'sustainable wedding' Category

Child Friendly DIY Wedding: Games, Activities and Making it Special for Kids, by the (Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

Everyone matters.

About twenty-five of our hundred or so wedding guests were young people or children, their ages ranging from very newborn to virtually old enough to vote.  This included our own children, who are very little.  Here are some of the things we did that helped the under 18s to feel welcome and special and to have some fun.

1. Chose a child friendly venue 

As our venue, Kench Hill, is usually an activity centre for young people to explore nature from, we could relax about the setting being generally safe, secure and well set-up to meet the needs and interests of a range of ages.  In addition to the charming duck pond and kitchen gardens, there was play and activity equipment for all ages:

There was an enclosed garden for toddlers and young children, with trampette, mini-slide, wendy house, mini-seesaw and other small play equipment;

Slightly older children had fun on the tyre swings and with the giant Connect 4;

A large shed containing a games room with babyfoot and snooker, which backed onto a small basketball court, appealed to the 10-14 year olds;

The football pitch and assault course gave older kids a chance to get physical.

Indoors, there was a cupboard full of toddler-friendly toys, board games, books and a piano.

2. Include decorations that can be played with

Photo by Tracy Morter

We draped the tree we had our handfasting under with rainbow streamers and planted rainbow windmill toys at its base.  After the handfasting, children plucked off the ribbons and picked the little windmills, and played with them in the sunshine.

3. Don’t forget birthdays! 

One memorable, touching moment was when one of the young members of our family was surprised in the middle of the speeches and open mic by her dad, who was bearing a birthday cake, while her extended family and a hundred odd people sang her Happy Birthday.

4. Have awesome relatives

My brother included a gigantic teddy in his speech – which was a big hit with the children afterwards.

5. Include child-friendly food

Food can be a big event in a child’s day.  As well as catering to specific dietary requirements, our venue were great at making sure there were staple foods for younger children on offer in the buffet, such as sausage rolls, cheddar cheese, fresh fruit and bread.  We decided to order the tables by number of children (and vegetarians), so that there was plenty of choice of simple foods, and less potential for stress, for the younger ones.

6. Make sure there’s a range 

As favours, we did stickers for the under 3s, Top Trumps for primary school kids and normal packs of cards for the preteens and teens.  While the under 3s and younger primary school children loved their favours, the older children weren’t too fussed – however, they did enjoy the props left in jars on their tables, and had a lot of fun with everything else that was on offer to them.  Really, what mattered was showing them that they each mattered to us – like every guest at the wedding.

 

(Uncrafty) Bride on a Budget and Food: Canapes and Wedding Breakfast / Buffet for a DIY Wedding

I have to begin with the canapes.  Such things of rainbow beauty.


L-R: Apple Alices, Rainbow Swirl Biscuits, Rainbow Bakewell Slices

As we arrived at our reception venue around 3pm – tea time – it seemed very fitting to have baked canapes.  My dear friend and bridesmaid, Helen, made a selection of baked goods as a gift to us (we paid for ingredients but the time, energy and love she put in were frankly invaluable).  As well as perfectly jammy and almondy bakewells, delicate biscuits, fresh, moist apple slices and perfect lemon drizzle cupcakes, Helen made pesto and cheese swirls as a savoury alternative.

Two of my young nephews helped Helen to plate up on pink heart doilies (thanks, Aunt Julie) the morning of the wedding. Then, while we were off getting married at the lovely Tenterden Town Hall with our loved ones witnessing, Kench Hill staff put out the canapes on this colourful length of IKEA fabric (it’s machine washable, so is now our reusable tablecloth for kids’ parties and other celebrations) and were ready to serve with non-alcoholic fizz and prosecco when we pulled up in the sunshine outside this gorgeous, Georgian house.

Wedding Breakfast / Buffet

We chose a hot and cold buffet as our main meal, as it fitted with the Garden Party vibe of the afternoon reception.  We all ate at a mixture of picnic and round tables, in the beautiful grounds, between two ponds, with the buffet laid out in a gazebo.  When we first visited, Sandi, who runs Kench Hill, suggested that the best way to plan feeding all our guests would be to name a budget, and then figure out what they could do within that that met everyone’s dreams and needs.  This made so much more sense than trying to adapt our budget around the set price list most venues present, and ending up with a meal that didn’t quite satisfy.  I’ll be honest – it was mildly terrifying not knowing what the food was going to taste like on the day.  However, I needn’t have worried. It was utterly delicious, with plenty to go round for children and adults, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.  It was an added bonus knowing that it was, on the whole, locally or sustainably produced, with the vegetables fresh from the kitchen garden.

We wrote up a table order that prioritised tables by number of children and number of vegetarians, to make sure that those with dietary requirements we knew of weren’t left with no choices.

Some of the locally, sustainably-produced foods in the hot and cold buffet

Evening Rolls 

During the evening music, poetry and dancing, we were laid out a smorgasbord of locally-baked rolls and fillings for us to self-serve.  The rolls were so good, you could eat one with nothing on.

Bar Snacks and Biscuits 

As well as having the baked canapes, buffet and evening rolls, we had boxes of crisps and other typical bar snacks on the bar, and biscuits and cakes in the kitchen.

Alternatives: DIY BBQs and Pot Luck Buffets 

During the planning process – before we found Kench Hill – we thought about having a pot luck buffet at a London venue.  The plan for this would have been for us to supply some staple foods, like a huge stew or curry and some cooked salmon, then to ask guests to bring a dish to share.  Personally, I think this idea only works if the majority of guests live locally, so they don’t have to travel with food, and if there are delis and shops nearby for out-of-town guests to pick up things like bread or dips to contribute.

A popular DIY wedding breakfast is the BBQ.  We had a barbeque for guests staying the night before the wedding – about forty people.  I would recommend overcatering for the wedding itself, imagining that each adult will have two plates of BBQ food, and bulking up on salads, deli foods and breads. We were lucky to have close relatives and friends to help out with the Friday BBQ, making utterly amazing salads and diversifying the vegetarian options.

Breakfast / Brunch Buffet

My lovely sister and stepmum provided a breakfast / brunch buffet, with a range of food to keep everyone going as we prepared the venue and ourselves for the wedding.

The Wedding Cake 

Helen convinced us that it was a good idea to have a centrepiece cake to cut, and she was so right.  She made the most delicious, double-height chocolate cake, iced with a rainbow.  We included the cake cutting as part of our more personal rituals at the reception, and have very affectionate memories of it.

Cut the cake, and eat! 

Photo by Tracy Morter 

A Perfect Venue for an Idyllic Weekend Wedding on a Budget



Gorgeous photos of the idyllic venue by our friend Natalie S.

When we started planning our wedding, we each made a list of what was most important to us.  One of the things that came to the top was it being somewhere our family and friends could spend a portion of time all together, making a sort of special world for a couple of days.  Some of our favourite weddings as guests included those where we had experienced this – at a coastal fort in Cornwall, in a row of village B&Bs in Wensleydale.   Of course, we recognised that as we were marrying slightly later down the road than other friends had, many of our guests would have commitments to families, jobs, etc., and not everyone would be able to (or want to) spend the weekend away, so it also needed to be somewhere within driving and public transport (ish) distance of our part of London.  We also knew if it was going to be low cost for us, it had to be low cost for our guests, as well – anything else just didn’t make sense.

We were free to decorate in our own style. Photo by Tracy Morter

We started out looking at Youth Hostels; I have a lifelong passion for the places.  We found YHAs with amazing potential for the kind of wedding we were planning: YHA Hartington Hall and YHA Ilam Hall in Derbyshire and YHA Wilderhope Manor in Shropshire have wedding packages.  Other YHAs, such as YHA Hawkshead in the Lake District, were very accommodating about figuring something out.  However, in the end, we felt they were all too far from our home for us to even make a viewing visit by public transport, which meant they definitely wouldn’t have been convenient for many of our guests.

Through a link a relative sent, we came across the amazing Kench Hill, in Kent.  Kench Hill is a charity that creates educational adventures in nature and wildlife for children and young people from Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham.  It’s an old, Georgian mansion on the outside, with 3* hostel accommodation of dormitories, single, double and family rooms inside.  Revenue raised from hosting weddings helps to support their brilliant work with children from East London.

Georgian Manion on the outside… Kench Hill. Photo by Natalie S.

I made an easy visit by train (from Charing Cross, but could have also gone from St. Pancras) and a pretty bus ride on a scorching hot day in late Spring. Kench Hill manager, Sandi, picked me up from the beautiful, old High Street in Tenterden – where I noticed the Town Hall, with its picturesque balcony, surrounded by flowers, as a ceremony venue. As we drove into Kench Hill, I knew: This must be the place. 

The front lawn was perfect for canapes and drinks and our handfasting.  The spacious, pretty gardens by the duck pond and lake, with a mix of wooden tables and round dining tables, made a beautiful, relaxed English garden party setting for the wedding breakfast.  The long kitchen gardens made a lovely, sunlit walk.  There were hens and ducks about. Children played happily between the Wendy House and small outdoor toys in the enclosed area by the meal, or on the swings by the front lawn, while older children played basketball and babyfoot.  The night before the wedding, we had a BBQ down by the thatched hut, which was all lit up with candles.  We dressed the Straw Hall with fairy lights and colourful pom poms, votives, bunting and paper flowers for the reception’s speeches and open mic.  We filled the alcove with photo bunting, to which guests added memories, poems, crafts and photos, as our guest book.  The bar was outdoors, under a wooden shelter, lit by a storm light.  There was even a little camping in the top meadow.

A relaxed, English wedding breakfast in the grounds of Kench Hill.

Photo by Tracy Morter

Ducks and wildflowers at Kench Hill on the wedding day. Photo by Natalie S. 

The Straw Hall, ready for music, poetry and speeches. Photo by Natalie S. 

Sandi and her team made everything incredibly easy, relaxed and personal.  Whenever I worried I was asking too many questions, or being demanding, Sandi and her colleagues’ responses came back light, flexible and positive.  We really felt that they wanted our wedding to be whatever we dreamed of it. Kench Hill promotes sustainability and a love of life, and the atmosphere is full of that hope and gentle joie de vivre.  We were able to provide our own drinks and partly self-cater.  The food Kench Hill catered was brilliant too – but that’s for another post.

To contact Kench Hill, see their website or facebook.   You can also see photos on their facebook of other weddings, each with a totally different look, which shows the flexibility of the venue for glorious, DIY, budget weddings.  We found our fab photographer Tracy Morter as she had shot a previous wedding at Tenterden Town Hall and Kench Hill – you can see photos of that gorgeous, and, again, totally different, wedding, here.

 

Low Waste, Upcycled Buttonholes (Boutonnieres) – Easy Wedding Crafts for the (Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

Of all the makes for the wedding, this is the one I had to practise the most before finding something I was happy with.  The initial attempts included glitter foam and pyschedelic, pink and orange rosebuds – they ended up on our flower girl baskets.

Finally, after quite a few glue gun blisters and times spent lying on the carpet in a world of self-doubt, I made these.

Bow Tie and Kerchief from Le Colonel Moutarde

I made these buttonholes based on a tutorial in ‘Handmade Weddings’ by Moyle, Moyle and Faust (Chronicle Books), which was kindly handed down to me by the teacher of one of my preschooler’s activities.  Mine are a more-rustic adaptation.

Here’s a How To…

Materials:

Old clothes (my daughters’ outgrown winter dress and summer dress, in rainbow colours)

White felt, leftover from a craft project

Florist wire (also used for the bouquets)

A second-hand pair of dark green corduroy trousers

Wool (leftover from pom pom making)

Glue gun and glue sticks

Pins with rainbow heads (ebay)

Scissors

Method: 

  1. Cut strips out of the old clothes and felt, measuring approx. 3″ (7.5cm) wide and about 5-6″ (12-15cm) long.
  2. Fold them in half, lengthways.
  3. Cut into the fold, stopping about 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. Make these cuts all the way along the length, with about 1/8 inch between each. This will create a fringe effect.*
  4. Pipe a line of hot glue along the uncut edge, then roll the uncut length up tightly, having shifted the tips of the fringe to a slight angle away from the direction you’re rolling in (the angle isn’t essential, but creates a nicer shape if you are able to do it).*
  5. Fluff up the bud.
  6. Glue in a piece of florist wire.
  7. Cut a leaf shape out of your chosen green fabric.
  8. Put two buds together, and fold the base of the leaf around them, sealing (inside) with hot glue.
  9. Double up the florist wire to make a more substantial ‘stem’ and wrap this loop with either brown or green wool.

Et voila! Les boutonnieres!

* High Tech Paper demonstration of 3 and 4:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A link to Handmade Weddings