WWW readers Ruth and Nick chose to marry in the Autumn at Brighton College. Their whole wedding was so very thoughtful, with every choice and decision made with personal meaning. Being a teacher Ruth used her talents to create beautiful displays. The ‘falling in love’ table was a triumph, with seasonal vegetables, hessian and autumn leaves all adding decorative style.
My favourite things about this wedding have to include the epic floral creations, magical light up lanterns and big smiles all round. Ruth’s dress was delicate and beautiful while her wavy flower adorned hair was super pretty.
Thanks today to the wonderful Sara Reeve for sharing these images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | Nick and I talked about marriage only a few weeks into our relationship so I knew it would happen, I just didn’t know when! We bought my engagement ring from an antique shop in the Lanes. I love that it isn’t a diamond solitaire as I felt that by having one, marriage looked a bit like joining the “club”! The ring is garnet and a cushion cut stone. I love wearing it as it reminds me of the proposal.
Nick had suggested we go out for a posh dinner and kept searching for restaurants. I didn’t think much of it. He’s a chef and we love the array of restaurants in Brighton. I had asked that a proposal was never in public. As long as it was just us, I didn’t mind. So on that day, I went Christmas shopping with my Mum and Nana. I came home to see Nick ready to go out, which I didn’t think much of. Then I noticed that he had lit candles and had some roses in a vase. Again, I just thought he was trying to be romantic and didn’t think anything of it. I saw a card leaning against the jug of roses and realised it was my Christmas card. I went to get mine for him and then, wondered for a second if this was the moment but decided not to check if the ring was in the drawer! I opened my card from him which said “To my Fiance” and nearly dropped it. I looked up to see him holding the ring and he asked if I would marry him. I don’t think I have ever squeezed him so hard!
We then went out for dinner at the Ginger Dog in Kemptown. Little did we know, as we walked past Brighton College, that we would be marrying there 10 months later!
THE VISION | I had always wanted a spring or summer wedding with tons of bunting, peonies, even some hay bales and some outdoor picnics. I either rushed to plan it in 3 months or waited 15 months. Both seemed unrealistic. So we decided on an October wedding as it could still be warm and we could use autumnal colourings and try to keep some spring pastels in there. Pinterest was amazing for ideas so I soon started pinning away and looking online for bargains. People would ask what our colour scheme was and I would just say “Autumn”. I knew I wanted autumn leaves scattered down the aisle and vibrant colours in the bouquets against bridesmaid dresses so I just went from there.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Nick has a gift of making most things run without stress. Everything just came together. I was determined to make as much as I could because I love crafting and bargains. I also wanted to keep the budget down.
We started with numbers and worked out who to invite. We made our own invites which cost around £35 in total.
BUDGET | 5 months after getting engaged, Nick found out that he was going to be made redundant. We stopped in our tracks and wondered how we were going to pay for the wedding. We were determined to do it ourselves.
Nick got the first job he went for (go Nick!) so the redundancy money and our savings paid for the wedding. We know that we were so fortunate and could well have come back from honeymoon with debts to pay from the wedding. My advice is to ask around for things. There are brides out there selling bits and bobs. You can always find bunting!
THE VENUE | We chose Brighton College as the venue because they had a chapel on site. We were bringing together family that hadn’t seen each other for years and there are always your gossipers. I wanted to eliminate any tension (inevitable sometimes) and travel from one venue to another. As much as old fashioned buses looked fun, I couldn’t see certain members of the family singing away as we travelled!! Having the chapel and venue in the same place meant that we could walk from the service, have photos taken and people could go straight to the bar. We also didn’t want to expect our grandparents to walk far. Being in one space also meant that there were people all around you to chat to and no one would feel left out.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I love pearls and found the pearl necklace in Superdrug (!) months before I bought the dress! My Mum gave me my great grandmothers pearl earrings to wear on the day. I’d seen a beaded cuff on eBay and loved the idea but ended up buying a collection of pale coloured bracelets to wear instead. I was anxious about the pressure of the dress. I finally chose my dress from Phase Eight. They had a beautiful collection. I also bought the veil from there, which is floor length. I wasn’t bothered about a veil but once I tried one on, it became real and the butterflies in my stomach flew! The dress is square neck and lace capped sleeves. The body is beaded and the back has a button that brought the dress together at the top.
FINDING THE DRESS | A colleague had gone to London one day and walked into every department store on Oxford Street until she found the one she loved. It wasn’t until the end of May, less than 4 months before the big day that I finally went to London on my own and did the same. I took photos and sent them to my bridesmaids who replied their ratings!
Brides, let me tell you. This is not the dress I had imagined. I was set on no sparkles and I definitely didn’t want white but cream or even champagne colour. But as soon as I tried it on, I felt pretty and confident. That’s what counts. Be open to other ideas when you try them on.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | I had toyed with the idea of a countryman’s style suit with tweed and wild flowers in the button hole. But that was not Nick. You can’t make the groom look uncomfortable in a vision you have! Nick is a traditionalist and liked the idea of wearing a suit with tails. The bridesmaids were in navy so we went for grey suits with navy ties. As the idea of Autumn developed, Nick chose a mango calla lily as his button hole with sprigs of herbs to link with his occupation of chef and us both being foodies. A couple of weeks before the day, Nick bought bright orange socks for him and the groomsmen to wear. The socks featured a few times in photos which always make me smile.
THE CEREMONIES | We had to have our legal ceremony in the room next to the chapel as the chapel was only licensed for blessings. It was actually quite intimate, with only immediate family there. It was a thrill to know we were married and then could go into the chapel where everyone was waiting so we could just enjoy saying our vows. Nick was nervous with everyone looking at him but I wasn’t nervous at all. It all seemed to flow. You spend so long planning the order of the day that I took advantage of the prayers to close my eyes and have a moment to pray that this day and each day from there would be blessed. It grounded me and Nick before the busyness of the photos, drinks, eating, greeting, more drinks and dancing happened.
The chapel service was led by Father Robert Easton, the Chaplin for Brighton College. He met us for drinks at The Ginger Dog a couple of times before the day. He listened intently to our fears and joys. He gave advice on everything (and I mean everything!) and hugged us with sincerity. He asked what my thoughts are on a sermon/homily. To my surprise I said “preach it, brother!” We have a brilliant photo of me giving him a high-five after the service. Everyone loved him.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | These were so important to me and Nick gave me free reign to organise it. I wanted hymns and readings that reminded me of family and had words that would bless our marriage. We walked down the aisle to If Ever You Were Mine which is an instrumental Irish piece that we had heard by a band we both like called Scythian. My grandmother is Irish so the piece was for her. We had the piece played on cello by a boy I had taught years ago. I had stayed in contact with Ruairi and his Mum. Ruairi, like his Mum, is a very talented musician. Along with the gracious organist, his music teacher and understanding Mum, they arranged the music and he played it as I walked in. This is the only point of the day that I cried. I felt so proud of him. Then I saw Nick and all these faces smiling at me. I looked at my Mum and the tears came! I only gathered composure during our first hymn Be Thou My Vision. Another link to Ireland. We also had In Christ Alone written by Stewart Townsend. This was a link to Brighton and a memory that links my Mum and Dad to our memories of living there. The last was to be a funny link with my brother. I chose Joyful Joyful as a link to making him watch Sister Act all those years ago. I kept trying to catch his eye during the hymn but I’m glad he didn’t look up. I probably would have cried again!!
The readings were read by Nick’s cousin and my chief bridesmaid. We had The Blessing of the Hands and Philippians 4 v 4-9. Again, I wanted readings that applied to Nick and I. I’m hoping to have these framed and hung in our home.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | It was so difficult to choose bridesmaids. I could have had at least 5! I still feel guilt that I didn’t ask some or even apologise that I didn’t. But I chose 2 school friends and a uni friend; Jenna (my chief bridesmaid), Kirstin and Polly.
They were amazing in enthusiasm and ideas. I chose navy blue dresses with lace edging from BHS bride. They chose an autumn coloured pashmina to wear and brought shoes that would match it. I had thought to all have the same hairstyle but then my hairdresser said to be different. So the morning of the wedding we were all in the salon with curlers and coffee. I loved their hair styles and thought they looked so elegant.
THE FLOWERS | Sara had recommended Miss Moles Flower Emporium. I fell in love with Barbara the moment I walked in the shop. She has so much energy and ideas. She knows where you’re coming from and oos and ahhs at the possibilities. She didn’t laugh at my decorated jars and loved the ideas of mini pumpkins and the autumn display. Nick smiled, knowing that she was our florist without question. I keep trying to think of an occasion that I could use her again!
The flowers were still in my love of pastel pinks with these bright orange colours that brought autumn together. I had a waterfall bouquet which helped my security on the day, as it kept me standing straight and something to hold on to! Barbara even made me a hair piece to be pinned into my hair. I loved it! The bridesmaids had a smaller version which did exactly what I wanted. They shone out against the navy blue dresses. The flower girls actually had artificial ranunculus arrangements that I bought from a garden centre! I bought the fabric autumn leaves from eBay.
THE CAKE | The cake was made by a friend, Ellie. Her husband and Nick worked together and we knew that Ellie made cakes. She kindly listened to my vision of how it would look and worked hard to produce the most enormous wedding cake! I wanted a natural cream colour to it as I had so much hessian on it and for it to look like it had laced icing. It was so detailed and absolutely delicious. Thank you, Ellie.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Where do I start with Sara!? I felt like I’d stalked her before we’d even met. I had researched local photographers and was overjoyed when I found that her style was just what I was looking for. The woman is a miracle worker and whizzes around the wedding. She chats away to people and puts them at ease. She understood my nerves and hopes for photos. I had given ideas of the types of shots I hoped for and she oozed enthusiasm. All the advice I had found online was to invest in a photographer. I couldn’t agree more. We’ve just moved to our first home together and I’ve had canvas prints made of so many wedding shots. There are so many that I love!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | My favourite section! I wanted to make as much of this as possible.
I bought meters of hessian and we worked out the size of a table mat for each table. A colleague gave me an old sewing machine and I just did a running stitch seam to stop it fraying. I then did another running stitch with lace to make a border. These sat on each table to hold the centrepieces.
I had longed for peonies so found bunches of artificial ones on eBay! We only spent £30 on them and had them shipped from Hong Kong. The number of people who admired them was amazing. The cream metal jugs were from eBay. They were on sale at the time and £2.99 each.
As we’re both foodies, I knew I wanted to make home made jars of something for people to take home. I was keen on chutney as I love to grow tomatoes in the garden. We decided on marmalade as the colour would be great for our autumn theme and then had some chutneys on the tables as another option. The thank you labels and ribbon were from hobby craft.
My friend Gill had her wedding a month before Nick proposed (inspiration I think!) and her style is similar to mine. She had the little lanterns on her tables and gave them to us to use afterwards.
The baby bear pumpkins were from Sainsburys (3 for £1!) and the large pumpkins on the stage were mainly from the garden at school and a trip I had been on with my class to Slindon Pumpkin farm.
The jars were gerkin jars (I ate a lot of gerkins in 10 months!) with leftover hessian and lace around them. I sealed each one with a wooden button and filled the jars with gypsophila.
I had seen an Autumn themed buffet table on Pinterest with bunting that said “falling in love”. I decided to make a similar table. I can’t help being a teacher and it became more of an Autumn display! I collected gords from the garden at school. I bought a blackboard frame online to write the menu. I also had the Brambly Hedge “Autumn Story”, which was a link to my Mum and brother as Mum would read them to us as kids.
My amazing friend Olli made the bunting as a wedding present. She is so so talented and I love her for many reasons. Her kind and giving nature is the main one, as well as the ability to sew something amazing out of nothing.
THE HONEYMOON | I had lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for over 2 years and met Nick just 3 months after I returned to England. After a year of dating we went to visit friends out there who welcomed Nick as if family. So the location of our honeymoon was obvious. We had a blessing with friends in Charlotte a week after the wedding day which meant so much to us. Then we drove for 4 hours to Hilton Head and had 3 nights at the best hotel on the island with time on the beach, drinks by the pool and a spa day. We wish we had stayed there longer! Lastly, we drove to Savannah, Georgia and stayed at the Bohemian Hotel on the river. We took the horse and carriage tour around the city and ate fried chicken, collard green and mac ’n’ cheese. Our final night was back in Charlotte where we saw bands play with friends. We felt like we did so much and could have done it all over again! My tips would be to mention that you’re on honeymoon. We had free champagne at both hotels and our car rental upgraded to a Camaro convertible!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | As the band played Irish music to end their set, my Mum’s cousin (from the Irish side) started to dance alongside my Dad. Then the other Italian brothers joined in. It was just brilliant and to see the connection of families and the joy on my Dad’s face was unforgettable.
Nick was so nervous about his speech but he was just great. The best man and father of the bride forgot a page of their speeches through nerves but Nick calmly read his. He looked so at ease!
My Nana is and was fabulous. I convinced her to stay at the same hotel as us and she ended up in the room next door! The night before the wedding, Mum, Nana and I were looking out at the pier in our pyjamas. Despite most of us not sleeping well, she slept like a log and took it all in her stride. She stayed until the end of the wedding day and ended up hopping in the cab with Nick and I! She has gushed about the wedding ever since.
My greatest moment was seeing my Mum and Dad in the same room as they hadn’t seen each other in over 15 years. I had been so anxious about it and had tried not to worry. They were both amazing and made me so proud. Seeing so many of my Italian family embrace my Mum after all these years and so happy to be there was a huge answer to prayers. In the words of my cousin Stefano “a bridge has been built today”.
And of course, having the Italians there still humbles me. When family travel to come and see you get married, there is a sense of no matter the time and distance, they love you.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Don’t go crazy. Think about what you’re going to do with all your “stuff” once you come back to boxes of it.
Be aware of who you are inviting. People kept saying not to be influenced by others but you have to stick to family politics. Maybe we cared too much about offending people! You might not know relatives of your husband or have to invite an Uncle who doesn’t really want to be there but you do it to keep peace. And for that one day you see that there is so it does make it worth it. Then there are some people who fail to turn up on the day. Be prepared for that. Sometimes we daydream about doing the wedding all over again. With hindsight, you do wonder at keeping it to immediate friends and family. So Sara, be prepared to be booked again. But maybe in ten years or so!
We had a top table just for us. Having parents with new partners meant that it got complicated for me to organise it. We also didn’t want to put pressure on family so decided to have a table for just us. It gave us a chance to have our first meal together as a married couple and to chat about how we’d felt at each point before then. We also used the opportunity to share a pricey bottle of champagne just for us to share!
Lastly, just enjoy the day. People kept saying how happy Nick and I looked on the day. The wedding co-ordinator helped us to plan the timings months in advance. Because we’d gone over it so many times, I could just enjoy each moment before the next thing happened. This also meant that I treasured each moment rather than forgetting most of it, as most had said. One of my best memories is sitting at our table and looking at all the decorations, people laughing and eating and the smiles we were receiving. It all came together. So don’t stress. It always does!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Venue | Brighton College
Flowers | Miss Moles Flower Emporium
Photography | Sara Reeve
Dress | Phase Eight
Honeymoon | The Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island
Ruth and Nick thank you both so much for sharing your wedding story today xo Lou