Tag Archives: Charity Shop

A Picnic Wedding: Alex & Denise

The inspiration for Alex & Denise’s Brighton wedding was for it to be “just like a big picnic”. They used local suppliers (including the caterers who used local produce and supplied locally produced champagne) where possible and DIY’ed the rest! “Our inspiration was for it to be like a big picnic – although without having to sit on the floor!” Denise told me. “I found mini picnic baskets that were used as the centrepiece on each table. These were filled with chutney, pickles and breadsticks. We wanted the wedding to be really relaxed – I’ve always disliked formal situations. I also wanted there to be lots of colour. For the meal we had a blanket set up on the floor for any children that got bored of the adults. We also did a play area with a wigwam, dress up box and colouring books. Although on the day they mainly opted for running around the field like lunatics.”

“The second (and very crucial) driving force for the wedding was the belief that it needn’t cost a fortune. Apparently the average wedding costs around £19,000 which to me is just a ridiculous amount of money (and was totally out of the question – we had nowhere near that amount of money to spend). We had less than £5,000 for the wedding and honeymoon but I didn’t want to compromise on the feeling of it being a special day. It was time to stick it to the man and beat the system.”

“There was a lot of DIY with this wedding. I gave myself the challenge of making 100 metres of bunting. I had my own mini production line! I sewed the bunting on to paper ribbon (which was much cheaper than using bias tape). I also made our sweetie favour bags (full of lovely sweets: pink shrimps, parma violets and flying saucers being my favourites). I really liked the look of the old fashioned paper sweetie bags – each table had a different colour (they looked great and they were as cheap as chips – sweet). They also doubled as name places. I tied them up using raffia. The raffia came in handy for lots of things – you can buy a massive bundle from floristry suppliers. This was much cheaper (and was far nicer raffia) than buying it anywhere else. Floristy suppliers were also a great place to go for decorative items (eg baskets, enamel buckets etc).”

“Another friend made great signs for the bar, camping area and toilets. This friend also made our tennis table bat table plan. Alex’s family are big fans of table tennis so it seemed like a good way to go! Each table was named after top table tennis players of the 1990s – I think that might be a wedding table plan first! I also made moustaches on sticks because I think they’re funny.”

Denise wore a wedding dress which she bought from Oxfam Bridal and then has customised and shortened by Erika Langley Bridal Alterations. “Wedding dress shops scare me so I never actually set foot in one,” the bride continued. “I’m not a girly girl and the idea of all the attention on me made me feel a bit ill. I knew I wanted a short dress – I’m only 5ft 1 and thought a meringue would drown me. Also, as we would spend the majority of the day in a field (and possibly a wet, muddy one) I didn’t want to be dragging a dress behind me. Plus, if I did need to don my yellow wellies, I wanted everyone to see them! I scoured the high street but nothing was right. I eventually went to Oxfam Bridal – perfect for me, I love a charity shop! The dresses were mainly quite extravagant but I did stumble across one that was nice and simple. It was also long with a huge train. Nothing that a dress maker couldn’t sort our though. I loved having such a simple dress – I felt really relaxed in it all day! My heels got replaced by some nice flat yellow sandals as soon as I got to the farm. A farm is no place for heels.”

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Roo’s Favourite Finds: Fabulous Favours

Photography Credit: Caroline Tran via Ruffled Blog

As the rest of you Rock n Roll Brides will be aware, there are certain age-old wedding traditions that we love and want to uphold, whereas others leave us looking a bit glassy-eyed. The beauty of the contemporary wedding is that we’re free to do away with the stuff that doesn’t make sense to us pretty much without question – for us, I naturally just assumed that we’d be forsaking the wedding favour.

Now, I’ve only been to three weddings in my time and I received a wedding favour at just one of them – so you’ll forgive me for thinking that there was no real “meaning” or general substance to the idea. In fact, the tradition apparently dates back to as early as the 16th century, when wedding guests were given what is known as a bonbonniere – a small trinket box that held sugar cubes/confectionary. Sugar was then somewhat of a luxury, and to give it as a gift was indicatory of the bride and groom’s wealthy standing. As time went on and sugar became more of an affordable commodity, the tradition became popular with lower classes of bridal parties – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although I am a traditionalist in lots of ways, there’s something about this that doesn’t really appeal to me. In my defence, for any hard-core favour enthusiasts, it’s only because I’ve seen some truly tacky examples. Moreover, I felt like a lot of the ones I saw were highly impersonal, and I don’t know why. That was until I saw Alix’s handmade stuffed animal favours:

Photography Credit: Photo Pink, full wedding on Rock n Roll Bride here

These incredibly thoughtful, endlessly original gifts got my brain into gear and we figured that favours could be something we’d get on board with. Now, having quite hectic work/university schedules, I was pretty certain that we wouldn’t be able to create something as bespoke as Alix’s stuffed animals – so what could we come up with that had the perfect balance of creativity, personality (as in, personal to us), and manageability?

When I first moved to Brighton, my parents bought me a set of mini cactus plants. They’ve come with me everywhere, from home to home, and before we decided to get a kitten, I think they were pretty much our adopted children. There’s just something so aesthetically pleasing and comforting about cacti – not to mention that the cactus flower symbolizes a heart burning with love (or so the world wide web tells me). All in all, you could say we’re pretty attached to our mini cacti family, so when our pesky kitten kept knocking them out of their simple plastic pots, I decided to take action and find them some new housing. As ever, I was able to rely on my friendly neighbourhood charity shops:

Pair of eggcups, £1.50 from PDSA

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Roo’s Favourite Finds: The Tattered, The Broken & The Not So Shiny…Plus How to Haggle

This month, the fabulous Roo shares her ideas on what to do with less-than-perfect charity shop finds. I love love love her diy fix-up ideas so much and I know you guys will too.

Over to you Miss Roo…

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Now, even after seeing what treasures can be found if you look hard enough in the right places, you would be forgiven for presuming the following formula:

 Charity shops = tat

… Because, quite frankly, quite a lot of the time it’s proven to be true. Whether you’re a tried & true charity shop scavenger or a recent disciple following this series, you’re sure to have had a “dud” run, and that can be disheartening. When you’re perusing for the fun of it it’s not so bad, but if you’re committed to the cause for the sake of your wedding it’s easy to get blindsided by the dud run and head home feeling dejected. This month I’d like to focus on spotting the potential in otherwise “useless” items: the tattered, the broken, and the not so shiny.

On the whole, I would identify myself as someone who is creative, with an active imagination – yet despite being able to conceive of good ideas, I often find myself falling short when it comes to executing them, due to a distinct lack of “know-how”. This, among a menagerie of other reasons, is why the Internet is such a useful tool to have at our palms. Blogs such as Tokketok and Mermag boast incredible tutorials that take everyday items and transport them into the world of the fantastical – widening the scope of possibilities for objects that we’d otherwise overlook, or “make do with” – like these beautiful monogrammed glasses, just when you thought plain ones would suffice.

Photography Credit: Merrilee Liddiard, full tutorial at Mermag

Many online tutorials are a breeze (almost so simple that you wonder, why didn’t I think of that!?) and some are a little more intermediate, but a task that is too tasking for one person is less tasking when halved – which is where your bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, children or betrothed can come in handy. Some of my most favourite weddings featured on wedding blogs everywhere are the ones where I read the words “everyone chipped in!” because really, there’s nothing more celebratory and wonderful than everyone you love claiming a share of your big day. So, if you’re reading this and thinking but I’m the kind of person who glues their fingers together, do not despair. Bear with me, and I promise by the time you reach the end of this post, your creative lusts will be hooting.

Over the past couple of months we’ve tried terrariums and collected clothes, and this month I had the bright idea of looking at turning “trash” into treasure.

Photography Credit: Ramsey Amaoot

Now since I can tell that you’re wondering, I’ll tell you: the thought came to me following two separate, poetic incidences. Lamb and I have been on the hunt for furniture for our room over the past couple of weeks, so my charity shop trawling has extended to charity furniture shops. We’re fortunate enough to live next door to a YMCA furniture store, and regularly keep our beady eye out on the street outside for their delivery van. The only downside is that our obsession with second-hand furniture shopping has lead to us trawling the Internet for new places to leaf through, and this has been a little too time consuming when trying to juggle work/university on the side… oops!

Unfortunately, our search for more furniture shops run by charities has proved a little fruitless in and around our local area – despite this, we’ve managed to find some really wonderful flea markets dotted around Brighton, and this month I’d like to shift our attention to flea markets as well as charity shops as great sources for all manner of wedding paraphernalia. As usual, we’ll take a look at my favourite finds of the past month, and leaf through some tips I’ve jotted down along the way.

My secondary source of inspiration for this post was the stumbling across an absolutely phenomenal tutorial by Jason Hull. Remember how I said in my last wedding-y post that Pinterest was an outrageously effective way of finding and documenting ideas and inspo? If you didn’t believe it before, then I pray you believe it now – Pinterest boasts a whole host of “pins” dedicated purely to tutorials, focusing on everything from hair/make-up to homemade fashions; from home décor to party favours. It was whilst simply perusing the people I was following that I found the most delightful thing… vintage camera nightlights.

Photography Credit: Jason Hull

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Roo’s Favourite Finds: Finding Clothing Bargains in Charity Shops/Thrift Stores

This month, resident charity shopping guru/icon Roo is talking all about finding clothing gems in charity, thrift and vintage stores. Enjoy darlings!

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The last time we spoke, I was floating on the high of a relatively warm autumn down here in Brighton (I’m not kidding; I went swimming in the sea at the end of October). I’m sad to report that the temperature tables have now rightfully turned, and as a result I’ve been honing my beady eye in on stocking up my winter wardrobe to accommodate for these chillier months.

Now, apart from being a little bit skint a lot of the time, it’s also worth considering that I have a Mother who is a dab hand with a needle and thread. This has meant that I’ve grown up understanding the value of clothes – I won’t breach onto designer territory just now, because that’s a whole different kettle of fish – but I will say that nine times out of ten I’ll step into a popular high street store and be blown away by the lack of quality for the relatively extortionate price tag. On more than one occasion I have been the victim of inexplicably frayed edges, missing buttons, and ripped seams, and altogether I find it quite disheartening. That said, I do like to buy my key pieces – jeans, plain t-shirts, jumpers, etc – from high street stores, because we can all wear these things differently. If I am ever conscious of looking like a clone, I would much rather go for second-hand.

‘Second-hand’ can cover two areas; charity/thrift shops, or ‘vintage’ shops. I am also acutely aware of value for money when it comes to these two areas of retail, obviously through being a bit of a thrifting fiend, and having a sister who owned her own vintage clothing business. I’ve seen more warehouses than I can count; inspected wholesale bundles a-plenty and generally sifted through the crap, and I’m always on to a rip-off. This time around, I’m going to share with you my best new purchases of the recent month, and as ever compile a list of do’s, don’ts, how to’s and why’s, so that you might find your own good quality bargains. We’re going to focus primarily on charity shops, of course, but I’ll also be indicating where tips can seep into the vintage business too, since I feel the line between the two business sectors are blurring.

Finding what you’re looking for

As per your household/decorative items, it’s advisable to work out what you want before you leave the house. Are you going somewhere? Is it a formal do? Fancy dress? Do you need to be weather-conscious (i.e. cardigans vs sun dresses?) It’s worth being aware that charity shops (and vintage shops) set themselves out differently, so knowing what you have in mind is paramount. I’ve never worked out what my merchandising preference is, so I’ll roll with my gut and say that it’s dependant on what I’m looking for. If I know I want a new dress but I don’t mind what colour it is, then I’ll prefer shops that set themselves out by category; dresses, coats, jackets, jeans & trousers, shorts & skirts, and so on. That means that I can look through all the dresses they have at once, and compare my options easily.

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A DIY Thrift Store Explosion: James & Renee

James & Renee’s eclectic thrift store explosion of a wedding was a real DIY effort from the couple and their friends & family. The bride, who couldn’t stand the thought of a “boring, traditional wedding” explained her vision to me, “I could not stand the idea of a boring traditional wedding and reception with only two colors & every table was the same so I did everything my way. No one understood my vision until we set up the morning of the wedding & it all came together.”

“I spent all my time at thrift stores and swap meets picking out anything I liked whether it was a beautiful vintage fabric, a teacup with a winking face on it, or a floral painted ceramic cat. I love anything with a sense of humor & that’s interesting to look at. I’m so thankful we stuck to our vision & managed to pull off a vegetarian wedding with no DJ, dance floor, alcohol (subbed in vintage glass bottled sodas), wedding colors, or real flowers because to have everyone not only ‘get it’ but to say that they absolutely loved it & were so impressed I will always truly cherish. The look of surprise on everyone’s face & the high praise & compliments mean so much to us because this was such a labor of love and there was a piece of us in every little detail.”

The ceremony was held at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center Gardens, with the DIY reception following at Nan Couts Cottage. “Making everything is a lot of work but I’m so thankful we did it,” the bride continued. “It made it all so personal. Some of my fondest memories are the Sunday’s that myself & the females in the family would spend together making things for the wedding.”

“One Sunday we made a couple hundred feet of bunting & I had two aunts cutting out all the triangles, a cousin ironing them, & I sat at my sewing machine for a few hours sewing each one on & meanwhile my grandma was making pinwheels and another cousin was making the props for the photobooth. It was not only crazy efficient but a fun way to spend a Sunday and get creative minds working together.”

“The dessert trays were thrifted plates & tea cups stacked together & held together with epoxy glue. So quick & easy to make! I painted our cake toppers that were little wooden dolls purchased on Etsy. Each flower was made by hand by wrapping crepe paper around green floral wire, held together with tape & glue. The flower balls were made by making the flowers shorter stemmed and sticking them into a styrofoam ball. We made the chalk boards for the photobooth by spray painting chalk paint on the glass of an old picture frame. I also made about a hundred flower pins by sewing together different fabrics cut into flower shapes with a button in the center glued onto a bobby pin for favors for the ladies & used plyers to flatten out the edges of vintage bottle caps & glued pins on the back for the guys.”

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Roo’s Favourite Finds: Terrariums

Roo is pretty awesome you know. So she called me last week with an idea for a blog post which I loved so much I asked if she’d like to make it a monthly addition to the blog. Which I’m pleased to report she did.

As a bit of a charity shop/thrifting fiend, Roo’s idea was to share some of her favourite charity shop finds as well as showing you how she is using said finds in her wedding. These posts are going to be the perfect antidote to a wedding industry that tries to convince you that you have to spend a bomb to have a beautiful wedding. All you really need is a little imagination and not a lot of cash. Hurrah!

I just know you guys are gonna love this…

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When I say I love charity shops, it is purely with conviction and entirely without shame. I don’t know when it started, but I do know that having a very vintage-savvy mother helped in launching the love affair. My first charity shop-owned item was bought for me by her; a pair of calf-high, low-heeled tan boots costing just £3, from a very unknown shop in our suburb that supported the local Christian community. I wore those boots with everything, all the time; eventually, I wore those boots until they literally caved in on themselves. I don’t think I could say that those boots got me addicted, but seeing my mum come home with vintage suitcases full of antique lace and fabric samples certainly stirred my interest. I’m twenty-four now, and the stirring continues – dizzying, you might think, maybe even nauseous, but I’ve never stopped loving or being excited by it. I’m so pleased to share my best finds of these upcoming, pre-wedding months with you – not to mention a few “how-to” guides on finding your own dream buys. But first, a little prequel…

When I was twenty years old, going on twenty-one, I lived in Exeter for a brief period and fell in love with an antique shop called Otto Retro. I spent hours haggling with the owner (or, more accurately, she spent hours haggling with me – she would never let me pay full price for anything) and I ended up furnishing half my bedroom with some truly amazing pieces – take, for example, this desk and chair set – complete with globe, Anglepoise lamp, bird cage (plus mechanical birds) – all for £120.

With each visit, my interest in antiquing was sent skyrocketing, but after I peaked, I started to feel like I wasn’t getting enough out of it. Antique shops as a rule are independent stores, and I will never stop supporting independent stores and their respective owners, but I started to draw the conclusion that I would be far more satisfied supporting a larger/wider demographic – i.e. the target groups of charitable foundations. I am totally supportive of independent sellers and would choose them over the high street 80% of the time, but I can’t shirk the pure and simple fact that for me, nothing beats the feel-good ethic of charity-shop-shopping (charity shopping? I’ve never worked out the right phrase).

I was once described by a friend as “bargain-bin chic”, mostly because every time someone complimented me on my new jumper/shoes/handbag I’d say “oh, this old thing? It’s only from Scope”. Only? Only!? The charity shop veteran that I am today is disgusted by my conduct, because as you will learn (if you don’t know already) it is highly rude to be so dismissive of a good piece of tat.

I’ve always been overly fond of homeware – china, blankets, lamps, houseplants, and so on, etc, etc, and recently my thrifting focus has shifted from threads to trinkets. I do still look for clothes, but since we started planning our wedding I’ve become horrendously obsessed with picking up bits and bobs that we can use as table decorations. One of my very most favourite weddings featured here ever is Alix & Shawn’s Natural History Museum Wedding; for so many reasons, but the most relevant to our topic right now were their terrarium table decorations.

Photography credit: Liesl from Photo Pink NYC

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