Today’s couple were certainly not afraid of a bit of hard work when it came to planning their wedding. WWW readers Elizabeth and Tom tied the knot at their local church on 12th August 2017 and hosted their reception in a gorgeous Sperry tent on a nearby farm. They did an incredible amount of DIY including floral arrangements and all the brilliant decorative touches. They even put together the antipasto boards together themselves the day before the wedding!
Emilie May, thank you so much for these wonderful images. We’re so happy to be sharing these joyful captures!
I adore Elizabeth’s super stylish Enzoani gown, doesn’t it suit her down to the ground? Tom decided that their wedding was certainly a good opportunity to wear tails and he doesn’t disappoint, looking incredibly dapper.
As a huge fan of Italian food, I’m very jealous of the delicious spreads their guests were treated to on the day. The cake was a joint effort between the two Mums – isn’t that just fab? Make sure you take in all the lovely details of this one. Our pair worked incredibly hard and it really paid off.
Completely spontaneous. We were just at home feeling pretty tired and hungover the day after a big garden party we throw every year called GardenFest. It came as such a big surprise (to me and to Tom even though he was doing the proposing!) Lots of tears and a hasty phone call to my dad to check he didn’t mind!!!
Soon after we got engaged we went on holiday to Morocco which gave us lots of time to sit in the sun and think about what we wanted the day to be like. We were both brought up going to church and our families are quite religious so anything but a church for the ceremony wouldn’t have felt right for either of us- easy decision. Earlier in the summer we had gone to Tom’s cousin’s wedding and had an absolutely wonderful day. She had the reception in a tipi sort of tent with a really relaxed fun vibe, we had both thought we’d like our day to have this feel and loved the idea of having lots of time outside and the look of the tipis. The food had to be our favourite – Italian!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES
My dress was Harlem by Enzoani. It was so beautiful and had a lot of detail on so I kept the accessories minimal and special . I wore a pearl pendant belonging to my grandma who had passed away the year we got married and pearl studs to match. I wore my mum’s Laura Ashley veil which I loved and matched perfectly with my dress. I wore nude heels for the service from Kurt Geiger and changed into sparkly sandals from ASOS in the evening for boogying and wandering in fields.
FINDING THE DRESS
I spent a brilliant day trying on dresses in Birmingham organised by my lovely bridesmaids, with my parents and bridesmaids in the January after we got engaged. I tried to keep an open mind and my bridesmaids encouraged me to try on every different style- I was surprised at how many I really liked. The second shop we went in was a beautiful old church where we sat on pews and sipped Prosecco while we browsed and tried on some gorgeous dresses. The one I chose I knew immediately I loved as everything I tried on afterwards didn’t feel as special. It got a tear or two from my bridesmaids and parents too!
Tom wanted something quite traditional and special and decided on tails (as when else do you get to wear them!?) We hired from Groom in Liverpool, who were excellent!!
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Lists lists lists! We googled “how to plan a wedding” and then wrote lists and timelines of all the individual jobs we needed to do to pull off the day we wanted. We went to one wedding fair (where we found our wonderful photographer) but otherwise most of the planning happened on our kitchen table with LOTS of coffee.
The other BIG planning day was the Papakata open day. We’d loved the look of their tipis online and went to see them in real life. The tipis were amazing but the moment we stepped into their gorgeous Sperry tent we knew that was the venue for us. The staff were so so helpful, enthusiastic and lovely and they had set up the tents with lovely decorations and lights that gave us lots of inspiration.
We kept all our plans a complete secret from everyone except our parents and brothers which made it extra exciting to show everyone what we had come up with on the day.
Our guestimate (before we’d done any actual googling) was about £12,000, it probably ended up being closer to £20,000. Worth every penny.
We LOVED our Sperry tent, it was beautifully light, bright, spacious and the festoon lighting gave it a really cool festival feeling at night. Although we were having an August wedding, Tom has the worst luck with weather, we 100% expected rain; we thought it was great that you could roll up the canvas sides of the Sperry so your guests could enjoy the views and outdoors feel without getting wet. (as it turned out it didn’t rain and we had to roll the sides open to let in a breeze!) We also really liked that the Sperry gave us complete flexibility and artistic licence to do our own thing for decoration, food, drinks; everything. A lovely blank canvas. (Although it did turn out to be quite work intensive booking everything separately) Everyone at Papakata was absolutely superb and we couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
We had decided to have the service at our local church (so close that I walked there in the morning) and so we set about finding a field close by. There weren’t any “official” wedding venues and as luck would have it a relative of a colleague of Tom’s mum (!) had a solution – they had a farm about a 10 minute drive away with a gorgeous field overlooking the Cheshire countryside where their daughter had got hitched the year before. They kindly agreed to let us pitch our tent there too! And when we went to visit the site we realised we’d already been in the field, walking up the public footpath alongside it! It was as though it was meant to be.
The bouquets and button holes were expertly and beautifully arranged by our local florist. I was amazed by them. We’d been inspired by wild and natural looking arrangements on Pinterest, and liked the idea of matching the look to the wild flowers in the surrounding fields. We also incorporated herbs into them which looked and smelled lovely and chose purples and whites.
The flowers for the church and reception we sourced from the Liverpool wholesale flower market (my dad and I went at the crack of dawn on the day before the wedding!) This was a really cost effective way of doing it and made sense for us as we wanted lots of natural looking jam jar arrangements on the long tables in the tent and on the end of the pews.
My Aunty is a keen gardener and flower arranger, she gave us lots of advice as to which lovely blooms to choose and kindly spent the day before the wedding (with the assistance of my bridesmaids and Mum) doing the arrangements. They looked absolutely lovely (and much better than if we’d done them ourselves!!) We’d ordered so many flowers that she was able to do some amazing large arrangements as well in crates that we put at the entrance to the tent, which was a real bonus as I had thought large arrangements like that were out of our price range!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR
DIY!!! We did most of this stuff ourselves and with the help of our families in the hectic days running up to the wedding. We made the invites and order of services. The Sperry tent looked so stunning on its own we didn’t really want to add too much else, the main decoration was the flowers and the festoon lighting. We painted signs and hand stamped name tags for the place settings. My mum made a biscotti for each person for their favour, which my brother and his partner patiently wrapped in cellophane the day before! The table names were recipes we’d collected on our travels and trips which we also stamped out. We collected hundreds of jars and decorated them with twine and ribbon for candles.
Both of our mums are brilliant bakers and teamed up to make a beautiful naked Victoria sponge tower with strawberry jam and buttercream, decorated with fruit and flowers. It was delicious and so pretty. We served it after the antipasto with coffee as a dessert.
THE READINGS & MUSIC
My brother is a professional singer and so it was lovely that he could perform during the service, beautifully accompanied by my Aunty on the piano. We loved involving our family in the day and it made it feel really personal. They chose Du Ring an Meinem Finger by Schumann and O Mistress Mine by John Jeffreys. Our hymns were Lord of all Hopefulness by Jan Struther and Love Divine, All Love Excelling by Charles Welsey.
Tom’s brother is a brilliant guitarist and he agreed to play as everyone arrived at the tent which set the reception off perfectly.
We chose three readings so that both our Mums and Tom’s dad were also involved in the service. (we let my dad off as he had his speech to do! ) We chose Corinthians 13:4-8, An extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare.
I chose my two best friends from university and we loved our bridesmaid days so much that we still have them now, 18 months after the wedding! It was really easy to find something they looked lovely in as they were so easy going about it. I ordered lovely long grey dresses (to co-ordinate with Tom’s waistcoat) with similar detailing to my dress from ASOS and they were perfect. Their shoes were from New Look, we needed a chunky heel for the grassy field!
We met Emilie May at a wedding fair in Manchester, we loved her beautiful natural shots and thought her style suited our day. She was so warm and friendly we booked her straight away which turned out to be a fantastic decision. We LOVE the photos, she was so easy going and unobtrusive during the day, and captured the feel brilliantly.
THE FOOD AND DRINK
We are both foodies- we spend so much time cooking together that this was a big thing for us. We wanted something really delicious and memorable. Italian is our absolute favourite and we loved the idea of having something quite informal; we decided on Italian antipasto sharing boards for the wedding breakfast. Having the Sperry Tent meant that we could source our own food and drink – one of the best jobs of the wedding. As we didn’t get married in Suffolk (where I grew up) we wanted to bring a little Suffolk to the wedding with some brilliant produce. Otherwise we tried to choose local or quality Italian products. Adnams provided us with some brilliant beers which we put in wheel barrows for guests to help themselves. Define Food and Wine found us some reasonable and delicious Italian wine; Sibiliano and Nero d’avolo to match with the food.
We found something special for the toasts; our first holiday was to Sorrento– where the Limencello is incredible. We found the shop we’d bought it from when we were there retracing our steps from the B & B on google street view and phoned them up to ship some across; that was a real taste of holiday. We ordered some excellent salami from Suffolk Salami for the sharing boards. The cheese, olives, tomatoes, pesto and meats for the boards we ordered direct from Italy, from a company called Salvo. (I’m so glad my brother talked me out of making the pesto myself for 118 guests!!) A local bakery called Devonshire bakery, did us an enormous batch of tasty focaccia bread. We made the boards ourselves from reclaimed floorboards and our families helped us to put the food on them the day before. We hired waitresses from Alices Vintage Tea Party who were absolutely excellent, they poured drinks, served food and generally made the day go so smoothly!! They thought of everything and we couldn’t have done it without them.
For the evening we had a pizza van from Pizza Peddlers from Liverpool- one of the highlights of the wedding for both of us- we have eaten a lot of pizza and theirs was one of the best- including those we’ve eaten in Italy! Their van looked awesome and they were so great to work with- Tom’s best man (who ate 7 pizzas!) loved them so much he’s booked them for his wedding this year.
Sunny and wonderful 10 days in Italy. We travelled to Bologna and Florence and then spent a few days relaxing in a vineyard in Tuscany.
It was a lovely moment to look at everyone enjoying their day once we’d sat down- we felt so happy with how it had turned out and seeing all our favourite people together was incredible. Thousands of pounds, hundreds of emails and hours of wedmin all felt so worth it!
The speeches were perfect.
We enjoyed our pizza together towards the end of the evening sat on our own on a hay bale.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
Don’t worry about other people or worry about small things!
Sign up your friends and family to help – they probably really want to and it makes the day really special.
Almost everyone that we told we were putting on the antipasto boards ourselves told us we were mad. But with our helpers the day before, the brilliant waitresses on the day and some excellent suppliers it worked really well, was completely delicious and different and probably saved us lots of money – so if you are thinking about doing it – go for it!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Emilie May Photography
Living Colour Flowers
Wow! Didn’t your hard work pay off?! Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous day with us Elizabeth and Tom. Rachel x