By Rachel Harrison
You are going to LOVE the opulent and eccentric nuptials we have for you today. WWW readers Matthew and Francesca wed on the 30th September 2017 at Buckland House in Devon and their day was a riot of berry tones and personality, with some help from gold animals, lawn flamingos and gorgeous flowers and foliage.
This rock n’ roll pair wanted a day that truly reflected them and my word, has got it style in spades. Francesca and Matthew didn’t want to rely on fine weather and being outdoors and this really is a master-class in styling an indoor wedding. The dark candles, gold animals and stacks of books create just a brilliant look, a real feast for your eyes!
Francesca didn’t want to spend a fortune on a dress she would only wear for one day, and after some online hunting settled on this beauty from Boohoo, what a find! Then we have Matthew, what a fantastically dapper groom. I’m a huge fan of the gold jacke,t which was a serendipitously discovered!
Some of my favourite images from this wedding are the ones involving smoke grenades. They are just so effective and amazingly captured by Matt Austin Images. Thank you for sharing these brilliant photos with us.
THE PROPOSAL | It was a cold, wet dark evening in 2015, two days before Christmas, and I was forced against my will to attend a screening of Krampus at the cinema with a big group of mates, despite being horrendously ill with a seasonal cold. I was feverish, wheezing, super ill, wearing a onesie, and I really didn’t want to go: but there I was. I was reluctantly dragged down to the screen room and plonked myself in the far row of all my friends so as not to spread my cold. Suddenly, out of the Dolby Surround Sound during the adverts, I hear a familiar voice and then my face appears on the huge cinema screen…… Then this happened….. (video of proposal).
Matt had paid for a slot in the advertising section before the film began, and had made a video to play out his proposal. He come up the aisle, also dressed in a onesie and with a bunch of ridiculous flashing fairy lights wrapped around him. It was hilarious!
THE VISION | These days you can really have your wedding exactly how you want it and create something unique to you as a couple. Whist we were inspired by others who had strayed from the norms and styled their weddings in an original way, we actually found it difficult to do something kooky which hadn’t already felt like it has become overdone by others. In the end, we just tried to focus on what was important to us as we wanted the event to be a reflection of our characters. We chose rich, opulent berry tones, golds, and moody autumn greenery as the focus for the style of the décor, and made sure there was a twist of fun too (like gold glitter unicorn favours!).
Being surrounded by valued close friends and family was mega important. The idea of eloping just didn’t interest us at all, as we personally feel it’s vital to have those closest to you in such important moments in life. With that in mind we decided early on to have a small intimate ceremony and meal, followed by a big wild evening reception with everyone else (about 110 in total)!
We wanted to retain some traditional aspects of a wedding like speeches, the first dance (which we surprised everyone with by using a dance-dance matt and game!) and a three course meal, but decided to skip things that didn’t excite us; like the receiving line, and changing my surname (no need!). We also wanted to jazz up some of the traditions – for example, at one point we seriously researched the logistics of cutting the cake with a chainsaw!
THE PLANNING PROCESS | The most important point of our wedding planning was the venue which we wanted to book before all else. In England, you just cannot rely on the weather, so we were very keen to have a venue which was all about the interior.
After securing a venue, the rest was pretty easy. We booked a registrar, two local bands, an amazing silhouette artist, and finalised the guest lists. We even wrote, directed and filmed our save-the-date video to save on paper! (you can watch this here if you want! (First video). I managed to find my dress for £40 on Boohoo and teamed it with a pair of Irregular Choice heels and a custom belt. Matt bought himself a flamboyant gold jacket to get married in – I wouldn’t have expected anything else!
The biggest headache was the food. We were told so many times how we could ‘just get a hog roast’ or ‘have a cheap buffet, nobody will notice’ but that wasn’t us. We are real foodies and one thing we always notice at events is how good the food is. Quote after quote came back MASSIVE and we just couldn’t stump up that much money without losing other things entirely! It was also very important to us that the companies we chose used as much local, sustainable, and ethical produce as possible, and also didn’t use palm oil. We were about to lose all hope when along came Pickle Shack.
They instantly impressed us and we discovered that they ticked every box we had for catering, including budget. Weddings aren’t always the easiest of places to be eco-friendly, but catering was one of the areas we felt we could really make a statement with our choices. Although neither of us are vegetarian, we eat very little meat for ethical, environmental, and health purposes. We were not confident enough to make our whole wedding veggie but Pickle Shack worked with us to create amazing all-vegetarian canapés, starters and dessert choices. We had meat choices for the mains, but also created a delicious vegetation option in the hopes that the carnivores would be tempted to choose it. This meant we did our part to cut down on meat related negatives whilst still not imposing our views on our guests.
Other areas we aimed to be eco minded with, were:
Parts of the brides outfit were preloved
Our bands were local
The flowers and foliage were locally grown and in season
We asked that people who wished to bring confetti made sure it was natural and biodegradable
Lots of the decorations were homemade and reusable
Friends and family chipped in with skills and favours
Francesca’s makeup was ethical and cruelty free
We asked not to be bought gifts to reduce waste
The invitations are printed on 100% recycled paper
Keeping the ceremony and the reception in one place was great, as it reduced transport needs. Our ‘save-the-date’ was in video form to save paper. Our wedding website saved a lot of paper inserts being added to our postal invitations, by centering all possible information in one place.
We then started to look for the evening vendors and opted for The Gourmet Street Kitchen who serve an amazing selection of creative gourmet mac n cheese pots out of their beautiful gazebo! They are excellent value, eco minded (biodegradable food pots etc), and went down very well with our guests. We had a similar dessert truck booked who unfortunately had to drop out and so ended up asking some guests if they wouldn’t mind bringing the desserts as a wedding gift. They enthusiastically agreed and ending up bringing a vast supply of cakes and desserts which we set up on a big table for people to help themselves. It ended up being a great way to add a more personal touch to our event, and we were incredibly grateful.
BUDGET | £15,000 max (we came in under).
THE VENUE | We accidentally found Buckland House while researching rentable holiday homes! It could sleep 30 of our guests, was exclusively yours for the entire weekend, had no curfew, no corkage, and had a wedding licence too. It meant we could style our wedding exactly how we wanted it, and have our ceremony and reception all in one place, cutting out transportation: A shabby chic DIY dream! The moment I saw photos, I fell in love and made arrangements to view it immediately. Suffice to say, the visit blew us away! It was like being in a National Trust house but with zero restrictions. After a bit of haggling (never be afraid to haggle) we booked it. The interior space was huge and it was so impressive that not a lot of decoration was needed. There was plenty of room should the weather be horrible all weekend (which it was, although thankfully we had a few breaks in the rain and could get out for photos). It is also surrounded by 280 acres of gorgeous grounds (some of which we adorned with a flock of retro lawn flamingos!), so had the weather ended up being amazing then it would have been an added bonus rather the focus of our day.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | At first, I started off with a healthy budget for my dress, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to slash our budget halfway through the planning process (absolute nightmare!!). I didn’t have a particular style in mind. All I knew was that I wanted one with long sleeves, and I did not want one which was big and puffy! I found a gold star headpiece on eBay, and some blue pop socks to go with some second hand Irregular Choice shoes. In the end, I had £100 to find a dress and ended up purchasing it from Boohoo.com, of all places.
FINDING THE DRESS | After a string of unsuccessful dress hunting days in wedding shops, I turned to the internet. I spotted the beautiful Boutique Lia Sweetheart lace dress on Boohoo’s website and loved the way it looked. It was a simple lace maxi dress, with long sleeves and a bohemian vibe so I decided to take a chance and ordered it. It arrived and I was super happy with it, especially as it only cost me £40!!! Paired with a custom belt, and those Irregular Choice ‘Abigail’s Third Party’ heels, it looked every bit wedding worthy, and I was thrilled by how it served me for the day. For a highstreet dress, it did a fantastic job!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Matt did not want a ‘normal’ suit. It would not have fitted the vibe of the party, and it is very much not his style! He is the drummer of the band The Joy Formidable, and is quite the rock star! He is always very flamboyant when it comes to crazy shirts and trousers on stage, so wanted to reflect this with his wedding day attire. He ended up with a bonkers gold jacket, black trousers, maroon braces and a bow tie. We were wandering through Exeter city centre one day and popped into Moss Brothers to check their lines. On the sale rail, he spotted something gold and sparkly and made a bee line to root it out of the rack! It turned out to be a custom made one off which the original customer no longer wanted and it was Matt’s size!! He was thrilled!
On the wedding day itself I left a little surprise in his room in the form of a pair of socks to finish his outfit. They had “In case you get cold feet” on them.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | While our guests were entering the room, we had a fab John Williams film score montage playing in the background. Not only was it good classical style music, but guests could entertain themselves while waiting by recognising the famous movie tracks from Jurassic Park, Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones and much more!
I entered the ceremony room to The Vespers’ cover of “All I Want Is You” by Barry Polisar, we signed the register to “Fresh Feeling” by Eels, and we left as a married couple to the track “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals!
Matt’s mother read a slightly edited version of A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton during the ceremony, and we wrote our own vows to say to each other.
Our first dance was playing (and losing hahahah!) on a dance dance game to Danger High Voltage by Electric Six
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | There were no bridesmaids, per se! We called them ‘Matrimony Homies’ because we have an eclectic mix of close friends from all genders, so didn’t feel the terms ‘bridesmaids and groomsmen’ really fit! For example, the best ‘man’ was a woman! However, they helped with all the tasks associated with those traditional roles – They organised the hen/stags, came and helped to decorate, move furniture, help us get ready, supervised parking, arranged confetti, seated people, directed guests, took video footage, kept an eye on things, MCed the whole day, and assisted us for the weekend. They were amazing! We didn’t have the budget for all their attire, and so gave them free rein to wear whatever they felt comfortable in. Unbeknown to us they all made the effect to loosely match their attire and bought matching corsages and boutonnières. It was a super lovely surprise.
THE FLOWERS | From the beginning, it was clear that neither of us were too bothered by floral based decorations, especially considering the prices we were being quoted. So we decided to make our own displays using lots of locally gathered green vegetation (Buckland gave us permission to take whatever we wanted from their land) and a few bunches of reduced flowers from the local Lidl the day before. Along with the lovely country vegetation, we gathered up some really big old books from around the venue, stacked them onto the ends of the trestle tables and popped our gold animal centrepieces on top of them. Piles of seasonal fruits heaped into glass bowls finished the display. The tables looked amazing: dark, rich and opulent with a perfect candle light glow and were one of my favourite aspects of the day.
On the day itself, my bouquet was also pretty unique. I sent out a small insert to a few guests with their invitations asking them to take part in our day by bring a single flower which reminded them of me. The idea being, that as I walked down the aisle towards my new husband, I would collect the flowers from these guests thereby making a completely personal bouquet. This proved astonishingly popular and the variety of flowers I was given was genuinely beautiful.
THE CAKE | The cake was kindly home made for us by a close family friend called Lisa. She took on board our preferences and made a beautiful three tiered, rich madeira naked wedding cake, with a barely-there wrap of butter cream. She covered it in the same sort of berries, fruits and florals which we had in the rest of our décor and topped it with gold chameleon and fox cake toppers which we had made previously. It was absolutely delicious!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Photography was something we wanted to get right, and were keen to avoid the light and airy photography normally associated with weddings. With this in mind, we hired a freelance photographer for whom wedding photography was only a very small part of his everyday work so he brought something edgy to our images. Matt Austin and his sidekick Rob were amazing on the day, and captured some brilliant shots of in his signature detailed, dark and vibrant style. We even went off into the fields and experimented with some coloured smoke bombs, which was a lot of fun! The photographer was the third most expensive part of our budget, but we were keen not to skimp on it as it was such an important ongoing memory of the whirlwind that is your wedding day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | It was completely DIY! Matt and I organised to turn up at Buckland a day before all our guests were due to arrive. We loaded up a hired van full of wedding stuff and set to work rearranging and decorating the entire venue alone. We wanted our Matrimony Homies, family, and house guests to be met with a whimsical venue already decorated so they didn’t have to do anything to help us except on the actual day itself. It was a very good job that we could get into the venue early because we were up until the small hours working like crazy people, and up mega early the next day trying to do as much as possible before the weekend guests arrived at 4pm!! In the end, some people ended up turning up earlier and giving us a hand when we realised it was going to take us MUCH longer than we imagined to set up. Thankfully Buckland House is so gorgeous, it didn’t need much dressing, but you’d be surprised how long bunting, lights and sound systems take to put up! We got there in the end!
Personal input into our day from our friends and family was super important and there were plenty of things which our talented circle of friends and family chipped in with. We have a website designer buddy who made our wonderful wedding website and invitation suite as a gift. We also asked him to design our RSVPs in the shape of bunting, which we then asked everyone to draw on when they posted them back. The result was an absolutely hilarious set of decorative bunting which caused a lot of conversation when our guests finally saw them all! A few even required us to make a ‘censored’ cover to put on top of them to avoid offence!!
A good friend has a drone which he used to capture video and photo throughout the day. A close family friend offered to make our beautiful and delicious wedding cake, and also helped to make miles of bunting which we were really grateful for. My Italian mother created our wedding favours which added a family tradition to our day. On the day after the wedding, she even ran a hilarious pasta making class with our houseguests and we all made, cooked, and ate it together for lunch!
Matt and his father both work in entertainment, so were able to provide everything we needed for a fun photo booth, the PA system, and video diary room where guests left recorded messages. A cousin is a hairdresser and offered to do the bride’s hair. The bride’s father handmade loads of decorative things for the wedding.
Our tables ended up looking incredible. We found statues of our favourite animals and sprayed them gold, while also sourcing gold table runners, and collecting as many brassy coloured vintage candle sticks as we could find. We ordered locally made candles in dark purple, and also collected loads of coloured glass jars and bowls from charity shops to decorate the tables. We bought a pile of old craft grade vinyl and made amazing placemats from them by gluing on gold doilies. I gold dipped 50 pheasant feathers, and had everyone’s names cut from wood and painted gold. We had our own sweetheart table to make the seating arrangements less formal.
THE HONEYMOON | Due to Matt’s career, he and his band had a gig in Hawaii just shy of a year BEFORE our wedding day. He spontaneously flew me out there for a week (I have a very flexible and understanding boss!) and we called it our ‘practice honeymoon’. It was absolutely amazing, because after Matt finished his show he was then off work, which meant we were able to spend the next five days doing exactly as we wanted and had the best time exploring, snorkelling, sightseeing, fine dining, and spending days on the Waikiki beaches.
After the wedding, budgets were tight and we almost didn’t go away at all. We are both big travellers and have covered a lot of the planet, so for a mini-moon we decided to do a type of holiday we’d never tried before – a cheap all-inclusive package deal to Magaluf for five days!! It was insane, and we actually ended up having a brilliant time!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | The wedding weekend itself was a complete buzz. We had a casual get-together in Buckland on the night before in the form of a onesie party. We loved the vibe it set for the next day, because the guests got to meet each other and mingle over a large vat of chilli and some movies on a big projector. We all lounged around dressed in comic onesies (including Matt’s 80 year old grandma), drank a lot of alcohol, and even played a horrendous version of Cards Against Humanity designed for weddings! It was the perfect ice breaker and also allowed us to really catch up with a portion of our guests, which meant less pressure to circulate the next day.
It was wonderful that Matt’s other bandmates were able to fly back to the UK to attend, along with other guests from all over the globe. It was very humbling to have them come from so far. The bass player even had a rather drunken waltz with the life-sized cardboard cutout of Nicolas Cage!
Our Matrimony Homies had secretly planned a brilliant surprise too. When were out doing the official group photos, they put on these stupid t-shirts with our faces on them and the letters to spell FRATHEW (our combined names) and our wedding date. They ran out in formation while our backs were turned and photobombed the family photo! It was hilarious! All in all, we look back at our wedding weekend and our faces light up with huge smiles. We were surrounded by awesome people, in an amazing venue, with excellent food, great music, with personally written vows to each other, and all captured in brilliant everlasting images.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Our biggest bit of advice would be not to skimp on your photographer. If you can stretch, consider a videographer too. We could not afford one after our budget had to be slashed partway through planning, and so we provided cameras and go-pros to our guests for them to capture footage which we hoped to use to make our own video. Unfortunately, most of the footage was unusable, so fork out for a professional to film your special day if you can. There are some super talented people out there these days who will create something really beautiful to keep forever.
The other advice is to just go with your gut when it comes to doing what YOU want to do. For example, we did not want any children at the wedding, and were not afraid to make that clear on our invites. Some people will give you grief for that, but at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be an event to celebrate you and your partner and if you want that to be an adult occasion, then you stand firm on that!
Don’t be afraid to try high street shops and the internet for your wedding attire! It can sometimes really pay off.
Set up a wedding website. It is very much an online world these days. Matt and I met online, and our first formative conversations were all via email. Wedding websites save so much time, paper, and answering of questions because all the info your guests could possibly need is there! Also consider a social network hashtag because they are a fabulous way of bringing all aspects of social media activity into one convenient place. Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that aggregates all of the posts with your unique hashtagged keyword in real-time. Essentially, it makes the content of those post accessible to all people involved with your wedding as a continuous newsfeed of the day’s events. If your guests should want to post anything about your day onto sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you can ask them to include your hashtag to all their content so that once the weekend is over, you can look back through all those comments and photos in one place and really see the story of the day through their eyes. Also, family and friends who cannot attend your wedding can see all the cool stuff happening and get involved with the content, which makes for some brilliant reading once the wedding is all over. Think of it as a modern digital guestbook that you can look back on with just a click.
If you are going down the DIY wedding route, and someone offers to help – ACCEPT IT!
Also, never be scared to haggle with your vendors!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Matt Austin Images
Brides Gown | The ‘Boutique Lia’ sweetheart dress by Boohoo
Embroidery on bride’s jacket | Silverclock Threads
Wedding rings | Handmade by the couple for each other at Carole Allen Jewellery
Shoes | Irregular Choice
Veil/Headpiece | eBay
Venue | Buckland House, Devon
Candles | St Eval Candle Company
Gold place names | Angelic Wedding
Candle sticks and glassware | Collected from charity shops all over South Devon.
Cake Makers | Lisa Barton (Family friend) Wedding ‘cheese cake’ by The Cheese Press
Bar | Motion Pitchers
Stationery | Designed by David Burbury, printed via Vistaprint
Francesca and Matthew, what an epic day, thank you so much for letting us share in your opulent nuptials! Rachel x
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