Merry Christmas everyone! It’s Christmas Eve, so only one more sleep till the big day!...
I have another wonderful wedding for you today courtesy of my good friend Jess Petrie. It’s a fabulous wedding from the great British sea-side town of Scarborough. With an outdoor ceremony complete with deck chairs for all the guests, this wedding is full of fun, laughter and plenty of personality. With a few vintage 1950’s touches, and a red, white and blue seaside theme I just love everything about this wedding. But to top it off they held their evening reception back at the brides mum’s house. Add in a ton of DIY details, a bouncy castle and a camp fire and you have one awesome wedding!
Rachael and Jordan who were married on 27th July 2013 at The Spa, Scarborough, followed by a garden party at their parents’ house. We really wanted to get married outdoors and were searching for options in Leeds (where we live) for ages. ‘We first looked into camping/festival style weddings in forests and I instantly fell in love with the idea but on seeing the prices (on top of the additional outdoor ceremony fees) we had to seriously reconsider! After chatting to my parents about it, we were surprised when they came back to us a week later and offered to do a garden party reception and camping at theirs afterwards, if we could find somewhere in Scarborough to get married. We knew it would be very much DIY’d and not nearly as glamorous but this kind of added to the appeal, as we very much wanted a relaxed and informal affair which was totally our own. We then looked into ceremony options in Scarborough and quickly came across The Spa, and were very excited to find out that although the suncourt area is open-air you can have your ceremony held there, with the salty sea air in your lungs, seagulls swooping above and even the possibility of a paddle in the sea. We were sold! We wanted an intimate wedding so had just 50 guests. It took around 6 months to plan, we were very lucky that the venue wasn’t fully booked as we had left things late! We had our baby boy Dylan in February, and he obviously took priority over the wedding. I booked the venue and registrars in January, and then all the other things got sorted a good few months after he was born!’
How the met
We first met and became friends playing the online game World of Warcraft! We enjoyed integrating this into the wedding in a few little touches. We later met properly at a party in Leeds, which now happens to be where we live. We have been together almost 3 years and have a baby boy, Dylan, who was 5 months old when we got married.
I was 26 weeks pregnant at the time and we had recently moved to Leeds together. We went for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales and Jordan said we should try get to a really nice spot for our picnic. After about as much uphill walking as I could stand, we stopped to admire the gorgeous view. I told Jordan I needed to blow my nose (romantic!), and he told me to get a tissue from his backpack. To my surprise there were no tissues, but a little box with the ring inside, and when I turned back he was on one knee!
How did you choose your photographer?
The one thing that we decided we didn’t want to ‘DIY’ was photography. After seeing other people’s weddings through scouring the internet, I realised how powerful and exciting wedding photography could be. Getting my Dad to take a few snaps after the ceremony just wasn’t going to cut it! We wanted to have creative documentary style photos of our day which we’d treasure forever. I found Jess on this blog. Her photographs are filled with emotion and are always visually stunning, and her style seemed to be perfect to document our day. She really put us at ease during our engagement shoot so we knew we’d made a great choice. We even took along little Dylan and got some gorgeous family shots.
Due to the limited budget we had, I didn’t want to spend the earth on my dress, and to be honest it wouldn’t really suit my personality to do so! I also wanted to splash in the sea, so felt a tea length dress would be great, and decided to go with a 50s style as I felt this suited the seaside setting and informal nature of the day. I found my dress at Vivien of Holloway, and went for their ivory lace halterneck swing dress with a white petticoat. After trying it on I decided I wanted to add little lace sleeves somehow. I put my minor sewing skills to good use and altered it slightly – taking away the halterneck and adding an ivory lace bolero I found on Ebay, which was a great match. I accessorised with shoes by Irregular Choice, a white hair flower and a flower necklace which was a spontaneous last minute buy from Debenhams. I ended up going without a veil and a bouquet – which I really don’t regret. I just couldn’t decide on what I wanted for either and when time ran out it just didn’t seem important anymore – and everything was fine on the day without these traditional extras! I also had a more casual dress for the evening, which was an absolute bargain found on ASOS! It was sixties style cream lace mini dress with long bell sleeves.
The suit and bridesmaids
Jordan wore a blue suit from Slaters in Leeds and a red bow tie. This was bought quite last minute. Dylan wore a little sailor suit for the ceremony which like many things I found on Ebay. For the bridesmaids, I wanted something in the same shape and length to my dress but in red, and found a gorgeous 50s style swing dress online. This was given a white petticoat for volume and accessorised with a nautical hair flower. People commented on how the red of their dresses matched my hair, which was a nice accidental touch! Our best man wanted to wear his RAF uniform which also looked fab!
Theme or colour scheme
We decided on red, white and blue to celebrate the seaside location. Initially we were trying to stick to light blue and dark red (to avoid a ‘Union Jack’ effect!), but this kind of went out of the window with the more things we collected, and we ended up with an array of these colours. We also ended up with a bit of pale green here and there, on the stationary and deckchairs. Thankfully, I think we managed to avoid it looking like a jubilee party! We ended up with a slight nod to a vintage theme with the 50s dresses, Jordan’s insistence of wearing a bowtie and our music choices. I also had a vintage VW campervan to get to the ceremony with my Dad and bridesmaids which was good fun – if a bit orange!
I made a lot of the little details and decorations myself, going with a slightly nautical handmade look. The Spa already had lovely red, white and blue bunting up which looked great, and we asked for deckchairs for the ceremony which we thought would be a fun touch. Traditional extras like chair covers and so on felt like a bit of an unnecessary formality so were never considered. We felt that the setting alone provided a great backdrop so we didn’t really need any extravagant decor.
In the garden, there was no theme other than ‘anything goes’ – there was a lot of mis-matching and randomness but we liked it like that! Plastic tables and garden chairs, my grandmother’s old floor lamp, the kitchen table, all sorts of table cloths, random fairy lights and signs, my dad’s vintage motorbike parked on the driveway, my childhood swing which had been especially resurrected, and so on! I also scattered around candles in paper bags and tealight holders and my Dad hung up lots of multi-coloured bunting.
At The Spa, guests chose from three options for each course, which was a nice way to ensure everyone got a menu they were really looking forward to! The starters were mini Cumberland, salmon & dill tartlet or grilled halloumi; the mains were grilled snapper, rib of beef or pan fried chicken; and the desserts were Baileys toffee pudding, iced honey parfait or local cheeses. The Spa put on a really great service and the food was excellent quality. We also had our DIY wedding cake which was iced amongst many laughs the afternoon before – it was so nearly a complete disaster we couldn’t help but giggle, but thankfully we just about pulled it off!
In the evening we had a big homemade buffet which went down very well. My Mum was a wonderful host (with additional help from a few other family members!) and roasted a ham joint and a huge chicken, prepared plenty of sandwiches, fresh pizza, salads, nibbles and local bakery favourites such as a huge batch of freshly delivered sausage rolls! We also had plenty of desserts, such as cakes, fruit salad and cheesecake. I put together a ‘pick and mix station’ using simple glass jars and loads of our favourite sweets, paper bags and scoops. For drinks, we had what I lovingly called a ‘DIY bar’ which was just a huge selection of different drinks, ice and plastic cups on a table! We had planned on making everyone a cocktail but this went down just as well and was far easier!
The next day we had a huge batch of tea and toast made in the family kitchen for all of the happy campers, and later on had a lunchtime barbeque.
We chose our own music selection for throughout the day, including the ceremony and meal – which had a 50s and 60s vibe with lots of Elvis and The Beatles (which were also our main ceremony songs). I also made a selection of music for after the meal, to make the most of the dance floor on the suncourt. The ipod came in very handy at the garden party, as we just hooked it up to some speakers and played the playlist which I’d prepared in advance – a mix of old and new and a few classics such as Michael Jackson thrown in for good measure!
Other than this, we seemed to make our own entertainment! Some of us went onto the beach after our meal and had a little paddle, and several of the boys including Jordan even went for a little spontaneous swim in their pants! We also had an open top bus to take guests back to the garden party, which gave everyone a nice blow dry! We had a bouncy castle at the garden party which went down a storm. Later on in the evening, we lit a campfire which was lovely to take the chill out of the evening air. We all just stayed up chatting and listening to music, which was a lovely way to end the day.
We picked up the flowers the day before the wedding from Tesco! Don’t get me wrong, we really love flowers but are just not at all precious about picking certain ones or in a position to spend a small fortune! We also wanted to do them ourselves. We were after red, white and blue of some combination, and knew we would be able to find at least one of these colours somewhere if left until the day before. We were lucky in that we found all three colours and they made great little pretty bouquets when tied together. I think we spent around £20, and had plenty to fill our DIY ribbon vases!
Personal / DIY touches
We did all of the little details ourselves, including:
• Table names were made from printed card, ribbon and heart picture holders.
• The table plan was made from old wooden frames, string, pegs and postcards.
• ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ signs were made using old frames with buttons glued on.
• The matching heart decoration was just a painted chocolate box, string and buttons.
• The wedding ‘postbox’ was an old wicker flower basket with a printed sign glued on.
• I also made all of the wedding stationary (order of the day, invites etc.) and signs in Photoshop, to the same theme/fonts.
• We handmade the ‘vases’ for the flowers using old tins and jars with ribbon wound around, which cost almost nothing and fitted in with the theme nicely.
• We gave favours of pick and mix style sweets (love hearts, friendship rings, haribo hearts etc.) in little striped bags tied with ribbon – as who doesn’t love pick and mix?
• My mum made our wedding cake, and myself and one of my bridesmaids iced it the day before the wedding. I also made the little bunting topper, which was incredibly easy.
• As we first met playing World of Warcraft, our tables were named after cities from the game. We also included the game trading cards on the table settings, one for each person, which turned out to be good conversation starters!
• I made a ‘wish tree’ with my favourite old tree in the garden by providing brown luggage labels so people could tie a wish or ‘words of wisdom’ to the branches. I decorated it with some little hanging hearts I found on ebay.
• We had jars of honey made by my Dad as he is a beekeeper, and my sister in law designed the labels for it. Guests could take it away as a little gift.
• The Spa is still a public area during weddings, meaning that the public are allowed to watch. It was a busy and warm Saturday so we had a good audience for the ceremony! Apparently, there was a little old lady crying whilst watching through the window behind as we said our vows, and families looked on from the balcony above. This actually added a really sweet and special element to our ceremony as so many other people were enjoying witnessing us commit our lives to one another, and somehow it made it all even more powerful.
• Also during the ceremony Dylan did a little excited squeal – which was really cute and funny!
• Jordan’s speech. As everyone there knew us pretty well, we felt we didn’t need to do anything long and detailed. It was short, but it made me cry – and him cry – and several guests cry!! In fact, I’m not sure he could’ve continued if he had wanted to!
• We had a hilarious spontaneous ‘first dance’ which just showcased how awkward and terrible at dancing we can be! But it was great and I did some good twirling in my dress, along with lots of hugs with my new husband. It didn’t matter that we looked silly!
• I loved it when several of the boys got into the spirit of the seaside by going for a little dip in the sea!! I think I cried laughing when one them tumbled head first into the water!
• To have the after-party in the garden which held so many childhood memories for me was very special, and it was lovely to share the space with all of our friends. It was also great to have many of our family and friends involved in preparations, as most arrived the day before.
How fast it all goes and how calm I actually felt when it all came together and I had everyone around me. The nerves just disappeared! Oh, and how well behaved our little sailor boy was – he was treated to lots of new toys afterwards!
• Embrace anything that goes ‘wrong’ as adding individuality to your day! I know it’s a cliché but really try to just go with it. The day will go so fast so just really enjoy it all!
• Try not to get really stressed about the little details; they really don’t matter when it comes down to it. Having a 5 month old baby meant that a lot of the traditional weddingy ‘things’ went out of the window for us, as we simply ran out of time. We arrived from Leeds with a day and a half to finish off everything, and should’ve given it longer really! I actually forgot until after the ceremony that I didn’t have a bouquet or a veil, but these things really didn’t matter! Everything will go ahead, you will marry the one you love and everyone will have a wonderful time regardless.
• Try to relax as much as you can on the day. It’s so important because you can then contemplate the awesome enormity of what you are about to do, rather than fuss about napkins and bunting! Although the day was amazing I do wish I hadn’t taken so much on myself last minute, as I was still decorating the garden on the morning, running about in my underwear like a crazy person rather than relaxing (Jess can vouch for this!!) I did my make up in about five minutes as our transport waited outside, when I’d planned on leisurely taking at least 30. This would’ve been helpful more for my head than my face!
• Accept help! People will be honoured and happy to help you in the preparations for your big day. I had to get over letting the staff at The Spa set up the tables as it couldn’t be done the night before. It looked absolutely perfect so I needn’t have worried!
• If you have a little one to think about, don’t worry about letting them come first. It is ’your day’ but if they are unhappy you will be unhappy too. We had to go and feed Dylan at the moment we were supposed to be doing speeches, but everyone understood and enjoyed chatting amongst themselves while we did. Also accept that there are times in the day that your baby will need to be looked after by others – but they will be absolutely fine and probably love all the extra attention. Dylan loved all the cuddles!