My lovely husband and I tied the knot on a scorching hot day in West Sussex in June 2017. It was a magical day and after this year’s #MarchMeetTheMakerChallenge I have been reflecting on the many wonderful people who went into helping to make that day so perfect. Read on to find out more about our handmade with love wedding day…
We got married at the beautiful Upwaltham Barns, an idyllic family-run venue nestled in the Southdowns. As an avid crafter it was important to me that we brought in as many handmade elements to the event as possible – however with my husband Tom’s eye for detail (he’s a graphic designer) they also needed to look smart! I don’t think many of our guests realised quite how much work Tom had put into the decorations, or how much we had in fact done ourselves. We were really pleased with the final effect.
We festooned the whole venue with floral bunting – almost 100m! My poor mum made all of this from scratch with help from my bridesmaid Jenni. Agreeing on the fabric was a bit of a fiasco (this episode has now affectionately become known as bunting-gate), but we both were in agreement that the final effect was worth the effort.
Rescued jam jars were wrapped with twine, ribbon and floral acrylic beads. These we partly filled with sand and a candle and they served as table decorations along with a few scattered table crystals.
We had some chalkboard signage in the courtyard and also on the sweetbar. Tom decorated and put together the frames, and then our talented friend Janice (Moo and the Magpie) put her signwriting skills to work.
The final touch was the table centrepieces. I was keen to not have traditional cut flowers for our centrepieces, I wanted something more lasting, that wouldn’t just be thrown away in a few days time. Tom sourced a maker on eBay who created 11 wooden planters for us, for a reasonable price. Then Tom stained these, lined them and filled them with fresh herbs.
He designed a stencil that we had someone on Etsy make up for us, and then Tom chalkpainted the stencil on each. My contribution was to wrap clothes pegs on to plant sticks and these were pushed into the boxes to hold the table names! We gave the planters as gifts to people who had contributed in any way to our day, and we’ve got two in our own garden!
For the evening we had a sweet bar – edible decorations! I had lots of fun sourcing delicious vegan sweets and putting these in twine wrapped jars and creating a lolly pop bouquet centre piece.
We will both be happy if we never see a ball of twine again…
It will come as no surprise that my jewellery was probably the most special part of my outfit for me. I designed and created a beaded haircomb. This was handstitched with tiny seed beads and Swarovski crystals. I also included some Toho glow in the dark beads, but I totally forgot to check in the evening if they were glowing – I was too caught up with dancing! The comb took me about a month in total to make.
Working all in white was really the hardest thing for me, especially as someone who adores colour! What was really lovely was I was working on it during a visit with some old beading friends in my former stomping ground Nottingham, and they asked if they could stitch some of the beads, so that they could be with me on the day. I was really touched! If you look closely you might also be able to find Tom’s name stitched into it. I also created some very simple Swarovski crystal heart earrings – subtle but sparkly.
My necklace was a beadwoven Swarovski crystal rose that was a gift from the lovely Sian Nolan. She hadn’t actually intended me to wear it, it had been an idea to perhaps add to the comb, but it was perfect for my outfit and I hung it on a simple chain. On the day Sian gifted me a beautiful Good Luck charm which she had decorated with a beaded flower.
I made all three bridesmaids matching haircombs in bright pinks and greens – I stitched beaded flowers and leaves and wired these on to a comb. As a gift I created personalised charm bracelets for the girls, with charms that made me think of them.
This is one bouquet that wouldn’t be thrown! Each of the flowers was made from hundreds of seed beads. I had originally planned to make it myself, but when my good friend Anna Lindell offered to step in and make it as our wedding gift I was overjoyed. Anna (Tiger Guld) spent hundreds of hours making life-like flowers, trying to match our colours and flower choices as much as possible. We had many hilarious FaceTime conversations during the planning process and Anna was super sweet as she kept me involved the whole way down the line. I adore my bouquet and now sits in a vase in pride of place at home as a lovely memento.
We had a civil ceremony and for us this was one of the hardest parts of the planning. We actually didn’t decide on our readings until about two weeks before! We chose a very short excerpt from Half a Sixpence, a musical we had seen recently; we asked my brother Joe to read this.
After attending a wedding just two weeks before our own I panicked that we hadn’t put enough thought into personalising the ceremony, despite so many other details being carefully planned this was really the most important part of the day!
After more internet scouring we just couldn’t find any other suitable readings that felt personable and relatable to both of us. So I decided to put one together myself. I pulled together little ditties, quotes and lines from songs in our favourite musicals, threw in a couple of films too (and a line from Harry Potter, I couldn’t resist!) to create a poem called ‘Together’. I didn’t show it to Tom until it was done but he liked it – amazingly we agreed on something! After a little tweaking we sent it to my Step Mom whom we asked to read it during the ceremony.
My cousin Lina is a budding singer/song writer with a stunning voice. We asked her to play guitar and sing for us and so she played as I walked into the ceremony and then as we left as a married couple!
What didn’t we make?
Well, none of our outfits were made by us. My talented Mum made her beautiful outfit from scratch though and she looked wonderful! We rented the boys’ suits, the vintage style bridesmaids dresses were an eBay find and my own dress came from Oxfam. I returned it to the charity shop a few weeks after the wedding and it went on to be a part of another bride’s happy day.
I had three pairs of shoes haha! I decided that as I wasn’t going to keep my dress I could go all out on shoes – and these were a gift from my Step Mom. I had glittery heels by Kelly and Katie, and dainty embroidered pumps by my favourite designer Betsey Johnson. The day we got married was a scorching hot day and my feet were so swollen with the heat that I actually spent a lot of the day in glittery but very comfy flip flops!
Food – yes it’s all vegan!
Our menu was entirely vegan, and the team at Upwaltham Barns out did themselves. The trio of desserts were particularly tasty; chocolate brownie, lemon ‘cheesecake’ and sorbet.
For our cake we had a tower of vegan cupcakes and a little top cake to cut decorated in fresh flowers. Our cakes were made by the very talented Purely Scrumptious and they were absolutely delicious!
It was a really magical day and I just love reminiscing about it all! It was amazing to be surrounded by so many of our family and friends, and we were touched by the lengths people had gone to to be a part of it with us; whether it was travelling thousands of miles, wiring thousands of beads, or sewing hundreds of yards of fabric! It was a lot of work to put together, but with our wonderful creative friends and family to help us it made it a lot more manageable and we couldn’t have done it without them. If you are planning a wedding I hope this has given you some inspiration to include some handmade elements into your day.
Speak to me about commissioning something special for your own wedding day or find out about making your own tiara or fascinator on one of my workshops. Visit the wedding section here.
Photographer: Laura Mott
Venue: Upwaltham Barns, near Chichester, West Sussex
Dress: Oxfam Bridal Southampton
Cake: Purely Scrumptious
Beaded bouquet: Anna Lindell – Tigerguld
Singer: Lina Lou
Signwriting: Janice Kalsi – Moo and the Magpie
Beaded gifts: Sian Nolan Beadwork
Rings: Rachel Bailey – Pixie Made