Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Back To School...

...it feels like September and that all-too-sudden feeling of going back to school. I had a blissful 3 weeks off work, first the wonderful lead-up to the wedding, then the actual day, the post-BBQ and then on the Monday we flew to Japan.

My dress was from Delphine Manivet at Browns Bride, Shoes: Miu Miu, Sunglasses: Valentino, Hairband: Louis Vuitton. Chris wore suit: Paul Smith 'Abbey' suit, Shirt: Uniqlo, Bowtie: Rake at Matches, Shoes: Office, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban
 What a whirlwind it was, I remember a whole mixture of emotions (all of them good!) on the day of 13th which I was desperate to relive throughout my honeymoon (much to the annoyance of my husband!). Happiness, joy, laughter, warmth, excitement, anxiety (in a good way) all in one day. I had spent months and many evenings planning most of the finishing touches myself, and although exhausting at the time, all my family and friends appreciated it and nothing went un-noticed (phew!).

The honeymoon was out of this world. If anyone is considering going to Japan: DO IT. It is the most interesting, kind and fun country we have ever been to (and I've been around!). Every place we visited was just as spectacular as the last and we made many friends with our attempts at the language (FYI 'Oy-shi-ka-ta' means 'This is delicious' and will work wonders!).

On our way to the airport, wearing my new super comfy Toast trousers (in the sale here)
I don't want to put up too many photos as want to wait until our amazing photographer, Ed Peers, has sent his beautiful shots...and Japan pics will have to wait until I've done a strong edit! 
But thought I'd share my ideas towards my wedding, making it personal and most importantly, saving money!

What I spent money on:
  • BAND - Music was so important to us, and I saw our band, Hackney Colliery Band play at a MatchesFashion party and just knew it was the right investment. Everyone thought they were AMAZING (and said so, too).

  • TENT - we used Beautiful World Tents for their amazing tipis...we didn't tell anyone so it was a real surprise when people walked in (especially as it was a VERY tight squeeze in the garden - which I felt made more of an impact, anyway!).
The 'Photo Op' area my dad built on the left in front of the tipis

  • PHOTOGRAPHER - I knew from very early on that I wanted Ed peers to photograph the day, he came very highly recommended to me by Laura Fantacci (from WIT Blog). He lived up to every expectation: very kind, inconspicuous and he works till when you need him. For me, working with photographers daily, this was my most important expense.
  • THE DRESS - I really didn't expect to, actually. I was thinking I'd just go J Crew but as soon as I tried this on, I wanted it - it fitted with our vibe so much. Plus I knew my husband would be wearing a quite retro suit...and knew it would go together nicely.

What I scrimped on...
  • VENUE FEES - it was a close call whether the tents would fit in my parent's garden, but totally worth it. We saved so much on corkage costs and catering bills...
  • FOOD - we went with a local caterer, rather than a known one, and our menu was quite simple: smoked salmon, burger and chips, banoffee pie. As our meal was filling, we missed out extras like bread and coffees. We also printed all the menus ourselves.
We sourced the chip fryers, coleslaw pots and cut the parchment paper ourselves
My sister made all the napkins out of H+M table-cloths!

  • DJ - as we'd spent a lot on our band, in between we decided to have CD playlists. This way, we selected all the songs which we knew our friends would all enjoy. My brother-in-law is a DJ so actually pre-mixed the music for us on CD so there were no awkward 2 second silences between each song. If you have someone who could do this, I would HIGHLY recommend this, as most of our friends probably didn't even notice we didn't have a DJ!
  • Decorations - most of the chalkboard signs were hand-made, paper poms were from Ikea, and lots of items were recycled from friends (all the vases were my nan's milk bottles and pickled onion jars!). Any tables we bought for display we HAD to be able to use them in the flat afterwards. So we managed to furnish a lot of our new home at the same time!
  • Invites - we just wanted something you could stick easily to your fridge, so went with Project Pretty, who printed the invites, envelopes and order of service quite cheaply. We then made our info and RSVP cards...

Our 'Fill in the Gaps' RSVP cards, which we displayed on the day

  • VIDEOGRAPHER - I didn't really love the style of many of the wedding videos I saw online...I basically wanted a 2 minute music of the day, showing everyone laughing a having a good time, with cool music playing over it. Instead of going with a big company, we contacted an assistant of a company we knew and spoke about our ideas together and she agreed to do it for us. It looked like she got some fab snippets, and cannot wait to see!
  • FLOWERS - although I asked a professional, local florist, Mad Lilies, to do mine and the bridesmaid's bouquets, I knew I could do the flower displays myself. It took a LONG time the day before to organise (I arranged over a 100 jars!), but I was so pleased with the result and it felt so much more personal. My florist agreed to order the flowers I wanted through a wholesaler (so no trotting down to New Covent Garden Flower Market at 5am for me!) and helped advise me on which flowers would be in season etc. I went with white Nigella, blue delphiniums, rosemary (for the smell), white aster, lilac spray rose, gypsophilia and larkspur, for a wild, meadowy look.
Painstakingly doing the flowers the day before! It was worth it...

The extra touches which definitely made it...
  • PHOTOBOOTH - nowadays, it's rare when a wedding doesn't have one...and it definitely helped make the evening even better. Think about those people that don't like dancing...there's no one that doesn't love photobooth! I went with Coco Photobooth - they were really reasonable (around £600 as opposed to Boothnation which quoted us £1300). We got the retro photobooth style, and used our own props (Superhero theme) and Muji brown scrapbook (rather than a logo'd one). They give 3 sets of copies for you and then stick one in a book, which doubled up as our comments book (we asked them to stick ours down with washi tape!) and then you get a memory stick of images as well.
Hulk masks made by Mummy Hughesy on Etsy - she usually makes for kids but she kindly adapted ours for adults!
Having fun with friends (and my friend's gorgeous daughter, Scout)

  • FAIRY LIGHTS - more is more, in my case. We had lights everywhere, it just makes it so romantic looking! I also really wanted those 'festoon' lights, which are huge in the US but very hard to find here. This is where my dad came across my stubbornness - no other lights would do! But again, it was worth the perseverance!
  • MUSIC - selecting your own playlist has a real bonus of sounding like you. Everyone commented on how good the music was, and we made sure then we had something for everyone.
  • EVENING SNACKS - never underestimate the power of food. Everyone was still totally stuffed by the time evening snacks went round but they still tucked into some grub! We had mini shepherd's pies, churros and chocolate, fish and chips in cones and a cheese table.
  • PROPS - all of the little extras were my expertise! I was in heaven. Chalkboard tables, paper poms, photobooth props - I loved doing it.
Paper poms (from Ikea) and ribbon from VV Rouleaux, with my mum wearing LK Bennett accessories (similar here)
Lavender Letters from Polly Fields - these are now by my fireplace!

An old Ikea table, covered in chalkboard paint. Chairs, £10 each, Ikea (which we can now use when we have extra guests over!)

Our £39 table from Achica, which are using in our flat, now

Chalkboard and easel from ChalkboardsUK - we're already lending to a friend!

The beautiful Bunny Ears a colleague made for me - much cheaper than the Maison Michel ones!
All I would say is, to get the best deal: be prepared to haggle. I hated doing it, but some of the initial quotes I was given were ridiculous. And it's a lot easier to do it over email, at least!

The gifts?
Obviously it's part of the fun to give your helpers a gift...and we really enjoyed giving something back to everyone who had put so much effort in.
I went to Anya Hindmarch Bespoke for my sister (you can get it engraved with a message your hand-writing)
I've always loved this bracelet, so nice to finally get it for one of my bridesmaids, from Alex Monroe
These initial charms are so cute. I bought this for my bridesmaid who had just had a baby called Patrick, from Astley Clarke


We went with chic and practical, wallets from Paul Smith


Frames from The White Company are sterling silver, look great and come in chic, easily-wrappable boxes!
One thing I think I should add as well is that...as much as you plan and stress for the big day and worry about every tiny detail, it doesn't matter. I stressed about teeny tiny spoons that I wanted for the salt pots, and on the day? Didn't even notice or see them (but sure they were appreciated somewhere!). There was apparently a cut-out of the electrics on the day too, which caused a delay with food. Did it bother me? Can't even remember. So it's worthwhile thinking about all these things when you're stressed and budget doesn't stretch. Would it be nice to have every elements all included? Sure. Would it REALLY make the difference to the day? Probably not. Everyone is there for you and will have fun, no matter what.


  1. Alex this is all beautiful. I shall share with my sister as she would love this for her ideas book too.

    Makes me want to get wed again, 7 years has flown.

    Thankyou for sharing xx

    1. Thanks, hope it helps! I want to do it all over again, as well! x

    2. Do you have the blues now? It's such a comedown after the big day and the honeymoon, I can't wait to one day renew our vows. There's so much I would do differently where my taste has changed etc. X

  2. What a great post Alex - full of amazing deas for anyone with a big event coming up. LOVE the band - have been boogying round the kitchen to their music since I clicked on the link! Like Hollie, I wish I could do it all again after reading this....tho we did run away and get married in secret which I have to say is about as inexpensive as it gets - haha!
    Welcome home - can't wait to see the Japan photos! Ax

    1. I love this idea, Avril! You know we were so close to doing this in Vegas? But my mum would never have forgiven me! Yes, aren't the band just fab?! So different and even better in real life.

    2. Wow did you Avril. How romantic! X

  3. AW your wedding looks wonderful Alex. You both look so cool and vintage in your sunglasses, not many people could pull that off! It looks like you had a fabulous day bee xxx

    1. Aaaahh, you're so kind! With 30 degrees, needs must to be honest - the sunglasses were a necessity! But yes, I suppose we had a retro theme, our first dance was a 60s song 'And Then He Kissed Me' by The Crystals!

  4. Your day looks fantastic, congratulations! I love your dress and can't wait to see more photos.

    Also really looking forward to your Hong Kong trip shots.

    Luxx Mint

    1. Thank you - still waiting for photos - I'm too excited!

  5. Congratulations, wow the day looked absolutely gorgeous! Love all the small details and the menu sounds perfect. Looking forward to seeing more photos!!

    1. Thank you! yes there will be more photos - hope you don't get bored!

  6. Wow congratulations - I love absolutely everything about your day! Your dress in particular is just stunning (I've never been a fan of full on wedding dresses!). Thanks for going into so much detail, I'm a long way off from getting married but these are brilliant tips! x

    1. Thank you. Funny, I never had that revelation of 'loving' my dress, I just thought it was cool...but I am so pleased I went with it.

  7. congratulations! all looked wonderful. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a post on Japan! we are going there next year!

    1. I will - already in the pipeline - whereabouts are you going? I have the BEST recommendations! x

  8. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and ideas with us...they all sound great and it is always nice to share ideas and tips in the hope that they will help someone else xx

    PS - Anonymous; please do not leave horrible comments...they are unnecessary and hurtful...if you do not have something nice to say than it is better to say nothing at all...and at least have to guts to put a name to your comment.

    1. Thank you! don't worry, I think anonymous is probably spam :) no one really uses the word 'attire', do they?! x

  9. I hope that it was spam as I really do hate to think that someone would be so mean to you my lovely xxx

  10. Gaaaah i LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! Thank you so so much for sharing ( i was secretly hoping you would!!) Alex your day looks so so special and what alot of thought you have popped into every single inch of it. Thanks so much for the lovely post, i think its my favourite of yours yet ;)

    Massive huge and whopping congratulations and so much luck for the future xxxxxx

    1. Aaaah, thanks so much, I must admit it feels weird posting to the world, but so nice, too! I just don't want to overload people with 'me' posts!

  11. Love every single detail too - thank you for sharing! We get married in 4 weeks and I'm having the same festoon light stubbornness! Please can you let me know where you got them from. Thank you! Alex. xx

    1. We found them at http://www.lights4fun.co.uk/ - the bulbs are LED so not clear and we bought with the black cable (my dad originally bought the white ones and I was not convinced!)...we strung them up from the house to the tent so they were cascading across the lawn - they looked amazing.

    2. Also just wanted to add that they are so hard to find in the UK? They even sell them in Target in the US for $15 but so difficult to track down here - weird as they look so nice!

  12. Thank you! I know it'll be worth it! Nothing prettier than strings of white lights! x

  13. Yay! Info heavy detail! Love all the wonderful original creative ideas. Your wedding looks amazing and fun! I used to dream of having burgers at weddings. So original and creative. Love it!

  14. Oh, I love this post. Congratulations!
    So inspiring, I want to get married again, X X

  15. Alex, once again congratulations and thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures! It looked like a wonderful day and you were simply stunning. All the best! Caterina


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