Wednesday 7 May 2014

Our handmade wedding

Next week hubby and I will celebrate our first wedding anniversary! *beams*
So I thought this would be the perfect time to tell you about ... our handmade wedding. I suggest you make a cuppa and curl up in a chair for this one. Those about to marry might find this very helpful, and those who aren't might also find it useful as many of the crafty ideas we used are just great for around the house and garden, lace lanterns and bunting for example. I've got SO many things to show you so today I'm just going to give you a little taster of what we got up to, and in the coming weeks I'll go into more depth on each subject; show you the making of the dress, and photos of all the crafty bits and photos from the making-of! We didn't have a huge budget to play with so my thrifty knowledge came in very handy, and with the help of family we managed to craft the perfect day. I learnt quite a lot in the process so hopefully I can pass some crafty wedding wisdom ...

Festoon wedding lighting adds atmosphere

Rustic, natural and very 'us' ...

Hubby and I knew pretty much straight away what we wanted our wedding to be like ... rustic, natural, informal and true to us. We're both musicians so we knew music would play a big part, but I also love making things so it was inevitable it would turn out to be 'a handmade wedding' which would also save us pennies. We loved the idea of getting family and friends involved in the making and on the day itself. So we invited guests to bring a cake for our 'rustic cake competition' ... we had so many cakes! our guests loved being involved and it saved us money as this became the dessert course. The winning cake had a Barbi sticking out the top of it :-) The winner got a prize of course - some lovely goodies for baking!

Photo table at wedding

Tip ...

Create a wedding that is unique to the both of you, and don't be put off by time and work. People always say "it's such a lot of work for just one day!" but it really isn't just one day. We had a lovely time in the 6 month lead up to the wedding ... making things not only saved money, it gave us lots of lovely memories with loved ones, and those memories are just as precious as the day itself.

Rustic wedding venue decor + ivy and festoon lighting

The perfect venue

Choosing the venue is the hard part. It has to tick so many boxes (and we had a lot of boxes!) We were hoping to marry in a woodland surrounded by bluebells (which are out in May) but with the weather being as it is in the UK we couldn't take a chance so we needed to have an indoor option. We visited over 8 venues (including one in France) and eventually settled on a beautiful 16th Century Tudor barn in Suffolk. It really took our breath away ... exposed beams, antique furniture and a wood burning stove at one end! It was perfect and very 'us'.

Milden hall tudor barn grounds

Tip ...

We really wanted an outdoor ceremony. We hoped to marry under this beautiful copper beech tree (I love trees!) but as it happened on our wedding day it rained SOLIDLY for most of the day. However, when I saw the rain on my wedding morning I simply shrugged it off. I was so excited, there was no way rain was going to spoil our day! besides I love the rain and because it rained all our guest stayed together - it was more intimate and cosy which was just lovely, and we got some beautiful piccies in the rain. So don't stress about what you can't control, and remember that whatever happens, it's the ceremony between you that really matters - and wherever you do it, it will be perfect.

Handmade antique wedding dress

My handmade Wedding dress

Trying on wedding dresses is so much fun. I highly recommend it, whether you're getting married or not! : ) However, none of the dresses I tried were what I had in my mind. Everything else was being lovingly made by hand so I decided my dress should be too. A few years ago my lovely cousin Rita passed away from Cancer. She was a beautiful person and has been a huge inspiration to me: she gave me my first sewing machine and was a fantastic seamstress and crafty soul. She once gave me a beautiful Normandy lace bedspread which we agreed would make a beautiful wedding dress one day. Until now it had been our living room curtain. So I made some sketches of what I had in mind, and armed with my fabric off I went to dressmaker Adrienne from Adrienne brides

Handmade antique wedding dress

Tip ...
When I told Adrienne I wanted to make a dress out of a curtain she thought I was crazy, but as soon as she saw the fabric she got very excited. Seeing my vision come to life was a truly wonderful experience and I'm so glad I did it. For the same cost as a shop-bought dress I had something truly original and unique to hopefully hand down to my own daughter one day. When it comes to the design go with what suits your shape, and take on the advice from your dressmaker ... she'll know what will, and won't suit you.

Rustic handmade wedding bouquet

Handmade Wedding flowers

I LOVE flowers. I decided early on to do my own and taught myself how to arrange them. It saved a fortune but it was quite a big undertaking. I practised my bouquet several times until I was happy and made videos to remind myself of what I did. It took me 8 hours to make all the bouquets, table arrangements and pinholes. Though I also bought some Jasmine pot plants for the tables. They were beautiful, saved money and smelt heavenly. Then after we gave them out as gifts.

Rustic handmade wedding bouquet + peach roses and cornflowers

Tip ...
The flowers I chose were my favourites: Wax flower, Antique and spray Roses, Delphiniums, Eucalyptus and Rosemary. But going for a 'Wildflower' look was very hard to get right. Sticking to just a few flower choices would be much easier. I taught myself via youtube and just through practise. Florists are worth every penny they charge, but if you can't afford it then making your own is fun, and can be much cheaper. Also if marrying in June / July you could quite easily get flowers and beautiful grasses for nothing from the hedgerows! There is eucalyptus & rosemary in my bouquet, that is all from Mrs Miggins' garden (!) Here's a video of how to make a floral table arrangement.

How to make teacup candle wedding favours

Wedding craft

I made a list of all the things I wanted to make, and 5 months before the wedding we got started. Much of what I made, I hadn't made before so if I can do it, anyone can. When I look back it was a huge undertaking but it didn't feel like it at the time. It saved a fortune, and remember ... family and friends like helping so use their talents and get them involved! It made some great memories - though hubby can't look at an Ivy bush without wanting to gather some now : ) Here's what we made and sourced .... and in the coming months I'll show you how we made some of it.

handmade wedding signs

* 50 teacup candles as favours for female guests
 (Here's a video of how to make a teacup candle)
* 50 hessian bags with handmade Chocolates
(for male guests - made by family member)
* 90 cups and saucers for afternoon tea 
(sourced from charity shops)
* Lace and floral bunting 
 (Here's a video of how to make rustic bunting)
* Brides handbag & garter 
(I made my garter and up-cycled an existing lace bag) 
* Brides earrings & bracelet  
(upcycled from other special pieces I had)
* Brides floral headdress 
(made fresh morning of wedding - taught myself)
* Bridesmaids handbags 
(made from old nightie)
* Ring pillow 
(easy - will show you)
and there's more ....

Handmade fresh floral wax flower coronet. Photo by John Pickup
* Mini bunting for cake and card basket
(easy peasy)
* Flower arrangements / bouquets / 12 buttonholes
(a challenge but worth it)
* Ivy covered hearts - decoration for ceiling
(hearts from cheap shop, wrapped day before)
* Cross-stitched table numbers and wedding record.
(one of my favourite keep-sakes)
* Log stumps for cake table 
(courtesy of daddy)
* Wooden signs & 'The Happy Jack' pub sign
(made by hubbington)
* Invitations 
(designed by hubby, complete with wax seal!)
* Lace candle lanterns out of jam jars
(made by me, mum and friends)
* Hessian and lace flower pots
(also made by me, mum and friends)
* Chutney
(made by hubby and family friend)
* Cake toppers
(made by me, overseen by cake-maker friend)

Guest book alternatives

One of our favourite keepsakes was our Wedding tree. It was made and painted by my uncle; Brian Seymour who is a wonderful, accomplished artist. With sketches of our silhouettes in the roots of the tree, the guests then leave their thumbprint (for the leaves) and sign their name underneath. My lovely dad also carved 'Wedding tree' into a heart-shaped log he found. I love having things to remind me of the day, so instead of a guest book we asked guests to write us a message or 'pearl of wisdom' onto a piece of patchwork fabric which I intend to turn into a patchwork quilt (eventually!)

Wedding tree by Brian Seymour


We were very lucky when it came to music because we, and our many of our friends are musicians - so of course we got them involved. Hubby and his band of merry men started the day with a musical procession! One of my favourite moments of all was during the ceremony... when hubby sung A capella to me; complete with beautiful harmonies sung by his friends (many of whom weren't musicians!) It was a moment I'll never forget. We wanted something a bit different musically, so we hired wind-up gramophone DJ's Matt and Annabel who played old-fashioned music from twenties onwards throughout the day. Later in the evening we performed a duet (comical I might add) and entertained our guests with a live band made up of our best friends.

Wind-up gramophone DJ's Matt and Annabel

Think about what music you both love and try and come up with ideas that reflect that. We almost went with a folk band as they're so much fun and it really gets the guests involved. Perfect for a fun, informal wedding. But we wanted to use our friends talents instead (which also saved us pennies!). Don't be afraid to think outside the box.


AHC words of wedding wisdom ...

By all means plan until you're blue in the face BUT when the day finally comes, hand over the reins completely. I printed out itineraries for all the key people involved so they all knew what was happening and when. We nominated two people to run the day (our best man and woman) so we could just sit back and enjoy the day.

Keep a diary! I wrote about all the lovely little things that happened in the run up to the wedding ... I also had another for the wedding itself (took a whole notebook!) and one for the honeymoon because I didn't want to forget anything

Even if you're on a budget don't skimp on photographer or videographer - everything else is gone in a day but these are key people that will enable you to look back on it for years and years to come.

Include your groom as much as you can, coming up with ideas, the planning and the making. Often they're left out but it's his wedding as well, and he will enjoy it all the more if he's a part of it. Hubby made so much and really got into it (and he's not usually the crafty type!) We had so much fun doing it together.

You will get stressed, but when you do, breath deep and remember 1) why you are doing this and 2) that it will soon all be over and the day will just be a memory, so make the most of everything.

Cheese tiered wedding cake

Lean on friends and family and get them involved. We invited our guests to bring a cake to the wedding for our 'cake competition.' Guests loved it and went all out on designing the cakes! Not only was this fun for them, it saved us money as all the cake also provided dessert. The winning cake had the top half of a Barbie sticking out of it!

Some brides (and close family) get the blues once it's all over. I was relieved to be honest ... it was lovely to just 'be' married! Close family often feel it most as when it's all over they don't get to go on a lovely honeymoon! so perhaps plan some fun days out for them to keep their spirits up. When the honeymoon's over enjoy nesting and reminiscing, it's really all about the marriage, the wedding was just the beginning :-) 

All photographs by Binky Nixon (Except for Milden Hall grounds by Ben Carrick, and floral headdress photograph by Jon Pickup.)

Thank you to The Cast

JM x

Made for us by Mama bear. Unfortunately we were a bit tipsy and
left it in the taxi!  Photo by Ben Carrick.

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  1. Wow, that looks like one really beautiful wedding. xxx

  2. No idea if you'll see this comment on an old post Jodie, but been clicking on a few archived posts since commenting on your latest post and love this one. I got married at 24, thirty years ago - doesn't seem that long! This post has made me wish that I'd had the confidence, creativity and individuality at that young age to have had a 'handmade wedding'. The whole thing looks magical and a real labour of love. I'm a believer in diary keeping too, coming up to 42 years of diary writing soon! :) Hope you don't mind the further comment but wanted to thank you for sharing such an important personal occasion - i'll stick to just reading now!

    1. Ah I love receiving comments Susan! always feel free to write. It was such a lovely day, feels so long ago now! It's lovely to hear you keep a diary too, 42 years?! That's amazing. I need to write more often, nowadays I only keep a diary for special occasions and cottage getaways, I'm always too tired to write at night! x

  3. You're such an inspiration Jodie! This is the first time im writing a comment on a blog! And Ive read many blogs! I love the idea of making the most of your creativity while involving family and friends... this truly makes tye big day extra special for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing. I love the rustic look, it never grows old for any occasion. When I get married soon, I'll try to do the things I learned here, handmade wedding!!

    1. Ah that's lovely Debbie - I'm so glad it's inspired you! Handmade elements are so worth doing, you'll be glad you did :-) All the best xx