Dan & Rach didn’t think too hard about the theme of their wedding, they simply went with what felt perfect for them. This evolved into a village fete/old-fashioned garden party with 1930’s touches.
“It’s so easy to fall into the big fluffy trap when you start planning a wedding,” Rach told me “but then I discovered Rock n Roll Bride – yay! – and it was inspirational to see all those couples doing it their way. We moved from Brighton to Shropshire a month before the wedding, so a lot of it was done at the last minute. We managed it, thanks to our families and friends rallying round. We also found the truly splendid Bethan of Haywood Jones Photography through Rock n Roll Bride . We were nervous about being photographed but soon relaxed into it and it was like having an old friend there on the day.”
The ceremony took place at St Mary’s Dudleston, Shropshire. The bride’s Mother is a retired vicar so she performed the ceremony, making it extra special. After the touching service, the couple and their guests headed to Plas Warren, a B&B in Dudleston, Shropshire. “We had afternoon tea using vintage china and vases collected from charity shops,” continued the bride. “Dan made a load of cake stands using old plates and bits off eBay. We covered the tables with vintage tablecloths that had belonged to my Grandmother.”
The bride’s vintage-inspired dress was made by a friend and it turned out just as she wanted, “My bridesmaid Sally designed and made my 30’s-inspired frock. I’m very lucky to have such a talented friend. We bought the silk on Berwick Street in London. I knew I didn’t want white and when I saw the grey silk I fell in love with the colour, it had an old Hollywood look. She finished it off with a belt using an art deco dress clip for the buckle.”
There’s something about film photography. Something magical. Our wedding was shot on film in fact, and while at the time this wasn’t even a conscious decision (digital wedding photography wasn’t as popular then – wow I sound like we got married in the dark ages!) it’s a choice I’m pretty happy we made. There’s just a certain quality with this format, that no matter how hard it tries, digital images simply can’t compete with.
So when photographer Ashton Jean-Pierre sent me Sophie & Robert’s wedding last week, shot 100% with film, I jumped at the chance to share it with you.
“I grew up wanting to be different and loving quirky & unusual things,” newlywed Sophie told me. “I just don’t have a thing for traditional weddings and get excited whenever I see an alternative wedding on the internet. I knew that was what I wanted after getting engaged.”
“Robert and I knew we didn’t want to look traditional. Although I initially wanted to wear a vintage dress, I ended up falling in love with the quirky David Fielden dress! It was, in fact, the first dress I tried on and only took me 8 more dresses to decide it was the one for me. The back of the dress was initially short and I asked the dressmaker to make it longer as I wanted it to look a bit dramatic. Robert absolutely loves vintage-looking suits, so he got a beautiful bespoke brown suit made at Dress2Kill and it suited him perfectly! He also got this fabulous pink & cream striped bow-tie from Hackett.”
The couple wanted to put their personal stamp on their wedding, and so took it upon themselves to DIY wherever they could. “Due to my creativity, I wasn’t frightened to make my wedding ideas come real,” Sophie continued. “The unusual table plan display and the confetti cones were among the things Robert and I made. I also ordered favour badges, which went down well with our guests!”
“My lovely Mum made the pink/cream/light brown bunting and and the confetti cones were made by myself and Rob. We got the vintage vases & containers from charity shops and family members.”
And as I imagined from seeing Ashton‘s incredible images, the photography was also very important to this stylish pair. “As I am a photographer myself, choosing a wedding photographer was going to be a very easy task! Actually, Ashton was the only wedding photographer I considered hiring as we are friends and I absolutely love his style. We both have a thing for vintage things & alternative weddings and prefer to use film, so he knew exactly what I wanted. He was fabulous on our wedding day!”
Beautiful! I’m laying my blogging claim to all of Ashton’s weddings from here on in. I love his photography SO MUCH. Who’s with me?
When I asked Jo & Oli to descrive their wedding, they simply called it an “East End knees up!” I love that and think the description cetainly matches the party vibe of their wedding photographs from Rosie Parsons.
“We knew that we didn’t want a hotel reception (we couldn’t have afforded one anyway!) because we wanted to put our stamp on our day: we wanted it to be really about what we like: tea and cake; Rock n Roll; dancing and cocktails!” Jo explained. “I dragged my Mum around every hall in the East End of London before deciding on St Peters in Bethnal Green. It had so much character whilst being a blank canvas at the same time. It was really important to me to get married in the East End as I grew up in Stepney and we now live in Bow. The hall was within walking distance of the hall and traffic was quite bad along Valance Road that day so Oli and I got to ride to the hall in our Morris Minor and chat to our guests as they walked along!”
The ceremony was a very special party of the day and took place at St Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. “Oli isn’t Catholic so it was really important to me to make sure that the ceremony was as relaxed as possible while still being prayerful,” Jo explained. “I’ve know Father Tony for a while and knew that he would be able to put Oli at ease as well as perform a ceremony that would be personal and meaningful. Father Tony sat us facing our guests which made the ceremony more intimate and something we could really share with out family and friends. The ceremony was perfect and Rosie really captured our happiness as we left the church. We decided not to spend money on decorating the church due to our budget and the fact that it’s such a beautiful church, so full of character.”
“A lot of what we achieved was due to the help of family and friends, everything from the bridesmaid’s dresses made by Oli’s mum to the flowers by my bridesmaid’s mum to the catering and cocktails by my dad’s friends at Drinks Fusion. The search for the perfect dress was the most fun part of the whole preparation. I knew that I wanted a short dress because I wanted to be on the dancefloor all night: I’m really clumsy too so just knew that I would tear a long dress. As it turns out I somehow managed to slightly tear the scalloping at the bottom anyway – Oli’s mum to the rescue! I went to Melanie Potro with a specific idea about what I wanted and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with my dress. Going to see Melanie for fittings was so much fun. It’s so exciting seeing your dress being made from scratch, choosing the silk and lace and making the decisions. Melanie even out a little blue bow on my petticoat!”
“Oli and I love to go for afternoon tea (you can’t beat the Dorchester!) and thought that it would suit the hall which had an art deco feel. The vintage china was amazing – our caterer Jason spent a lot of time searching for the best in terms of quality and price – and was a real talking point with our guests as they arrived.”
“Oli and I had our own table which we felt was a bit different, although our nieces pulled up their chairs and joined us! The table names were made up of the record sleeves of our favourite singers and we had our favourite 50’s music playing throughout the afternoon tea. In the evening we had a huge buffet that quickly became the talking point of the evening as was the cocktail bar. Our guests drank over 400 cocktails!”
Steve & Shelley’s Isle of Wight wedding had a post-war vintage and DIY theme. The couple were keen not to spend a fortune on their day and the theme really evolved quite naturally and organically from this idea. “We were conscious we did not want to spend a fortune on our wedding and the theme of ‘Post-War Britain’ fitted in nicely with our DIY wedding,” the bride told me. “Everything was done on a budget, a lot sourced from eBay, friends and family helped to make bunting and paper chain hearts for decorating the reception venue. Our favours were Thorntons chocolates wrapped in brown wrapping paper with blue butchers twine (eBay again) and a parcel tag attached with the guests name as a place card. I handmade the invitations which were a shimmery Union Jack postcard style with the invitation wording as a telegram, on the invitation we requested that guests attend in their interpretation of post-war Britain dress, and gladly the majority of guests did so!”
“The Orders of Service were also handmade, inspired by the ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ poster campaigns from World War Two. We had a simple non-religious service which included a reading from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams. The chapel was simple and perfect for our day, and we were the first wedding there in four years! We exited the chapel to a church organ version of Frank Sinatra’s Love & Marriage.”
“We had martini glass style table centrepieces (from eBay again) on the tables at the reception, filled with white and red roses.” Shelley continued. ” We decided on table names rather than numbers and chose British personalities from the 40’s & 50’s including Elizabeth Taylor (the ‘top table’), Vera Lynn, Diana Dors, Winston Churchill & Norman Wisdom! For the table plan I used a Union Jack flag bought from Sainsbury’s (around the time of the Royal Wedding, we were lucky that everywhere was selling all things Union Jack!) mounted onto card, with the relevant personality’s photos next to the guests seated at each table. We also had ration card style menu’s on the tables. Upon arrival at the reception venue and throughout the meal, we had Glenn Miller Band playing in the background. The evening buffet consisted of a candy buffet of traditional sweets, and a british ‘afternoon tea’ – scones, jam & cream, sausages on union jack sticks and sandwiches.”
“We didn’t want a traditional wedding. Steve loves his classic cars and I love the 40’s and 50’s fashion, so we went for Post-War Britain, an era where things were very much do-it-yourself and on a budget and the fashion was beautiful and women really looked like women! In all, we spent just over £2000 on our wedding, and we managed this because we hunted high and low for the best deals and friends and family helped wherever they could. No one seems to believe us when we tell them what we spent – but believe me it really can be done – it just takes a lot of time to source the bargains. Plus, Rock n Roll Bride was a big source of inspiration and ideas!”
Marcus & Simone used some of my favourite wedding suppliers for their barn wedding in Gloucestershire, including Joanna Brown for photography, Fur Coat No Knickers for the dress and Severin of The Hepburn Collection for the bride’s hair. I love this! “I got a little frustrated at how little choice there is when it comes to creating an individual wedding, especially as I didn’t have that long to plan it (5 months),” the bride told me. “I found it easier to not refer to magazines and traditional wedding websites and preferred to take inspiration from Etsy.com, blogs such as Rock n Roll Bride and to go with my own ideas. I think it’s easy to get sucked into the wedding machine and things can become too fussy. My ethos was to try and keep it classic, stylish and simple.”
The laid back day started with the ceremony taking place outside in the glade of Cripps Barn. The bride didn’t actually realise the ceremony was taking place outside until she arrived in the morning! They were really lucky that it stopped raining just at the right time.
“We both work in Television and I laughed when Marcus told me that he had hired a Art Director and Lighting Director to help set up on the day as we had a relatively small, uncomplicated wedding. But both of them proved invaluable. We had festoon lights hung in the trees and around the outdoor fire pit. Sally Lock, the Art Director, provided gorgeous finishing touches inside and dressed outside with hurricane lamps and hanging pieces in the trees, taking all the stress off me on the day and giving it an extra special edge.”
“I was also desperate to track down a huge heart lighting piece that I had once seen at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club in London. However, during my search for it I stumbled across something even better: Giant (human size) light bulb letters. These were originally designed for a shop window display but are now hired out for events – they provided a great backdrop for pictures….even though our guests tried their best to move them around so they read S&M instead!”
“I always knew I was going to get a vintage dress and my wedding dress was actually the first wedding dress that I had ever tried on: I instantly fell in love with it. It originally had straps but the ladies at FCNK told me that they could amend it to make a strapless dress and fit boning into the bodice to give it a little more structure. They encouraged me to go and try on a few more dresses so that I could be sure that I wasn’t making a snap decision. I tried on a handful of dresses at a high end designer sample sale but everything felt very generic and nothing came close to being as unique as my vintage dress. We’re not sure of the original date of the dress but think it dates from the 1950’s.”
What’s this? Another awesome wedding from my photographer buddy Assassynation? Yep that’s right people, Sassy (aka Assassynation) really does get some of the very best wedding around…and the most awesome thing is many of them are Rock n Roll Bride readers so I get to then share them with you all afterwards. Yeey.
Lou & Chris had a simple wedding in London…and by simple I mean no fuss, no drama – just an awesome and super stylist day! They were married at Stoke Newington Town Hall, London which they followed up with a reception at The Londesborough pub, also in Stoke Newington.
“Our dream wedding was just a handful of family and close friends and a quiet registry office service,” the bride told me. “In all honesty, I was terrified of walking down the aisle and hated the idea of speeches. But we both have big families so, when we wrote down our list of essential guests, we realised that a small wedding was simply not an option. Instead, we decided to make it as personal as possible. We both work in magazines but were intimidated by the ideas in a lot of wedding magazines – we simply didn’t have the budget or the inclination to have a big swanky bash. Thankfully, I found Rock n Roll Bride just in the nick of time and realised that it was fine to do things differently – big relief!”
“We’re not religious so didn’t want to marry in a church and we didn’t fancy a hotel either,” Lou continued. “We looked at loads of venues in London and Yorkshire, where I’m from, from barns to restaurants to even an art gallery. Then we found the perfect place five minutes from where we lived. Stoke Newington Town Hall had recently been renovated and, every time we walked past and saw the grand pillars and art deco details, we’d both smile. When we had a wander around inside, we were equally blown away by it. We struck gold when we found the reception venue, The Londesborough – a gastro pub just down the road. Neither of us were interested in formalities or stuffiness and didn’t buy into the whole ‘princess for a day’ thing – we just wanted the whole day to be full of meaning for us and for it to be fun for our guests. Thankfully, the pub’s owners, Patrick and Greg Wright, were on our wavelength and happily allowed us to adorn the pub with homemade bunting and flower arrangements.”
“We tried to use local suppliers. Chris designed our invites and we used a local printer. The florist was also just down the road from our flat. We also had the idea of using old books as place settings as they’d double as favours and give people something to talk about at the meal. I had a romantic notion about DIY-ing and envisaged myself wafting around serenely, creating all these wonderful little bits. It was actually bloody hard work and I spent many weekends hunched over my sewing machine making metres of bunting and matching cushions. Thankfully, my sister helped out with sewing but I had to buy some extra in – the Mr and Mrs Smith bunting and the outdoor stuff was all bought in a panic the week before the wedding, as well as some extra cushions from Primark.”
“We made all the table names and also the place settings which we made by by writing names on parcel tags, putting them on raffia and then wrapping the raffia around the books. We got books from second hand book shops as well as purging my dad and gran’s book collections and we got a load of racy romance novels from the library – they were being sold off for 20p a book. We spent £20 max on the place settings and nearly all of them were taken home so they were definitely a success! We also saved money by using jam jars instead of buying vases for the reception flowers and dressed them up by wrapping raffia around them. Simple but really pretty.”
Lou went to my favourite dress shop for her vintage wedding dress, Fur Coat No Knickers in London. She explained, “When it came to my outfit, I always knew that I didn’t want a long dress. When I walked into FCNK, I completely fell in love – both with the dresses and with Laura and Emma, who run the shop. They are both so talented. At first, I’d thought that I’d go with a prom style dress but then I tried on a long fifties number and they showed me how they could transform it into a wiggle dress complete with a sash and funky ‘Priscilla Presley- style short veil. At every fitting I felt so comfortable in it and, on the wedding day, I even felt confident enough to make a speech.” Lou teamed her dress with shoes from Rachel Simpson and jewellery which was a gift from her Gran.
The photography was also really important to the couple, and I’m so excited that they picked one of my favourite ladies to shoot the day for them. “With the photography, it was important to us that the pictures captured the essence of the day and Sassy of Assassynation did not disappoint. She is such a calm person and she caught some really special moments, as well as all the fun bits, the decoration details and creating some really stylish shots too. We also had a little film produced by Frank Millar, which he set to our wedding music, and which makes us laugh and cry in equal measures. Everyone said how hard working and easy to get along with both Sassy and Frank were. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”
“Lots of people said that it was a very relaxed, fun wedding and I think that’s because we stayed true to ourselves and tried not to care what anyone thought,” concluded Lou. “On the day, the things that I’d worried about were my favourite part – walking down the aisle towards Chris was amazing and the ceremony was truly the happiest time of my life. Close friends did readings and my sister’s boyfriend Ian performed ‘It Must be Love’ by Labi Siffre. It was just perfect and really uplifting and I’m so glad that we followed our hearts. Our families and friends were amazing with helping us out. My mum organised the reception flowers – she brought down loads of flowers from her garden and did the arrangements the afternoon before the wedding, with help from Chris’ mum. And our families also helped us decorate the pub on Friday afternoon. Chris and his brother were out in pouring rain, putting up fairy lights in the garden, while the mums did the flowers and me, my dad, sister, auntie, my new sister in law Laura and one of our best mates clambered over chairs to pin up the bunting.”
“To me, that summed up the whole wedding – it was about two families joining together and it was really, really special. Not everything went according to plan – our shoes got trashed and we have a sneaking suspicion that no one remembered to turn on the fairy lights in the garden but we were having too much fun dancing to care! Our wedding day was messy and imperfect but it was real and so much fun and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Yey!! This wedding makes me so happy. Don’t forget to check out the video too…wow.