A Retro DIY Blue & White Wedding

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Jenna and John were married at the same North Yorkshire church as Jenna’s Grandparents married at 50 years previously. They wanted their wedding to be small, creative and retro in style. It was important to them that their day reflected them as a couple and they kept close to their £3000 budget.

Jenna and John DIY’d much of their wedding, with collected blue crockery, a willow theme running through the day with willow pattern plates, paper hearts, stationery and paper flowers. Their wedding reception room looked just incredible.

Jenna looked stunning in her romantic dress with statement vintage hair style, while John wore a grey Jeff Banks suit with custom made cufflinks. How amazing did they look?!

Oh i do love these two,

Thanks so much to the brilliant Andy Gaines for sharing his images with us today.



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The Proposal…. In the grounds of Whitby Abbey. The proposal itself wasn’t a surprise, as we had talked about how much we wanted to get married, but the location and John’s secret Paparazzi-esque camera was.

The Vision for the day…. War-time Willow / Retro, blue, and white. We wanted small, creative, and something which reflected us as a couple – and the interests we shared.

The Planning process…. As we were both still living at home during the time between the engagement and the wedding, we had to organise everything through phone calls and emails. A few things got twisted as they travelled through cyberspace, but we got there in the end.

Budget…. The budget was supposed to be £3000, but with John’s suit mishaps, it came to slightly over.

The Venue… St. Mary’s in Lastingham, North Yorkshire. My (Jenna’s) grandparents were married there in 1950 and when I first visited the village, I knew that it was a very special place. I never met my Grandmother but I’ve always felt an affinity with her, and Grandad George passed away the month before John and I started going together, so it just felt like the right place to get married. The church itself is old, so old that it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and has a Norman crypt built beneath it. And it is tiny, which again was perfect as we knew we wouldn’t be inviting many people.

The Dress + Accessories… After going to a few bridal shops and being told the same thing: “you’ll never get a dress – you’ve left it far too late”, I decided to go to the Bridal Factory Outlet in Northallerton and try my luck. It was as romantic as the name suggests: rails and rails of the dresses nobody had wanted. I looked through a few and struggled to find even two to try on. As I got into the changing room with the attendant, I spotted a three quarter length satin dress hanging up and thought “Oh, I wish I’d seen that one!” Well, when she started taking it off the hanger and asked me to step into it, I could have screamed. As soon as it was laced up and I stepped out to show my Mum, I knew it was The Dress. It had a sweetheart neckline and retro feel I had been dreaming of finding. And for only £145. I couldn’t believe it. After hours and hours of searching online, and fruitless shop visits, I was wearing the dress I was going to get married in in just over a month’s time.

Groom’s attire… John wore a tailored, grey Jeff Banks suit with the wedding date embroidered on the inside pocket. He ordered cufflinks from Lucie Ellen on Etsy, custom-ground from an old plate to match our willow pattern crockery at the reception. Also, his tie and pocket handkerchief was made from willow pattern fabric to match. He looked very handsome and we matched quite well, considering how secret we kept our outfit details from each other.

The Readings + Music…. As we met at uni whilst doing our Creative Writing MA, we thought it would only be fitting to have a poem read out alongside the traditional “Wedding in Cana” (John 2:1-11), and so chose T. S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday VI”. Although it was originally written about Eliot’s change in religious beliefs, the words seemed to describe marriage perfectly. It talks about the idea that as well as the days of perfection and ease you dream of, there will be days when things are a little harder, but if you stay strong and stand together, things will always turn out ok. We liked the realism and maturity of the piece (as well as the beauty of the words, obviously).

The music and hymns were also traditional: I walked down the aisle to the customary Wedding March, we sang “Wedding at Cana” to accompany the reading, and ended with the ever-rousing “Jerusalem”. We didn’t have a disco or night-do, but music is very important to the both of us so we put together a playlist of our favourite Old Time pieces to play while we had the meal. It was a beautiful mix of The Andrews Sisters, Sinatra, and Bobby Darin.

Beautiful bridesmaids… As I didn’t really have anybody from my past that I felt close enough to to want them to be my bridesmaid, I looked to my future; to someone I knew would become a close friend. I asked Liz, one of John’s oldest friends, and über-girlfriend of his best man, Tom. I loved that I had been accepted into John’s circle of friends and I wanted them to know that I appreciated everything they had done for him in the past, long before I knew him. Liz looked beautiful – she wore deep blue Vivien of Holloway polka dot, halter-neck dress with a pale blue petticoat, and I couldn’t have asked for someone more wonderful.

The Flowers… We decided on real and countryside-ish flowers for the church and paper ones for the people and reception. I don’t know how many hours I spent folding blue and white paper petals and gluing them together, but they were eye-catching, admired, and stood out perfectly in the photographs.

The Cake… A three-tier tower (two fruit cake and the top one sponge) generously made by John’s Mum. She has had a lot of experience decorating celebration cakes and it looked beautiful with ribbon and a children’s china willow pattern tea cup on top. Tasty, too!

Your Photographer… Andy Gaines of Andy Gaines Creative. We both found his website separately and fell in love with the photographs on his blog. Every couple looked so relaxed, and happy, and in love. I’m quite shy ordinarily and neither of us are particularly fond of posing for pictures, so Andy’s style seemed as though it would match us perfectly. As you can see, Andy took beautiful and candid pictures on the day; he caught moments that would have so easily have been lost or missed by anyone else. We love these pictures and have since spent a lot of time looking back at them, as I know we will continue to do for the rest of our lives.

The Details + Decor… The reception was held in the village hall, across from the church. We set up everything ourselves the day before. We had sourced and collected a multitude of willow pattern plates, blue glass wine goblets, and paper hearts. The tables were arranged in a U-shape to seat our 28 guests, and we sat at a top table with Liz and Tom (bridesmaid and best man). We made all of the details ourselves – it was very much a DIY wedding. I made the place settings, centrepieces, bunting, button holes, and bouquets. John’s a graphic designer by trade and designed the invitations, name cards, and favours. Everything was blue and white.

The Honeymoon… A beautiful weekend at La Rosa in Whitby with our friends, who had travelled from far and wide to be with us: Bromley, Bristol, and Brooklyn(!) We had stayed there for our engagement and Whitby itself is very important to both of us, as we have a lot of family history with the place.

Memorable moments… John: Driving across the North Yorkshire moors in the Autumn sun, in a completely white, vintage Volkswagon Camper. It had rained all week, but the day itself was clear and bright. Obviously the main moment is when I first saw Jenna at the altar, she looked perfect.

Jenna: I had felt so nervous before and during the ceremony, but when we were sitting at the table to sign the register, John held my hand and fiddled with the newly-placed wedding ring on my finger and I relaxed immediately. I had done the thing that I knew I was meant to do in my life: marry John. Also, when I took the pen from the Canon to sign my name in the register, I was shaking so much that my handwriting looked like that of a five-year-old and I heard Mum and Dad laugh.

Advice for other couples… Have a clear idea of what you want and follow that vision to the end. Remember: it only takes two people to make a wedding special…not two hundred.

Credit where credit is due…

Photography: Andy Gaines

Just amazing!! Thanks so much to Jenna and John for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

6 thoughts on “A Retro DIY Blue & White Wedding

Really beautiful, nostalgic wedding – all the details were so stunning and I love the war time willow theme.

I wonder if the bride or someone in the know might be able to answer a question for me though: I too am making my bouquet from folded flowers in the same patter and the bride’s, but I’ve really struggled to find patterned blue paper like that – would you be able to tell me where you sourced it from? I’d be very grateful.

Thank you!

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