Claire and Rob had a church service followed by a marquee reception at Claire’s Granny’s house in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. They wanted their wedding to be relaxed while reflecting their design background by getting creative.
They designed their own beautiful stationery, created the sweetest origami heart table centrepieces and made colourful pom poms to hang in the marquee.
Claire looked elegant in her figure hugging gown and vintage accessories, while Rob found his dapper suit in Topman. Don’t they look gorgeous?!
Thanks so much to the amazing Cotton Candy Photography for sharing their photographs with us today.
The Proposal… I wanted to make it a special weekend in Cornwall that Claire would remember and cherish forever. It was important that it built up slowly and I planned surprises throughout the weekend that led up to the proposal. This was to keep her guessing, as I didn’t want her to know what I was about to ask her. I picked a balcony overlooking the ocean and as the sun was setting, the perfect moment came to ask and luckily for me she said yes!
The Vision for the Day… We wanted the day to have a relaxed feel, combining traditional elements whilst stamping our own creative character. We met at University where we studied Graphic design and Illustration courses. Rob is in a creative role at John Lewis and Claire is a designer for a leading Greeting card company, so we were given the freedom to design what we wanted from scratch and save money on all the printing costs. Our whole concept was centred around our invitation and save the date designs which were a combined effort. We wanted to follow a graphic, printed letterpress look and came across a website called www.stampreo.co.uk to design our very own inked stamp and personalise the design further with our names and wedding date.
The Planning Process… We gave ourselves one year to plan everything and save up as much as we could. We prioritised our top ‘must haves’ such as Photographers, Band and Food, then tried to budget everything else as much as we could. Rob was excellent at putting all our expenses onto a spreadsheet which made it clearer to visualise where our money was being spent. He also created one for our RSVP replies so we could instantly check off which guests were able to come.
Budget… Our strict budget was £10,000-15,000. We also had help from our parents that helped with the two expensive parts of the Wedding, the Caterers and Marquee.
The Venue… The reception was held at Claire’s Granny’s house in Hambleden, Henley-on-Thames. It was where she used to spend many great summer holidays growing up with her cousins. This place held so many great family memories and we couldn’t think of a more meaningful place to hold our special day.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was a Mirror Mirror Couture gown from Belle Bridal, Whetstone. It was a strapless floor length figure hugging dress with a puddle train. It had a delicate ruched bust and subtle floral lace and tiny crystal gem details that flowed asymmetrically down the dress. It was an antique white, which really suited my complexion and added to the vintage look. I wore a short veil that sat just below my shoulder, making sure all the dress details wouldn’t get lost.
I also sourced a vintage 1920’s necklace that complimented my sweetheart neckline and I also wore a vintage hair slide. My ‘something borrowed’ was a vintage bracelet from my Mother-in-Law, which completed the look perfectly!
Finding the Dress… I started by researching images from wedding magazines and on the internet, to establish what styles I liked. I then visited a few wedding shops to get a feel for certain styles, I really wanted a lace look dress but some of the materials were surprisingly heavy!
I saw an article in the Evening Standard about their successful bridal business specialising in ex catwalk designer dresses at budget prices. Claire and Jo were excellent, they had a wide selection of designer gowns to choose from and were really honest with what suited me.
Groom’s Attire… I wanted a grey suit that would fit me well that was my single priority. I didn’t want to spend to much money so I went into London with Luke one of my Best Men & popped into Topman and found a grey suit that was perfect & well priced. I took it to my Tailors Jones & Jones who gave it the seal of approval & set to work in making it fit perfectly. I also brought my Best Men & Ushers suits as a gift for being part of the day which were also tailored. I think we all looked great… Dapper is a word that comes to mind!
The Readings + Music… We had our service at Sacred Heart RC Church, Henley-on-Thames, the church Claire and her family visit when they’re in Henley. We wanted to have a few members from each side of the family to help with our church service.
Our priest, Fr.Anthony kindly recommended a very talented music student from Oxford University called Gabrielle who sang solos throughout the service, including a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… I bought these very early on in a sale. I then found out one of my bridesmaids was pregnant and had to rethink things. After a very long search trying to find a maternity dress to match these, I eventually found a maxi dress in John Lewis by Alexon in a turquoise colour. Two of my taller bridesmaids suited these maxi dresses as they were and I had the other two dresses taken up to just below the knee for my other petite bridesmaids.
The Flowers… For the bridal and bridesmaid’s bouquets we used Richard Elder Floral Design in Maidenhead. We wanted elegant Roses that varied in size to create a sense of depth and also compliment our accent colours from our invitation. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were slightly more muted in colour than the main bridal bouquet, so that it stood out more with the brighter yellow and pink roses.
The Cake… We were able to use Rob’s John Lewis discount to save money and ordered our cake through Waitrose. It was a 3-tiered ivory cake with chocolate sponge. Our caterer, Karen from Thoughtful Food was very resourceful and suggested we use this as part of our dessert accompanied with a chocolate pot, berries and raspberry coulis.
Your Photographer… The photography was very important to us as designers we wanted the day captured in a creative way. When we met Gem & Phil we knew they would be perfect! They make you feel very relaxed I front of the cameras and are very experimental with different cameras and gadgets. We love the way they capture the mood and didn’t miss a detail…believe me we’d know if they did!
We would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for creative photographers.
The Details + Decor… We used simple personal touches such as bunches of origami hearts on stems as table centres. We pulled in a few favours from friends to help assemble them. Our friend Lucy Heywood trained as a florist and made beautiful miniature table centres from roses to compliment these origami centres.
On our top table we had a ‘Mr & Mrs’ sign made out of cardboard that was commissioned by Letterfest.
Our marquee fairy lights embedded in the lining and candles came to life in the evening, creating a romantic atmosphere. We dotted homemade tissue pom poms and colourful balloons to add further splashes of colour throughout the marquee.
On each table we also made A6 postcards to advertise our band ‘The Kicks’ and produced personalised printed tags instead of name cards, to tie in with the printed letterpress look.
The Honeymoon… Neither of us took a gap year abroad, so we really wanted to explore an exotic country.
We chose a 3 week trip to Thailand, as it has a completely different culture, beautiful beaches and tasty food. We left the organising to Turquoise Holidays, who tailor made our trip starting at the north, then travelling to the centre and finishing on Islands of Thailand. Our main gift list was through Bottom Draw where guests could make contributions towards activities and things we wanted to do while we were away. We learnt to cook traditional Thai food at ‘A Lot of Thai’ with Yui, the lady that taught Gordon Ramsey Thai food! We rode elephants in the jungle, Snorkelled, ate authentic Thai cuisine and relaxed on the most beautiful beaches. It was a life changing and truly inspirational trip.
Memorable Moments… The music meant a lot to us as when we started dating we went to a lot of underground music gigs. That is why we wanted a live band to perform at our reception. We found The Kicks on Alive Network and they really made our evening a night to remember! For our first dance they played a live version of Paul Weller ‘s ‘You do something to me’, which had just the right mix of slow music leading up to a bit of rock!
There is something about live music that really gets the crowd going. Their eclectic mixture of music meant that there was something to suit everyone, our ultimate favourite has to be ‘Parklife’ by Blur! We really couldn’t recommend them highly enough…They ROCKED!!!
Advice for Other Couples… Organising a Wedding is stressful enough, try not to get too caught up in pleasing everyone else and remember it’s about the two of you and what you want.
Our advice would be to plan ahead and prioritise. Set a realistic budget and keep track of your spending! Consider what the most important elements of the day are and look for areas where you can cut back on costs.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Tags: Back Garden Wedding, Cotton Candy Photography, DIY Wedding, John Lewis Bridesmaids, Marquee Wedding, Multicolour Wedding Ideas, Origami, Oxfordshire Wedding, Pom Poms, Real Weddings, Rose Bouquet, Topman Groom, Turquoise Bridesmaid Dresses, Vintage Accessories, Waitrose Wedding Cake