Sarah and Martin’s Handmade, Tea and Books Themed Wedding. By Andrea Ellison

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you all had a good weekend? What did you get up to? I had a lovely one, but I have to say I still feel like I could do with a few days just resting in bed. My third trimester seems to have kicked in and I’m knackered! However I did manage to spend time with friends and family and a couple of very cute babies. We got some shopping done for baby Hood and cooked and ate some good food, so all is not lost! It’s another busy week at Boho HQ and we are starting it off in style with this fabulous homemade wedding courtesy of Andrea Ellison. With meters and meters of bunting, afternoon tea, a tea and book theme and a whole host of pretty details, this barn wedding is oozing Boho style as well as a wonderfully happy couple!

A handmade blur of happiness celebrating all the things we enjoy; tea, books, London, bunting with family and friends.

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Sarah and Martin were married on the 10th of August . The ceremony was at Upminster Methodist Church and the Reception was at Thames Chase Forrest Centre, Upminster. ‘Whilst its traditional for the wedding to take place where the bride grew up, I moved to London when I graduated and my parents have since relocated from my hometown. Upminster is where Martin has grown up, and it’s where we’ve decided to settle down and build our lives together. We chose the church as Martin had been to Scouts there and it was where he met many of his friends, including his best man and ushers. We met Jason the Minister and he was so amazing we knew he was the man to marry us. We wanted a homemade wedding and after looking around several venues we realized they weren’t going to give us the flexibility we needed. Thames Chase is not your typical wedding venue but presented us with a wonderful barn, which was the blank canvas we craved to make the day exactly as we wanted it – all with the hum of the M25 in the background! We had 120 guests and the wedding took 16 months to plan.’

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How they met
We met on the dating website mysinglefriend.com! Three years ago now!

The proposal
The proposal was amazing. I spent a year teaching in Japan nearly ten years ago (it’s a very special place to me) and was excited to show Martin around when we went on holiday there in 2012. He took me for our own hanami party with beer and bento boxes and proposed under the cherry blossoms in a Tokyo park.

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How did you spend your budget?
We were fortunate to be able to share the cost with our parents and whilst we never really sat down and planned out our budget, the barn was a bargain which enabled us to splash out on fancy lighting, the perfect photographer and a big red bus! We made lots of things ourselves but this was more because I like to make things (and Martin is happy to iron bunting!) rather than being thrifty.

Why did you choose your photographer?
I fell in love with Andrea’s photos on a wedding blog in the early stages of wedding planning and knew she was the one for us! After meeting her I was convinced she was perfect for us and our wedding.

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The dress
I was inspired by a lace dress I saw on Pinterest but it was in a shop in New York which had no returns policy Martin’s mum mentioned that she knew a lady in Upminster who used to sew dresses for the Queen. I went to meet Carol armed with my Pinterest pictures and together we dreamt up my dress. I had the ha’penny my Grandad gave to my Mum on her wedding day sewn into the hem. I wore Martin’s grandma’s pearls, flowers in my hair and my shoes were from Dune.

The suit and bridesmaids
The suits were hired from Anthony Formal Wear in Billericay. Martin opted for a navy blue suit, with a scoop waistcoat – inspired by Gary Barlow (my first love!).
I love to sew, and my original plan was to make the bridesmaid dresses myself, then, one day I spotted a gorgeous gold (an unexpected colour choice for me) lacy dress in a magazine, and decided it was perfect. The dresses came from Coast.

Theme or colour scheme
We had two themes for the wedding, tea for Martin and books for me. From the beginning I was keen to avoid having a colour scheme, but ultimately we stuck to muted, vintage shades.

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A local florist, Mary Evans arranged a beautiful hand-tied bouquet of roses and peonies, which was complimented by smaller posies for the bridesmaids. Martin’s mum worked with the florist to arrange pedestals in the church which included flowers from her own garden.

We wanted to keep things simple. The wooden beams in the barn had amazing character and provided the perfect backdrop for additional decorations. My bridesmaid from Japan (via Australia) had never heard of bunting before, but soon got the hang of ironing long lengths of bias binding and together we sewed many metres to hang from the beams. The tables were named after our favourite literary couples, with the top table being ‘Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy’ and the centre pieces were flowers in jam jars on top of vintage books.

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We arranged for Stephanie of Serendipity Street to serve afternoon tea, which again was tailored to our wishes, including Martin’s favourite, corned beef! We devoured our favourite cakes: macarons, bakewell tarts and brownies. In the evening, Stephanie arranged for a hog roast from her husband’s farm, which provided great entertainment for the children and a feast for the guests.

Wedding Cake
I baked the wedding cake myself, which consisted of a victoria sponge base, lemon and raspberry second tier, and was topped off with a cookies and cream sponge. The baking was the easy part and Martin’s friend, Debbie of Deb’s Cakery helped me ice it. The cake was topped with two Sylvanian family animals, a guilty secret from Martin’s childhood!

Aside from the hog roast (we still don’t know which child took the eye lashes home), we arranged for a DJ to play all our favourite tunes.

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Buy or DIY your Stationery?
We DIYed. I sewed one using lots of special fabrics including lace from my Mum’s veil and fabric from Martin’s Moses basket and then we scanned them in and had them printed. The invitations had lots of special details: sewn in pockets and flaps with extra information and a fold out map. My favourite part was the back which featured a line from one of the poems we had as a reading in the service and a copy of the stamp from the postcard we sent ourselves the day we got engaged.

Personal or handmade touches
Where do I start…
• Save the Date and Invitations (including all the pockets and hand drawn map)
• Bunting
• The cake
• The dress (kind of)
• Table settings/name plates
• Orders of Service
• Photobooth props

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Special moments or highlights
Our ceremony was very special. Jason, our minister, really listened to us and together we came up with the most amazing service, which is still talked about by friends and family today. It was perfect. I surprised Martin with my entrance music, I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You, which was sung by Amber, the singer in Jason’s band. Jason married us, then picked up his guitar and led the congregation in an acoustic version of ‘Wonderwall’ – he almost stole the show!

Biggest surprise
After a stressful Friday setting everything up, with a few last minute hitches, how wonderfully everything turned out!

Advice for other couples
It is easy to find a lovely venue, that will do everything for you. However, whilst creating a wedding, that is personal to you, from scratch is challenging, and at times very stressful, looking back on it, those difficult times were well worth it, and make the whole experience even better. I would encourage anyone who wants a wedding, that isn’t the norm, to give it a go, there a lots of people out there who are happy to muck in and help!
I would also recommend setting up an Instagram account for your wedding and giving everyone the username and password so they can upload there photos during the day. The day after it gave us an alternative view of the wedding and of our guests having a great time – it replaces the need to develop those blurred, and possibly censored, disposable camera shots from Boots!

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    Gorgeous photos Andrea! Really lovely wedding, love all of the DIY details xx

    Debbie Fowler

    It was a pleasure to be able to help
    You both out. I know how keen Sarah was to make her wedding cake, so I mainly helped with icing and stacking the cake. It was hard not to bite the cake Sarah had baked, as It looked and smelt delicious. It’s a pleasure to know such a wonderful couple.

    The Zoots

    This wedding is cool (and slightly disturbing that some took the eye lashes from the hog!).

    I love the handmade touches and how Sarah made her own cake!!

    The venue is just lovely. Great photos!

    Congrats Sarah & Martin.

    Mandy B

    What a gorgeous wedding, Andrea you always manage to catch those special moments and pure joy on everybody’s faces love it x


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