Unpretentious & Family-Focused DIY Wedding in Anglesey: Anna & Adam

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I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been looking forward to featuring Anna and Adam’s wedding for a while. Anna is a wedding photographer herself, and I’m a big fan of her work, so I knew her own wedding would be something special. The wedding was 100% DIY. They picked a venue that wasn’t specifically for weddings, but meant a great deal for them. They didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so did most things as frugally as possible. Their main concern was that the day involved all the special people in their lives.

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The wedding took place by the sea in Anglesey in May. “We didn’t have a wedding theme as such”, began Anna, “we just wanted it to be colourful, relaxed, fun, full of laughs, unpretentious, family-focused and very much DIY and personalised to us and the people and things we love. We wanted everyone there to feel special and comfortable and get involved as much as they wanted to. Lots of weddings focus just on the bride and groom, but to us it was also very much a day about our wonderful group of friends and family. We’re both incredibly close to them and it was really important to us to celebrate the fact that we weren’t just coming together as a couple, but also as part of a precious larger community.”

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“The seaside location of Rhoscolyn in Anglesey was also really important to us and the wedding, as we love it there and consider it very much a second home. Silver Bay beach and the caravan site next to it is where Adam spent happy weekends and summers as a kid, where he learned to surf (his biggest love and my main competitor) and where he asked me to marry him, so it has lots of sentimental significance for us and was the only place we wanted our wedding to be. We hired a lodge on the caravan site so we could easily nip down to the beach while we were staying there (and so Adam could easily nip down to surf on the wedding morning!) It wasn’t practical or possible to have the whole celebration on the beach, but we desperately wanted it to be part of the wedding, so we decided to head down for an hour in the morning with just our bridesmaids and groomsmen to have a bit of a get together and muck about before all the celebrations kicked off at Rhoscolyn Village Hall.”

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“As I said we really wanted our family and friends to be involved in our day and so many of our ‘guests’ were actually part of the wedding itself. We used minimal external suppliers and as a result, other than two bar staff serving the drinks at the bar, there were no strangers there at all for the entire day. The whole celebration had such an intimate and relaxed atmosphere as a result. Everyone pitched in, joined in and helped to bring the day to life, and it was all the more special to us because of this.”

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“Being such a homemade affair, our wedding was pretty chaotic, relaxed and rough around the edges”, she laughed. “We knew it wouldn’t be what many people would choose for their own wedding, but we genuinely weren’t bothered about this at all. It might have been unconventional but we feel proud that every choice we made was governed by what’s important to us rather than what tradition or other people expected. Yes, things went wrong. We had apocalyptic weather for an ‘outdoor’ wedding, and to top it off, with everyone needing to be indoors, we had half the indoor space we were supposed to have because the marquees wouldn’t stay up in the strong winds. The bar was supposed to be in the (non-existent) marquee so it had to be squashed into a hallway, and I forgot the cups for the punch so my father-in-law had to race out and buy some on the wedding morning! But lots of this actually ended up making things better as everyone bonded giggling over stuff going wrong and getting stuck in to help make it work.”

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“For various reasons it was really important to us to keep our wedding to a small budget”, she continued. “Without wishing to sound cheesy, we weren’t bothered about most of the superficial trimmings and wedding ‘fluff’, but instead wanted to focus on people and love – things that don’t cost anything but are the best and most important things about the day, the whole reason you’re there celebrating. Our tastes are genuinely very simple – we don’t really value expensive or showy things, we like everything pretty rough, ready and relaxed, and our wedding was just an extension of this. It just wouldn’t have been us to have had anything formal or luxurious, we’d have felt ridiculous. We were clear about our priorities for the day and allocated our budget accordingly – we spent the vast majority of the budget on good food and drink for our guests and amazing photography to remember it all by, as we really didn’t want to scrimp on these things. Everything else was all done very frugally.”

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Anna wore two dresses, a short lace one from ASOS, and a longer two-piece made for her by Silvia Hoya Mena, based in Manchester. who specialises in sustainable fashion. “I was nearly 6 months pregnant on the day (Adam and I are now proud parents to a lovely little lad called Huey!) so it was tricky choosing a dress when I was changing shape on a daily basis!” she explained. “My main outfit was made from bamboo and organic cotton. I’m a total tomboy and hardly ever wear dresses, and knew I’d be much happier in a skirt and top. This also worked really well around my bump – the skirt sat below it, and the top was loose over it, so I was really comfortable all day. Silvia was amazing and totally unfazed by designing and making a wedding outfit for a pregnant woman. As I knew we’d be going down to the beach before the ceremony, I didn’t want to wear my ‘proper’ wedding outfit as the skirt was full length and would have got filthy and wet before I’d even walked down the aisle. I found a really cute little short cream lace swing dress from ASOS Maternity for the bargain price of £22! I actually ended up changing back into this dress in the evening as it was easier to dance in.”

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The ceremony was the highlight for both Anna and Adam. They made it really special and personal but having Anna’s brother as their officiant. “Having my brother as our celebrant was truly one of the best decisions we made for the wedding. The ceremony felt all the more special. Walking down the aisle with my dad and my son Joe on either side of me, and seeing Adam waiting at the end with my brother was one of my favourite parts of the day.”

Most of the décor was homemade and the rest was bought very cheaply from places like Ikea and eBay. “I just wanted it to be colourful, there was no theme or colour scheme. In the months leading up to the wedding I gathered and decorated all the containers for the flowers – a mixture of coloured glass vases and pots from Ikea and Home Bargains, as well as jam jars decorated with colourful ribbon and washi tape, and tins dip-painted in bright colours. I love candles but to avoid fire hazards with so many kids running round I bought loads of fake tealights and put them in the jars and glass pots.”

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“My dad made the wooden frame for our ‘altar’ which I decorated with brightly coloured crepe streamers, and one of my bridesmaids surprised us with some beautiful brightly coloured crocheted ‘Anna & Adam’ bunting she’d handmade herself. My other bridesmaids Emma and Debs arranged all the flowers, which we bought wholesale. Adam is a graphic designer so he did all the stationery and our favours were postcard box sets of book jackets from Penguin, Puffin and Ladybird. We then matched a postcard to each wedding guest so that the book title on their postcard was relevant to them in some way.”

“Instead of a guest book, we’d collected loads of flat pebbles from the beach and put these in a bowl for people to write on with messages and advice for us. We didn’t have a ‘proper’ wedding cake. We asked friends and family to bring cakes if they wanted to, to add to a big ‘cake table’, with (very silly) prizes being given out for the best homemade ones in a cake competition just before the speeches.”

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“It was such an easy and immediate choice having Nick Tucker take our photographs – we honestly didn’t consider anyone else. I know no-one else who takes photos like he does, his documentary photography is mindblowing and he has a crazy talent for honing in on all the best stuff, all the meaningful stuff – his photos ooze soul, humour, life, love, stories and character, each image is like a little story in itself, and you can keep looking at them again and again and see something different each time. We specifically asked Nick not to bother too much with detail shots or couple shots, we just wanted him to focus on the genuine natural narrative of the day, pure documentary, warts and all, so we can remember it exactly as it was.”

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“My advice to other couples having  DIY wedding would be: don’t underestimate how much time it takes to put together!” the bride concluded. ” I thought I knew how long it would take and it took a million times longer! Delegate wherever you can, people love helping out and getting involved so accept help wherever it’s offered. Also, if you don’t have venue staff or a planner to keep an eye on everything, make sure a couple of organised and proactive people know the planned schedule of the day so they know what’s supposed to be happening and when, and can spot if things go awry or need attention. On the day you’ll be in such a whirlwind that you’ll hardly notice a thing so if it’s only you who knows the bigger picture it’s a recipe for everything unravelling.”

“Finally, things will go wrong. Accept this and don’t worry about it. Remember what it’s all about – not the décor, not the outfits, not even the food and drink. As long as you are both there to marry each other, the rest is all fluff and guff. Loads went ‘wrong’ with our wedding day, but it was without a doubt a perfect day. We couldn’t have enjoyed it more and none of the ‘disasters’ actually mattered one bit.”

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