The start of February always feels like the start of Spring to me. The birds get seriously noisy, I start to notice snowdrops sprouting up here and there; and in recent years it makes me think about being in the final throes of wedding planning for our Easter weekend wedding. That was nearly three years ago (oh how time flies when life is really showing you all it’s twists and turns!). I bloody loved planning our wedding, totally loved it. I know people like to say how “stressful” it is and how there’s so much organising to be done (well there is!); but that was a really exciting challenge for me and one I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to.
We got engaged on 7th June 2013 and were married on 19th April 2014 (Easter Saturday, my parents wedding anniversary, and two days before my birthday!); so I had 10 months to get my sh*t together and plan the wedding I had dreamed of. It meant I could get straight into the planning, crafting and list-writing for the day. We had no venue to book as we held the reception at my lovely (and very generous/ kind if they are reading this!) in-laws house. We were lucky enough that they had enough land to house a sizeable marquee and somewhere for all the guests to park their cars. I think this took a huge amount of time off the planning as there was no venue sussing to be done, so we could just get on with the rest of it. However, this also meant that we were working with a blank canvas, so I had to think of creative (and affordable) ways to make the venue a little more “dressed” shall we say?
The vision was Country chic with a focus on friends and family. We wanted it to be informal without taking on too much of the “village fete” feeling! I had visions of bunting and lanterns with lots of beautiful glass jars and spring blooms; so, that’s exactly what I got!
Luckily for me, my mum was a superstar, making all of the bunting for the marquee and helping with all the finite details that we didn’t have time to do around work. We called in favours from friends, and my very talented brother who cut and sanded all of the wood slice centre pieces for the table as well as making the cheeseboard and hanging all of the lanterns in the marquee (Thanks for that by the way Ed, I still totally owe you one!).
Spring blooms are my favourite kind, so the flowers were really important to me, and I am pleased to say that I loved our wedding flowers SO much. The wonderful Jodie at Boutique Blooms listened to all of my ramblings and created something more fabulous than I could have imagined! The vintage jugs and the jars across the top able just make the tables look simply stunning. All of the girls’ flowers had the stems wrapped in vintage lace trim, and mine was finished with my late grandma’s vintage pearl hat-pin so that she could be close to me on the day too. It’s details like these that make me want to plan it all over again.
I love cake; I am not ashamed to say it; cake is life. To have the head pastry chef from one of London’s top restaurants as a best friend is blessing to say the very least! (And no, before anyone assumes, I didn’t just befriend him for unlimited access to free cake. Although that would be a pretty clever idea, and one I will probably use to choose future friends). My lovely friend Jamie planned our cake with us, it was more than we could have hoped for. The “Naked” cake look was a little less traditional, but we loved it and we knew that Jamie’s cakes were so good that they didn’t need to be covered in icing! It was five tiers, that consisted of from large to small) – classic Victoria sponge with vanilla butter cream and strawberry jam, chocolate and cherry cake with chocolate ganache and cherry butter cream, lemon cake with raspberry jam and lemon butter cream, chocolate cake with more chocolate crème, and then carrot cake…..which we kept for the following day (Easter Sunday) with our families.
Then came the details. Where do I start?! The lanterns and many of the details were hired from “The Surrey Wedding company” this included free standing lanterns, tea light holders and lanterns on shepherds crooks for the entrance. My mum made bunting, burlap table runners and helped with all of the favours. We made our own sloe gin for the boys and had English honey for the girls (I won’t lie; decanting honey from large tubs into tiny pots is not a fun task, and not one I’ll be repeating again in a hurry!). We painted 130 wooden hearts as place settings with everyone’s names on; and I hand painted signs for outside and chalk boards for the guest book table (As it was Easter we also threw in a Happy Easter sign next to a gigantic vase of Crème Eggs!). I collected jars and glass bottles for months for the top table; I wanted a collection of spring colours and different shapes to house the posies and single stems.
We hung about 100 lanterns from the ceiling of the marquee, many of them lit and all at different heights and sizes; these were all from “The Hanging Lantern Company” who were SO helpful in making our vision come toe reality. There were lots more details in the church; beautiful pew ends and a flower arch created by Jodie, pillar candles wrapped in burlap and lace. So many of these things we did ourselves, I am pretty sure we saved a fortune (With my Dad always on hand with his budget spreadsheet this was necessity!); but over and above saving money, I really think it was these details that brought our day (and my vision) to life. The whole wedding felt (well to me anyway) more personal and less “off the peg”. We created things that no one else had, very similarly to how I like to create things for my home, and that felt wonderful. I think the guests noticed it too, well the ones who weren’t totally inebriated from the free bar anyway (Guys, you know who you are).
For me the stationery; both before and on the day was one of my favourite things. Lisa at Paperknots created the most beautiful maps as part of our invitations; she then went on to design stunning Order of Service, Table plan, Table names and menus. We had so many comments on how beautiful the stationery was, I kept so many bits as keepsakes as I couldn’t part with it. Even though our wedding was almost three years ago, I still stay in touch with lovely Lisa. Who knows when I’ll need divine stationery again?
My most memorable moment from our day was walking into the marquee. We walked in to the raucous applause and cheers from around 130 family and friends with “Pompeii” by Bastille playing; it was the most amazing reception from our guests I could have imagined.
So what on earth did I learn from all of this? (Other than that I should probably go pro at this wedding planning lark?). I would say totally and honestly; do what you can yourselves; even with a generous budget it makes the wedding feel more personal. We loved all the home made touches and so did our guests. Call in favours and get help from friends for the set up, we were super organised and spent the day before in the marquee setting everything up ourselves. We were lucky to have lots of friends and family with great skills and trades, but even people who are just happy to help where they can will be a godsend when you are busy trying to get things done! We had so many thank you cards to write at the end of it; to our guests, suppliers and everyone who had leant a helping hand (We even snuck in a special photo with our photographer to make sure the cards were just perfect!).
However you plan your day, just do it your way. It’s your day, there’s only going to be one like it; and if you’re like me then you’ll look back on it with the fondest of memories and eyes full of (happy) tears. Now if only I could do it all again……..(sigh)…….
Photo credits; Lola Rose Photography.