Tag Archives: DIY

Button Moon, Moomins, Rainbow Petticoats and a Wedding in a Cave: Caroline & Johnny

When wedding photographer Sassy of Assassynation told me she’d booked a wedding through a feature on my site last year I was super thrilled. However my excitement was pretty much quadrupled when she them told me the bride was wearing a short dress… with a rainbow petticoat… with glittery turquoise leopard print wedges and ankle socks… oh yes and that they were getting married in a cave. I think died and went to wedding heaven right about then.

Caroline & Johnny were married on a Monday, on the 14th May this year. The ceremony was small – just the two of them, the celebrant and Sassy and her husband Ian, who not only photographed the event but acted as witnesses. The ceremony was at Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall. “One fabulously weather proof venue!” the bride laughed. “Subterranean lake, 500 candles and really dangerous steps for the clumsiest bride. What could possibly go wrong?”

“We had to wear hard hats in the cave. Instead of using the ones provided we decided to make our own. We made ones for Sassy and Ian with their names and the date out of buttons, glitter glue, feathers and wiggly eyes. I think I described them as a 5 year old with ADHD being let loose in Hobby Craft. Johnny painted my hat black with a yellow rim for Button Moon. Johnny then made all the Button Moon characters out of Fimo – including the rocket, painted them and stuck them to the hat. He also made a Clanger which he stuck to the front. Johnny hand painted his own hat, again inspired by HR Giger. He then made a Fimo female figure from one of his own artworks of painted glass. It was just brilliant.”

“As we had no best man or ring bearer we created one. I had bought Johnny a giant Zippy a while back and his mouth opened so we used him as a ring cushion! I bought Zippy a crazy bow tie for the occasion and we put our wedding rings into his mouth. He also wore Johnny’s steampunk goggles we’d bought for our engagement shoot. Zippy took pride of place on the registrars table together with some Clangers and a Moomin. We even covered the registrars table with Moomin fabric we found online. We are now going to get a shirt made out of it for Johnny.”

After the ceremony the couple and Sassy headed to Bodmin Jail for some portraits. “We knew that we wanted the pictures done in the dilapidated Naval Prison part of the jail,” Caroline continued. “A mini trash the dress on the wedding day. Perfect. We booked a cab to be on hand all day to ferry us around as we were going to various places. Turned out to be the best idea we could have had. Barry the driver was brilliant. He suggested a bridge we might want to have a photo on. We weren’t sure but went anyway and it was a really quirky little bridge giving us a photo with a slight optical illusion which we love.”

“We arrived next at East Looe Beach. Johnny and I live by the sea and knew that it had to feature in the day. I even bought a tide timetable booklet last year to see if it would be low tide so we could get some piccies in the sand.”

After the photo session came a small reception at Squid Ink Restaurant in Looe. “Johnny surprised me with a weekend away to Looe in Cornwall not long after we’d got engaged. We fell in love with it straight away. We found Squid Ink and we had just the best food and service in such a fabulous environment. When we’d decided to run away to Cornwall to get married, we knew instantly that we’d stay in Looe and Squid Ink was where we wanted to have our reception. Catherine and Warren who own the restaurant (and Warren is also the chef) were just brilliant. They really engaged with what we wanted to achieve – even our little nod to a Mad Hatters tea party from our original wedding ideas.”

“Johnny and I made tea cup wineglasses and had our wine served out of a teapot. Catherine out did herself with decorating our table with the bits and bobs we’d brought with us. Instead of scatter crystals we had scatter buttons to tie in with the button moon theme. Moomin character napkins and our piece de resistance cake with buttons and Clangers. The food was amazing and the service impeccable. I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s just awesome.”

“Our colour scheme came about from Alice in Wonderland. I’ve got an Alice mug and one day looking at it, Alice was there with her blue and white dress and bright yellow hair with a flamingo. That was it. Our colour scheme would be the brightest version – turquoise, yellow, fuchsia with white.”

Caroline’s dress was from Vivien of Holloway. She customised it herself with the multicoloured petticoats (bought from Vivien of Holloway and Swingtime) and the rainbow feather accessories. “I’d seen a wedding dress made completely out of feathers”, she explained. “It was just stunning. This inspired the addition of feathers to my dress. It added texture and was just so tactile. Adding the coloured feathers to the neckline and to the fascinator just brought them alive. I also made the belt out of ribbons, buttons and feathers.”

“Johnny and I have planned and compiled numerous budget spread sheets for countless weddings”, Caroline concluded when I asked where their ideas and inspiration came from. “From a balloon over the Masai Mara to a full blown Alice in Wonderland extravaganza. From the Giger Museum in Switzerland to Central Park New York. I don’t think there was idea that we didn’t look at. Nothing was really us. I was envious of couples who just picked venues and sorted out their day. We just couldn’t find us.”

“Through the loss of loved ones and reality checks, the thought of putting our life on hold to try and save for a couple of years to afford one day, elopement was born. We really would have our day the way we wanted it. I know that everybody says that they want their day to be about them and ours really truly was. We got it to be about us to the ultimate. Every detail from all the crafty DIY bits to the readings and vows, the venues, the whole day in fact, everything had a reason or meaning to be included and reflected of us as a couple. Because it was just the two if us, we had carte blanche to do it exactly as we wanted without having to worry about anyone else. We can truly and honestly say that we really did marry our best friends. We know things about each other that only friends share not couples. We got it all.”

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Rock and Roll Americana & Kitsch: Jennifer & Ryan

On a warm day in March, Jennifer & Ryan married in an Americana inspired wedding. “We have always had a bit of an obsession with America,” the bride told me. “It all started after we first visited New York together five years ago and fell hard-and-fast in love with the people, the shopping, the bars, and the food (hello blueberry pancake stacks!) We had originally planned to get married in New York, but when we found out that not all of our guests would be able to make it across the pond we decided to bring a slice of New York to the wedding!”

“All of our tables were themed after our favourite places in NYC – Trash & Vaudeville, Fun City Tattoo, the Trailer Park Lounge, Rodeo Bar, Big Daddy’s Diner, and the Velvet Lounge. We made miniature menus for place cards on the ‘Big Daddy’s table’, and one of our close friends spent several hours painstakingly engraving names into a hefty piece of wood for the ‘Rodeo Bar’ table plan!”

The couple handmade a lot of the details in order that they would perfectly fit into the vision they had for their day. “It has always been our dream to drive from New York to San Francisco in a beat up old 1950s caddy, stopping off at every diner, dive bar and motel on Route 66, so we decided that is exactly what we would do for our honeymoon,” Jennifer continued. “We thought we’d play on this for our wedding post box, and fashioned a DIY US mailbox from a chrome breadbin, some red foam (for the flag) and some old off cuts of wood (for the post and stand). As we have a habit of always taking things too far, we also invested in some astroturf for the ‘lawn’, an armful of plastic flowers for decoration, and (of course) a miniature white picket fence! We also flew a flock of pink plastic flamingos in from Baltimore to complete the set-up! As an alternative to a traditional guestbook, guests were handed postcards we’d collected from the states which they wrote on and then popped in the mailbox! I also made brooches for all of the ladies using red glitter fimo which I shaped into hearts, baked, and then edged with ivory pearls (all 1500 of them were glued on individually!)”

The bride wore a custom made dress from The Couture Company in Birmingham, with Vivienne Westwood shoes. However it wasn’t only the bride who looked the rockabilly part. The couple asked their guests to come dressed to fit the wedding theme too. Jennifer explained, “We told all of our guests that the theme of the wedding was ‘rock n roll with a kitsch twist’, and suggested watching ‘Cry-Baby’ for outfit inspiration! Everyone rocked up dolled up to the nines and looked incredible!”

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Butterflies, Pumpkins & Candy Corn – An Autumnal Wedding: Nicole & Ben

It may be Summer in the UK right now but it’s sure feeling a lot more like autumn at the moment. Where on Earth is the sunshine?! Well at least that means that some autumnal wedding inspiration won’t feel totally out of place on the blog today – because I love this wedding and couldn’t wait that long to share it!

“I can literally remember the first time I saw my husband Ben,” Nicole told me. “It was in the 8th grade and we hadn’t even met yet. We were both at a local high school for a math/science magnet school entrance exam, and we were both wearing oversized Bush t-shirts. So much romantic potential, I know. I took the test and crossed my fingers that we would both be accepted and that I would get the chance to meet him. Lo and behold, come that Fall, there he was in my 9th grade geometry class. Still, shy and anxious as we both were, it wasn’t until ten years later that we would fess-up to our decade-long crushes and start dating. I went to college in NYC and Ben traveled between Michigan and Ohio for an engineering program, but we never lost touch. We instant messaged and sent real paper mail. Once he even collected all the J.D. Salinger short stories he could find (I was big Holden Caulfield fan), compiled them in a binder, and mailed it to me. I know most brides would describe their wedding day as a ‘dream come true’, but I’m not sure they all mean it so literally. I have a stack of high school journals chronicling my crush to prove it.”

“Though we were living at Chicago at the time of our engagement, we knew we wanted to have a Michigan wedding, she continued, “it’s where we met and where most of our family lives. After a lot of frustrated searching (and many hideous chair covers), we found Wellers. Located near downtown Ann Arbor in the city of Saline, Wellers is Henry Ford’s old soy bean plantation. It’s a historical landmark with beautiful grounds and simple, rustic interiors, and best of all, owner Wendy Weller is first and foremost a chef. Charm and really excellent food.”

So they had their perfect venue, but the personalisation of the decor was also really important to this couple. “In my more relaxed moments of planning I had faith that following my instincts would lead to a look that was ‘us’, without needing a set ‘theme’ or a ton of paper goods in the same shade or blue. Though I’m sure it isn’t obvious, I took inspiration from the Alice in Wonderland Little Golden Book: tea length dresses, bows, nature as it is, colorful and random. I wanted whimsy and sophistication, but I need simplicity.”

“Handmade, personal details were also really important. I’m a freelance illustrator, and knew I wanted to handle the making of all the invitations and whatever design elements I could myself. I designed our save-the-dates, shower invites, and wedding invitations and had them printed locally. One of the biggest projects I undertook was making a zine-style cookbook that served as both wedding favors and escort cards. I compiled, edited, and illustrated it and it’s filled with some of our most-made, best-loved, and fondest memory-inducing recipes, including Ben’s (who is a top notch baker) tried and true recipe for scones with lemon curd, our most memorable Christmas dinner, and a friend’s pumpkin bread recipe I used to nibble on in the library during cram-week in college. The silly hungry ghost illustrations inside match the ghouls featured on our invitations. I also cut out some speech bubbles from foam core for silly photos, and the ‘I do/Me too’ photos have turned out to be unanimous favorites. My friend and bridesmaid helped make a ‘just married’ banner and my mom was my patient ally in selecting perfectly shaped pumpkins and lugging them around in a heat wave.”

The butterfly centrepieces were also a handmade effort and had significance to Nicole and her family. She explained, “My sister Michelle has an insect display business she started about two years ago called Alfred & Alma’s Insect Shoppe. Before a date, location, or dress were decided on, I knew I wanted Michelle to create butterfly (and some beetles, though I had a strict no moth policy) filled domes for our centerpieces. She spent months selecting butterflies and beetles, collecting flora and bell jars, and created a total of 17 displays for our reception in various sizes. Not only were they beautiful and unique decor, they were lovingly created. Plus they seriously cut down on our flower budget and made great gifts for friends and family that had helped with the wedding.”

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Brighton Cinema Wedding: Vicky & Ted

With Ted proposing to Vicky at the Duke of York Picturehouse in Brighton, the wedding theme and location were pretty much a given. They are both huge movie buffs so it suited them perfectly.

Vicky explained, “The proposal was amazing and a huge surprise. It was 25th February 2011 (the day after my birthday) and we had the day off for food and fun. I knew Ted had a surprise up his sleeve, but it wasn’t unusual (we often surprise each other with treats on birthdays), so I didn’t suspect a proposal. We got to the Duke of York Picturehouse at about 12.30 and Ted told me to go straight upstairs without looking at what film was showing. I assumed this was going to be a random screening of a Marilyn Monroe movie or an 80s classic. The place was dead (it was a Friday afternoon, so nothing strange about that) and when we took our balcony seats I turned to Ted and joked ‘You haven’t booked the place out have you?’. He smiled awkwardly and fretted about me turning my phone off.”

“The trailer for Shaun of the Dead started, ‘Wow, cool, the original trailers… are we seeing something from 2004?’ I said. I was also thinking how funny it was, as it was the trailer to one of our favourite films. Then the When Harry Met Sally trailer came on ‘What are the chances!?’ I thought, ‘Both our favourite films as the trailers!’. Then the third trailer came… ‘hold on’, I said, ‘that’s Brighton… that’s our road… that’s our building…!’ Ted had made a film trailer which was a camera running down the street, him doing a movie voice saying ‘one man… one woman… half a decade…’ and at the end a Spiderman card on our front door opens to read ‘one question’. At which point Ted was down on one knee and ‘our song’ was playing. We came out to the bar and a bottle of champagne on ice. It was amazing, I was so surprised! The story of the engagement has made women cry, but men mostly growl ‘Cheers for raising the bar, Ted!’. All in all it was a pretty fantastic and very personal proposal, which is exactly what I had hoped for.”

So they were engaged, and the Duke of York Picturehouse was to be the venue for their ceremony. Of course the wedding had to have a movie theme, and before Vicky walked down the aisle, they played this trailer on the cinema screen (watch it, it’s brilliant!) Then, after the ceremony came the reception at The Hove Club.

“I love a wedding, but we had been to so many where the main difference was the colour of the bow on those annoying chair covers!” Vicky continued. “Ted and I discussed the fact that we really didn’t like the traditional wedding suits from Moss Bros etc. and were just not big on ‘standard’ wedding stuff. We had also been to a lot of weddings where the Cheeky Girls, the Macarena and various other dire tunes were gladly played out, so we were looking forward to the chance to have some good tunes for the dancefloor (don’t get me wrong, Footloose is one of my favourite dancing songs. There is a fine line between cheese and mouldy cheese!) So our starting point was already all about trying to avoid those dislikes, but then I discovered wedding blogs! Oh the joy! So most of the inspiration came from blogs like Rock n Roll Bride. Just being able to see other people doing amazing weddings that were about personal touches and fun, silly stuff inspired us. I saw someone serving cola with striping straws and decided I wanted bottled drinks with stripey straws… but went for Babycham… saw the heart bouquet on Rock n Roll Bride I think and stole it, but with a twist.. picking different fabrics and coming up with the idea of large hearts on sticks for the bridesmaids.”

“Although we wouldn’t like to think we had a ‘themed wedding’ it was blatantly a movie themed wedding, with a vintage edge. I love all the vintage weddings I see online (with lace, dainty things and hay bales etc), but I knew that Ted and I were definitely more… cartoon/comic book vintage than dainty vintage! So we wanted more colour and humour. When I stood outside the cinema with the bridesmaids on the red carpet, I felt so glamorous and happy, I thought we looked like we had stepped out of an Elvis film! Ted asked if I was disappointed he didn’t dress up as Elvis but I wasn’t! I loved his tweed suit – it really was ‘him’ and people said he looked like a matinee idol!”

To continue the movie theme, the couple had a friend photoshop their faces onto various movie posters for all the wedding stationery. “I have work friend who often creates crazy birthday cards for people at work, photoshopping their faces onto other people and things. I found the Bride and the Beast poster online and my friend made it into our invitation. When it came to the order of service and table names he had to do a mammoth photo session with us to get all the right angles etc, and bless him he worked very hard to get those all done in time.”

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A Queensland Library Wedding: Shaun & Kate

The State Library of Queensland proved to be the perfect wedding venue for bookworms Shaun & Kate.

“We chose the State Library as we both really loved the space and as Shaun and I met over text books it seemed appropriate”, Kate told me. “We incorporated book, paper and typographical elements where we could but tried to not go overboard with the theme. I like a bit a kitsch but there was a strict anti baby’s breath policy!”

“I guess we did things a little differently,” she continued. “Firstly we ‘snuck off’ to the registry the day before the wedding to legally get married (although the sneaking didn’t work very well as we had about 50 witnesses). Saying our vows in front of our friends and family was more important to us than the legal or religious aspects and as we both disagree with the current definition of marriage in Australia, we decided that we didn’t want a celebrant or minister as part of the the ‘ceremony’. My brother performed the duties and we wrote the ceremony and vows ourselves so had lots of freedom in this regard.”

Their largely handmade and DIY wedding was a real group effort, with the couple calling on others for help where they could. “I spent lot of time and effort on the details and until the night I wasn’t sure if they would be noticed. I felt the handmade details and small elements really unified the evening and I received so many compliments and comments that I feel it was definitely worth doing. I really relied on the skills and talents of my friends and family. Most of the elements were DIY. Initially I had trouble asking for help but once I started people were delighted to help and were genuinely happy to be involved. Even local cafes were collecting bottles and jars for us, they were delighted to help too.”

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An Eclectic, ‘Junk Shop’ Inspired Wedding: Penny & Martin

Being wedding photographers themselves, Penny & Martin wanted to have a wedding that was completely personal to them. With an intimate ceremony in the Scottish highlands and a quirky reception in a Brighton coffee shop, they achieve this in spades!

They had always wanted to get married outside and as this is currently still not legal in England they traveled all the way from Brighton to Scotland for their intimate (just the two of them!) ceremony at Kingairloch Highland Estate. “We wanted to be married somewhere beautiful, dramatic and remote – somewhere that was just ours!” Penny told me. “We got some recommendations from a friend who knows the highlands well, and fell in love with Kingairloch when we saw the photos. We hadn’t visited the estate beforehand, so we spent our first day at the cottage exploring its stunning surroundings, and found the perfect little spot for our ceremony.”

“We wanted to have an outdoor ceremony which isn’t legal in England. We had considered doing the legal bit in our jeans the day before putting on the main ceremony for our friends and family, perhaps in the woods, but we were uncomfortable with the idea of already being married. Scotland (and most of the rest of the world) is more relaxed on their marriage laws so we would be able to have a legally recognised, humanist ceremony wherever we liked… and well, the Scottish highlands are stunning! We were really concerned that our nerves would overpower all other emotions on the day if we were to stand up in front of an audience, so we made the decision to have our little ceremony all to ourselves.”

For the photographs they set up their own cameras to photograph the ceremony on a timer. “We just loved the idea of having our own little photo project and actually the photographs mean so much more knowing that we took them ourselves!” Penny continued. “Martin was super-clever in how he organised all the cameras on tripods hiding in every available patch of long grass, set to take photos every second during the ceremony and every few seconds during the ‘couple shots’! We have loads of pics of Martin running into the frame, bounding over rocks and streams!” They even shot a video (which neither of them had ever done before!) themselves which they then played to their guests at the reception. You can watch it here. “It was so wonderful to share the wedding video with our friends and family at the reception, watching their reactions- laughter and tears, all of which we would have missed had we been at the front worrying about getting our lines right!”

On returning to Brighton, the couple wanted a big party to celebrate with their friends and family. They chose the quirky Marwood Coffee Shop for its relaxed atmosphere. “We really didn’t want anything formal and we wanted it to be memorably quirky! The Marwood with their extensive collection of awesome tat combined with skip-dived furniture and peeling walls was perfect! Plus it isn’t actually a designated wedding venue so it was unique to us. Most importantly, they serve kick arse coffee and life changing cake!”

The venue didn’t need much decorating but the couple added a few DIY elements to personalise the space. These included paper flowers, a Choccywoccydoodah cake and twinkly light fabric garlands made from strips of reclaimed fabric (which they’d also brought to Scotland with them and tied it to a tree for their ceremony backdrop!)

“We also pegged little ‘wishes’ on ribbons tied to embroidery hoops and hung from the ceiling,” the bride explained. “On one side they read ‘It is usually customary for the guests to grant wishes for the bride and groom – we are turning that on it’s head! Pick a wish and keep it safe’ and the other had little wishes such as ‘find a pot of gold’, ‘find someone who makes your toes curl’ and ‘be visited by the stork’!”

Just like the venue, Penny wanted her wedding dress to be unique and to scream ‘her’. She found her perfect designer, Armour sans Anguish, on etsy. “I wanted something that was mine, a one off, designed for just me! I was gathering inspiration on etsy and toying with the idea of designing my own, when I came across the wonderfully talented Tawny from Armour sans Anguish who uses reclaimed fabric (girl after my own heart) to create one-of-a-kind garments to order. It was a bit of a risk ordering a dress for a designer in California without having any fittings or even seeing the colour of the fabrics in person (photos can be rather deceptive)! However it really paid off. A few tweaks from a local seamstress and it was just perfect!”

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