Welcome back lovelies and a big hello and congratulations to any newbies here today that were engaged over the festive season! I hope you all had a truly lovely Christmas, we have had a wonderful time surrounded by family. It really doesn’t get better than that does it? There will be a feature every day this week until Friday to keep that post Christmas lul busy and of course the wedding planning off to a kick start. If you are new to the WWW today I urge you to navigate the site by using the menu bar to browse real weddings, our wedding directory and much much more. Plus you can follow the blog on all the relevant social channels via the links above.
I have a total cracker of a wedding to share with you this morning in the form of Becky and Andy’s nuptials, which were held on the 4th June 2016 at WWW faves Camp Kátur in North Yorkshire. Becky and Andy’s motto was to “Keep the traditions that make sense to us, and ditch those that don’t”, which really formed the basis for their personal and fun wedding day. Don’t you just love it? They opted for a woodland ceremony outdoors with a ceremony they wrote themselves, which was extremely meaningful to the couple and their loved ones. But first they tackled the high ropes course with gusto, Becky even bought a second gown especially, they make for some awesome shots.
They hand crafted most of their wedding, with Becky embroidering table names on hoops, 1000 paper cranes were folded and paper bouquets constructed. They also took inspiration from maps with Andy wearing a map of the woodland on his waistcoat and tie. Talking of attire Becky’s short frock looked gorgeous on her and was just perfect for dancing the night away.
Thanks goes to the brilliant Bloom Weddings for sharing these marvellous images.
THE PROPOSAL | We proposed to each other! Neither proposal was a complete surprise, because we decided mutually that we wanted to marry each other in a fairly standard conversation. I don’t have an engagement ring because I didn’t want one – I’m not much of a jewellery wearer. But we still wanted to “propose” to each other with a bit more romance: Andy recreated our first date, when we went on a bike ride up the Solar System bike route near York, and proposed with a butterfly fairy cake, just like the ones he’d brought on our first date. I made him a crossword puzzle in which four of the clues spelled out “Will you marry me?” We like to think we’re a good mix of romantic and pragmatic.
THE VISION | There was no set vision for the wedding – I’m not the kind of person who planned out my wedding day as a child, and neither is Andy. Instead, we went with the motto, “Keep the traditions that make sense to us, and ditch those that don’t.” We were also determined to make as much of the decoration and stationery as possible to keep things personal. By doing this, we ended up with a semi-traditional but very personal wedding, designed not only to please us but the special people in our lives who shared the wedding with us.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We didn’t have a timetable or a plan at all, really – we just booked the venue and went from there! From booking the venue to the wedding we had just under 18 months, and we just gradually, constantly, ticked things off our to-do list in that time. We cut out things that we considered unnecessary, such as Save the Dates, so we sent out our invitations (self-designed tea towels) and RSVP postcards more than a year ahead of time, and it worked out fine. We could, perhaps, have thought harder about some parts of the wedding – we ended up with a 2pm ceremony because I put that time in as a placeholder in the tea towel design, and forgot to ever change it! – but we took our time over the things that really mattered and in the end, everything came off beautifully, mostly thanks to all the help freely offered by friends and family. We were very lucky to have so much support from our loved ones, who went along with all our mad ideas with enthusiasm.
THE VENUE | We decided to get married near York because that’s where we were living at the time and it’s where we met. We’d also decided that we didn’t want a church wedding, because neither of us are religious, but some of the civil ceremonies that we’d attended in the past had left us a bit cold. Designing our own ceremony felt like the best way forward for us and we really liked the idea of getting married outdoors. We also wanted to make it as easy as possible for our guests to find accommodation, because most people would be travelling quite a distance to come to North Yorkshire, so glamping or camping opportunities also really appealed.
I looked around for outdoors wedding venues in North Yorkshire and found Camp Kátur featured on a wedding blog – I fell instantly in love with the idea of getting married in the woods and sleeping in their amazing glamping accommodation. We visited the venue in January – not North Yorkshire’s finest month – but the people and the woodland blew us away. We booked our date there and then to be married in the woodland glade with the reception in the barn, and when we took our respective set of parents to see the Camp in spring, we knew we’d made the right choice. Even better, by the time the wedding came around, the Camp had extended the barn and added a wonderful bar and mezzanine level, as well as a solid wood floor, so it was even better than we’d signed up for. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and they’re clearly dedicated to making the Camp as idyllic a venue as possible.
One last thing that sealed the deal for us – Camp Kátur has a high ropes course and they’d always wanted to see a bride go down the zipwire. Of course, I was completely up for this, so on the morning of the wedding we both climbed up the climbing wall, crossed the high bridge, and went down the zipwire in our wedding outfits (well, for me, it was a much, much cheaper ivory tea-dress from Lindy Bop!) – everyone thought we were mad, but we LOVED it.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I don’t enjoy shopping and I hardly ever wear dresses, so I wasn’t over enthusiastic about the dress search. I knew, however, that I didn’t want a full length dress, partly because we would be married outside and a train would probably end up muddy before arriving at the altar, and partly because I wanted to be able to walk around like a normal human being for the day. I also did not want to spend many hundreds of pounds on a dress I would only wear once.
I searched on the internet for tea-length wedding dress inspiration and found my ideal dress on Suzanna M Design’s Etsy shop almost straight away – an ivory lace 50s style dress with a circle skirt and low back. I know that 50s style dresses in general suit me because I’m a swing dancer and have worn them for performances, but I still wanted to check that the bridal version of the style suited me. I tried on some dresses from Brighton Belle at a local bridal boutique to confirm that I loved the style, but that the stiff fabrics and sky-high price tag of conventional dress suppliers definitely weren’t for me. Despite some apprehension about buying online, I ordered my bespoke, made-to-measure dress from Suzanna, paid £400, and it arrived about 8 weeks later. No adjustments were necessary, it fit perfectly, and I staged a little trying-on session in my mum’s living room for her, my nanna, and one of my bridesmaids.
Accessory-wise, I already had my shoes as they were the first thing I bought, the day after getting engaged – cobalt blue round-toe kitten heels from Dorothy Perkins – in the sale at £10! I added a matching sash to my dress (broad ribbon from Kirkgate market in Leeds, a princely £1) and two petticoats to give the circle skirts its oomph – I already owned a white one and added a blue one from Vivien of Holloway for maximum poofiness. I didn’t wear any jewellery, not because I hadn’t bought any, but because I completely forgot to put it on when I was getting ready. This didn’t bother me when I realised (the next day) because I’m not much of jewellery wearer, so at least I was true to myself.
We did exchange wedding rings though. We wanted to buy them locally so, living in Leeds by this point, we trawled the markets and arcades in Leeds for silver-coloured bands. Andy found his titanium ring in Outrage Jewellery in the Leeds Corn Exchange and I bought my palladium ring from Yorkshire Jewellery in the Victoria Quarter.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Andy wanted to take the opportunity of the wedding to buy a really good quality fitted suit, so he and his best man trawled London looking for one. They’d tried Oxford Street, Portobello Market, the West End, and, just before losing heart and patience, decided to head for Spitalfields Market, where they found Oscar Milo. Andy found a beautiful dark blue suit with light blue detailing and had it tailored to fit. We then added a pair of brown boots from Debenhams and our personal piece-de-resistance – a green tweed waistcoat with the OS map of the area around Camp Kátur on the back. We thought it would be relatively easy to find map fabric – turns out, not easy at all – but what we found in the end was perfect. From SplashMaps we ordered a silky fabric map of exactly the area we were interested in – the Camp Kátur area. A colleague at Andy’s work who is a talented freelance seamstress then created the waistcoat for him. Map ties and pocket squares for Andy and best man Harry completed the look.
THE SERVICE, READINGS & MUSIC | Getting married outside meant that our service would not be legally binding, but it also meant that we could do anything we wanted with the words and structure. Andy’s brother-in-law, Andrew, is a Methodist minister, so we asked him to lead the ceremony. We wrote the initial draft including introductions, readings and the ceremony and Andrew helped structure our overly complex plan into a sensible whole. He also wrote and delivered a really excellent sermon, as well as leading the scratch ukulele orchestra (more on that soon!) We also used an American book called The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day by Judith Johnson to help us – it’s much more common in the US to write your own ceremony so we found some really helpful ideas in there.
We had three readings. Andy’s sisters Liz and Helen read an extract from Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and Nuptials by John Agard, and my friend Jill read Rings by Carol Ann Duffy. The readings were short but heartfelt and reflected our idea of what marriage and love are – the ladies more than did them justice.
We are very lucky to know a lot of talented musicians to provide the soundtrack to the wedding. My friend Carissa played a range of Celtic cello music before the ceremony, including a stunning version of Ashokan Farewell, before accompanying me up the aisle with Blackbird by The Beatles. During the ceremony, Andy’s friend Matt gave us space to think and listen to acoustic instrumental versions of Here Comes the Sun, also by The Beatles, and Going to California by Led Zeppelin on guitar. Finally, we wanted to include a chance for everyone to get up and sing because, having both been brought up in churches, the hymns were our favourite part of a traditional marriage ceremony. We decided to edit down Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian to the bits that aren’t about death, and added a verse of our own about marriage. The Camp Kátur Scratch Ukulele Orchestra learned the chord sequence in about 7 days and provided amazing back-up to the singers – some might have found the whole thing a bit weird, but everyone threw themselves into it! It was a hilarious and touching end to the ceremony. Thanks are due to Andrew, Jill, Andy, Shakey, Bethany, Sam and Carissa for being brave enough to ukulele (and guitar, and cello) in public at such short notice!
Finally, just to confirm, we are legally married! We had a very small civil ceremony, just us and our parents, at Leeds Town Hall on the Wednesday before the wedding on the Saturday. It was great to share that moment with our parents alone before the big bash!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I didn’t want to force my three fantastic bridesmaids, vibrant women with strong personalities, into identical dresses that they’d never wear again. I’ve always loved Vivien of Holloway’s 50s style dresses and I knew at least one of my bridesmaids, swing dancer Jo, had long coveted them too. I chose a fabric that I liked, the now-discontinued royal rose design, and each lady chose the style that she liked best. Jo chose a circle-skirt and added a petticoat she already owned, while Stacey and Sophie went for two different wiggle dress styles. They each added shoes that they would wear again and a white or cream cover up. They not only looked fantastic; they were wonderful supporters in the run up to and all throughout the wedding weekend.
THE FLOWERS | Neither of us like cut fresh flowers, because they are expensive, die so fast, and seem like such a waste. Instead, I made bunches of paper flowers from silk paper, wire stems and florist tape for myself, the bridesmaids and the tables at the reception. We used fake flowers from Ikea and herbs in terracotta pots for the ceremony area decoration and I made fabric flowers with button centres for the family buttonholes based on a tutorial organised by one of my bridesmaids at my hen-do. In fact, the only real flowers were dried petals from The Botanical Farmer that we used as confetti.
We were over the moon with the result and the waste was minimal. Guests took home handfuls of Ikea and paper flowers after the event; those that were left are now strewn around our house and the garden is now home to all the herbs – curly parsley is particularly pretty and has garnished many a meal since the wedding!
THE CAKE | Andy’s supremely talented sister Liz makes the most incredible birthday cakes for the family, so we asked if she would make our wedding cake. Inspired by our love of being outdoors, walking and camping, she made a three-tier mountain with a teepee on top, with little figures of me, Andy, and all the things we like to do, together and separately. The cake itself was a glorious chocolate fudge cake – Liz spoiled us completely.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We went looking for local photographers online and found Bloom Weddings, also known as Anii and Chris, on the recommended suppliers list of another wedding blog. Their website showcased their beautiful photos and we particularly loved their clever use of light. We had never wanted an engagement shoot but decided to take advantage of a promotion they were running to get to know Anii and Chris, and for them to get to know us. We had great fun down at How Stean Gorge – Chris’s recommendation – and on the day itself they were fantastic – in the best possible way, our guests didn’t even notice that they were there, and we’re over the moon with the results. Chris even ensured we were all topped up with beer during the post-ceremony drinks!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We started off with the venue and built the rest of our choices around that. We didn’t want to overwhelm the natural beauty of Camp Kátur so we decided to stick with a natural colour scheme and we took extra inspiration from maps, something we make regular use of when walking and travelling. This led to a blue-green-yellow focus, but we didn’t stick too rigidly to this.
We made map bunting to drape just about everywhere, highlighted by strings of fairy lights. For the ceremony area, we used pot plants filled with fragrant herbs to decorate the front and white, blue and yellow Ikea fake flowers to line the aisle. We threw bright blankets on the benches for colour and comfort, and Andy and I sat on a hay bale at the front, draped in a crochet blanket my nanna made for me a decade ago. An extra surprise addition to the decoration was a collection of brightly coloured ukuleles – the scratch orchestra “donated” their instruments for decorative purposes. I didn’t know about this before I walked up the aisle but it looked fantastic!
For the barn, as well as the map bunting, I embroidered table names (places that meant something to each of us) framed in embroidery hoops and attached these to bottles rescued from old Victorian rubbish tips around West Yorkshire. With the addition of some Ikea fake flowers and paper flowers I’d made, these were the table centrepieces. Also on the table were the favours – kazoos and handmade recipe books containing family recipes. We were serenaded by 90 kazoos arriving at the reception, and we’ve heard that some of them have been made by guests since, and turned out really well!
I’d also heard about the Japanese legend of senbazuru or making a thousand origami cranes for luck. I and my bridesmaids made these over several months and we scattered them everywhere for pops of colour – the tables, the bar, strung along the path to the ceremony area… everyone went home with strings of cranes afterwards!
As a last small touch in the campsite, we put up a signpost we made from an old Ikea pine futon bed, indicating places that guests had come from and where we’d be going on our honeymoon. It was in no way essential to the wedding, but served as another tribute to the people who had come to support us. It’s now in our garden at home.
THE HONEYMOON | In August, two months after the wedding, we went to Iceland for a swing dance exchange (a week-long swing festival). It wasn’t a typical honeymoon in that we spent three of the seven nights there sleeping on airbeds in a sports hall with 50 other swing dancers, but it was a place that we’d always wanted to visit and, as we had met at swing dance classes, it seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate our marriage. Iceland was stunning and we definitely want to go back in the future.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Starting the day on a climbing wall and zipwire (in a different dress, of course!) – it was hilarious and relaxed us both completely.
The Ukulele orchestra coming together for us so last minute – thanks everyone!
Because we didn’t sign the official register on the day, we designed a certificate with our wedding vows and everyone present signed it as our witnesses (a kind of mix of the Jewish ketubah and the Quaker marriage certificates) – it’s a lovely reminder of the day on the wall of our dining room now.
Best man Harry’s amazing speech, delivered in song form on a ukulele that he learned to play especially for the day. Priceless.
Everyone, children included, getting up to join in the evening ceilidh. The ceilidh band also learned a swing song especially for our first dance – Hallelujah I Love Her So by Ray Charles.
My dad’s amazing photobooth, made to look like a living room wall with photos of family weddings on it.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Start preparations early, but don’t stress out – little and often really seems to work when preparing for a wedding, especially if you don’t want to lose your life to it. You never know when other life events might have to take priority for some time (in our case, a new job, two house moves, and the completion of a PhD…)
Get others involved, especially if they actually want to be! It’s lovely to share such a special occasion with the people who mean something to you.
Don’t be afraid to do something different – if you want to write your own ceremony, give it a go! Want to wear a map as a waistcoat? Why not! Just bear in mind that you might have to do a bit more research and drafting ideas then you might with a more traditional set-up.
And remember: keep the traditions that make sense to you, and ditch those that don’t.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Bloom Weddings
Dress | Suzanna M Designs
Zipwire dress | Abigail by Lindy Bop
Bridesmaids’ dresses | Vivien of Holloway
Suit | Oscar Milo
Waistcoat | SplashMaps and Allana Marsh
Ceremony Planner | Amazon
Confetti | The Botanical Farmer
Ceilidh band | The Great Northern Ceilidh Band
Such a special celebration.
Becky and Andy, thanks so much to you both for sharing your story here at WWW xo Lou