Are you ready for the last feature of the working week? I sure am ;-)
I have to share this beautiful wedding of Jennifer and Paul who were married back in May at their local Church and a reception at Jennifer’s parents house.
I do have a love for back garden weddings, homemade where all the family pull together to help out, after all that’s what a weddings all about right? Two families coming together. Doesn’t Jennifer look amazing, and i love her unusual bouquet.
Thanks so much to the brilliant Derbyshire based wedding photographer, Matt Brown Photography for sharing his work with us today….
Names…. Jennifer and Paul
Wedding Date…. 21 May 2011.
The Proposal…. Paul proposed over a champagne picnic in the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield, near our house. It was one of the hottest days of the year and so the only spot we could find for our picnic blanket was next to a gentleman sunbathing in just a thong! Paul produced a very gaudy ring, which I checked was a fake before accepting! We went to the Birmingham jewellery quarter a couple of weeks later to choose the real ring.
The Vision for the day…. Relaxed garden party.
The Planning process…. Choosing the venue was very easy given I wanted it in my parents’ garden. Ours was the only wedding that year in the village church, so picking a date wasn’t a problem. We chose the date as it was 1 year to the day that we got engaged, plus the weather is always good when students are revising for exams! I chose my dress next. Picking a caterer was the last big job. Then I had a break for a few months and then made a list and tried to cross about 3 things off every week.
The Venue… St Leonard’s Church, Stagsden, Bedfordshire and a marquee in the garden/orchard of Jennifer’s parents’ house.
The Dress + Accessories….. The dress was from a shop called Blissful Daze in Sheffield. The dress was Ian Stuart’s Calypso dress in taupe. It was made from silk dupion and tulle. It had an elongated bodice, with a sculpted pocket skirt, a halter neck and Swarovski gems and pearls around the neckline. It cost £2,250 and was my only real extravagance. Fortunately I’m so tall it needed virtually no alterations.
As my dress was quite a bold design, I kept accessories to a minimum. In case of rain, I had an ivory pagoda umbrella (brolliesgalore.co.uk – £50). Fortunately it stayed dry all day, but was a good prop for photos. I had a small silver jewel encrusted clutch bag (Coast – £50) which my bridesmaids took turns to carry. My shoes were pale pink with a little sparkle to match my dress, made of satin with a closed pointed toe and a small stiletto heel (Barratts – £20). I have size 9 feet and struggle to find shoes, but Barretts had a really good range of wedding shoes, all really good value and go up to a size 10! I wore small princess cut diamond earrings to match my engagement ring.
It was the first dress I tried on and I immediately knew it was “the one”. I went to only 1 other shop and tried on alternative styles, but this just reaffirmed that I wanted the first one.
Groom’s attire… Paul hired his and the male attendants’ outfits from Moss Bros in Doncaster (http://www.mossbros.co.uk).
Paul wore a dark grey morning suit, with a white shirt and waistcoat and a purple cravat and pocket square. All of the men in the wedding party wore identical outfits to Paul’s. We were both adamant that he wasn’t going to have tails as we thought they can look a bit stuffy, but when he tried on other styles of suits it just looked like he was going to the office and not at all special. When I saw Paul in the church I was relieved that he hadn’t shaved his beard off as he kept threatening to do in the lead up to the wedding.
As Paul’s hair is very short, I usually cut it for him using clippers and did the same for the wedding. Paul asked me to do it the night before the wedding once we had finally finished setting up the marquee at 11.30pm. After a long stressful day I was distracted and managed to accidently shave one side of Paul’s hair MUCH shorter than intended. Paul then made me do the same to the other side so that it matched. You can notice the “baldness” in some of the photos, but fortunately it looked ok from the front! Paul was an absolute star about it though; he remained completely calm and reassured me that it really didn’t matter as everyone would be too busy looking at me!
The Readings + Music…. We had 3 hymns: Morning Has Broken, Bind Us Together Lord and Give Me Joy In My Heart.
We had 3 readings: an extract from Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (one of my favourite books) which was read by my friend, the bible reading was Matthew 7: 21, 24 – 27 which was read by my God mother and a traditional Irish blessing (Paul’s parents are both Irish) was read by Paul’s brother. Rather amusingly, Paul’s brother is from the North East of England but had been studying Medicine in Liverpool and delivered the reading in a rather strong Liverpudlian accent. The organist played Trumpet Tune by Purcell during the entrance of the bride, Canon by Pachelbel during the signing of the register and Wedding March by Mendelssohn as we left the church. We had a DJ in the evening. Our first dance was to Stand By Me, by Ben E King. We chose it because it’s one of our favourites and is not slushy like many first dance songs.
Beautiful bridesmaids….. I had two bridesmaids, Sadie and Rachel, who have been my best friends since school. Rachel didn’t seem very excited when I asked her – but she explained that this was because when I was much younger I’d said that I intended to dress my bridesmaids in truly awful frocks to make myself look better – I don’t remember ever saying this and in fact let them have the power of veto on the dresses.
Rachel helped me by making about 20 metres of bunting which was a task that I really couldn’t face doing. Sadie is very artistic and produced pen drawings of the two venues, i.e. the church and my parents’ house, to use on the invitations. They both organised the hen-do, which was in an eco-cabin in North Yorkshire. The setting was stunning. They had a Mexican theme, with a private chef and LOTS of tequila. We overdid it a bit and 3 of us (myself included) were still on antibiotics on the wedding day. Word of advice –have the hen-do more than 2 weeks before the wedding!
They wore matching aubergine strapless knee length floaty dresses with a ruched bodice and ruffled hem from Coast. The dresses cost £125 each. Their shoes were open toed sling backs in pale pink with diamanté detail from Debenhams. I bought these in the sale for £14 per pair. They wore silver and pink pearl coin bracelets (www.notonthehighstreet.com – £30).
I chose the colour scheme to match the bridesmaids’ dresses as I loved them so much.
The bridesmaids, my mum and I had our hair and make-up done at Saks in Milton Keynes – http://www.saksmk.co.uk/contact/index.html We all used Young Blood mineral make-up, which we’re told is what Cheryl Cole used to wear on X-Factor!
The Flowers… The Flower Shop Woburn did mine and the bridesmaids’ bouquets, the buttonholes and the cake topper.
I had white and dark purple calla lilies, the bridesmaids had just white calla lilies, the buttonholes were 1 small white calla lilly and the cake topper was 2 dark purple calla lilies. We chose to have no foliage with the bouquets to create a very structured and simple look to compliment my dress. The table flowers, white stargazer lillies, were provided by the caterer.
The Cake… It was a square 3 tier cake with 2 layers of carrot cake and 1 layer of chocolate Guinness cake. It was covered with white chocolate ganache and white chocolate cigarillos. I asked a local baker (Germaine 07516974751) to copy it from a design she’d seen in a magazine. The cake cost £312 for 100 portions.
Your Photographer…. Matt Brown – www.mattbrownphotography.co.uk/ – (he charges a fixed £1,100 for everything including 4 disks of every photo in black and white and a slideshow set to music). Matt specialises in un-posed photos and you can really see the difference, we look so much happier than in the posed ones. Plus it really helped us create the relaxed and fun day we wanted.
The Details + Decor…. We had hay bales covered with fleece blankets (Primark – £4 each) for guests to sit on. We borrowed the hay bales from the Riding for the Disabled where my mum volunteers. We hung lots of decorations from the tress in the orchard including wicker hearts (www.dotcomgiftshop.com – £4-7) intertwined with purple and pink ribbon (John Lewis), glass and silver hanging votives (www.notonthehighstreet.com) with tea lights, purple battery powered cotton ball fairy light strings (www.amazon.co.uk – £14). We hung up a string with an assortment of photos of the two of us held on with mini wooden pegs.
We tied cream helium balloons to the gate to my parents’ garden so guests could see where they were walking to after they left the church. Rather than having flowers in the church we decided to have hundreds of small candles in pretty glass votives (www.quickcandles.com). Rather than making cones for confetti, each of the bridesmaids held a silver sandcastle bucket (Hobbycraft – £5) wrapped with a ribbon bow which the guests dipped in to. We set up croquet (www.dotcomgiftshop.com – £30) and boule for guests to play. We used cheap Ikea photo frames (£4 each) for the table numbers. We have reused these frames in our house for some of our wedding photos. We put Cow Shed hand wash and moisturiser in the posh portaloos to make them a bit special. When it became dark we lit flares in the garden (Habitat) and lit the path to the toilets with tea lights in heart cut out candle bags (£7 for 10 – www.amazon.co.uk) weighed down with sand. We bought an enormous vase (www.vase-express.co.uk – £60) and had the table plan engraved onto it (www.engraving.uk.net – £150 – House of Fraser in Manchester). We then filled the vase with purple coloured water to match the colour scheme. The vase now has pride of place in our house and is a lovely memento of the day. We had jars (Ikea) of retro sweets (complete with pink and white striped pick ‘n’ mix paper bags) (www.retrotuckshopsweetsdirect.co.uk) on a side table for guests to tuck into throughout the evening.
For the favours my mum made small pots of pickle using fruit from the orchard where the reception was held. I made the jam jar covers using the same material we used for the bunting (Dunelm Mill). The favours also served as our place settings with everyone’s name hand written on a wooden heart (www.craftshapes.co.uk).
The Honeymoon…. The honeymoon lasted 3 weeks and we went the morning after the wedding. First we went to Las Vegas (and were upgraded to first class on our flight and to a suite in our hotel!) for 5 days, including a day trip and helicopter ride to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon and a visiting a shooting range. We spent 3 days driving from Las Vegas to San Francisco, passing through Death Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Lake Tahoe and Jamestown. We stayed in San Francisco for 5 days, including a day’s wine tasting in Napa Valley and Sonoma and a night trip to Alcatraz. We then flew to Maui where we stayed for 6 nights and drove round the entire island staying in different places each night. Finally we went to Honolulu on Oahu for 2 nights, including visiting Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbour.
Memorable moments… Once the DJ had stopped, about 20 people stayed behind and so we moved the party into my parents’ kitchen. It was a bit of a squeeze with some people sitting 4 to a chair! A family friend played Irish folk songs on his accordion and everyone sang along. The weather was absolutely fabulous, the sun shined all day and we went back out in the garden after the meal to play croquet. Paul’s speech was lovely and even brought a tear to his Dad’s eye. When we cut the cake, my brother, who was Master of Ceremonies, pulled out a sword for us to cut it with.
Advice for other couples… Have a pair of flat shoes to change into in the evening. I put mine on the second the formal photos at the church were over. Take your own lipstick to the beauty salon, that way you can touch it up yourself all day long without ruining the look. If your venue will allow it, provide your own alcohol. We had 2 barrels of ale which went down a storm with the male guests. Plus this meant more champagne for the girls! Give yourself a day or two after the wedding to recover. We went on honeymoon the morning after the wedding, and post wedding tiredness and jetlag are not a great combination.
Thanks so much to Jennifer and Paul for sharing their drop dead gorgeous wedding with us today xoxo
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