So we got married! And I've been meaning to post about it for months before it all falls out my head!
When Mitch asked me to marry him, I was heavily pregnant (about 38 weeks I think?!). We knew that any sort of wedding planning was going to be incredibly difficult with a very small baby, but we also knew that we didn't want to be engaged forever - there's obviously nothing wrong with a long engagement but for us we just wanted to be married! I'm also the most inpatient person in the world.
I'd also kind of gone into the whole wedding planning thing a bit blind! I'd only every been to one wedding in my life, and literally had no idea what was expected - probably a blessing in disguise. I immediately did what any internet geek would do, and subscribed to several wedding blogs - specifically A Practical Wedding, Rock n Roll Bride, and Offbeat Bride. These were absolute lifesavers in helping me realise that I wasn't crazy, and whatever I wanted to do would be just fine.
Our other (main!) issue was always going to be budget. Having just had Alice, and being on maternity leave, money was always going to be tight. We had some savings, but not the UK average wedding cost of £20,000. I suppose even if we had, I wouldn't have wanted to spend it. Primarily because I'm mean, but mostly because of Alice - any spare money we have is for her and our family.
Don't get me wrong - I'd quite like to have got married in a castle with a £3k dress but I'd also quite like a pony! Maybe two ponies.
So armed with pretty much no ideas other than getting married in Rivendell, I started our search. And hit a brick wall straight away.
I watch a lot of American TV, and read a lot of American blogs. It seems that in America you can get married anywhere pretty much. I had visions of in the woods, or in a field, or in a barn. Turns out that in the UK - not so much! It's pretty much churches, registry offices, or a few licensed venues. I wasn't hugely sold on the registry office, so I started looking at the venues - specifically anything foresty. I loved the idea of Sherwood Forest, or anything with some trees basically. Basically I wanted to be an elf.
But because of the monopoly these venues have over weddings (i.e. it's there or a church!), they tend to charge quite a lot. And be quite specific with catering. And by quite specific I mean quite expensive. Before even looking at any of the venues I found I knew that we couldn't afford them. Or we could, but couldn't invite all the people we wanted to.
For us, having a smaller wedding wasn't really an option. I have a big family, and we have lots of friends that I couldn't imagine getting married without. I completely understand small weddings, but just not for us.
So I think I spent a few weeks moping. Obviously I'd just had Alice so there were a few hormones everywhere, but I think I'd just decided that we would never be able to get married. Ever. Unless we just got married and went to McDonalds (oh so tempting!)
I ended up going back into wedding planning with a bit of a rethink. There was no way we'd be able to afford one of the venue packages, so it was either a church or registry office. I decided that bit could wait, and started looking for a reception venue where we could do our own catering to save on costs. That bit turned out to be equally difficult! Obviously most places want you to use their caterers, and they want from about £8 a head anywhere up to £35 and above. Obviously double it if you say wedding. That was going to mean £1,000 on just food - a HUGE chunk of our budget.
So I started looking at church halls. Some of them, look like church halls, so I tried to find one that didn't! I finally found the Tudor Barn, which was a church hall in Warsop, but a big old listed barn. We went to see (the only venue we went to see!) and ended up booking both the hall and the church.
I'm going to be honest - the venue wasn't perfect, but it cost £160 to hire! And in the end it was perfect.
We booked the wedding pretty much a year in advance, and what followed was a year of browsing the internet! I made a huge chunk of the decorations myself, and tons of family members helped. I intended to make 1000 paper cranes and got to about 150 and gave up! I browsed Etsy so much I gave myself a complex, and constantly compared our wedding to the shiny ones I saw online. Bad idea.
But I borrowed ideas, and dreamed about everything going wrong, and Googled and Pinned, and Photoshopped and we got there in the end.
The one thing I'm so glad (and infinitely relieved) that we did, was hire a photographer. I naively thought that people would take pictures, and we'd just have some I could blitz a bit in Photoshop. I think people took maybe 80 pictures between them? Perhaps 10 of those usable?
But when we got our professional photos back they just blew our mind. They were incredible. They captured moments that I could barely remember from the day. They conveyed the emotion, and the weather, and the people, and the love from everyone there better than I could have ever expected.
Every thing else had gone by in a whirlwind, but our photos were there to remind me of every second, of every feeling, and of everybody. They were literally worth their weight in gold.
It probably helped that our photographer was incredible and just the loveliest person ever! We used the lovely Kate @ Lucabella Photography, who is not only an amazing photographer, but just an all round amazing person. She was a great influence on our day, and I literally cannot recommend her enough. I don't want to sound like I'm gushing but use her!
But seriously. Hire a photographer. Skip out on the cake if you have to but hire a photographer!!
Anyway, this was not meant to be this long. We had an amazing day. It rained, but who cares - we had a lovely day and everything else went fine! We danced and laughed and smiled and posed in the rain, and it went by in about twenty seconds.
And all in all, I was lucky enough to marry my best friend, and make my own mini family. Nothing else mattered. Although it helped that I looked like a princess :P
So - some pictures! Have added some links to people we used at the end.
Photographer - As mentioned previously, the amazing Lucabella Photography. She blogged about the wedding here and is seriously amazing. I don't know how many more times I can say amazing!
Venue - St. Peter and St. Pauls Church, Church Warsop, with the reception in the Tudor Barn next door!
Flowers - Lilli'bet Floral Design
Hair - My amazing hairdress Carly did my hair and all the bridesmaids hair.
Makeup - Did it myself using mostly MAC after a free consultation.
Car - Got a taxi. No one saw. Saving - £400! Also made his day as he'd never driven a bride in 15 years of being a taxi driver!
Dress - eBay after falling in love with it in another shop.
Dress Alterations - Bought it in a size 16 as was an eBay find. Also got the back changed from a zip to a corset by the lovely Shirley at Bridal Belles.
Cake - Present from my grandma made by one of her sisters!
Cake Toppers - Etsy user - fliepsiebieps
Decorations - Mostly made by me and my lovely family and friends! Bunting made by my mum using eBay fabric. Most of my origami cranes were made using wallpaper samples from B & Q. Bubbles were eBay, battery candles were pound shop then covered in ribbon from eBay, rose petals were eBay, fairy lights were borrowed and IKEA. Balloons were eBay - inc. helium and ribbon.
Suits - Youngs Hire cut us a deal
Bridesmaid Dresses - Debenhams in the winter sale.
Food - We were originally going to do the buffet ourselves, but ended up ordering Sandwich platters from Sainbury's Party Service and they were amazing! Will definitely use again. Then lots of people chipped in and brought cakes and crisps etc. and we ended up with mountains of food!
This was far longer than I intended but at least it's all written down for me to remember when I'm old and grey. Or red.