Tag Archives: DIY

Alice in Weddingland – The Engagement Session

This month Rock n Roll Bride intern and columnist, Alice headed out with her fiance Graham for their very first photo shoot together – their engagement session with photographer Sassy of  Assassynation. The engagement session can often be a bit of a nervous time for a soon-to-be-wed couple, as for the majority of people it’s the first time they’ve had a processional photo shoot. So, this month I asked Alice to tell us all about her experiences and why, when you’ve got your perfect photographer on the job, there really is  nothing to be afraid of!

I am seriously chuffed to share Alice & Graham’s engagement session with you today…seeing these is making me super excited to see their wedding photos too! Also…is is weird that I’m a little bit proud of my Alice when I see these? Awww love…

♥  ♥  ♥

A couple of weekends ago Graham and I ventured into the heart of the Cotswolds, for our engagement shoot.  We drove to Sassy’s house, where she settled our nerves by cooking us bacon sandwiches with cups of tea!  After Graham got to know her a bit (I had met her for the first time the day before at the Designer Wedding Show) we discussed possible ‘venues’ for the days shoot.  Thankfully the weather was beautiful, and we decided that outside would be best, so we could make the most of the natural light.  Sassy explained that the shoot would last around a couple of hours, and that what we did in that time was pretty much up to us.  When she mentioned an abandoned RAF watchtower and runway a few miles from her house I was beyond excited: I am a bit of a War History buff so the thought of being able to include that element in our engagement shoot was amazing!  We got in her car and drove to the tower.

Now all I can say is boy am I glad that I wore ‘proper’ shoes (well, Converse!) as we hiked our way over mud piles and through crop fields to find the watchtower!  When we got there I felt quite nervous and awkward; unsure of what I was expected to do, and uncomfortable at the thought of having my picture taken.  However I soon discovered that the mark of a good photographer is not just based on their technical ability, but rather also in their ability to give artistic direction.  Sassy talked us through each shot, and by the end it became a collaborative effort, with both Graham and myself piping up with suggestions for shots!  I also found that a natural direction evolved, in that I needn’t have been worried about being awkward in front of the camera.  Some couples are great at smiling for the camera, and are comfortable from the word go.  Well, I wasn’t, yet it didn’t compromise the quality of the photographs.  Sassy said that our shoot took more of a ‘moody model’ direction, which I found so funny as I am so far removed from a model its unreal!  It just goes to show, that with the right photographer even someone as camera-shy as me can get great images!

When I was emailing my top three photographers (Emma Case, Lisa Devlin and Sassy) I found that all of them offer engagement shoots in some form or another, either as part of their standard package, or for a couple of hundred pounds extra.  I really urge you all to consider investing a bit more money and going down this route, for a number of reasons.  One, the more comfortable you can become in front of the camera before the W-day itself, the more natural your wedding photos will look.  Secondly, it is an awesome way to get to know your photographer on a personal level, and learn how they work, and what to expect on the big day itself.  Finally, we are having some of the images blown up and mounted to display on easels around the reception venue, making for a lovely talking point for our guests, and a unique way of decorating your reception space.

All of these reasons, in my eyes, are super valid reasons to have an engagement shoot, but above all others, it was so fun! I really felt like Graham and I became friends with Sassy on that day, and when it ended with us sitting by a river outside a pub in a quintessentially chocolate-box village in the Cotswolds it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.  We’re even going to stay with Sass and her husband in April for a mini-break!

So I’m going to let the photos do the talking for themselves.  For a girl who was so nervous and felt awkward in front of a camera I think they’re pretty darn rocking!  And I must stress, that when looking at other people’s engagement shoots its easy to sit there and think “yes this is awesome, but I know ill never look like that in a photo”.  Well, you couldn’t be more wrong! This is exactly what I thought, but I discovered that each couple has their own style and personality, and with the right photographer that style and personality can be translated into truly personal and beautiful photographs. Go for it, I say!!

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Ashley & Jen’s February Beach Wedding

Ashley & Jen were married in the beach at Boesmanland in Langebaan South Africa just last week (gotta love that SA weather huh!?) “Ashley is a surfer so it was inevitable we have the wedding on the beach!” newlywed Jen told me. “We wanted the day to reflect our fun and outgoing personalities. My walking down the aisle song was “White Wedding” by the legendary Billy Idol! Ash and I are the best of friends, we enjoy every minute we spend together and really wanted this to be reflected on the day. We didn’t do any of the traditional things like cut the cake, throw a garter or bouquet (this uses up very important dancing time!) and our guest book was a custom made surf board made by the awesome Ian from Blank Boards.”

“Most of the details were made by ourselves which we really enjoyed as it added our personal touch to the day! I didn’t want flowers, how sad that they are beautiful and fresh the 1 day and dead the next? My bouquet was inspired to my beautiful fur-kid, Holly, who passed away, rest in peace Mommy’s baby! I religiously read wedding blogs for a year to get loads of ideas but add our own twist, thank goodness for the world wide web, especially the rocking Kat at Rock n Roll Bride!”

Pretty much the entire wedding was DIY. Ashley made all the centre pieces and Jen’s sister made the flowers that were added to them. “My sisters fiancé spent the day before the wedding making all the paddle fans,” continued the bride, “and we spent the week before the wedding getting most of our family and friends who were staying with us to finish off all the small details! The MR and MRS signage was a lovely surprise that my man made for me! We spent many a weekend painting and sanding things down, all the hard work was so worth it in the end!”

Jen wore a beautiful second-hand dress for the ceremony which she found on Designer Resale. For the reception she changed into a vintage dress which she’d found on eBay. She also bought her veil from Designer Resale, a cute mini top hat made by The Little Hattery. It was important to Ashley to be comfortable and cool so instead of a stuffy suit, he wore shorts from YDE, a waistcoat and tie from Markhams, a shirt from Vertigo and hat from Mr Price.

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Kirsten & David’s Folk Wedding

Kirsten and David’s beautifully folky, Cape Town wedding is the pure essence of why I love my Rock n Roll Brides. Pretty much their whole wedding was crafted from either second-hand or vintage items, and the majority of the details were hand-made. They had home-made pie instead of a wedding cake and they put together all the centrepieces and flowers (bouquets & bridesmaid’s headbands) themselves. “We pretty much made all the decor, even the tablecloths and runners,” Kirsten told me. “We had so many friends helping us the month before and went a bit overboard with ideas, but it was so much fun! We also made sure (almost completely) that we had finished everything we wanted to do before the last week so that we could spend some good time with all our friends, and made it a big celebration.”

Kirsten wore a second-hand dress that a friend gave her with leather Oxfords on her feet. All of the jewellery she wore was found at various markets and antique stores. For David’s outfit, he went and picked out his own material at a fabric shop with his friends and then they all drove to Mexico (David is from San Diego) and found a cheap tailor to make his suit! “Of course he left this to the week before he moved to South Africa,” Kirsten laughed, “so he only got to see if it fit him the week of the wedding! Mexicans can tailor good!”

The bucking of tradition didn’t stop there. The couple decided to leave the floor open to speeches, to make the whole process more of an organic one. “It was so nice as the wedding felt so spontaneous,” Kirsten said. “We had the oldest man there singing to us, and the youngest man (9) said the next speech.” Finally, instead of a traditional exit, the couple left on a tandem, “little tricky in a wedding dress but was really fun!” said the bride.

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Autumn & Kevin’s Romantic Vintage Valentine’s Wedding

Autumn & Kevin were married the day before Valentine’s Day so of course their wedding had to be a full on romantic affair. The bride is a self-confessed Valentine’s addict and so the theme was not only perfect for the fact that it was a wedding (aww love!) but because it was themed around the celebration she loves so much. The wedding took place at the bride’s Mother’s house which was not only the ideal setting for their colour scheme of red and white, but made the day a lot easier for Autumn’s Grandmother who also lived in the house with her. It was very important to the couple to have her there.

Autumn explained, “I wanted to have the wedding at my Mom’s because it would be easiest for my Grandma since she lives there too. Plus my Mom’s living room is red and white, with wood floors and a fireplace, which was my ideal setting. I knew from the beginning I wanted to have a vintage Valentine’s day wedding. It’s my favourite holiday and I already had tons of vintage Valentines. After christmas I transform my white retro christmas tree into a Valentines day tree and I wanted to incorporate that. A lot of the other decor was found at craft stores, or hand made by my Mom. We also incorporated a lot of personal items, like my antique cameras, and Kevin’s model airplanes that he had built. We featured a wall of photos with us as kids, and as a couple.”

“Since the wedding was at my Mom’s house we had to keep the guest list small, only 45 people. We each only had one person stand up with us, and our flower girl (who we dressed as cupid) and our ring bearer. We wanted to keep things easy and simple. The wedding invite was a photoshopped vintage Valentine that I threw together, since everything was so last minute we emailed the invites, vs. snail mail. The food was put together by my family, mostly my Mom and Aunt. And the ring bearers pillow was made by my Mother-in-law. We started photos at our house, in our kitchen and in front of the house and them moved to old town for the rest. Our first dance was to “Coney Island Baby” by the Excellents. We visited Coney Island about three months into our relationship for kevin’s birthday. We kissed at the top of the wonder wheel while they shot fireworks off the beach, and from then on Coney island was our place.”

“It was pretty thrown together but I think it turned out super cute. We’re actually having part 2 in October. A big reception to celebrate so we can invite all our friends that couldn’t fit into my Mom’s house. I’ll be wearing a different dress, and we’re going to have sideshow performances, including our friend Eak the Geek, who worked at the coney island sideshow for 11 years. We’re going to have a mock-remarried ceremony standing on his chest while he lies on a bed of nails! So it should be pretty amazing. I’ll be sure to send those photos along as well!”

I can’t wait to see those can you?

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Quay & Jory’s DIY, Maui Wedding

Quay & Jory were married under a giant tree, on the beach in Maui, Hawaii. “The wedding was very non traditional,” photographer Molly Marie told me. “It was a gay wedding, almost everything was DIY, both girls love tattoos, and planned the entire wedding themselves.  The wedding was not for anyone else but them, pure love.  However they knew family wouldn’t be able to attend easily as they are from Eau Claire, WI,  so photography was a very important part of the wedding to them.”

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Rock n Roll Bride Prize Winners – Ashley & Ray’s Old School Glamour Wedding

The eagle-eyed amongst you might remember Ashley & Ray. Ashley was the lucky Rock n Roll Bride reader that won all that lovely booty for filling out my reader’s survey over the Summer. Needless to say I was pretty excited to then see how it was all used in their wedding!

The couple were married in January and had their photographs taken by friend of the blog Kim Hawkins. The venue they chose was The Mayfair Hotel in London and their theme was old school glamour. Ashley was keen to tell me all about their big day and I’m thrilled to share it all with you here – especially as a lot of the suppliers they used are my friends!

“I suppose what made us Rock n Roll was that we had to think on our feet. There are no rules for civil partnerships; there’s no tradition and no etiquette to follow. It sounds liberating but it can also leave you a bit ‘at sea’. We wanted it to be an occasion but the last thing we wanted was to end up mirroring a ‘straight wedding’. With gay weddings there is such a risk of turning one person into the bride and one into the groom and then just applying all the rules of weddings thereafter. No thanks. I was always going to wear a dress and Ray was always going to wear a suit but we both got our walk down the aisle and neither of us wore white. We also wanted it to be about more than me and Ray committing ourselves to each other. I have an 11 year old daughter, Edie. Marrying me means that Ray also makes a commitment to Edie and we wanted that reflected in our day. After Ray and I had made our promises to each other the registrar asked Edie to come forward. Ray promised to love, encourage and care for Edie and gave her a charm bracelet with a charm representing each of those promises on it. It was a beautiful way of saying that not only were we committing ourselves to each other as a couple but that we were all committing ourselves to this new family. People cried. I cried.”

“In terms of the style of the day we decided what we really wanted was a ball. We both LOVE getting dressed up and going to black tie dos. We love the formality and the glamour and we loved the idea of giving our friends the opportunity to dress up to the nines and spend the evening in the type of hotel most of us would never get to go to. We wanted old school glamour with a bit of old library thrown in.  We also wanted to make sure there were a few elephants around. Years ago I asked Ray out for dinner by sending her a note and a small plastic elephant in a jiffy bag to her work. She was a journalist on an online news site at the time and her editor thought she was being stalked and was going to call the police. From then on we found that wherever we went there was always an elephant somewhere. I found a bag of 10 tiny grey elephants on ebay and we scattered them about the tables for people to find.”

“We actually had TWO wedding days. We wanted a huge posh wedding but the budget wouldn’t allow it so we had a medium sized posh wedding in London and then a week later we had a massive party at The Kursaal in Southend with live music and a DJ. We had to make sure all the flowers and decorations would last the week in between and cart them all back from London in our Ford Fiesta so we could use them again. I also had to bake another 120 cupcakes!”

“So how do you get a fancy dan wedding that looks like it cost an absolute fortune without spending a fortune? You call in the favours and you DIY like mad. That’s how!  We splurged on the things that were most important to us: The venue and food, The clothes, the photos and the music. Having won the amazing Rock n Roll Bride giveaway it was an absolute Godsend to have a whole pile of beautiful things that we could use for the wedding.””We gave the pearl and marcasite necklace from The Vintage Sparkle Company to my Mum and gave earrings from Chain of Daisies to Ray’s Mum and Alfie our bridesmaid. All the female ushers got cupcake soaps from Naturally Made Soaps and I wore the Silver Sixpence in her Shoe garter and Luella’s Boudoir knickers under my frock! We used the Lucy Ledger Designs ‘Rock and Romance’ caption board in our engagement shoot and I wore the stunning Rachel Simpson shoes and the Victorian Bridal Mini Top Hat by Two Back Flats  on my hen do. We are using all the thank you cards as well to thank people for their gifts to our honeymoon fund.”

“Everything else was DIY; The invites, orders of service, menus, the orchid table centres, the cakes, the decorations, everything. I am also an utter control freak so I HAD to do all the DIY myself. I got a 1929 German typewriter for the guest book off ebay for £13 which delighted me no end.  Everyone thought I was mad. ‘So do you get to relax before this wedding or do you just scrape the icing sugar out from under your nails and walk down the aisle?’ As it turned out doing almost everything ourselves was indeed chaotic. We were so rushed on the day I didn’t even have time for a bath. I had to have a stand up wash on my own wedding day! It was worth it though. Friends helped out and decorated cheese and laid out ikea vases with candles in and stuck silk orchids back onto willow sticks with double sided sticky tape and it all looked like perfection to the naked eye! Never mind that we had to pile it all back into a Ford Fiesta and drive it back to Essex ourselves afterwards.”

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