Category Archives: British Brides

A Rockabilly, Psychobilly Wedding: Claire & Lee

I love weddings like Claire & Lee’s. Not just because the rockabilly theme is awesome, but because they put their heart and soul(s) into creating a wedding that reflects how they are in everyday life.

“We’re both very much in to the whole rockabilly and psychobilly scenes and have been for quite some time, so it only seemed natural to extend this to our wedding day,” Claire told me. “One thing we set out to do from the very beginning was to make our wedding day for us. It seems all too often that people try and tailor their wedding day around their family and other guests, where as for ourselves we tailored it around us and guests had to fit in; which they did wonderfully.”

“We sourced everything ourselves to fit our style perfectly; the clothes, cars, venues, music and decorations had to be just right; and although at times it was a nightmare of a challenge to get every thing perfect (antique teapots are notoriously hard to find) we managed it and wouldn’t have changed anything for the world.”

The wedding ceremony was held at Manor by the Lake, Cheltenham. After a moving service the couple were greeted by Morris Dancers as they departed. “As Lee is a Morris dancer he had his side (The Gloucester Morris Men) waiting outside of the venue ready for when we walked out as husband and wife, their sticks raised in an arch for us to walk through. They then preformed a few dances for us, including Ladies Pleasure, a one man jig, for Claire. Lee also joined the side for one dance.” The couple were then whisked off to their DIY styled reception at The Lower Lode Inn, Tewkesbury in a 1959 Black Cadillac.

“All of the decorations for the reception I made myself, including 80 meters of bunting and the green and purple polka dot table cloth centres,” Claire continued. “The bunting ran diagonally across the room and was coupled up with strings of fairy lights, which came together to form a heart on the wall directly behind Lee and I. The table decorations were antique tea sets, with flower arrangements in the teapots and the tea cup and saucers had floating tea lights in them. There were also cut glass candle stick holders and candles which we collected ourselves.

Both the bride and groom wore two outfits, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Claire changed from her Fairy Goth Mother corset and a skirt (made by a local seamstress to which Claire added – by hand – 500 pearls!) to her Forever Unique reception dress. Lee switched from a black 1950’s sharkskin suit (made in Las Vegas and bought on eBay) to a silver sharkskin suit which he found at Moss Bros of all places!

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A Psych-Folk-Horror Themed Wedding: Ali & Dan

Ali & Dan, who won free wedding photography with Laura Babb through a feature on this little wedding blog of mine, were married in November. With Dan being Scottish, they originally thought about having their wedding in the far North of the country (the area where he’s from) but it turned out the logistics were impossible. However they luckily found their perfect venue in Folly Farm, Bristol.

“We trawled around plenty of places with the help of the internet, and even booked another venue at one point – but when we found Folly Farm we knew it was the right spot,” Ali told me. “We completely lucked out with the weather on the day, it was hard to believe it was November – but as we fell for Folly Farm’s vantage point and woodland walks on a dreich February morning, we knew it would be beautiful no matter what. We will shortly be leaving the UK to spend a few years working in Philadelphia, so the wedding also gave us a chance to say goodbye to our closest friends and family.”

Although the couple didn’t really want a theme per-say, the day ended up just being a perfect reflection of them as a couple. “We wanted to include the things that we love: great music, the handmade, plenty of colour, nature, the outdoors and each other,” Ali continued. “We were enthusiastic planners though and our non-theme gradually evolved into something we decided to call ‘Psych-Folk-Horror’. We’ve been into folk music and particularly psychedelic folk for a while, so that was always going to be part of the musical element of our day.”

“The tipping point into full-blown theme though was when Dan gifted me “The Owl Service” by Alan Garner, a Folk Horror classic from 1967. After I read it, it became the inspiration for the invitations, RSVP cards and orders of service I designed. Folk Horror as a genre is inspired by nature and we made sure there was plenty of nature and wild things in the decorations. The woods at Folly Farm provided an amazing backdrop, with owls calling in the nighttime, deer and badgers. We let things get a little weirder later in the evening by projecting an animation we made in our living room of our RSVP cards coming to life, followed by the 1960’s TV series of The Owl Service.”

“Our inspiration primarily came from wanting the wedding to feel homely – part of us and the way we live together. That doesn’t sound very Rock n Roll in itself, but we tried really hard to cut out the rubbish and keep our own identities – hopefully whilst maintaining our usual sense of humour. It was very important to us that everything had some meaning for us. We collected lichen covered twigs and driftwood from a beach near Dan’s home in Scotland, teasels from Dan’s mum, and leaves from London’s parks (we’ve both developed a discerning eye for a good leaf!). We’re scientists by day and we wanted to include this too, hence the assortment of lab glassware. There were also things that we live with every day, such as blankets, cushions, bike bits and strange mix of ornaments.”

They even made their own ‘leaf bunting’ which, although looks simple, did take a lot of collecting, drying out and stringing of leaves to make happen! “We love the handmade and hand crafted, especially when those things are made by people we know.”

“We had a number of friends and family stay at the farm on Friday night before the wedding, who pulled out all the stops to help us with the decorations; tying leaf bunting, arranging teasels in conical flasks and piling up leaves and twigs late into the night. Dan’s Grandma is a weaver in the highlands; although she sadly could not make the journey south for the ceremony she made our cake and we used a number of her woven rugs for the ceremony.”

“I’ve always had a habit of ‘making’ and in recent years that’s predominantly been knitted things. The first bit of the wedding I made was my gloves, before I had any clear idea of what my dress would be like. The wool was an inspired gift from Dan, which I’d been saving for something special. I then moved onto shawls for my bridesmaids and a jumper for my page boy who is very fortunately fond of owls. I ended up designing Dan’s socks because I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. All these things were knitted in Alice Starmore’s yarn, whose colours are inspired by the Scottish landscape – specifically places where Dan grew up and we’ve both shared some of our happiest times together. We couldn’t get all our guests up to the remote Highlands, but we did manage to carry them with us during the day.”

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A Rustic-Glam French Wedding: Daniel & Caroline

Daniel & Caroline were married in Chateau Puits es Pratx in Ginestas, in the south-west of France. The gorgeous surroundings provided the perfect backdrop to their rustic wedding.

“The Chateau is only a few miles from Dan’s dad’s house in a nearby town, so it is an area of France we have visited often and know well,” the bride told me. “We knew from the off that we wanted our friends to help us celebrate our wedding in this beautiful place and the Chateau fitted our requirements perfectly – cottages on site, and a self-contained venue for a long weekend of fun! We wanted the weekend to feel like a party in a stunning venue, with good company, great food and endless wine. Simple!”

“I worked closely with the team at the Chateau to organise the day. We met her twice, but most of the planning was done my email – the food, the flowers, the decor, everything. My theme was French rustic-glam and I sent her mood boards of my inspiration, details of what I was making and collecting, and she used her talents to pull it all together. As it was a celebration for our friends and family as much as ourselves, we wanted them to be part of weekend as much as possible. Our friend Hilary is a broadcast journalist and acted as the celebrant, which was very special. Other friends did readings and we made everyone sing a rendition of Stand By Me.”

“Our only near-disaster was the wedding tree, which formed the central part of the ceremony. I’d had it printed in England before we left, but didn’t realise it had been damaged until about three hours before the ceremony. Luckily our coordinator has a degree in Fine Art, immediately picked up her pencils and drew the most beautiful tree as a replacement. I was very, very touched. The tree was framed and placed on an easel for the ceremony, pencils attached with lace. We put our thumbprints on the tree during the ceremony, as did our parents, with the guests adding theirs during the course of the day.”

It was important to the couple that their friends and family were as involved as possible with their day. “My mum stitched a swag of fabric for the arch we married under, which was fastened with bunches of flowers and a chandelier I bought on eBay,” Caroline continued. “Vintage paper parasols – again, sourced on eBay and flea markets – were provided for the guests. I drew the chandelier for the Order of Service cards which were designed and printed by my twin sister, Kelly.”

“When I walked into the courtyard for the wedding meal I was blown away by how beautiful it looked. The team at the Chateau had made it look incredible. Jugs and glass bottles filled with flowers sat on each table, and the lighting was stunning. There were candelabras hanging from the trees, fairy lights woven through the branches and Chinese lanterns strung high above the tables. I drew a lot of my inspiration for the table decor from the local area, and I was keen to use mini-blackboards, like in the markets. I found some pretty fabric-trimmed ones from Gisela Graham which were placed on mini-easels for the table numbers. Ironically, the French soap favours were bought at my favourite shop, RE in Corbridge, and not at the local market in France as planned! They too perfect to resist.”

Food and wine was a big part of the weekend so the couple decided to provide two meals on the wedding day. “The first was a pre-wedding picnic which was held in the garden at the Chateau. We brought charity-shop sourced blankets from the UK and bought picnic baskets from the local market in Olonzac which were filled with home-made quiche, cheese muffins and salads, served with wine spritzers and jugs of beer. The parasols were put to good use by lounging guests as it was very hot in the midday sun. Other guests played boules and splashed in the pool. It was everything we had imagined – good friends having a good time together.”

“The wedding meal was a buffet spread of suckling pig followed by a ‘buffet of desserts’ presented on vintage cake stands and mini blackboards I bought from a little shop in Seahouses, Northumberland.”

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An Origami Wedding: Ceri & Terry

Ceri & Terry didn’t really plan to have a theme for their November wedding, however once they started with the origami they found it hard to stop! Ceri told me all about their beautiful wedding, “When we first started planning the wedding, we were determined to do our best to be relaxed about the whole thing. We decided that, if we could find the right venue then even if everything else went wrong, we’d be ok – we could turn up in jeans and order pizza, if necessary, as long as we could get all our loved ones in the right place. After a couple of months of looking, we found it: Great Wilbraham Hall Barn. It was perfect – big enough for our guests, fairly isolated, licensed for weddings (we wanted everything in the same place), ideal for the winter months with lots of warmth and character, and within 30 minutes drive of Terry’s grandparents.”

“A few weeks after we had booked, we got the call – the barn had burnt down. Ah. So, onto plan B. We saw the marquee which was put up in place of the barn, and liked it – it was light and airy, and still had all the things about the location that we had loved initially. The only problem was that, whereas the barn was full of its own character, the marquee would definitely need decorating. We spent a lot of time going for walks and kicking ideas about, until I remembered the Senbazuru – an ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. It is a traditional wedding gift, or something done together by the prospective husband and wife to prepare them for married life together – it does take a lot of time and patience. I love origami, but Terry had to learn – which he did, and the next few months were spent folding cranes together in the evenings. We also went on to fold tiny cranes for all the place cards, and decided to carry the theme through, picking origami animals to be our table names and I even folded my own origami bouquet.”

The couple spent months collecting different types of paper for all the origami – from comic book patterns (Terry is a big fan) to headed paper from their work! “It was really exciting getting the paper for the cranes,” Ceri continued. “Every time we got a new batch in we’d sit and fold one of every colour just to see what they looked like!”

“The thing which we found most difficult about planning a wedding was the assumption from other people that things would always be done a certain way,” the bride concluded. “We wanted to start from scratch and do things because they felt right, rather than just because they were traditional. Our two best friends are guys, so no bridesmaids, but two best men. Because the marquee wasn’t licensed for weddings, we were legally married in a very small, very quick ceremony in the billiard room, and then had a public ceremony in front of all our guests, so we personally adapted both ceremonies to make them right. Neither of us were particularly interested in wedding flowers – so we didn’t have them, using flower-pots filled with Love Hearts to stand our origami animals up in in the centre of each table.”

“Also, music is really important to both of us, so we chose the songs that make us think of each other for background music throughout the reception, and picked a complete set-list for the DJ so we were sure that every song was one that we would want to dance to! Looking back on the day, it feels like every bit of it was very much ‘us’ – we didn’t have a wedding, we had our wedding. That’s what made us Rock n Roll.”

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A Vintage Festival Wedding…in the Rain!: Natasha & Charlie

Natasha & Charlie are the kind of couple that wedding photographers dream of – creative, unique in their inspiration and totally in love. The bride told me all about their vintage festival wedding. It may have rained for their outdoor ceremony, but it certainly didn’t damper their spirits!

“Even though I had prayed for months for sun on our wedding day, it still rained! I thought that this would ruin the day as everything we had planned involved being outside – including the ceremony. Just before we were due to go down, the wedding organiser at Maunsel House said that it was raining and tried to convince me to move everything inside. But I couldn’t bare the thought of not getting married under the beautiful bandstand as this had been my dream from the start – so I made everyone stand outside with umbrellas! It actually turned out really well and everybody loved it – the pictures of everyone with umbrellas looked great as well!”

“Even though we are from London we both knew that we wanted to celebrate our big day somewhere further afield,” the bride continued. “We are also huge music festival fans so the idea of a festival-style, open air wedding was really appealing for us. We saw about 5 places before we finally settled on Maunsel House. With a licensed bandstand set in the grounds for wedding ceremonies and a roofed Pergola for outside dining, it totally fitted the bill for our outdoorsy festival theme.”

“We really wanted the wedding styling to reflect our personalities and our love of vintage things, so we began trawling car boot sales for trinkets and props to start creating the look.” Natasha continued. “As an alternative to the standard marquee uplighting, we bought loads of cheap old lampshades in different colours and shapes to hang from the centre of our marquee. We lit some with bulbs and others with fairy lights creating a vintage living room effect.”

“I also found a beautiful 1950’s record player on eBay which we set up in the main hall playing ‘The Sound of Music’ soundtrack to guests as they arrived. Instead of a table and traditional guestbook, we hired an old 1920’s bureau from The Little Wedding Helper and put a typewriter on there with a typed welcome letter to our guests. Kirsten, our wedding helper styled it beautifully with our vintage books and telephone as well as some flowers and luggage tags for our guests to write messages to us.”

“We used old scrabble sets to create our table names which were all based on the different festivals we had been to over the years and the walkways were adorned with hundreds of metres of vintage style bunting made by myself, my mum and my mother-in-law. We also made satin bows from the left-over bunting material to decorate the wedding cake (a delicious cake of cheese!) and little jars of home-made chutney for our wedding favours. My mother-in-law sketched a lovely drawing of the garden bandstand (where we had the ceremony) for the cover of our Order of Service booklets and we included poems and readings, as well as the words to our our Elton John and Kiki Dee Sing-a-long.”

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A Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus: Nicola & David

Nicola & David were married on Halloween weekend in The Hospitium in York (England’s most haunted city apparently!) The venue is in the middle of the Museum Gardens and in the shadow of the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. The unusual setting was the perfect backdrop for their Rolling Stone Circus wedding.

Nicola explained, “We’re both massive Rolling Stones fans so we wanted to have the same type of feel as The Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus. Slightly carnival like with a serious nod to music. We drew the line at stilt walkers, jugglers and such, though I did very much want a peacock and an elephant. Surprisingly there are no ‘hire a peacock’ websites. Even less chance with the elephant.”

“We’re both also 60’s fans in that we love the music, films, fashion and whole esthetic of the 60’s. The 60’s had to feature pretty heavily without getting into the shark infested territories that are 60’s fancy dress and theme type ideas. Our clothes, house and furnishings, books, music and films are mostly 60’s so we’re not the weekend warriors that could get away with hiring the local scooter club to park up outside the venue for the day. We ensured that all the music would have something like an obscure garage or psych track for us and then a Motown or 60’s pop track for the family. We even threw in a bit of 90’s Britpop for the old school mates. We also put together a two hour DVD of 60’s film, adverts, music, dance, fashion and telly clips. If the guests didn’t like the sounds, there was definitely something for them to see there.”

“I have always loved Eastern esthetic from Indian to Moroccan to Oriental,” the bride continued. “We knew that it somehow had to play a part in the day, especially since it got a serious introduction to the Western World in the late 60’s. There were bits of it everywhere from the beading pattern on my dress to the table runners, to the stationery, to some of the music and visuals and definitely the belly dancers! Also, since the wedding was going to be in late October and we both love the Autumn we wanted to somehow incorporate our love of rich vibrant bold colour into the wedding.”

Both the bride & groom 100% looked the part for their impeccably themed wedding. Nicola wore a wedding dress which she had made by House of Mooshki (“I looked at hundreds of vintage dresses and some were stunning but asking to find a later 60’s ode to Hammer Horror/Celtic/Grecian/Medieval/Indian hybrid in ivory and gold that fit me was literally impossible”) and a headpiece by Lindsay Fleming Couture (“it was a slightly medieval looking circlet type thingie from with flowers threaded through. Sorry, just can’t use the word tiara. It conjures up all sorts of Katie Price images. Then I need a valium.”) The groom wore a suit made by George Lilley of Kristoffers in Leeds, inspired by a suit worn by Brian Jones in a Rolling Stones picture book.

The reception was styled and decorated by the couple themselves. They wanted it to totally be their vision. “We did everything. We sourced every idea we had, researched where to get stuff and the best options and gathered the lot ourselves. Our garage now looks like a car boot sale on acid.”

“In the ceremony room which was red, purple and gold we simply found four different types of tea light holders on eBay and we put them everywhere there was space. We found purple and gold cushion covers also on eBay which went perfectly with the red cushion covers already in the venue on the window ledges. In the reception room we had Indian silk table runners with psychedelic patterns on them in the ten different colours. Also from an Indian seller on eBay. We had black wire lantern/candle holders with a coloured candle in the centre and we had the same type of smaller hanging lantern/tea light holders on stands as our favours. We wanted people to be able to take something home, put it in their house and maybe think of us when they lit the candle in it. We also had psychedelic and retro patterned chocolate initials in the guests’ first initial rather than ours.”

The most important thing to the couple was that they had their wedding for them and that they ignored the things that they were informed they should do because it was a wedding. “We met with an amount of resistance from people when we told them some of our ideas,” the bride concluded. “Firstly, this was David’s day as much as it was mine. It was OUR wedding, not just my day. We decided that David would walk down the aisle to a song he chose. His groomsman, then his best man, then his parents and then David all walked down the aisle to ‘Change Is Now’ by The Byrds. It was then my turn. As the Stones ‘She’s a Rainbow’ came on, I walked down with my TWO Dad’s (who high fived each other!) after my bridesmaid, my best friend and my Mum (who was my maid of honour). I don’t know who makes the so called rules about how things are done, but I wasn’t very interested in abiding by them.”

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