By the time you all read this, Miss Charlotte will be a Mrs! Eeek, I can't wait!
I was absolutely thrilled when she asked me if I would put together a little blog post for you lovely readers whilst she's in a hazy wedded bliss bubble.
My own wedding seems like such a long time ago, yet we are only coming up to our 1st anniversary. It was a bit of a labour of love, as we had a rather long engagement. We decided very early on that we didn't want to ask our parents to contribute financially, as we were both in steady full-time jobs, we would rather save up and do things ourselves instead. This is where the DIY element came in. It was our way of a) saving money and b) being able to include our friends and family a little more with their time instead.
We were engaged for about 2 years before we finally got married but, decided quite far in advance which were the most important things to us and made sure we booked them first i.e. photographer, reception venue, caterers, his suit and the dress. These were the things which also cost the most, thus allowing us time to save up for them. However, booking venues 18 months in advance does not always prove clever as our original reception venue went bust 6 months before our wedding, and we were sent into a panic until our caterers came to the rescue with a cancellation at their own base venue. Needless to say, the constant for us was that we were going to be married in a church and it would be photographed, and I would be wearing the dress that I loved.
The DIY elements for our wedding came in a number of different forms, from handmade invitations, lavender confetti grown in my aunt's garden, the flower girls' dresses which I made myself (still using that Fashion Degree. Haha!), all the way down to the table decorations, pew ends, our cake (made by my sister) and the wedding favours.
Our general theme was a little bit French with a cycling twist, as my now husband proposed to me under the Eiffel Tower after a charity bike ride he took part in from London to Paris. There was never any doubt that elements of our wedding would be handmade, as this was our way of putting our own stamp on it without breaking the bank. I know a lot of people thought we were a bit nuts making things ourselves, when we could just buy them but, for us it wasn't about how lavish the affair, it was about being able to include as many as our friends and family as possible so they could celebrate with us, which meant a lot when you see the size of my family.
Having a handmade wedding also allowed us to be able to spend time with our families on the various projects which needed doing. Some of our fondest memories are not just of the big day itself but, also in the run up to it as well. From sitting and my parents dining table on a rainy Sunday in February assembling our invitations, to Harry Potter movie marathons in the background whilst we assembled our table plan on the coffee table.
Which leads me nicely onto a few tips...
1. Have fun! Think of things which don't just save money but will also add an injection of your personality into the day. Ok, so we didn't have huge glass vases filled with flowers for our table centres, we had vintage Tour de France posters in picture frames from the Poundshop, but everyone thought they were ingenious and loved the thought that had gone into naming each of the table after a town in France.
2. Don't try to do everything yourself! As I've said previously, some of our fondest memories are from the preparations for the wedding itself. I was so relieved when family members volunteered to help with certain things, like my mum's best friend, sewing all the table runners for us, and my mum assembling the flowers for the bouquets and table centres. I think the final straw came the night of our rehearsal when I was trying to put together a layout for our sweets tables, and had a complete meltdown at my sister who was only trying to help. I learned that lesson the hard way. Sorry Sis. :(
3. Don't worry too much about the details. Some thing people will notice, like how easy it was to find their seat, or the easy to read font you used for your Orders of Service. And other details they won't even bat an eyelid at, like whether their Order of service had raffia tied round it or not, or whether the flowers on their table were the same as the one next to it. Give yourself a break every now and then, and step back to see the bigger picture. You're getting married!! So don't drag your soon-to-be husband half way across Cardiff looking for the perfect colour ribbon to match your bridesmaids dresses and your bouquet. No one will be looking that closely.
I hope I haven't bored you all too much with my wedding antics. There was really far too much to fit in, so if you've got any questions about any other DIY elements then please feel free to get in touch with me on instagram, or Facebook.
(All photos by Martin Ellard from Hannah's gorgeous day)