Category Archives: British Brides

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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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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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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A 3-day Wedding at a Rockstar’s Retreat: Holly & Karen

Ridge Farm, a working farm and ex-recording studio in Surrey, proved to be the perfect location for Holly & Karen’s May wedding. “What made our wedding Rock n Roll? Definitely the venue!” Holly told me. “Aside from being a beautiful farm that we fell in love with instantly, Ridge Farm is also a recording studio where so many of our musical heroes have recorded albums and stayed – so our wedding guests were partying in the very same place that Queen, Whitesnake, Muse, Roxy, Rush and many more have partied! We hired the farm for the entire long weekend – Karen is Irish and it’s Irish tradition to hold 3 day long weddings so we had a big meal on the Friday for family and friends then the wedding on the Saturday, followed by a pool party with live music and a hog roast for everyone on the Sunday. The farm sleeps 24 plus there is a camping field so all our hungover guests could just crawl out of bed on Sunday morning and stumble over to rejoin the party. By Sunday evening everyone was in the jacuzzi swigging prosecco from the bottle, even Karen’s mum!”

“We wanted to fit a lot into our 3 day wedding but we were also determined not to start married life with a ridiculous amount of debt so we decided to try and swap our skills as web designers with various wedding suppliers,” she continued. “I would definitely recommend doing this, Karen posted an ad on Gumtree and we had over 20 bands offer to play for free! We also had offers from florists, entertainers and videographers. We chose 4 of the bands and they played in a mini festival on the Sunday in return for either website help or just a few beers! The bands were all lovely and we’re planning to go and see some of them when they next play in London.”

“Our friends and family also helped out massively – our ceremony was conducted by a friend, she was even ordained especially for the occasion! My mum made over 90 metres of bunting, a friend made us origami cranes, my aunt made our cake, my dad, best woman and Karen’s sister made all of the cupcakes and canapes – which were all served on large slates provided by my brothers roofing firm.”

“Karen made a sweet table to keep the children happy, although it was the adults that ended up eating most of them! It was the adults that had the most fun with the space hoppers we had too! We also made a lemonade stand and our page boys, my little brother and Karen’s nephew, served homemade lemonade to guests on arrival. We made a huge batch of rum and elderflower punch for after the ceremony and the caterers topped up glasses using a watering can.”

“We didn’t really have a specific theme,” Holly responded when I asked about it, “we kind of just picked all things that we liked. We wanted our wedding to feel more like a big party or festival than a wedding so we kept everything relaxed and tried to avoid anything that we felt was too wedding-y. The most important thing to us was that everyone else had a good time, so big sharing platters of food, loads of rum and wine and lots of music were the main things we focussed on.”

As the venue played such a huge role in the look and feel of the wedding, the couple did have a slight musical theme with their table names being named after albums. “We named our tables after albums that had been recorded at the farm – and I made a table plan using old records with mini doilies covering the record label to show the table name/number. I also used some of the old records that had been recorded at the farm to make bowls for our sweet table – I put the records in the oven on a low heat and placed them on top of various bowls/containers with a tin of beans on top to weigh them down as they melted into the shape of the bowls.”

“For the table decorations, we scoured charity shops and car boot sales for old china cups and bowls, we then filled them all with wax and made them into candles for each table. We made vases from old glass bottles and jars that our friends saved for us, then decorated them with the fabric that was left from the bunting. We also used the leftover fabric to tie each persons cutlery together, to make table cloths and to attach name tags to the favours (personalised m&ms) and my Nan made aprons from it for the waiting staff to wear. Maybe our theme was leftover fabric! I also cut up strips of burlap fabric to make the table runners and scattered each table with butterflies punched from our invites, beads from broken necklaces and old badges. I loved styling our wedding so much that I’m considering starting up a wedding styling and catering company now!”

“We both dislike the term ‘civil partnership’ so we went with ‘Karen and Holly are becoming civilized…’ as the introduction on our invites,” Holly concluded. “Karen wrote our ceremony and it was conducted by our close friend in Ridge Farm’s beautiful orchard. Having a friend carry out the ceremony made it much less intimidating and really personal, Karen’s sister wrote an emotional poem that she read during the ceremony and another friend did a reading that included quotes on love/marriage from our flower girl and page boy.”

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An Elegant & Eclectic North London Wedding: Tommy & Emma

Tommy & Emma were married at Stoke Newington Town Hall, with a reception at the amazing The Roost in Dalston, London. Far from a traditional wedding venue, it often plays host to TV or film crews and provided a really unique and quirky setting for their celebration. “Our wedding was homemade & eclectic”, Emma explained “elegant with rough edges… a bit like us!”

“It was really important to us that our guests felt part of the day and felt included,” she continued. “Instead of place names we found photographs of everyone from our personal collection of people over the years. We hoped that this would also spark conversation between guests that might not know each other very well. We also wrote everyone letters to thank you for coming on the day and with a special memory of our time together. Before the ceremony we gave each guest a outline of the day, so that everyone knew what was happening and when people were going to eat/drink and dance!”

“It was also so important that everyone knew how much we appreciated them being there. We wanted our wedding to reflect us, but also how other people have shaped our lives along the way. We pretty much did everything ourselves (with the help of our family!) We had homemade jams, chutneys and lemon curd on the tables as favours. This was a real triumph as everyone loves a bit of homemade jam! We also spent the whole year collecting cups and saucers, plates, side plates for our wedding breakfast. We handmade the table plan to look like bunting. Also, as emotions often run high at weddings we decided to screen print our invitations directly onto lots of different beautifully embroidered cotton handkerchiefs that we had collected.”

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