The wedding industry is slowly but surely doing away with rulebooks, with personalisation and creativity at the very heart of this change. Today’s real wedding is an eclectic and perfectly unique celebration of this, and we’re so grateful to Rachel and Alex for sharing their wedding day with us.
With strong creative and artistic veins in both the bride and groom, this couple wanted to express their love of design of community through a completely homegrown and handmade wedding day. Each feature, both visual and practical, was chosen to reflect their hometowns, their family heritages, and the creative people that fill their lives. They also wanted to embrace the outdoors and source elements as locally, collaboratively, and sustainably as possible, showcasing all the wonderful talents of their family and friends. Everything from the stationery to the tablescapes were collages of their life, their past together, and all they love most, with touching details like ‘heritage’ canapés reflecting the likes and lives of each of their grandparents, served on trays alongside old photographs of the family members they represented. With friends in the roles of ceremony officiants, beer brewers, flower arrangers, musicians, seamstresses, and much more, the whole day reads like a journey full to the brim with love and laughter. The décor echoed their story, with an eclectic assortment of brown beer bottle vases, hand screen printed napkins, ceramic adornments and geeky paper craft centrepieces, all organically complementing the seasonal arrangements of dahlias, roses, rosemary and wheat.
We adore the emotive capture of this wedding day by the Toast of Leeds, so powerful, authentic, and eloquent with light, sit back, relax, and take it all in.
THE PROPOSAL | Alex proposed in Tulum in Mexico in April 2016, in this little bit of paradise next to turquoise ocean he downed a corona and popped the question with a unique ring he had carried in the bottom of his pocket (wrapped in duck tape to look innocuous) through Oaxaca and Mexico City after buying from Artemer on Etsy.
THE VISION | We both have very strong creative abilities (art, design, and craft) and wanted to use them to make the day uniquely our own, making as much as we could. We wanted something that reflected the beautiful place we grew up and celebrated the creative people that we are surrounded by. We always knew we wanted to embrace the outdoors and make as much of it ourselves as possible, roping in family and friends along the way to make it a fully handmade affair. We also openly admit to borrowing and stealing all the best bits from the fantastic weddings and parties of family and friends that we have attended over the years, now was our chance to put the bits together! We started as we meant to go on by making our own wedding rings with friend and Silversmith Zoe Stevens.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We used Asana to assign tasks to each other throughout the planning process, in the hope of reducing nagging. Our invites were risograph printed Zines, collaged and designed from old photographs and drawings which shared all the things in life that we love. We did all the design work and Alex laid them out – they were printed by Rope Press. We designed save-the-dates, menus, evening invites and thank yous ourselves in our own style and got them printed by Moo.
THE VENUE | The venue was my home village in North Yorkshire where my family farms. The ceremony took place in the beautiful setting of my Aunts garden. Sue, Alex’s mum decorated a Whitby arch with sunflowers, roses and foliage the perfect decoration for our personal ceremony, facilitated by our close friend Liz.
The reception took place over the garden wall in a Wills Marquee overlooking the farm and the rolling hills towards Masham where we first met. (Guests were invited to camp out at the foot of the field in bell tents from Glampit.com) We brought in local caterers who created ‘heritage’ canapes that embodied each of our grandparents, and put on a lovely lamb roast inviting a carver from each table to don a hat and aprons and serve their friends.
In the evening we had scrummy pies, mash, peas and gravy from Pie Eyed, from Sheffield, including a beef brisket and Black Sheep Ale number, of course.
We had a Ceilidh band, Bobbing Joe from Sheffield, which was a lot of fun and got all the generations on the dancefloor. The disco playlist was a carefully curated Spotify playlist built from suggestions put in by all my girlfriends. Alex was terrified it wouldn’t get folks going (we did not have a DJ, so the playlist had to be on the money) – it worked incredibly, and the dance floor was filled till close at midnight.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I always wanted to make my own wedding dress, and with some help from my mum, close friend Erin used her fabulous hands and mind to adapt a vintage dress pattern I found on eBay into a unique gown with exquisite little golden touches.
I sourced my earrings from Etsy and shoes from Anthropologie and borrowed a bracelet worn by Alex’s Mother Sue on her wedding day.
The whole day would not have been possible without my magical Invisbra!
I got ready at my family home with bridesmaids and friends, 3 doors down from the ceremony. We had a lovely relaxed morning with hair and make up in the safe hands of Becca Hunton.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Alex wore a 3 piece brown tweed suit from Walker Slater, Covent Garden, and his groomsmen wore matching waistcoats with mix and match jackets and trousers and knitted ties from M&S. He treated himself to some Loakes which he fell madly in love with and wore a vintage pocketwatch Rachel bought him years ago to complete the look. His wristwatch is a Arne Jacobsen Roman 46mm gifted for his 30th Birthday by his parents (and which is worth mentioning keeps excellent time, which was essential on the day).
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Rach’s Dad sings in a range of choral groups, so he invited a local group from Thorton Watlass, to accompany the ceremony. The bridal party entered to ‘Simply Allelulia’ and the warming of the rings was soundtracked by ‘Fields of Gold’, and left to ‘Go now in peace’ all sung by the choir. Emily, friend chose to read ‘The Art of Marriage’ by Wilfred A. Peterson Wills, Alex’s cousin and ex-housemate of both of us shared John Cooper Clarke’s ‘I wanna be yours’ but modified the poem with his own verses added, in reference to us and our relationship. (There was much laughter and tears of both embarrassment and happiness at the incredible effort and delivery he managed.)
Though a non-religious affair, we invited family friend, Peter (who is in fact a retired Canon) to offer a short blessing, including a reading from First Corinthians Chapter 13 during our ceremony. As I mentioned, our friend Liz officiated the ceremony, including vows, warming and exchange of rings and hand-fasting – the words were a modified humanist ceremony we edited. We did some research into staging with the ceremony and incorporated some aspects we liked a lot, for example that the Bride and Groom sit facing the audience, and don’t stand with their backs to everyone. Mainly though – we liked an idea we read about how the Father of the Bride does not walk the Bride all the way down the aisle (she is not a possession to be ‘given away’). So instead he walked her part of the way down the aisle, stopped and hugged her, and then Alex comes to meet her, embraces him, and then the Bride and Groom complete the ‘journey’ down the aisle as a couple.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Bridesmaids wore ASOS heavy lace dresses in grey, with shawls from Oliver Bonas, and shoes in their own style. As gifts I bought each of them a necklace, which they wore on the day, from Studio jAN.NE.KE, who I met at a makers fair in Brick Lane, London. Hair and make-up also fabulously done by Becca Hunton. They were totally life savers that week, pulling all the little details together to make everything run smoothly.
THE FLOWERS | Our bouquets and button holes, and all the flowers in and around the marquee were arranged by my friend Holly, AKA Lavender Fingers. They were made up of seasonal locally grown flowers and greenery, including dahlias, roses, rosemary and wheat.
THE CAKE | A tower of Yorkshire’s finest Wensleydale Cheese, topped with a heart shaped Brie brought back from France by Alex’s Aunt, Jane. Decorated by Sue, Alex’s mum.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Toast of Leeds AKA Shelly Mantovani.
We are both a bit snobby about good photography and spent ages trying to find the right person. We spotted Shelly’s talent in photographs from a wedding my brother went to. We love her use of light and documentary style, and especially for how seamless her presence was on the day – totally relaxed/reassuring, ultra-efficient and (when she needed to be) – invisible.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Each table centre had an intricate crocheted doily made my my mum, Tina, and then in a nod to our history and love of beer they were topped with brown bottles of all shapes and sizes, holding flowers and candles. I also hand screenprinted the napkins, with a hand drawn hop pattern, all tied together with a paper clay / ceramic place name, impressed with more crochet.
The tables were named after nerdy objects that we own, from cameras and calculators to typewriters and synthesisers, even our projector which has been a focal point of our love for films, and our Roberts radio which we listen to together every day. I made paper craft versions of each object for the table plan and each table.
The marquee was decorated with straw stars and traditional corn dolly hearts, made my me and my mum with straw grown on the farm.
We have a lot of kids in our family so in order to make the most of the space we had we put on a special picnic for our nephews, nieces and friends children. Each of them got their own picnic basket filled with goodies as well as toys and Rachel and Alex themed activity sheet. They all ate together on the dancefloor in one chaotic fun banquet.
THE HONEYMOON | We went to Italy, Florence, rural Tuscany, Naples and Puglia taking in the sights, sounds but mostly tastes! We ate a lot of Neapolitan Pizza, all funded by our lovely family and friends. We used ‘Buy Our Honeymoon’ and then made sure we took pictures of us enjoying all the specific things our guests paid for so we could give them an extra personal thank you by sending prints with their card.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | From the get go we invited guests to think about how they might like to contribute to our big day in some way, with some words, a skit or party trick. This meant our day was filled with personal and bonkers experiences which made the day so very special:
My sister-in-law, brought her Danish traditions, involving clinking glasses, stamping feet and lots of kissing! Every time the bride/or groom leave the room all the men / women have to kiss the groom / bride before the other comes back.
My brother, married to the Danish sister-in-law above, carried out the traditional ‘clipping wings’ ceremony, which involves my family picking Alex up, removing his much loved Loakes and snipping the ends off his socks!
My uncle was the MC, and brought his family tradition of just AWFUL jokes which both amused and upset the crowd equally!
My dad, as part of his speech, picked up his guitar and sang an original song about how we met, with a chorus everyone joined in on – it was a great sing-a-long.
We had a large number of speeches, with people popping up all over the share poems, advice and wishes, cousins, bridesmaids, father of the groom etc.
Our friend Gael played her fiddle and led in a traditional Breton dance.
Our friend Sam, who is a comedian, did a piece mid way through the evening which involved smashing (emptied) eggs on our heads.
The best man’s speech was just brilliant, from a high-concept starting point, it was the story of how he actually had failed to write a speech, and ended with his ‘last resort’, which was to read a poem he had written about Alex which had everyone in stitches, I am biased but we had some of the best speeches EVER, there were floods of tears and laughter which Shelly captured amazingly in her shots.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Rach: Make it your own, get people involved, enjoy yourself!
Alex: On the day, make a conscious decision you are not going to worry about whether things are happening on time or if people are having a good time! Delegate roles sufficiently so you know someone will be taking responsibility for whatever, and so you can just be present and enjoy everything while it happens – it will indeed be over in a whirlwind of joy.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Toast of Leeds
Engagement Ring | Artemer
Wedding Bands | Made by bride and groom with friend and Silversmith Zoe Stevens
Reception Location | Will’s Marquees
Catering | Haregill Lodge Caterers
Tents for Guests | Glampit
Bar | Black Sheep Brewery
Evening Food | Pie Eyed
Ceilidh Band | Bobbing Joe
Hair and Makeup | Becca Hunton
Groom’s Attire | Walker Slater
Groom’s Shoes | Loake
Bridesmaid Jewellery | jAN.NE.KE
Dress Adaptation | Erin Estrada
Cheese Cake | Wenslydale Creamery
Thank you so much Rachel and Alex for sharing your beautiful wedding day with us! Thanks also to their photographer Toast of Leeds for sharing these incredible images. Val Xx