There are many things to consider when planning your wedding. Finding the perfect venue, choosing...
Happy Monday Everyone and how are you all today? I have a cracking week of weddings for you on the blog, starting with this absolutely beautiful beach side wedding by Debs Ivelja. The wedding comes from my home town of Cornwall and takes in the most gorgeous of views. Jennifer and Christopher the lovely couple chose this stunning venue overlooking the sea for their 1920s inspired day. They chose a book theme to go alongside the great view as they both have a publishing background and mixed in a collection of DIY projects. Jennifer wore a stunning Jenny Packham dress that I just love. The whole wedding from beginning to end looks like so much fun, what a gorgeous day!
Jennifer and Christopher were married on 21 September at Carbis Bay Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall. ‘Chris is Cornish and grew up in Cornwall, I’m American, and we live in Oxford, so the choice of location could have been a difficult one. We didn’t want to plan a long-distance wedding in the US though, and so agreed right away that it would be Cornwall because we both love it down there and he has roots there, so it’s special to us.
When we visited Carbis Bay Hotel, we loved it right away – a boutique family owned hotel with stunning sea views, beautiful beach, and a lovely conservatory. We also had a meal there and were very impressed by the quality of the food, which was really important. It was the perfect choice for us because they were very flexible and we had the freedom to make the day very special and personal to us. The staff was really helpful and accommodating, all we had to do was tell them what we wanted and they went above and beyond. We had 90 guests to the wedding.
We actually gave ourselves 2 years to plan the wedding, which might seem long but was actually perfect. The initial reason was to give us time to save and also to give my American friends and family plenty of notice and time to save for the trip over. But it was also smart because vendors in Cornwall book up so quickly and even booking our venue two years in advance we just managed to get one of the last available Saturdays for 2013. We also booked our photographer, band, and my hair/make-up right away as they were all booking up early too. Once the big things were booked, we were able to just relax and enjoy being engaged. We did a lot of DIY elements as well so it allowed us to do bits here and there, avoiding time pressures.’
How they met
Chris and I met in 2008 ago whilst doing a Publishing MA course at Oxford Brookes University. We felt comfortable with each other right away and found we had very similar senses of humour; we hit it off and started dating during the MA, and then moved in together when the course ended. We’ve lived together in Oxford ever since, and have now bought a house and have two cats.
Chris proposed rather spontaneously one night on our balcony at home, he says that he just felt in that moment a strong impulse to propose. Of course I said yes. It was important to him to propose with a ring though, so he also proposed a second time a week later on a beautiful autumn day while we were having a picnic at St James Park in London. I said yes again!
How did you allocate your budget
We had a budget we were working towards and did research to get quotes and see how much things were. We splurged on the things most important to us like food, photography, and music. We weren’t as bothered about flowers or wedding transportation so saved in those areas. We also saved by DIYing the stationary and a lot of the decorations.
How did you choose your photographer
I first saw Debs work on a wedding blog and I fell in love with her style. The soft colours, the natural poses and the documentary style way she captures the day. I showed Chris and we knew that was exactly how we wanted the photos of our day to look. I got in touch to see if she had our wedding date free and we planned a meeting at our venue. We got on with Debs right away and she is so friendly and nice that I knew we’d feel completely at ease on the day, which we did! She is a true artist and we absolutely love her style. And she was a pro on the day, somehow being everywhere and capturing so many wonderful moments, from laughing guests, to stunning scenery, to little details from the wedding. We are so pleased with our photos of the day, which really do tell a beautiful story.
My dress was Willow by Jenny Packham. I saw it in a photo online and instantly fell in love with it. Luckily my local bridal boutique, Ellie Sanderson, stocked Jenny Packham dresses so I quickly made an appointment. Willow was the first dress I tried on, and while I did try others, I came back to Willow. It was exactly what I wanted, it was elegant and stunning, but also unique and vintage inspired. And it made me feel great!
As for accessories, I actually had my Tallulah’s Trinkets hair piece before I had my dress, I won it from a wedding blog competition and loved the style of it, a bit of glitz and glamour. Luckily it went really well with the dress!
The Suit and Bridesmaids
Chris bought a fantastic three-piece blue suit with a champagne bowtie and matching pocket square from Clement and Church in Oxford. He looked very handsome and dapper.
I had my bridesmaids all pick out their own vintage inspired dresses in shades of blush, champagne, and purple. We then coordinated their outfits with matching shoes and Jenny Packham fascinators.
Theme or Colour Scheme
We both agreed early on that we wanted a jazzy, 20s-inspired theme. We thought the venue on the beach fit perfectly. Jazz, lawn games, Pimms. We didn’t have a set colour scheme, but tried to coordinate with light pinks, golds, and blues.
My sister made our sweet little bouquets the morning of the wedding and my mother-in-law made the table centrepieces with candles and lavendar.
We both come from a publishing background and it’s how we met, so we incorporated a lot of book-themed decorations, including a lovely library catalogue seating plan that Chris’ dad made, Chris and I made the table names using Penguin postcards of book covers, we made an aisle runner completely out of book pages to walk down for the ceremony.
Carbis Bay Hotel gave us full creative license to design the menu and we created a Mediterranean/Italian mezze feast. We didn’t want a bog-standard set menu, we wanted variety and really good food! We also wanted the variety while still having a seated meal. And I’m vegetarian and wanted to offer lovely veggie choices, so we ended up with an amazing and very large menu full of vegetarian and meat dishes full of local Cornish foods. The food was served family style (sharing platters on the tables) and silver service. The dishes were brought out in quick succession in a tapas or mezze style, with a break between courses, allowing guests to sample all the dishes they wanted. For starters we had celeriac arancini, aubergine bruschetta, antipasti platter, halloumi panzanella. The second course dishes were Cornish meatballs, corn-fed chicken and white wine veloute, chorizo potatoes, Cornish beef filet carpaccio, butternut squash and Cornish brie cannelloni, goats cheese and fig pizza, and greek salad. It was an incredible feast and we still get compliments about how good the food was.
For dessert after the meal we had an ice-cream trolley (Sweet Indulgence) serve Cornish ice-cream on the lawn, flavours were coconut, lemon meringue, chocolate, and clotted cream.
For our wedding cake we decided to have a dessert table with a variety of options. Nicky Grant made us a gorgeous three-tiered, white chocolate ruffle-wrapped cake with a big pink chocolate rose on top – we had different flavours, two tiers were lemon and the bottom tier was chocolate. Nicky also made a macaron tower with sea-salted caramel macarons and raspberry macarons, and she made chocolate cake pops with dipped in chocolate. When the cake was served we also brought out Madeleines that Chris’ mum had made, and we also had some gluten-free and vegan options on the table as well.
For the reception we hired a west country band called The Drat Pack who played motown, jazz, swing, and some modern classics. For the interim when the band had breaks we put on an ipod playlist which we created from guest requests (when guests RSVP’d they were asked to choose a song as well, those went onto the playlist).
It was important to us to keep our guests entertained all day so we provided lots of options for things to do throughout the day including lawn games (boules and quoits), popcorn and cinema room playing pixar shorts, diy photobooth, wedding mad libs, table quiz, and of course music and dancing.
Buy or DIY your Stationery
We DIY’ed all of our stationary. Chris built our wedding website and designed our invitations. The invitations were bookmarks wrapped with screen-printed handkerchiefs (we designed and made these, and screen printed the hankies).
Personal or Handmade Touches
We did quite a lot of DIY elements, as I mentioned above – table centrepieces, stationary, flowers, photo booth, aisle runner, etc. Between what we made and all the things that our families did, everyone really helped to make the day special with all of the personal touches.
Jenny – My favourite part was the ceremony, walking down the aisle to Chris; his eyes were just starting to well up as I came towards him. Also, we wrote our own vows, which was really important to us and so hearing each other’s vows for the first time was amazing. We just kept grinning at each other the whole time, it was lovely!
Chris – As Jenny walked down the aisle I really did have to fight back the tears! She was the most beautiful girl, and soon to be my wife. After the ceremony itself, my favourite memory was walking into the reception room for the meal! Everyone stood and cheered. I’d never felt so loved. We sat on our own table holding court over the room; king and queen for a day.
Advice to other couples
Make your day personal to you. I know there are so many lovely images and ideas out there on pinterest, but don’t overload yourself. Use the inspiration, but just choose a few things really personal and relevant to you as a couple. Otherwise you might drive yourself crazy trying to incorporate every existing trend out there – shoving sparklers into mason jars while sewing heart bunting to hang on an antique dresser turned sweetie bar.
And don’t stress too much about any last-minute things you have to do before the wedding. Set yourself a date and anything that hasn’t gotten done yet by then, forget it. Honestly, on the day these other things won’t matter – you’ll just be so happy to be marrying your best friend. I admit I was overwhelmed a few points during planning wondering how the whole thing would look and feel, but when I look back at my wedding photos now – what I love most and what makes me smile are the people and the setting, the wonderful emotions coming through, that defines the day for me.
The funniest surprise was at the end of the night when a few guests ran skinny dipping into the sea! Those are memories we’ll never forget!