If you are currently in the midst of wedding planning and feeling a bit overwhelmed...
I have another cracking wedding for you today, courtesy of Sue Kwiatkowska Photography, it’s the charming wedding of Jade and Tom who chose to do things completely their way and enjoyed every moment of the planning. With a pretty lemon yellow theme they went all out on the hand crafted projects. From decoration to the photobooth, stationery to the cake this wedding is brimming with gorgeous handmade touches that the whole wedding party got involved in. A beautiful wedding set in the gorgeous West Sussex countryside.
Jade and Tom were married on Friday 11th July 2015 at The Weald and Downland Museum Singleton Chichester West Sussex. Their reception was held at The Fox Goes Free Inn, Charlton, Chichester, West Sussex Jade grew up in a village called Lavant, about 2 miles from the Weald and Downland museum, and often visited there as a child.
‘I have always loved the countryside, and the museum is bang in the middle of the south downs countryside. I always visioned my wedding being quirky and not your “typical” wedding, as that is just not me! I mentioned to Tom about having our wedding here and he agreed, as he also loved the ideas of a more unusual venue. Even before we got engaged I had already looked into getting married here. The ceremony hall itself is a small 15th century hall with beams that was so peaceful and intimate. We only wanted a small intimate wedding, with close friends and family, rather than a big wedding full of people you haven’t seen in years.
Our ceremony hall seated up to 50 guests, and in total we had 30 guests. We got engaged May 19th 2013, but I had already started making a scrapbook of wedding ideas in April 2013. We had originally decided on getting married in the summer of 2015, but then decided to bring it forward to July 2014. So it took about a year.
How they met
We have now been together for 10 years. We met each other in 2004 at the ages of 16 & 17, when we joined our sixth form college. We had mutual friends, and quickly became friends with one another. On valentines day 2005 Tom sent me an email, telling me of how he loved my personality and my uniqueness and wrote me a poem, which was sweet. From that day forward we’ve been Tom and Jade ever since.
It was on Sunday May 19th 2013 in Northern Ireland. We had gone over to Ireland to visit friends. On the 19th May we went to visit the Giants causeway in Northern Ireland. When we reached the rocky shore, our friends ventured off and we were left alone. Tom took me towards the rocks that looked out to sea and this is when I clicked, and had an idea of what was about to happen. It was a slightly cloudy day and that morning I had gone to get Toms jacket from his bag when out popped a ring box. I felt a little bad so just snuck it back in the bag without looking and I didn’t tell Tom what I had discovered, and just carried on innocently.
We walked out further upon the rocks and I felt a little nervous. It was quite funny as we ended up having a long old chat about engagement and how I felt a little embarrassed and shy in front of all these people. I told Tom that I knew what was happening, because I could see the square box in his jeans! This is typical of us. Tom just said ‘Jade ssshh and let me do this!!’ This is when the safety lady from the national trust called us back and blew her whistle, as we were now getting a tad too close to the sea, as we had been chatting. Anyway, finally Tom popped out the diamond and topaz ring and asked me to marry him. I of course said yes, but I’m not one for big public displays so we gently headed back to our friends and celebrated that evening together with a drink and a Chinese take away.
How did you allocate your budget
We didn’t have a set budget for our wedding, but we know we didn’t wish to spend a fortune. We had an idea of how much the essential needs of a wedding would cost. We wrote out a list of the main requirements needed, such as registrar, venues, outfits, transport etc would cost, and then we would pay for each thing bit by bit, month by month. A lot of our money was spent on buying materials from craft shops and charity shops, as we made a lot of homemade decorations and stationary.
We ensured that we allocated our money by ensuring we shortlisted the items/essential needs that we really wanted to include in our day.
We didn’t allow ourselves to over indulge or leave ourselves in debt, as we were very organised with our money and enjoyed writing lists and paying things off each month.
How did you choose your photographer
Having a photographer was one of our most important requirements of the day, as photos are something we enjoy and think are very special, so choosing the right photographer for us was important. We searched around on the internet for local photographers who had the kind of style that we required. We found a few photographers who we met with, eventually we came across Sue Kwiatkowska from Brighton. Her website caught my eye, the vintage layout, the creative homely style to her articles and photo gallery. We contacted Sue and invited her to our house to meet up for a coffee and chat. Sue was lovely, friendly, not at all pushy or controlling in any way. We had a long chat, and I showed her my wedding scrapbook, to give her a feel of what our day might be like. I think this helped us all to have a joint focus on the photograph style we wanted to achieve. We instantly liked Sue and booked with her immediately.
My wedding dress was a blush pink floaty chiffon strapless dress, by designer Pronovias and was bought from Truly Gorgeous Bridal boutique Chichester. I wore a wild flower crown made especially for me by our florist. I wore opal stud earrings brought by my Mum and Dad. I purchased my wedding shoes before I brought my dress, as they were gorgeous, they were from Irregular choice and were called “fresh cut grass”
The Suit and Bridesmaids
We hired all 5 suits from Austin Reed in Portsmouth, they were really helpful and reasonably priced too. Toms shoes were Jasper Conran from Debenhams. My two bridesmaids wore pastel yellow sundresses brought from Yumi and we added pastel yellow ribbon waist sashes, I made myself. They wore cream lace ballet flats with bows brought from New look and wore wildflower hair slides made especially by our florist.
Theme or Colour Scheme
We wanted a summery pastel colour scheme, and settled on pastel lemon as it made us think of flowers and summer days. We defiantly had a wedding theme, although rather than a theme, we feel it was more an expression of ourselves really. We are very much outdoor countryside people, with a love of wildlife, so wanted to incorporate this into our wedding day. We wanted our wedding to have a relaxed feel to it, with a vintage village fete feel to it also. I would describe myself as boho and gypsy hippy like, so have always wanted this to show in my wedding. We knew we would have a quirky theme, lots of handmade details, countryside, and rustic approaches to things. We collected almost everything such as teacups, Watering cans, lace table cloth, jam jars and much more from boot sales, and charity shops. Overall we have a rustic, shabby chic, countryside boho wedding.
Without a doubt, from the first moment we began planning our wedding we knew our wedding flowers would always have to be wildflowers. I love flowers of all varieties but my passion has to be meadow flowers, daisies, poppies, lavender, rose buds, cornflowers etc, as they remind me of summer and long walks in the countryside and of my childhood. Tom has the same taste as me so was also happy with our decision. Our florist was a local lady from Lavant, who was great, she knew exactly what we wanted.
We supplied her with mis-match teacups and teapots, of which she used to display posies for our reception tables. My bouquet was a mix of freesias, rose buds, fern leaves, lavender, rosemary, daisies etc tied with raffia. And the bridesmaids were the same but smaller. Tom and the groom’s party wore wildflower button holes consisting of cornflower’s roses and herbs tied with rafia. We also collected our own flowers locally and from family gardens, and my dad turned these into wonderful displays inside rustic watering cans, which we used for the ceremony venue.
All our decorations were all pretty much handmade or second hand items that we up cycled. We had bunting, tea light candle holders, we had old lemon curd jam jars that I turned into napkin holders by attaching hessian and lace to each jar and added little “just married” tags. We had vintage bottles, old metal tin baths used for beer and ice Holders. Mis-match lace table cloths and hessian table runners. Watering can flower holders. We used rustic baskets to hold cameras and bubble confetti in. Tom spent ages making a wooden “happy ever after” sign that stood at the entrance of our reception venue. Overall all our decorations were unique and handmade and had a vintage feel to them.
After our wedding ceremony, we gathered in the tudor market hall area for drinks and food. We wanted it to be an almost “picnic” “tea party” type buffet style lunch, which is exactly what it was. We collected second hand cake stands and vintage crockery to display bake well tarts, cupcakes, Battenberg slices on. We had fresh homemade sandwiches in classic English fillings such as egg and cress & cheese and cucumber. Fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, crisps held in rustic wooden bowls. Sausages on sticks and pork pies. We collected old tin baths and filled these with ice to hold the beer and drinks in, we also had soft drinks and we displayed vintage stripy straws in old milk bottles. We displayed the watering can posies amongst the food to add to the summers day picnic feel. At our reception, the pub staff put on a giant hog roast that was cooked outside and our guests could help themselves too, with added salads and buns. We also had summer berry cheesecake and eton mess. It was a real summer’s day’s bbq feel, relaxed and easy going. No formalities, our guests could help themselves, then we all sat together, with no seating plan to chat eat, drink and celebrate.
Our wedding cake was very unique and individual. At first we were thinking of having a very simple cake as we were having a small wedding, but this later changed when a family member was able to create our beautiful cake. As with the rest of our wedding, we wanted our cake to shout Jade and Tom! As a child I watched a lovely programme called Brambley Hedge, a sweet child’s programme about a community of mice whom lived in the river bank, beneath the tree roots, and they had lovely names such as primrose , poppy and crab-apple. I wanted our cake to have to remind me of this and to have that sweet, woodland feel to it, and to include oak leaves, woodland fruit, and little mice on the top getting married to each other. This is exactly what we had, and it was stunning, perfect, and so unique to us as a couple. My dad made us our cake stand by turning an old tree stump into the perfect cake table; we added a lace table cloth to create the perfect finish.
For our wedding ceremony entertainment we wanted it to be different and interactive for our guests as well as to fit in with the surroundings and our theme. We both love animals and especially bird of prey, so we knew that we defiantly wanted to have a falconry display at our wedding. We contacted a local lady named Sally who was a falconer, who accepted to come and be involved in our day. She put on a flying display for us all as well as allowing us all to hold eagle owls and barn owls and to have amazing photos taken. For our evening entertainment, we wanted a more relaxed feel. We made a homemade photo booth for silly fun. It was made out of ply wood, and would go to DIY stores and collect samples of shabby chic wallpaper to stick it on. We managed to find a really great eccentric photo frame from a charity shop which we used to hang on the booth for people to stand behind. Vintage suitcases and beer crates to hold the props in, which were wigs, braces, hats & glasses and chalk for people to write messages on the chalk board. We wanted an old sweet stand, so Jade’s dad made out of wood, a dresser style shelf display, and we filled lots of old fashioned jars full of sweets, and scoops and displayed an old vintage set of scales to add to the retro feel. This allowed people to help themselves to sweets and just have fun really, plus it made great photos too.
Buy or DIY your Stationery
We made all our stationary from scratch. We didn’t want to use a company to make our stationary; we wanted it to be from us. Many evenings were spent with Tom designing the layout of our invitations and me making paper bunting and paper doily details. Tom made the envelopes from thick rustic card, each one slightly unique. We sealed each envelope with mini heart pegs and hessian string bows. It took a while but was so worth it, and the reaction from our family was lovely. We made seat cards for the ceremony, listing the itinerary of the day; again these were homemade by ourselves.
Personal or Handmade Touches
All of our wedding was pretty much hand crafted from the invitations to the decorations to the food. We planned the whole wedding ourselves, and kept very much to creating a homemade style wedding. We spent many hours in hobbycraft and charity shops. We loved it! I remember going to Tesco and buying about 20 lemon curd jars, tipping out all the curd just so I could make napkin holders out of them.
We did everything and created a real vintage shabby chic feel to our wedding day, which was so special to us. Every aspect of our wedding holds a story and we can remember creating each part of our day, being able to smile and look back at photos and think, wow we made that, or wow look, we made that happen.
Well of course saying our “ I do’s”. For us the whole day was special, but we particularly loved holding the birds of prey, what a wonderful thing to be able to do on our wedding day. Travelling in a beautiful pastel blue VW camper van was amazing, as they are my favourite vehicle. Seeing the whole day come together and for everyone to be smiling and enjoying what we created, was really wonderful for us!
Advice to other couples
We would say try not to over worry about schedules on the day itself, which is what we did, but on hindsight, on the day everything just comes together and flows and your too busy enjoying yourselves and being with everyone that you don’t actually need to be worrying about anything else. Make lists, we loved writing lists and found that they really helped. Don’t feel you have to do what everyone else does, as we didn’t, and we feel it is important to create a wedding that is about you as a couple and not about what you feel a wedding should be like. Overall enjoy the planning experience and have a great day.
Tom’s family had arranged the accommodation for us, for our wedding evening. Tom knew where we would be staying, but I did not. As we left our reception we headed through the country lanes and arrived at a nearby Town called Petworth where we had been booked into stay at a converted Pullmans railway carriage hotel. What a unique and quirky place to stay and lovely way to end the wedding, it was beautiful and really unusual, which was a perfect surprise.
I live in Brighton by the Sussex seaside with my young family and photograph weddings in a wholesome, feel-good, family-oriented style