Tag Archives: DIY

A stunning, shabby chic wedding – Elizabeth and Tomás

18 Sep

I love it when I get real wedding submissions that actually inspire me! This gorgeous US wedding took my breath away – and is the absolute pinnacle of what a DIY wedding can be! There are so many lovely ideas in here, but I’ll let Elizabeth tell you her story in her own words.

“The summer before my senior year of college, I went to Sevilla, Spain for a month to take a TESOL teaching course. The daughter of one of my mom’s coworkers had been studying there the previous semester, and this girl gave me the email address of a Spanish friend so that I could meet someone right away to practice Spanish with. That friend turned out to be my now husband! Tomás and I fell in love seriously in three days. We had a long distance relationship for the first year, seeing each other every three months in either Spain or Pennsylvania. After college, I moved to Spain for two years to teach and be with Tomás. Three and a half years after we met, Tomás proposed, and now we’re married!”

Elizabeth and Tomas opted for a shabby chic wedding theme

“A summer night in late July 2010, Tomás asked me to come outside–he had been outside all evening supposedly building a bonfire with my brother and he wanted me to see it. As soon as I got outside though, I saw that Tomás had actually been out there creating a beautifully romantic scene. He led me to my parents’ pool, where dozens of tiny candles were floating in the water. He told me we were going on a special walk, and let me to another part of the tard where I saw a pathway made by candles. Under each candle was a paper heart with a characteristic of our relationship written on it, like “respect”, “love for nature”, etc. After reading all the hearts, the candle path led us to the vegetable garden that we had built and been tending all summer. When we got to the garden, Tomás read me a poem he wrote comparing our growing love to the growing garden. Then he got down on his knee and proposed! My engagement ring was my great-grandmother’s ring that my grandmother gave me before she passed away several years before. My mom had been holding on to it until Tomás was ready to ask for it. It was such a lovely proposal!”


“I planned the wedding with lots of support from my mom and friends. I absolutely loved the way I decorated the tables. I spent our engagement year collecting glass bottles, vintage doilies, and lovebird figurines, and the way they all came together just looked so pretty and very shabby chic. It also meant a lot to me because I had put so much time and love into collecting these decorations.”

“As soon as we were engaged, I started combing wedding magazines and blogs and kept a notebook of photos I liked. It didn’t take long for me to realize that most of the pictures I was saving shared a soft, romantic, vintage style. Tomás and I both really love antiques and tend to like things that have a homey, lived-in style, so shabby chic was a perfect fit.”


If I were to give any advice to brides-to-be, it’s that making your wedding really about you and your future husband requires a lot of thought and planning, which takes a lot of time–especially if you want to DIY parts of it. But in my experience it was SO worth it, because on the day of the wedding, everything was just what I wanted, and it felt US.”

Why not hang pictures of yourselves together as decorations?

Wildflower seed favours will give your guests something permanent to remember your day!

Photos by Love Me Do, Dress by Eden Bridals 

Advertisements

Sambuca bottles, a transatlantic proposal and the world’s cutest flower girl

23 Jul

This Shabby Chic Bride is getting all misty eyed over this beautiful wedding – and the story of how it all began…

It all started when Tom met Poppy. “We met back in 2003 standing in a queue for the incredibly trendy and romantic (not) Camden club – the Underworld,” says Poppy. She asked him to take a photo of her with her friends and there was a spark – they went inside and danced all night (helped along by a generous amount of Sambuca). “As Tom lived and was studying in Ireland we had a summer fling and we went our separate ways.”

But the romance didn’t end there for Tom. Poppy explains: “Two years later I was living in New York and Tom flew from Ireland to declare he had not stopped thinking about me for two years. Within six months we were living together in London!”

The proposal…

Tom whisked Poppy off to Florence for 10 days. It took him until eight days into the trip to find the right moment.

“We were at a beautiful monastery in the Tuscan hills having just had a gorgeous meal. We were grabbing shelter before running to the car, as the heavens had opened. Suddenly I turned around to find Tom on his knee, ring in hand. We got the restaurant to re-open their doors so we could drink a toast.”

The couple got married on the 25th of June 2011 at St Mary’s Church, Cricklade. “Closest friends and family stayed near or at our reception venue, the Rectory Hotel, which we had exclusive use of. Everyone was impressed with how the venue combined a trendy boutique feel with real Cotswold charm and a home away from home feeling.”

Poppy created a heart-shaped “poppies & shamrocks” design to celebrate her name and Tom’s Irish heritage and incorporated it into the invitations (designed by bridesmaid Rachel Brunning) and into the order of service and menus, which Poppy made. The wedding cake continued the theme with fuchsia pink poppies and shamrocks on turquoise blue icing.

Turquoise, fuchsia pink and green made up the colour theme and this was reflected in the flowers, which were blue hydrangeas, fuchsia pink peonies and green alchemilla.

“Our florist (Scentiments in Tetbury) did a fab job of incorporating these flowers in the bouquets, buttonholes and the reception flowers which were arranged in blue vases I bought to tie in with the theme, the centrepieces were specifically supposed to look natural, just picked, which I loved. I was so chuffed that the local ladies of the church, for a nominal fee, decorated the church with these same flowers which certainly saved some money and was lovely.”

“During the signing of the register we had a soloist sing Panis Angelicus and at the end of the service as we reached the top of the aisle we turned back to our congregation as the choir sang ‘How Sweet it is’ and we all had a sing song.”

The day was made extra special by Poppy and Tom’s 16 month old daughter. “She was so delightful as our flower girl in her pretty little lace and organza dress. She welcomed everybody with daddy at the church and then came down the aisle with her godmother Rachel.”

Two white Austin Sheerlines called ‘Olive & Rose’ took the wedding party and from the church in style (supplied by AlexCars).

Poppy’s attention-to-detail really shone through during the reception. “To celebrate our first ever meeting I made little bottles of Sambuca with special ‘Tom and Poppy’s Sambuca’ labels which sat at each person’s place tied with the same blue ribbon I had used throughout. During my short speech I explained the relevance and asked everybody to join us for a shot from their bottle which raised a laugh. Also on the table we had matching blue ribbons tied around napkins, place cards I made at home, glass tea lights dotted around in our colours and the table names which all represented places that meant something to us such as Florence (engagement), Morocco (our first holiday) and so on.”

Tom and Poppy joined the growing number of brides and grooms opting for something a little bit different to entertain their guests. “We have a brilliant guest book that we will always look back at and have laughs at as thanks to the fancy dress box and Polaroid pictures we provided there are some great guest pics and comments.”

“My absolute personal favourite bit was the speeches, my mum, Tom and Paul – the best man, moved me to tears with their humour and loving comments.”

“A seriously funny part of the wedding was my gift to my new husband. Just before our first dance I surprised him with four little Irish dancers from a local school. Their dancing was amazing and the extreme curly wigs and make up was very entertaining.”

“Another definite favourite bit was that our phenomenal friend Machiel Van Der Aar ‘SaxSymbol’ really got the dance floor rocking with his brilliant saxophone playing in the evening.”

“A major part of our big day was the super calm and creative photography of Graham Young Photography who manoeuvred skilfully from one shot to the next unobtrusively and, having listened to our preferences, really captured natural and beautiful shots we will treasure forever.”

My dress was a soft organza gown by Ella Bridals. The food was provided by our fabulous venue, which has won many accolades for its superb food.

Real wedding: pink cupcakes, garden roses and a whole lotta love

19 Jul

Every now and then I come across a wedding too cute to ignore! And it should definitely win an award for the most creative use of jars in wedding history- fabulous stuff. And I’m a little bit in love with those cupcakes – anyone else?

Allison and Joseph Micali got married on the 29th of May 2011 after a year and a half engagement. The wedding took place at a Chapel at Sandy Hook, NJ, USA.  The venue was chosen not only for its rustic feel, but for the sentimental value to Allison, who grew up in Sandy Hook.

Allison knew she wanted pink flowers so, after researching different types of flowers, she decided on the beautiful peonies and the two different types of roses. The planner picked up flowers from a local wholesaler and decorated each table with mason jars filled with pink peonies, garden roses and spray roses.

She then scattered mason jars with candles all around the arrangements.  The top table was outlined by the mason jars and with 4 mugs (L O V E from Anthropologie) in the centre, next to the couple.

“Our wedding was very different in many ways,” says Allison. “I wanted to stay really far away from anything traditional. We had our ceremony outside overlooking Sandy Hook Bay. We then had our cocktail hour in a restored chapel that had beautiful golden lighting. Our reception was in a tent overlooking the bay. We had a front table with the wedding party decorated with LOVE mugs and a Sweet Love Banner. We had chalkboard table numbers, the planner wrote the menu on a full length mirror.  Our favours were mason jars with chalkboard decals and CDs filled with our favourite songs.”

As it turns out, Allison loved the planning process so much that she has decided to start up her own planning company – with a fab blog to kick start her new career (Skinny Love Designs).

Credits: The cupcake with hot pink frosting and the cupcake toppers were supplied by Pink Studios. The bride wore a strapless metal taffeta Nicole Miller gown. The wedding was captured by Kella MacPhee, in the bride’s words, an absolutely amazing and quirky photographer.  Merri-Makers caterers supplied the food. The “best DJ in the world” according to the lovely bride was DJNYC

Everything was put together beautifully by wedding planning service, Lulu’s Inspirations.

Bringing home that Mediterranean feel

9 Jul

I’m blogging from an amazingly beautiful part of Turkey. Brightly coloured flowers hang in their multitudes from every house, grapes, olives, lemons and fresh vegetables are growing in pretty much every garden. The food here is phenomenal – flavours of seasoned vegetables, spreads and dishes you could only dream of in the UK.

I can see why people would choose to get married here, in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Spain etc. But that’s not an option for everyone. If you have lots of friends and family that you’d be sad not to see at your wedding, a destination is pretty much off the cards (unless EVERYONE is very wealthy).

So how can you bring that Mediterranean feel (apart from the weather, sadly) back to good old Britain?

Which venue to choose

First of all, in my opinion, an outdoor or marquee wedding is essential (of course you’ll have to have a rain contingency plan. For example, a venue like The Walled Garden at Cowdray in West Sussex or a completely customisable venue out in the sticks, like Wise Wedding Venue in Tunbridge Wells, Kent would be perfect.

Food to serve

For a proper Mediterranean feast, serve a big buffet meal. For example, Turkish bread, borekas (cheese pastries), pita bread, hummus, fava (broad bean puree), acili ezme (a Turkish-style tomato dip), babaganoush, sliced aubergine, seasoned vegetables, shakshuka, mixed olives, feta cheese, mozzarella (best served with tomato and basil, drizzled with olive oil and dark balsamic vinegar), goat’s cheese, haloumi, any dishes including Spinach, cauliflower, cucumber, roast carrots, artichokes, fresh tomatoes or avocado, stuffed vine leaves, rice pilav and if you eat meat then roast lamb or chicken, if not then a big vegetable casserole or stuffed peppers for the main.

For dessert serve a buffet of baklava, fresh fruit (especially watermelon) and perhaps consider having somebody making and serving up pancakes with different sweet toppings.

Decor

For a really special, intimate feeling, try floor seating on carpets with low tables (it’s more of a Middle Eastern thing but is adopted in some parts of the Mediterranean so I’m putting it in here!).

Brightly coloured flowers are a must, best in hanging baskets or as sprawling and natural as possible. Strings of coloured lanterns hanging over the table and tea lights around the venue will give the reception a really romantic feel.

These are just a few ideas for inspiration based on my knowledge of different traditions from Mediterranean countries – if you guys have any suggestions or comments please leave them!

Top ten ways to make your summer wedding a little different

3 Jul

Sick of cookie cutter weddings? If traditional really isn’t your style and you’re a bit more laid back, then here are my top ten ways to personalise your summer wedding – in no particular order:

  1. Can’t afford champagne? Just don’t like the stuff? Serve Pimms and Lemonade instead! Perfect for an after-ceremony toast – top off with chopped fruit, ice, stirrers cocktail umbrellas, slices of lemon and serve in colourful jugs and glasses. A fraction of the cost of champagne and far more original.
  2. Does the thought of a seated wedding breakfast make you shudder? Pick up some cute picnic baskets, some pretty floral rugs and cushions and, weather allowing, have a wedding breakfast picnic instead. You’ll also massively cut costs by having a cold picnic buffet.
  3. If you want a hot meal without the sit down three course cliche, why not have a BBQ? Cut costs by buying the food in bulk and having friends takes turns in cooking.
  4. Ditch the Macarena and go for a barn dance! A folk band, some hay bales and well-placed bunting will create that old-fashioned feel.
  5. Hot day? Give out vintage fans as favours. It will help keep people cool and be a great gift for people to take home.
  6. Don’t like perfectly manicured flowers? Hand tie small bunches of wildflowers, put them in jam jars and place them around the venue. If you make enough, tie luggage tags with peoples’ names on them and let people take them home as favours at the end of the day. You could even go one further and use them as place settings.
  7. Hire a vintage style ice cream van, like this, from Vintage Scoops, for the day to cool your guests down – much more original than a traditional dessert table.
  8. Worried about your guests getting hot and tired feet? Make flip flops your favours – everyone will appreciate the opportunity to take off hot and uncomfortable heels.
  9. They say attention-to-detail is everything. If you want your venue to smell as summery as it looks, spray some Cath Kidston rose room spray around the venue before the guests arrive.
  10. Not sure what to do with kids (or big kids) at a wedding while photos are being taken? Why not invest in some giant board games to play outside? Giant connect four or even Twister for the more informal wedding will go down a treat.

A Sussex village shabby chic wedding

1 Jul The famous yellow wellies!

When Hannah Stevenson went on holiday to New York to visit a friend, she had no idea she was about meet her future husband! Jason Clark had a stopover in the city for a few days on his way back from a holiday in Peru – and happened to visit that same mutual friend.

Over six years later, Jason brought Hannah back to New York to propose at the place they first met. However, not everything went to plan. Jason had intended to propose in Central Park – but the park was evacuated due to adverse weather conditions before he had the chance. His plan B was to take her to the top of the Empire State Building – how very Sleepless in Seattle! Sadly, that plan was also scuppered by Hannah’s rather baffling reluctance to climb the building in New York’s worst blizzard in twenty years!

Third time lucky, Jason ended up getting the proposal really right – by proposing outside of Tiffany’s – echoing the classic movie and the first DVD Jason ever bought Hannah, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and making her feel like a real-life version of her all-time icon, Audrey Hepburn. Ahh!

After over a year’s engagement, the couple laughed in the face of superstition and married on Friday 13th May 2011 at St Marks Church in Staplefield, West Sussex.

Hannah and her father at the church

The beautiful bride

Lavender was a simple decoration that helped give the day it's vintage country feel

The reception was held in a marquee on Staplefield village common and was planned by the couple themselves. In true country village tradition, they wanted it to be a relaxed day, informal but still in-keeping with tradition. The picturesque Sussex village location provided the perfect setting for a shabby chic / vintage wedding.

The happy couple outside the marquee

The day was a real family affair. “We got married in the village where my parents live and where I was brought up,” explains Hannah, “Staplefield is a very small quaint picturesque Sussex village, with the common in the centre of village, the shabby chic theme just fitted the whole setting perfectly.” Hannah walked from her parents’ house to the church with her family (dad, mum, sister, oh and the family dog Winnie!) Winnie accompanied the mother of the bride down the aisle.

It was Hannah’s décor that made the day something truly special and unique. All 125 metres of bunting in the marquee was handmade by her best friend and family, giving it that extra special touch. Extra special was actually the order of the day. With the decorations hand-chosen by Hannah, many had a unique meaning to the couple. The tables were named after places in New York – the place it all started. A friend of the family created framed pictures rather than plain table numbers – which Hannah and Jason now keep as mementos of the day.

New York themed table numbers

For the favours, Hannah’s mum, sister and friend made homemade fudge, and Hannah tied luggage tags to them so they doubled up as place settings.

Perhaps the most quirky and personal touch was the flower-filled yellow wellies – Hannah happened to be wearing them the day she got engaged. In desperate need of snow shoes and lumped with the only colour left (bright yellow) “It became a bit of joke with friends that I was wearing yellow wellies in New York when we got engaged,” says Hannah, “I thought it would be fun to make a bit of a feature of them!”

The famous yellow wellies!

Credits

Hannah wore a gorgeous Jesus Peiro dress and was made even more beautiful by Jen Dodson, Hair and Make-Up. The flowers were by Bryony Billingham, a local independent florist, who was responsible for all the floral arrangements from lavender in the church, bouquets, table decorations and, of course, the famous wellies. The hog roast was provided by Three of a Kind Caterers.

All photo credits go to photographer, Carl Glancey, whose unobtrusive style helped the couple relax and take some fab photos.

How to set a budget (and stick to it)

26 Jun

The first thing to do when you’re setting your budget is to be realistic about it. This blog post assumes you’re paying for at least some of your wedding, but if you’re not and you’re still responsible for planning the wedding, this still has some useful tips on how to allocate everything.

When I say “be realistic” about your budget, I mean down to the last detail. First of all, figure out how much financial help you’re getting and note that down. Then, depending on how you run your finances, work out how much you both earn per month (if you have a shared bank account) or individually earn (if you both manage your own cash) versus your outgoings: How much do you spend a month on bills? Rent / mortgage? Petrol? Insurance? Car tax? Pet bills? Children? Train tickets? Food? Don’t leave anything out, including luxuries.

Then figure out how much of your salary is left over after all these outgoings. If that number seems small, as painful as it might be, start looking at the non-essentials on your list and find ways to cut costs on them. Believe me, it’s possible!

How far away is your wedding or would you like your wedding to be? However much you can both put away per month plus any outside contributions in the months leading to your wedding is your wedding budget.

It’s time to be realistic again – if your budget is relatively small then you’ll need to keep costs down by generally saving money on venue, decorations, dress, catering etc. (see my blog post on a shabby chic wedding on a budget) by keeping the guest list down (see my post on choosing your guests) or by moving the wedding a little further away than you’d hoped in order to have the wedding of your dreams.

If your number is big enough that you feel you can start planning, it’s time to start allocating your budget. You can make this decision by sitting down with a generic list of things people usually invest in for weddings and rearranging it in order of priority or crossing things off if they don’t apply and adding them if they do – good luck:

– Venue(s)
– Food (from canapes to the meal and any other catering like tea or coffee)
– Dress
– Accessories
– Shoes
– Suit for the groom
– Suits for the groomsmen (if you’re paying for them)
– Outfits for the bridesmaids (as above)
– Musicians for the ceremony
– Musicians for the reception
– Other entertainment for the reception
– Decorations
– Flowers
– Crockery
– Cars
– Hair and make up artist (and for your bridesmaids / MOB)
– Favours
– Rings
– Pre-wedding beauty treatments
– Cake
– Booze
– Hen party
– Stag party (relationship advice – try to allocate these budgets evenly!!)
– Honeymoon
– Creche for kids
– Waiter / waitresses (if your venue doesn’t come with them)
– MC (again if your venue doesn’t come with them)
– Wedding planner (if you can’t see how you’ll possibly have time to do all of this)
– Thank you gifts for attendants / bridal party
– Insurance
– Invitations / Stationary for reception
– Wedding website hosting
– Ceremony fees
– First night hotel