Many of you will be in the midst of your wedding planning journey. How’s it...
Wow it’s Thursday already! The week sure is going quickly. I was at Chatsworth Christmas market yesterday and after planning a few more social events in my diary it made me realise how fast approaching Christmas is! It won’t be long at all now and I haven’t done a spot of shopping yet, what about you? Todays wedding is a laid back affair that took place in the brides parents back garden. A marquee took all 120 guests and was filled with fab DIY projects, one of the main ones being 1000 Origami Paper Birds created by the brides father! I am especially liking Samuel’s suit which was tailor-made for him, I just love the colour combo and the mix and match feel, very stylish! Big thanks to Nicki Feltham Photography for the images.
Stephanie and Samuel were married on 6th September 2014 at St Stephens Church, Mundham, West Sussex and the Reception at my parents’ house in Runcton, West Sussex, nr Chichester. ‘I grew up there in the same house and it is somewhere Sam and I have spent a lot of time. Sam was born and grew up in Singapore but has been in England since he was 17 while his parents continued to live abroad so, he doesn’t have a ’hometown’ as it were. I’d never thought too much about the type of wedding I wanted but I knew I wanted to get ready at my mum and dads house. I looked at a few venues but we felt none of them meant anything to us like Hillside, so we decided to go for the marquee option. We had, in the end 120 guests and it took 16 months to plan.’
How they met
We met in 2008, one of my best friends from school was having a bbq for her then fiancé and I was home for the weekend so went along, forgetting it was said fiance’s birthday and just thought it was a random bbq! When I turned up there were lots of family and various couples, some I knew, some I didn’t, and then a guy with a weird mullet hair do! (Sam) Their family is half dutch so assumed he was a relative! We ended up talking and I was surprised when he spoke ‘perfect’ English! They turned out to be an old school friends and I discovered Sam had been to the same university as me, a year above and knew many of the same people! Small world, and ironically I I was pretty sure I’d met all eligible bachelor friends of friends of friends.
I decided to go large for my 30th and organised a proper do at my parents house with 45 friends and family. We had a masquerade theme and had a sit down meal of Raclette. I had thought Sam might propose on my birthday, but on the actual day Sam asked me if I wanted my present then or at the weekend. And I said “I don’t know when do I want it?!” I decided then so he shortly appeared with a largish box. I was pretty sure then that it wasn’t a ring, and when I opened it to find an I pad – the whole ring idea went straight out of my head and all I could think about was how do I get this thing working!? I even forgot to say thank you!
After the meal Sam stood up to thank everyone for coming and to wish my mum a happy 60th which had only been a couple of weeks before. And whilst he did this he said he had forgotten one present and gave me a massive box to start opening as he did the ‘thank yous’. I opened the first box to find a smaller box and couple of wrapped things, which turned out to be packets of biscuits, then inside the next box was another box and some wrapped up shower gel…there is an old joke in our family about my mums stockings being not very original with shower gel and so on, and Sam had on my first birthday with him done a birthday stocking! So you can guess the boxes got smaller and smaller and as I saw the last small jewellery box – he wasn’t looking and I slammed the lid shut in shock! He asked me to keep going and I said I have and I don’t want to go any further! Ha, I didn’t mean that but that’s what came out! So he came over and whispered in my ear “will you marry me” I of course said yes and then the whole room erupted and we were pulled apart for hugs etc and I don’t think I saw him for about an hour after that until we were all just dancing until the early hours!
How did you allocate your budget
I did quite a bit of research as to what things can/should cost. We listed our priorities which was marquee, good food, and a good band. So we knew this is where we would spend the most, the rest I tried to be careful with!
How did you choose your photographer
We originally had an old university friend signed up to do it, Sam felt happier that he knew him, however the Christmas before he cancelled as his cousin had chosen the same date as us! So I hunted through blogs and sent Sam a list of 4, and he immediately liked Nicki’s, so we skyped her one evening and spent 40 minutes just laughing so we knew we would be comfortable and her website convinced us that she could take amazing photos
My dress was a Suzanne Neville. It was sample dress. I had two friends with me one weekend to start looking, and we just popped into this sample sale which I imagined would be like the scene in Friends where women are blowing whistles and wrestling! But it was a beautiful shop with only a handful of dresses. I tried on about 5, but the lady kept this one will last knowing I would love it. It fitted (bar needing to loose a couple of pounds – already on the to do list!). So I realised to get it at that price I had to buy it there and then, I was sad my mum wasn’t there but I called her and she said to go for it! My shoes I’d worn once before at an awards night, glitter from Dune. I knew they were comfortable and were the perfect height.
I had fresh orchids in my hair, after a florist course I learnt how to wire them and they were just poked into the plait I had. And I bought myself a Maya Brenner Necklace with our initials SH.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Sam had very strong ideas about what kind of suit he wanted, he wanted colour and to be far removed from the traditional morning suit. On a night out in Oxford he saw one in the window that he liked and took a picture. He showed it to me but didn’t know the name of the shop! So after a bit of google maps trying to work out where he might have been walking we found a suit shop front called Clements & Church. On a weekend down south we decided to drive by on our way home, we arrived 20 minutes before it shut and they ended up keeping it open for us for 2 hours! He found the jacket but it was too heavy a material for winter, but the tailor was brilliant and was determined to put together something for him. After trying on the whole shop Sam was a little glum, but while he was getting changed the tailor and I came across a sample of the same fabric but lightweight! So we then spent about an hour pulling it all together and designing the jacket, inner lining, waist coat, buttons etc. It was great fun and the result was perfect.
We didn’t have best men, we had Sam’s mum as Best mum, and I had my best friend Jess as my ‘Jess of Honour’! We then had my niece 4, nephew 6 and Jess daughter 5 as flower girls and page boy.
Theme or Colour Scheme
I told Jess I wanted her to just choose a dress she loved and felt good in and would wear again. I said the same to Sam’s mum but turned out my laid back attitude made things more stressful! So I said to go navy blue so in keeping with Sam. Jess ended up trying the baby blue version on for size and we both loved it so went for that and simple white dresses for the flower girls. Sam’s mum showed me her dress two days before and I couldn’t believe it when it was almost the same as Jess’s but navy blue with baby blue under layer!
In terms of a theme I knew I wanted it to be laid back, country feel being in our garden.
I always knew we would have orchids as my parents grow orchids for supermarkets and their Taiwanese supplier had always said he would gift us some large white orchids for our wedding.
Orchids are quite sophisticated and normally styled in a more elegant setting, so I wanted to find a way to make them look more rustic. They also grow large potted Hydrangeas so we had lots of these around the garden, also gifted to us by another good friend who is also a supplier.
We had 1000+ origami paper birds hanging from the ceiling and all around. The idea came from a night out in a bar that had birds hanging from the ceiling that created really beautiful shadows and I wondered If I could re-create that. Turned out finding the right kind of birds wasn’t so easy so I tried making a few. I took them home at Christmas and everyone had a go at making some. I told my dad of the old proverb that whoever makes 1000 origami cranes, the crane will grant them a wish. And he said he would make 1000 for the wedding, 136 days away! And so he did! I was absolutely blown away and I think if my mum sees another origami bird it will be too soon!
We had BBQ beef, one on each table and we nominated carvers with a chefs hat and apron!
Everyone had individual paper cones with frites and then big bowls of glazed roasted baby carrots, and an asparagus, avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad. We wanted it to be big bowls of food people could tuck into and it be more sociable.
Two lovely skilled friends of mine made the cake. I asked for a ‘naked’ cake as I’m not a fan of icing or fruit cake so we had a victoria sponge with fruit. I wasn’t allowed to see it until the day, the letters ‘Just married’ were a total surprise. It was perfect.
I bought the topper from Etsy.
We also had a cheese tower which was one of our courses. French friends made two origami bride and groom frogs which we used to decorate it!
Our ‘speeches’ were quite entertaining! My dad did a great dads speech which I wasn’t expecting, I told him just to welcome everyone and say ‘Bon Apetit’. But I am so pleased he did it properly ☺
Rather than having traditional best man or groom speeches we asked 4 groups of friends to do something – an ‘artistic contribution’ In France (I’m half French) this is quite normal for friends to get up and do something, a song, a poem or a skit about the couple. As was seen when my cousin and her son randomly appeared in Bavarian dress (she lives in Munich) and did a random skit about Munich looking for the perfect couple and Sam and I were the winners, she then presented us with a massive bottle of beer!
So our friends put together some hilarious videos, one a black and white film about my life pre Sam, another did a quiz about Sam that people answered at their tables and then then they told everyone the answers as a presentation, my school friends did a video of them all dressed in school uniform dancing to one of our favourite songs, and the last was Sam’s work friends who run summer schools for children from all around the world and they did a slideshow of Sam ‘working hard’ at work and loads of the kids wishing us a happy marriage in different languages ending with a picture of 100 or so kids on Trafalgar square with a banner saying “Congratulations Sam and Steph!” we were blown away by them all.
After all of that rather than Sam doing a groom thank you speech we teamed up and did the SHs awards, where we presented certificates and gifts to those that had helped us, with awards such as ~wouldn’t have happened without” “biggest sacrifice” and “best behaved in church” etcAfter all of that we had a brilliant band called The Ram Raid who we met in the alps on holiday and they played our first dance “beggin” and we all then danced the night away till 2am!
Buy or DIY your Stationery
We designed the save the date which was a postcard with bright text as at the time we had no idea of the theme! Then for the invite I wanted to incorporate the willow trees in my parents gardens so I did a sketch of it and then had that printed onto brown card. We did a fun fill it in RSVP card and attached an origami bird to each one.
Personal or Handmade Touches
We did a lot of DIY! We had food stalls instead of canapés so I made signs for ‘La Creperie’ and ‘Singapore Sam’s Super Satay Special’. I made a big SHs sign and arrow for the main road.
My mum did all of the table flowers, giant white orchids in glass bowls with moss. My mum and brother helped us make the big orchid displays for the church and marquee.
My dad of course made the 1000+ origami birds that we then hung on fishing wire and hung from the ceiling along with Ikea lanterns! We had a prop box and poloroid camera for a DIY photobooth.
The table plan was made up of pictures of all of our guests, and we made the board that they hung on. I made black and white images of the places we had as table names. And finally Instead of name places I made wine tags with people’s names on with coloured beads!
Marrying Sam- must say that first! There were so many, just having everyone you care about in one room is so special. The ceremony was lovely and we had a surprise reading of ‘oh the places you will go’ from one of our best friends. He then gifted us the book which he had asked guests to write a message in.
My dad’s speech was a massive highlight as like I said didn’t expect him to do a proper long speech, but it was hilarious and he received endless compliments.
Advice to other couples
Enjoy it, I made sure I enjoyed the whole process as I wanted it to be as personal as possible. I had my stressed moments but I kept reminding myself whatever happens it will still be an amazing day! Early doors we discussed the key things that we wanted to get right which was food, band and mainly fun. I probably took on a few too many things to do myself but I secretly enjoyed all of it! We had an amazing marquee manager who was very experienced and helped everything go smoothly, they were great from start to finish and really got what we were about and helped us have the day we wanted. The first company we went to just didn’t get it and I’m so glad we persevered to find another who did.
The car was a complete surprise as this was Sam’s main job and a secret.
My cousins surprise skit and Bavarian costume was a complete shock!!
And our friend’s videos were such a great surprise as although we asked them to do something we could never have guessed what they would do. We were blown away and will treasure them forever.