This wedding touched me for many a reason, namely because bride Frances left a message thanking me for sharing my anxiety story and giving her the strength not to cancel her wedding. That really meant the world to me and it gives me strength in turn to know that I am not alone in my own struggles too. So thank you Frances for being so open and honest in your account here today.
WWW readers Frances and Peter were married on the 18th June 2016 at Upper Court followed by a yurt reception at The Moretons in Gloucestershire. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more creative or crafty celebration, these two really pulled out all of the stops and DIYed so many touches. They chose a fun and fresh mint colour scheme and created décor with ribbons, paper and signs, the yurt looked sensational. Not only that but Frances made the pretty flower cake and her step mum made her glittery gown in which she looked radiant.
I especially love the whimsical florals, huge bouquets of peonies and greenery all tied up with trailing ribbons. WOW.
Thanks goes to Jessica Raphael for sending over these delightful images.
THE PROPOSAL | Pete popped the question on our third anniversary on the exact same spot where we first met each other. We’d found each together online on Match and exchanged messages for a month until we decided to meet outside Tate Modern. We’d taken it in turns to plan funtivities for our anniversary and we finished our day around midnight on Southbank where we’d spent so many of our first dates. As we got to Tate Modern Pete told me to close my eyes because he had one more surprise for me. When I opened my eyes Pete was down on one knee, asking me to marry him.
THE VISION | We wanted our day to be completely unique and personal to us. Every decision we made always started with “does it reflect us?” and we would go from there. We wanted our family and friends to be as involved as possible and use local independent suppliers to create a day filled with love and fun.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I’ve always loved party planning and this was the ultimate party planning experience for me! Pete was involved in every decision and we both wanted to involve our families as much as possible. I created a joint Pinterest board and then any ideas Pete liked he would re-pin to that board and we’d go from there. We didn’t see any point in waiting to get married so we cracked on immediately. Within two months of getting engaged we had chosen our venue, caterer, florist and photographer. The rest was mega spreadsheets and persuading our family and friends to donate their time and skills.
THE VENUE | We wanted a venue that allowed us to do what we pleased and had accommodation on site to make a weekend of it. We immediately fell in love with The Moretons in Bredon, especially when we confirmed we could have a yurt in the garden! Karen, who runs the site, was nothing but supportive of our ideas and it was just a stones throw from where I grew up. (I even learnt to swim in their pool!) It’s a completely DIY venue so we knew we could take over the site and make it special to us. A most importantly they allowed fireworks which was very important to us as Pete volunteers with a fireworks company in London.
When researching venues online we found Cheltenham Yurt Company and fell in love with their beautiful structures. We loved that they were local and that the owner, Will, had made all the yurts himself. We ended up settling on the 42ft Pavilion Yurt and some smaller tents for a chill out area in the evening.
For the legal bit we found Upper Court in the next village which was stunning, intimate and surrounded by beautiful grounds. It was really important to us that we got married within the Wychavon borough as I wanted my childhood neighbour, who is a registrar, to conduct the ceremony and Upper Court was perfect for our location and numbers. We got married in the entranceway, which gave the ceremony an intimacy we wouldn’t have got anywhere else – and the opportunity to use a grand staircase as the aisle!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My step mum Christine is a costume designer and all round sewing goddess. When we called her and my Dad to tell them we were engaged she shouted I’M MAKING THE DRESS! and that was that! Together we came up with a design and chose the fabrics and the finished dress was so perfect and unique to me. Pete loved it too – especially as I shed glitter everywhere! I had always envisioned walking down the aisle with a veil over my face so Christine made me a cathedral veil and I paired it with a gold Alex Monroe baby bee necklace that I had always wanted but no excuse for the expense. The shoes were actually the first thing I bought for the wedding. I’d seen Rachel Simpson’s collection online and immediately became obsessed with the mint green mimosas that perfectly matched our colour scheme. They were so beautifully made and comfortable I didn’t want to take them off.
FINDING THE DRESS | My journey to find “the dress” was not an easy one. My weight had fluctuated so much over the past year that I had no idea what I wanted. My maid of honour took me to a couple of bridal shops to get an idea of styles that might suit me. I must have tried on at least 50 dresses but none of them were quite right and I found the experience quite stressful and deflating. When I sat down with Christine for the first time and discussed ideas we started sketching things together and we then settled on a basic design to go fabric shopping for.
We went to Barry’s in Birmingham and I instantly settled for a beautiful peach satin and a gorgeous ivory georgette for a flowing skirt. We were searching for a lace for the bodice and we’d both spotted a lace with gold sparkles on but we had both thought the other wouldn’t like it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it though and when I plucked up the courage to show it to Christine I was relieved she loved it too! We held fire on final fittings as I was hoping to lose some weight before the wedding but things didn’t quite go according to plan.
About 4 months before the wedding I went through a mental breakdown suffering from severe anxiety and depression. The anti-depressants I was prescribed caused me to put on weight and I began to dread having to put on a dress and try to look beautiful. Christine was nothing but supportive and worked with me every step of the way to make a dress that made me feel incredible about myself and confident in front of all our guests and cameras. Our last fitting was a week before the wedding and I have no idea how she did it! She even made me a little card with all the fabrics from my dress to cherish forever.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Pete wanted to choose his suit himself and he modelled it on what I had drawn for our invites. We went to John Lewis and tried on lots of different suit combinations before settling on a Reiss linen jacket coupled with John Lewis trousers and waistcoat, a Ted Baker shirt and a peach tie from ASOS.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Our ceremony was conducted by my childhood neighbour and close family friend Debbie who is also a registrar. It made the ceremony so much more personal to us and we both couldn’t stop crying and smiling throughout.
We asked our mums to do a reading each and finding something that was personal to us was surprisingly difficult. When we found ‘He Isn’t Perfect’ by Bob Marley it clicked that Pete’s Mum should give me advice and my Mum should advise Pete. Mum wanted something short and sweet so Ogden Nash’s ‘A Word To Husbands’ was ideal. I used to sing with my bridesmaid Agi when we were at school together so I know she had to sing at our wedding. Together we shared ideas before settling on I Found You by Alabama Shakes, which still makes me cry whenever I hear it.
We knew we wanted to write our own vows for the ring exchange to make them personal for us so we sat down and asked what we wanted from each other in our marriage. This then led me writing Pete’s vows, and Pete mine. Neither of us made it through without crying and it made it all the more special for us.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I started with just two bridesmaids, my maid of honour was my closest friend Joanna who I met at Uni and was such a massive part of our lives throughout our relationship. My other bridesmaid was Agi who grew up just around the corner from me and I’ve known for the past 20 years. Lizzie was a late addition after she did such an incredible job of organising my hen do and giving us nothing but love and support in our wedding planning.
We all fell head over heels with Ghost’s elegant designs and beautiful dye to order fabric and settled on the Claudia gown which suited all of them despite their very different body shapes and heights. Lizzie found matching gold wedges from Steve Madden and I bought them all bits of jewellery over the year to match. All of our hair was done by a family friend who is a master of braiding and designed different styles for each of us. They looked absolutely stunning and were such an incredible support team when it came to surviving the stressful set up and making sure I had the best possible day.
THE FLOWERS | Flowers were the one job I knew I didn’t want to DIY as I knew I’d never do as good a job as a professional. We found Jenny Fleur through a local florist supplier who recommended her natural informal style and I knew she was on the same page from the minute we started talking. For my bouquet I wanted an explosion of flowers in shades of white, peach and green to complement our colour scheme with peonies and lots of foliage. Jenny took this brief and created something truly stunning. She suggested astilbe for the bridesmaids with flowing ribbons which was perfect for their dresses and unlike anything I’d seen before.
For our centrepieces I had an idea of using little wooden houses my Dad had made to hold candles in. When Pete and I were living apart I’d made him a sign saying “home is wherever I’m with you” so these little houses seemed perfect. My dad made little mounds for the houses to sit on and Jenny the filled the chimneys with flowers.
Keeping in theme with the wood of the houses and the yurt my Dad also made three giant test tube chandeliers out of branches from his garden and my Mum and Sister in Law filled them with foraged wild flowers and foliage to hang in the yurt.
THE CAKE | I’ve always loved baking so making my own cake was important to me. I made over 200 sugar flowers and leaves which I wove into 2 wreaths. I then wrapped these around a three tier cake of carrot cake (my favourite), mint choc chip (Pete’s favourite) and Victoria sponge. One of my friends then painted watercolour foliage on the middle layer and we topped it with personalised Lego figurines.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We found Jess through a recommendation from a friend and as soon as we saw her portfolio we knew we had to have her. We loved her natural style and how she used light to bring warmth and sunshine to every shot. We booked Jess for a family shoot and an engagement shoot before the wedding so by the time we reached our big day she felt like one of the family. Jess and her partner Rob bought an amazing energy with them and the photos they captured have immortalised some of our most cherished memories of the day. Every time I look at our album I see more moments I would have forgotten if she hadn’t captured them. She and Rob saw the wedding through our eyes and we will be eternally grateful for the hard work and passion she poured into every shot.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Every detail and decoration was done either by us or family and friends and was a complete labour of love. There were moments when I was painting my 100th place card holder or suffered yet another glue gun burn where I questioned my choices but it totally paid off in the end. I became completely obsessed with ribbon and green paper, especially when I found a local supplier of every shade of ribbon under the rainbow! We made ribbon wands for all of our guests, sewed about 10km of ribbon garlands, cut out over 1000 paper flowers, cut out thousands of circles to make 3km of paper garlands and 50 paper pinwheels.
Pete and his dad made garden games for our guests to enjoy including giant Kerplunk and corn toss – our favourite game from our travels. He also created our festoon lighting by hand soldering 1000 ping pong balls (that came individually wrapped!) onto fairy lights and our light up bar sign. On top of this he hand-made every table sign and place card holder which I then painted. I designed all our stationery including our invites and taught myself calligraphy for our invitations, table numbers, table plan, signs and place cards. I also concocted our cocktail menu as well as making lots of flavoured gins over the year before. My mum hand dried all of our petal confetti, my brother made our bar, Pete’s sister did my make up, my Dad lit the yurt, the band were friends from school, my friend made my wedding band and our fireworks were even provided by friends of Pete’s from the firework shop he volunteers at in his spare time.
THE HONEYMOON | I couldn’t face planning a wedding and a massive honeymoon so we booked a week in Amsterdam to tide us over until next year. I’m so glad we went away to enjoy the post wedding high together away from normality – even if we were both completely exhausted. We plan to go to New Zealand or America next year for a new adventure.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Our favourite part for the both of us was the ceremony. As soon as I saw Pete he was bouncing up and down with excitement and crying at the same time and I knew this was going to stay with me for the rest of my life. When I walked down the staircase I was overwhelmed with happiness and I couldn’t stop smiling (or crying) for the rest of the day.
My most memorable moment, after the ceremony, would be my brother’s speech. Both my parents weren’t comfortable speaking publicly so my brother volunteered to speak. His speech bought me to tears from laughing and was so perfect. What made it even special was he asked me to return the favour at his wedding 2 months later. The whole wedding experience bought me so much closer to my family and strengthened bonds that had weakened over time.
Pete’s favourite moment was the hog roast and my face when I saw the surprise bouncy castle.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Do whatever makes you both happy and try not to lose sight of why you are getting married. There’s so much pressure on couples to have the “perfect” day it’s difficult to find the confidence to make your own mark on what should be YOUR day. Brides are constantly told how they have to look and even feel on their wedding day and fighting that pressure is increasingly hard. Just try and remind yourself why you love and want to marry each other and hold onto that right up to your wedding day. At the end of the day the most important thing is you are marrying the love of your life, the rest is just the icing in the cake.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Jessica Raphael
Yurts | Cheltenham Yurt Company
Entertainment | Second Line
Flowers | Jenny Fleur
Ribbon supplies | Margaret Fox Floral Crafts
Engagement ring | PenelliBelle
Bouncy Castle | BBC Inflatables
Transport | Vale VW Wedding Hire
Brides dress | Custom made by Step-Mum, materials from Barry’s
Bridesmaids Dresses | Ghost
Groomsmen | ties from ASOS
Decorations | All work of the bride and groom Tili DIY
Bar | Edward Gemson
Chairs | Mudway Workman
Beauty | Make up done by sister in law, nails by Tonic Broadway
Necklace | Alex Monroe
Shoes | Rachel Simpson Shoes
Bridesmaids bracelets | Accessorize
Bridesmaids necklaces | ASOS
Bridesmaids shoes | Steve Madden
Oh what fun.
Many thanks to Frances and Peter for sharing their beautiful nuptials with us today xo Lou