This is the wedding that dreams are made of. A gorgeous, eclectic mix of styles, vintage meets light-filled meets quirky meets DIY. And you know what? It totally captures the essence of this fun loving couple and their happy relationship.
WWW readers Catrin and Chris were married on the 22nd October 2016 in a church ceremony followed by a good old fashioned knees up at Barcombe Village Hall in East Sussex. It’s hard to know where to begin with their day, yes it’s that awesome. Let’s start with Catrin’s incredibly beautiful bridal look. She chose to wear a ballerina length gown by Candy Anthony, accessorised with a flower crown, veil and Rachel Simpson heels. She also added the cutest sequin jacket for a touch of sparkle. Let’s not forget Chris who looked very handsome in a sharp navy suit and floral tie.
The blooms were a triumph. Think dark burgundy and blush dahlias for the bouquets and dried hydrangeas for the reception décor. Talking of the décor, the couple spray painted dinosaurs, designed their own stationery and added a backdrop of geometric paper hearts to the top table. Amaze!
Huge thanks goes to WWW fave, Georgi Mabee for sharing these wonderful images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | Over to Chris… Exactly a year before the wedding… Location, a cold hill-side watching a firework display in Lewes (if you’ve never been, it’s more than worth a visit), hipflask of whisky in hand. I knew I was planning to ask Cat (with eight wonderful years already under our belts), and had been waiting for the right moment. Sitting on the hill-side with her, emboldened by whisky, I said I wanted to be with her forever and now here we are.
THE VISION | A real DIY wedding and a really fun party was what we were after! In terms of styling, we wanted an eclectic mix of pretty vintage and clean modern aesthetics, to create something elegant but with a playful slant. More importantly, we wanted to keep ourselves and our guests feeling happy and relaxed by providing great food, drink, music and dancing in abundance.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Catrin took the helm in the early stages, researching potential venues and suppliers and compiling waayy too many pinterest boards in order to get a clearer picture of the sort of day we were after. We made all the big decisions together, however, and there are some great perks to planning – free food tastings, for instance! We both spent a lot of time on joint projects, such as making all of our own stationery for the day (invitations, orders of service, table plan etc). In the later stages, Chris took over a lot of the organisation, such as purchasing drinks for our DIY bar and generally dealing with the financial side of planning, leaving Cat free to work on the aesthetic side of things such as styling the venue, liaising with suppliers etc – we definitely played to our own strengths and worked as a team.
BUDGET | Something around the £12, 000 mark – not quite what we ended up spending, but setting a budget helped us to think creatively and to pinpoint our priorities.
THE VENUE | Chapel – The Old Chapel Centre – Alfriston (East Sussex).
We chose this space because of the chapel’s very special atmosphere. It’s a beautiful 18th century building with some fascinating period features, including pillars made from 18th century ship masts. It’s quite small, so this helped us create the intimate, cosy atmosphere we were hoping for. Also, unusually for religious venues, they were very happy for us to bring in our own minister to give the service. This was hugely important for us, as we had asked a dear family friend (who usually ministers in South Wales) to perform the ceremony. He married Catrin’s parents 30 years ago, so this was a really special part of the day for us.
Reception – Barcombe Village Hall – Barcombe (East Sussex).
We chose this space because we knew we really wanted a village hall wedding – not too formal and with lots of freedom to create the day that we really wanted without the constraints of a hotel or other regular wedding venue. Also budget-friendly! Barcombe Village Hall was a real find – a stunning modern eco building, with incredible views and great facilities. Even better, we were able to book the services of the hall’s regular wedding facilitator (shout out to Janet – an absolute gem of a woman!) as part of the wedding package, so had the advantage of liaising with someone who was very used to the wedding world and knew how to put all of our ideas into practice. She also acted as chief event co-ordinator of the day, allowing us to relax and enjoy ourselves.
We chose to get married in Sussex as our families are quite widespread across the UK. Catrin is from West Wales and Chris is from Norfolk, so a wedding in either home turf would have resulted in dragging a lot of people a long way across the country! Sussex is where we both moved in together after Catrin finished her studies – our first home together. For this reason, it’s a special place for us and one we wanted to share with all of our guests. We actually selected our venues with the minimum of fuss – the chapel was the only religious venue we considered and the village hall was the second and final reception venue we saw. No need to over-complicate things!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress was purchased at Candy Anthony’s lovely Oxo Tower boutique, during their January sale. My gown was a one-off, previously used as a window display, was a perfect fit and I got it at half price! I’ve always loved old Hollywood films, and this dress really evoked Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly-esque elegance for me, without looking too overtly “retro”. The frothy tulle and ballerina length also allowed me to indulge my childhood fantasy of being a ballet dancer, but without all the effort of learning how to dance!!
I loved that the dress’ clean lines allowed me to really build a whole bridal outfit that felt very ‘me’, and I loved gathering all the elements together in the months between buying the dress and getting to wear it. I accessorised with beautiful (and surprisingly comfortable!) nude and metallic shoes by Rachel Simpson, a sequin jacket by Kulayan, purchased on Etsy, a simple two-tier veil purchased online and my absolute favourite item – a gorgeous velvet flower crown by Flo and Percy purchased in another sale at Leonie Clare Bridal in Brighton. I also carried a little white and gold vintage beaded bag, and wore pearl earrings, a simple necklace by SVP Jewellery, and both my own and my mum’s engagement rings.
FINDING THE DRESS | I took my Mum with me on my dress-hunting expeditions, as I knew I needed a second opinion I could really trust. As a classical singer, I end up spending more time than most in long, formal gowns. For this reason, full-length gowns felt a bit ordinary to me, and I found myself unexpectedly drawn to shorter styles – they just made me (and mum!) feel instantly bouncy and excited! Candy Anthony had a great range of shorter yet still special dresses, and finding my beautiful ballet frock in the sale felt rather serendipitous. I snapped it up in January and spent a nail-biting ten months trying to keep it safe and hidden in the spare room! Sadly, Chris glimpsed it at least three times before the big day, but still seemed surprised at how it looked on!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Over to Chris … TM Lewin suit, shirt, tie and pocket square with Clarks shoes. Cat and I went shopping together for a suit that was sharp but didn’t feel overly formal. I wore the favourite of my extensive cheap watch collection – a little soviet number compete with a rocket. All paired with my Aylesbury duck cufflinks.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | During the ceremony we had two short Bible readings, chosen by Catrin’s great aunt, who is a nun, therefore highly qualified to make those decisions : Matthew 5:1-9 and Song of Songs 8:6-7. We also chose ‘The Present’, a poem by Michael Donaghy, which was beautifully read by Catrin’s singing teacher. Music is hugely important to us both, and we are lucky to count many professional musicians as friends, so we had beautiful organ playing, and during the signing of the register we were serenaded by an all-star choir singing Schubert’s The Lord is My Shepherd and Dream a Little Dream Of Me. Due to huge numbers of Welsh and musician guests, the congregational hymns (Jerusalem and Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer) were also enthusiastically sung and joyously loud!!
We also felt that music was a really important part of the reception, and a full dancefloor was a top priority, so we booked The Whiskey Wailers, led by Anna Sin. A seriously brilliant skiffle band, their core repertoire is rock-and-roll and motown, but they also do some fabulous vintage riffs on contemporary songs.
We asked our super-talented friend Izzy Rabey to sing our first dance, accompanied by the band. We went for ‘At Last’ by Etta James. A classic tune, and Izzy smashed it out of the park.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had three bridesmaids; my friends Helen and Fiona and my now sister-in-law, Kass – all absolutely wonderful and fabulous women. I wanted them all to feel comfortable in their outfits so just set a colour scheme and general shape and they wore navy dresses of their own choosing – a mixture of Ebay, BHS and Monsoon purchases, accessorising with navy shrugs and their own shoes.
THE FLOWERS | Rachel Grimes. Wonderful, wonderful woman and so talented! I wanted wild-looking, seasonal flowers that weren’t stereotypically autumnal (i.e orange and red!!), and she understood exactly what I was after, creating a beautiful bridal bouquet of flowers in buff and delicate pink shades with pops of rich dark pink and burgundy and lots of lush foliage. She even bound it using my Welsh grandmother’s bridal headpiece – a wonderful way of having my Mamgu with me on the day. Bridesmaids held a single huge dahlia each, an inspired suggestion from Rachel, and one I loved, as the effect was very striking yet still elegant. The button-holes were also incredible and so unusual, and were loved by all the men! She also created an amazing foliage swag to decorate the chapel, which we then took with us to place on the top table at the hall.
For reception flowers, Rachel provided us with three huge buckets of flowers and foliage which would tie in with the rest of our flowers, and we arranged them ourselves.
THE CAKE | Amazing vanilla and blackcurrant tiered cake from our caterer, Jessica Haggerty at Brighton Bakes, and an equally fabulous gluten-free fruit cake made by Chris’ mum, who is a coeliac and makes fantastic cakes.
Covering all bases – Catrin hates fruitcake!!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | The fabulous Georgi Mabee. Wedding pictures last forever, so we were particularly keen to get this right, and we spent a lot of time researching photographers. Georgi’s creativity and fresh, fun style jumped out at us right away, and after seeing our engagement shots we knew we’d made the perfect choice. Georgi is a true artist; a wonderful photographer who made me and my husband feel totally at ease in front of the camera, and really captured the feel of our wedding day in our pictures. Georgi’s photography is full of joy, light and – most importantly for us when we were selecting a photographer – fun. Looking through our wedding album is almost like being there all over again!
She is also the most lovely person, and a total ninja with a camera – we have no idea how she managed to capture some of the moments she did – she really managed to get everywhere!!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We spent a year collecting vintage vases and Scandinavian tealights, spraying jam jars with metallic paint, and buying lots of hot pink paper pompoms! My mum made amazing foliage hoops to hang from the ceiling, and a stunning backdrop of geometric paper hearts to go behind the top table. Family members with gardens donated lots of extra foliage to the cause, and a huge amount of dried hydrangeas, some of which were made into confetti. Then we added deer and dinosaurs just to mix things up a bit!
THE HONEYMOON | A gloriously relaxing mini-moon in Cumbria after the wedding, with a maxi-moon in the planning…
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | We were absolutely amazed to find that contrary to expectations, the day wasn’t over in a flash at all – we really felt that we had plenty of time to drink it all in and be in the moment. The whole day was one big memorable moment, but if we’re being super-selective….
Feeling like we were the only people in the chapel as we said our vows.
Taking time after the ceremony to wander around Alfriston for our couple shots – such a great opportunity to let it all sink in and enjoy being newly married.
Hearing our amazingly talented friends singing and playing in the ceremony and reception.
Father of the bride’s speech – general destroyer of mascara and a tough act to follow when we got up to do ours! (Oh, also , doing a sort of joint speech was memorable in a nerve-wracking sort of way).
The pudding table. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
Tearing up the dancefloor with MAXIMUM TWIRLING.
Guests raving about the bargainous drinks at our cost-price bar!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Plan the day in stages, so that you don’t end up having to do everything at the last minute – especially important for a DIY wedding. Also know that friends and family are generally delighted to help and are likely to have a wealth of resources, talents and ideas that can help make your day. We were overwhelmed by how generous everybody was to us – giving voices, artistic flair, flowers, organisational and moral support to us in abundance. It was also a great opportunity to spend more time with people we love. And make sure you have fun with it! We had a great time spraying toy dinosaurs gold, singing up a storm and dancing like maniacs – it is basically a huge party after all!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Dress | Candy Anthony
Bolero | Kulayan
Shoes | Isabelle by Rachel Simpson
Headpiece | Juliet by Flo & Percy at Leonie Claire
Groom’s Suit, shirt and accessories | T.M Lewin
Groom’s Shoes | Clarks
Make-up | I had a 90 minute lesson at MAC, and did my own make-up on the day.
Hair | Langtons
Florist | Rachel Grimes
Décor/styling | Bride, Groom, families and friends.
Caterer | Brighton Bakes
Stationery | Made by bride, groom and our very arty friend, Keogh Connelly.
Oh so dreamy.
Catrin and Chris, thank you both SO much for sharing your exquisite nuptials with us xo Lou