I have been talking about doing this post on planning our wedding for a long time now and some of you have been very patiently waiting for me to do it. Sorry it has taken me such a long time to get round to do! I knew it was going to be a long one and I needed the time and organisation to do it properly.
I didn't know whether I should be breaking this down into lots of smaller posts, but for some aspects of our wedding planning I don't have a lot to talk about, so I thought I would do this post as a kind of overview and then maybe have some more posts that focus on one aspect that I can go into a bit more detail on.
The first stage of our wedding planning was choosing a venue. This took a long time! We started venue hunting with certain ideas and themes in mind, but also a budget, which is not a great combination! We had a few venues that we loved and were ready to book when certain issues would stand in our way, such as money, unexpected costs, restrictions to what we can do there, unfriendly owners and date availability. However, I know its such a cliché but everything does happen for a reason! We were beginning to feel very defeated and negative about the whole venue search, when by chance I came across The Mill House, and instantly felt excited. We immediately arrange to go and visit. The day we went was a beautiful, snowy winters day, and we were greeted by the lovely owners with cups of tea in front of the big, open fires. The Mill House is exactly that- a house. A stunning, historical house that isn't too big and grand but big enough for our 60 guests, with a cosy, warm and friendly feel to it. We instantly fell in love with the idea of having a winter wedding with our closest friends and family all in this beautiful building that would be like our home for the day and wedding night. With lots of lovely little rooms, with beautiful fireplaces, comfy chairs and cosy corners for people to relax and chat, we knew it would be the perfect venue for us and our family. They told us about their Christmas package, which includes mince pies and mulled wine served to welcome guests, a three course Christmas dinner and their twelve foot tall Christmas tree in the entrance, all within our budget, we knew this was where we would be getting married. Within days, we had booked the Mill House for our ceremony and reception, plus wedding night, for the 29th December 2013.
Having the package was really useful because it meant venue, catering and DJ were already organised. The next task I wanted to tackle was finding a photographer. This stage was so important to me. I had seen way too many times people getting married and having really dull, boring photos of their day that had absolutely no personality or character. After the day, your photos are going to be something you will have to enjoy for years to come and are memories of one of the best days of your life captured on camera, so I was really determined to find a photographer whose work felt very 'us' and special. I must admit, I did get a little stressed during the search. I feel like I've been a fairly relaxed bride, but I hated not being able to find any wedding photographers who felt just right. Luckily, I then found Noel Deasington. He is such a talented photographer with the most beautiful photos of weddings that are really individual and special with quite a laid back, natural feel. I was thrilled when he said he could do our wedding and I am already so excited to see the pictures!!
Something I had been desperate to do my whole life (like any girl) was wedding dress shopping. I was so excited and had known for many years exactly what I wanted my dress to look like. However, I knew that that kind of dress may not suit me, so I wanted to try on every style imaginable to ensure I got to the right one. I went to three different bridal shops, and tried all different shapes and styles, and finally found a dress I really loved, which happened to be the style I had always dreamed of! I was very happy with my choice, and was just about to change back into my normal clothes when the assistant asked me if there were any more I wanted to try as we had some time left. A dress caught my eye- a dress I would never have considered in a million years. I asked if I could try it on, for a bit of fun, and she agreed. She changed me into the new dress, and while doing so said 'well, I was not expecting that!'. I didn't know what she meant, until she turned me around to look in the mirror. Wow. That was it! I knew I had found the one. I was in complete shock. I didn't cry, but definitely felt like I could. I had butterflies and felt ridiculously excited, and knew I wanted to feel like this when I put my dress on on my wedding day. As I walked out of the changing room, the reaction I received was amazing. The staff and other brides who had completely ignored me in all the other dresses suddenly were all looking, and calling other people to come and look, and telling me how amazing and beautiful it was. My mother cried. I bought the dress. Just a
huge little bit over budget, but it was The One! Last week I bought my shoes and accessories too!
I did not enjoy searching for the perfect bridesmaids dress. I am having three adult bridesmaids- my sister and David's two sisters, a younger bridesmaid and four flower girls all under the age of five. A big task was finding our colour scheme. Hours of pinterest hunting and flicking through bridal magazines left me undecided between two colours- champagne and burgundy. I was letting the Christmas element of our wedding lead the colour choices but we just could not make up our mind. We looked at thousand of dresses, in both colours, and still could not decide. Until one day, David and I were at a wedding fair, and David pointed out a table that had been dressed in pastel blue and white. He loved it, I agreed, and that was that! The colour scheme became pastel blue, white and sparkle. Winter-y, but still wedding-y, without being too Christmassy! However, I still had the task of finding the dress for the three older bridesmaids that would suit all of them and fit in with the wedding- not an easy task with the new colour scheme, plus a pregnant bridesmaid! I got to the point of ordering the dresses, only to be called a week later to say an error had been made and they had sold out of the sizes we needed. However, eventually, we got there, and found them in a sale at Debenhams! Full length, pastel blue gowns that will be paired with angora ivory shrugs (Kate Middleton inspired!) from Monsoon and sparkly shoes. The younger bridesmaid is going to be wearing an ivory dress and I have agreed to customise the dress with blue crystals and beads on the waistband (gulp!) so she co-ordinates with the older bridesmaids. The tiny ones will be in ivory too!
The next step was wedding rings. We both wanted simple, gold bands, but it soon became apparent due to the unique shape of my 1920's ring with it's subtle curves, a normal band will not sit next to it properly. Therefore, we got my ring made by the company Taylor&Co after meeting them at a wedding fair. The service was brilliant, and they send you a digitalised image of how your wedding ring will look for you to approve before they start making. My wedding ring arrived just a few weeks ago and it is beautiful, I love it!
A DJ was included in the price of our wedding package so we were not planning on having any other music other than an MP3 connected to the sound system in the venue for the ceremony and background music for the welcome drinks and meal. However, at a wedding fair, we met Claire Jones, a harpist. She was formerly the Royal Harpist for Prince Charles and played at Kate and Williams wedding! She asked if we had any requests, so I asked for Canon in D, my mums favourite piece of music. It was so beautiful, we all got goosebumps and my mum cried (again!). We booked her there and then! She will be playing for the ceremony and welcoming drinks, and will be such a lovely, special addition to the day! And I will be walking down the aisle to Canon in D played on harp. How perfect!
I had said I wanted Lilies and Roses for my bouquet, however after speaking to florists, realised how difficult that was going to be. Not only are they difficult to have fresh in December, but deliveries are also awkward during the Christmas period. I had also been trying to decide on a way to incorporate my Grandmother in the wedding. She is in a care home with dementia and it wont be possible for her to come to our wedding. However, while looking through her jewelry collection to see if there were any pieces I cold wear to the wedding, I was amazed at her beautiful collection of brooches! Then the idea hit me- a brooch bouquet! I am going to attempt to make it myself (any tips will be extremely welcome!) and hopefully it will go beautifully with my dress and the overall theme of the day. Lots of sparkles and crystals!
I am also attempting to make the invitations myself. These are in progress at the moment, and I will share them once they are finished! I wanted to have them done by now but coming up with a design and finalising the guest list has taken a little longer than expected. Pinterest, as with many aspects of the wedding, has been my major source of inspiration for them and hopefully they will turn out OK!
I am very lucky in the fact that David's mother is a wonderful baker and has her own cake business, therefore is very kindly doing our cake for us. We would like a tower of cupcakes with a small cake at the top to cut, but are not 100% on designs yet. I also am unsure about what sort of topper to have, but I'm sure it will all come together beautifully!
I am doing my hair and make-up myself, with the help of my sister, who is a qualified beauty therapist. I have bought an Enrapture totem styler that I am practising with regularly and am still looking for the perfect items of make-up that will last all day. I am also in need of a good hair spray! Any recommendations or tips?
For the wedding favours, we are making everyone heart shaped biscuits and using icing to write everyone's names on them, so they also double up as the place names! Economical and yummy!
We haven't really decided on decorations and table centrepieces yet, but we have lots of ideas involving candles and sparkle, with pinterest yet again being invaluable for inspiration! I don't want to go too over the top because the venue is beautiful already and will also be decorated for Christmas.
So there you have it, our wedding so far! So on our to do list includes Groom and grooms men outfits, finishing the invitations, cake, decorations, dressing the little ones, my bouquet, hair and make-up and making wedding favours. It is all so so exciting and I can't wait for the day! Time seems to be going very fast now though, so I just hope we have everything done in time! Fingers crossed!
Any tips will be very, very welcome!
P.S: All images used in his post are pinned to my boards on pinterest. There is plenty of other wedding inspiration there too! If you know of any good wedding boards, please do leave me the links, I'd love to take a look!