Ciaran & Ellen’s wedding was a far removed from a traditional wedding as possible. The bride didn’t wear a white dress, she wore a tweed suit; they didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, they had their dogs; they didn’t have a fancy vintage car, the went for a hike. The ceremony was held at The Woolpack Inn in Cumbria in February and was followed by a low key and intimate meal for their few attendees. A few months later they had a larger gathering in their own back garden for the rest of their friends and family.
“Just keep it really, really simple!” Ellen began. “We’d stayed at The Woolpack before and nearly all the other people we used were recommended by friends so we knew we could trust them. For example, I showed Chrissie at Hat Therapy my Liberty Freedom outfit and my favourite hat and let her work her magic on the design. It was great because the design was completely different to what I might have chosen. Chrissie interpreted the tweed brilliantly and the hat exceeded my expectations.”
Rebeka & Gerard were married in October at The Station House hotel in Ireland. The ceremony was held in the gardens where the couple had set up hay bales covered in blankets for their guests to sit on. They basically homemade everything and spent just €1500 (!) but it was perfect. The bride bought her wedding dress from a charity shop and customised it herself to create a real one of a kind gown. She wore it with a stunning homemade veil and Dorothy Perkins shoes. The bridesmaids wore high street dresses and carried flowers that the bride had arranged herself.
“Our vintage bohemian wedding was personal and DIY”, Rebeka writes. “We love everything vintage and unusual and we bought that into our day. My advice to other brides would be to collect as much as you can, because everything has a purpose. We made all the bunting and collected the table linen throughout our planning from second hand shops.”
I’m not an expert of the history of weddings, but when you think about it, many wedding traditions are really quite odd. A tiered cake, putting your best friends in ill-fitting in matching dresses, an awkward dance in front of everyone you know, throwing a bouquet of flowers at people’s heads… odd.
So I was presently surprised to receive Kelly & Toby’s wedding from their photographer Joanna Millington and see that it had none of that. In fact isn’t this the perfect example of what weddings should really be about? A ceremony declaring your intention to be together forever followed by a celebratory gathering with your nearest and dearest? So so awesome.
The day started with a ceremony at Islington town hall, followed by a stroll and casual drinks at the Drapers Arms, and concluded with an intimate dinner for 14 at The Wapping Project.
“We didn’t want to spend a fortune on the wedding and really tried to keep costs a minimum without spending a lot on unnecessary paraphernalia”, began the bride. “We kept it intimate and stripped it way back and put more money into different areas – namely a big bar tab and really great food. We also split the event into two days (we had a party on the second day for 70 people which wasn’t photographed) which helped reduce costs as it meant we didn’t have to put on dinner for 70 people (which would inevitably have ended up a bit naff on that scale).”
Wedding bloggers like to throw phrases like ‘laid back’, ‘low key’ and ‘budget-friendly’ around like their going out of fashion. But when it comes to a wedding like Kit & Caz’s, which took place in a youth hostel in the Peak District, there really are no other words. Their wedding was beautiful, utterly personal and a true reflection of the way they celebrate their love. No mess, no fuss, no pomp and circumstance and no pointless traditions. Oh no, this wedding was unpretentiousness personified. I love it.
The homemade wedding was held at YHA Ilam Hall in August. “Kit & Caz’s celebration was the stuff my photographic dreams are made of”, wrote wedding photographer Anna Hardy, “breathtakingly beautiful and totally individual and unique, with the most down-to-earth, warm, funny, interesting, loving, welcoming people… and of course, a couple who both shine and melt every time they look at each other.”
Unique wedding venues can be hard to come across in the UK, but Fiona & Jonny weren’t going to take that lying down. They knew they wanted a memorable space for their union and so selected Victoria Baths in Manchester. “Victoria Baths is an Edwardian swimming baths (which is no longer used as baths, now a restoration project and arts/community venue)”, wrote Fiona. “It was originally three big pools. Two of them remain and are empty – we got married in the deep end of the biggest one and had our reception on top of the other! It was boarded over with a sprung dance floor in the fifties (my granddad used to teach ballroom dancing in that room). The remaining smaller pool and the rest of building, which is pretty vast, was left for people to wander around and explore.”
“The venue played a huge part in our thinking. We found Victoria Baths quite quickly. We knew straight away we didn’t want the ‘Bronze package’ at a conveyor belt wedding venue so we looked at locations used for other stuff – filming, fashion, music, fairs etc – places with a bit of character or history and where we wouldn’t be restricted or forced to use ‘their people’ for our food, bar and so on. Neither of us wanted to blow stupid money either. Lots of our friends have had wonderful, really personal and brilliantly happy DIY-style weddings so we were definitely inspired by them too.”
An intimate park ceremony, a trip to a cupcakery and a wedding that’s an unpretentious as they get. With just $4000, Tyler & Revonna were wed at Council Crest Park in Portland, OR with just their two best friends in attendance. Their low key ‘reception’ was at Jake’s Grill, a local restaurant which they both love. The bride even made her own wedding dress, headpiece and the dress that her bridesmaid wore.
“I saw the inspiration for my dress two years before I made it, in a store-front in Portland”, began the bride. “I found a bustier that fit me well and built the dress around it. My mother was concerned that the champagne color would ‘wash me out’, because of my fair complexion, but I reminded her that there was plenty of color on this body to counteract the beige. I made several veils, in vain, before deciding on a fascinator instead. I made it, but Autumn (my BFF) designed it.”
“I made Autumn’s dress and fascinator first, using a corset as its base. I’m glad it fit, because we live 750 miles away from each other! I made our belts from the same pattern, to keep something similar. I found DIY tutorials for the boutonnière and bouquet online. I was pleased at how they all turned out although in retrospect I would have ommited my bouquet. I wanted to hold his hands, not my flowers. Plus, making them that morning stressed me out.”