Posts Tagged ‘DIY wedding’

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.

 

Should You Book a Professional Photographer for a Budget Wedding?

It’s a question that everyone planning a wedding on a budget comes to ask at some point.

Some people argue that with our cultural propensity towards documenting nearly everything on our tech and our access to decent cameras, we should be able to ask our friends and family to email their photos along after a wedding.  I have been truly skint and am not about to tell people to find money that simply doesn’t exist – however, if you have any room in your budget for booking a professional photographer for at least part of your event, after our brilliant experience with Tracy Morter, I would strongly recommend you make that booking.

Our wedding was all handmade, hand-me-downs, made with love and colour and not always great craft.  We trusted that it would feel amazing on the day, and that the love infusing everything from decorations to clothes to flowers would make it look spectacular as a whole.  However, we also wondered how well it would translate to photographs, unless they were taken by someone who really had a way of getting to the human experience behind the image.

We met our photographer over Skype and realised how excellent her communication skills were when we finally understood that, due to a glitch at our end, she could only see our shoulders for the duration of the Skype call.  Despite this, Tracy had a calm, clear, personable manner and understood everything we were hoping for.  On the day, these people skills were shining – many of our friends and family said how nice it was to meet our friend who took the photos.

Tracy captured each and every one of our one hundred or so guests at their happiest and most emotional.  It was an absolute treat for us to see the day we remembered wasn’t a figment of our imagination – and if it was, everyone was sharing that same, fantastic, loving, colourful world, including our photographer.  She also took amazing photos of our friends and family (and selves) during the open mic / informal concert – luckily for us, she also shoots live music and poetry performances.

 

You don’t have to have a full day booking – consider what means most to you, and see if that fits your chosen photographer’s schedule.  You might, for example, be met at the ceremony, then say goodbye to official photos after the first dance.  Of course, it is still a sizeable chunk of a budget – but, if you do have the opportunity to have your wedding photographed by someone who can really show how it felt and what it meant, as well as recording it at its most beautiful, then it is one not to be missed.

And if you are in South East England, and would like a documentary / reportage style that really shows the relationships that make weddings such an extraordinary bit of human time, we would – obviously! – recommend Tracy Morter.  A handful of our favourite photos are on this post – but as we have decided generally not to share photos of our guests (a shame, because these photos are STUNNING), if you would like to see more examples of Tracy’s documentary style, here are her facebook and website.

All photos by Tracy Morter

 

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 

(Un)crafty Bride on a Budget: Underwear for a Bias Cut, Ghost, Slip Dress

This week’s post is a bit niche: relatively-budget underwear / shapewear for a bias cut, thin, slip (aka cami) dress.  I hope it coincides neatly with any last-minute, NYE pants panic.  I appreciate that if your dress is quite see-through, this post is likely to only be helpful for someone with my skintone.  However, if you’re looking for pants for a dress with a thicker fabric, this post should be more broadly useful. 

If you’ve just got engaged and are here for tips on saving money, easy crafts, sustainable ideas and ways of personalising your wedding, firstly, congratulations! Secondly, I hope some of my earlier posts on finding outfits, making your own flowers and bouquets, venue decorations and table decorations are useful to you. More to come in 2018 for the uncrafty bride on a budget.  

But for now. The Underwear.  Once I had found The Dress, I became obsessed with The Underwear.  It was so hard to find, and there was so little online to point me in the right direction, so I do hope this is useful.  It is the result of my frugal and exhaustive search.  

Ghost slip dresses are extremely lightweight, and cut on the cross, which is what makes them beautiful.  It is also what makes them virtually impossible to wear pants under, because EVERYTHING shows through.  Moreover, mine had a spaghetti strap on one side (requiring a strapless bra), a very deep scoop (making any bra difficult, especially a typically full-cupped strapless bra), and a thigh-high split on one leg (making shorts difficult).  

A quick reminder of the gorgeous, flimsy Ghost dress I thought was going to be my wedding dress

Advice I had been able to glean online suggested tiny, seamless hipsters – however, as I have had four major abdominal operations in the last six years, including c sections, I wanted to wear something that held my tummy.  I am self-conscious about my mother’s apron, aka The Flap.  I was very wary about becoming negative and shameful about my body during what is supposed to be a celebration of love and life, but also wanted to feel, well, held, and comfortable.  

Here is the Ghost dress with the invisible, seam free, belly-button-high shorts I already owned.

HERE ARE MY BIG PANTS!

They were not invisible.

So I saved up Clubcard Vouchers till I had enough for £50 worth of underwear from Figleaves, and bought a plunging strapless Wonderbra and a pair of Spanx Undie-tectable lace shorts (both in my skin tone).  

The Wonderbra was a stroke of luck – it provided support for my ample-enough bosom and wasn’t visible.  

The Bra

The Spanx pants sounded great, as they were not the kind of upholstered, high-waisted, long-legged, need-assistance-to-pee, no-feasting-allowed Spanx, just a pair of big pants with some light smoothing action.  Unfortunately, the band of shame at the top of the Spanx pants showed through the dress.  

The Pants

The mesh of the lace worked, so I did some searches for seamless, high waist, mesh shorts.  For months.  Couldn’t find a pair.  Looked at a lot of pictures of knickers.

Found out about something called a C String.  With wire as a gusset.  Ran away.

AVERT YOUR EYES

Anything which changed texture was out, as different textures showed through the dress, so most high waisted shorts were out, too, as they all seemed to have inbuilt control panels (which I really didn’t want anyway, as I find them constrictive, and I wanted to eat and drink and be jolly).  

Finally, quite close to the wedding, I discovered H&M’s light control shorts.  They came to mid-upper thigh at the bottom, and up above my tummy button at the top, they were blissfully comfortable, and didn’t ride. They were relatively inexpensive, at £17.99 for two pairs.  As I have very pale, caucasian skin, I was lucky that they were a good match for me.  They come in a pack with a very pale pink and a black pair, and are also great for wearing under summer dresses, for anyone who, like me, gets a bit of chub rub.  Ta da!

My Trousseau

 

If I was to do this again and had more of a budget, I would talk to the woman behind www.hotknickers.ie – I think Ali would be able to figure out a good solution.  Choosing a local producer would, of course, also be a more ethical, sustainable option.

This is an area it seems easy to get priced out of if you’re looking for ethical options, however, if you are far craftier than me and would like to have a go at making your own pants, here is a link to a tutorial.

If anyone has found solutions to a similar issue, please do comment – especially if you know of any brands that sell various tones and / or of more environmentally-friendly options.  

Happy New Year!

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: The Wedding Dress

A dozen years, or so, before my wedding.  I ask my mum to make me a white version of this green Jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.   She says Yes.  I am single.  She says she will figure out how to make it when the time comes.  She is trying not to laugh.  She will do it, though.

http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2011/08/22/week-eleven-of-why-so-many-clothes-the-best-of-clothes-the-worst-of-clothes/

Four years before our wedding, when our first daughter is tiny, and my mum has recently died, I watch a lot of Don’t Tell the Bride.  I fantasise about what my wedding dress scene would be (although we are not engaged).  I imagine my husband would find something lovely, and very thoughtful, but I would be in West Cork, in Alice Halliday’s studio, giving her my mum’s and granny’s linens to make something like this wedding dress she made from the bride’s grandma’s tablecloths

When I propose to my husband, a year and a bit before our wedding, we consider a last-minute, seven-weeks-away booking on the (don’t-think-too-much-about-it) cancelledweddings.co.uk .  I decide the dress doesn’t matter, I just dream madly of a simple shift, this amazing cape by Alice Halliday (made for Florence Welch) and these R. Soles boots.

We settle down, decide a real budget, and I realise my £150 dress and shoes budget won’t quite cover one boot.  

A year before the wedding, I find, on ebay, a white version of my green jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.  It’s £79; it’s an original 1990s Ghost dress, probably one I eyed up as a child, seeing the perfect wedding dress.  It’s an ethereal copy of what I’d dreamed up with my mum.  

 


A few months before the wedding, I realise that a chiffon white dress and a one-of-a-kind, beaded cape and two small, gorgeous, beloved, huggable children, who will be eating a lot of chocolate wedding cake, will not mix well.  I decide to get a back up dress and to find a less delicate cape, veil or shawl.  

I order a dress from ebay, but the corset stops an inch above the waist of the bodice, and it does odd things with my body.  My oldest child suggests I sew fabric flowers onto my waist.  It seems feasible… In the end, I resell the dress for what I paid (£20).  

Can you tell one of my kids took this pic?

I try a dress on in a charity shop near work.  I decide white suits me.  I become emboldened.  I decide I will look good in anything.  This is better than the me who has been worrying about her mother’s apron in her Ghost dress, wanting there to be less of me.

I buy a back up dress on ebay for £30.

In amongst my mum’s old clothes, I think, is the rainbow catsuit she had always wanted to wear as her Mother of the Bride outfit.  It comes with a cape, I vaguely remember.  There is a studio photo of my mum wearing the ensemble, in the Seventies.  Her mum had bought it from a graduate of Central St Martin’s.*  I recall a capelet, which wouldn’t be right.  I check, anyway.  I open up the storage bag to find a flowing, sheer, rainbow cape.  My wedding cape.  

I also get hold of a rainbow mermaid dress, for when the red wine starts to flow and the dancing is in full swing and there may be spills…. and briefly consider wearing it down the aisle instead, with the cape.   


A perfectly tidy craft and study area

 

Of course, my period has to make a feature of itself at my wedding.  My cycle goes doolally, so that I will definitely be on on my wedding day. As anyone who has lived with Endometriosis knows, my paper thin, white, chiffon dress is not going to be comfortable.  My back up dress becomes The Dress.

My period got something right.  I loved The Dress; it went with the Lizzie Bennet hair.  It sat unobtrusively under my mum’s rainbow cape, which cradled me in her rainbow colours as I walked up the aisle, with and without her.  When the cape was off, The Dress held me, showed me, and was utterly comfortable.  

 

Photos by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com – an amazing wedding photographer

And, around midnight, I became as shiny as Tamatoa in sequins.  ShiiiiinnnnneeeeeY!

*UPDATE – THE RAINBOW CAPE DESIGNER 

I am exhilarated to have met someone online whose mum has the dress version of the rainbow catsuit and cape. It turns out the designer is Jean Varon, who is credited by some as the true inventor of the miniskirt, and who dressed Diana Rigg in The Avengers. 

I love the threads that connect us all.

Wedding Table Decorations, Favours and Bring and Share Decorations for the (Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

Months before my wedding, I was playing with my kids in a local woodland when my phone rang.  It was one of my best friends, and bridesmaid.  Noone ever uses phones any more, do they? And I knew she was in her family home country.  I picked up, concerned.  What happened next reminded me of the time my mum, then in the early days of cancer, rang me at work – Mum had an urgent question about a black catsuit (this black catsuit, to match her own…).  My lovely friend had found hundreds upon hundred of doilies, hand crocheted by her great grandmother, along with ribbons and collars of lacework.  

Sharing love-driven, crafted, storied objects was very much something my husband and I wanted to do as part of our wedding.  We marry into a family, into a community, into a history of human love.  My friend and I had a few thoughts about what to make her great grandmother’s doilies into.  One idea was bunting.  Another was to push the bulbs of fairy lights through their centres, so they looked like flowers.  In the end, we decided to dye them the colours of the rainbow, and use them to decorate the large, round tables and picnic tables that we were having our wedding breakfast on, in the gardens.  

We used Dylon polyester dye, seven huge buckets (which we each needed for our gardens afterwards), a bottle of rose and a Sunday afternoon, to make this glorious rainbow…

In the year and a bit between getting engaged and getting married, my family and several kind friends saved jars.  We stored ours in the garden, in crates, which meant that the weather did a lot of the work of removing labels for us.  These went onto tables, with candles, as well as reusable straws, pencils and colouring sheets for younger children, or wood and paper photo props for older children and teens.  The different shapes and qualities of glass caught the sunlight beautifully.  

We put the differently-coloured bouquets of fabric wedding flowers in glass jars when back from the ceremony (here’s how I made the fabric flowers) and made additional pom pom bouquets (here’s a super easy pom pom tutorial).

Favours also served as name cards.  Small children had envelopes with their names on, with stickers and card inside.  Older children and teens had second-hand card games, again in envelopes with their names on.  Friends whose beliefs reject gambling had delicious jam.  For everyone else, we chose Lottery Scratchcards, as they are potentially fun, recyclable and contribute to charity.  It would have been amazing if someone had won their train fare.  The only regret I have is that I bought some brown envelopes with gold, glittery insides, to signify pots of gold (at the end of a rainbow).  I overlooked that this would leave the envelopes unrecyclable.  Moreover, we have since learned about the damage that glitter does to the environment, and are moving away from using conventional glitter and are planning to make our own from salt or sugar (like this) or buy biodegradable for special projects, like this Etsy product I am planning on trying soon (Etsy biodegradable glitter). Any glitter we still have will be for keep-forever crafts, like Christmas ornaments.  We are also a lot more aware about creating the demand for plastic, and perhaps would rethink buying plastic reusable straws, and go for something like stainless steel ones. I would love to hear more ideas for sustainable / zero waste alternatives to what we did, in the comments.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to bring photos, pictures, poems, lyrics or anything that showed ‘family’ and ‘love’ to them, and add it to our bunting (twine, with little wooden pegs).  We also printed off photos of us with everyone at the wedding, and pegged this up to get the bunting started.  It was gorgeous, and deeply personal, as well as being a great conversation maker, and we will keep the beautiful things our loved ones shared on it, forever.

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: Decorating the Grounds of Your Venue

Decorating our venue turned out to be an extended process of joy, community, friendship, love, interaction – all  the good things about any wedding, and, especially, a DIY one.

We made a lot of decorations so I will do several blog posts on different parts of the venue and / or specific decorations, so hopefully other enthusiastic wedding makers can find the bits they need more easily.  

This week focuses on the grounds / gardens of our venue. There is a How To / Tutorial on pom pom garlands, as well as tips on decorating trees, bunting and confetti.  There are, of course, a few stories in here, too.

Overall, our decorations were as sustainable as possible and, largely, either homemade or borrowed.  They were also inexpensive!

Decorating the Gardens for a Wedding

Pom Pom Garlands

Garlands in Trees. Photo by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com 

Garlands on the Fence. Photo by Natalie S. 

 

Have you ever made a pom pom out of wool? It’s so easy, the only equipment you need is wool and scissors.  I got a huge bag of leftover wool on ebay for £10, and am still using it to make Christmas decorations and kids’ crafts.

 

  1. Make this shape with the hand you don’t use to write: 
  2. Wrap a length of wool around the four fingers, approximately 50 – 100 times (depending on how fluffy and full you want your pom poms to be).
  3. When you have done this, carefully slide the wool off your fingers.
  4. Tie a piece of wool of about 15cm around the middle, so that you are looking at two loops of wool (rather like the infinity symbol).
  5. Cut the loops at each end.
  6. Fluff your pom pom.

(If you would like some step-by-step photos, please do mention in the comments and I will add some!)

We made a lot of pom poms at my hen do — one of the hens even brought her own pom pom maker.  The gorgeous setting of my childhood’s Holland Park, prosecco, wine and a delicious bring and share picnic helped to fuel our furious pom pom making.  

Crafty Hen Do. White playsuit, lace scarf with armholes and nude Keds, all second hand. 

 

On the day before the wedding, the sun warm on our backs, some friends who had travelled across Europe, friends who had part-cycled from Brighton, my children, their friends and other loved ones, and my (now)husband and I all tried out different ways to fill the trees in the grounds of Kench Hill with pom poms.  The most beautiful method to watch was a friend I had been reunited with after fifteen years (my heart is so full remembering her there, as if we’d seen each other only yesterday, and then, only yesterday) make a huge, woollen web between picnic tables, with the theory this would be the most effective way to make a string of hundreds of pom poms.  It looked beautiful, and certainly made the longest garland of pom poms I think any of us will ever witness — but it was hilariously difficult to transport once made!

The most efficient method was to tie long strings of wool up in the trees and fences we wanted the garlands on, and then to tie the pom poms to them in situ.  Trust us, we tried everything.  

Pom pom garland cost: £10 (large bag of wool from ebay), plus generosity of woolly hens.

Silk Bunting

One of my bridesmaids lent us metres and metres of silk bunting that her mum had made for her own wedding.  The bunting had graced several weddings in between – it was beautiful in its own right, and it was also beautiful to have this link with other loving celebrations.

We strung it in the places that needed quiet transformations: a wall with washed-off children’s drawing from a recent school visit; the ramp up to the music / poetry / speeches hall; a dark stretch between two gorgeous trees.


Photos by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com

Confetti

There was a meteor shower the night of our wedding.  That was pretty good confetti.

Image by Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society.