I was absolutely blown away by the end result of WWW readers Rebecca & Owen’s DIY efforts and I really think you will be too! This vintage and creative celebration features a completely transformed village hall, all realised due to lots of hard work by the couple, their family and friends. Rebecca and Owen tied the knot on 27th July 2019 in a church ceremony followed by a train ride then onto Willingale Village Hall for their evening reception.
Thanks must go to Photographer Liam Gillan for sharing with us such a gorgeous record of the fruits of their labour! Thank you Liam.
I’m almost don’t know where to start with all the beautiful details! From the florals to the signage, draping and all the cute touches in between, make sure you don’t miss a thing!
We met at our very first job in a greeting card shop when we were just 17 years old (we are both now 30!).
After a couple of years of being together, we visited the wonderful Greek island of Kefalonia and rented a little boat in search of a beach to spend a few hours. We set sail when the waves were really choppy and nearly had to turn back it was so windy! We eventually arrived at a completely secluded cove, where the only inhabitant was a little goat. It was a complete surprise when Owen got down on one knee and really special being a moment just for us.
We had an unintentionally really long engagement, but it ended up for the best as we managed to save up for our little cottage together and do a bit of travelling, then focusing on saving up for our wedding!
We are both creative people and had a million ideas – but at the core of our vision was all of our family and friends having FUN. We wanted a memorable ceremony and a really unique day. We live on the edge of Epping forest, so we wanted to bring the forest into our day wherever possible too.
The Planning Process
We were quite meticulous planners, we had a spreadsheet for everything, had DIY nights in with our wonderful friends and we started sourcing and making some of the decorations a year in advance! The planning process was a lot of fun, but as we had three venues to decorate, with the main reception venue being a village hall which required absolutely everything hired in, it felt very daunting at first.
As I’m sure everyone does, we went over budget despite every effort! We only ended up about 10% over and owe it to our family and friends helping us out and allowing us to do everything that we could do without spending the earth. We are eternally grateful for their help and support and the preparation days are fond memories!
We didn’t make things easy for ourselves in having three venues! We got married at the beautiful St John’s Church in Epping. We had bubbles and scones and a train ride on the Ongar Epping Railway, then finally the evening reception at the lovely Willingale Village Hall.
It took us quite a while to find our venues, we were very picky, wanting a specific venue layout, enough time to set up the previous day and somewhere very affordable but also very memorable!
We wanted our day to feel unique, which is where the wonderful Epping Ongar Railway came into play. We actually stumbled upon the railway after coming back from an unsuccessful viewing of a wedding venue. There was a train soon to depart so we decided to buy a couple of tickets and enjoy a journey on one of their vintage carriages and take in the beautiful scenic views – we absolutely loved it and were thrilled when the Epping Ongar team said we could hire the carriages out on our wedding day!
After the journey on the Ongar Epping Railway, our guests all jumped on our hired Routemaster bus to the local Willingale Village Hall in Ongar which was the perfect space to host our big party, featuring a pie and mash dinner, our amazing wedding band “Jukerox” and a DIY campervan photo booth.
We had the wonderful hair stylist Kirsty Alger for myself, my bridesmaids and mother of the bride’s hair. It was a relaxed morning in our tiny little cottage and Kirsty did an amazing job!
I’m allergic to quite a lot of make-up so felt more comfortable doing my own, as did my mum/bridesmaids.
Your Outfits & Accessories
My dress was originally going to be made by my mum who used to make wedding dresses for a living (including her own!). However, we went to a wedding dress shop for some inspiration (the lovely Whyte Weddings in Worthing) and after trying on several dresses that were not quite right, my sister pointed at an unusual dress on a mannequin that I hadn’t even noticed, by designer Maggie Soterro. I had never considered a blush or A-line dress, but as soon a I tried it on I just knew, my mum and sister had tears in their eyes and we all agreed it was “the one!”
Owen found his suit soon after we booked our venue, a lovely linen navy three piece suit with white speckles from Tk Maxx! If you’re not too fussed on price or matching suits, there’s quite a lot of unique suits on offer. Owen’s suit was £150 including white shirt with cuff links (a perfect fit)
We knew we wanted floor length grey dresses for the bridesmaids and found the most gorgeous quality and style dress from ever-pretty.co.uk. It felt like a bit of a risk purchasing dresses from an online shop based in Asia that we couldn’t see in advance and could be tricky to return if we needed to, but I wasn’t too worried as we left enough time for this. The dresses turned up and fit each of the bridesmaids perfectly other than the length needing taking up, they looked stunning!
We wanted the groomsmen to feel comfortable and didn’t want anything too formal – so the groomsmen wore three piece navy suits that they luckily already had or were happy to invest in. We then bought matching ties, pocket squares and buttonholes to tie everyone together, whilst all looking unique!
We were wowed by Aimee at Abridge florist as soon as we got in touch with an enquiry. We wanted to go to local vendors as much as possible, and as soon as we shared a mood board of what we wanted, Aimee came back with some great suggestions and options that bowled us over. Our bouquets and buttonholes were stunning.
We also knew we wanted our venue to be filled with flower arrangements but decided the only way we could afford to fill the three venues with these was to take on the venue flower arrangements ourselves! I read up on foliage, flower care and the best time to order. It was one of the most exciting things, having the abundance of flowers and foliage delivered a couple of days before the wedding, the smell was AMAZING! But very daunting, our house looked like a florist..
We bought a lot of greenery for our table runners (eucalyptus and ruscus) and used a variety of wild & unique flowers to create our pew ends, as well as filling vintage tins for the railway train for that really retro feel.
Our wonderful friends and family helped us with the flower arrangements in the days running up to the wedding and we were lucky that despite these falling on the hottest days of the year, the arrangements survived and stayed perfect!
As soon as we got back from our overnight stay, we packaged up my bouquet and sent it to Saffron Alchemy London to be preserved into individual keepsakes for the bridal party, so the gorgeous flowers in my bouquet will always last!
The Readings & Music
Owen is a musician so all of the music throughout the day was super important to us. We were really lucky when our friend Omid offered to play one of our favourite songs on the grand piano “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve for the Bride/Bridesmaids walk down the aisle. We also sang “Say a little Prayer” in the church as an alternative to a hymn which was a lot of fun! We had “Heroes” by David Bowie play when we signed the register. It felt really unique and personal to have songs in our ceremony that meant so much to us!
Debbie, our lovely mother of the groom took on the massive challenge of making our amazing four tiered wedding cake. She’d seen a photo on Pinterest of a cake that we loved and replicated it, making hundreds of handmade icing roses and adding special touches (it featured a beautiful wooden sculpture we already had in our home as a cake topper).
We met the amazing Liam Gillan around nine months before our big day and instantly knew that we wanted him to document our wedding! Having an engagement shoot really helped us get used to being photographed and also learn about how Liam worked, his super laid back nature, creativity and passion instantly put us at ease.
On our wedding day Liam was always at every important moment, whilst being discreet and non-invasive. All of our friends loved him!
We are absolutely thrilled with our photos that are both cinematic and artistic, whilst also capturing all of the amazing candid moments we hoped for.
The Details & Décor
Over the year lead up we were planning our wedding, we sourced over 30 vintage tins and vases for the flower arrangements on the train. We also made metres and metres of bunting and handmade faux flower garlands with help from friends and family during “DIY nights”
To add to the vintage theme on the railway, we also had retro travel posters printed for all of the places we’ve travelled to over the years. It added a personal touch that also added to the vintage feel of the train carriages.
We used a very cheap garden arch from ebay (around £10) and added hundreds of faux flowers to it for the entrance of the village hall, as well as hanging from it some vintage lampshades we found at a boot sale.
One cheeky DIY tip would be to try using blu tacked individual name tags on a glass frame for your table plan. No matter how much you prepare, your guest list can change days before! Save the drama and opt for something that allows for those last minute changes. It was a blessing and cost effective.
We wanted to visit somewhere adventurous, picturesque and not too touristy, which perfectly sums up our honeymoon destination, Corsica! We absolutely loved the untouched nature and charming towns to explore and booked a bunch of unique Airbnbs a few months in advance. A big highlight was a week’s stay in a treehouse in the mountains!
–Owen rushed to say “I will” before the vicar had finished his sentence…
-Our Best Man’s Speech featuring a rap to “Gangster’s Paradise
-All our guests singing in a prosecco-fueled sing-a-long on the railway train
-A 100+ people dance circle ever featuring almost every attending guest…
Advice For Other Couples
This advice was given to us prior to our wedding and I couldn’t agree with it more….
Don’t sweat the little things.
Really. It rained so much that we couldn’t use any of the garden games that we had spent weeks making, we forgot about things we’d crafted or ordered and found them hidden in boxes when we cleared up, completely unused. We didn’t cut our cake until 10.30 because our guests were all having such a good time dancing to the band! Truth is, no one really cares about the minor details. Ultimately everyone that is there is rooting for you to have the best day of your life, so if it rains, or something else doesn’t go to plan, embrace it.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Photographer Liam Gillan
London Bus Company
Saffron Alchemy London
Wow! I’m so impressed with all your hardwork, the DIY certainly paid off! Thank you so much for sharing everything with us. Rachel x