WWW readers Susie and John tied the knot on the 4th June 2016. It was important to them to hold their ceremony outdoors and so they held their legal ceremony in the morning before self self-officiating their outdoor wedding at Wood Farm Barn in Suffolk. They envisioned a summery home made wedding, which they achieved on a £7000 budget. Pretty much everything was hand crafted or made, including Susie’s gorgeous gown, the bridesmaid dress, the veil, the food and the flowers to name a few. It really was a labour of love by them and their nearest and dearest.
I really love John’s braces and bow tie combo, the space hopper races, log cutting and the origami crane backdrop. It all looked and worked so beautifully.
Thanks goes to Mark Ewels Photography for sharing these really rather gorgeous images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | John proposed to me on holiday in Slovenia. We’d done a (very challenging) hike to the top of a waterfall and he proposed at the top. It was a perfect choice! The engagement ring is my Granny’s old engagement ring, which I’d said before I wanted him to use. He’d managed to keep it hidden for a week of our holiday until the perfect moment arose.
THE VISION | We knew from the start that we wanted our wedding to be an outdoor, summery wedding that was as homemade as possible. We knew we wanted a picnic or BBQ (in the end we had a combination!) and a very relaxed feel. But most importantly, we said from the start that we would do the day exactly how we wanted. We refused to bow into wedding tradition – jokingly, I said that I would refuse to buy anything that said ‘wedding’ on it. We stayed true to our vision of the wedding from start to finish – the whole day I kept saying to myself ‘It’s just how it was in my head!’
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Slow and steady was our motto for planning. We did little bits at a time over the 22 months we were engaged and neither of us ever felt overwhelmed. We just planned and made little bits here and there, and spent a lot of evenings browsing the internet for ideas. I kept expecting to suddenly feel stressed but it never happened. We were very organised leading up to the day with many MANY lists, which I think is why we all remained so stress free. I also made a conscious decision that last week that us all enjoying ourselves was more important than any wedding planning or organising. We lived up to that and I’m so happy we did.
BUDGET | Originally we set our budget as £5000 but in the end it came to just under £7000. I’m not sorry we overspent – we analysed each penny we spent and every penny was worth it.
THE VENUE | Our venue was Wood Farm Barn in Benacre in Suffolk. When looking, we knew we wanted somewhere outdoorsy that allowed us to do everything ourselves – being tied into catering at the venue was a complete no for us. We considered a field with a marquee but when I looked into it, we decided it was too complicated and weather dependent. When we found Wood Farm Barn only a few miles from my parents’ house, it was exactly right. We didn’t actually visit any other venues – as soon as we visited, we knew it was for us. It was a beautiful but basic in a stunning location. I lost count of how many people told us how perfect the venue was.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I always knew that I was going to ask my Godmother, Ali, to make my dress. I tried on plenty of dresses, picked apart what I liked about each one, and between us we designed my dress. I’m really practical and so having a comfy dress with straps was the most important thing to me, but once we’d sorted that, we made it look pretty too. I am so in love with it and so grateful to Ali for making it. My Mum and I made the veil between us (it is so easy to make a veil – I recommend any bride who can use a sewing machine to DIY it). I am the least fashion conscious person in the world and didn’t really think about accessories until really late on – it just wasn’t that important to me. In the end, I wore a necklace belonging to John’s Mum, earrings that cost £4 from Accessorize and £8 Accessorize flip flops (although I went barefoot for a lot of the day). I had also bought wellies and a brolly, just in case!
My friend Lucy, who is a hairdresser, did both mine and my bridesmaid’s hair.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | John bought all of his outfit from high street stores – a combination of Top Shop and TK Maxx. He chose his own outfit, although it was pretty much exactly what I’d have chosen! I think I subconsciously influenced him by showing him enough weddings where the groom had braces and a waistcoat! The best man wore his own clothes.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We self-officiated our ceremony. We knew from the start that we wanted to have an outdoor ceremony, which you can’t use as a legal marriage in the UK. After throwing around various options, we decided to do the legal marriage in the morning with just our parents and then have the outdoor ceremony exactly how we wanted it in the afternoon. Celebrants were expensive so we did it ourselves. I was a bit nervous about it but it was lovely and so personal. We used John’s audio equipment to play the music – I walked down the aisle to ‘Better Together’ by Jack Johnson and we all sang ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ from Toy Story and ‘One More Step Along the World I Go’. We walked back down the aisle to ‘I’ll be there for you’ by The Rembrants. Our readings were ‘Us Two’ by AA Milne (read by a close friend) and ‘I’ll rely on you’ by Hovis Presley (read by my brother). We also adapted the words of ‘Yes I’ll Marry You, My Dear” by Pam Ayres instead of writing our own vows. The ceremony was far and away my favourite part of the day and we’re both so glad we chose to do it how we did.
In the evening, we had a ceilidh because we both hate wedding discos. It was a really fun and relaxed way to spend the evening.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I only had one bridesmaid, my best friend Stacey who was a wonderful help throughout. My Mum made her dress, which was the same basic pattern as mine but in a dusky purple and without sleeves. I left it to her to choose everything else – she is far more stylish than I am! I don’t think she minded!
THE FLOWERS | I knew I wanted sweet peas because they are my favourite flowers ever. My Mum and Dad kindly grew them in their conservatory all winter to get them to bloom early enough – we were all so relived they managed it! We refused to buy any cut flowers due to the environmental impact but we did have a few potted plants around. Plus my Mum’s friend Wendy crocheted us lots of flowers for in the picnic boxes.
THE CAKE | My Mum and I love baking and really wanted to make our wedding cake. However, we knew that cooking a cake for 120 people in the week leading up to the wedding was a stress we didn’t need! So, to compromise, I gave 14 guests each a cake board and asked them to make a cake. My Mum and I made a small tiered cake for the centre. John really wanted lego cake toppers but customised ones were too expensive. My Mum then made us some which were amazing! All the cakes were absolutely delicious!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Mark Ewels Photography. For a long time we said we wouldn’t have a professional photographer but we are so SO glad we changed our minds. We chose Mark Ewels because he was so reasonably priced and had such an unobtrusive style. He was very personable and we love every single one of the hundreds of photos he took. They bring back the day so wonderfully every time I look at them. I’m not an emotional person at all but I cried when I first saw one of us in front of the sunset. It was just so perfect.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | So, so many little bits and pieces!
I am a teacher and Brownie leader and asked all the children to make me one piece of bunting. I did the same at my hen weekend. The personalised bunting is hilarious! We also used things we had already – my Dad’s boating flags and bunting borrowed from a friend who got married last year. We also made lots of pom poms.
My Mum made all the confetti for us with flowers from her garden. There was so, SO much of it. My Dad is a beekeeper and my Mum makes jam so they filled little pots to be our favours.
My Dad, who is brilliant at woodwork, made us various signs which my Mum painted and the amazing photo booth frame that I am in love with. He also made us a giant kerplunk (so much fun!) and lent us a beehive for our cards. The Morris Million that I arrived in is my Dad’s car too.
We borrowed a lot of other games from various places and hired a bouncy castle and space hoppers.
I made all the cranes for the backdrop for the ceremony (with a little help from my friends) and my sister-in-law strung them together.
Our food was a BBQ done by the local butcher along with picnic bits we organised. We ordered a Tesco delivery for the day before and put it all into boxes. Everyone I spoke to thought we were mad for catering it ourselves but it was really easy. We asked everyone to tidy up their own mess from food which worked really well. Everyone entered into the DIY spirit of the day.
We were lucky that many of our friends and family are very talented and generous, both with time and items, but we also made the most of everything we could. We chose personal, home made and cheap over picture perfect every time, which suited us perfectly!
THE HONEYMOON | We camped the night of the wedding at a nearby campsite along with lots of the guests, then (after tidying up) stayed at Bedford Lodge Spa Hotel on the Sunday night. We’re going to Bosnia, Slovenia and Croatia this summer for our real honeymoon. It won’t be a very typical honeymoon but we have treated ourselves to a few nights in a posh hotel at the end!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | I loved the whole day but have two moments that really stand out.
The first is arriving and seeing everyone sat in the beautiful sunshine with John waiting at the end. I knew from that second that the day would be a success and I was so overwhelmed to see it all happen how I had imagined it.
The second was the log cutting. My Dad, who had lived in Germany, had heard that in the Thuringen forest in Germany, newlyweds have to cut a log with a two handled saw to show how well they can work together. He suggested it as a joke but we decided to do it and so he set it all up. It was so much fun and I’m pleased to say that we managed it!
John’s favourite moments were the log cutting and the many space hopper races.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | The only piece of advice we have is to do what you want and focus on what is important to you. Don’t feel pressured into anything because tradition or people say you should do it that way, or feel afraid of doing something that seems a bit crazy because of what others might think. Chances are, people will appreciate the individuality of your day and if they’d don’t, who cares. You’ll enjoy yourself, and that’s by far the most important thing.
Oh, and be very VERY organised, especially if you are doing a lot yourselves. Lists are a very necessary evil.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Mark Ewels Photography
Venue | Wood Farm Barn, Benacre
Food | Seppings Butcher
Band | Skiphire ceilidh band
So very idyllic.
Susie and John, thank you both so much for sharing your super special nuptials with us xo Lou