WWW readers Nick and Hayley had a super fun wedding day. There were colourful crafty touches, polka dot 1950s style bridesmaid dresses and some amazing music choices.
Nick and Hayley didn’t want a coordinated or overly stylish day and hoped to create a relaxed atmosphere for their guests. There was a real team effort in their home made wedding day, with a home made cake, home grown flowers and Hayley creating so many of the fab decorations herself.
Hayley wore Pronovias with a cathedral length veil and Nick and the boys wore fun bow ties and socks. Love it all.
Thanks so much to the fantastic Matt Bowen for sharing his photographs today.
The Proposal… Nick proposed in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. We were actually there as part of a birthday treat I’d organised for him, so that he could race around at the race track there, pretending to be James Bond for the day! It was the evening before when Nick proposed. We got back to the hotel and there was champagne waiting for us in the room. As I was opening it, commenting on how good a deal we’d got with the hotel (‘… and they even supply free champagne!’), Nick was rooting out the ring and when I turned around he was on one knee. When I say ‘on one knee’, it was more like one knee and both hands, as he was a little tipsy and was trying to steady himself! We’d been together since we were about 18, so it wasn’t a huge surprise but wonderful nonetheless!
The Vision for the Day… We always wanted a relaxed, country-feel wedding. We both worked at a wedding venue when we were younger, so we’d been able to draw a lot of inspiration from seeing those (and sometimes it meant seeing exactly what we didn’t want!). The main thing was to have a wedding that didn’t feel too coordinated or stylish (that’s not us!), but something that was more fun and laid back. We’re also lucky enough to have a heap of friends in common from school days together, so we knew we wanted a wedding that our friends would enjoy just as much as us.
The Planning Process… It took a while to start planning because just after Nick proposed I landed a dream job in Oxford which meant me travelling from Warrington to Oxford every week! Once we got started, though, the first things we did were to book the venue and sort out the catering. Then it was pretty much just a case of spending evenings, weekends, days off, sunny bank holidays, etc. making all the crafty little bits and bobs.
Budget… We made almost all of the decorations ourselves, so I think we saved quite a bit there (we even had our poor bridesmaids churning out pom-poms in the nights before the wedding!). Our fabulous friend, Helen, also made the cakes for us, which was a huge weight off our hands (as well as being one of the most enjoyed things on the day!). My auntie and uncle grew and arranged all the flowers, and my mum made the bouquets. (A real family effort!) We also opted for a Thursday wedding, as it was literally a third of the price of a weekend wedding! The only real blow-out was the bridesmaids’ and my dresses/accessories (but I think you can be excused for that!).
The Venue… Originally, I wasn’t so keen on Arley Hall (sorry, Arley!); I’d been there as a child, so I knew it was beautiful, but I really didn’t want a stuffy venue (which in my mind at that time was exactly what Arley was). Originally, Nick and I had wanted a marquee wedding in one of my grandad’s fields, but for one reason or another that didn’t end up being an option, so I think we were both feeling a bit deflated. Anyway, my trusty mother suggested Arley, telling me to ‘Just go!’, so off we all went. The drive up to Arley is stunning, particularly on a summer’s day, and then it just gets better as you walk into the grounds. There’s a beautiful clock tower and the buildings are just gorgeous. But for us, it wasn’t the inside that made it – it was the gardens. We were taken to the herbaceous border and it was just breath-taking. When they said that we could get married here (weather permitting) and that this would be our aisle, I think we both knew it was the venue for us.
The Dress + Accessories… It was a Pronovias ‘Uri’ dress, with a matching veil (which, for some reason, I ordered in the longest length possible, to my bridesmaids’ horror when they saw it, which meant my mum whipping out the sewing machine two days before the wedding to literally halve it!). The shoes were good old BHS (Nick and I are the exact same height, so comfortable pumps it was), and jewellery was Nick’s mum’s necklace and Debenhams earrings.
Finding the Dress… I’m really not that fussed about labels or designers, so I didn’t really have anything in mind for a dress. I just knew that I wanted something simple and supportive (the two most important ‘S’s!). Again, it was Mother who forced me to try on a dress I would never have chosen and which I instantly loved. I did the sensible thing and went away to think about it, but in the meantime the dress shop went into liquidation (lucky for me before ordering it though!). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I ended up finding the same dress in a shop in Bolton, which meant weekly trips to Bolton for dress fittings, etc., but it’s always nice to travel!
Groom’s Attire… We hired the boys’ suits from Moss, including the waistcoats. The bow ties and matching socks were something we’d wanted from the beginning, to tie in with our colourful look. I think we found the bow ties on eBay, and the socks were from Primark! And then Nick painstakingly (he asked me to add that) hand-painted polka dots on the socks with a fabric pen. We ended up matching the ushers’ colours to the bridesmaids, while Nick went with red (for his favourite rugby team) and everyone else got first dibs on the day!
The Readings + Music… We didn’t have any readings during the ceremony (it seemed to us like everything had already been done). For the music, Nick and I had set up a ‘Wedding’ playlist on Spotify, and we had been slowly adding our favourite songs to this during the year before the wedding. And then in the weeks before, Nick sat down and sorted the playlist into the different parts of the day, reserving all of our favourite 90s dance songs for the evening bash! We had Here Comes the Sun for walking down the aisle (the Gary Barlow version for me!), and then for walking back down the aisle we had Elbow’s One Day Like This. Our first dance was Queen’s You’re My Best Friend.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… My bridesmaids were an obvious choice – Sophie, I’ve known since I was about four years old, and Kirsty, since I was about twelve. They’re both extremely head-strong ladies (which is why I love them to bits) so I was a bit nervous, to say the least, about finding an outfit that would suit them both and that they’d both feel comfortable wearing. At the beginning, I also didn’t have a clue what kind of dresses I fancied (I’d never been one of those girls to plan or picture my wedding from a young age, so a lot of these choices were a bit last minute!). Luckily, when we met our lovely photographer, Matt, he showed us some photos from another wedding where the bridesmaids were wearing some stunning 50s-style dresses. He emailed me the details of the shop, and a few months later Kirsty, Sophie and I all headed off to London to investigate! The shop was Vivien of Holloway, and on the way there I had it in my head that we would come out with matching 50s-style floral dresses for the girls; however, when we got to the shop Kirsty suggested trying the polka dots – they both picked the colours they liked and ta-da! They looked fab, so we bought them (and the petticoats) and headed off to find shoes. That was a little bit trickier … we traipsed up and down the whole of Oxford Street, and then in the end I think we got the shoes from Debenhams online! The jewellery was M&S (pearls to match the 50s style).
The Flowers… Professional flowers wouldn’t have been an option for us – a) because it’s not something we really go in for, and b) because of the extortionate price tag associated with them! So my auntie and uncle grew a load of wild flowers in their garden and my grandad’s garden that summer in preparation. We managed to track down some cheap and colourful jugs, as well saving all our glass jars in the year before the wedding (and then one sunny weekend, Nick, Kirsty and I sat in the garden and tied different coloured ribbon around all the jars). We handed the lot over to my auntie, and then she turned up the day before with the most beautiful flowers I think I’d ever seen! They fit the bill entirely of looking bright, colourful and relaxed – everything we were going for!
My mum did our bouquets and the boys’ buttonholes (which were all just gypsophila, with a bit of twine around the bottom). Nick’s was the only one that was slightly different – it had a white orchid as well, which had been his mum’s favourite flower.
The Cake… Nick and I are pretty passionate about cake (in that we love to eat it!), so we knew that whatever cake we had, it had to be the type that we would want to eat ourselves (obvs). We’d seen our lovely friend Helen a few months before the wedding when we were at her son’s christening. She’d made some delicious chocolate-orange cupcakes, and I think she knew how much we’d enjoyed them so she very kindly offered to make our cakes for the Big Day! I’d sent her images of the kind of colours/styles we wanted (I think the brief was ‘anything Cath Kidston-y’ – poor Helen!), and then I remember watching her bring in the trays and trays of them on the morning while I was getting ready and being completely blown away! When we entered the main room and we saw them all arranged for the first time, we just couldn’t believe how amazing they looked – even better than we could’ve imagined. (Apparently, Arley Hall even asked if Helen would like to go on their suppliers list!) Helen had even done some Wigan Warriors-style cakes for Nick, and put a little Sylvanian Families bride and groom on top of the main cake!
Your Photographer… We saw photos of a friend’s wedding on Facebook, and they looked absolutely stunning. We tracked down the photographer’s name and then a few weeks later we met Matt in a farm-shop café and instantly felt at ease with him (I don’t know how anyone couldn’t feel at ease with Matt, he’s so calm). Having both worked at a wedding venue when we were younger, Nick and I knew that some photographers could be very pushy and almost demanding, so when we met Matt, who was so relaxed and really listened to what we wanted (and even came out and met us at Arley to scout out the best places ahead of the day), we knew we’d found a winner! On the day, Matt and Hannah were just amazing – they weren’t just taking photos, they positively guided us through the day. Hannah was even showing the boys how to do their buttonholes! And poor Matt was being pulled in all directions by my bridesmaids, who just loved having their photos taken while twirling in their dresses!
The Details + Decor… This was probably the bit that we put the hardest amount of work into in the run up to the Big Day. I love doing craft-type things, and wanted everything to look totally personal to us, so I really put some thought into the tiniest details. I even had a spreadsheet detailing where I wanted everything to be, and was at Arley the day before with all hands on deck to get everything looking perfect!
Outside, there were hand-painted signs directing the guests, an Order of the day chalkboard, colourful pinwheels, candles on garden hooks, butterfly wedding wishes, garden games, streamers in the trees, colourful umbrellas, bunting and pom-poms.
Inside, there were pom-poms (even more pom-poms!), pictures of us, games on the tables, colourful and mismatched table runners, hand-made doily decorations, decorative hearts on the backs of the chairs and crystals hanging in the windows to create rainbows in the dining room.
Too many details to list!
The Honeymoon… We waited till Christmas for our honeymoon, so we could have the longest break possible. And knowing it was probably going to be the longest break we’d ever have, we decided to go to the furthest point possible – Australia! Nick and I had both been there separately when we were younger, and had always talked about going back there together. We had a four-week honeymoon and travelled from Airlie Beach right down to Sydney, rounding up the honeymoon on a boat in Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve! It wasn’t what you would typically class as a romantic honeymoon – more an adventure of a lifetime!
Memorable Moments… Seeing Nick and the boys pottering around outside in the sunshine while the girls were getting ready; Matt nipping out and taking a photo of the aisle in the morning and it looking absolutely amazing; the sun shining!; seeing everyone arriving/waiting at the ceremony; the moment when Nick announced my wedding gift by pointing out the window to our (6-foot five) friend cycling around on a brand new women’s bike with a basket; Polly’s Parlour allowing Nick to go in the van and serve me some ice cream; seeing our friends and family sat down on the wall in the garden all tucking into some ice cream!; Nick’s terrible speech; Neil’s brilliant speech; Japanese tourists pointing at / laughing at / taking photos of Kirsty for getting her shoe caught in the grass; the first dance; Nick’s grandad’s beer; ridiculous dancing to brilliantly awful 90s songs; the boys playing cricket with inflatable skittles; the taxi ride to the hotel with my exhausted husband!
Advice for Other Couples… I think we would both just say try to only focus on what you want – don’t worry about what other people want or how they think a wedding should be, because you’ll never please everyone and this is your only chance! Just make sure you do what’s right for you.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Venue | Arley Hall & Gardens
Caterers | RW Bespoke
Photographer | Matt Bowen
Ice Cream | Polly’s Vintage Parlour
Bridesmaid Dresses | Vivien of Holloway
Oh how I adore a crafty wedding, how lovely were all of those decorations?
Thanks so much to Nick and Hayley for sharing their beautiful wedding with us here at WWW XOXO Lou