Fair warning – this is a long post, with a shed-tonne of photos, and is all about the wedding. I will therefore forgive you for sitting this one out if any of those factors are issues for you. Also, just in case anyone is feeling like quitting altogether, this will be the last post mentioning the w word, promise.
SO, aside from my dress and the bridesmaid dresses, there were a few other crafty DIY projects we undertook for our big day back in February. I blame Pinterest. There are far too many crafty brides out there sharing far too many lovely ideas. Once you start down that rabbithole there’s really no coming back, you cannot help but want THEM ALL (ahem). Anyhoo, here’s a little roundup of what we made, with the help of an amazing team of weddingmakers. NB: Most of the photos in this post are by fab wedding photographer Tarah Coonan, but the grainy instagrams are all mine.
1. The flowers. My stepmum Mary did an incredible job transforming Toynbee Hall in to a magical ceremony space. The aisle was lined with potted ferns, while the alcove above the fireplace was filled with a beautiful arrangement of white tulips, thistles, succulents and greenery . It being a ground floor room, looking out on to a shared courtyard and then a busy road, we wanted to make some kind of partial screen to give privacy without blocking the light. My dad came up with a perfect solution, anchoring a mixture of willow branches (kindly loaned by a local basket weaver) in specially drilled wood bases. The overall effect was magic.
Mary also tied gorgeous bouquets for me and the gals, which I LOVED – no easy feat when the brief I gave her was “nothing too flowery you know? succulents and thistles that kinda thing, oh and feathers”.
I used the leftover blooms, leaves and feathers to fashion a floral headband… sat on the floor with my hair half done, on the morning of the wedding. This was my first and only attempt, which ok was a little risky, but I just ran out of time to practice. I’d done my research though (again, thanks internet) and it really came together quite easily. Essentially you make little bunches of flowers and leaves and bind them with floral tape, then you tape them on to a headband until it’s all covered and you’re happy with the look.
One last word on the ceremony space – to add a little extra to the standard issue chivari chairs, we festooned them with wool pompoms and gold stars. I hold my hands up, this was an unnecessary extra… but I loved them. Thanks everyone who made a pompom for humouring me (dinner guests were generally handed a ball of wool during the weeks before the wedding).
2. The favours. We really wanted to make presents for all our wonderful family and friends, that they would hopefully get some use out of. So for the girls we made pocket mirrors, using the leftover bridesmaid fabric. This requires a little hardware, which I’d already bought on a whim to make badges and mirrors for the work Christmas fair. After that it’s a fairly straightforward process (this one was all M’s). I meanwhile made little envelope pockets for them to live in. I used the same method as for an envelope clutch, just in miniature, and added a ribbon to keep them shut. For the boys meanwhile, we bought plain hipflasks from Amazon, and I sewed tweed sleeves to jazz them up. A simple but (in my opinion) effective customisation.
We parceled the favours with sugared almonds (an Italian tradition M simply couldn’t pass on) and bubbles (just because) in paper bags, with a little thankyou note attached, and put them out on the tables for people to find when they took their seats.
3. Dinner space decor. The tables were decorated with an
random eclectic mix of things I quite liked the idea of. The runners were simple hessian strips and the table numbers were Hobbycraft basics, customised with paint and gold paper by M and his cousin.
Each table had an assortment of gold animals – sourced over many months by my Nana and Aunts from various charity shops, then spray painted gold by us (and brother Liam).
CRAFT NOTE: plastic animals are NOT all created equal. Some want to be painted and dry beautifully. Some (in fact many) do not. They stay sticky, even if you leave them for a long time, even if you strip them and try giving them a coat of primer, they just do NOT want to play. Factor this in when you are collecting, you will need a lot more than you think you do!!
To keep the animals company we added succulents potted into old teatins, feathers in bud vases, and candles in brass candlesticks (again all sourced from charity shops).
Last, but by no means least, M’s cousin and mum did an absolutely stellar job, crafting a range of origami animals and flowers to string across the room above the tables. The overall effect was just magical and very us. I can highly recommend not worrying too much about themes and colour schemes and just surrounding yourself with stuff you like.
4. Cake table. We decided to have a stack of cheeses in lieu of a wedding cake. We both love cheese and living in Switzerland it felt appropriate (topper by Lovebird Goods via Etsy).
However, it also felt wrong to have a wedding without cake – enter my Aunty Fiona, vintage enthusiast, sax player and baker extraordinaire. A fundraiser for St Michaels Hospice in Hastings, Aunty Fi is well used to baking for the masses but really pulled out all the stops for us. She put together a delicious mix of cupcakes (including some in actual teacups) and larger sandwich cakes, all decorated beautifully. I was only sad not to have room to sample them ALL.
5. The photobooth/dressing up box and guestbook. In lieu of a traditional guestbook we had a dressing up corner with a hired polaroid camera, a bunch of washi tape, some coloured pens and a plain old kraft ringbound book. The bridesmaids did an incredible job collecting props for the box, an old suitcase we sourced on Etsy, and it was a hit. The guestbook is messy and hilarious and perfect.
6. The thumbprint tree. This one is owed entirely to one of my amazing bridemaids, Catherine. She drew us a wonderfully wizened tree and sourced green ink for the leaves and had the foresight to provide babywipes for the guests to wipe their inky mitts. Once framed, this will take pride of place somewhere on the wall at home, a classier reminder of the day!!
7. The stationary. Digital art, it’s the future peeps. We bought some succulent shapes from Fishscraps via Etsy, which we used on pretty much everything (including the bridesmaid dresses)!
For our invitations I was heavily influenced by other crafty brides (especially this one). We used the succulents as a border and a whole hodgepodge of fonts from various sites (srsly, search “free fancy fonts” in Pinterest and prepare to be amazed). We made cards for practicalities, gifts, RSVP etc, printed them at home and packaged them in kraft pocketfolds (technical term), bound with bakers twine and a star (I bought a punch, which I love, and want to find more uses for, M looks worried every time I remember it’s in the cupboard). Now, full disclosure, the invitations were a
pain in the butt labour of love. They took a long time, a lot of swearing at the printer etc. But I was pretty proud of how they turned out.
We also used those succulent babies on the ceremony programme, guest book and the seating plan – a salvaged frame I found in the road (score!!), painted gold, backed with fabric and clipped cards on.
7. Buttonholes. To thank all our wonderful wedding makers, who helped us craft all of the above, or contributed in other ways, we made buttonholes out of felt, faux edelweiss (for a bit o’ Swiss) and feathers. The groomsmen and Mauri had little gold buttons on theirs.
8. Faux fur collar. As it was February, and we wanted photos outside, I decided I should probably have a jacket of some kind to go over my dress. I found a tweed jacket in a charity shop but wanted to give it something extra. I found a great tutorial for making detachable fur (or in my case, faux fur) collars here. It’s pretty straightforward. You do need to try on the paper collar to get the shape right through trial and error. And clipping the fur out of the seam allowances really helps it to lie nice and flat when you turn it out (but makes a hideous mess – be warned!) The jacket had a single button closure. So I added elastic loops at each point of the collar and just hooked them over the button to keep it in place.
9. My quilt. Whilst not strictly a wedding day project as such, this post would be incomplete without a mention of my beautiful beautiful quilt. My girls threw me the funnest most wonderful hen do back in November. There was afternoon tea, and crafting, and vintage makeup, and dinner and then dancing at the Rivoli Ballroom (an incredible place for anyone who hasn’t been). The craft section of the day consisted of each girl decorating a fabric square (or two), using a huge supply of fabric, sequins, ricrac and other haberdashery items. These squares were then gathered up and whisked away by bridesmaid Bryony…
… Fastforward to wedding morning and I am instructed to stay in bed with my eyes closed, whilst three gals pile on beside me and carefully drape something heavy over us. I open my eyes and there is the worlds most beautiful, personal, colourful quilt laid out before me, covered in memories. The day had many highlights but this was one of them that I’ll remember always. Love you girls.
Ok that’s it on the wday front, if you made it this far, I commend you and thanks for bearing with me. Normal broadcasting will resume from tomorrow.