You know what? I really do pinch myself that I get to write about such a special day in a couple’s life, each and every day. I don’t think I could ever tire of the love, the story, the joining of two families; especially when a couple really pours their heart, soul and personality into their wedding celebration.
WWW readers Katie and Sam’s wedding really gave me goosebumps. Not just when I saw their striking images by Belle Art Photography and their cool and kooky retro kitsch theme, but when I read what Katie said about Whimsical Wonderland Weddings you could have knocked me down with a feather;
“WWW was the first wedding blog I ever came across, and I remember the first real wedding that I read on the site. It was then that I realised that absolutely anything is possible, and my eyes and imagination were opened to a whole world of weird and wonderful ideas. Throughout the whole planning process I have read every single wedding that has been featured since we got engaged, and I’ve taken so much inspiration from the real weddings and real brides. WWW has brought so much pleasure to my planning process and made me realise that all my crazy ideas are actually fabulous ideas!”
Isn’t that just lovely? And in turn it’s now Katie and Sam’s moment to shine, so I really am over the moon to be sharing their eclectic creative wedding held on the 29th July 2017, with a reception at Rennington Village Hall in Northumberland. You’ll be bowled over by their artistic talents, I mean I just love the fact that they quite literally packed up their home and moved it into the hall, talk about a home away from home.
Katie of course wore a vintage gown, complete with personalised name veil and trainers, while Sam went for a check suit, orange tie and on trend loafers. The bridesmaids looked perfect in their floral prom style gowns, all twelve of them! What a stunning bunch.
I could talk all day long about their vintage styling, tropical elements, craftiness and that pink bike. But you know what, I think I will leave the glorious images and accompanying report to do all the talking today.
THE PROPOSAL | Every Sunday Sam and I go to the coast to a lovely little town called Tynemouth. We literally do the same thing every week and go to the vintage market, have a cake and a coffee/beer, then a long walk along our favourite beach with our sausage dog Sonny. This is my happy place, my favourite place to be in the whole world. I was taking Sam out for birthday drinks in Tynemouth in July 2016, and he thought we would have a walk along the beach first before going into the town. It was a lovely warm summers evening and the sun was just setting and the tide was out, so I kicked my shoes off to feel the sand in my toes and started talking about what drinks to have and where to go. Sam was being super slow and when I turned round to hurry him up, he was down on one knee, laughing his head off, right at the mid-way point on the beach, my favourite part. I thought it was a huge joke at first and wouldn’t believe it. But then out came the most beautiful diamond and mother of pearl vintage ring, my absolute dream ring. I screamed and ran around the beach in circles, laughing and screaming before finally saying yes! We then went out and got drunk to celebrate and told everyone who would listen all about our engagement!
THE VISION | From day one the vision was to create a wedding that represented us as a couple and everything weird and wonderful that we stand for. I was adamant not to have a wedding wedding, and I didn’t want to do what is usually expected. We aren’t flashy people, and love second hand and vintage furniture and bits and pieces, and we are also very crafty and try and quite creative, so we wanted this to reflect in our wedding. We wanted to create an environment where all our guests felt at home, and felt comfortable, and a place where they could just be themselves and have a great time. The vision for the décor was vintage, retro, eclectic, random and most importantly, fun! It was a mix of village fete, come 1950’s prom with an element of 1960’s kitsch thrown in.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I absolutely LOVED planning my wedding. I would do it all again in a heart-beat. We knew that we wanted to get married as soon as possible so we got married on Sam’s birthday, exactly 1 year and 1 day after we got engaged. First and foremost I went out and bought all new stationery, which consisted of glittery gel pens and cat themed notebooks. The whole wedding was planned pen and paper, no computers or spreadsheets here! The next was to think of a venue! We have always known we wanted a blank canvas where we could have complete control over absolutely everything, Even things like the cutlery, and tablecloths were important for our vision, so we wanted to be the ones who got to pick, rather than a venue having everything already picked out, so a local village hall was the perfect venue. Once I knew the size of the venue I booked all the simple but very important things like tables, chairs, cutlery, glassware, china plates, the food and the bar! Once this was done it was all systems go over the year collecting the most fun and random decorations we could find. Family and friends were constantly on the lookout for paper pom-poms, bunting, glitter, drinks straws, fake flowers, drinks accessories and such like. All family got involved and they all had certain decorations they were responsible for sourcing. It was important to get as many people involved as possible in the planning process as it’s such a fun task and brings everyone together. I kept checking in with suppliers throughout the year, and then another phone call in the week running up to the wedding, just to check we were still on schedule. My pen and paper planning was a huge success and we had no hiccups at all!
THE BUDGET | We were keen not to start married life in debt, and we like being quite thrifty where we can so it was important not to spend a fortune. We did however go slightly over our anticipated budget, but it was money well spent on an amazing swing bad, a singer at the drinks reception, and a magician in the evening. We were so lucky to have help from our families along the way that allowed us to have all the extra bits and pieces that we wanted. We felt it was important to provide amazing entertainment for our guest who had made such an effort to help celebrate our day, so it was worth every penny.
THE VENUE | I’ve always wanted to get married in my home town of Alnwick, Northumberland where my family still live and in my local church, St Michaels where I was christened. We wanted a country wedding and a blank canvas to make our own. One evening I was racking my brains on venue ideas when I suddenly remembered I’d been to a party as a teenager in Rennington Village Hall, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect venue. Rennington is a teeny village three miles out of Alnwick in the Northumberland countryside, and the village hall has a main room, a bar room, a kitchen, a large courtyard and a large village green. We were given the keys on the Friday and had full use of the hall until Monday. We were given absolute free rein of the hall, which is absolutely what I wanted.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I have always wanted a vintage dress, I love the idea that another lady has wore the same dress to her wedding in the past, I love that it has its own story. Another reason why I wanted it to be vintage is because wanted it to be one of a kind, and a dress that no-one else would have. I always wear off the shoulder dresses, it’s my signature look, so when searching, my criteria was vintage, off the shoulder and with a full 50’s calf length skirt. I ended up with half vintage and half new, as I found a dress with a beautiful top half, but awful bottom half, so I had a full eight layer skirt made and added with a band on the waist, meaning my dress was my something old and something new. I had two veils! A short 60’s style clip in veil with hearts on, which complemented my short hair, and then in the evening I switched to a custom made full veil with my new name, ‘Mrs Crosby’ at the bottom! I wanted my jewellery to be minimal so borrowed a beautiful pearl Vivienne Westwood necklace and matching bracelet from my mum-in-law, which complemented the look perfectly, and they were my something borrowed. My shoes were also Vivienne Westwood, their ‘Melissa’ heart jelly shoes as my something blue.
FINDING THE DRESS | One of my best friends and bridesmaids, mum owns a beautiful vintage wedding dress shop, so as soon as I was engaged I booked an appointment with her. Lynne lets you have exclusive use of her shop, and try on as many dresses as you want, and really take your time. I picked out a number of off the shoulder vintage dresses but also some new dresses that she had had made with full skirts. Lynne assured me that I could have anything I want, so if I liked one part of one dress, and a bit of another she would be able to put them together to create exactly what I wanted, which is exactly what she did. The dress experience was so lovely and beyond anything I could have imagined. I’d read online that so many brides have bad experiences, but mine was so stress free and it was one of the first things I sorted so I didn’t have to think about it at all during the wedding planning process. Lynne actually encouraged me to try on dresses in styles that I wouldn’t normally look at, just to ensure I was absolutely sure on my decision, and she ensured me all the dresses could be altered so I didn’t have to worry if the dresses I liked were too big or too small. I had a few fittings once the skirt was made, and that was that.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Sam spent hours trying to find the perfect suit as he wanted something unique and slim fitting. He came across ‘Only & Sons’ on ASOS and ordered one for his three groomsmen and best man, alongside himself. It was very slim fitting so some of the men had to get a few alterations, including Sam! The shoes were from Burtons, and tie and pocket square from Moss Bros.
THE READINGS AND MUSIC | I had my brothers lovely girlfriend Alice read Edward Monkton’s, ‘The Lovely Other Dinosaur’, which is basically a story of Sam and I’s life and got a few chuckles in church, along with a huge round of applause as Alice read it absolutely perfectly. We also had Corinthians 13:4 – 8 read by my new lovely sister-in law Rebecca. I wanted the church ceremony to be quite traditional, so we had ‘ The Queen of Sheeba’ playing on the church organs as I walked down the aisle, which was so joyous and upbeat, and the traditional Wedding March as we left.
I really didn’t want to have a first dance; they make me cringe so much, but Sam was really keen. We compromised on having a non-first dance to a non-first dance song. I love the 80’s so we had Kelly Marie’s, ‘feels like I’m in love’ playing after the band finished their first set. The dance floor was already packed so no one actually knew it was our first dance, it was great!
The band was absolutely amazing and I’d definitely recommend having a band at any wedding. I found The Jive Swings band after looking online for some non-cheesy swing bands and came across their website. They were a five piece band and really got the party started; the dance floor was full all night. They even sang happy birthday to Sam, and everyone got involved. We made a playlist for in-between sets to keep the party going.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had twelve bridesmaids, and it was so fabulous having so many! I’m so grateful to have so many wonderful friends in my life, and so I didn’t want to have to compromise how many I had just because it’s not the norm to have so many. The Lindy Bop ‘Audrey’ dress has always been my choice of bridesmaid dress, and I originally wanted the plain ones with each girl in a different colour. However when it came round to ordering they had discontinued most colours, so I decided to have floral as there was more choice and sizes available, and it went with the theme of the wedding so perfectly. Lynne at Vintage at Number 18 had all the girls in for a fitting (that was a fun busy day!) so that the online bought dresses could be altered to fit each girl perfectly. I bought some underskirts off eBay so they would puff out. As a gift I bought them all a gold initial necklace to wear on the day. I wanted them all to feel comfortable and confident, so they each wore their own choice of shoes. When it came to hair and make-up I let them choose absolutely whatever they wanted, there was no set theme or style I wanted, as long as they felt good, that was my main aim.
THE FLOWERS | I’m lucky that my best friend Ami used to be a florist, and so she did all my flowers, along with being a bridesmaid, all whilst six months pregnant! I sent Ami pictures of flowers that and colours that I liked for inspiration, and then she made a final list and we went to pick them all up from the flower market. I wanted bright, cheery flowers that were in season and I wanted the bouquets to look like they had just been picked fresh, rather than looking neat and ordered. All the men and ladies had button holes, we had two milk churns outside the church, and flowers, with no set order at all, popped into bean tins and jam jars that I had up cycled running along the middle of all tables. My mother in law also bought hundreds of fab fake flowers from The Range and made two huge flower walls, which looked amazing. She also decorated boring things in the hall such as notice boards, and blackboards with garlands of flowers, all with fairy lights entwined.
THE CAKE | Oh my gosh, my cake was a work of art! I wanted the most fun, extravagant, bright and eccentric cake possible, which incorporated everything about my vision for the wedding. We often go to a little cake shop near where we live in Newcastle so I had a meeting with the owner and she completely got my vision straight away (and didn’t think I was an actual mad woman!). The cake itself was plain vanilla sponge, with vanilla butter cream, just so that all guests would like it. It was one thick tier made up of four layers of multicoloured sponge, it was huge! I wanted it to be crazy and random, with all sorts of delicious old-school tuck shop sweet treats scattered all over. We even had sugar icing images of our sausage dog and two cats! As an extra decoration we had three mini flamingos, and a pineapple, which was actually a stress ball, it looked and tasted so fab!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I don’t know where to being with Becy our photographer from Belle Art Photography, she is my absolute favourite person right now for creating the most beautiful images, telling the story of our day so perfectly. Lynne, who I got my wedding dress from, often has photo shoots to showcase her dresses, and just two months before our wedding she worked with Belle Art Photography, and I absolutely fell in love with the images after seeing them on Instagram. I had already paid a deposit for a different photographer but thought I’d message Becy to see, on the off chance, whether she was free on our wedding date, when she said she was I knew we had to have her! Becy completely understood that Sam and I wanted the day and the images to be relaxed and informal. We wanted her to capture guests enjoying themselves, rather than having staged, stiff photographs. For us it was important that our guests could do as they please, rather than being told where to stand and what to do for photos. The images that Becy has created are beyond all my wildest expectations for our wedding photos, and I love that the lighting is so natural and real. She has captured the essence of our wedding day perfectly and through the images you can really feel the emotions and excitement of the day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Where do I start on décor?! I was in my element buying, planning and implementing the decorations and smaller details of the wedding, it was so much fun. Pretty much everything we DIY’d with the help of family and friends, as we wanted our wedding to be truly unique to us.
Sam came up with the ingenious idea of turning the separate bar room in the hall into our very own living room! All our furniture is vintage, second hand and very unique. Our house is full of random, quirky bits and pieces that we have collected over the years from markets, auctions and car boots and we wanted our wedding to represent who we are, so taking all our possessions felt like the perfect idea. We hired a large van and literally emptied our full living room, taking our chesterfield sofa and wingback chair, along with tables and wooden benches that Sam had made, and artwork, drinks trolleys, our fabulous peacock chair and lamps and mirrors. Everyone thought we were mad but the room looked absolutely amazing and felt just like being in our house!
We collected jars, tins, paper pom-poms, drinks straws, garlands, fairy lights, fake flowers; the list goes on, over the course of the year. We had hundreds of metres of bunting made. One of our bridesmaids, Emily, handmade hundreds of multi-coloured paper flowers, which we scattered along all the tables. We spray painted bean tins and added glitter and ribbon to jam jars to put flowers and candles in. As our cats unfortunately couldn’t be at the wedding we made large cardboard cuts outs of them and popped them on the bar. Outside on the tree we hung woollen pom-poms, which Sam and I spent ours making by hand, and popped two plastic flamingos under the tree.
One of my favourite pieces of décor was the pink welcome bike. Sam spray painted my old bike pink and made a wooden basket and sign, and added unicorn tape to the handle bars. This was stood outside the village hall, and gave guests an indication of what was to come when they entered the venue. Sam made two huge signs that we put at the entrance to the hall, and I added lots of fun welcome words.
Another great, cheap and simple decoration was the spray painted pineapples! We had about forty real pineapples and we spray painted them all different colours and just popped them randomly around the village hall and in the courtyard, everyone commented on how great they looked.
We bought some cheap furniture and made a seating area outside, and a friend lent us some hay bales, which we added random bright throws on for more seating outside.
Sam makes furniture out of pallets and scaffold boards as a hobby, and the day before the wedding he was making some tables out of cable reels for the courtyard, talk about last minute, but they were great for guests to gather round!
An important part of the vision for the day was the lovely vintage china. We hired sixty cake stands, along with 120 tea cups and saucers and plates from a local lady, it filled half a van and our car! My mum, along with my bridesmaid Eleanor, spent practically all day setting the tables perfectly. It really brought the village fete them to life.
THE HONEYMOON | We booked our honeymoon just three weeks before our wedding as we weren’t really sure whether to have one or not, just due to having no spare pennies! Our guests were so generous and so we were able to pay for flights, hotels and spending money with their generous gifts, and had the time of our lives. We started off with three nights in Barcelona, our favourite city, and then got a bus up the Spanish coast to Tossa De Mar for a beach holiday for two nights. We then flew to the south of France and spent three nights in the Alps, and spent time on the Verdon Gorge; I would highly recommend taking a trip there to anyone who loves the outdoors, truly beautiful. We ended our trip with three nights in Nice! We went to two countries and four different places in twelve nights, we aren’t the sort for lying on beaches relaxing and so the travelling around and exploring was perfect for us.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The thing that made our wedding so memorable is that all our nearest and dearest helped with the set up and got stuck in creating our dream wedding venue, and I will never forget the help, love and support we got. The Friday before the wedding day we roped in as many people as we possibly could to help turn the empty, bland village hall into our ultimate 1950’s wonderland wedding venue. Everyone was allocated a job and just cracked on, one of my bridesmaids spent four solid hours just making paper pom-poms!
A great memory is dancing with Sam in front of the band, looking on to an absolutely packed dance floor, and seeing all our favourite people having the time of their lives!
A really special moment for me was walking back up the aisle after the church ceremony, and stopping to talk to my grandma, who has dementia, and her telling me how beautiful I looked and seeing the love in her eyes.
Walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing everyone we love in the whole world in one place, smiling and looking on to us was so special and filled my heart with joy, and made me feel so lucky.
Another interesting part of the day was jumping in the field behind us to take pictures as the sun was just setting as the lighting was amazing! There was a horse in the field that kept following us and didn’t seem to like us one bit, so we ended up backing onto someone’s house extension building site, climbing over scaffolding and rubble in my dress!
Sam’s memorable moment was the Mexican wave, who has a Mexican wave at a wedding?! He stood up to do his speech, and was rather merry, and just started an impromptu Mexican wave, everyone got involved and it was hilarious and so unexpected!
A special moment for both of us was taking fifteen minutes out on the evening to run over to the local pub for a quick drink. There was just us, and it was nice just to have our own quiet time for a little while. It certainly amused the locals to see us in there!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Always do what you guys want to do, even if it seems crazy and ridiculous to others, if you want to do it then go for it!
Start organising early, and buy bits and pieces early so that you can enjoy the planning and the build up. I loved the planning and it was because I sorted all the main aspects of the wedding as soon as I could.
Also, let others help and get involved. Family and friends will love to help, and it makes it such a personal day when you can all see what you have achieved together.
Have fun! It will be the best day of your lives, enjoy every single second!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Belle Art Photography
Dress | Vintage at Number 18
Cake | Cake Stories
Bridesmaid Dresses | Lindy Bop
Band | The Jive Swings
Hair | Jenz Hair Salon
Suits | Only & Sons
Hog Roast | Spitting Pig
China Hire | Vintage Tea Party
Stationery | Hand Drawn Stationery by Suzy
What an awesome celebration!
Thanks goes to both Katie and Sam for sharing their wedding day with us and to Becy for sharing her sensational images xo Lou