I am over the moon to be joined by Tom and Chase today with their beautiful Avoncroft Museum wedding held on the 18th May 2019 in the West Midlands. Their day was beautifully rustic, thanks in part to the majestic hall in which they held their ceremony and reception. It looked so beautiful draped in fairy lights, along with their simple and rustic decorations. Think semi naked cake, hessian sashes, log slices and flowers in jars. And all on a budget of £10k. Oh my!
Didn’t Tom and Chase look so stylish in their blue check suits, pink ties and tan shoes? Very dapper indeed. I also love the classic car transport and the fun steam train ride for guests, so much fun!
Lisa Carpenter Photography I cannot thank you enough for sharing with us these stunning captures of a truly wonderful day.
I proposed to Chase in front of an Icelandic waterfall; the location was one of many that I had highlighted as ‘possible proposal locations’ on our road-trip of a lifetime, and was chosen because it was the first landmark that we’d driven to where the rain had eased off and the sun emerged for more than a fleeting moment. I took him to one side, turned to face him, looked deep into his eyes and explained how I was so thoroughly enjoying this trip together, and wanted to go on many, many more adventures together in the years to come. Then, I got down on one knee, pulled a ring box from my pocket, and asked him to be my adventure buddy for life. I should mention that he’s from California and I from the UK, so we’d been living long-distance for the last year and a half, and as such I had absolutely no idea what size his finger would be! So, as an alternative to a ring, I proposed with a gummy peach ring (Chase’s favourite sweet); a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging someone with an unknown finger diameter. He laughed, ate the ring, and said yes.
We both agreed we wanted a fairly simple wedding that would be relatively low-cost, considering would rather save money for my upcoming move to California and the subsequent adventures therein than go all-out on a wedding. That said, we still wanted to make sure it was a fun and memorable day – after all, we only intend on doing it once and doing it well! We settled on a rustic and home-made theme, allowing us to make a lot of decorations ourselves and keep costs low in some areas without skimping on others.
The Planning Process
As with many of life’s difficult tasks, our first action was to make a spreadsheet. We used online wedding lists to guide us on which items were most pressing (outline guest list, venue, caterers) and which to leave for later on. Breaking down the tasks prevented us from becoming overwhelmed and ensured we didn’t miss anything.
We began planning the wedding approximately nine months before the big day.
The Readings & Music
We used a celebrant for our ceremony rather than a registrar as we couldn’t legally get married on our wedding day (for future visa reasons). Lisa Siembab of Embrace the Day granted us a fantastic ceremony that she tailored perfectly to us and our story. To the audience, the ceremony was no different than a binding ceremony, and she delivered it clearly and confidently. We worked with Lisa over several months to draft and redraft the ceremony until it was perfect.
We retold the story of how we met, how we fell in love and how the proposal went. We then made pledges and vows to each other, before posing for photos with our wedding certificate and then exiting to a confetti tunnel.
Music before and during the ceremony was chosen by us and operated by Lisa’s assistant using a stereo system and phone. We walked down the aisle to Can’t Help Falling in Love by Kina Grannis and exited to a cut down version of You & Me by James TW.
In the evening, music, lights and lasers were provided by DJ Tim Lymn, who came recommended by the venue. Our first dance was set to an acoustic version of Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding.
Given the other upcoming costs that we were anticipating in the coming months (visa fees, travel to the USA, furnishing an apartment) we decided it prudent to keep the wedding relatively low-budget. We aimed to keep costs under £10k, and broadly managed this, going no more than £500 over-budget; the extra money being spent mostly on little bits and pieces rather than large items.
Following a recommendation from a family friend, we chose Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings in the West Midlands as our wedding venue. The museum is home to many interesting and beautiful structures, which made for many fantastic photography opportunities and a source of entertainment for our guests. Our ceremony and wedding breakfast were held in the New Guesten Hall; a large open hall set beneath the relocated roof of part of Worcester Cathedral. We also felt a lot better about spending thousands of pounds on a venue knowing that it was going to support a museum rather than a private company.
The events organiser was great to work with and offered us plenty of guidance and ideas on things to include on our wedding day; help that we were more than happy to accept! The venue also had an approved suppliers list when it came to caterers and bars. There was an ample selection of caterers to choose from, but just one approved bar – not a major negative, but it meant that we were unable to shop around for better deals.
A small ride-on model railway was also available for hire within the grounds of the museum for a reasonable price, which went down very well with guests young and old!
Our best women and groomsmaids’ dresses were sourced from David’s Bridal shop; a supplier that had both UK and US stores, allowing both sides of the party to find identical dresses. One Best Woman opted for a shirt, waistcoat and trousers ensemble to co-ordinate with our suits.
The Details & Décor
We wanted to let the venue do most of the work when it came to scenery, but we added a few touches here in the form of home-made decorations such as an upcycled suitcase for holding wedding cards, the order of service and seating plan boards, and a wedding hoop for the ceremony. We also provided an instant camera and film for guests to take their own photos using a few props we placed out for them.
We purchased bunting online and used a wedding materials hiring service, The Wedding House, for seatback ribbons and table centrepiece logs. Several decorations and fake flowers were obtained from Country Baskets wholesaler.
We were also very lucky to be able to use my grandad’s classic Rileys as wedding cars.
We chose to have small bunches of table flowers set in home-decorated jars to suit our chosen rustic theme. We ordered the flowers by the stem and arranged them the night before the wedding. The flowers consisted of ranunculus, white and pink freesias, gypsophilia and foliage. Bouquets of freesias and gypsophilia were provided to the groomsmaids, and small buttonholes and corsages were given to the parents of the couple and Chase and I.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Being two men, there weren’t a lot of precedents out there for us to follow when it came to wedding suits. We noted that some couples opted for completely identical suits, others for complimenting suits. We decided to go down to complimenting suits route. We wanted to be able to wear our suits again, so we opted for dark blue three-piece suits accented with pink ties and brown belts and shoes. We used pink as an accent colour throughout the rest of the wedding.
Our suits and accessories were from high-street retailers Moss Bros. and Slaters.
We hired the very talented and professional Lisa Carpenter to capture our wedding photos. We love how relaxed she made us feel, and the candid style she shoots with perfectly captured the atmosphere of the day.
We decided on a simple three-tier semi-naked cake comprising layers of carrot cake, raspberry and white chocolate cake, and lemon cake.
We chose to minimoon to Crete for a week of relaxation following the stresses of the previous months and we think we deserved every minute of it!
One of the most memorable moment for us will be the pure joy that we and our guests felt riding on the miniature trains that we hired at the venue. We could tell that everyone was having an amazing time, which really made the day extra special for us. After, we introduced Chase to his first ever gin and tonic, and then danced the night away on the dancefloor.
Advice For Other Couples
We would say that the most important thing is not to panic. Regardless of how long or short your timeline is, planning a wedding is a daunting task. Be methodical in your planning, take things a step at the time and make deadlines for yourself, and when it comes to the big day – just enjoy it!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Lisa Carpenter Photography
Oh so gorgeous.
Tom and Chase thank you ever so much for sharing your very special wedding story with us xo Lou