Tag Archives: shabby chic wedding

A homespun, back garden wedding – all aboard the tractor!

2 Oct

As you all know by now, this little shabby chic wedding blog is only as good as the weddings it features! So I always get disproportionately excited when a really fab wedding pops up in my inbox.

This is Daniel and Lucy’s big day – and I’ll let Lucy tell you all about it!

“Daniel and I met in a little bar in Brighton – a typical “my friend fancied his friend” situation. My friend was too shy to go over and speak to the guy she fancied so I went over and started a conversation with the group of people and got talking to Daniel. We hit it off straight away and started dating. Unfortunately my friend never actually got around to speaking to the guy she had initially fancied!”

“After dating for 6 months we moved in together, and then after about 2 years Daniel proposed. It was a bit of a surprise as Daniel is well known for being very disorganised. I had an interview in London, and Daniel suggested that he come with me and take me out for lunch afterwards. We met up at Green Park tube station and he suggested we take a walk, and then walked me into The Wolseley. I had never been to The Wolseley and was immediately taken by the beautiful decor and understated elegance. It turns out Daniel had bought an engagement ring and smuggled it up to London without me knowing and had booked a table with champagne was waiting for us. He got down on one knee in the middle of the restuarant and asked me to marry him whilst crying and shaking uncontrollably – although he maintains that he was calm and collected! I was absolutely surprised and delighted and said yes straight away.”

“I then found out that a few minutes before I had met up with Daniel, he had been mugged at the cashpoint. He had gone to get some money out for lunch and someone stole his card as it came out of the cashpoint. Luckily a rather large rugby sized man stood behind Daniel in the queue ran after the mugger and retrieved Daniel’s card so he could actually pay for lunch.”

“We planned the wedding for about a year, and from the beginning we knew we would like to get married in our local church in Albourne, Sussex. It is a 15 minute walk from our house down a little lane – it is the only building down the end of the lane apart from the rectory and it is surrounded by fields. I think they only have a handful of weddings a year which made it even more special. We also wanted the reception in our garden as we wanted to keep everything very personal to Daniel, me and our guests.”

“The theme was country garden, so we had a selection of picnic tables covered in floral table clothes, vintage mix match crockery and glasses and country garden flowers from a local grower. The tables centres were vintage jugs or teapots filled with small posies. and alongside these we had wicker baskets filled with a bottle of red wine, homemade chutney and homemade apple sauce. It was important that the food was really good as all our friends are foodies so we had a hog roast and then a wonderful buffet that we did ourselves with the help of our friends. It included whole baked salmons, spinach feta and pinenut filo pastry tarts, french green bean salad, summer vegetable and herb cous cous, homemade coleslaw, herby potato salad. All the food was bought from the local greengrocer or grown in our garden and the wine came from our independent wine shop in the village. My sister made a beautiful cake using eggs from our chickens. It was 3 tiers – carrot, beetroot and then a banana cake covered in cream cheese icing and a mix of berries. After supper a local band played music and everyone talked, drank and danced in the garden until the small hours with fairy lights and lanterns lighting the garden.”

“We had so much help from so many people – Daniel’s mum made vintage style table cloths from old floral curtains, she hand embroidered napkins with our initials, our neighbour lent us his vintage tractor and trailer so people had the option of walking down to the church or getting lift. The local farmer cleared the field of cows so we could turn the tractor around as the lane is so narrow, another neighbour’s dad did our hog roast as the planned person pulled out at the last minute, a jeweler friend made our rings….the list really does go on and on. We had so much help that we had a nickname for our neighbours “the Albourne Elves” – as when anything was needed or we asked for help it magically appeared.”

“My favourite part of the day was walking into our garden with my new husband, the sunshine appearing from behind some rather worrying dark clouds and seeing everyone in our garden enjoying the day, drinking champagne and listening to music. My second favourite part was watching Daniel run around the garden in his wedding suit trying to catch our chicken Muriel who had managed to escape her pen!”
“A few tips for future brides would be to try to be a little flexible when organising your wedding – the most stressful points are where you have a set idea and then for some reason you can’t have X flowers, or X venue or X tealight holders. Give yourself some options and keep an open mind – no matter what happens you will have an amazing day and those little details don’t always feel quite as important on the day as you thought they would as you are too busy enjoying yourself.”
“A second really important thing I now tell anyone I know who is getting married is to try to stand back for a few minutes, relax and really appreciate your day and your new husband. The day is so busy, and so many people want to speak to you and the build up has probably been so intense that the day can rush by and suddenly you find yourself saying your goodbyes and heading off to your honeymoon. Take 10 mins with your new husband away from your guests and photographer – maybe get the car to pull over at a pre-arranged place between the church and venue so you can sit there and let it all sink in – or after dinner agree to sneak away with your husband to have a glass of champagne just the two of you. I was really lucky to have a friend who just took me to one side and said “breathe” you have done an amazing job organising the day – now ENJOY it!”
Lucy has since started Mayflower Events! Her website is coming soon and I can’t wait to see the results of her planning adventures 🙂
Dress by Monsoon
 Wine supplied by Lucy at South Down Cellars

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 

A cautionary tale

28 Aug

I’ll let you in on a secret. I wasn’t always the sacred font of wedding knowledge you erm… read before you today? (OK, maybe I’m not now either!) Once upon a time, I was a confused and, quite frankly, clueless newly engaged gal with NO idea where to start.

Start with the venue, I was told. So what did we want? Well, given my enormous Jewish family and our many friends scattered worldwide, we needed to accommodate a reasonable (and flexible) number of people. We also wanted to get married outdoors, if possible, in some beautiful surroundings with a rain contingency plan and a nice indoor area for the reception. We wanted to do everything in one place and we wanted the venue owners to be easy to work with, laid back and willing to go with what we wanted.

After visiting a couple of lovely, yet unsuitable, venues, we landed on a place that seemed perfect. In the interests of not being a cow, I won’t name the venue, but at the time we were blown away. It had a beautiful rose garden, a little gazebo under which we would marry and a stunning, yet rustic, reception space. Perfect.

As I said, this was well before the Shabby Chic Bride was even a concept, and I was somewhat naive and unaware of how much things cost. We were already aware of venue costs, which were pretty standard. However, at the initial meeting when the venue was booked, we made it quite clear that a sit-down three-course meal was NOT on the agenda for us.

“You have to use one of our four caterers” she told us, “and there’s a ten pound corkage charge per bottle, so you can use our bar to avoid that.”

At this point, we explained that we didn’t have the biggest budget in the world and that our catering allocation was humble. “Don’t worry,” she replied, “our caterers can offer a bespoke service to suit any budget.”

Great, so after going away with le fiance to check out the websites of the various caterers, and to our delight discovering that a basic BBQ started at £10 per head, we booked a June wedding.

Straight away, we began ringing the four caterers to decide between them. The first took an age to get back to us, and when they did had none of the information we’d requested. The second was the eye opener. When h2b rang them, he was put through to an extremely snooty head chef. Explaining that we had our eye on the £20 per head vegetarian buffet, we were met with absolute scorn. “No, no, we can’t do anything less than £35 per head!”

“OK, but your website said…”
“That’s for an evening meal, not a wedding breakfast!”
“OK what’s the difference?”
“The evening meal is a second meal.” (Second meal?)
“OK, well the venue said you could offer a bespoke service to suit any budget. Is there any way we could reduce the amount of options on the menu and lower the price per head?”

Now, at this point, it’s important to bear in mind that we’re locked into a contract and have no choice but to use one of four businesses. While the suggestion of £25 per head might shock some of the caterers out there, bear in mind at this point we were planning for around 150 guests, canapes cost extra and drinks weren’t included. You can probably do the maths. Never mind the cost for us, our business was still worth THOUSANDS of pounds to them.

That’s why his response was somewhat baffling:

“No, no that wouldn’t work at all. Any fewer options and the mix of colours won’t be right. We can’t have people complaining that there aren’t enough colours – it’s all about presentation and our reputation can’t suffer.”

After attempting to explain that our friends and family would just be happy to be fed, and that surely there was some deal we could reach whereby nobody would complain, h2b ran out of patience and tried the remaining two caterers. Same story.

Exasperated, we rang the venue and politely pointed out that her “any budget” statement had been extremely misleading, given that we had told her how small our catering budget was. When the coordinator took our deposit, she must have known there wasn’t a single caterer whose services we could realistically afford. Without missing a beat, she replied:

“Well, you’d better find another venue, then.”

Thankfully, our deposit was returned (with an extremely uppity email, charitably letting us know that due to our “financial circumstances” they would make an exception and give us our money back),

So there we were, back at square one and feeling somewhat bruised and humiliated by the whole experience.

Now, I’m not saying that £30 per head is excessive, by many accounts it’s quite reasonable. But at the first meeting, we made it quite clear that was out of the realms of possibility for us. Instead of leading us into a trap, the coordinator should have been straight with us then and there. The caterers can suit any budget – if you’re wealthy. Oh, and wedding novices, the prices on the website only apply if you spend a bunch more earlier in the day. It doesn’t SAY that anywhere, but you should KNOW that!

So brides to be, heed this warning. If you’re on a budget, sense the tone of a place. Our current venue is allowing us to do whatever we like and providing help where it’s needed. If a venue’s “reputation” is more important than helping you to have YOUR perfect day, it may be time to find somewhere else.

Shabby chic wedding decor – top touches

10 Jul

It’s been a week or so since I blogged about shabby chic weddings and in that time I’ve seen quite a few inspiring things. I’ll do a few of these shabby chic wedding decorations posts, but for now, here’s the first! Enjoy:

Wellies aren’t just for the rain

You may have seen my last real wedding, provided by the gorgeous Hannah Stevenson. She filled yellow wellies with flowers as a tribute to the footwear she was wearing when her groom proposed. But wellies don’t need to have a special meaning for you to incorporate them in your day. Filling wellies with flowers is a cute and quirky touch that everyone will notice! You can either leave it to a florist or re-pot a potted plant into the wellies yourself.

Vintage bird cages

Like this one from Wedding Direct at Amazon. There’s very little you can’t do with them! Fill them with flowers for your centrepieces, or hang them around the room at different heights to decorate the venue. Put a candle in them. Decorate them with clip on butterflies, do what you like with them. It’s very very difficult to make a bird cage look bad. If buying so many is a bit steep, you can rent them from many vintage crockery and decoration companies.

Bird cage by Weddings Direct at Amazon

Vintage luggage tags

Use them as place settings, hang them up to form a unique table plan, tie them to a vintage suitcase and let people write their honeymoon going away wishes instead of a guest book, tie them to favours, or even write a special message to each of your friends on them, if the wedding is small enough for you to do that! You can get 6 for £2.50 from The Wedding of my Dreams.

6 for £2.50 at The Wedding of my Dreams

More vintage decorative touches to come over the next week. Enjoy!