There is much to consider when planning a DIY back garden wedding, from setting up and clearing away, to facilities and logistics. It’s always a good idea to rope in your nearest and dearest to give you hand, just like WWW readers Anna and James who were hitched on the 24th September 2016. There are of course the fun elements too, like the gorgeous bunting, fairy lights and flowers that they injected into the décor. Or the sparkly sequin bridesmaid dresses teamed with multi coloured floral bouquets and surf theme décor. One of my favourite touches was the honesty bar they ran and they actually managed to donate almost £800 to the charity Shelterbox. Such a lovely and meaningful idea that guests will love too.
Anna’s gorgeous lace and tulle gown was the first she tried on, it looked beautiful teamed with a veil and hair vine. James and the groomsmen found their suit shopping a little trickier, but they came across their dapper suits in a classic blue tone, teamed them with purple ties and tan shoes to complete the look. Keep an eye out for some super cool transport and the confetti shot, glorious.
Thanks so very much to Danni Maytree Photography for sharing these wonderful images.
THE PROPOSAL | We went on holiday to Sri Lanka in October 2015, we’d been together for almost 6 years by then. We’d first met at university in Southampton and have lived together in Peterborough for the last three years. On the second week of our Sri Lankan holiday we were staying at a lovely beach called Mirissa. It was perfect; white sand, good surf, sunshine, laid back, not too busy but enough people that there was a good atmosphere. James had been quite soppy on the trip but I had thought he was just enjoying my company or perhaps just enjoying the beer, I wasn’t expecting a proposal at all. One evening after dinner at a lovely beach restaurant we were walking along the beach all very romantic; in the moonlight and holding hands and James said that he had a surprise for me… ahhh I went into a bit of shock! “What do you think it is?” he said. Ahhh still I didn’t say anything. Before I knew it he was down on one knee with a ring asking me to marry him! I’m not sure what I said, it was a bit of a blur! But we think I said “of course I’ll marry you!” Then James was up on his feet and has shut the ring box before I’d even looked at it!
THE VISION | We wanted a relaxed and fun wedding which everyone would enjoy and remember. We didn’t want anything too themed or colour coordinated but a day which reflected what we enjoy.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We decided on a date for the wedding quite quickly. We fancied September as it is usually good weather and would give us 10 months to plan. The date happened to be James’ brother’s birthday so James made sure he fully embarrassed him by singing “Happy Birthday” during his speech! I think we were quite organised – we had a wedding notebook and kept everything in there such as ideas, initial guest list, to do lists etc. We also had a mammoth spreadsheet which had everything on it including guest list with addresses and RSVP status, music playlists and our predictions of how much everyone was going to drink! We decided to get married in Sheffield where I grew up, so organising from Peterborough wasn’t overly easy logistically and it meant we spent a lot of our summer driving up and down the A1. Luckily most suppliers were able to meet us at the weekend. We enjoyed the majority of the planning activities – our favourite was the deciding the wine. We had a dinner party with my parents, brother and some friends and got through a large number of bottles, rating them all out of 10; needless to say we got more generous with our scoring as the night went on!
BUDGET | A lot. Do it yourself garden weddings are not the cheap option!
THE VENUE | We got married in my family church, Ecclesall All Saints, in Sheffield. It’s a beautiful large church where I went as a child and teen.
We chose to have the reception at my parent’s house on the outskirts of Sheffield, it’s quite remote up a long muddy farm track but the location is stunning and there is a large flat area perfect for a party tent. We did look at one hotel venue which was really nice and we knew that it would make life a lot easier for us… but we decided on the garden option as it would be more fun and it would give everyone something to remember! We are keen on festivals and have been to Glastonbury multiple times where we’ve seen some stunning tents so knew we wanted more than a plain marquee. Scouring the internet we discovered tipis and quickly set our heart on them. We went for Totally Tipi, a local tipi company and who managed to fit three tipis joined in a row on my parent’s lawn making a large beautiful space. It worked brilliantly! Everyone was completely amazed and felt a lot more comfortable than they would have done in a fancy hotel. We also made use of the house as an escape area for the elderly relatives! The next day we were able to bring many of the guests together again for a walk in the Peak District.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | The dress I chose was a beautiful floor length Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner dress from the Blushes Bridal in Sheffield. I loved the dress so much and felt amazing wearing it! I accessorised with a beaded pearly hair band by Ellie K and a veil. I only wore the veil in the church and for some photos afterwards – it kept blowing away! My shoes were Irregular Choice from Schuh; they were amazingly sparkly and surprisingly comfortable and practical! I almost managed to get my Old/New/Borrowed/Blue; most things were new, I borrowed my mum’s pearl earnings and a bracelet from my sister with some blue John stone in it. I also painted my toe nails blue. I didn’t have anything old but was going to lie and tell people that I was wearing really old knickers… luckily no one asked!
FINDING THE DRESS | When we’d first got engaged I’d bought lots of wedding magazines so had some idea of the kind of dresses I liked but was unsure if they would suit me so kept an open mind. Whilst I was in Sheffield for Christmas I went dress shopping with my mum, sister and a bridesmaid. I had only managed to get one appointment as many shops were shut over Christmas so I wasn’t really expecting to find anything. When I got to the shop they were great, the assistant asked me all about what type of wedding we were having and what kind of dress I wanted. The first dress she brought out was just perfect, exactly what I described and fitted beautifully! I tried a couple more dresses on but none were even remotely as good. I had lucked out massively and bought the first one I tried on!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | The suits were probably one of the biggest stresses in our preparation. James and the groomsmen had originally wanted to buy blue suits but it was very difficult to find a blue one that fitted everyone at a reasonable price. Eventually they decided to hire Ted Baker suits from Moss Bros, which were actually brilliant. We finished the suits off with matching ties from Marks and Spencer and surf board cuff links. James had his best friend from school as his best man and his brother and my brother as ushers. My brother also took the role of master of ceremonies and was great at keeping everything organised to time on the day.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We are really keen on music and spent a lot of time arranging play lists; pre service, post service, pre band… etc. On entry to the church we had a beautiful folk tune by Mad Dog Mcrea – Curly Whirly Jig, they are a local band to where James grew up and as I play the violin it was nice for it to feature some violin music in the wedding. During the service we had the hymns Tell Out My Soul, Amazing Grace and Be Thou My Vision. My friend played Eiunadi on the piano whilst we signed the register. As we left the church we wanted something fun and decided on a song from the musical Grease – You’re the one that I want – we hadn’t told many people so everyone was very entertained when it came on. We had two readings during the service; the beautiful bible passage 1 Corinthians 13 v 1-13 and the poem “I Wanna Be Yours” by John Cooper-Clarke which was fitting being in Sheffield and both Arctic Monkeys fans. Our friends who read them did an amazing job and had the whole church in tears!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had five bridesmaids; my sister Rachel, James’ two sisters Polly and Sally and two friends Sophie and Alex. They were brilliant and arranged a fantastic hen party for me which involved 26 people staying in a cottage near Matlock! Sophie, Alex and Rachel also came for a craft weekend early in the year when we made all the invitations – all in the shape of a tipi! For the dresses we were originally thinking about having everyone in different dresses but with the same colour scheme, however after extensive research we decided finding one nice dress was hard enough, let alone five! We didn’t want proper bridesmaid dresses as they seemed very expensive so headed to the high street. At first we had no luck, but once the summer dresses came out in the shops there was a lot more choice. Finally on a mega shopping trip in Meadow Hall with Sophie and Alex we found a beautiful dress in Quiz, it didn’t really go with mine but it didn’t matter as they all looked stunning. There was an extra sixth mini bridesmaid too – my niece who was born just five weeks before the wedding – her outfit was a lot easier to pick out, although she wasn’t quite as good at posing for photos as the others!
THE FLOWERS | We didn’t know anything about flowers and our initial request was for something “colourful”. We soon found out that that wasn’t a specific enough request for a florist! The bouquets and button holes were beautiful – quite loose and not too fancy, almost like we’d picked them from a wild flower meadow that morning. I loved how they featured sunflowers too. We also got some flowers for the garden and tipi from a local flower garden, they were beautiful and our friend made them into some stunning arrangements.
THE CAKE | A friend of ours from Peterborough made the wedding cakes and they were delicious. We had three layers – carrot cake, fruit cake and lemon cake. I was worried that we would run out so I also asked for three more square cakes to serve as extra. Of course there was loads left, but it was nice to have some to give family members to take home the next day. For the decoration we choose hundreds and thousands for a bit of fun and a glittery Mr & Mrs Mogridge from Etsy.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer, Danni, was brilliant. She was so friendly and made us feel completely at ease. It was an incredibly windy day but Danni made it work taking many stunning and fun photos.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We had great fun with the decorations, we got a lot of inspiration from WWW and made most things ourselves. James grew up in Devon and Cornwall and is a big fan of surfing so we inspired some of our decorations with a surf theme; using his old surf boards for the table plan and beaches that we had visited together as table names. For the name places we used candle holders which we painted names on – they doubled up as favours. My mum has an impressive jug collection so we used them on the tables to hold flowers, she didn’t quite have the number we needed so I spent months scanning charity shops for extras. We’d bought some bunting for the tipi but it was stunning enough without so we used it in the garden along with thousands of fairy lights and pom poms. Before the wedding James, my brother and I spent the whole week with my parents preparing the garden and the day before the wedding there were about 25 family and friends helping set up the tipi and garden, arranging flowers and icing cup cakes for the church. There is no way we could have got everything ready on our own! In the evening of the reception we had a brilliant rock band, s’mores around the fire in the tipi, a photobooth and homemade pizza. We had a honesty bar with local ale, wine and spirits and gave the takings – almost £800 – to the charity Shelterbox! It was good to be helping people out whilst we were having so much fun.
THE HONEYMOON | After the wedding we went for a short break in Italy. We decided it would be best to do something that requires minimal planning and stress. We stayed a few nights in Sorrento and a few nights in Rome, two places neither of us had been. We had a lovely time sightseeing, drinking plenty of wine and eating lots of pizza. We probably could have chosen a more relaxing location to unwind but still had a brilliant time.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The service was really special, it was so amazing to have all the people we loved in the same place watching us make our promises to one another. Stephen, our reverend was really good, he’d asked me and James to write the story of our relationship separately and then send them to him for him to recount during his talk. It was hilarious when he was telling the story from both our points of view. One really special moment of the day was making the 20 minute journey from the church to the reception. We used my Dad’s Land Rover as the wedding car; my dad had driven me there – and taken the busiest possible route, and then James drove us back. It was such a lovely journey and good to spend some time alone together, we were both so happy and buzzing from the service.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Enjoy all of it! Don’t try and do everything yourself, give jobs to your friends and family as they’ll be happy to help. Be very specific with instructions before the day and describe to people exactly what you want – that way you can completely enjoy the day and not worry about anything! If things go wrong – don’t worry – just forget and enjoy everything else – chances are you won’t even notice!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Danni Maytree Photography
Tipi | Totally Tipi
Caterers | P J Taste
Band | The High Rollers
Photobooth | Jack’s Photobooth
Bouquets and Button Holes | Wild About Flowers
Table and Decorative Flowers | Hollow Meadows Flowers
Wedding Cake | Hampton Sugar Fairy
Thanks so much to Anna and James for sharing their brilliant wedding story and images with us here on WWW. Stunning xo Lou