A Homemade Individual Mill Wedding

diy blue wedding

It’s the last wedding of the week already, wow. The weeks sure are flying past and i can almost smell spring in the air… whoop!!

Gareth and Kirstyn were married in November at The Mill at Ballydugan, Downpatrick. They wanted their wedding to be unique and fun for their guests whilst being individual to them.

Kirstyn wore her hair in a pretty loose up do with a classic and romantic veil and shoes she customised herself and a cute fluffy cardie while Gareth donned navy tails with a homemade pocket square that matched the gorgeous bridesmaid dresses.

All of the flowers were homemade using fabric flowers which looked amazing, they also made Christmas stockings and the photo guest book. Brilliant.

Thanks so much to the fantastic CMC Photos for sharing his images with us today, here is what he had to say;

“I had an absolute blast with these guys. Gareth and Kirstyn were so much fun to work with, and were really laid back. Their wedding day in November, was full of lots of little details so personal to themselves, from the handmade bouquets, to the very amusing cake topper. I really loved shooting this wedding. The venue was a great venue, an old restored mill in the County Down countryside, which was really beautiful. It was my first wedding at Ballydugan Mill, and Maureen and all the staff there were so helpful, and I would definitely recommend it as a venue.”


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The Proposal…. Was a low key affair. A quiet walk along the riverside on a cold December’s night in Cardiff when Gareth popped the question.  It was followed by a celebratory/ farewell dinner and a rushed visit to Gareth’s parents as Kirstyn left Wales for the Christmas holidays the next day.

The Vision for the day…. To have a fun and relaxed day that everyone enjoyed whilst being individual to us. We didn’t want a generic function room in a chain hotel and so looked for a unique venue and went from there. We wanted to have the wedding in Northern Ireland but have it fairly accessible as many of our guests were travelling from England and Wales.

The Planning process…. As we were both in final year of university when we got engaged the majority of the planning took place during the three week Christmas holidays. Venue was booked, wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses bought, suits practically decided upon, favours and all the resources bought for flower making within this time.

Budget…. £9000

The Venue… The Mill at Ballydugan, Downpatrick. The hire costs included the ceremony and we had sole use of the whole building for the day. Each part of the day (ceremony, dinner and evening reception) were on different floors and we were able to block book all the bedrooms for our family and friends. The staff were fantastic; nothing was too much to ask and they made sure our wedding ran smoothly. We asked for a custom menu and although this was slightly more expensive it was well worth it. We ended up with a four course menu; potato and leek soup to start, chicken and ham pie and chips for main, and a nice light pavlova for dessert with tea/coffee following. It was absolutely perfect for a cold winter’s day.

The Dress + Accessories….. I wore Sweetheart Gowns no. 5962. It was a pretty simple dress as I’m young and many dresses didn’t suit me. Having completely forgotten about a veil I bought one two weeks before the wedding from the dressmaker doing my alterations (Helen’s in Newtownards). It was a bargain at £25 and exactly what I was looking for. The rest of my accessories and shoes came from various places…Folksy, Monsoon, La Redoute. I love shoes and couldn’t find any that suited exactly what I wanted so I bought a plain navy pair and decorated them myself using shoe clips and handmade flowers.

Finding the dress…. I bought my dress from the first shop I went to (The Wedding Box, Newtownards). It was one of the last dresses I tried on in what I thought was a fruitless search in this particular shop. I went to another shop the next day to try some more dresses and assure myself that the dress I had chosen was the one I really wanted.

Groom’s attire… Gareth wore navy tails from Cameron Ross. We chose this company mainly on the basis that they had a roaming service whereby the groomsmen in England and Wales could have their fittings there. It didn’t turn out to be as smooth as we would’ve liked but it all worked out in the end and all the boys looked fabulous. We made the pocket squares ourselves using the cut offs from the bridesmaid’s dresses to make sure they matched exactly.

The Readings + Music…. Processional- Grow Old with Me- John Lennon (Performed by one of the Best Men). Hymns- Here Is Love, In Christ Alone, To God Be The Glory. Readings- ‘Being in Love’ an extract from Mere Christianity by CS Lewis and Colossians 2: 6-10. Signing of the register- Love is Easy- McFly. Recessional- 1,2,3,4- Plain White T’s. First dance was Rhythm of Love by the Plain White T’s – performed live by The Gents. http://www.thegentsband.com

Beautiful bridesmaids….. There were three bridesmaids: Kirstyn’s two sisters, Kelly and Karla and her friend from school, Becky. They wore Dessy dresses in ocean blue and covered up with navy cardigans from Monsoon. Their ivory shoes came from Next’s bridal section. All their jewellery was handmade by Lou P Designs.

The Flowers… All the flowers were handmade by Gareth, Kirstyn and her family. The fabric was bought at local shops and craft fairs and embellishments were mainly bought at charity shops and in sales. It took a long time to make 4 bouquets and enough flowers to decorate the venue but it allowed us to have exactly what we wanted and prevented us sneezing all day! Plus we all have our bouquets and buttonholes as keepsakes.

The Cake… The cake was a sponge and chocolate three tier cake from Marks and Spencer decorated by Kirstyn’s sister using modelling paste buttons in various shades of blue. The cake topper was a surprise gift from Kirstyn to Gareth. Gareth is Welsh and Kirstyn is Northern Irish so the topper is holding the opposite country’s flower and Gareth is dressed up as a Welsh dragon/ Scarlet’s dragon (his rugby team.)

Your Photographer…. The fantastic Connor McCullough of cmcphotos- http://www.cmc-photos.co.uk. We spent a long time looking for a photographer. We didn’t have a massive budget and so many photographers were way out of our price range and that’s when we stumbled upon Connor. We aren’t massive fans of having our photo taken but he made it a really relaxed atmosphere (we didn’t know he was there half the time!), he is incredibly reasonably priced and we absolutely love the photos!

The Details + Decor… We paid a lot of attention to the small details as they were things that stood out for us. The venue had a lot of decoration there already which helped a lot and meant that we could concentrate on things we really wanted rather than worrying about filling three floors with matching decorations. A lot of it was about adjusting and amending what was already there to our tastes. Below is a list of some of the small details we included: We made Christmas stockings and filled them with toys and books for the children that were attending in order to keep them entertained. We used Christmas decorations as wedding favours which everyone loved. We made our own photo guest book with a camera and some chalk and blackboards which was great fun and made some great photos. We bought games like Ludo, Jenga and Snakes and Ladders to keep everyone entertained. Because it got dark earlier we bought a lot of sparklers and invited everyone outside to have some fun with them. As already mentioned, we made all the flowers and buttonholes which really helped make the day our own.

The Honeymoon…. 10 days in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Memorable moments… A particular uncle heckling during the ceremony… and speeches… and cake cutting! (Don’t let uncles get hold of microphones!!) Having a run in with swans whilst having photos taken. A wedding car driven at them and a keen photographer couldn’t deter them and the time there was short lived! The homemade photo guest book was a particular highlight for Gareth. So much fun and it was great to look through all the messages when we got back from honeymoon. An impromptu rugby scrum- Wales v Ireland/ Scarlets v Ulster. The home side were victorious and no cheating was involved… Having all our family and friends together in one place.

Advice for other couples… Think of your guests and provide activities to make sure they aren’t bored. We bought cheap board games, jenga etc. and people commented that they really appreciated the thought. Try and think of ways to save money. We decided to have Christmas decorations as favours so our guests would always have a keepsake but deciding this in advance meant we were able to buy them in the January sale and saved ourselves a lot of money! Using the favours as a main part of our centrepieces also saved us money. Don’t forget to make your wedding individual. Have what you want and people will appreciate your personalities coming through. Making so much stuff ourselves helped us to achieve this and although it was a lot of hard work it was worth it.

Credit where credit is due…

Lou P Designs- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lou-P-Designs/291884727498562

Craftswoman Fabrics- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Craftswoman-Fabrics/304455039603726

Fiddlesticks Fabrics- http://www.fiddlesticksfabricsballyclare.co.uk

Bride’s hair comb- Anna King Jewellery-  http://folksy.com/shops/AnnaKingJewellery

Car hire- http://www.starcarhire.co.uk

Wedding dress- http://www.the-wedding-box.com

Bridesmaid dresses and menswear- http://www.thebridalsuiteholywood.com

Sound system and instruments for ceremony- http://www.bairdsoundsystems.com

Modelling paste- http://www.cake-stuff.com

Cake topper- http://www.bespoketoppers.co.uk

Photography- CMC Photos


I love this homemade wedding and the board game idea was genius. Thanks so much to Gareth and Kirstyn for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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