Village Hall Wedding
A bit bonkers. Relaxed but with little hints of extravagance. Unique to us. Hybrid, influenced by tradition but with a big injection of creativity.
Joshua and Jennifer
I know I shouldn’t have favourites but can you blame me? This may well be one of my favourite real weddings I have had the pleasure of sharing this year. Why? Let me share all.
WWW readers Joshua and Jennifer are sharing with us their gorgeous village hall wedding held on the 26th October 2019 at Oxton Village Hall in Nottinghamshire. I love love love village hall weddings, being a village girl myself we searched for a village hall for our own wedding but opted for a campsite instead in the end. They just have a community hub feeling and offer so much flexibility, both qualities that also appealed to Joshua and Jennifer who knew booking the hall would support the local community and also enabled them to have the creative DIY wedding of their dreams. And boy was it a cracker of a day.
How can you not love the cool styling?! Think monochrome spots and stripes, jewel tones, velvet and lots of DIY décor, the village hall looked awesome. I especially love the painted furniture, the ceremony backdrop and all the illustrated touches. Joshua and Jennifer both looked amazing too in green velvet, swoon! Not to mention the bridesmaids in unique black jumpsuits and birdcage veils and the groomsmen in velvet jackets, pure Autumnal opulence.
I urge you to take in all of the enchanting images by Emily + Katy Photography which are just glorious. Huge thanks for sharing these splendid shots with us guys!
Joshua proposed after we had been together 6 years – 3 days before my 30th birthday. It was a Friday morning, 6.30am in fact, and neither of us had work! We had not long returned from a summer holiday, which was my treat. We had taken a coffee back up to bed and Joshua pulled out 2 brown paper parcels from under the bed. He said they were ’thank you gifts’ for the holiday, but I was suspicious as he always gets way too excited and gifts birthday presents a day or so early. After some persuasion, and feeling convinced that they weren’t birthday gifts, I started to open them. They were wrapped really beautifully, in brown paper and with string, both boxes the size of shoe boxes. I opened the first, and magically it was the pair of trainers I was wearing on the night we met! A pair of pink Nike Blazers with a coral tick. I thought it was a lovely gesture and was impressed that he had found them on Depop, but I didn’t twig that it was romantic. (We met in a bar and Joshua approached me and said ‘I like your trainers.’) The next box was also shoe boxed size but full of paper stuffing, hunting around, I found a ring box! I was so shocked (probably as it was before 7am!). Joshua climbed out of bed and got down on one knee. The ring belonged to my Grandma who passed away when my Mum was 21. I feel so honoured to wear it. That day we went to town and had brunch, champagne and coffee.
The overall theme was black and white spots and stripes, with colourful velvets and pops of golds. My vision was a bit bonkers, and can’t really be summed up. I didn’t want it to be too strongly ’themed’ and didn’t follow a particular trend on Pinterest, I sort of just made it up as I went along. Oh, and there was a big dose of Scottish influence too, with my dad in a kilt, hints of tartan, bagpipes and a Ceilidh!
The Planning Process
I found the planning process to be really fun, although I was often nervous about it all pulling together properly. We had just over a year, but I think we booked the hall late September, so 13 months. At first I found it difficult as I wanted to do everything straight away, and it took me a while to settle into the idea that we had a while to wait. There aren’t many things in life that you spend such a long time planning (and I’m not overly patient…!) and so it took me a while to adjust. My parents garage became the hub – we stored so much stuff in there, including stock for the bar that we collected over the year.
My parents were a great support, and Joshua’s mum and sister too. They painted so much furniture for us!
We definitely didn’t want to spend a fortune. Our families generously supported us. £15,000 total was our maximum. We managed to stay within budget.
Oxton Village Hall, Nottinghamshire
We 100% knew we did not want to get married in a wedding ‘venue.’ We hated the idea of getting married in a venue that had hundreds of ceremonies a year and wanted it to feel completely unique to us. We weren’t bothered about a grand, impressive stately home or barn. We also prefer the idea of our hire money going towards the community! I am a creative person and couldn’t imagine anyone else art directing the day! Joshua finds it hard to visualise my ideas, but has complete trust in me. I could decorate an entire room in our house and he wouldn’t mind, he always likes the end result – or at least he says he does!
We both love charity shopping and car booting, so we knew we would enjoy the process of hunting for bits and bobs to fill the space. We chose Oxton village hall as it was in a lovely village surrounded by green outdoor space (useful if it hadn’t chucked it down all day…!). It had a separate room for the bar, loads of toilets (village halls often don’t!) and a stage for the band. Perfect! We decided to hire chairs as the ones in the hall were very ‘community centre’ and we knew we wanted round tables, so we hired them too. The hall was fully licensed and had a massive kitchen. Another reason we chose a village hall is because we wanted to run our own bar to keep it affordable for our guests. We had a free whisky bar for guests to help themselves and all other drinks were £2 across the board! Oh, and we wanted the family dog to come too! Basically, we felt it gave us more flexibility to do what we want, own food, own entertainment, own booze.
The day before the wedding was a HUGE operation, we had TWO vans and 3 cars FULL of things. The booze for the bar took up a lot of space…! We had a team of 12 people helping us to set up. It was SO exciting but I was also really nervous about pulling it all together. I had my friend Georgie there, who I always knew I could rely on as we work really well together and she understands my vision. I also had my brilliant friend Cara from the USA who is a creative genius – she decorated the entrance hall for us. I loved that day, it was such a buzz. But when I left (at around 4pm) it wasn’t finished (I had a massage booked) and I am a bit of a control freak so I found it a little difficult leaving it in the hands of everyone and Julia – even though I trusted them…I am so glad I did though as the next day was the BEST surprise to walk into the most incredibly decorated hall.
Sophies Flowers made such beautiful bouquets and pumpkins for the aisle. She filled all of the little trinkets and bottles on the tables. I completely trusted Soph and my bouquet was pretty much a total surprise on the day!
The groomsmen wore velvet jackets (sourced from different places, charity shops, TK Maxx, Moss Bros) with black trousers.
Joshua: “I knew I didn’t want my groomsmen to be in traditional suits and definitely wouldn’t have had them matching. Velvet jackets felt traditional but the different colours felt contemporary. It was nice to add a bit of a feeling of luxury with the jackets.“
We decided not to have a traditional one. My mum makes these Rocky Roads that are basically famous within our group of friends and family. She made a huge stack of them – a rocky road mountain!
The Readings & Music
We had bagpipes to greet the guests, which made it feel really ceremonious! I walked down the aisle to ‘Flower of Scotland’, the Scottish national anthem! It might seem a bit patriotic to some, but Josh and I love the anthem and it reminds us of brilliant trips to Edinburgh. I knew that my family would love it too.
We had a mindful moment as part of our ceremony where we paused to listen to ‘La Vie En Rose’, Louis Armstrong.
Our first dance was a cover of the talking heads track, ‘this must be the place’ by the Lumineers.
My sister and our friend Dave read ‘A lovely love story’ by Edward Monkton.
My bridesmaids wore black jumpsuits from Temperley (John Lewis), black birdcage veils and different coloured shoes that tied in with the velvet colours and flowers. My sister who was my maid of honour had a slightly different veil. I saw the jumpsuits a year before the big day and tried one on. I loved the fit on me and felt so comfortable. Black might be an unusual colour for a wedding, but they looked so classy and I knew they felt great. All of them have since worn their jumpsuits again, which makes me really happy. I didn’t want them to look ‘bridesmaidy’ – I wanted them to feel themselves. I actually never imagined them all wearing the same thing, but the jumpsuit was so lovely, they did!
Your Outfits & Accessories
I wore a bespoke green velvet dress (made by Kula Tsurdiu in Nottingham) which Joshua didn’t know about. I was adamant I wouldn’t wear white to my wedding – I just don’t look good in it! I also liked the idea of being able to alter the dress and wear it again in the future, although I now think it’s far too beautiful to ever change. Velvet was an amazing choice as it looked pretty much spotless the next day! I had found a photo on Pinterest and it was the only dress photo that made my heart race! I was nervous about getting a dress made from scratch with very little idea of how I might look in the final design but I completely trusted Kula. I tried a dress that was a similar shape and selected the velvet with Kula. I loved the process.
Joshua wore a green velvet jacket from TK Maxx (Richard James).
We stumbled across it when shopping and loved it as it had a gorgeous pattern on it, but because of the velvet shine, you could only see it in certain lights. We had decided the day before that he would wear velvet and the boys too – so it felt like fate finding it in his size, the last one, and reduced! I was so giddy (secretly) knowing that the jacket matched my dress perfectly!
Joshua: “I just loved it because it felt classy but unique and 100% felt like an autumn jacket. I didn’t want to look like a standard groom, and this felt like it had something special about it.”
Ms Moo Make up
Sali was fabulous. I loved how my make up looked. We had to start at 5.30am…! As there were 7 ladies to make up and we need to be ready for 12.30! Sali was such a lovely addition to the morning, we all loved hanging out with her and everyone was chuffed with the result. She gave me a little emergency kit for the day which included blotting sheets, lipstick, sweets, tissues and gum! I felt like she really, really cared.
Hair – W&Co, Nottingham.
I had 3 hairdressers from the salon I go to regularly. They were also brilliant.
Emily and Katy Photography – they were incredible!!!! It was great that we had two photographers, as one came to the ladies in the morning and the other went to Josh and the boys. We were over the moon with the photos and the service they provided. We also arranged to have one of their LUXBOOTH photo booths from them for the evening. This was a great investment to keep our guests entertained and a lot of fun for everyone. We have already recommended them to other couples we know who are looking for wedding photographers.
The Details & Décor
Joshua and I have been to A LOT of weddings in the past few years. We have often felt that the ceremonies were a bit lacklustre, and surely it should be the main event? We knew we didn’t want to have a religious ceremony or a short, legal one that was void of any emotion. We decided to have a celebrant and craft a ceremony that felt meaningful to us. Ah Ruby! She was excellent. We met Ruby for about 4 hours a few months before our big day and she asked us lots of questions about how we met, our plans for the future etc. She planned and delivered a beautifully bespoke ceremony for us which included her telling ‘our story’ to the congregation. Ruby helped us to build a ceremony that worked for us – we feel that some couples want the ceremony to be over as quickly as possible, but for us it felt like the more important bit. We had a ‘mindfulness moment’ where we played La Vie En Rose, Louis Armstrong and everyone listened. We also had a ‘first kiss, last kiss’ moment with our mums. We invited them up for a kiss and offered them a flower each before Josh and I kissed. We swapped rings and also had a Celtic handfasting. It was perfect. Ruby was professional but incredibly likeable, she helped the groomsmen with their buttonholes and greeted guests as they arrived. It was exactly what we wanted.
Event management and hall décor was by Julia Carson, of Curious Magpie Event Styling. I approached Julia about coordinating the day, creating a ceremony backdrop and decorating the ceiling. I am SO grateful that I did. We were a brilliant team, she was so respectful and responsive to my ideas (however hard I found them to explain!) and I completely trusted her. Julia was there with us the day before but wanted the majority of the decoration to be a surprise for Josh and I when we arrived on the actual day. I took care of the bar lounge and entrance hall, whilst Julia took the reins on the hall. When we left the hall it was pretty chaotic and I was so nervous! I sent Julia a few wobbly text messages and she put my mind at ease. When we arrived the next day my mind was blown. It looked incredible. She managed the day effortlessly and our guests had an incredible time. We needed to have a change over from ceremony to dinner and she managed some of my friends and got everything underway swiftly, a true professional. I love Julia and want to work with her again!
- As we got married in Autumn, we had pumpkins everywhere (including down the aisle with flowers in them) and I spray painted them in the colours of the wedding.
- We sourced vases and bottles in the colours.
- I found a discarded chest of drawers on my road that I adopted and spray painted in a geometric design. This became our soft drinks station! I was so pleased with the outcome.
- The room at the back which had the bar in it became a ‘lounge.’ I bought two big sheets of chipboard from B&Q and wallpapered them with black and white striped paper and then draped fabric. This was a backdrop. We found little tables in charity shops and sprayed them gold. I brought our Chesterfield armchair from home and a rug. It looked great and was sort of a photoshoot area for people.
- We had different stations that sort of replaced guest books: A World map where people could pin a tag to suggest our next trip away. We commissioned our friend to create a large colouring in for people to do. It was a mashup of all the places we have been to. It’s so fun looking at it now and knowing that everyone contributed a little bit of colour.
- As the first thing Joshua said to me was ‘I like your trainers’ and we are both a bit shoe mad, we decided to have trainers as our table names. We took photographs of our matching trainers and framed them.
- We found some weird individual drawers in a charity shop that we used for table centres. I painted them black and added cute handles. We had flowers and little animals as flower pots that I sprayed gold sitting on top and traced little fairy lights across them. Inside the drawers we were able to put the condiments for dinner! I also included a glass jar of ‘pan drops’ (Scottish equivalent of mint imperials, they are bigger!) as a gesture towards my late Grandad. He always had one in his pocket. I created labels that said ‘Papa Gillies’ Pan Drops.’
- Our wedding favours were created by my Grandad Manderson. He made some of his lovely Sloe Gin which we gave to everyone in miniature bottles (I managed to get empties all from friends and family and didn’t have to buy any!).
- I made everything! All of the signage and even sewed the table runners! We even had a clothes rail for coats and I stuck J&J stickers onto all of the coat hangers. The devil is truly in the detail. We painted SO much furniture and cut out millions of ribbons.
- Our ‘canapés’ were samosas, onion bhajis and Indian spring rolls from our favourite take out in Nottingham (Bombay Sweet Centre). Everyone loved them and they were super filling. It was a really cost effective way to provide canapés.
- Catering: Pie Eyed (Sheffield). We had sharing boards for starters and then pies, mash and gravy for main. They were so good and our guests loved them. Pie Eyed also served our ‘canapés’ for us.
- We had a ceilidh in the evening, being Scottish and a dancer it was the only option. It went down a treat with our guests, especially as so many had never experienced a ceilidh before. I love looking back on all of the photos and seeing people dancing with one another who had never met one another before! Such a great way to bring everyone together.
- Other wedding – We had a legal ceremony a few days before our actual wedding day at Nottingham City Council House. There were 8 of us in total, just our immediate family. We followed the ceremony with lunch at World Service in Nottingham. It was such a lovely day and I am so glad we did it twice. I cried A LOT during the legal ceremony, especially when I heard Joshua’s vows for the first time. If I had heard them on the big day, I would have destroyed my makeup. I could barely speak to read mine. A lot of people said to us that the actual day might not feel special if we were already married before – but we didn’t exchange rings on Wednesday and you are in such a blur anyway, that it’s actually brilliant to do it all again! It just goes so quickly. I wore a dress from Ghost, my sister did my make up and my friend Georgie did my hair. My bouquet was from Fleurtations Florist in Nottingham. I loved getting married on a random Wednesday in Nottingham city centre, with shoppers and workers milling around!
We had a mini moon two days after the wedding in Marrakech. We had 4 lovely days in a Riad. I felt EXHAUSTED after the wedding, so it was lovely to unwind. We went to Argentina for 2 weeks over Xmas and New Year. It was an amazing destination that was really diverse. From cosmopolitan Buenos Aires to dramatic Patagonia, breathtaking Iguazu falls and romantic Mendoza. We loved it. The food and wine was amazing.
- We asked guests to bring a pudding with them and hosted a bake off! We had a personalised apron for the winner and a wooden spoon for the runner up. I asked my young cousins to judge for me. The person who won was a really big surprise, our friend Callum. He had never baked before.
- Our MC (my good friend Edward) hosted a quiz during the dinner. My dad wrote the quiz which was multiple choice and inspired by us (places we have travelled to etc).
- We hired a bagpiper – Josh and I LOVE the bagpipes and my parents are Scottish. I have Scottish blood but was born in Nottingham. He greeted guests and then piped me down the aisle to the Scottish National Anthem, a Flower of Scotland!
- It rained all day but there was a pause after dinner and a beautiful sunset! Our photographer Katy came and grabbed us and we had a mini shoot outside.
- My mum surprised me with the hire of two VW camper vans to take us to the venue, I was adamant we didn’t need fancy transport as we are only going to one venue and no-one would see us arrive, but it was such a brilliant treat and Joshua and I had a photo shoot in them after the ceremony – handy as it was so rainy!
- Something we will never forget. My lovely dad referred to Joshua as JONATHAN in his speech!!!!! The room erupted. So strange – we don’t even know a Jonathan. Joshua is now lovingly referred to as Jonathan by lots of our friends! Dad must have been nervous!!
- My bridesmaids and I improvised lots of performances on the stage towards the end of the night….! We all trained in dance, so performing is an instinct! We realised we could operate the curtains to open and close…and nobody could stop us! People thought we had choreographed it all!!!!
Advice For Other Couples
Everyone says this, but you really have to stick to your guns and do what you want to do. Sometimes I felt worried about us having it in a village hall, as we have been to so many weddings in such fancy venues. But, it ended up being exactly what we wanted – relaxed but personal. All in all, a good old knees up. If you are having a DIY wedding, I would recommend someone like Julia to manage the day.
The day goes so fast, so I tried really hard to take moments where I paused to take it all in – and that really helped. At first I didn’t want to have loads of photos, as I knew it would take me away from hanging out with the guests, but actually it was a chance for Joshua and I to take a breather and spend some time together.
Don’t be afraid to be unconventional or skip the traditional bits that don’t speak to you. Weddings can be whatever you want them to be.
Spend money on quality photographers – it’s a huge responsibility and I can’t imagine not having the images to look back on. It makes the day come flooding back, exactly what you want for years to come!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Emily + Katy Photography
Sophie’s Flower Company
Richard James from TK Max
Ms Moo Makeup
Temperley London from John Lewis
Various Velvet Jackets & Black Trousers – Charity shops, TK Maxx, Moss Bros
Ruby B Ceremonies
Ed Arnold The Yorkshire Bagpiper
Bombay Sweet Centre
Bellows, Scratchitt and Pluckitt
Goodness me, oh so beautiful and very creative too. Do you think you will think about hosting a village hall wedding too?
Joshua and Jennifer thank you so very much for sharing your wonderful wedding story with us xo Lou