue decor. My venue Burnham Park has a biiiiig white room and that’s where we’re having our reception. It’s lovely because it’s big and white and has huge windows to let in the light, but it scares the living daylights out of me for the same reasons! I’m all for a blank canvas, but this one has 6m high ceilings so we’re definitely on the extreme end of large! I have the added challenge of achieving an intimate, light, bright look for the daytime where we’re only having 40 guests and then transforming the room into something totally different and dramatic for 120 guests in the evening.

The Room.

I had originally contracted to use a decor lady who I met at a local wedding fair. I got on with her fabulously and had got quite a way down the planning route with her when she suddenly pulled out without explanation leaving me in the lurch. After a bit of frantic googling, I placed a panicked phone call to Doug at StressFree Hire. Let me tell you, Doug is the sort of guy you *need* on your team – he listened patiently to my woes, my needs and my wants and basically let me get all my angst off my chest. Then he said ‘so when exactly is the wedding that you urgently need to sort all this for?’ and I had to confess that actually the wedding was in ummm 11 months time and actually it wasn’t that urgent. Ahem.

Anyway, many emails and a site visit later, Doug has helped me narrow down the choices and costs for decorating the venue. Top of my list was something to reduce the ceiling height – I had thought that my only option was giant helium balloons as we’re not allowed to attach anything to the ceiling but Doug has an ingenious solution. Basically it’s set of 4 tower post things arranged at the edges of the room which are about 4 metres tall each and from the top they can string a mesh system between the 4 posts. This then gives them something to hang lanterns from. LOTS of lanterns. And the lanterns are going to have little lights in them so as it gets dark, they’re going to twinkle like a canopy of stars. The lanterns don’t come cheap when you’re having lots of them, so in between the lanterns, I’ve bought some honeycomb tissue paper balls to hang (these aren’t easily available in the UK and when they are, they’re expensive, so I’ve ordered them in the US and someone I know is visiting soon & is kindly bringing them over for me). It’s going to look a bit like this:

After lanterns, lighting was next on my list, especially for the evening. So we’re going to have a gobo light which will project turquoise hearts up onto one of the big white walls, some uplighters in orange and turquoise to wash the rest of the room with colour and some pinspot lighting directly onto the centre of the tables to light up my flower balls! And lots of tealights.

Pinspots shine into the centre of tables to light up the flowers. The darker it gets, the more effective it looks! Our Gobo projection will be like this but with turquoise hearts. We’ve also hired in some chill-out furniture to break up the round banqueting tables a bit. Hopefully it will add another dimension and should be especially popular with my dance friends as we’re placing these right next to the dance floor!

It bothers me tremendously that I won’t be there on the morning of the wedding to see everything set up and make sure that I’m happy with it (spot the Type A personality!), so I’ve been drawing furiously to try and get my ideas out onto paper. It’s not perfect but it’s enough to get a feel for how it will look:

For the ceremony room, we’re keeping it simple with chair covers, an aisle runner and some giant turquoise/teal helium balloons. I have a variety of other ideas too which are a bit more DIY and in their infancy at the moment but include 3D polystyrene hearts, some letters and some foam. Whether any of them come together or not is another matter!! I also experimented with Fimo last weekend while my son was playing with it. I made some marbled hearts and stamped them with “R S” (our initials!) and I may tie them round napkins … I’m not sure yet. I think I just like playing around with the arty things actually!

Because we have use of the whole venue, we can also utilise the ‘cafe corridor’ as a quieter seating area – here we’re just having simple table cloths and an unusual centrepiece (it’s a surprise so you’ll have to wait and see!) on each table.

We’ll also have a photobooth area out here – my Dad’s Christmas project, although he doesn’t know it yet (!), is to build an MDF hinged photobooth thing that I’ve sketched out and then I can paint it one weekend before the wedding. Hopefully it will look something like this:

My Secret Weapon!

I have to admit to having a secret weapon in all of this though (!) – Rachie from achichiaffair, one of the other Contemporary Cool Real Bride entrants and who has blogged on RMW several times about venue decor (baby shower, hen nights etc) has very kindly agreed to be my ‘On-The-Day’ co-ordinator. I had met with a few other co-ordinators but it didn’t feel like anyone really understood the contemporary angle I wanted, so one night over a bottle of wine, Rog (having heard me speak about Rachie and her RMW blogs) said “Why don’t you ask Rachie if she would consider doing it – at least you’d know that she understands the ‘contemporary’ brief as her wedding is also contemporary?”. (Why do men always cut to the chase on issues?!)

So after a tentative email from me, and an affirmative answer from Rachie, we messaged back and forth on Facebook and then recently met at a pub and chatted like we’d known each other for years! It certainly makes me feel a lot better knowing that Rachie will take my ideas, drawings etc and wave her magic wand to make it all happen and if it doesn’t work exactly how I’ve planned it then she’s on hand to sort it all out in a contemporary way. Woo Hoo! It’s not just about decor though, Rachie has also offered to sort out music, move flowers between ceremony and reception rooms, become MC, man the guest book area, pay suppliers on the day etc etc. So if you’re thinking about a wedding co-ordinator, definitely have a chat with Rachie!

Giving Notice.

Like Amanda last week (DIY Bride), we’re also getting married on the 14th April, and have also given notice of our intent to marry this week. Because it’s a second marriage for both of us, this has not been an easy process – in fact we’ve been trying to give notice since June!! It doesn’t help that we both had lost our divorce certificates and so have had to apply to the courts for a certified copy. Then once we’d got those, the registrar informed me that because I’d changed my name by deed poll back to my maiden name before my divorce was finalised, they would need to see that too (even though I was legally entitled to use my maiden name after the divorce was finalised!). And yes you’ve guessed it – I’d lost that document too! Getting a copy of your deed poll is nigh on impossible unless you paid lots of money to have it archived (I didn’t) and I’ve ended up having to apply for a new one with a special clause in it saying that I am verifying I have used my maiden name since 1998! So the moral of the story is, put all your important documents in a box with a lock on it and don’t ever lose them because they’re difficult and expensive to replace!!


Is anyone else having a wedding website? I’ve been working on ours this month as there is quite a lot I’d like to tell people that just won’t fit on the invites & information cards so it seemed like a good idea to get one. I’d love to be a whizz bang web designer and know how to create my own website but sadly I’m not, so the next best option was to use one of the many template sites available. We chose www.gettingmarried.co.uk as they were free and I’ve tried to use similar colours and styling within the template options to what we’re having for the wedding stationery and decor so that there is some continuity. This is our final design – www.rogandshirley.gettingmarried.co.uk – feel free to leave us a comment in the ‘Have Your Say’ section if you have any good marriage advice!

Have a lovely Christmas everyone! I’ll be back in the New Year with photos of all our stationery which hopefully will be printed before Christmas ☺
Shirley x

Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

30 thoughts on “What Shirley Did… Decor Decisions.

  1. I really want these lanterns for my UK reception (we’re getting married abroad)! Gorgeous! Only problem is, our venue is being used for another event during the day so it’ll be tough getting everything set up. Hopefully I’ll find a way! x

  2. Shirley what a busy bee you’ve been!!!

    LOVE the fimo, can’t wait for Adam’s reaction after your fimo debate!!!

    LOVE those drawings of your venue!!! I think there SOOO good, I think that must be another thing we have in common, as I like to draw things out to, to get an idea of what it will look like! I too wanted massive helium ballons but we’re not aloud! 🙁

    As for Rachie, that was SO weird, I saw the photo first(I always scrow down the photos first and the go back to the top and start reading!) and thought well that girl looks familiar isn’t it Rachie and then I thought maybe see just looks similiar! But no it is Rachie! Sounds like she’s going to be a life saver on your big day! My budget version is hiring some of my lovely ex students to run around on the day! As they know me so well, I actually spend more time with some of them than Darren!

    This all just makes me more excited about meeting you in Jan!

    GREAT post!!!

  3. Wow. It’s all so amazing!! Such detail – love it. Especially the lighting idea!!

    On the note of “deed poll” though, I wonder if you know that a “deed poll” document does not need to be drawn up by a solicitor, or paid for at all – it is not archived or recorded by courts or magistrates’ or local council register…ever.

    See here… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deed_poll

    I drew up my own deed poll document after we were married as I wanted to make my maiden name a middle name. I had a lawyer friend check it over, but they didn’t change a single thing, and I just needed two witnesses – any one can change their name by this route whenever they want. All banks and the DVLA accepted it as proof of my name change. Just in case anyone else starts worrying about changing their name by deed poll – companies that will take £30+ off you for the privilege of a “certified” document are just rip off merchants. Thought people should know 🙂

  4. Sorry!! I posted the wrong link:

    That is the right one which details the common misconception… Quote:
    “There is a great deal of confusion, within the UK particularly, about what a deed of change of name actually is. Although in theory it’s nothing more than a document that can be prepared at home free of charge, due to the common expression “to change one’s name by deed poll” many people incorrectly think that “Deed Poll” is an official Government office or similar where one registers a change of name. Numerous websites have sought to capitalise on this misunderstanding by creating official looking, yet completely unnecessary ‘deed poll’ websites that charge people to create these documents on their behalf.”

  5. Can I please have a lantern ceiling for my bedroom? It would look really pretty! You seem so organised (it makes me feel a bit panicky) 🙂

  6. Loved this post not just because its features me!! 😉

    Shirleys wedding is going to be amazing – she has so many fabulous ideas! So excited to be helping her out!! xx

  7. @Amanda – thankyou! The drawing comes from my interior design training … its quite a useful (if tricky) skill to have actually and makes the pain of spending months learning how to do perspective 3D drawing somewhat worth it!

    @FrenchCharlotte – organised … possibly, but its in my blood as I’m a project manager by trade. However, I think its important to remember that ‘Real Bride’ planning can come across as very organised when its summarised like this, but the reality of day to day stuff is quite different, I can assure you! I have a list, like most of you will too, and every few days I cast my eye over it and figure out if there is anything I feel like tackling. Mostly, I read it and then put it back in the drawer as there is nothing I feel like doing until it gets urgent, and then I get stressed over it.

  8. We had lanterns on our W-day earlier this year (not nearly so many as you are planning on having, we put them up with fishing wire attached to a tennis ball thrown over the trusses 🙂 ) We had our wedding in at the old library in birmingham with very high ceilings, I wanted to try and post a photo. They looked lovely – yours will look fabulous! another idea is to pile up extra ones around the floor, in the corners etc to take up blank spaces and they looked great when the lights went down and they started to twinkle.

    I have about 40 lanterns left over in cream and white in different sizes if you want them . . . . . you can have them for the cost of the postage. Lex.

  9. Shirley, all I can say is WOW. Your venue is going to look seriously immense. I can’t wait to see it!!!

    AND you have the lovely Rachie as your co-ordinator. Amazing.

    For once, I am a little speechless!


  10. @Lydia – useful info, thanks. The main reason I went down the ‘pay for an official looking document’ route was because the registrars wouldn’t accept ANYTHING that didn’t have a red court stamp or a red wax seal on it and for the sake of £30 it was just easier to get the flipping red wax stamp that they required so that we could get married.

  11. Afternoon Shirley and th RMW readers, couple of questions for you Shirley:
    1. Can I please come to your wedding?!
    2. Can you please be my wedding co-ordinator? I think that type A personality will come in useful.
    3. And can I have a creative brain like yours?

    Please? Pretty please?! I LOVE all your ‘inspiration pics’ the chill out area and lanters are a.mazing. Great post and I CANNOT WAIT to see your wedding in pictures. xxx

  12. It looks amazing, I now want lanterns too! And bless your Dad for (not quite yet!) agreeing to make the photo booth, I love it – expecially the x spot!

    Laura S x

  13. All of your decor plans look fantastic, especially the lanterns. I found some honeycomb tissue paper lanterns in the christmas section at Wilkinsons at the weekend. They are reasonably priced and had a good selection of colours. I haven’t completely decided on my decorations but am very tempted to buy as many as I can get my hands on!

  14. Is it wrong to look at every section of someone else’s wedding website when you’re not going to their wedding?

    If so, I hold my hands up.

    If not, then may I just say that Shirley is awesome and I love her wedding website. The lift share thing is the work of an organisational genius.

    I salute you Lady Shirley.

  15. @Lex – YES PLEASE to the lanterns – my previous comment is awaiting moderation because I put my email address in it I think so maybe Charlotte can liaise between the two of us to sort out the lanterns but I would definitely be very appreciative of any extra lanterns 🙂

    @Kelly – I’d be happy to do on the day co-ordination for you if you want me to!

    @Beckie – thank you sweetie! The website was only a template and I changed the colours using their easy click and choose format. The lift share thing is a standard offering from gettingmarried.co.uk so I can’t lay any claim to coming up with that idea. Leave me a comment on the Have your Say section if you haven’t already!

  16. Shirley I actually LOVE your posts! You have so many great ideas – I’m especially loving the star lights.
    I got engaged 2 weeks ago so am at the very beginning of my wedding planning but you’ve given me lots to think about.
    If you fancy a job as a wedding planner in 2013 then the job’s yours!

  17. The drawings are amazing on this post! I wish I was that creative! I think a websites a really good idea-we needed one as lots of hotels near our venue are already full but we didn’t want to send out invites for a September wedding next year! Luckily my fiancée is a designer – but the template sites are brilliant!

  18. Shirley, I cannot wait for this wedding. It’s going to be amazing. When me and your brother eventually get around to setting the date you can be our wedding coordinator!

  19. Its a deal Marie – I’ll have a BLAST organising your wedding … though you may have to tell me to back off now and again when it all gets a bit crazy (because I do do crazy quite well 😀 )

  20. this looks awesome!! we are also hoping to have latterns for ours, they are really effective….@lex where did you get yours from? xxx

  21. Blimey, Shirley, you’ve been busy!
    Loving the lanterns, and the fimo hearts – that room is going to look fab-u-lous!!!!

  22. @Shirley – I’ve sent you an email – sorry for the late reply – I’m hopeless
    @Jem – The lanterns did look good (surprisingly so . . . they’re so simple and yet have a very good impact). I got them from amazon mostly and a few different shaped ones from Ikea. They usually end up at just over a pound each (Ikea was a lot more expensive)

    A good way of lighting them is using what the Americans call ‘throwies’ a flat battery and a super-bright LED taped to it. There is no off switch, but they last about 3-4 days. So even if you put the lanterns up the day before, as we did, they’re still bright on the night. This was really cheap – you can buy multi packs of batteries from ebay for a couple of quid and then the LEDs are about £10 for 50 or something online. If you’re interested I can post the links. . . . 🙂

  23. @Lex – thanks for the email, I’ve replied. I’ve seen the throwies before and they do look amazing. I think that the ones we’ve hired in are lit in a similar way. I’ll definitely look into it tho 🙂 Thanks again x

  24. @Lex – I know this is from a while ago but just wondered if you could post the links for the ‘throwies’ leds? They sound really good but I don’t quite understand what they are.

  25. @sarah – of course!


    like these but without the magnet – just use extra tape to attach them into the lantern. We used super bright LEDs, with no. LED bulb / battery, and they lasted about 3 days. We used 2 no. throwies per lantern, if i did it again id use more in each lantern as LED bulbs tend to be directional light rather than diffused light.

    hope this helps. 🙂

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