Q. What was the theme/style for your big day?
A. When we started planning our wedding we wanted to focus more on a feeling than a look. We wanted our day to be a celebration of love that all of our friends and family could be included in (for example, we had one friend perform the ceremony, and another host a pub quiz in the evening). Our theme was really about having a laid-back day filled with humour and fun (the way we want to continue our married life). We chose a vibrant colour palette of yellow, orange and turquoise to reflect this.
Q. What was most important to you when it came to tying the knot/celebrating your marriage?
A. Having fun and being silly together (it’s worked for us so far!) and making sure everyone else was relaxed. We didn’t want to feel too overwhelmed by the pressure of the day, we just wanted to have fun! It was really important that our day was entirely personalised, we even wrote the words for our ceremony to ensure it truly reflected our outlook on love and life.
Q. How did you choose your venue and suppliers?
A. We looked at different venues around London, but only felt a connection with those in our local area (our reception venue was our local pub, The Earl Haig Hall – an ex-legionnaires club in Crouch End. Our ceremony venue was Jacksons Lane, an arts/theatre venue in Highgate). We were also able to walk between our venues along the Parkland Walk nature reserve, giving everyone a chance to work off their lunch, ready for some dancing! This idea of keeping things local became a theme for us too, even more so when we found our amazing wedding photographer Jenny (Magpie-Eye Photography) who only lived a streets away from us. Keeping it local meant our potentially (very) long list of vendors was narrowed down, and it also felt more personal.
Q. Where did you get your ideas and inspiration?
A. We wanted to have a really personalised day (on a budget) so everything was DIY. The ideas really just came from Paul and I sitting around talking about things that we thought could be fun. We spent a lot of time looking on the Internet for inspiration, but also just throwing out things that we thought up in the pub (needless to say some ideas made it further than others). If something made us laugh, it normally went in – if it felt right, we did it!
I love sunflowers, and their whimsical appearance fit our theme, so they became our ‘feature flower’. We grew unusual varieties of sunflowers on our roof terrace and enlisted the help of our parents who grew loads in their gardens and allotments up north. We then bought a variety of flowers from local supermarkets and garden centres to add to this, and created arrangements in coloured glass bottles. We kept some flowers aside to decorate the delicious and humongous naked cake created by our friend Abigail.
Our ceremony venue (Jacksons Lane, Highgate) is a converted church with high ceilings featuring beautiful arches and beams, so required little dressing. We made a fabric partition to separate our dining area from our ceremony area, chalkboard signage for the seating plan (etc), chalkboard menus (designed in Photoshop) for the tables, and our centrepieces were made from glass bottles we had collected (continuing the pub/fun theme). My sister made 50m of bunting and my brother made an origami cat for each place setting. We designed and made pretty much everything; we even made ‘Blow Me’ labels for our confetti bubbles!
Q. Tell us about your dress.
A. I never wanted the big white ball gown. I had an idea of what I wanted, which was an off-white dress (which wouldn’t wash me out) with a simple silhouette. I found a BHLDN dress I loved which was inspired by cherry blossom, but this was from a 2014 collection and nowhere to be found… nothing else compared to this so I went about designing my own. I bought a beautiful cream tulle gown from ASOS’s Bridal Collection and (with a lot of help from my mum) hand stitched over 1000 peach and apricot organza petals to the gown. My talented mum also hand-beaded a belt and matching corsage too! Having a dress which was a one-off and made by my mum made it more special than anything I could have ever bought. I wanted to look like myself, so kept my hair natural and did my own makeup (after a cup of chamomile tea to steady my hand!) and Paul wore a blue Ted Baker suit (without the jacket) with a burnt orange tie and a pair of trusty tan Converse. We hired waistcoats for our groomsmen, and had them wear their own trousers for a mismatched look. My bridesmaids wore orange floral dresses from Monsoon. We were both keen to be comfortable on the day, knowing that we’d be walking (and dancing) and the fact that it was a hot sunny day in August definitely influenced our decisions. We tied the look together with bespoke dried flower buttonholes for the groom and groomsmen, hair slides for the bridesmaids and a flower crown for me, all made by Florence and Flowers.
Q. What was on the menu?
A. At our ceremony venue we served a HUGE BBQ (provided by Fresh N Funky Catering). It fit the time of year, we both love having barbecues during the summer and plus the variety available meant everyone was catered for. Along with that we served a lot of wine (!) and two desert options, as well as providing a glass of Peroni or Elderflower Rekordelig cider for everyone on arrival (instead of traditional Prosecco). For the reception we welcomed everyone with Pimms and had a ‘Pimp Your Chips’ Poutine station (with a variety of toppings – yes, we’re both originally northern so love chips and gravy!) and a selection of ‘pub snacks’ (crisps/nuts/pork scratchings) in baskets on the tables. We also offered a round of free drinks to the winners of the pub quiz. Finally, after the reception was over, we sent all of our guests home with a Bloody Mary kit to aid their recovery in the morning!
Q. What was the quirkiest element of the day?
A. There were quite a few quirky elements, that was a big theme of the day! If I had to pick just one, it would probably have to go to my Man of Honour Tim, who we’d asked to do an original reading or performance on the day… this turned out to be a piano performance of Regina Spektor’s ‘Real Love’ featuring an original parody rap of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ in the middle, which had even the grandparents in stitches!
Q. What advice would you give other brides looking for a similar style of event?
A. It’s your day, do it your way! Everyone has an opinion on what should or shouldn’t be done, and there is no wrong or right way – you need to do what feels right for you. I found it really easy to tie myself up in knots thinking about what people would think, or reading too many traditional wedding articles that I didn’t relate to. A few months into planning and we found ourselves doing what we thought we should do, rather than what we wanted to. To combat this, we came up with a little mission statement we could revert back to if we felt we were veering off track.
Planning a wedding yourself is essentially project management, especially if, like us, you choose to DIY everything! A spreadsheet will become your best friend for keeping on top of budgets and tasks. Work with your strengths and those of the people who are willing to contribute to personalise your wedding, and divide tasks equally between you and your partner. Paul kept up with all of the bookings and correspondence whilst I got to work on designing and sourcing decorations. The only thing we’d have done differently would have been to give ourselves a little more spare time (we planned our wedding in 6 months, which left little time to take a day/weekend off to do something else) so, for your own sanity, make sure you take some time (a few days here and there) for you and your partner to do something non-wedding-related.
Relax and enjoy the day – friends told us that we wouldn’t spend time together (and that it would fly by) but in truth it didn’t, and we got plenty of time together on the day. Everyone’s experience is different, but if you’re worried about those things, set aside time just for you. We didn’t take part in the quiz, but instead used that time to go round every team to make sure we spoke to everyone, as well as having some time for just the two of us.
Q. What was your favourite memory from the day?
A. There were so many special and funny moments during the day, it’s really difficult to choose just one… Walking out of the ceremony as husband and wife, the bridal party getting distracted by a rat running down the road (whilst they were supposed to be posing for photos), my dad nailing his speech (with obligatory dad jokes), having strangers congratulate us as we walked in procession (we chose to walk between our venues as they were fortunately connected by the beautiful Parkland Walk, London’s longest nature reserve), sharing our first dance and then watching my man of honour killing it (and himself) with an incredibly energetic interpretive dance to Maneater… We also kicked off our evening reception with ‘Uncle Harry’s Pub Quiz’ a hilarious and infamous pub quiz hosted by our friend Garth. Paul and I discovered ‘Uncle Harry’ when we first started dating 8 years ago, and his quiz became a constant throughout our relationship (and as a result we became best friends with Garth who is also husband to Tim my Man Of Honour).
There are too many to pick just one. Overall, the best moment of our wedding day was just being with so many people we care about, and knowing how much work so many of them put into helping make our day truly special. Having all anxiety disappear when you look into a crowd of people you love (and knowing that they are there to spend the day celebrating your commitment to each other) is an incredible feeling.
Q. What was your first dance to/what did you walk down to the aisle to?
A. I’m not a fan of being the centre of attention, and I found the thought of walking down the aisle having all eyes on me quite nerve wracking. We came up with the solution to have all of our guests sing me down the aisle to ‘All You Need Is Love’ (so they could be part of it with me) led by our officiant Chris on guitar. We issued them all lyrics sheets and I was welcomed to a big rousing rendition of it – perfect. Our first dance was to “You and Me Song” by the Wannadies – we both grew up in the 90’s and the track features a good combination of calm and upbeat elements, perfect for slow dancing and then lots of twirling! It’s also one of those songs that isn’t overplayed but you’ll occasionally here in shops; which is always nice to stumble across.
Ceremony venue: www.jacksonslane.org.uk
Hire items: www.classiccrockery.co.uk
Reception venue: earlhaighall.com
Buttonholes & flower crown: www.florenceandflowers.co.uk
Suits: Ted Baker & Moss Bros