I am a country girl at heart, I grew up in a village and moved to the next village to raise my own family you see. I have spent many many happy times in the village hall growing up and I think a village hall wedding just oozes personal and sentimental vibes all round. This is where our story begins today, with WWW readers Ele and T meeting at an audition for a school play and with them both going to school and growing up in Oxford, they chose All Saints Church Wytham and Wytham Village Hall in Oxfordshire on the 25th May 2019, to host their wedding ceremony and reception. After all, when planning a wedding, it just has to be representative of you and your relationship to enable the most meaningful of days.
Their celebration was a truly DIY wedding, with all of their loved ones coming together to craft their home made celebration of dreams. Family and friends joined Ele and T setting up the hall, baking scrumptious cakes for their cake table and crafting signage to name just a few. It’s the coming together of two families which also creates such a special atmosphere.
There really is a lot to love about their wedding, from the gorgeous outfits donned by the bride and groom and their wedding party, to the flowers and the fairy lights. And yet to top it all off they are left with some outstanding images captured by PhotoBart, which I am so thankful to be sharing with you.
We met during an audition of Great Expectations in a school play and after 10 happy years together, T took me on a surprise birthday trip to Paris and proposed with my mother’s engagement ring in front of the Eiffel tower. It was a very romantic weekend.
We wanted a home-made wedding that was unique to us. Each decision was centred around adding a personal touch, from the making of our seating plan using our favourite albums to having family and childhood photos scattered all around the hall. We used cosy fairy lights everywhere like something out of midsummer night’s dream which was another play we both acted in together.
The Planning Process
It took us 2 years to plan the wedding, we wanted plenty of time around our other life events and work. We just wanted to enjoy the process and for it not be in a mad rush to get everything booked in. It really a 50:50 divide of effort in the end. I did a lot of the creative decision-making and T did a lot of the booking and emails to suppliers. In the final 6 months we wrote a big to-do list and divided tasks by month, this seemed to work best as it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the full list in one go. We created a shared spreadsheet with everything such as what deposits were paid links to quotes the guest list details etc. If like us, you are not having a wedding planner or coordinator a spreadsheet like this can really help, especially if you are updating things independently. It can make it a lot easier to keep track of what has been done and what needs doing.
As we went to school in Oxford and grew up there, it felt like the right place to tie the knot. So we decided to get married in All Saints Church Wytham. It was important for us that the church was close to the reception, so the village hall being a 5 min walk away was perfect. We needed an all-in catering company to cook the food using their own ovens and providing a drinks chilling service, waiters, cutlery and removal of rubbish etc. Greens Catering Oxford basically provided everything, and we started with the most delicious canapés followed by a family sharing style main which was a bit like a family meal where you serve yourself. It meant people who don’t eat much were balanced with others who wanted to eat a bit more. Greens also served our own drinks bought from majestic wines in Cowely (also great service there) without a corkage fee which a lot of catering companies do charge for. There were 91 guests for the meal and it was quite a squeeze. We had to do the horizontal table layout to fit them all in. I would not recommend going much above this number.
Your Outfits & Accessories
After trying endless dresses, I was trying to be decisive and put a deposit down before sleeping on it at Fairytale bridal in Fulham the next morning I realised I wasn’t happy. I called them up, I couldn’t get a refund but luckily could exchange it for 3 bridesmaid dresses. So, I did this and made the other 2 myself using a dress making pattern. I took on a side-project making a home-made wedding dress, but in the last month I decided, ‘you only get married once’ (well hopefully) and that I should try a shop wedding dress once more. Bridal Box in Summertown were amazing, they offered the sample dress and veil at a discount and agreed they could do all alterations in 1 month (it normally takes 6!) After sleeping on it this time and taking my husband to help me decide I bought a strappy beaded dress that we both loved. In terms of accessories, I was given a bracelet from my brother’s wife (also one of my bridesmaids) which was my ‘something borrowed’. I have size 9 feet, it was more of a question of what fits rather than what I liked. Anyway, I ended up finding a pair in Deichmann by pure chance they were a bargain at £20.
The Readings & Music
My brother walked me down the aisle which was very special. The procession music was a Cat Stevens song called “the wind” which reminds me of my dad. My aunt read a bible reading called Song of Solomon 2.10-13; 8.6,7, which felt appropriate as it was quite theatrical and reminded us of our acting beginnings. We asked T’s friend Dan Parr to play his own music on an acoustic guitar during the signing of the register. It was beautiful. At the end of the ceremony T’s grandad read a poem written by his grandmother which was a lovely surprise for us both on the day. Our recessional music was ‘all you need is love’, yes like the film ‘Love Actually’ but the Canadian brass band version.
In the evening, our first dance was to the song ‘Moon river’, we chose this because the song normally makes me cry for some reason maybe because it reminds me of the final scene in Breakfast at Tiffanies and that poor Cat. Anyway, I will always love that song. We asked our jazz band, Between the Lines jazz to play it and shared the tempo of the version we had practiced to. They were happy to play it in the same style and were so helpful. They had a great repertoire of jazzy classics and modern songs that really got our guests dancing.
I booked Popham hairdressers in Jericho, they were wonderful, Sian did my hair and the other hairdressers did my bridesmaids. We had prosecco and croissants and they really looked after us. We all had half up hair dos with Gypsophila in them, but I asked the hairdressers to do what the bridesmaids wanted so we ended up with different versions which worked nicely. I did my own make-up on the day. It just took time buying the right products as advised by my bridesmaids. Illuminating primer is something I’d never used before and turned out to be important if you want to get that bridal glow and to ensure your make-up stays on all day. I literally sat with one bridesmaid who walked me through step by step how to do my make up on the morning she kept me calm.
We asked for buckets of flowers from Daises flower shop in Jericho. I was going for a pink white and blue theme with pale green stems and lots of gypsophila which is pretty (and cheap). As it was May, peonies were in season not so cheap, but they were worth it. After consuming a lot of Lloyd Grossman pasta sauce throughout the year we had enough jam jars for the table flowers and at the end of church pews. Daises were brilliant and provided enough flowers for the village hall and the church. Including the bigger displays in the church. We also chopped some ivy down in Wytham (as it’s everywhere) to decorate in the church.
The Details & Décor
The day before about 20 friends and family came and we all decorated everything. We used an iPad app for a makeshift photo booth. We also hired ‘That Event Company’ to set up all the main hall fairy lights. I bought a few things from Poundland like the favour boxes as they have lots of decorative bargains for the basics. We bought a bulk order of chair covers from amazon, now donated to the village hall. I had some bridesmaid craft weekends before the wedding borrowing my friends cricut card-cutting matching to make professional looking signs like the menu board also sawing off some wood from BnQ! A lot of decorations were handed over to me from family and friends one of which got their fake flowers from a shop’s ex window-display for free, just by asking if she could have it when they were done with it.
As mentioned I bought 3 bridesmaids dresses and was fortunate that I bought fabric that was a perfect match to make 2 dresses myself. I let the bridesmaids wear their own shoes and was flexible on style. I don’t think people really notice shoes much. I bought them pearl necklaces and gold bangles on the day to wear with their dress. They were from Debenhams and Accessorize (both great places for bridesmaid’s jewellery).
T’s groomsmen totalled to 8 including him. We went to a few shops for suits, but it turned out the ushers were very awkward sizes requiring various tailored fits. T struggles to find a well-fitted suit himself but did own a Next suit that he liked. In the end they decided to just go with a colour navy with black shoes. All the ushers seemed to already own a navy suit that fitted them well. We bought light blue ties and handkerchiefs to go with this and the flowers could identify ushers. They all looked matching on the day by chance and seemed happier in suits that fitted them well. T wore his favourite Next suit and just dry cleaned it the week before and bought a silk white tie from Marks and Spencer’s.
I asked 3 family members to bake cakes, I wanted the type of cake to be something they were comfortable with, so they did their signature bakes. It was very home-made and in keeping with the village hall vibe and they were stunning and all very-unique and different.
The photographer Bart did the most amazing job. He took naturalistic shots and really captured the day and atmosphere. We wanted someone who was not overbearing and unlike a lot of wedding photographers Bart was able to let us enjoy our day while documenting real moments and getting some of the more classic group shots.
We went to Dubrovnik and stayed at hotel Excelsior, it was all about the hotel for us as we just wanted to rest after 2 years of preparation. We went for 4 nights which was enough to see the old town. The hotel was lovely, great breakfasts.
Walking down the aisle with my brother was a wonderful moment and seeing T at the end. T’s grandparent’s poem both funny and heartfelt, we will treasure it forever. Not only did we get to enjoy a lot of cake samples, the home-made cakes made the day feel like a family event a lot of love went into the decorating and baking of them. Our first dance, we practiced before using youtube tutorials and some moves went out the window on the day, but it was perfect to me. Seeing all the people you love in one room was just wonderful.
Advice For Other Couples
Try to share the load, understand it takes time to know the best way to plan together. Make sure you sleep on any wedding dress purchase. Let go on the little things like matching shoes and ushers’ suits, it all can work out surprisingly well when you do. Be open to people helping you with a DIY wedding and decorating using their own creative license, it made the whole day before so much more enjoyable and relaxing for everyone. Make sure you take a moment with your partner, it’s easy to for the day to fly by.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
How very lovely.
Ele and T, thank you both so so much for sharing your joyous wedding day with us xo Lou