My Special Day...
As a graphic designer and vintage lover I knew from the off that I wanted to put my stamp on our big day. With little over 8 months to plan, perfect and create I was up against it and many suppliers I went to were a little taken aback with a wedding in such a short time frame. Often the response I got was ‘September this year?’ I was never one of those girls who had any of their dream day planned in my head or otherwise, so entering the world of bridal shops, websites and wedding blogs was an experience in itself – but one that I enjoyed so much.
Trying to find the perfect venue was our first job and we looked at a whole menagerie of different venue types from castles and stately homes through to a marquee site in an old ruin, which came close to being ‘the one’ but one step out of the car at The Orangery, Settrington the decision was made, we had found our perfect Yorkshire countryside venue.
The Orangery is part of a private estate and was a new venue to the market in the year we had our day there. Sara and Karen who run the wedding business are just lovely people and nothing was too much trouble, whereas some of the more established venues we visited we felt like we were part of a production line. The Orangery made us feel like they really cared about getting our day perfect for us. The bonus with this venue was that we were very lucky to be able to have our ceremony in the adorable church next door.
Venue booked I absorbed myself in all the other bits and pieces that needed sorting for our fast approaching special day. My other half is in the military and was away a lot in the run up to the wedding so a lot of the planning was done with the invaluable help and support of my mum, sister and mum-in-law to be. Without them I think I would of cracked from the pressure of organising such a big day alone. The styling and vision for our day drew upon our personalities as a couple, as well as my love of vintage and great design. In the church I wanted to do away with the formalities of brides family on one side and grooms on the other so I hand illustrated chalkboard signs to let people know they could sit where they liked. We also had an amazing string quartet play (they also played at the reception drinks afterwards) while people were arriving which created a really nice ambience. Guests were so complimentary about how lovely and relaxed the atmosphere was, with people chatting away to each other before the ceremony started – exactly what we wanted.
I felt some pressure when it came to designing my invites as when it’s your own it’s so much harder. I went through umpteen revisions before we settled upon a chevron theme and a colour scheme of blue and blush – something which would be reflected through the whole days styling. Simon got married in Royal Airforce uniform so I picked out the dusky blue colour and the blush pink just softened the palette and allowed some contrast to be created. Our invites and subsequent stationery also had a monogram on the front that allowed our personalities and interests to feature with an illustrated vintage tea-cup for me and a illustrated bike for Simon. The design has since become the inspiration behind one of my STUDIO COLLECTION ranges (CHEVRON CHIC).
My next big task was the dress – I knew I wanted something that had a nod to vintage, but not necessarily a vintage piece. I also knew that I didn’t want anything strapless which was quite a search in the end as strapless dresses are so popular there are many more of them to choose from. We went to some lovely local bridal shops in my home city of York – some better than others but I finally found ‘the one’ in Belles & Beaus. My dress ended up being one I had rejected initially as I had said I didn’t want any glitz, jewels or bling on my dress – oh how wrong I was. As soon as I tried the illusion neckline dress (covered with pearls, beads and glitz) from Mori Lee I knew it was the dress for me. All alterations were arranged by Belles & Beaus so the dress fitted my small frame on the day just perfectly. My dress sorted, it was now onto bridesmaid dresses, made slightly easier in that I only had my sister as a bridesmaid for the day which helped with picking a dress as we could pick something that suited her and her alone. After trying dresses in the airforce blue hues I decided the colour was just too drab for a dress but I didn’t want to go with blush as I though it would be too much. We then tried royal blue as the belt in Simon’s uniform is blue and gold so we though that could work. It worked fabulously and the one shouldered dress from Dessy my sister ended up in worked perfectly with the style of my dress too. We both wore shoes by Rachel Simpson, mine were the gorgeous Mimosa and my sister wore some their high street range (Agnes and Norman) Doris shoes in Navy. They were both incredibly comfortable and looked amazing – I now have an addiction to their shoes – If you haven’t come across them you must check them out.
The food for our day was provided by James Brown catering, a supplier the venue prefer to work with and the menu came up trumps. Guest commented on how great the food was on the day which was a relief as it is such a massive chunk of budget that goes into feeding people it was nice to know that they had been not only fed and watered, but it was a real highlight of the day for some. Proper roast beef and Yorkshire puddings were the order of the day and it went down a storm. For dessert we served our wedding cake. The cake was one of my favourite parts of the day. From the very beginning I had my heart set on a naked victoria sponge cake with summer berries and it seemed fitting to serve it as dessert as I always think the cake is a bit forgotten about once the formality of cutting the cake is over. So we had a 5 tier victoria sponge made by The Patisserie in Malton, a lovely local patisserie and cafe that delivered everything I wanted and more. Of all the items sourced for our day this was the one that varied so much in price when I got initial quotes so I would urge couples to shop around for your cake as the prices can vary quite dramatically. Because a naked cake has to be set up so close to the cutting as they can dry out I hadn’t actually seen it before we went in to the reception venue after the ceremony and I was blown away, as were our guests – it was a true showstopper The Patisserie had created. Guests went back for seconds, thirds and even fourths in some cases!
Food sorted I now turned my attention to transport. The morning of the wedding I got ready in a cottage on the estate that The Orangery has, and it was where we stayed the night before the wedding so it really was a stones throw to the church and reception venue. With this in mind I felt a car was just a bit extravagant for such a short journey (as much as I would of loved a old vintage car) so I again I thought outside the box and ended up booking a cycle rickshaw complete with ‘driver’. The rickshaw provided some great photos both before with my dad going to the church, and after with my new husband, and then some really natural quirky ones with all the family. It was a great alternative transport method and anyone wanting something a little different I cannot recommend Get Cycling CiC enough.
Flowers were also a big part of the day for me as I love fresh arrangements. We were lucky that a family member created all our floral elements for the day and my bouquet was absolutely beautiful – just what I wanted, slightly vintage looking and not too formal. These were finished off hand tied with some left over material from my dress and I had my great grandmas pearl brooch pinned to it and a small photo frame of my late Nan to carry with me. For pew ends we had simple jam jars tied with twine and filled with the same roses, lizianthus and beautiful soft pink astillbe the same as the bouquets. The reception flowers were all arranged on vintage glass cake stands that family and friends had helped me collect in the run up to the wedding. All these were given to family members to take away at the end of the night.
All my on the day stationery followed the same theme of the initial invites. I created everything from quirky signs in the toilets saying “you look oh so pretty now get out there and strut your stuff” to candy bar signs, and not to mention the numerous hand illustrated chalkboard signs I made in the weeks leading up to the wedding. These really set the scene for the day though and I’m glad I went the extra mile to make our day truly unique. The other big ‘prop’ we had was an oversized polaroid frame that was suspended in the rose colonnade of The Orangery gardens – my superstar dad not only had to help me made the cumbersome thing but also put this and everything else out on the very drizzly morning of the wedding. We got some great pictures of our guests though posing behind the frame and those are the real memory bank pictures I will always treasure. We continued the polaroid theme with our guest book, borrowing our best mans polaroid camera and having guests peg pics and messages onto a frame left in the bar area – it now lives on the wall of our dining room and I often stop to read the messages and look at the fun photos of everyone enjoying themselves. We opted away from traditional wedding favours and instead we donated some money to a local hospice that supported a late family friend Herriot Hospice and also Macmillan Cancer. We gave guests packets of seeds and pin badges from the charities as a small token to take away. We also had speech bingo on the reverse of our favour cards which added a fun element to the speeches throughout the meal.
My eleventh hour styling decision was to hire some giant light up letters in our initials to sit either side of the band and I’m so glad I did. It really set the dance floor area off and created a frame for what were an amazing live band. The 12th Generation Party Band played a mix of old and new and also played some Motown hits which I knew would be a hit with my parents. They even played ‘their’ song September by Earth Wind and Fire and it was such a lovely moment seeing them rush onto the dance floor. Our guests danced the night away from the word go, much to the relief of Simon as he was dreading the first dance. He needn’t of worried though as a couple of lines into our first dance (At Last, Etta James, Beyonce version) my sister and the ushers had prepped everyone to join us on the dancefloor, taking the pressure off and creating another lovely standout moment.
For our hair on the day the girls used a family friend that delivered exactly what I had in my head and also incidentally helped me into my wedding dress while my sister and mum had a mini-meltdown about their own outfits (I was under the illusion that this was the bridemaids job). Make-up was done done by the very lovely Lyndsey of The Beauty Shop, Boroughbridge. My mum, sister and I have all been going to the shop for years and it was so nice to have a trusted, familiar face making us look fabulous for the big day ahead. My make-up was amazing and I felt like a princess all day in the natural but glam look Lyndsey created.
The whole day was more perfect than we could ever of imagined. It rained a bit but we were so wrapped up in the moment we hardly noticed. My top tip for brides to be is people say to you don’t get hung up about little details as on the day nobody apart from you will notice. Don’t listen – I believe the little details were what made the difference and these are the things that people still talk about when I see them today. It’s your day, put your mark on it and rope in friends and family to support you to make your vision a reality.
I am on the lookout for brides to be (and grooms of course) to write guest blog posts and be our Bridal Muses – people who want to inspire organising their big day. If you’d like to get involved then please get in touch with me and your big day could feature on the blog very soon!