Darren and Elizabeth’s wedding report may just be one of my favourites ever. Their whole attitude to planning and their wedding day was just wonderful, it really is a must read. Especially the words of advice.
Darren and Elizabeth were married on Saturday 2nd May 2015 in Exmouth, Elizabeth’s favourite place. They held their hand-fasting ceremony on board The Pride of Exmouth boat where they also celebrated their marriage.
The whole day was so meaningful. They injected a hint of Harry Potter and quirky clocks alongside all of their children being involved in the ceremony itself. Such a perfect day.
Alex Tenters Photography, thank you very much for sharing your joyful images today.
THE PROPOSAL | This wasn’t massively exciting but you know life isn’t a fairy tale and things often happen in a fairly mundane way which doesn’t necessarily means it loses it’s significance or sincerity. Our proposal I guess was a meandering thing. We’ve been together 19 years this year had a mortgage, children, a life and all that stuff. We’ve talked about marriage and it just wasn’t a big deal to Darren whereas to me it was (maybe girls tend to be more conditioned to it). It was my son that started it about 4 or 5 years ago. He wanted to know why we don’t all share the name (the kids have both our names). Darren said “well we could get married and all match” and within a couple of weeks we had an engagement ring. I did complain whilst shopping for the ring that I had had no proper proposal so he did drop to a knee in the shoe shop so I figured that there will have to be the moment when he uttered the beautiful words “So are you marrying me or what?” but that’s all good. That’s just us; factual, no fanfare needed but without the trimmings it all means the same doesn’t it. I guess we are life’s meanderers and procrastinators as a couple more years (oh and another baby) drifted past then last year we were chatting in the garden bathed in warm late spring sunshine when the wedding conversation cropped back up. I think the promise of a warm honeymoon abroad (I love my UK holidays rockpooling!) was enough to convince Darren to let’s just get it done. In June we were on a boat trip on holiday in Exmouth, saw a sign on the boat offering it’s services and the rest just meandered into place!
THE VISION | I definitely took the driving seat for the plans. Darren trusted me and was just happy to choose the holiday side of things. I knew I wanted something that was about us – not institutions, not other people’s ideas but personal and reflecting who we are and what we’re about – mostly relaxing, having a good time with our mates and the people we love. Mostly I wanted to get married in Exmouth, a place I used to visit frequently with my family when I was a child. Here was the place I could skip along the sand, singing at the top of my lungs, plunging hands into freezing cold rock pools and I could breathe. It’s my favourite place and it had to be in the plans – whether anyone would come to share our day would be another story. So I guess the original vision was relaxing, happy, seaside wedding with a heavy dose of me!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I’m a procrastinator so nothing really got under way til Christmas 2014. The venue’s were booked early on but it was a case of bringing myself back to a list of jobs, prioritising them and then ticking them off. My mom and sisters were there as back up, and I handed the whole ceremony over to my sister Tor to design so I know she spent lots of time watching hand-fasting and reading up before designing our ceremony for us. TRELLO was a massive help in keep things organised and delegating.
BUDGET | No idea – certainly less than £4k.
THE VENUE | We had 2 venues. The first to make it legal was at Exmouth Town Hall, St Andrews Road, Exmouth. There are lovely gardens for photos next door and the beach is a 5 minute walk away (even in the wind and rain – which it did!) THE VENUE for our 2nd ceremony/handfasting (which to us was the real deal) was aboard The Pride of Exmouth, a boat which we hired from Stuart Line Cruises, based out of Exmouth Marina. Finding this boat whilst on a boat trip the previous June was our lightbulb moment and the point from where I knew kind of where I wanted to go!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress was handmade by Darren’s aunt Jill from a sketch I did (with my mom’s input!). I couldn’t settle on one particular style or decade so thought I’d put them all in. The fabric cost £350 including the diamonte belt. The most expensive bit was the lace at £75 a metre! But it was beautiful and so so worth it. I debated many a pair of shoe but went for some Ruby Shoo’s as they were comfortable but still glam and went well with the dress (I could also wear them again). They were also quite timeless so I could see them ageing well in the wedding photos. I wore a veil to the registry office as the only input Darren had offered was that he wanted a veil and a wedding cake (neither of which I was originally planning so it’s a good job I asked!), however I switched it up to a birdcage with the back of my dress bustled and darker lippy for the boat just so it was still fresh and different. I made my birdcage veil myself (like many of the bits and bobs) as I couldn’t see anything quite right for me. It featured paper flowers, clock parts and a brooch left over from my bouquet. The clock parts and faces was also an important feature in the wedding as everyone and I mean EVERYONE knows I’m late for everything (I don’t mean to be – I was born 2 weeks late and I’m still trying to catch up) so it was a tongue in cheek nod to my tardiness!
I paid a Make Up Artist to do my hair and make up. It was one hassle I didn’t need and I’m so glad I did. Sarah Case worked a miracle with my face and I felt amazing.
FINDING THE DRESS | I tried on all sorts of frocks, from princess gowns, vintage 20’s style, fishtail, mermaid, A line but found so many to be so samey! I went to a couple of wedding shows and left feeling a little overwhelmed by the one look fits all approach that seemed to be out there, and underwhelmed by what it meant for me. I’m closer to 40 than 30 but feel closer to 20, I’ve had 3 children, I’m no skinny minnie but not a voluptuous beauty either and nothing was rocking me world. If I ticked the box for my inner princess, my inner rock chick snarled. If I appeased her snarling, then my inner happy hippy sighed in despair – I needed to satisfy all of me. So I looked at the dresses I loved again, played around with a biro, passed the sketch to Jill who breathed life into it and it was great!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | A good old 3 piece suit from Debenhams. He wanted braces and a bow tie which fitted great with the look of the wedding and he now wears braces with everything! Darren put a huge amount of thought in to his suit as he went to Debenhams and picked it off the rack about 3 weeks before the wedding. He just wanted a good suit he could wear again and be comfortable in. Job done!
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Our music didn’t work. Weddings often don’t go to plan – ours didn’t! We should have had 2Cellos cover of U2’s With or Without You to enter the registry office, The Gin Blossoms “Til I Hear it from You” whilst signing the register and “Love Fool” by The Cardigans to leave the registry office. However there was a problem with the player and only our first piece of music worked.
For the boat I was going to walk down the aisle to Hedwigs Theme from Harry Potter and jump the broom/exit to “He’s a Pirate” from Pirates of the Carribean. Unfortunately due to the weather we couldn’t have our ceremony above deck so had to drop the walk in/exit music.
One thing that did work brilliantly was including a sing song part way through our hand-fasting. I wanted a song as I love music and grew up as choir girl in a church where I saw so many weddings with hymns so to me music is celebration and ceremony – both important in a ceremony. So in place of a hymn we had “I’m a Believer” by Neil Diamond/The Monkees. It was amazing – one of my most favourite memories from the day – standing at the front to hear everyone singing their hearts out. I was so unsure whether people would think I’d lost the plot and it wouldn’t work but it did! Our guests loved it.
Readings – our wedding was a family affair through and through. My sister Tor designed the ceremony, my Mom read The Buddhist Marriage Teaching, Jarryd (my eldest son aged 10) read a beautiful passage from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, my youngest son Corbyn read a reworking of the Owl and the Pussycat called the Daddy and Mommy (he’s 6) and my sister Kati read The Hands Blessing. All our family were involved including my nieces and nephew and my daughter (just 18 months old) who all said things or presented symbols during the hand-fasting ceremony.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My older sisters Kati and Tor and my daughter Arya. It took us 3 attempts to get dresses everyone was happy with (the final ones were the cheapest and came from eBay! Typical!). Arya’s dress was from BHS – we went with grey as she’s a toddler and the idea of putting her in white and trying to keep her clean is ludicrous so this was both practical and beautiful!
THE FLOWERS | I made the bouquets and buttonholes myself. I’m not crafty but I googled tutorials for paper flowers and bouquets and fudged it together from that. My bouquet started life as a kitchen sieve, a pair of chopsticks we got free from a local takeaway and a spare bike handle cover. Many hours, wiring of brooches and sore fingers later it was a bouquet and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Some of the paper flowers were made from pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (one of my favourites!). Clocks and clock parts featured again in the bouquets and buttonholes as well as lots of brooches sourced from charity shops and eBay as well as few myself, friend and family had. I did included a couple of sentimental features. Neither myself nor Darren have our Nans any more. For me, I put my Nan’s necklace initial which she used to wear in the back of my bouquet just above the handle so she was right next to me hand all day (incidentally we both have E names). For Darren, he used to always tell me how his Nan had promised to dance at his wedding. I heard a relative had a ring that used to belong to his Nan that she was planning to pass on to our daughter at some point. I asked if I could have this early and wired it into Darren’s buttonhole so that, although she couldn’t dance, she’d be right next to his heart. Smushy I know but sometimes you just have to.
THE CAKE | My wonderful friend Amy made our cake. It was heavenly! A combination of Victoria Sponge but with raspberry jam and lemon drizzle. Amy knows I love Lord of the Rings so she covered it with lots of little hobbit ivy leaves! It was stunning and tasted divine!
I made our cake toppers myself! I play Roller Derby and used to love My Little Ponies when I was growing up. Darren was a transformers fan. So it only seemed right we should have a roller skating My Little Pony marrying Optimus Prime (my Mom made Optimus’ top hat!)
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We had the best photographer ever! We found Alex Tenters Photography at the Wedding Fair held at the NEC in Birmingham – I only went by chance as I won the tickets from a local company. I was about 10 weeks away from my wedding date and was chatting to photographers seeing who was still free (a surprising number were!), looking at the style, seeing what they were like and really liked Alex so got back home had a think and within a couple of days booked him! I am so glad I did. Alex and Kirsten fitted in incredibly well (people thought he was one of our mates), they were an absolute pleasure to have at our special day. The end results have totally blown us away. I can’t recommend Alex or thank these guys enough. I’m kind of sad the wedding is over because it has been great working with Alex and seeing something so personal to us turned into something so wonderful. Words (for a change) fail me.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We just prettied the boat up with lots of honeycomb paper decorations in pastel shades. We needed something to make it look right in photos and things but had to be able to get them up and put them down quick so this worked for us.
THE HONEYMOON | A familymoon in Petra, Greece at the end of May 2015.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Paddling in the sea, singing I’m a Believer, one of Darren’s mates singing Hey Ya by OutKast in the karaoke just for me despite not having done it for 10 years! My boys doing their readings. Seeing the number of people who came to the registry office (we weren’t expecting any – it was crammed!). The number of people who travelled from far and wide to come to our day. My aunts and cousins coming who I haven’t seen for years made my day!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Chill! It is your wedding. The point being you are joining your lives together, not that the music works, or that Great Aunt Edith wears the right colour, or the sun shines. It’s a celebration of all that is you and that happens with or without the trimmings. Lots went wrong for us. The weather was shockingly bad (glorious the next day though), I left some of the decorations and flowers for my hair back at home 170 miles away, my Dad took ill and couldn’t come to the boat ceremony, my mate was ill on the boat… I could go on.. It didn’t matter. We still had an amazing day. Spend on your photographer, hair and make up and for everything else, just chill! If you can’t find what you want, have a go at making it. If you like it then that’s what matters. Ask people to help, pool skills and resources. The people who matter will turn up, will be supportive and will love what you’ve done because it’s a reflection of all that is wonderful about you. Most importantly…It’ll be fine. Trust me. It’ll be fine.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Venue | Exmouth Town Hall, St Andrews Road, Exmouth
Boat | Stuart Line Cruises
Hair and Makeup | Sarah Case
Photographer | Alex Tenters Photography
Suit | Debenhams
Beautiful. I do love a family friendly wedding day.
Thanks so much to Darren and Elizabeth for sharing their story with us xo Lou