Posts Tagged ‘wedding photography’

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

 

(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.

(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.

 

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: Handmade Fabric Bouquets, Origami Flowers, and Flower Baskets

Making our wedding flowers was a long and rewarding part of preparing for a highly personal, low-cost and (relatively) environmentally-friendly wedding.  I’m posting about this first, as if you’re planning to make your own flowers, it’s good to start early, so you can pick up and put down this project as time, leading up to your wedding, goes by.  I had never made flowers before, and with some help from friends and strangers, was able to make my own bouquet, and my seven (!) bridesmaids’.

Here is my bouquet — made from the petticoat of my daughters’ outgrown, 2-year-old-size summer dress.

Why would I have needed to make flowers?

Wedding flowers cost hundreds of pounds, cheap cut flowers are often not friendly to the environment.  What’s an uncrafty bride on a budget to do?

Make flowers.  

What sort of flowers? You may well have a theme or colours for your wedding.  For years, I held onto a dream of having a rainbow of bridesmaids; however, after looking at a few Pinterest images, I decided it didn’t work visually.  I had seen that when a group of bridesmaids stood in a line wearing dresses in every colour of the rainbow, they looked like a rainbow, but I imagined that as soon as they reconfigured or mingled or moved – which I very much wanted my bridesmaids to do – they’d look like guests, in block colours.  

The rainbow was still an important motif for a number of reasons, but another one had become important: my bridesmaids as backing singers.  These were the women who had been there at all the important times, who brought the glamour of true friendship and love.  They have always been with me, backing me. I love backing singers.

I also wanted my loved ones to be comfortable.  So, I asked my bridesmaids to wear their little black dresses (or catsuits / trouser suits / skirts and tops), like backing singers, and to each choose a colour to accessorise with.  Then I made bouquets in their rainbow colours.  

Photo by the brilliant Tracy Morter (www.tracymorter.com ). Three brilliant women. Three out of seven rainbow flowers…

As established in my ‘Why So Many Clothes?’ diary (http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2011/06/12/why-why-so-many-clothes/), during which I wore everything in my enormous wardrobe, I have a tendency towards holding onto clothes.  This meant that when it came to finding meaningful materials to make my flowers, I had plenty.  

I used fabric from our daughters’ outgrown summer dresses.  Around the necks, there were the usual toddler stains etc., which meant they were not good hand-me-downs.  However, much of the fabric was gorgeous and colourful and, importantly, connected to our union.  If you’re making your own bouquets from old clothes, first date clothes might be another interesting fabric, or anything that is unwearable but has some kind of history.

A friend added me to the Facebook group, A Make Do and Mend Life, early on in wedding preparations.  This helped a lot: a community of people who are generous with their skills and advice and gently passionate about conservation.  I was advised to get myself a glue gun and given some ideas on how to make the fabric into flowers.

The method I went with in the end was a combination of several, and well suited to my rudimentary craft skills.  

  1. Cut a strip of fabric, about 2-3 inches wide (4-5 cm), and longer than 12 inches (30cm).  
  2. Thread a needle with a length of cotton, doubling it up and tying several knots in the end so that the knot hooks onto the fabric when you make the first stitch (much like you will have learned at Primary School).
  3. Tack along one long edge of the fabric strip (to tack means to do a very basic stitch, in and out. I know this from a friend who customises all her clothes. She is amazing).
  4. When you get to the end, pull.  The fabric will gather along the edge with the stitches in.  Pinch this fabric between your fingers as it gathers, so it forms the base of a bloom.
  5. Poke a piece of florist wire inside the gathered fabric.  
  6. Apply hot glue to it from your hot glue gun.
  7. Squeeze the fabric into the hot glue to stick the wire to the flower and cover up any dodgy stitching (being careful not to touch any hot glue so you don’t burn yourself).
  8. When you have made enough flowers for a bunch, wrap all the flowers together with florist tape.  This tape doesn’t appear sticky until you apply a mild stretch to it and then it activates – great fun.

 

Total Cost: approx £26

Fabric – reused (free)

Hot glue gun with glue sticks – approx £20

Florist tape – approx £3 per roll

Florist wire – appox £3 for 100 ‘stems’

Time: on and off for months.  Once you get the hang of it, you can make three or four at a time while catching up with a TV show, listening to a bit of music, or even having a drink and chat.

Floppier fabrics were less useful; starchy cottons were best.  I filled in smaller bouquets with woolly pom poms (more on those in another post).  This is my picture of the bouquets, their stems wrapped with tissue just in case the English summer got really hot and the wax on the florist tape bled (almost wishful thinking…)

After the ceremony, the flowers went back to the venue and into glass jars on the tables.


A Little Rustic Stitching…

 

Flower Girl Baskets

As well as the bouquets, we decorated two baskets found in a local charity shop with the fabric flowers.  Two lovely friends and I spent a fun evening trial and erroring making origami flowers, finally finding a video we could follow on YouTube.

We filled the flower baskets with the origami flowers and they were scattered to make a colourful path down the aisle.  It was a perfect way of bringing our wedding into the Town Hall.  

Total Cost: £6

Origami paper – friends decluttering (free)

Baskets – £6 from charity shops

 

Time: a very enjoyable evening, plus a few extra origami flower making sessions while watching First Dates.  

With huge thanks to Natalie S for additional photos.

The Origami Flowers, made from this YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm_4hFPFAOU