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Thursday, January 25, 2018

DIY Lavender Themed Summer Wedding | How I Created The Wedding of My Dreams

7 months ago I married the sweetest, kindest, most generous man I've ever known. After 6 year being together and 3 years living together, on our 6 year anniversary on June 29th 2017, we got married in a barn venue in Hertfordshire.

My wedding took a lot planning, caused a lot of stress and several hours of online shopping to make sure we stayed in-budget. Luckily both our parents were very generous in helping us pay for our wedding, so the venue, food, registry fees, dress, music and flowers, being the most important purchases, were covered.  When it came to decoration and extras, it took a little more scrutiny with our self-funded portion of the overall budget to make sure we got everything we wanted, right down to the last little detail.  Bear with me, this is going to be a long post, feel free to scroll to the section most relevant to you!

Thanks to eBay, Hobbycraft and family & friends,  I was able to find most decorations for relatively cheap and got them delivered with plenty of time. Having spent hours and hours creating a wedding board on Pinterest including everything from bridal hair right down to table settings and ideas on table plan presentation. This gave me a clear idea of the style of wedding I wanted and also gave me tips on how to DIY a lot of the decorations. From wooden palettes for the order of service to little glass jars for the tables, I had a lot to do, and not that much time to do it. Keeping costs down in this area allowed us to spend a little more on the larger purchases.

The Venue

Hiring the whole venue which included an old barn with mezzanine and a joined dairy barn within an old farm in the countryside was the best choice for our wedding. We'd looked at about 6 venues, each at different price brackets, offering different packages and all very different from each other.

Milling Barn, Throcking proved the perfect place for the wedding day I'd always dreamed of. Rolling fields, a bare beam converted barn and a rural setting that I knew would provide some stunning backdrops for our wedding photos. With purple being my favourite colour and to fit in with the summer barn wedding, I chose lavender, silver and white as my colour theme and it turned out perfectly. We hung white fabric and freshly cut ivy vines on banisters, hung almost 50 lanterns and doused the venue in pretty finishing touches to create the perfect setting. The venue also gives the option to have an outdoor ceremony in front of one of their stunning gazebos. We were the first couple to choose the mezzanine for our ceremony. I just fell in love with the view and the more rustic bare beams (in comparison to the more modern feel of the dairy barn). With twinkling fairy lights, some beaut planters my grandma made up for the window cill and taking two table centrepieces for either side of the alter, it looked stunning! Chiavari chairs really completed the look!

The Flowers

We began my search for all things rustic around 4 months before the wedding, at the same time as looking for and deciding on my wedding floral arrangements.  We went to about 6 different florists local to me in Hertford and Ware (Hertfordshire), and gathered up their ideas for centrepieces and bridal bouquet as well as prices and ultimately decided to go with our gut and go with the florist who really understood what we wanted to achieve and was so lovely, plus the prices were totally reasonable! We chose The Secret Flower Garden in Bengeo, Hertford who mixed the freshly picked lavender we picked at Hitchin Lavender Fields with gypsophila, baby blue eculyptus, flowering mint, white roses, white veronica, white freesias and lilac lysianthus. I think you'll agree, they were absolutely stunning!

For the centrepieces we chose tall candelabras to fit with the double height ceiling of the barn, so the tables didn't seem lost in the large room. We got the cake topper, table numbers and place name settings laser cut by VM Bespoke which we hand painted in silver, lilac and lavender to fit our theme.  To decorate the tables further, we wrapped small glass jars with lace and string and filled them with dried lavender and gypsophila. The place settings were also hand made taking two sprigs of lavender and attaching the laser cut name with brown string to add to the rustic decor. I think it worked out pretty amazingly! The bridesmaids' bouquets were very simple with just dried lavender and fresh gysophila whilst the groomsmen wore rustic twine-tied buttonholes of the same flower combo.

The Stationery

I created the menus myself on photoshop and ordered them through an online printer company, along with the save the dates and invites all in one go with a consistent theme throughout - matte white card with purple calligraphy and a thin black typeface for the text. For the table plan, I couldn't decide how to lay it out, so I enlisted the help of Big Day Print* who took our other stationery and created a range of ideas for the plan for us to choose from then sent it over. The husband and wife duo behind this company were really helpful who created the Big Day Print after they were working on their own wedding stationery just 2 years ago, wanting something personal, quirky and totally different than what was available. They sorted everything their side, so all we had to do was find a rustic looking A1-sized frame which we picked up for less than £20 at The Range, et voila!

The Bridal Party

Finding bridesmaids dresses was probably the hardest task of it all - finding the right colour, style and shape to suit both my sister and my best friend who have very different body types and are very different in height also. I searched high and low, ran ideas past them and gave my suggestions on what I thought would look nice. Colours come and go with the seasons, so I had to keep checking back every few weeks until stores finally had purples in stock. We looked at top and skirt combos, multiway dresses and ended up finding the perfect dresses in ASOS' Wedding section. The shade of purple was perfect and the beading detail matched that of my dress. A few alterations here and there and they looked absolutely stunning on the girls!

Having 3 little cousins and a little babs for a brother I was super lucky and privileged to include them in my wedding party. Finding the perfect petal hem flower girl dresses from M&S and a really cute blue and grey suit for my little brother, they all looked adorable! My auntie, being super handy with crafts made some lavender crowns for the girls the day before the wedding from the dried lavender I saved, all from wire, florist tape and ribbon from Hobbycraft, costing less than £3 for all three!

The Dress

With a limited budget I was fairly restricted to the bridal shops I looked at, with the majority of local stores only stocking dresses £2000+. I know the dress is supposed to be the biggest purchase, but for me it didn't make sense to spend so much on a dress that is still currently hanging up in its dust bag on the back of my wardrobe door.. never to be worn again - seemed like a waste of money. I visited my local bridal boutique Clifford Burr in Ware who stocked dresses for a wide range of budgets (including mine - yay!). After trying on 27 dresses in an hour, I was knackered and a bit deflated as I hadn't yet found 'the one'. I was determined to find it in one visit and after taking on board my likes and dislikes of each of the dresses I'd tried on, the very helpful lady snuck off and came back with THE ONE! Last of it's kind and more than half price, it's like it was fate - the dress had a long train, lace overlay, sweetheart bodice and embellished all over with intricate beading. It was stunning and I really felt like a princess. It cost about £650 in the end, plus about £200 for cleaning and alterations on top. My shoes took a little bit of work finding the perfect pair (though I only ended up wearing them for a few hours) but once I saw these beauties from Carvela, I thought they were perfect and matched my dress so perfectly!

The Groomsmen

Finding a suit for the hubby and his best man was really easy, it took about 20 minutes at Clifford Burr to get them measured up, choose the suit and colour. To hire a suit (realistically, when will he wear it again?!) was just £162 for two suits which included the three piece suit, shirt (that you keep), pocket square, cravat and cufflinks. We received a discount also for getting the suits and dress from the same place which allowed us to buy a couple extras!

The Accessories

It was really important to me to have the colours match, so we took one of the bridesmaids dresses to John Lewis to find some material of the precise shade of purple for us to make our own cravats, pocket squares and sashes for the flower girls and I, just to tie all the outfits together. It took me DAYS to hand sew the boy's accessories (I don't own a sewing machine) and my fingers were absolutely ruined from stabbing myself multiple times. The sashes were a little harder for me as I needed them to be so long in order to get a nice bow and still be long enough to reach the bottom of the dresses. My bridesmaid's nan, luckily used to be a seamstress so was enlisted, along with her daughter (my friend's mum) to cut, sew and press the four sashes ready for my big day. I was absolutely thrilled how they turned out and was the perfect addition to my dress to really complete the look.

I wore my mother's wedding veil on the day, which was really special and found some stunning beaded gypsophila hair pins for £2.50 to tie in with my flowers. I found some clear beaded pins and some white pearlised pins for my two bridesmaids to wear in their hair too which cost me about £3.20 in total, again from the wonderful depths of eBay. Crystal did a great job with my hair, managing to curl and style it whilst I was applying my makeup at the same time - without burning me!

I wanted to keep jewellery minimal so opted for simple pearl drop earrings I found on eBay for a few quid, my engagement ring on my right hand ready to be transferred over and a stunning Lucky Horseshoe bracelet from Symbol Jewellery*. The simplicity of the bracelet and idea behind it made it extra special and now a piece of jewellery I will wear when I need good luck. At just £30, this 7 inch silver bracelet was all the accessory I needed.

The Makeup

I did consider having someone do my makeup for my big day, but after speaking to the lovely Lisa Potter-Dixon, Head Makeup Artist for Benefit and many counter assistants at various makeup boutiques, I realised that being a beauty blogger probably was the best qualification I needed to attempt my own. Having briefly studied Makeup Artistry and helped my bridesmaid who is also a Makeup Artist at Prittee Perfect Beauty with bridal makeup on some of her clients, I had lots of practice already, it was just about finding the right products for the day.

My bridal makeup kit included products like The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, Benefit Roller Lash Mascara and Gerard Cosmetics Slay All Day Setting Spray. I kept things super natural with only a bit of contouring and blush. I'd had my lashes done at Serenity Beauty the week before so only a tiny amount of liner was needed to make my eyes pop.

The Music

Probably not the best thing to think about last when you've already spent most of the budget, finding music/entertainment was probably the most stressful - trying to find bands for less than £1k or opting for a DJ, then deciding on which package you need. We had a few hundred left to get this sorted and I can't think how we ended up finding the DJ in the end, I think it was just a call out on Facebook that we came across Herts Events who did a 6 hour set with lights etc for just £499. We sent him a list of songs we wanted played, not played and definitely not played even if requested along with our first dance song (Ed Sheeran - Perfect, before everyone was obsessed with it...) and I must say, he played some absolute bangers! We were really pleased with Andy and everyone loved the music, everything was organised by Facebook Messenger, which meant it was really easy to keep track of them and get timely responses.

For the aisle music and dinner background music, we just used our iTunes to put music into playlists on an iPod which the venue staff controlled. We chose our favourite songs, movie scores (like LOTR, Harry Potter, etc) and some classical music for ambience. Our aisle song was Christina Perri's A Thousand Years, followed by Ellie Goulding's How Long Will I Love You as our exit. It was really cute and everyone was crying - that's what you need to look for in those types of songs! Just as long as you keep it together and let the guests be the ones to cry instead.

The Rings

The whole '3 month's salary' thing is complete bullshit. You can spend whatever you want on the engagement ring and the wedding ring doesn't need to be pricey either. If you're accident prone like me, having some expensive bling on your finger is not the best idea (make sure you insure the rings you buy!!) but finding out the best setting for your lifestyle is definitely something you need to consider, especially as you're likely to be wearing it every single day for the rest of your life!

I designed my ring myself and got my local jeweller to make it for me. I took his recommendation about the setting and decided what stones I wanted, and how it would sit against my engagement ring. I chose a 18ct white gold band with 14 diamonds surface prong set into the ring. As my engagement ring is an oval halo, I wanted the shape of my ring to curve round it, so the diamonds had to both make the ring stand out on its own and complement my engagement ring. My hubby chose a ring design from those in the shop window and had one made to measure, he went for a simple 9ct white gold band with two lines engraved around its circumference.  We thought about engravings but thought it would be cuter to add the engravings after our 1 year anniversary! Together, I think our wedding rings cost about £550 in total, which is a great price considering the cost of gold at the time!

The Photography

I didn't look very far to find the perfect photography. My mum had come across a local photographer who specialised in 'capturing the moment'. Based just down the road in St Albans, Denise from Angels With Dirty Faces takes stunning photos in both colour and black and white to capture the story behind the day. Meeting up beforehand to discuss photos we want and submitting a list of key people attending the wedding, we were able to capture every angle of the day, reactions, special moments and tiny details. At around £1k, you'll have a whole day of photography from getting ready to the afterparty - not a moment is to be missed! (she took all the photos that appear within this blog !!! Amazing right?!)

The Catering and The Cake

The Chopping Block came as part of our venue package and though we had a few issues with a member of their staff during the evening and the evening buffet not being out long enough, the rest of the food, drink etc was exceptional. As it was a summer wedding, we chose snacky foods like breadsticks and crisps for the drinks reception with a summer Pimms and lemonade for the welcome drinks alongside a non-alcoholic lavender infused lemonade for the kids. To get this lavender infusion, the guys over at Agroposta,* who featured in our BloggersXmas goody bag back in 2015 were kind enough to send over a load of sachets. Adding a few sprigs of lavender and lemon wedges, made for some super pretty drinks the children were lapping up and served from a large Kilner decanter looked super pretty! The natural cordial follows a traditional Croatian recipe which, when mixed with water, lemonade or soda makes for a super tasty natural tasting beverage.

For the main lunch/dinner we opted for a posh picnic, with natural bamboo plates, a picnic basket and all the best meats, salads and dishes for guests to serve themselves. This way people could take as much as they wanted without the fear of going hungry. There was a worry that there wouldn't be enough food, but actually there was so much left over, we couldn't believe it! Dishes like quiche, charcuterie,  summer slaw, mediterranean couscous and potato salad went down a treat on the day. It was a feat in itself that I was still able to breathe in my tight dress. Pudding consisted of an afternoon tea style cake stand with chocolate and orange mousse (which i had 3 of), traditional scones, jam and clotted cream and lemon cheesecake to cleanse the palette. 

With dinner, because everyone knows we love a good cocktail, to go alongside the 'help yourself' dinner, we opted for a cocktail kit for each table for the adults to learn to make their own cocktail from the kit provided of our favourite cocktails. This was great as it was a great interactive icebreaker for those who may not have known the person they were sitting next to, and was great fun. I of course made the cocktails for everyone on my cocktail and completely forgot to make my own!

The evening food also came in abundance with vegan, dairy free and gluten free options available for my various guests. We had pizza and hot dogs to keep everyone full and line stomachs before the drinking really began. I didn't actually get any of this food as the cake was served at the same time and cake is much more important to me than pizza - sorry! By the time I went back to get the pizza, it was all packed up (one of the complaints I had! like bishhh come back here with the food i've paid for!).

Guests were commenting for weeks after how good the food, and the cake was and other than a few niggles, I couldn't fault the food quality at all! The catering was by far the biggest expense, as you'd expect with 60-100 people at just over £2k, but definitely worth splurging on as this is a focal point of the day!

The cake was the best bit - not gonna lie.. I enlisted the services of Emily Jane Cakes after meeting her at a local wedding fair. With so many allergies and intolerances amongst my guests, it was important that I had at least one layer that everyone could eat. We got a dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free chocolate tier, a normal lemon tier and a delicious coconut and raspberry tier. In-fitting with my theme, I wanted a ruffle sugar petal covered bottom tier and lace on the top tier to match my dress with handmade sugarcraft lavender sprigs around the middle tier. I think the final result was absolutely incredible and I'm so glad I was able to save some in my freezer to get out on our anniversary. I will definitely be getting Emily to make my 25th birthday cake too!

The Finishing Touches

Having worked with my bridesmaid on a few bridal makeup clients she'd been referred to from a friend, I had met Serkan from Hertfordshire/Essex based chair cover company Just Covered a few times. Knowing he'd give me a good deal, I enquired about the other things they had available for hire. My eye was particularly drawn to the sweet cart, knowing children were attending and the large 4ft LED LOVE letters to bring the dairy barn some decorative touches. The sweet cart was a massive hit, especially with us as we got to keep all the leftovers and we had so many photos in front of the letters, which created a lovely back drop for our first dance. I got both for around £200, but I think the normal price is only £325, plus he's always doing special offers.

 We weren't allowed to use rice or paper confetti at our venue, so using our white and purple theme, we found Dollz Confetti* on Instagram as they offered biodegradable real dried petals to create our favourite wedding photo. With a variety of colours, flowers and personalised packaging available, we couldn't have asked for more. We chose to get three types of packaging for our different guests. Our flower girls and page boy (aged 3-6) and our bridesmaids got personalised party Fetti Poppers, our close family got the Fetti Wands and the other guests were given standard Fetti Bags, all with our names personalised onto the packaging. Each packaging types definitely work for all guests and my favourite has to be the Fetty Wands, though my little brother would say the poppers, as he kept stealing everyone else's to pop himself! Little rascal! The 'fetti is totally affordable too with prices ranging from 80p per 'fetti bag to £6.99 for some confetti cones and stand. I actually couldn't recommend the girls enough, the confetti both looked and smelled amazing and the poppers and wands were a hit with everyone at the wedding, and it made for a perfect picture which now hangs in large A1 size above my bed. Dollz Confetti have everything from loose confetti to personalised stickers, to personalised Instagram hashtag signs, tissue paper and more. They've also recently added snow, baubles and other wedding accessories to their stock, making it a one stop shop for your wedding needs!

Lanterns were one of the first decorations for the venue that I thought about. Having seen images all over Pinterest of lantern canopies, I just had to have one. I contacted House of Bunting and Hanging Lanterns to get some quotes but it ended up being quite expensive, though it could have saved us a lot of time. Instead I sent the measurements to them and got them to help estimate how many lanterns I'd need to do it myself.  For the size of the venue, I bought 10x Large, 10x Medium, 10x Small and 10x Extra Small lanterns in a mix of white and purple. These were from eBay and only cost us about £50 along with some fishing line (to hang the lanterns from) and some indoor/outdoor LED lights to illuminate the lanterns in the evening. It only took about an hour to hang them (by myself I may add) and looked absolutely amazing, they really completed the overall look of the venue! What do you think?

I did a lot of the DIY bits myself, including hand painting things, cutting out, sourcing things for cheap and hand sewing some of the accessories, but my other half was really helpful when I needed it and was able to destress me when things got a bit too much. Overall, we had the best day ever and even 7 months later, I can't stop looking at the photos, aren't they gorgeous?!

What do you think about my theme? I'm always available if you want any tips or help planning your wedding, I'm always available!


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