I love the creativity, passion and personalty infused in today’s real wedding feature.
WWW readers Bex and Pippa were married on the 20th August 2016 at the Brighton Council Chamber followed by a reception and handfasting ceremony at Iford Village Hall in East Sussex. They envisioned a DIY, rural, natural wedding and all on a £9000 budget. They pooled all of their nearest and dearest talents, alongside their own, to craft up a storm. The lovely blooms were purchased at Covent Garden flower market and arranged lovingly into pretty displays in the hall, Bex’s friend baked scrummy cup cakes and the decorations were either made or borrowed. One of my favourite touches has to be the papercut birds, a wonderful nod to their engagement story.
Bex chose to wear a delicate Phase Eight sequin dress and Biba feather cape. Pippa meanwhile chose an elegant Ghost gown teamed with Roland Cartier sandals, they both looked utterly gorgeous. There were some really memorable moments, for instance, portraits in a pond and a Bollywood first dance. Amaze.
Thanks so much to WWW fave Anna Pumer for sharing these epic photographs.
THE PROPOSAL | It took me 3 days to propose to Bex. Not out of nerves, but because of the way I’d planned to do it: I’d made a paper cutting of the words ‘Will you marry me?’ which I thought I’d surprise her with by hanging on a tree while we were walking in the Scottish Highlands. Naturally, it being Scotland, and autumn, it took 3 days (and 3 fells) of scanning for breaks in the heavy wet cloud/horizontal rain for the weather to be just-about-possibly-good-enough for me to dare to get the flimsy thing out of my backpack and hang it without the moisture curling it up instantly. Eventually I was forced to seize the moment (with only 100% mid-grey cloud cover – as good as it gets), there was no tree to be found and Bex was in a grump because it was our final walk before returning back to Brighton. However, there, by a waterfall on the way up to a hidden valley, her mood evaporated and, thankfully, she said ‘yes’.
THE VISION | DIY, rural, handfasting, natural, festival… Bex is from South Africa so we also wanted to bring SA into the day.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Long! We had 20 months and you’d think that’d mean that everything was sorted by the time it came round, right? Er… maybe not! What was great though is that we’d sorted out the reception venue pretty early on. We ditched wedding barn plans quickly as they were too pricey (and some too polished) so really it was a case of finding the prettiest village hall in the area. We planned to marry in Lewes as it was nearer to the village hall we found but unfortunately the Lewes registry office was undergoing renovation so we ended up going for Brighton – the upshot of this was that the Council Chamber had just gained a wedding license and could fit in double the amount of guests we expected, meaning that all our day guests would now be able to attend the ceremony – bonus!
BUDGET | Somewhere between £8K and £9K.
THE VENUE | Brighton Town Hall Council Chamber was a wonderful place to get married. They were very accommodating of unusual requests (e.g. we asked our wedding rings to be ‘warmed’, passed round the guests, before being exchanged) and the registrar, Gloria, who led the ceremony was just brilliant.
Iford Village Hall was, quite simply, lovely. It is Arts & Crafts, a style which Bex and I love, and has an adjoining paddock, which worked well for having a small drinks marquee and for our handfasting. A total bonus was that we also had access to the little woodland next to it for our couple shots.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Bex wore a Phase Eight sequin dress, with a Biba feather cape for the handfasting and Rainbow Club shoes; I wore an altered Ghost dress with Roland Cartier sandals.
FINDING THE DRESS | As we didn’t want our dresses to clash, we decided that it’d be best if one of us knew what the other was wearing. Bex was super quick at finding her dress, but I, with hers in mind, took way longer to decide. I ended up having the dress I bought significantly altered by my mum’s dressmaker friend, Pam; we changed the neck line and the back, used my grandmother’s lace to add capped sleeves and also added a few sequins to tie it in with Bex’s dress. Bex and I were both really happy with how we looked on the day – helped massively by Susie, our lovely hair and makeup lady.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | My brother and sister-in-law played piano beautifully in the ceremony: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor ‘Pathetique’; ‘Clair de Lune’ by Debussy; and Einaudi’s ‘I giorni’. For readings, we chose ‘As I Walked Out One Evening’ by W.H. Auden and ‘Touched by an Angel’ by Maya Angelou – both made us a bit teary!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Bex’s sister was both bridesmaid and best woman; then we had 3 awesome friends to make it to 4. They wore blue/green dresses we found in Vacant, a little independent shop in Brighton, and then all hunted down red, vintage-style shoes to finish the outfit. It was not all plain sailing however: 2 of the bridesmaids became pregnant after the dresses were bought so whether they were going to fit into those dresses on the day was uncertain, plus very late in the day we discovered that another of the dresses had developed a weird stain around the collar. All turned out fine – one maternity dress was worn and all wore red floral corsages to cover up any staining. They looked fantastic!
THE FLOWERS | Bex and her sister got up at ridiculous-o’clock the day before the wedding, drove to Covent Garden flower market and returned to the village hall with an abundance of flowers. For Bex, who is a gardener, the experience at Covent Garden was like being a kid in a candy store – she really enjoyed being her own client for once and getting to buy masses of her favourite flowers! They then, with the help of the bridesmaids, arranged all the flowers into beautiful centrepieces for the tables. We had potted succulents (Echeveira varieties) and jars of Astrantia, ornamental Cow Parsley, Veronica, white Asters, Drumstick Alliums, Sarcococca foliage and pink Gypsophila. And urns of Smokebush foliage and Cow Parsley. In addition, Gunns Florist made gorgeous bouquets and buttonholes with Gypsophila white, Eryngium, Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’, Astrantia major and Eucalyptus.
THE CAKE | Bex’s friend Andrea made carrot and chocolate cupcakes for us as a wedding gift. They were absolutely delicious and went down a storm.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Anna Pumer. What can we say? We found her on the internet but everyone assumed she was a good friend (we wish she was!) That’s just how well she fitted in with our wedding. And she was everywhere! I don’t think we quite realised until the photos came in but she literally snapped everybody at our wedding – it was amazing! Plus, she caught such special moments (sunlit rain drops falling off trees over us into a pond… wow) And there was definitely a whole lot of hilarious moments snapped! If you are reading this and haven’t yet booked your photographer, book Anna. And trust her. You won’t regret it!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We made a lot of the decorations or borrowed them; really, the only buying involved the festoon lights. The papercut birds, although envisaged by me, were actually created 3 days before the wedding by Bex’s sister. I was finishing a masters and job hunting at the time, plus organising the move, so time had sort of run out despite my best intentions. Emma stepped in and the birds looked amazing, even more so when their shadows appeared. About the books – initially I had planned to make a book art centrepiece for each table, featuring our favourite stories, but again, time ran out, so we ended up with 6 semi-finished ones peppered round the hall. About the bunting – I made one set and the rest we borrowed from friends. For favours, we gave to a South African charity, Wheat, providing education and training for women.
Food – our wonderful friends and family made a whole array of yummy finger food for the afternoon reception. This was handed round by my three teenage cousins and orchestrated by two friends, Rebecca & Rebecca, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Now Now Food Company provided delicious South African beef stew and butternut curry from their food van. It was a great surprise for the guests and Bex was only too happy to show them that South Africans eat more than just braii meat. Pudding was cupcake. My parents kindly supplied the accompanying wine and cava, and our friend Freddie gave us a whole load of craft beer. Glasses and other crockery were supplied by Speedwell Catering. The evening food came from Waitrose, but there were so many left over canapés that most of it didn’t get eaten – we were living off wheels of cheese for weeks after! We had the most amazing MC ever, Bex’s great friend Tony, and 3 speech-makers: my Dad, Emma and my brother – they did brilliant jobs, even using a projector, and had us all in stitches.
We had a handfasting ceremony outside in the evening, to which we’d invited more guests. It was such a special part of the day and we were lucky that the rain held off for it. We’d written the ceremony, so it very much had our hearts in it; it was led by Rowen, a close friend of Bex’s, and our hands were bound by eight more wonderful friends. The ceremony was accompanied by more music – my brother on the keyboard again and our talented friend Trish on the violin – and some hearty singing from the audience too.
Bex created the Spotify playlist for the dancing – from 60s to 80s to rap to house to dubstep, we couldn’t get enough of it. We borrowed some lights and a smoke machine from friends and family and, as it turned out, the hall had some great lights too – it was awesome!
We asked four friends/cousins to film the whole event. We bought one camcorder, which each filmer used for a section of the day before handing it over to the next person. It was so lovely, a couple of months later, to sit back and relive the day – all the moments we remembered and all those we’d forgotten or hadn’t seen. And the dance moves… oh the dance moves!
THE HONEYMOON | We kinda had a pre-honeymoon – a trip to South Africa to see Bex’s friends and family. This was just as well, as, as misfortune would have it, we had to move the week after the wedding so there was zero chance for a break! We were delighted to receive Canopy & Stars vouchers from the bridesmaids as a wedding gift, which we’ll be spending in Provence next summer.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The weather – in an otherwise completely sun drenched and dry summer, the heavens opened 48 hours before the wedding and continued on/off until the day after. It added quite a bit of drama but also a lot of hilarity.
The ceremonies – until you are in front of all your friends and family as they witness you and the one you love tie the knot, despite any misgivings they might have had about two women marrying, you just have no idea how amazing it will feel.
The chaos – turning heads as we randomly had to walk through the massive lobby of a Jury’s Inn to find our taxi that had been stuck on the seafront and barely being able to push the revolving doors round due to the force of the wind outside!
The faces – surprising our guests with a Bollywood first dance. Classic!
The dance floor – don’t think we’ve ever danced so hard; I don’t think we ever will again. It was epic!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Do it your way. As soon as the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, people have expectations as to how it should be. Would they have the same expectations if it was a birthday party? No, they’d just be happy to be there. Don’t bend over backwards to appease guests – they’re all adults and can take care of themselves. Besides, you’ll never please everybody and will end up getting hurt yourself. Be considerate but remember that this is your one shot at your wedding day, so stay true to yourselves.
Don’t buy your bridesmaids dresses a year early!
If your food is coming from different sources, delegate one person to oversee it all on the day. It’d make things smoother.
Get friends/family to film your day – moments are precious, memories fade. Still photography is obviously wonderful, and far more romantic and softer than a home movie, but the latter immortalises the people you love – the way they move, laugh and dance. Get that camera rolling!
And, finally… make sure all taxi bookings are for the correct day!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Ceremony | Brighton Council Chamber
Venue | Iford Village Hall
Hair & Make Up | Susie Hair & Makeup
Alterations | Pamela Marshall
Bouquets & Buttonholes | Gunns Florists
Bridesmaids Dresses | Vacant
Dress | Ghost
What a wonderful day.
Bex and Pippa, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your lovely wedding here today xo Lou