A Picnic Wedding: Alex & Denise

The inspiration for Alex & Denise’s Brighton wedding was for it to be “just like a big picnic”. They used local suppliers (including the caterers who used local produce and supplied locally produced champagne) where possible and DIY’ed the rest! “Our inspiration was for it to be like a big picnic – although without having to sit on the floor!” Denise told me. “I found mini picnic baskets that were used as the centrepiece on each table. These were filled with chutney, pickles and breadsticks. We wanted the wedding to be really relaxed – I’ve always disliked formal situations. I also wanted there to be lots of colour. For the meal we had a blanket set up on the floor for any children that got bored of the adults. We also did a play area with a wigwam, dress up box and colouring books. Although on the day they mainly opted for running around the field like lunatics.”

“The second (and very crucial) driving force for the wedding was the belief that it needn’t cost a fortune. Apparently the average wedding costs around £19,000 which to me is just a ridiculous amount of money (and was totally out of the question – we had nowhere near that amount of money to spend). We had less than £5,000 for the wedding and honeymoon but I didn’t want to compromise on the feeling of it being a special day. It was time to stick it to the man and beat the system.”

“There was a lot of DIY with this wedding. I gave myself the challenge of making 100 metres of bunting. I had my own mini production line! I sewed the bunting on to paper ribbon (which was much cheaper than using bias tape). I also made our sweetie favour bags (full of lovely sweets: pink shrimps, parma violets and flying saucers being my favourites). I really liked the look of the old fashioned paper sweetie bags – each table had a different colour (they looked great and they were as cheap as chips – sweet). They also doubled as name places. I tied them up using raffia. The raffia came in handy for lots of things – you can buy a massive bundle from floristry suppliers. This was much cheaper (and was far nicer raffia) than buying it anywhere else. Floristy suppliers were also a great place to go for decorative items (eg baskets, enamel buckets etc).”

“Another friend made great signs for the bar, camping area and toilets. This friend also made our tennis table bat table plan. Alex’s family are big fans of table tennis so it seemed like a good way to go! Each table was named after top table tennis players of the 1990s – I think that might be a wedding table plan first! I also made moustaches on sticks because I think they’re funny.”

Denise wore a wedding dress which she bought from Oxfam Bridal and then has customised and shortened by Erika Langley Bridal Alterations. “Wedding dress shops scare me so I never actually set foot in one,” the bride continued. “I’m not a girly girl and the idea of all the attention on me made me feel a bit ill. I knew I wanted a short dress – I’m only 5ft 1 and thought a meringue would drown me. Also, as we would spend the majority of the day in a field (and possibly a wet, muddy one) I didn’t want to be dragging a dress behind me. Plus, if I did need to don my yellow wellies, I wanted everyone to see them! I scoured the high street but nothing was right. I eventually went to Oxfam Bridal – perfect for me, I love a charity shop! The dresses were mainly quite extravagant but I did stumble across one that was nice and simple. It was also long with a huge train. Nothing that a dress maker couldn’t sort our though. I loved having such a simple dress – I felt really relaxed in it all day! My heels got replaced by some nice flat yellow sandals as soon as I got to the farm. A farm is no place for heels.”

Beautiful. Thank you to Alex & Denise for sharing their wedding with us today.

Supporting Cast:

Photography Credit: DIY (a friend, Robin)
Ceremony Venue: Brighton Register Office
Reception Venue: The Yogurt Rooms at Busses Farm, East Grinstead
Bride’s Dress: Oxfam Bridal
Cake: Dainty Catering, Brighton
Flowers: Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium, Brighton
Hair: Style with Grace, Brighton
Band: The Black Country Youth Games
Caterers: Dainty Catering, Brighton
Local Champagne: Chapel Down, Kent


  1. Wow! What a great wedding, a lot of love and effort has obviously gone into making this a very beautiful and special day. I love the details and looking at that picnic spread has made me hungry! Tx

  2. I wish I hadn’t read this blog now – I was hungry before I started, now I’ve ravenous! Love the picnic theme and feel, it so makes me yearn for the days of summer.

  3. Miss Aurore

    beautiful couple, beautiful picnic and some amazing pics! love every single bits. j adore

  4. Clare

    Please put me in contact with Alex and Denise. Im on a similar budget and would love to know more details of how they pulled this off!!!

  5. Naomi Paget

    Beautiful wedding – lots of great inspiration. Any ideas where to get a marquee tent like that from? I love the shape of it and most places I’ve looked at are crazily expensive but I’m on a similar budget to them, so any suggestions would be great!

  6. Denise

    Naomi – it’s a capri tent – we hired ours from WSP marquees. It was still one of the biggest expenses of the day though – I think it was cheaper than a standard marquee though as there was no need for the expensive lining.

    Clare – feel free to post your email address and let me know what you’d like to know! Our biggest piece of luck was finding the Yogurt rooms and our caterer.

  7. Such a lovely relaxed feel to this wedding and a great way to keep costs down. All the details are so personal to the couple…gorgeous

  8. I am so pleased to stumble across this! I have often wondered how your wedding went and whether the yellow wellies came out! You did a beautiful job of the reception, all that bunting! A great photographer choice too, your pictures are gorgeous.

    I hope married life is treating you both well! and thank you for the mention 🙂 x

  9. michelle

    Love this wedding!

    And what a talent your friend Robin has, really good photos.

  10. Clare Hill

    Hi Denise – Well I’ll be a bit cheeky and ask hat was your budget and where did you spend it? Finding it difficult to know how much to budget for everything or even knowing how much these things cost !! :S clare.hill88@hotmail.com

  11. Lisa Mytton

    Hi Denise – I have provisionally booked the Yoghurt Rooms and are hoping to have our ceremony at Brighton Town Hall. I would love to ask you some questions about logistics; my email address is lisamytton@hotmail.com. Thanks very much, Lisa 🙂

  12. courtney

    Can you give us done details on what was in your spread and how you came up with them? It looks wonderful and like do much fun!

  13. Denise

    Hello, the food was definitely a highlight! Our very lovely caterer came up with all the ideas (farmhouse platters). She made different vegetable tarts – including a very delicious caramelised onion and goats cheese tart. There was pâté and crackers, beef, ham, a large basket of breads that people could help themselves to. The biggest hit was the cheese and grapes. We had big chunks/whole (small) wheels of cheese. There was also salad along with potato salad. She finished the table off by placing strawberries, apples and celery around everything which made everything look so inviting.

    The caterer is no longer trading. She did it all for around £7 per head (which was amazing, especially as she made everything from scratch). It took a lot of research to find the right caterer – a lot of the ones I found were very expensive and lacking in any vision – all bog standard sausage roll buffets!

    Good luck!



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