Planning our dream wedding was incredibly challenging and wonderful. Finding suppliers that aligned with our values of being kind to people and the planet took a lot of research, it wasn't always successful. On the day all the effort that had been put in made it feel really personal, not just to us but to the many friends and family members who had been so heavily involved in creating our vision.
Besides buying a house, organising a wedding is probably one of the most expensive things you'll ever do. It was really important to us, that our money was going to the right places. So here are some of the things we learnt along the way.
Aside from flowers and foliage, our decor consisted of vintage wall hangings sourced in India, Artisans & Adventurers bright recycled paper decorations and African bunting which added vibrant splashes of colour to the marquee. Everything could be used again or gifted to friends once the party was over. Try to avoid anything that is single use, choose things that you will love and use again. Perhaps at Christmas or a Summer garden party to celebrate your anniversary. A friend of ours made a thousand origami cranes to hang above the dance floor at her wedding, the effect was magical but it took a lot of time!
Five months before our wedding I still didn’t know what to wear. My Mum took me dress shopping, we had a super day in Birmingham trying on absolutely everything. I’ve always felt pretty uncomfortable with the thought of being a princess bride, initially I was dreading it. We were in good spirits and it turned out to be one of my favourite memories during the planning process. A lovely day out with my Mum, getting dressed up, which really helped me decide on the shape of the dress I wanted to wear.
In the end, my friend Jan made my dress. Hiding little details in the hem and bodice that were such a lovely surprise on the day. My shoes were from Camilla Elphick, a young British designer, manufacturing in Italy. They were super comfortable and well priced. I danced all night in them and have worn them again many times since.
Bridesmaid dresses were the most difficult part. I had five bridesmaids alongside Maid of Honor, Bee. Six very individual and independent, grown women. There was no time to make them as this would have needed several months to co-ordinate fittings (but still a great option if you have the time). We decided that everyone would wear what they felt most comfortable in, be it vintage, pre-owned or off the peg. Never be afraid to ask your Bridesmaids if they already have something, often they’ll be thrilled for another chance to wear a special dress. Alternatively Monsoon is a great high street option, they have good ethical values and support artisan crafts. In the US they have brilliant dress hire options, this service is still hard to come by in the UK.
It was really important that shop dogs Hiro and Wolf played a special role in our big day. We had special tail coats made to match Freddy’s. Both dogs looked adorable, our photographer and the guests couldn’t get enough of them. If you are thinking of including your pets in your wedding Hiro + Wolf offer a bespoke service alongside advice on how to make sure they are happy and well looked after at your wedding.
The flowers for our wedding came from friends gardens. The wedding was held in Northern Ireland, so there were lots of beautiful gardens to choose foliage from. Local markets like Columbia Road Flower Market in London are also a fantastic source for cheap blooms. I was convinced I was going to do all the arranging myself but as the big day drew nearer we were very pleased to have our ex-florist friend Marcus on board. He co-ordinated our friends and family into an army of impromptu florists for the day.
If you are thinking about doing the flowers yourself, see if anyone green fingered in your friendship group is interested in doing them as a wedding gift. It’s a lot of work but equally rewarding. You could even treat them to a days floristry course beforehand so you can plan the arrangements together. Think about what is going to be in season and remember that foliage can be just as attractive as flowers. Make sure you have somewhere cool to store your arrangements. Table and service flowers can be made up a day or two before but leave making your bouquets until the morning.
Our colour scheme was blue and white so we had Artisans & Adventurers baskets made up to fit jam jars of flowers for the table displays, it looked gorgeous. We got everyone we knew collecting up their jars months ahead so we had plenty to use.
Photography by Paula O'Hara