I've been planning how I will do this post for months now, and had so many different ideas and stopped and started and restarted over and over again. I've decided I just need to get our day documented and shared and stop worrying so much about how! I'm just going to share with you my favourite pictures (there are lots!) and ramble on about the day without over thinking it too much! So, here is my incredibly overdue post about our wedding day! I have a feeling it's going to be a long one...
We got engaged in 2011. I am one of those girls who grew up with very clear ideas of what I wanted on my wedding day. A big, white wedding in the church my parents married in, a big princess dress, a horse and carriage, roses everywhere, all our friends and family... David had his plans of an incredibly romantic proposal involving whisking me away to Italy summer 2011. Both of those ideas changed dramatically with the news I was pregnant! Our priorities completely shifted to welcoming our Lily into the world. The proposal involved morning sickness and me in my pyjamas on my parents doorstep. It wasn't Italy, but all of a sudden that didn't matter. What mattered was us becoming a family, and that set the tone for the whole wedding planning process.
We were planning on a budget and decided right from the start we didn't want the huge wedding anymore, we just wanted to be a family and celebrate this with our closest friends and family. Things quickly got out of hand when we started planning a barn wedding with a carnival theme, however- until when we started totaling up figures, we realised it would be a long while before we could afford that day. We then went to the other extreme of thinking we should have a registry office ceremony with our immediate family then a picnic at the park. This didn't really feel like us either, though, if we were honest.
Then we found the Mill House. We visited on a snowy, winters day and instantly fell in love with the homely, cosy feel of the little rooms at different levels and open log fires and mis-matched antique furniture. Seeing it in the snow made us fall in love with a winter wedding idea- our first date 8 years ago involved an evening stroll in snow. We booked our wedding for the 29th December 2013 and the wedding planning properly started!
After a crazy couple of years of planning, when the morning finally came it all felt very surreal that it was actually happening! It was a gloriously sunny day- we never dreamed we would be so lucky with the weather! I did my hair and makeup myself at my parents house- this decision was partly due to budget but mainly because I am incredibly fussy when it comes to my hair and makeup (I'm one of those people that go home from the hairdressers and have to restyle my hair myself!) so knew it would take away one less stress for me! My sister had done my nails the day before. My bridesmaids arrived here to do their hair and makeup too. It was all very calm- I had expected a morning of panic and chaos- but it was lovely and relaxed. We then made our way to the Mill House to get into our dresses.
David and the boys, meanwhile, were at his sisters house getting ready. Apart from our best man being incredibly nervous all day, it sounded like they had a rather relaxed morning too, involving a lot of X Box playing! Their suits, believe it or not, were from Matalan! We had looked at more expensive options and David found nothing he liked, until, completely by chance, he fell in love with a suit he spotted in Matalan one day! Very budget friendly but I thought they all looked very handsome!
My dress! I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted- a princess dress, but not too over the top- quite simple and not too big and pouffy! I decided to be sensible- I would go try on styles in the designer shops to have the experience, decide what definitely suits me then go to a bargain outlet place and get a cheaper version. In the third designer shop I had visited, I found a dress exactly as I had imagined my dream dress to be, tried it on, and loved it. I proceeded to try on veils and shoes with it and thought I had decided on my complete look for the day. The assistant told me I had another half an hour left of my appointment however, and did I just want to have a bit of fun with trying on dresses. I picked up the biggest, sparkliest, most over the top dresses I could find to try on 'as a laugh'. The assistant laced me into the first dress- a Maggie Sottero dress, 'completely over the top and ridiculous' is how I had described it when I saw it on the hanger. Then I saw my reflection. I instantly was in love, saying 'Oh my God. Oh my God!' over and over. 'Oh, look at your little face! You've completely lit up!' was the assistants reaction. My mums was a very simple wow. Another mother of the bride in the shop called her daughter out of the changing rooms to come look at me! I actually felt emotional and couldn't stop grinning. It sounds ridiculous, but it was The One! The totally not me mermaid gown, all sparkles and ruffles and totally over budget. I had to have it. It was just so much fun to wear and I never wanted to take it off!!
The bridesmaids dresses were tricky!!! One bridesmaid was pregnant in the months leading up to the wedding and only tried on her dress weeks before the day. I found several dresses I loved, but there was always a problem. Didn't have it in one persons size, was on the website but actually was out of stock, etc etc. Then I stumbled upon these beautiful Jenny Packham duck egg blue dresses in Debenhams one day, paired them with angora shrugs from Monsoon ta da! Job finally done! They all looked beautiful! I had Davids 3 sisters and my sister as bridesmaids and my 3 nieces and Lily as flower girls. They were all stunning!
Waiting to walk up the aisle was definitely more of an exciting moment than a nervous one. I could hear the sound of the harp floating through the house- I don't want to name drop, but our harpist was Claire Jones. Oh, you know! Only the Royal Harpist. The same lady who played at Kate and Williams wedding! No big deal! (That was our extra special treat for the day from my parents. She was amazing!) I walked down the aisle to Canon in D with the biggest grin ever on the face. I look ridiculously smiley in all of the pictures! Claire went on to play 'All I want for Christmas is you' by Mariah Carey and 'I wont give up' by Jason Myraz through our lovely ceremony which is quite a blur now. A very, very happy blur. Then we left the ceremony as husband and wife to 'Pompeii' by Bastille being played on harp- definitely one of the best moments ever!
Everybody then had mulled wine and mince pies while Claire played Christmas songs, the group pictures were taken, and everyone mingled in the beautiful winter sunshine! It could not have been more perfect.
I had always planned on having Roses and Lilies on my wedding day. However, after chatting to a florist about the difficulties of getting certain flowers in winter, the struggles with deliveries over Christmas, and the added cost due to shipping from other countries I was feeling a little disheartened. At the same time, I was trying to find a way to incorporate something of my Grandmothers into the day, as she was unable to attend due to her dementia and being in a care home. Thanks to Pinterest, however, I managed to overcome all of these problems! I fell in love with some of the brooch bouquets on there, and my Grandmother has a rather impressive collection of brooches. After a few failed attempts, I eventually managed to create my ultra sparkly brooch bouquet, that has so much more sentimental value than any flowers I could have ever have had! I was so pleased with it and it is such a wonderful object to keep.
Sparkles became a bit of a theme in the end with my dress covered in Swarovski crystals, my super sparkly earrings (an Ebay find by my very clever plus my silver glitter heels. Our 'colour scheme' became icy blues, whites and glitter! mother!), headband and bouquet,
I did all of the decorations myself. I bought birdcage tea light holders for the centerpieces which I decorated with sparkly Christmas decorations, and scattered other tea lights and glittery trinkets around the tables along with silver crackers.Chalkboards also featured quite heavily, being the look of our wedding invitations, our table numbers, seating plan, plus little signs around the venue that I made all by hand with chalkboard paint and chalk pens. Instead of a guestbook, I filled a little wicker basket with paper hearts for people to write messages on and put in a jar, so we now have our jar of hearts on display in our living room. Our beautiful birdcage cake was made by David's very clever mother! She made our cake and cupcakes for us based on our colour scheme and decorations and I was so thrilled with how it looked (and tasted!). Our favours were teeny jars of sweets in our wedding colours, and brown paper bags decorated with lace and filled with all sorts of toys and games for the little ones! For months I also collected wicker hearts, teeny birdcages and birds, glittery Christmas decorations, candles and fairy lights which we dotted all over the venue.
We ate our delicious three course Christmas dinner, pulled crackers, shared jokes and wore hats before the speeches began. My Dad and Davids speeches were lovely, and while they were nervous, their nerves were completely overshadowed by how much our best man, Lewis, was suffering with his! He is someone who has been known to vomit when under pressure, so we were all on edge waiting for his, willing him to do well. When the boys had been planning their speeches, I had watched Tom from McFlys with them and cried at his beautifully written and sung tribute to his wife! I joked that one of them should do a copy of that, however never in a million years expected Lewis to actually do a spoof version!!! He sang his hilarious lyrics he had written about David ridiculously out of tune to the backing track of McFlys 'Obviously' and had everyone in absolute stitches! I have never laughed so hard in all my life! It was definitely a highlight of the day! He did an amazing job!
One of the wonderful things about having the whole of an old house to ourselves as a venue was having so many little rooms to use, especially when it came to the evening. We could have music and dancing in one room, fish and chips and a sweet buffet in another, the bar in another, a room for chatting on the sofas in front of the fire in another, and toys and DVD's for the little ones in another- everyone seemed to really, genuinely enjoy themselves. We kept our guest list small- we were not allowed large numbers for the meal anyway due to space, so for the day had only our closest family then in the evening stretched to a few really close friends we've had since school. Of course, when we are limited with numbers, it did mean some people I would have liked to have been there couldn't, which was the only compromise we had to make with our day. However, everyone was very understanding about it, and as I said before, our priority was becoming a family and celebrating with our closest family, which is exactly what we did! Our day was amazing, better than I could have ever imagined! Even our DJ was brilliant, and near the end of the night came out behind his booth to teach us the dance moves to some songs! I have honestly never laughed so hard, danced so much or had as much fun as we did on our wedding day. It was more than I could ever have imagined and hoped for in every single way!
I am also over the moon with our pictures. Our photographer, Noel Deasington, was amazing! Such a lovely, talented man who made our day that extra bit special and captured so many memorable moments we will treasure forever.
However, I think I will end with this picture that my Auntie took. Noel was getting ready for our portrait session, and I decided my gorgeous, glittery heels might be a bit too awkward for trekking through the beautiful gardens for pictures. So I hitched up my layers upon layers of ruffles, and David helped me into my converse instead. We had no idea my Auntie had taken this picture, but it has become one of my favourites! I would not have survived the evening of dancing without my trusty converse, they became an unplanned but essential part of the day!!