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.”
I didn’t think people like this existed in real life. When I first laid eyes on Erik & Caitlin’s wedding images I was convinced it was a styled shoot with models. This couldn’t be an actual wedding, surely? But I was wrong and my heart whooped with joy.
The wedding took place in September at the bride’s parent’s home. The entire wedding cost less than $5000. (I know! As if it wasn’t amazing enough already, right?!) Caitlin designed her own dress (which was made by the mother of the groom and ended up costing only $190, including the veil!), wore $20 shoes (which she customised) and her floral headpiece was made by one of her bridesmaids an hour before the ceremony. The cakes were homemade, the flowers were grown and collected by friends and family and the invitations were hand painted and wax sealed by the bride. All the catering was done by the mother of the bride and the bride’s brother Matt acted as bartender. As you can probably imagine the couple also decorated the entire space themselves.
Yep, you read that right – Carla & Nicholas spent just $800 on their intimate fiesta elopement. In fact I had to double check they didn’t mean $8000 when I received their submission and that it wasn’t just a typo!
The elopement took place on 28th December at Madison County Courthouse. After they got engaged, the couple immediately started planning a big wedding, but after some time decided to instead elope the weekend after Christmas. All their family was in town for the holidays so it meant they could all be there to celebrate with a big family meal afterwards. The bride’s sister-in-law, Melanie, secretly hired wedding photographer Ashley Vaughn of White Rabbit Studios as a gift to capture their day. Everything else came in under the $800 budget.
“Our family gathering after our ceremony was inspired by fiesta with a kick of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)”, Carla explained. “When we decided to do a courthouse wedding with a small family reception, I knew exactly where I wanted the reception. I love the look, the colors, the details, and atmosphere at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina. A fiesta theme just fit perfectly. Nick and are a little off the beaten path when it comes to what we enjoy and love in life and I have always been intrigued by and enjoyed the Mexican celebration Dia de los Muertos. We already had the family gathering together so why not honor loved ones who had passed on while we were at it?”