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.
Catering – Black Peppermint
Cake – The Cheese Society
Sound and light – Clarity Audio
Dress – Look Darling
Petticoat – Petticoat Perfection
Dress Alterations – Iris B Couture
Tepees – Papakata
Ceremony – Humanist Nottingham
Music – The Heyes Ensemble and The Hijackers
Stationery – Lefaprint
Photography – Anna Clarke
How amazing does this whole wedding look?! I love the sheer excitement on Ian’s face as he and Ali cut into the cheese.
Ali’s petticoat swishes so well on the dance floor!
And yellow definitely makes people happy…I told you it would make you smile!
Lots of love,