WWW readers Amy and Andy were married in June at Grittenham Barn in West Sussex. They wanted their wedding to be purple and lime in colour which was also crafted by themselves.
They ended up with an amazing music and Beatles feel to their wedding, with record place settings, cassette tapes used for the table plan, Beatles sheet music used to make confetti cones and a wonderful hanging installation. They even asked their guests for songs for their play list and had a Beatles tribute act perform in the evening. I have to say it looked like one amazing wedding to attend.
Amy looks so very beautiful in her tea length dress, and those glitter bow shoes… wow. Andy went for a grey suit from Moss Bros, while the bridesmaids looked super pretty in their purple dresses. Also look out for the beautiful bouquet with pretty purple ribbon and the incredible cake…. mmmmm.
Thanks so much to Liam Smith Photography for sharing his photographs with us today.
Names…. Amy and Andy
Wedding Date…. 9th June 2012
The Proposal…. By the Thames in Kingston – originally I think Andy had wanted to do it on NYE 2010 but had decided it would be too busy – plus the ring had arrived and I think he could contain himself no more! I knew something was up when he got out of the car with his bag; he never takes his bag anywhere. It later turned out to contain a bottle of Veuve and two glasses which we sat on a freezing cold bench and toasted our engagement with!
The Vision for the day…. We went through so many ‘themes’ – and most conversations ended in arguments! Ultimately we wanted something chilled and relaxed, with a bit of a music theme and a country fair feel. I’ve been obsessed with Four Weddings & a Funeral since I was a kid and so I had always wanted purple and orange as the colours – inspired by Scarlett’s dress at the first wedding and Simon Callow’s accompanying line; “The ecclesiastical purple and the pagan orange symbolizing the mystical symbiosis in marriage between the heathen and Christian tradition.” In the end, the orange proved too garish and it had been staring us in the face the whole time – Andy’s favourite colour is Lime Green which is opposite Purple on the colour wheel – Perfect!
The Planning process…. Tear filled and strewn with arguments – it’s something I have no desire to repeat! And no desire to divulge!!
Budget…. Less than £15k.
The Venue… Grittenham Barn in West Sussex. Venues came as a shock to me; I’d always had the image in my head of a big country house, with rooms upstairs for me nearest and dearest to stay in, followed by another big gathering on the Sunday. I quickly discovered A: The cost involved in Country Houses and plush hotels and B: The Wedding Conveyer belt phenomena! Both the former and latter might be ideal for some, but for us we wanted something that was crafted by our own fair hands – we didn’t want their flowers, their stationery, table plan, and we certainly didn’t want the corkage!! After 3 weeks of futile searching we hit upon Grittenham. Despite visiting on a freezing cold February Sunday we were instantly sold. Initially we’d been looking at 2nd June 2012 and had already dreamed up the stationery (a geeky 2×6=12…!) but when that date was booked, we settled on the 9th.
The Dress + Accessories….. After a brief brush with a gorgeous Chanticleer dress which would’ve meant blowing the budget for both the dress and the drink, I found a Mark Lesley that was cheap enough and plain enough for us to make the necessary changes – a sweetheart neck and halter strap were added along with some ‘blingy buttons’ and the job was done – all for under £600.
I always knew I wanted a tea length dress and so the shoes had to be awesome. Irregular Choice were always a front runner and when I saw their silver sequinned ‘No Place Like Home’ it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, as amazing as they were I’m crap in heels and had to take them off as soon as the photos were over!! The shrug was made by my mum the night before the wedding from a metre of flocked tulle we bought from a fabric shop. She literally stitched it into a tube with a hole for my back and shoulders! We tucked it into the back of the dress so it looked like it was part of the dress. Genius DIY!
Finding the dress…. Being officially termed ‘Plus Size’ this was the one part of the wedding I was dreading. I knew what I wanted, and what would flatter my shape – something 50s and A-Line. Unfortunately, the experience was as grim as I was expecting and all manner of horribly frilly asymmetric things were thrust in my direction – and all of them just made me sad.
My serious word of advice to plus size brides is stick to your guns. Know what you want, know what will suit you and do not be afraid to say no. If you find a shop doesn’t have something you’re after, just thank them and walk away. I should’ve just walked away many a time when a shop looked at me in horror when I asked for a tea length dress!! And always wear a good pair of Spanx to your fittings – unless you go to a specialist, the samples will be usually no bigger than a 14!!
Groom’s attire… Lastminute.com as is the way with Mr Manana! Eventually we got it from Moss Bros, just a simple grey suit. With tan shoes….
The Readings…. We chose Yes I’ll Marry You by Pam Ayres for my friend Hayley to read – Hayley came over from Canada especially for the wedding and we knew we wanted her to play a special part. Andy’s Usher Michael read The Art of Marriage by Wilfred A. Peterson which he had chosen himself.
Music…. Music was always going to be a massive part of the wedding. It eventually became a Beatles wedding by stealth (as Andy had originally said ‘no’ to a Beatles theme!) I’m a huge Beatles fan – my surprise Hen Weekend was in Liverpool.
We stumbled across The Vitamin String Quartet on Spotify – they do string arrangements of modern day hits. We made a big playlist for during the dinner as well as a smaller one of our favourite versions for whilst people were arriving for the ceremony.
We mulled over various things for me to walk into; it was very nearly Follow You Follow Me by Genesis until we decided that my dad might just cry too much so we went with the String Quartet version of All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. To walk out after the ceremony we chose Louis Armstrong’s We have All The Time In The World as Andy’s dad was a big jazz fan and it had the appropriate Bond connection!
On our online RSVP we had asked guests to nominate three songs they would like to hear in the evening playlist. We obviously had to do a little bit of editing as I’m afraid Bryan Adams has no place in my wedding!! With that in mind, It think people were expecting to just be dancing to a Guests Playlist in the evening. Little did they expect that after the first dance and the first playlist segment we would announce the arrival of a very special guest band – The Beatles! Well, a tribute band called Beatles for Sale. They were just utterly brilliant and had everyone on the dance floor! We had a good giggle as the ‘George’ we had seen at the Cavern Club at the Hen Do turned out to be the ‘George’ at the wedding (we’d said he had a thing for my sister so imagine her face when she saw him!) The band did two sets and we had the playlists inbetween. Their grand finale to Hey Jude was just amazing and saw Andy and I in a big circle of our family and friends with them all chanting the chorus at us!
Beautiful bridesmaids….. My sister Lex and my friend Ruth. I always knew they were going to be my girls! Our daughter Scarlett was our flower girl and did a fabulous job with her friend Harry as Pageboy.
We got the Bridesmaids dresses from a place called Courtesan Boutique who have a small studio based in Worthing and the ability to order online. We visited them in Worthing to see their designs and try some on. The girls fell in love with a dress that had originally been made in heavy silk brocade. We mixed it up a bit and had purple chiffon with purple taffeta accents and a lime green petticoat in keeping with the colour theme (and which the girls took great delight in flashing at guests on the day!)
I can’t thank them enough – Lex for her creativity and Ruth for her calming nature! And I want to thank them both for my amazing Hen Weekend and Liverpool and my slightly more tame bowling night in London with the rest of my friends.
The Flowers… My mum knew a florist and although she vowed not to do weddings (there were mutterings of past experiences with Bridezillas!) she made an exception for us and I’m so glad she did. She did an amazing job, we didn’t want loads of flowers and for me, this wasn’t an important part of the wedding, but the centrepieces looked amazing and her use of herbs (a nod to Andy’s penchant for cooking) was a brilliant touch. I did have my Bridezilla moment with Sharon however as I wanted a very particular type of purple carnation. In the end, the import fell through but they were so beautiful on the day I didn’t notice!
The Cake… We originally had a few cake makers in mind but after getting quotes, my dad decided he could do better – and boy oh boy did he come through for me! They ordered pre-made cakes from a firm in Yorkshire (true to my dad’s roots!), bough an industrial Kitchen Aid for the buttercream and about 2 tons of icing to create the most astounding wedding cake I’ve ever seen!
I was very indecisive over what I wanted on the cake, so in the end, they gave me a tier of everything I had suggested – spots, stripes, flowers, painted and a special one made up entirely of purple hearts that my mum spent hours cutting out with different sized cutters!! My sister helped too, painting the tattoo design on the bottom tier. They did a wonderful job and make ‘good’ use of the Jubilee weekend before the wedding to do all the hard graft!
We had seen Lou from Met My Match using a vintage dressing table for her cake – the effect with the mirrors looked fab. With that in mind, we pinched the idea and headed for eBay. We found a dark wood one in Essex for £40. My dad makes hand painted kitchens so was able to re-spray the dressing table a lovely ivory colour. With the addition of a glass shelf to make the cake appear as though it was floating and a cake topper from Miss Cake the look was complete. I had no idea what I was getting until my dad assembled it on the Friday afternoon!
Your Photographer…. Liam Smith, and friend of my sister’s from their photography course at Nottingham Trent. Liam just fitted in so well and got some bloody brilliant shots. He was game for a laugh and just blended in with the rest of our friends. He’d obviously taken in a lot of the day because he’d included both the Beatles and the Chuck Berry song from our first dance in the slideshow. I’d highly recommend Liam (the boy just needs to buy a car!!)
The Details + Decor…. Details details, don’t bother me with details – to paraphrase from Layer Cake. I told myself time and again not to stress the details, but having followed so many wedding blogs and various boards on Pinterest it was hard not to get bogged down in them!
The music theme was a huge part of the day – we used my dad’s old LP collection to create the place names with my sister spending hours creating personalised labels for each guest with a different Beatles track on it – everyone got a paper sleeve to take them home and everyone did. We used old tapes and 7” singles to create the table plan. The confetti cones were made from All You Need Is Love sheet music. From one of the hoops in the main barn Ruth and Andy spent 2 hours stringing up Beatles sheet music to a net – an idea we took inspiration from the Hard Day’s Night Hotel reception ceiling for as this was where we had stayed on the Hen Weekend. We had Festival themed Top Trumps as ice breakers and of course bubbles. Colouring books for the kids and table cameras too to keep people occupied. We also hired giant Jenga and a bowling alley for outside which was a huge hit! The photobooth also went down a treat, as did the sweetie table I was determined to put together despite the caterer warning against it!
The Honeymoon…. A week in the flooded Wittering’s the week after the wedding with our daughter Scarlett! We’re getting away to Spain at the end of August with Scarlett before her big first day at school in September and then hopefully a long weekend in October for the two of us. I think our Honeymoon will happen in our 50’s when our kids have flown the nest!
Memorable moments… Too many!! The Bridesmaids getting stuck in traffic and nearly having to postpone the wedding – it literally could not have gone ahead without Scarlett there! ‘George’ from the Cavern! The Beatles for Sale in general (also because they slipped in some bits of Genesis to keep my Beatles-hating dad happy!) The photo booth and all the bizarre things that happened in there!! The free bar. My dad tapping the precious keg of Timothy Taylor and it spraying all over me (on the Friday, not in my dress, thank heavens!) The private hot tub at the Wedding night hotel (South Lodge Hotel, Godman Suite, cannot recommend highly enough!) Certain family members freeloading (table wine, cans of coke from the bar, sweets for their friends from the sweetie buffet…!) Prince Harry making a guest appearance!
Advice for other couples… Stick to your guns. On everything! This is YOUR day. It is not your parent’s day, nor your in-laws day, nor anyone else’s day – only yours! Make it how you want. Stay true to your vision. If you want something big – start saving, if you want it small – so be it, despite parents who want to invite the world and his wife! Oh, and if you’re DIY-ing, that really does mean, Do It Yourself! Be prepared for a hard graft the day before the wedding so get cracking early so you can chill out in the evening, and either be prepared for the heart breaking ‘destruction’ of it all the day after (or do as we did, book late check out at the hotel and arrive just as everyone has finished taking your day apart!)
Save money on a DJ by just paying £10 for a 1 month membership to Spotify and using the fade-in option – honestly, people did not notice, nor care – they were too merry and having too much fun to notice a slight gap and I would guess they didn’t miss any cheesy chat between songs! (Sorry wedding DJs!) By getting people to nominate songs beforehand, you’re guaranteed there will always be someone on the dancefloor – my cousins had even created a special routine for their nominated track!
And remember to take time to savour the moment on the day – we wish we could go back and relive it as we just felt so busy all day! I wish I had spoken to more people and done more! If you have a venue booked all day – it might sound ludicrous, but book an early wedding so you get the most out of the venue and get to spend longer with your loved ones, enjoying YOU day!
Credit where credit is due…
Photographer: Liam Smith Photography – http://liamsmithphotography.com/
Dress: Mark Lesley = http://www.marklesley.co.uk/
Shoes: Irregular Choice – http://www.irregularchoice.com/
Suit: Moss – http://www.moss.co.uk/
Bridesmaids Dresses: Courtesan Boutique – http://www.courtesan-boutique.co.uk/
Hair and Make-up: The Beauty Queens – http://www.thebeautyqueens.co.uk/
Venue: Grittenham Barn – http://grittenhambarn.com/
Band: Beatles for Sale – http://www.thebeatlesforsale.co.uk/
Catering: Chichester Caterers – http://www.chichestercaterers.com/
Flowers: Sharon Chattey at Perfek Flowers, Mottingham
Photobooth: Funky Photobooth from Solent Studios – http://www.funkyphotobooth.com/
Thanks so so much to Amy and Andy for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today :-) XOXO Lou
Tags: Barn Wedding, Beatles Inspired Wedding, Green Wedding Ideas, Grittenham Barn, Irregular Choice Wedding Shoes, Liam Smith Photography, Mark Lesley, Moss Bros Groom, Purple Wedding Ideas, Real Weddings, West Sussex Wedding
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