Rachel and Scott had a fun, quirky wedding on a budget of £7000. They kept to their ethos of having a wedding which reflected them by crafting much of their day themselves.
They opted for DIY button bouquets instead of flowers, chose cute converse for the wedding party and piggy backed their way down the aisle. I love Rachel’s 1950s style tea length wedding dress which she accessorised with a birdcage veil, while Scott donned Hugo Boss and a fun buttonhole.
Thanks so much to the lovely Casssandra Lane for sharing her photographs with us today.
The Proposal… It happened on Christmas day in 2011. I opened my card to find it said ‘fiance’ on it, to which I thought was a practical joke and turned round to have a go, to see he was on one knee. We had a lovely day, and my family had champagne ready because to my surprise he had asked my father’s permission.
The Vision for the Day… My husband and I hate the idea of weddings! We feel weddings can be stuffy and are quite often only a reflection of the bride and her childhood dreams. It was so important to us that we remained ‘us’ and didn’t feel the need to go overboard with what we were wearing and decorations. I, as the bride felt that it was our special day – not just mine- and it was a priority of mine to make sure the Groom was part of the planning and everything that went on! The main aim of our day was more about our guests rather than us. We wanted the day to be relaxed and easy going and we set the dress code as smart casual to encourage this.
Budget… We managed our wedding for £7000, which looking at the venue we had and the day we shared, we are so happy! We only managed this with our extremely generous friends and family helping us out – whether this was making the cake, donating buttons, letting us use their machinery to make slate hearts or making our rings for us!! We really felt special, that people rallied round for us and our special day.
The Venue… At the start of our venue search, we had quite a lot of difficulty. We had to balance our relatively small budget, with what we wanted.
We both wanted a venue in a countryside location that was quiet and private – we didn’t want to wave to the cars passing by as we had our photos taken! I was quite adamant that I didn’t want a chain hotel, as I wanted the venue to be personal to us. I have always loved Georgian architecture but we never dreamt that we’d actually be able to get married in a Georgian building.
We viewed a number of venues, and had to keep walking away – the prices were ridiculous! If the price was acceptable the carpet really was not!
We stumbled across Somerford Hall on the internet (we had seen no other advertisement for it) and fell in love with the look of it. We had no hope that it would ever be in our budget but spotted they had a midweek package and thought we’d go along to see if there was any chance that we could secure it. The quote we received was brilliant and we realised that we’d be able to have a dream venue (that looked a lot more expensive than it actually was!!). Obviously we had to cut out the extras to make it affordable (no canapés, a buffet style meal) but it all added to the relaxed feel of the day.
The Dress + Accessories… The dress was a Lou Lou dress – a 50’s length Taffeta dress with ruched sash and lace bolero. I chose a birdcage veil to compliment this (I felt a long veil was too traditional for me) from Emmerling.
I knew right from the start that I wanted purple shoes, and wanted to break the mould of ivory especially when I knew they would be on show. I bought some VERY cheap peep toe shoes from New Look and thought they looked great. I changed on the evening into Converse, no bride should suffer in pain too long and if the Groomsmen can be comfortable, so can I!!
I struggled with jewellery. I’ve never really worn nice jewellery and have normally opted for fashion jewellery, so when trying on beautiful pearls and the like it just didn’t feel right. Instead, I opted for a more fun alternative and had some plastic purple earring personalised to say Scott!
Make up was important to me – because I never normally wear it so I didn’t want to be out of my comfort zone and feel like a clown! Similarly, after issues with my hairdresser I just thought ‘what the heck’ and I just didn’t have it done!
Finding the Dress… was a nightmare!! From a young age, I was always a tomboy and all my friends were male, so dresses never really seemed to find their way into my wardrobe until I was older.
Stereotypically, women have a preconceived idea of their ‘dream dress’ but I felt lost and the odd one out as I had no idea what style to go for! Short dresses had caught my eye on a few websites but I was still unsure of what would suit me, or what would suit the feel of the wedding we were going for.
Equipped with the view ‘you’ll know when it’s the one’, the search began. I visited a few bridal shops with family and friends and tried on every style possible and felt beautiful and stunning in the long gowns – a feeling I rarely felt! But I felt awkward, and I just didn’t feel like me. Shorter dresses are in short supply in bridal shops, but I managed to try on the Lou Lou dress. I came swirling and dancing out of the changing rooms (I loved it!), and was so happy to feel human again – it definitely reflected me! However, as I looked in the mirror I knew that I didn’t look like a ‘princess’ or as beautiful as I had in the other gowns. I was stuck! Do I go all out and be the most stunning I can be on my special day (as everyone else does) or do I stay true to myself and feel comfortable?
After a lot of consideration I chose the Lou Lou dress, but still wasn’t quite sure it was THE dress like I was told I would feel. As the months passed though, everything seemed to slot in place around the dress – and it all felt perfect. I got over what I should wear and accepted what I thought felt like me. Looking back at the photos now, I am so happy!!! I cannot imagine ever getting married in a different dress and in hindsight, it was THE dress.
Groom’s Attire… (WRITTEN BY GROOM) Generally, the groom gets very little say in what he’d actually like to wear; having to make do with the bride giving him a short list from which to choose, a cursory glance being to the final outfit to check that he didn’t stray too far from his brief.
With the big day also being MY wedding day (a fact that can sometimes be lost on some brides), I felt it was important to wear what I wanted to wear, whilst keeping in theme with our relaxed, non-traditional day.
Having been to many weddings and seen many variations on traditional morning suits/tails, I very quickly formed the opinion that nothing traditional would be appropriate and have the effect of making me feel the “million dollars” that I should apparently feel. After a few failed attempts at wearing what I thought made me look ‘groomy’, I decided that I should turn my gaze to a more high street based ideal of a wedding suit.
A few major high street chains and a boy’s day out later and I eventually settled for a suit by Hugo Boss. The mix of Italian tailoring and the reduced price (sale-the fact I was getting married didn’t curb my hawk eye bargain spotting!), made me feel the way I should have felt.
The addition of a pair of Converse low top trainers to the suit perfectly reflected the relaxed, laid back style we wanted to the day (a choice that one shop worker was less than enamoured with!)
My outfit was garnished with a pair of purple polka dot socks-another choice that would have most brides running midnight based cold sweats! The relaxed nature to mine and the groomsmen’s outfits undoubtedly added to the ambience of our day and successfully combined to create a memorable yet personal day.
The Readings + Music… My husband and I are very relaxed people, and like a little silliness from time to time so we didn’t really want a serious reading – we’re just not like that! We opted for a light hearted reading that lightened the mood and made everyone laugh. This was ‘Marriage’ by Susan Branch.
Music is very important to us and this was a huge part to our day! With my husband working as a music teacher, it was really important that the music reflected our tastes. I walked down the aisle to Ben Howard, ‘Only Love’ and during the signing of the register we had a selection of artists (Florence and the Machine, The Smiths etc.)
The first dance was important to us. We wanted to make a bit of a statement (it doesn’t have to be slow and smoochy!) and we wanted it to represent our life together as a couple so we chose Noah and the Whale’s ‘Five Years Time’. This posed the challenge of how to dance, so we bopped around a little and probably looked like fools – but enjoyed it none the less!
Beautiful Bridesmaids… Picking my bridesmaids was an easy choice. My sister, my two nieces and my close friend seemed the natural choice. I knew right from the start I did not want the ladies in gowns, it would not suit the wedding or their personalities!
So with a ‘to the knee’ dress in mind, I found a dress that could have a different coloured sash and that would look great on all the bridesmaids. I did not want my nieces in a different dress because they were old enough to wear what the older ladies were wearing.
We never wanted to wedding to look matched perfectly, so I decided to have the dresses in 4 different purples. They looked great and gave the girls an individual dress.
The bridesmaids wore Converse with their dresses, reiterating the relaxed feel of the day. Besides, I don’t normally see the ladies in high heels, so why would I make them wear them for my wedding?
The Flowers… Who needs flowers? The decision to not have flowers was a twofold one. The budget really couldn’t stretch to allow for extravagant displays (that die within a few days) and I’ve never been a flower person. Don’t get me wrong, I love a pretty bunch of flowers as much as the next girl but I wouldn’t say it defines me as a person or my husband. So I had the dilemma of what could replace the flower bouquets and came up with the ideas of buttons. After searching the internet for a way to turn buttons into a bouquet, I came across an idea and bought job lots of floristry wire, buttons (from ebay sellers) and ribbon and gave it a go. I even managed to fashion a buttonhole of buttons for my dad and husband with ‘I love you’ buttons and music themed buttons to personalise them.
Making the bouquets was time consuming, but we roped in friends and family and by the time they were finished they looked really effective. For the 4 bouquets it cost no more than £50 altogether, because we had generous friends and family donating old and new buttons to the cause. Once they were complete, it was nice to reflect on where all the buttons had come from – in particular, I purposely used some buttons of my husband’s Nan that had passed away the year before so that we knew a part of her was involved in our special day.
The Cake… As soon as we spoke about the cake, my husband and I were on the same page – no cupcakes! We didn’t want to follow the rising trend and wanted to do something a little different.
Budget was another constraint when it came to the cake and we didn’t have hundreds of pounds to throw at something that was gone within hours.
My Bridesmaid, an amateur (but talented) baker kindly agreed to bake a cake for our wedding present. We gave her ideas of what we wanted and let her run with it, and we were so pleased with the result! We were keen on the idea of the cake looking similar to a pretty traditional wedding cake, but we wanted a little bit of wow factor so asked her to make the inside multi-coloured. She did an amazing job, and it added that little bit of something to the ordinary wedding cake.
Your Photographer… For me, this was one of the most important decisions of the whole wedding. Memories of your big day fade over time, but photographs always remain. We wanted a relaxed style of photography and didn’t want the traditional (boring) idea of photography where everyone stands rigidly and feels completely uncomfortable in front of the camera.
With the different ideas that we had for our wedding, we wanted them photographed in a way that really did them justice. We wanted quirky and artistic photos that suited our modern/vintage wedding ideas.
Finding this photographer was no easy task. Every photographer I spoke to were stuck in their ways and their portfolio of work just didn’t inspire. Until we found Cass. I found Cassandra Lane Photography on the internet, and fell in love with her work immediately.
She was friendly and made us feel at ease with all of our insecurities and created the photographs we always dreamed of.
The Details + Decor… Again, budget meant that we could not be extravagant with the details (not that we wanted to be). We had agreed that we would not have matching this and matching that and went for each table having different decorations on them. After months of trawling charity shops, bargain stores and sales we came up with a collection of items that we scattered on the tables.
The best idea I think we had was the place settings/favours. We worried we would not be able to pay for guests to have a favour due to the limited budget. After a holiday to Cornwall, we discovered a disused slate quarry that we ‘borrowed’ a lot of slate from. Me, my husband, usher and bridesmaid carried rather heavy bags for miles and found ourselves bruised and aching – all for a good cause. My husband then used a friend’s factory to cut each piece of slate into a heart which we then decorated with buttons and wrote their name on with chalk. These 50 favours cost us £5 altogether! Bargain!
A huge hit with the guests was the sweet table that we had in the reception room. It looked fantastic and they provided fresh popcorn and candyfloss – we had a lot of hyper guests by the evening!
We bought cheap handkerchiefs from Primark, and rolled them with ribbon and added a label reading ‘for happy tears’ on chairs in the ceremony room.
The table plan was a large chalkboard which was reduced in price because it was broken on the bottom corner and we wrote this ourselves.
We decided to pot lavender in different objects for the tables – teapots, sugar canisters, kilner jars, milk jugs.
We provided laminated speech bubbles and thought bubbles on sticks to our guests for them to write messages on. This got inappropriate very quickly, but produced some hilarious photos!
The Honeymoon… Our honeymoon was definitely last minute! We could not afford to book a honeymoon, so asked our guests in our invitations to kindly donate to our honeymoon! We were unsure whether we’d end up in Bognor for a night or whisked away to some exotic location! People’s generosity blew us away and we were able to go away to Turkey for a week. We married on the Thursday, booked the holiday on the Friday and flew out on the Saturday!
Memorable Moments… There are too many! Other than ones I’ve already mentioned, the groom and 5 friends played a few songs in the garden of Somerford Hall with varying instruments, while guests watched on picnic blankets. This reflected our relaxed day perfectly, and created a great vibe for the rest of the day.
The speeches! I think I might even be brave enough to say that no one was bored during the speeches! Some speeches were emotional and we also had a poem from the father of the bride and a little ‘skit’ with props and instruments from our close friends.
Advice for Other Couples… Do not feel you have to follow the rest of the crowd! Make the day yours and do not compromise. If you don’t think you can afford the wedding of your dreams – believe me, with a little clever DIY, you can!
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Photographer: Cassandra Lane Photography www.cassandralane.co.uk
Sweet table: Candy Girls tables www.facebook.com/candygirlstables
Make up: Lavender and Lashes www.lavenderandlashes.com
Earrings: Bete Noire Jewellery www.betenoirejewellery.com
Venue: Somerford Hall www.somerfordhall.co.uk
Fantastic. Thanks so much to Rachel and Scott for sharing their brilliant wedding with us today XOXO Lou