I’m writing this a year on in memory of our wedding. Damian and I got married in March 2016 in Cambridge where we both live. Damian creates the cute animal prints for DuffleCat and I run the rest.
We didn’t want to go mad and blow the budget on one day so we stuck to a small budget. We were in the process of buying our first house together so creating a DYI wedding complete with our ‘hag do’ to Dublin meant our wedding wasn’t quite the norm to other weddings. We choose to do the ‘legal’ part with 2 witnesses at the Cambridge registry office and then have an Irish style blessing – conducted by my older Sister – with poems from Damian’s aunt and one of my best friends at the ‘wedding’ party to which all of our family and friends were invited to 3 days later.
They say the best laid plans and all that, your ‘special day’ goes by with the blink of an eye and despite how much you plan, things may not go smoothly but remembering why you are celebrating is the whole point at the end of the day. There were some logistics problems at the venue where we held the family and friends party and me being the control freak I am, worried about more than I should have done. Not that I hope to do it again but I would pick to hold it in my family home garden like my Sister did. At least then everything is completely in your control when it’s your own venue, but it happened and now we can enjoy the rest of our lives together.
So rewind to October 2014 and Damian and I were at Disneyland Paris enjoying a mini break. I’d left my stressful job at a local publishers two days before so welcomed the break. We’d found a German beer hall for happy hour and then headed back into the park for the fireworks and light show. I hadn’t planned it, only a couple of days earlier when we were stood watching Frank Turner play at the Cambridge Corn Exchange did I look at Damian and think wow, I wanna marry this guy. So I took advantage of the setting and went for it. I made him cry happy tears and the first person to share our news was a rather bemused street cleaner who took our photo in front of the sleeping beauty castle.
August 2015 and we held our engagement party in the garden of my family. I forgot how fortunate we are to have a river side garden as my family runs the local moorings just outside of Cambridge. The weather was beautiful, we had a BBQ and a tipi full of nibbles. Beer from the brewery where Damian’s Dad works was set up under the willow tree, along with wine, pimms and other chilled drinks. One of my Brothers in law ran the BBQ and the afternoon was chilled and fun to catch up with every one. We went to the local pub after wards where there was a bouncy castle for the ‘kids’ to enjoy.
So when looking for a venue we wanted a quirky place that would help us plan the day but we would have control over it. My dream location was a local wildlife park but sadly they didn’t do weddings. So we picked a local hall and after the experience on the day I wish I hadn’t, as the venue and staff did not live up to expectations. I wish I had choosen the village where my family are from or another venue who would have actually helped out more. But nevermind…thankfully family and friends stepped up and helped out.
We wanted to go for a geek chic countryside theme. Burlap and lace bunting and purple ribbon, simple white roses and some greenery. Geek elements included Pokemon mini figures as table scatter, Animation cuddly toys as table centre pieces. A pic ‘n’ mix sweet table, a hog roast, a tower of cheeses and mason jars as favours. Our colours were purple and white with the burlap and lace as an accent colour. Not one to want to waste money on chair covers or elaborate flower displays we stayed simple with subtle decorations, ribbon, tealight candles, flowers in glass vases or decorated jam jars.
One of our friends took the photos in the daytime, I asked her to think outside the box as I am not one for traditional wedding photos. She managed to capture some great shots including a group shot taken from one of the top floors of the venue of everyone in the garden. We had to rely on mobile phone and Facebook photos for the evening as our evening photographer (one of Damian’s Brothers) discovered the bar! For the evening entertainment we hired a local Ceilidh band and hired a PA system and lights. We set up a Spotify playlist on my iPad for background music after the blessing and after the Ceilidh.
We made our own invitations from ivory white card, textured white paper inserts, purple ribbon, purple roses, wooden hearts, string, burlap and lace ribbon and we had our own wedding stamp created. The works does packs of blank cards and envelopes for £5 for 50. We then added a textured paper insert on which we printed the details and stamped with our personallised stamp Damian created.
Damian drew the stamp design and we sent it off to be created from a stamp maker we found online. Damian also created a picture of us and the cats which we had printed for our thank you cards. We choose not to send out ‘save the date’ we just told everyone the date at the engagement party and then sent out the invitations six months before the wedding.
I bought the ribbon, burlap lace, white roses and wooden hearts from eBay or used materials from my craft stash. I bought a plain white guest book from The Works (£5) and stamped the cover with our design and decorated with ribbons and lace. We added a few silly photos of us inside of the book so people could write messages around them.
We created a wedding website with WordPress which provided our guests with all the information they needed and asked guests to RSVP via post or through an email. We set up a wedding list on Amazon or asked guests to donate to our honeymoon or charities we support. People were overly generous, we received so many gifts, including a handmade painting from one of Damian’s Cousins.
We used the lace, burlap, ribbon and roses style to decorate our pic ‘n’ mix jars, tea light candles, jars of roses and for the cashew/pretzel pots we put on the tables as snacks. We bought little bottles of bubbles to give out to guests instead of confetti. We asked my nephews to hand these out. We bought little purple glass tealight holders on sale from a local garden centre to go on each of the dinning tables and then to be moved downstairs to the reception area later.
My friend created some chalk boards to direct guests to the room where the blessing would take place, the kids room, toliets etc. He made these boards from painting old picture frames (without the glass) with blackboard and normal paint and then we used blackboard chalk pens to write on them.
We bought lace and burlap bunting to hang up as well as white wicker hearts. We were fortunate to find these items on sale in an interiors shop which was closing down. We stock piled jam jars or found unusual jars in TK MAXX or at charity shops to use for the pic ‘n’ mix, flower vases or candle holders.
There was a lovely wooden stair case leading up to the dinning room and down to the main reception hall so we fixed garlands of artificial roses to the stair case. We also put a couple of fun pictures of us on sideboards around the venue rooms and I had decorated little decoupage D and K’s with lace to go with the decorations.
Our wedding rings are traditional irish Claddagh rings bought from a jewellers in Dublin and my engagement ring was my Grandmas. Damian and I, the Grooms men and Bridesmaids, Maid of Honour, Mother of the Groom all worn purple Converse. I shopped around for the sneakers which I found online on sale in the specific purple and low tops style we wanted. I had a pair of white sparkly heels – which were also bought on sale – on for about 30 seconds in the blessing! Being very tall, I prefer not to tower over my Husband!
Damian bought his suit from a local tailors, we thought it would be better than hiring so he had a good suit for the future. The grooms cuff links were a gift from me and were Batman themed. I gave my bridesmaids (two of my cousins) silver decorative heart earrings and my maid of honour (a friend from school) a star fish shaped silver necklace. My bridal party wore purple – including our flower girl – I found the Bridesmaids dresses online at Dorothy Perkins, my maid of honour found her dress in a vintage shop in Liverpool. The grooms party wore purple waist coats, purple ties and dark grey suits. We found the ties brandnew on eBay and the waistcoats from Amazon. I did make button holes for the grooms party from artificial flowers and ribbon but they forgot to wear them!
The ring pillow was made by my late Mother and we also had a wooden spoon on display she had made before she passed away. Had she been there, my dress would have been made by her and we would have had more handmade decorations, probably knitted as she loved to knit! We gave all of the bridal party, parents and siblings a pirate wrist band each so that they could use the tab we had put before the bar.
My dress was picked out by my Sister, as I am really not the wedding dress shopping kind. It cost less than £500 including fitting. I’m a curvy girl and didn’t even attempt to diet for the wedding, Damian chose me for me, curves and all! For the legal ceremony, I wore a lovely 50’s style purple dress which I had found on a vintage shop online, but for the blessing and party it was a more traditional white dress. The ‘wedding’ dress was white and had a beaded ribbon laced corset with a full skirt and mini train. I opted to not have a veil. I accessorised with a set of my aunt’s pearls, a pair of earrings, a white satin jacket and a decorative hair piece (that I found on Amazon when I was bored at work one day!) My Cousin – one of the Bridesmaids – did my hair, nails and makeup as she is a trained beautician.
My bouquet was made from artifical silk and knitted white roses. I used a florist tube to contain the bouquet and wrapped it in the same burlap lace and purple ribbon we’d used on the other decorations. I finished it off with a horseshoe which my Mother had used on her bouquet when she married my Dad. I did not throw it as I would have probably knocked someone out and I wanted to keep it. If they had of been in season, I would have had my Bridesmaids carry sunflowers but we opted for no flowers for them in the end and just had the flower girl scatter purple petals at the beginning of the blessing.
As mentioned before we had a cuddly toy on each dinning table as a centre piece to go with the purple tea light and a vase of flowers. These were from some of our favorite animations such as Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Studio Ghibli, Super Mario.
We also scattered minature Pokemon on the tables as well as heart shaped confetti which I had cut out from books.
We used a simple flower display of white roses and baby’s breath with a wicker heart on a stick in the jam jars and vases on the dinning tables and in the library and reception area. I placed white shimery beads in the water of the flower vases to create an additional effect.
Food & Drink
We did not have a seating plan as we wanted everyone to pick their own seats. In the same way, we had no top table so Damian and I were free to sit at all of the tables and chat with everyone.
Due to not wanting to pay to hire table cloths from the venue (A waste of £100), we bought our own. We found some beige poka dot cloths from Tesco and these added to the country chic indoor picnic effect. As the venue did not do in-house catering, we hired our catering from The Moody Pig and bought in sushi canapes from Waitrose. We put out little Gu glass pots on the dinning tables, (collected generously by friends) full of cashews and pretzels – snacks we enjoyed together on our first date- as a personal touch as well as some party poppers. We had sparklers for later on in the evening to use outside on the patio.
The venue had a great little old fashioned bar which was a cash bar and there was a tab for the wedding party. We were able to bring in beer from the Brewery where Damian’s Dad works which was a nice touch. We supplied table wine and a glass of fizz for everyone. We put out two big vintage style glass jar drinks dispensers filled with cloudy lemonade and orange juice for the kids and the non drinkers at the party.
For dessert, (served downstairs) my Sister had made us a wonderful traditional wedding cake with a geek twist. She – with the help of one of my Nephews – made a traditional iced front to the cake with hand-made purple and silver icing flowers and in the back she had created a Jurassic Park, Batman and StarTrek Galaxy themed layered effect. We used little critters from Studio Ghibli as our cake toppers.
We also had Frozen themed cupcakes and chocolate pirate themed cupcakes. For those who preferred a savoury dessert we had a 8 tiered tower of cheeses which we bought from The Cheese Shed. We supplied crackers, chutneys and fruit to go with it. We decorated the cheese tower with Super Mario figures.
We also had a table full of sweets. We bought our sweet pic ‘n’ mix from Amazon and any shop that had a deal on large bags of sweets. We used glass coffee jars and decorative jars we found in TK MAXX and Home Sense to serve the sweets in. We had little plastic scoops and paper bags with our wedding stamp on. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of the table of sweets, as it was instantly swooped on (mostly by the adults!)
Our wedding favours were glass mason jars with a chocolate heart in them. I added a little tag and some ribbon and a rose to the handle for decoration. We both the jars in bulk from Home Bargains. For the kids we bought Disney Princess and Minions kid’s cups and straws from Poundland. We bought retro styled paper straws to go in the mason jars to add to the countryside theme.
We were fortunate that the venue had this quirky old country house style so it didn’t need much in the way of decorations. There were four main rooms in use, the dinning room which looked like something out of a story book and had Venetian coloured glass chandeliers and old fashioned portraits on the walls. The library was used for the blessing and evening desserts and the reception hall for the Ceilidh. We used a side room for the kids and decorated the table with felt colouring boards, small toys and a karaoke machine. We also used some silly hats from my nephews dressing up box to keep them (and some of the adults) entertained. My sister hired a kids entertainer whilst the adults ate their food upstairs.
For more information, tips on any of the wedding decorations or details, please do get in touch!
Here’s to a happy ever after!