WWW readers Gem and Rich married back in August last year. They had a vision of a lively and personal wedding for their guests which worked out perfectly.
They opted for a village hall as their wedding venue, allowing them the flexibility to make their own choices. With their wedding décor crafted by themselves the hall looked beautiful and I just adore Gem’s heather bouquet.
Gem wore a romantic Lusan Mandongus dress with her hair in a chic beehive while Rich went for a charcoal wool suit and braces. Amazing.
Thanks so much to On Love and Photography for sharing their gorgeous images with us today.
The Proposal… It happened on the 16th giving Rich a hug at one point during the hike and his heart was pounding (I just thought the walk had taken it out of him!) We started chatting about friends of ours who were getting married and then Rich got down on one knee and suddenly there was a beautiful diamond ring in a little box in front of me. It shocked me so much that I ran away screaming ‘Noooooo!’ I then swiftly ran back and told him to ask me again so I could re-answer ‘Yeeessssss!’ Cue tears. Apparently, the ring had been sat in Rich’s sock drawer for months as he waited for the right moment. We then spent the August 2012 whilst walking on the North Yorkshire Moors. I remember night in a beautiful B&B in Harrogate and drank copious amounts of champagne and dealt with the engagement hangover with a Betty’s Curd Tart!
The Vision for the Day…A lively, village party which felt personal for everyone, not just for us.
The Planning Process… Gem bought a scrap book within a week of being proposed to. It was a big green spiral bound book with hundreds of blank pages to scribble ideas on and stick pictures, colour charts and lists in with beautiful patterned tape. It was great having one place to store everything and eventually we had several sections within it for Food, Photographer, Venue, Order of the Day, Guest List etc. We used the internet a lot and found wedding blogs a particular help for generating ideas. Setting up a Pinterest board was a brilliant place to share our ideas with Gem’s brilliantly creative sister who lives in London. She would then find similar images and pin those too. She became a huge part in the vision for our wedding so a mutual ideas board was invaluable. We found that wedding fairs weren’t that useful to us but the fashion shows were brilliant fun to watch. We set up a website so that our guests knew exactly what to expect and so that they could keep referring to it as the day approached. Fortunately, Rich’s second job is graphic design so he designed all our invites, Order Service and website with the help of Gem’s sister who did all the illustrations. As we asked all our guests to bring a dish for our buffet instead of a wedding gift, the website meant we could allocate types of dish for each guest (e.g. Savoury, Salad, Sweet). As we had two venues it was also useful to include maps, taxi numbers and places to stay.
Budget… £8,000 (not incl. dress or suit or wine)
The Venue… Finding the reception venue was the hardest part of planning our wedding. We thought about North Yorkshire at first, as it was so special to us both. We liked the idea of an old barn that we could do up ourselves and so arranged to meet with various farmers. We met with one lovely farmer called Billy who showed us round his huge barn in Barmby Moor who even let us have some of his freshly picked carrots. It was beautiful; a great size, the views were fantastic and he seemed very flexible. Whilst, this was great, we quickly realised that logistically creating a wedding from scratch from a distance was going to be really tricky. What if we wanted to pop over and get some measurements or just jog our memories on a few of the details? It would be a day-trip and days are precious when planning a wedding. So we started the search nearer to home. Whilst talking to one of our brilliant ushers about the frustrations of venue hunting and describing our ideal venue that didn’t seem to exist (somewhere that felt out in the sticks, somewhere that we can decorate ourselves, somewhere relaxed and villagey) she suddenly realised she had just been to a beautiful marquee wedding at Dunham Massey Village Hall. She didn’t know what the village hall itself was like but the venue was surrounded by greenery and you could tailor the event to be how you wanted it. We took a trip to meet the lovely Andrew at Dunham Massey Village Hall and we fell in love with it. It needed a lot of love and imagination but the hall itself had beautiful high ceilings, huge windows, a sizeable kitchen, a little stage, toilets, a bar area with lots of fridge space. This was it! Once we had booked the Village Hall we searched the local area for a church and came across St. Werburgh’s in Warburton; a beautiful church surrounded by green. A lovely church run by lovely people.
The Dress + Accessories… Dress: Lusan Mandongus. Shoes: Rachel Simpson. Handmade, bespoke earrings and hair band: Marie Canning. My something borrowed was a wonderful vintage Vera Wang bracelet, lent to me by Laura (bridesmaid) as she wore it on her wedding day.
Finding the Dress… I found my little beauty in The White Closet in West Didsbury. Eve and the gals were so helpful and the shop is just lovely to spend time in. They give you tea and the champagne was popped open when I had decided on my dress by Lusan Mandongus. I had visited all the other dress shops with my mum and sister but I popped into The White Closet on my own and that’s when I found her! I had never been one of these girls who had a ‘dream’ dress but having tried on a few I realised that the one I chose was absolutely right for me; it was a simple design but with beautiful textures and fabrics. It was structured and yet flowing and most importantly I felt like myself, not some weird bride-tastic version of me. The dress was my wedding gift from my mum so I really wanted her to love it. When she came to see it with me and as the curtain was pulled back she cried. Done deal.The ladies at The Wedding Shop in Alderley Edge were also very helpful when I was dress hunting and I tried on some wonderful dresses here too.
Groom’s Attire… Rich bought a beautiful charcoal wool suit off the peg from Aubin & Wills in Manchester. As the brand was beginning to shut down they had some fantastic reductions and he managed to get the suit for a song. Other items included leather Bertie brogues from John Lewis and green boxcloth Albert Thurston braces from Aidan Sweeney in Powys, South Wales.
The Readings + Music… The Song of Solomon 2 V 10-13 Bring Me Sunshine Lyrics Hymn – One More Step Along the World I Go Live acoustic version of God Only Knows as we signed the Register.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… My sister, Lou and best friends Laura and Rose. My word how beautiful they looked on the day. I really didn’t want to put them in the same dress or versions of the same dress; I find that all a bit weird. I wanted them to wear a dress that they felt comfortable in and that they would want to wear again. I asked if they’d mind finding their own dress and they were all really up for it. I gave them each a card with colour swatches on it and said choose a dress in any of these colours/tones, here’s each other’s emails so you can keep up to date and here’s a little contribution towards it. Be free little beauties…
They were not just beautiful ladies waltzing down the aisle with me, they were such a support and huge help. I couldn’t have done it without them.
The Flowers… We went to an Open Day for Posh Frocks and Wellies, who are a brilliant company for anyone looking for a marquee / outdoorsy wedding, and found our florist there. They are Fletcher & Foley and are based in Sale Moor. Jo was friendly, warm and very sensitive to our needs. We wanted a wild flower feel with the predominant flower being heather (as seen on the North Yorkshire Moors). Rich loved the idea of herbs being included and so we also used rosemary. Lavender and Fresias were really important to Gem so they were included in the bouquet and button holes / corsages. We collected hundreds of jam jars, took them to Jo who then brought them over to the Village Hall the day before and set them up. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were made by Gem’s sister, Lou. They melt my heart; they took her so long.
The Cake… A huge fruit cake made by Gem’s mum, iced by Gem and decorated by Gem’s sister Lou.
Your Photographer… The oh so wonderful On Love and Photography. These were our best find and we are incredibly smug to have found them as our photos were just gorgeous. Regardless of the product though, Giulia and Ben were so lovely on the day and had previously been to check out our venues twice to check the light and to organise a little walk around the canal for us to have a private shoot on our wedding day, away from the madness. We had a pre-wedding meeting and they came along to our rehearsal at the church. They were never intrusive and felt more like special guests who happened to be taking snaps rather than our booked photographers.
The Details + Decor… We made or sourced all of our own decorations. Gem made about 200 metres worth of bunting for in the hall and for the building (that was a bigger job than anticipated so thank goodness for Rich’s mum and her pinking sheers!); we bought relatively cheap festoon lights and wooden crates to pop lavender plants and pink gypsum in to line the stage; Gem’s sister made white, cotton screens to cover the back of the stage and freshen the venue up; white ribbons were tied round the curtains to liven those up; our trestle tables were covered with paper table cloths lined with cheap hessian and jam jars; Gem’s sister designed and drew all the blackboard signs, including the table plan; the message board was another black board with a permanent chalk pen left for everyone to sign their message with; beautiful 1950’s / 60’s mix match crockery was collected by Wowie Zowie in Chorlton; we alternated the vintage crockery with fresh white to keep it looking light; friends and family had collected hundreds of jam jars for our flowers so there was lots of colour and light reflected through the glass; we also used jam jar flowers on our pew ends in the church; solar fairy lights helped to decorate the trees outside; we used dried lavender as our confetti and Gem cut up some coloured tracing paper for indoor confetti for the first dance; wicker baskets for brollies and flip flops.
The Honeymoon… Casa la Siesta, Veher de la Frontera, Spain. Beautiful boutique, rural, luxury hotel.
Memorable Moments… Gem: My time with my dad on the morning; giving mum and my bridesmaids their presents; hearing the church bells peel when I got out the car; crying with happiness all the way down the aisle; Rich’s face when I got there; my dad’s speech – so special; being asked to be a Godmother of Laura’s new baby Bella; Rose’s speech; seeing my sister in love with her lovely Rob; seeing my mum glow with happiness. The best moment by far was the first dance – it really did feel like it was only Rich and I in the room and I have never felt so happy.
Rich: My first glimpse of Gem as she entered the church (following reassurances of: “it’s tradition for the bride to be five minutes late…”, “… to be ten minutes late…”, “…fifteen minutes late!”). Also our first dance, I know it’s a cliché to say “it felt like a dream” but… Another highlight was seeing all of our guests chipping in with little jobs throughout the day, we’d hoped everyone would enjoy being involved throughout the day but seeing their enthusiasm for tidying and washing up was fantastic!
Advice for Other Couples… If you’re planning a DIY wedding, dealing with things in little chunks is the best way to do it. Try to do it all at once and your head becomes a mess of random ideas and nothing is thought through clearly. It’s best to set monthly, then weekly and, in the last month or so, daily challenges to tick off that never ending list.
In our opinion a wedding is about all the people you’re sharing your love with. We kept that in mind the whole way through and it really did make our day just perfect. All of our guests were involved throughout the day, from bringing food to ferrying flowers from the church to the village hall, and we were told that this made them feel like they were an important part of the day.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Church |St Werburgh’s Church
Photography | On Love and Photography
Beer | Dunham Massey Brewery
Wedding Bands and Bridesmaid / MOB Presents | Jo Lavelle Jewellery
Bride’s Jewellery | Marrie Canning
Flowers | Fletcher and Foley
Cheese | Saddleworth Cheese Company
Vintage Crockery | Wowie Zowie
Serving Crockery | Athena Catering Hire
Sound Equipment and Wooden Chairs | Event Equipment Ltd
Dress | The White Closet
Braces | Aidan Sweeney
Catering | Hickson and Black’s
Make –up | Emily Bowden
Entertainment | C-Rap
Hair |Sarah at The Attic Salon
I just love how involved all of their guests were, even washing up… brilliant.
Thanks so much to Gem and Rich for sharing their beautiful wedding day with us XOXO Lou