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A week today folks and it will be Christmas day! I can hardly wait! But before that I have another lovely wedding for you. A 2 week-long wedding, the first part taking place in Devon, while the second part taking place in Newcastle. With a gorgeous first look, this wedding is full of personal details. Penelope and Peter did a lot of the wedding themselves from the Origami flowers to the handmade bunting, even the catering was done by then! I am loving Penelope’s two wedding dresses keeping in line with the Chinese tradition of wearing red as a lucky colour. Thanks to Matt Willis for the photos.
Penelope and Peter were married on the 27th August at Okehampton Town Hall, followed by a reception at Black Torrington Village Hall, Devon. ‘We have quite a large family, dispersed in the UK, as well as abroad. We wanted to keep costs low for our guests so chose the village where Pete’s family live to get married. This was also a lot closer for our French guests to travel to, rather than to the North-East of England where we live. We split our wedding in two: the first ‘part’ was a family-centred wedding in Devon. To this, we had about 50 guests. Two weeks later, we then had a friends evening reception in Newcastle, to which we invited about 80 friends. We split the wedding in this way so that we were able to spend quality time with both our friends and family without having to try and cram it all into one event. It also meant we got to celebrate for a full 3 weeks! It all took 18 months to plan.’
How they met
We met in Liverpool whilst I was at university and Pete was working. It was a bit of a chance meeting as a result of a mutual friend’s leaving meal/drinks. That was in May 2007, so we have been together for almost 6 and half years.
We had had on and off discussions about getting married for a number of months, culminating in a tipsy conversation in a hot tub where we agreed we both wanted to get married. From there, we chose a ring together, and climbed up to the top of Roseberry Topping, a famous local landmark. Pete got down on one knee and said some really lovely words and asked me to “continue the adventure with him”. And that was that!
How did you allocate your budget?
I am an accountant, so budget planning was important from the start and the wedding spreadsheet became central to planning! We set ourselves a budget by agreeing how much we wanted to spend and focussing on what we really valued (e.g. entertainment and honeymoon) and cutting back on other areas that either didn’t matter as much to us or we could do for less (e.g. venue, dress, flowers, bridesmaids/best man/ushers). This involved challenging expectations about weddings.
Why did you choose your photographer?
One of the early “challenges” to traditional weddings was the suggestion that Pete, being a keen amateur photographer, could do our wedding photos. However, upon reflection we decided this was probably not a good idea. We found Matt Willis through a Facebook ad. We had a look through his portfolio and were impressed with the quality of his photographs and his modern style.
I had two dresses! My white dress actually came from BHS! It was a bit of an impulse purchase on the internet. I then bought a fantastic 1950s-style petticoat to go with it, and this really made a difference and brought about the 1950s theme. I also changed the waist sash that came with the dress, buying a pink ribbon and sewing some lace over the top. My veil was purchased from Andrea Bambridge in York. The coloured flowers came from a veil worn by the mum of one of the girls in the shop on her wedding day.
As we had a ceilidh band in the evening, I really wanted comfortable shoes as I knew I would be dancing a lot. I did a fair bit of research, and eventually bought professional dance shoes in a t-bar style to go with my dress.
My second dress was a big red prom-style dress that I had bought on Ebay. In Chinese tradition, red is a lucky colour and would traditionally be worn by Chinese brides. I changed into this in the evening, then surprised Pete by coming back into the hall in a completely different dress – and a big red one at that!
The suit and bridesmaids
Pete didn’t want a traditional wedding suit, and wanted something he would be able to wear again. He came up with the idea of a stripy linen jacket. Penelope was not so keen on the idea at first, but once she saw how smart it looked, and more importantly, how comfortable Pete was wearing it, she was in agreement. Our bridesmaids were Pete’s nieces and Penelope’s cousin, all young girls. The dresses they wore came from Monsoon.
Theme or colour scheme
I had read in a wedding magazine about a wedding where the colour theme was decided based on one colour the bride liked, and the other colour the groom liked. When we applied this to our own wedding the result was red and blue. The outcome was the colour theme was red, white, and blue. This was loosely applied, although the bunting was all red/white/blue, as were the origami flowers I made and the invitations.
We decorated the hall with masses of red/white/blue bunting which Pete and I had made. There were a couple of noticeboards which we didn’t want to have showing so we covered them with white paper and asked Pete’s mum who is Taiwanese to write a message in Mandarin on one side, with the English translation on the other. This was a really lovely touch to our day.
We had origami roses which I made. The bride had a large origami bouquet of closed roses with Swarovski crystals, the bridesmaids had wands with an open origami rose attached, and the button holes were made of open origami roses too. Whatever origami flowers we had left were used to decorate the cake and the tables.
We didn’t have a caterer and did the whole thing ourselves. We had a BBQ, cooked by my brother-in-law. We also ordered food from Waitrose Entertaining, as well as making big batches of Hungarian Pork and Chilli Con Carne. We had an amazing cheese cake from the Ashley Chase Estate in Dorset.
My sister made the wedding cake. It was a three-tiered cake, with different layers of light and dark fruit sponge. It was covered in royal icing and decorated with ribbons and origami flowers.
We had Spinach For Norman, a ceilidh band based in Devon. They were really amazing, and ever so patient with us as we were not very good at Ceilidh dancing! At one point they had every person who could up and dancing – really inclusive and great fun!
Buy or DIY your stationery?
In terms of stationery, we only really made invitations. We didn’t have any seat places, or table plans. The invitations were made by my sisters and were very simple with a “Wedding Invitation” stamp (made by Make Your Mark Stamps Ltd in York) with either red or blue ink.
Personal or homemade touches
• Origami flowers
• Homemade bunting
• Homemade cake & decoration
• Handmade invitations
• Handmade hairslide for the bride
• Handmade jewellery for the bride’s mum and sisters
Special moments or highlights
We really enjoyed the First Look and the opportunity it gave us to spend some time alone together on such a special day. Also, seeing everyone enjoy themselves and dance at the ceilidh in the evening was a lovely moment.
Advice for other couples
If you are going to do the catering yourself, make sure you have a person who is not a part of the wedding party who can prepare, serve and clean-up afterwards. We felt we were a little under-prepared for this bit.
Make sure you make your day personal, and don’t feel pressured to do what people expect you to. We really love the fact our wedding was so ‘us’. Don’t get caught up on having the ‘perfect’ wedding.
If you are going to make things for your wedding, make sure you do this as far in advance as possible so you don’t end up busy and stressed months before the wedding. All of our bunting/flowers etc were finished about 3 months before the wedding.