Family Orientated & Personal DIY Wedding

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I actually can’t believe how much of today’s wedding our couple made themselves, it really is truly remarkable! Olly and Elle tied the knot on 4th May 2019 at the very church that Elle’s parents married at, and followed the nuptials with more celebrations at Hargate Hall in Buxton.

They were lucky enough to have the venue for the whole weekend which meant lots of special time with family and friends, this became the focus of their wedding, along with all the personal touches. You can’t fail to be blown away by the sheer scale of the DIY. Not only did Elle make her dress as well as the bridesmaids dresses and Olly’s suit, her mum put together the beautiful flowers and the family even catered the wedding!

We have Pixies in the Cellar to thank for the brilliant images today, thank you ever so much Pete and Sara for sharing them with us today.

Hargate Hall Wedding Pixies in the Cellar

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The Proposal

We first met in Togo, West Africa on a scientific research project and after a few years of travelling backwards and forwards between York and Cornwall with long periods of time apart we got engaged in Scotland in September 2017.

Elle spent her university days in Edinburgh so it was super special for her. We went on a Scottish road trip starting there. After an amazing/distressing morning including climbing the Scott monument (Elle is a bit scared of heights so it was an amazing albeit tearful view), I decided to direct us towards the aimed summit of Arthur’s seat for the proposal. Carrying a bag with a bottle of sparkling wine produced in Cornwall, which had already cause a lot of questions. “what is this bag?” “you don’t need a bag” “just put your things in my handbag!”. Eventually we got to the summit, to find it of course swamped with a million tourists. I decided that maybe this wasn’t the day and I could ask on the west coast. We decided to make our way down a different way, away from the beaten track, and found a secluded little spot looking over Leith, sun and showers on the horizon. It was a magic spot, and she said yes! The sparkling wine was also very excited that we got engaged and it popped the cork 50 feet in the air…or maybe it was all the jostling as we climbed the old volcano!

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The Vision

Our main vision for the day was just to have a really fun and relaxed celebration with all of our favourite people. Neither of us much like being centre of attention so we wanted the day to be really focussed around people being able to enjoy spending time with old friends and new, sharing good food and drink and having lots of laughs. We decided early on to go down the route of making as many of the outfits and accessories ourselves as possible along with the decorations, flowers and food with the help of friends and family to make it a really personal homemade wedding.

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The Planning Process

Olly works in Antarctica for six months of the year so we spent the summer months when he was home talking through ideas and coming up with plans of what we wanted to do. All of the fine details of planning and full scale production of outfits and decorations then took place during the six months over winter whilst he was away, which was a great way to make the time apart go quickly!

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The Venue

We got married at Fernilee Methodist Church in Derbyshire, which is very important to our family and within throwing distance of the family farm. We really wanted all of our guests to be with us for the whole day but the small size of the church slightly limited this for the ceremony. We still managed to squeeze in as many people as possible, with quite a few standing at the back too! It was just so important for as many people as possible to be there with us.

We held the reception at Hargate Hall, just outside Buxton. This was just the perfect venue for us. We hired the hall for the whole weekend and were able to have lots of our family and friends stay there with us for the weekend. It was fantastic to see people on the Friday night as they arrived and then on the Sunday we had everyone back for a barbecue out on the terrace, which was a great chance to have a proper catch up with people as the time just flew by on the wedding day itself. We were keen not to be limited by choice of caters and bars and so Hargate Hall was perfect for us, we stocked the bar with plenty of drinks and kegs of beer from the local Eyam Brewery and did all of the catering ourselves. It gave us so much flexibility for us to do everything just the way we wanted to, and only a short drive away from the church.

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Your Outfits & Accessories

Soon after we got engaged the idea came up to make our outfits for the wedding which started the DIY snowball rolling! We loved the idea that by making our own outfits we could add in lots of personal touches which we couldn’t have done otherwise.

For Olly’s suit we chose a petrol blue tweed from Yorkshire Fabric and to incorporate our connection to West Africa we lined the jacket, waistcoat and all the pockets with a traditional wax print from African Fabric. We made covered buttons using Cornish tartan (from Truro Fabrics) with a St Piran’s cross to mark Olly’s Cornish home and trimmed the edges of the lining with red binding (because it is his favourite colour!). Suit construction took place in the six months before the wedding whilst Olly was away from home so it was a massive relief when he first tried it on and everything fitted with just a few weeks left to go!

For my dress I thought that making it myself would be a perfect way to get the perfect dress because I could just combine all the different ideas that I liked but it turns out it was really hard to settle on a design. So much so that I still had the sewing machine out on the morning of the wedding finishing the last few bits!! I used an ivory chiffon fabric for the under layers and a beautiful lace called Amelia from Bridal Fabrics. I embroidered pearls onto a lace waistband with an ivory silk ribbon and added a beaded trim to the edge of the neckline to match the trim around the edge of the veil.

For accessories, Olly wore a pocket watch that belonged to his great-grandad and I was given a pair of sapphire earrings by my gran to match my engagement ring. We made our wedding rings with Carole at her workshop in Cornwall, Olly made mine in white gold to fit around my engagement ring and I made his in yellow gold.

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We had a really relaxed start to the morning with one of my mum’s good friends helping us do our hair and my sisters helping me with my make up.

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The Readings & Music

My mother walked me down the aisle as my great-auntie played ‘Trumpet Voluntary’ by Jerimiah Clarke on the organ which was a song my dad used to play in the brass band. During the ceremony we sang the hymns ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, ‘Sing Hosanna’ and ‘One More Step Along The World I Go’, all of which are upbeat, long standing family favourites. Our recessional music was ‘Radetzky March’ by Johann Strauss which is the music my mother walked down the aisle to in the same chapel when she married my father.

For the ceremony we chose two readings, the first was a John Masefield poem called ‘Sea Fever’ read by one of my sisters which reflects our strong connections to the sea and the second was ‘Blessing for a Marriage’ by James Dillet Freeman, read by Olly’s sister because we just loved the messages in it.

In the evening we had the fantastic Knitters Jig ceilidh band. They were amazing and everyone absolutely loved it – even the ones who said they would never get up and dance! It was a great way to get everyone up on their feet and having a laugh!

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The Flowers

My very talented mother arranged all of the flowers for the wedding from my bouquet to the flower girls’ headbands, groomsmen buttonholes to jam jars of flowers dotted throughout the hall and even two trees made from branches with test tubes of flowers hanging from them. We love the colours of spring with bright greens, whites and blues so picked lots of greenery and bluebells from the garden and Mark at The Flower Bar in High Legh grew us some beautiful seasonal flowers and herbs.

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Your Photographer

Pixies in the Cellar were absolutely fantastic! Pete and Sara make such a great team and captured so many amazing photos of our day. We really wanted the photos to have a natural and relaxed feel and they were better than we could have imagined. So many beautiful photos telling the whole story of the day, capturing all the little moments. Sara even braved getting right into the middle of the ceilidh to capture some amazing action shots!! They were just fabulous!

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Bridesmaids

I made the dresses for our three bridesmaids (my younger sisters) and our two flower girls (our nieces). For the bridesmaids, we bought a beautiful blue floral fabric from Abakhan Fabrics which was light and floaty and perfect for making into simple floor length dresses. We wanted a traditional style for the flower girl dresses so chose a gorgeous ivory silk for the main body of the dresses with cap sleeves and the skirt hem trimmed with floral lace. We used the bridesmaid fabric for the sash and for the lining of the dress so that the girls had a pretty pattern under the skirt and a nice soft fabric against their skin. For the bridesmaid jewellery, we made simple pearl necklaces, earrings and bracelets and sparkly crystal charm bracelets for the little ones.

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Groomsmen

We had six groomsmen in total but unfortunately our skills didn’t extend as far as tailoring suits for all of them so we asked the boys to bring their own blue suits and brown shoes and we made bow ties, pocket squares and patterned braces so they all matched and made them each a set of cufflinks using sixpence coins.

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The Details & Décor

For the decorations we wanted a really natural style. We hung strands of ivy across the marquee and wove sticks of willow into big rings to hang from the chandeliers, covered in more ivy, roses and fairy lights. We also had a line of ivy covered string hung in the corner of the marquee with big clothes pegs for people to hang their hats on which worked really well and even had the flower girls dress hanging on it during the meal so that they didn’t get lasagne on the white dresses!

Olly’s dad cut slices of a tree trunk to make centrepieces for the tables which we decorated with pots of herbs and jam jars of flowers. We named each of the tables after Olly’s favourite aeroplanes and made mini paper aeroplanes for place cards. We really wanted a relaxed, sharing style to the meal with all of our favourite foods. Olly’s sister made us a wonderful selection of antipasti for starters and my mum made lasagnes for the main course and a buffet table of different desserts for pudding, all served on bamboo plates which could be composted to save on the washing up! We used wooden cutlery and paper napkins tied up with string and a packet of wildflower seeds for people to take home and plant. We decorated the main hall in a similar way with fairy lights, greenery and jars of spring flowers.

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The Honeymoon

Straight after the wedding we had a mini-moon weekend in west Cornwall to relax after the craziness of the wedding week and then a couple of weeks later had a wonderful 10 days driving around Italy from Cinque Terre to Venice, staying on vineyards and olive groves and enjoying lots of sun, pasta, wine and gelato!

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Memorable Moments

One of the most memorable parts of the wedding was sharing the whole weekend with all of our family and friends who travelled from near and far to be with us for our special day. Being covered in homemade rose petal confetti (made by a family friend) outside the church was also really special. And our fantastic ceilidh and late night pasties (brought up all the way from North Cornwall) was the perfect end to the day. But for both of us, nothing beats the first sight of each other down the aisle of the church.

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The Cake

My sister made us our beautiful three-tiered wedding cake. We wanted something a little bit different so she made the bottom layer a hummingbird cake, the middle layer was lemon and raspberry and the top layer was apple and blackberry. She iced it all with a lime cream cheese frosting and decorated with dried slices of pineapple (which look like big daisies).

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Advice For Other Couples

Don’t try to do everything yourself! Only joking, we would definitely do it the same way all over again but just make sure you can call in help from friends and family or be careful not to take on too much because the most important thing is to still have time to enjoy every second of the day – it all goes by too quickly! That being said we both surprised ourselves with just how many things we could do ourselves if we put our minds to it so if you fancy a project and learning how to make new things then definitely just give it a go, we found that the imperfections in the things we made just made them more special because they couldn’t have been made like that by anyone else!

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

What a lot of hard work! Thank you so much Elle and Olly for sharing your ever so personalised day with us. Rachel x

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