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There are so many blogs I’m keen to write, so much design and creative advice I want to give, but also a wealth of wedding knowledge gained from my time working at You & Your Wedding magazine and Cosmopolitan Bride… not to mention my own personal experience as a bride! Often the best advice is from experience so let me share with you my time as a bride-to-be; great local, tried and tested suppliers, money saving tips and nifty DIY creative touches.
After a surprise proposal on Christmas Day morning 2012 my heart was set on a winter wedding, may I be clear I didn’t want a Christmassy red and gold wedding which is what most of our guests seemed to be expecting – I wanted roaring open fires in grand lounges, candles, fairy lights, mistletoe and champagne. I had a vision of a romantic intimate wedding with close family and friends… this is how I set out to create it;
Our wedding venue was the stunning Yaxley Hall in Suffolk (www.yaxleyhall.com) which is sadly no-longer hosting weddings. The countryside venue offered a fantastic off-peak (winter) package with a capacity in the ceremony room of 50 people which was perfect for us. The country manor had beautiful lounges with fireplaces and lovely high-back armchairs, perfect for a champagne reception and a heated marquee for the evening which was the blank canvas I was looking for. When hunting for your venue be sure to get a clear list of everything included in the package to be sure you’re comparing like for like, and don’t feel restricted to having it on a Saturday if there are more affordable weekday or Sunday options. Before going ahead with a venue double check local accommodation for families and travel arrangements for getting guests there.
My best advice for gown shopping would be to keep a very open mind, try on all styles – including that meringue! I had my heart set on a figure hugging fishtail gown but was swiftly disappointed when the shape did my figure no favours. I received a fantastic service from Just A Day Bridalwear in Ipswich (www.justadaybridal.co.uk) when the owner brought in gowns for me to try on which I hadn’t and wouldn’t of otherwise considered – the difference when I tried these on were unbelievable. One of these gowns was the dress I fell in love with and purchased that day! Take good underwear and try on with a heel you are likely to wear on the day.
I was lucky to find beautiful blush lace dresses for my bridesmaids from Ted Baker (www.tedbaker.com), in the summer sale – even better! Looking for a style and shape that works for all of your bridesmaids is key, I think it’s important to remember there are no rules and you can have different styles but match the colours if that works better for you. High-street stores are a great place to try first if you want to keep costs down. To save dragging small children around shopping centres I ordered plenty of flower-girl dresses and page boys suits online and invited them round for a trying on session which worked really well – their fashion show was great! Again I kept to high-street stores and looked at party outfits as well as occasion wear. I found Monsoon (www.uk.monsoon.co.uk), Debenhams (www.debenhams.com) and Next (www.next.co.uk) to have the best selection. If you’re buying far in advance remember to allow for the little one’s growth in clothes and shoes.
I must have purchased and returned at least 15 pairs of shoes! I was keen on having stunning sparkly stilettos but at the last minute sensibility won and I went for a modest heel and comfort with Rainbow Club wedding shoes (www.rainbowclub.co.uk/wedding/wedding-shoes). For comfort and value they were perfect, costing £70 from John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk), they even came with the option of being dyed another colour post wedding if you wanted to wear them again. Save the Christian Louboutin’s for honeymoon ladies!
Mine and my bridesmaids hair was gorgeously styled by Danielle Garnham (www.facebook.com/The-Guardroom-1727416564149487/). I was worried about having tight back hair and classic bridal curls! Danielle created beautiful soft up-do’s that held for the day and night. For me it was important to have a style that kept in place and I didn’t have to worry about or fiddle with in photos. Check out my inspiration; www.pinterest.com/polly_pickle/wedding-styling/
Beauty treatments & make-up
For pre-wedding beauty treatments and on the day make-up I recommend beautician Alice Setterfield for a flawless job and great value, visit www.alicemobilebeauty.com. I still don’t know any other nail artist or beautician who’s gelish nails last for 3 weeks – they will see you through the wedding and honeymoon, fabulous!
I met Helen Newman (www.helennewman.net) at a wedding fair and instantly liked her quirkier personal touches, such as adding buttons and pearls to the button holes along with the flowers. I’ve never been particularly green fingered so I told Helen the vision for my wedding and let her direct me on the best ideas – and that she did! My enchanting romantic loose tied winter bouquet was made up of quick sand, amnesia and avalanche roses (vintage tones), white ranunculus, large pine cones, seed heads, brunia and hypricum. Helen then entwined mixed foliage in the bouquet such as berried eucalyptus, pussy willow heads and twigs. The bridesmaids carried white gypsophila bouquets with the flower-girl carrying a pomander version and a matching ribbon tied hair circlet which looked just gorgeous. The soft white gypsophila looked delicate and pretty against the blush dresses. The handsome Groomsmen wore matching roses to my bouquet with tiny pinecones and co-ordinating buttons.
Setting the mood with light
I couldn’t rely on glorious summer sunshine so creating the romantic and cosy ambience was going to be important to set the mood. We lit every archway, windowsill and ledge with candles. I used a mixture of tea-light candle holders; gold etched glass holders and scented tea-lights from Next (www.next.co.uk) but mostly I used wooden holders made by my father and now husband, Jef, which were 3 to 6 inch sections of birch tree branches with tea-light candle sized holes carefully drilled in to the top. I then decorated these with co-ordinating blush and taupe ribbons and heart embellishments found cheaply on eBay (www.ebay.co.uk). These candle holders were so popular I had guests asking if they could take one home (I saw some guests take 3!) to the point we hardly had any left. I often see them at friends and families’ homes on their mantle pieces! I have seen them available on Etsy at a much higher cost – so I recommend utilising any skills friends or family may have.
To light the way for our evening guests I wanted to create a lit trail along the path – I did this by decorating old jars with a simple tied bow ribbon along the top rim and dropping in a basic tea-light candle. Ask friends and family to save their jars for you in advance and soak off the labels, they’re effective when finished and best of all, they’re free. As seen in the photograph below I was fortunate enough that the venue staff were willing to light and put out all candles on the day – despite the rain.
To create a magical marquee and wow factor we paid extra to have a fairy light canopy added to the draped ceiling, the extra cost made it a hard decision but the look it created on the night was spectacular – see photographs from the reception below. It also helped bring our evening photography to life which I feel would have been much flatter without this backdrop. We sourced ours from Wedding Creative (www.wedding-creative.co.uk) who provide a professional flawless service.
For our table centre pieces I wanted to keep building on the ambience and romantic tone, but also I was keen to keep costs down and was reluctant to splurge on flowers. I had a vision in my mind of something I wanted to create which used a slice of tree as the base, building on the rustic winter theme. Telling my family what I was looking for and ringing around garden centres was most amusing – everyone thought I was crazy! I stuck to my vision and set out to create it, I was inundated with compliments on the look on the day and have been lending out my props ever since. Stick to your vision and ideas but remember to practice and try out ideas at home to check they work before your big day (feel free to email me ideas and I’ll happily offer my opinion and advice; firstname.lastname@example.org ). My centre piece was made up of a wooden base with bark, wooden branch tea-light candles, gold tea-light candles, large scented candles, painted wooden table numbers embellished, ornate framed menu, gold painted pine cones, acorns, gold wooden hearts and fresh blush petals. The name tags were an extension of the centre piece with printed name cards on craft card placed on gold paint and glitter sprayed pine cones – which looked great placed on white linen napkins.
If you’re going to do wedding favours keep them fun and fresh – as a known girly girl I gave all of the ladies’ gold sparkly nail polish, decorated with a cute ‘Mr & Mrs Titmarsh’ tag with our wedding date. The colour matched the theme and added a little more sparkle to the table. To involve my husband-to-be he decided what he wanted to give our male guests (as a believer in taking chances!) was a scratch card each with a lucky penny. We put the scratch cards in craft envelopes, stamped with our emblem from our stationery range (www.pollypickledesign.com/gallery/#/rustic-winter/), tied our co-ordinating taupe ribbon in to a parcel bow and glued a shiny penny to the front. They created lots of laughs when they were all opened and scratched together before the meal!
Table plan & card trunk
I designed our table plan using a vintage globe background to compliment our love for travel as a couple. I hand decorated each table listing with small blush ribbon bows and placed the plan in a white ornate frame. This is a great tip as I have since reused the frame with photographs from our wedding day and have it up in our home – so it’s worth spending time looking for a frame you would like to use afterwards. To follow through with the map and travel theme I used my grandparents original brown leather suitcase (similar could be sourced cheaply through eBay or charity shops) and lined the inside with map paper from Paperchase (www.paperchase.co.uk), the effect this gave was great. I used some left over ribbon to hold the top open and hung a simple ‘cards’ handmade string bunting across it, see image below for the finished result.
I hope this has inspired and given you some ideas, there’s so much that can be created and achieved! For styling and stationery advice and help drop me an email at email@example.com and I would love to help your wedding dreams come true.