Today I am taking you to sunny North Carolina for this beautiful and charming wedding...
For those of you who are regular readers of the blog you will know all about the Older Wiser Married feature. The idea of the feature is for couples who are married to share with you their wedding story and experiences and also the things they would do differently if they could go back and do it again. We also focus on the positives and the things they think really worked, what they have learnt and how their marriage has changed their relationships.
We knew we really wanted a wedding that was unique and reflected us. We were also on a tight budget, funding everything ourselves. It was great timing for us as we were renting the gate lodge to a beautiful private estate in Shropshire. We plucked up the courage to ask our landlord if we could use the grounds of the estate for free – and he agreed! I set about entering every competition under the sun – and we won our string quartet. We hired a photographer and videographer very cheaply as they were just starting out in the industry (and they were great) and bought everything we could second hand. What we didn’t buy second hand, we made.
We got legally married in a register office the day before, which allowed us to design our own ceremony on the day. Luckily a good friend was a celebrant and conducted what we had written.
Being bold enough to ask for a free wedding venue
We looked around at lots of lovely venues that had huge price tags, then realised we had everything we wanted practically in our own back garden!
Having a wedding video
I never thought this would be important, and we only decided to have one because I found a guy on a forum offering to shoot a video just for travel expenses to gain promotional footage. It was so magical seeing our wedding highlights and brought back so many memories (and things I’d never noticed!)
Writing our own wedding ceremony
It was really important to us to get this right. We wanted the day to be full of family and friends and celebrations, but the ceremony was the reason we were all there. We chose readings that meant something to us, and wrote vows that we still live by today. I suppose it felt more genuine than a standard wedding script.
Getting married outside
We love the great outdoors, so we thought why not get married there. Since it wasn’t legal, we didn’t have any restrictions about where it could take place. We didn’t have much in the way of a bad weather back-up, but luckily after a week of showers our big day had bright sunshine and our photos have a great garden party feel.
Buying second hand and re-selling things
I bought almost everything from eBay or car boot sales – my (two!) dresses, the bridesmaids dresses, shoes, veil, tiara, chair covers, marquee, frames, table decorations and so on. This not only saved a fortune, but I sold everything afterwards – and made a profit on most items!! This helped bring our total wedding budget below £1,000!
Don’t move house two days after the wedding!
Two of the most stressful things you can do – not recommended at the same time. We were due to relocate that summer, and thought it would be nice to move into a new home soon after the wedding to symbolise a new chapter for us. But it did mean my poor bridesmaid had to sleep on the floor the night before the wedding as we’d sold most of our furniture.
Not having a rehearsal
We thought it would be more romantic to experience the ceremony for the first time on the wedding day itself, but it did mean we hadn’t really worked out the choreography. My last minute instructions to my nervous bridesmaids were something like, ‘you go first, don’t walk too fast or too slow – go!’ – perhaps a little vague!
Leaving things to the last minute
Having a DIY wedding was great fun but very tiring. I spent my wedding morning still sewing the hem of my self-altered wedding dress, whilst my husband and his groomsmen were making sandwiches.
I’m glad we did a budget wedding as it reflected the stage of life we were in and forced us to be creative.
I would pay more money to have a more relaxing wedding morning. It was so busy and I know I called on lots of favours from family and friends when it would have been nice to treat them and relax instead.
Money isn’t everything -most of my friends still say ours was the best wedding they’ve been to, and they couldn’t believe how cheap it was.
I also learnt that the wedding really sets the foundations for marriage. We’ve kept our wedding vows in our bedroom to read over from time to time. We see marriage as an ongoing activity and we’d like to refresh and renew our vows on our fifth anniversary.
I didn’t think it would, but I did feel very proud becoming a ‘Mrs’. I felt that our families became much more integrated too.
Listen to your heart and your own ideas, you don’t need to follow traditions if you don’t want to – create your own!
If you’re flexible with your venue you can save so much money and it can be totally bespoke. Think outside the box and have a look around your local area for sites that have natural beauty or a special meaning for the two of you. To our knowledge no-one else has ever been married in the location where we wed.
Always make time for each other –both at the wedding and in marriage. We took five minutes alone together after the ceremony to share our thoughts before returning to our guests. In marriage remember that your lives can become very busy, but you need to set time aside for each other – we still have weekly date nights.
I loved researching and writing our wedding ceremony and always wanted to take this further. As an RE teacher I got involved with a research project about teaching humanism in schools and met lots of excellent humanist wedding celebrants in the process. I just decided to bite the bullet and train to become a celebrant myself. It’s been the best decision ever and I enjoy every part of the process from meeting new couples, working closely with them and finding out about their unique story, to writing and conducting the ceremony for them.
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