Budget Friendly, DIY Heavy, Beautiful Back Garden Wedding: Emma & Chris

Benjamin Stuart Photography

October 7, 2014

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Featuring this wedding is a little bit extra special for me because I actually went to school with the bride, Emma! When she told me she was getting married, and hosting it in their own back garden, I insisted that she submit it to me afterwards. I’m so thrilled that she did! Emma is now a florist and owns the Green Parlour in Pangbourne, so clearly this wedding was going to be full of beautiful blooms. Just look her her bouquet! Epic or what?!

Oh and they only spent £1000 on their wedding. UGH, SO AMAZING.

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“We had been engaged for what seemed like forever (3 years to be precise) and during that time our lives changed so much, we became a family”, Emma told me. “Suddenly the whole idea of what we might want for our wedding shifted. It became about our space, our home and our garden. We wanted an amazing day but we also wanted to transform our back yard into a lasting memento of the day, something we can remember each year. We knew it had to be colourful, and unbeknown to Chris at this point the colour gold had to be included in as many places as possible!”

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“We didn’t start the process with any particular theme; things just seem to evolve from these little ideas. The garden dictated so much of what we did – we couldn’t have a formal sit down dinner … there just wasn’t enough room, so it became a buffet affair, which dictated a more casual nature which suited us down to a tee. This led on to decorations and creating colour in the little marquees we purchased. We both knew we wanted something colourful and something that reflected us.”

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“When we started the whole wedding process there was a ridiculous amount that needed doing to our garden to get it wedding-ready. It was basically a dog run with a million little stones scattered about. One of the biggest jobs was sifting those millions of stones and moving them from one part of the garden to another. It really was the worst job going! But actually it became a super important part of the planning. We’re both so busy working ridiculous hours we never spend as much time together as we should – these millions of tiny stones gave us purpose, time to think, time to talk and sparks of creativity that made our day so special.”

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“As we were doing it in our garden we thought we’d better warn the neighbours that there may be some excess noise I trundled around posting notes to let everyone know and within five minutes we’d had cards through the doors, messages of love and best wishes”, she continued. “It was such an amazing feeling – these people that we didn’t really know wanted us to have an amazing day! This community feel continued as the portaloo (of all things!) became the talk of the town (helped by us decorating it in a gold shimmer curtain) and the instillation of our floral archway over our front gate… people we’re stopping us in the street telling us how marvellous it looked and how we’d brightened up the neighbourhood It was such an amazing feeling making new acquaintances with our neighbours. This was well and truly topped off when some of them got together and put on an impromptu fireworks display for us during the evening of our wedding. It was totally magical!”

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Aa their budget was small, DIY was a huge part of their gorgeous wedding. “Our whole day was about DIY “, Emma said, “from the decorations right through to the food. One of my favourite things, especially since we’d opted for the informal buffet, was the knife and fork pouches we made with my Mum. Little scraps of fabric adorned the hessian holders keeping all the cutlery together.”

“Obviously we saved money by not having to hire a venue but we saved on all sorts of things. We decided to invite our guests to bring a bottle, saving us a huge amount on alcohol. It also meant everyone got to bring a drink they wanted to enjoy rather than the standard house red/white!”

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“Our dance floor/pergola was also decorated with tin jars sprayed in our wedding colours with spray paint. These held lots of scented florals, dangling down from different heights giving a magical feel to the space. We had ribbons hung from every place imaginable too. They were long fabric strips that were pinned to a rather undesirable fence and added movement and texture to the space behind the buffet table. Having the ribbon ties hanging down from the ceiling made everything feel oh so much more intimate and was super simple to do – random bits of fabric tied onto a longer ribbon. I think we ended up with about 60 metres, but it absolutely transformed the space.”

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“Although we didn’t DIY the cakes ourselves, we invited a random selection of guests to take part in The Great British Wedding Cake Bake Off. I’m mildly ashamed to admit that it’s one of my favourite programs, any way we could incorporate this into the wedding would be a winner. Each baker did us proud from amazing horticultural plant pots, giraffes, dinosaur bride and groom, a whole zoo scene, the most beautifully decorated fruitcake! It was amazing how everyone embraced the idea including one set of bakers who actually had to go out and purchase new kitchen equipment to take part.”

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“There were honestly so many amazing bits it’s impossible for me to tell you what my one favourite moment was. I’m always soppy for the speeches, the kids dancing, and watching everyone relax in a space we’d created. But I did really love when we announced the food was served. I loved standing back and watching everyone tuck in to the food and enjoy the atmosphere.”

“I also have to give the most massive shout out to Benjamin, our photographer, who made us feel totally at ease. I’m more of a behind the camera sort of person, and when Benjamin took us off for our couple shots I have to say I was a little worried about it. But it actually turned into one of my favourite parts of the day, lovely to have a few quite moments and a few goofing around moments in front of the camera!”

“I think we can honestly say there is nothing either of us would change about the wedding”, Emma concluded. “I only wish it had gone on for longer. I sobbed like a baby when the music finished; I wanted it to last forever.”

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