Our whimsical DIY wedding

Aren’t weddings a blast! I didn’t grow up dreaming about getting married but our wedding day was more than I could ever dream of – it was fun, it was personal and it was ALL us!

I was of course my usual ambitious self and wanted to design and make everything myself (and being a perfectionist everything took twice as long to make). In the end it was a DIY wedding that I am very proud of, but the main thing is we had buckets of fun and I get to marry my best friend!

Our quirky little wedding was featured in a couple of wedding blogs (Rock My Wedding and English Wedding) as well as Cosmopolitan Bride magazine (Feb/Mar 2010 issue). And due to part laziness part being efficient (my excuse anyway), I am copying & pasting excerpt from the Cosmo Bride quesionnaire for this blog.

When and where did you first meet? Please tell me a bit about your first meeting! How did you become a couple? And where did you go on your first date?

Despite living in opposite sides of the world (me in Australia and him in the UK), we had mutual friends getting married and who, knowing we were both planning a round the world trip, suggested we could do part of it together. We started emailing each other to organise our travel route and then met in Oct 2005 at our friends wedding in Australia. We travelled together in Jan 2006 for 5 weeks before our itineraries took us separate ways but had by then decided to meet up again as we enjoyed travelling together so much! At the end of our travel, we had fallen in love and decided to move to London together. As a result we never really had a first date!

Whereabouts did you get married?

River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames. They were at the initial stages of applying for a wedding licence. We had to wait 5 months before booking anything in case the licence was not granted but it all worked out and we became the first couple to be married there!

What type of ceremony did you have? Any personalised elements?

Civil ceremony. I walked down the aisle to Lucky by Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat – the best man led the way during the male vocal, clicking his heels as he reached the front row. This was followed by the bridesmaid curtsying her way during the female vocal. I walked down the aisle with my dad as the chorus commenced with the words “Lucky I’m in love with my best friend” which I felt summed up my emotions perfectly.

We wrote our own vows, and instead of the normal readings we had a video recording of my best friend from Australia (she was 7 months pregnant so couldn’t make it) doing a reading. Derek’s lovely niece sang a quirky little song – Grow Old with You by Adam Sandler from the film The Wedding Singer.

Where was your reception held?

Temple Island Meadow, Henley-on-Thames. I wanted to get married by the water and River Thames seemed the perfect backdrop for our wedding. It also allowed us and our guests to arrive at the reception venue by boat which we loved!

How did you know the dress was “the one”?! What shoes did you wear and where were they from?

It took me a while to find my dress as I was looking for something with a sleek vintage feel, and definitely not big and princessy – I’m also quite petite so it is quite difficult to find something that wouldn’t “drown” me! I eventually found Tabitha by Charlotte Balbier (who is every bit as lovely as her gowns!) for its beautiful lace and slightly unusual colour – I couldn’t be happier with it.

I bought my bright polka dot wedges off ebay.

Did you wear any other accessories? If so, where were they from?

The birdcage veil was the first thing I knew I was going to wear when planning the wedding. I designed it and had it made by Unveiled Bridal Designs – it has ostrich feathers complimented by bleached and natural peacock feathers, finished with freshwater pearls and golden shadow crystals. It also has tiny golden shadow crystals scattered on the veil around the feathers which is very subtle but sparkle under light.

I knew I wanted a necklace with a back drop, so I bought my necklace from Etsy where I could customise the design. It has dangling golden shadow crystals at the front and features 2 lovely drops of the same crystals at the back. I bought a beaded feather wrap from ebay which complemented the whole vintage look.

What did your husband wear and where was the outfit from?

Derek wore a light grey suit from Reiss, and a grey/black waistcoat also from Reiss. His shoes are from Paul Smith. Derek and his four groomsmen all wore different (bright) coloured ties and socks, they were great fun! I made buttonholes from peacock feather and polka dot ribbons for Derek & the groomsmen.

Where were your bridesmaids/flowergirls outfits from?

I only had 1 bridesmaid – my sister Julie – who is coincidentally the best bridesmaid (and sister) in the world! Julie wore a blue green polka dot dress which we bought from the high street and customised ourselves.

What gifts did you give to your bridesmaids/flowergirls?

My sister is a huge fan of Converse shoes. She had designed and posted on her blog her ideal pair. Converse website has a style your own service available only in the US and don’t ship internationally. I custom ordered the exact same design and then asked one of my American friends to bring them back with her when she went home. The look on her face when she opened the gift was another personal highlight.

Did you have a theme for your wedding? If so what was it and why?

The main theme of the wedding was travel, with photography and food featuring heavily. We met whilst travelling around the world and have travelled together ever since so it was an obvious choice. We both love our food (eating our way around the world) and of course with me being an avid photographer it had to be part of the wedding.

Did you have pre-reception drinks? What were they?

We had Pimms & lemonade (served in silly nose paper cups) on the boat and then bucks fizz on arrival at the meadow.

Did you give your tables names? If yes, why did you go for that particular theme?

The tables were named after countries we have travelled to together and included a number of pictures of the country, a comment on our favourite bits, something quirky, and of course our top foodie tips for each country!

What individual touches were there? Where were these from?

Pretty much everything in the wedding was DIY so there are a lot of individual touches, some of the highlights:

– I designed the menu and printed them on A3 papers as placemats.

– The table centres had mini easels holding the table names and also a homemade luminary of tea light in a decorated glass yoghurt pot half filled with blue coloured sand.

– We bought bright coloured paper napkins from Ikea and Derek’s brother-in-law (who is a restaurant manager) placed them beautifully in the wine glasses.

– We had an outdoor “photo booth” which I made using cloth bought from Ikea with 2 big holes cut out to make them look like photo frames on wallpaper. I also made some fake moustaches on sticks and blackboard speech bubbles as props. I was very excited when I first thought of this idea but the result was even better than I imagined! It was such great laugh!

– I made (with the help of my dear sister and mum) 1,000 origami cranes and decorated the wedding and reception venue with them. Japanese tradition holds that the bride who finishes 1,000 cranes before her wedding day will be richly rewarded with a good and happy marriage.

– The RSVP cards from my invitation were postcards of photos taken during our travels. We asked our guests to write a cheeky message before sending them back to us and they were displayed hanging from shabby brown strings with wooden pegs.

– The “table plans” were actually individual boarding passes which I designed to look like actual Qantas (for my guests) & British Airways (for Derek’s guests) boarding passes! Each table was named after a country we visited and the destination shown on the boarding pass was the table name the guests were assigned to (and the departure time being, well, time to eat of course!)

– I had a world map made into a display board with different colour stickers representing places we travelled to together and separately on our round the world trip, as well as place we’ve been to as a couple.

– We bought a few cool vintage signs and I made a few DIY ones to complete the look.

Were you pleased with the overall look of your wedding – did it look as good as you had hoped?

As there were a lot of individual touches I didn’t know how they would all piece together. However we both thought that the outcome was brilliant – it was colourful, fun and a a little silly, which we feel sums up exactly what we wanted our wedding to be.

What flowers did you have in your wedding bouquet?

I made my wedding bouquet with 9 peacock feathers and polka dot ribbons, finished with a vintage inspired flower clip from Etsy. We pretty much had a flower-free wedding (bar a bunch of lovely sunflowers from Tesco which we placed in vintage milk bottles for the ceremony), nothing against flowers, I just didn’t feel there had to be flowers at weddings.

What was on the menu?

Our menu was inspired by our first trip together in South East Asia where we bonded over our love of food. We also hired a crepes cart & a hot dog cart for the evening.

Who made your wedding cake and what was in it?

Instead of traditional wedding cake we had cupcakes from Anima cupcakes. We found her stall locally @ one of our favourite hangouts: Brick Lane market. Following a fun few weeks of cupcake-tasting, we chose the following flavours:

Vanilla with white chocolate icing, Cookies & cream, Berries & cream, Red velvet, Banana, and of course, Chocolate.

Was it a big party that went on all night or a quieter affair?

It was somewhere in between. Everyone commented they had a great laugh, some guests loved the dance floor, some couldn’t get enough of the party photo booth and others just relaxed by the fire in the chill out area or pigged out on the crepes and hot dogs outside! We wanted everyone to enjoy themselves hence the diverse options – afterall, the “tag line” on our invite was: Let’s party like it’s 19.09.09!

Prior to the start of the evening do we released 100 Chinese flying paper lanterns. Guests made a wish as they released their lantern into the sky – it was a great sight and everybody loved it!

What did you dance your first dance to? Why?

The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield.

We were travelling from Thailand to Laos by boat and at some point realised we both had that song in our ipod playlists – we ended up spending hours listening to this and just talked with our feet dangling in the water. It was a defining moment for us.

What were the most memorable moments from your wedding?

We loved everything about our day and struggle to pick a favourite. However, unusual as it may seem, our most memorable part came out of a disaster. We hired a couple of bar staff who, despite confirming everything was in order the week before the wedding, did not show up on the day (there was no explanation and they cannot be contacted to this day). This caused us a great deal of stress and worry on the day. However our guests all pulled together and ‘mucked in’ with pouring drinks throughout the day and it made us truly grateful for having such wonderful friends and family.

What kind of wedding did you decide on and why?

We wanted a fun and relaxed wedding, something a bit different and reflects our personalities, where everyone could have a laugh and that we would look back upon in years to come with a big smile on our faces.

What was your inspiration for the reception and why?

I have always liked both old and new, vintage and contemporary – so the wedding turned out to be a mixture of the two. The main theme was travel so my inspiration mainly came from the fun times we had travelling together. For example, we picked the tipi-like tents for our reception on the back of staying in a real tipi at Bryce Canyon National Park in the US.

{Photography courtesy of Rosie Parsons and our wonderful guests!}
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