We were getting married just before midday, so there was lots to do. Matthew and my mom decorated our flat while Natasha from Pretty Me Vintage set my hair in pin curls and applied my makeup.
And then it was time to slip on my dress – oh, my dress! It was actually the first one I found, as I started browsing the interwebs the day after we got engaged. I looked at others but didn’t find anything else in my price range that I liked as much. It’s actually not a wedding dress. It cost £75 from Chi Chi London, so I got to feel really smug about finding such a bargain while feeling like a complete princess.
We got married in the art deco building of Wandsworth Town Hall. Sitting across from the registrar while our guests tittered away in the next room must have been the most nervous Matthew or I had ever felt. But then “Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppet movie came on and everyone started to trickle in and I got swept away in all of it.
I was choking back sobs during Matthew’s vows and my hands shook like anything while I read my vows but our ceremony was absolutely one of my favourite parts of the whole day. It was tender, and honest, and real – full of laughter and happy tears.
There were a lot of DIY elements in our wedding. Obviously this added extra work but not only did it save us money (our whole wedding cost around £2,000), it allowed us to create a day that felt 100% like us. We added lots of personalized touches, like pictures of us each growing up underneath our engagement photos.
I arranged most of our flowers myself from blooms that my mom and I bought at Mark’s & Spencer. I spread everything out on the kitchen floor and made bouquets in mason jars and mini milk bottles. It only took about an hour and we saved a lot of money going the DIY route. There were colourful blooms in every corner of our flat and garden!
But for the most important arrangements, the buttonholes and my bouquet, I entrusted the job to Lara from Wild Renata Flowers. I’d met Lara at a market in east London and instantly connected with her friendly personality and eclectic floristry style. My main guidelines for the bouquet were colourful with peonies and lots of body. She brought my vision to life and created a stunning arrangement that I didn’t want to let go of all day.
Having a garden party reception was not without its share of risks: what if it rained?! We were blessed with sunshine but just in case, we rented a marquee that we prettified with streamers, homemade bunting, and string lights from Blaze On. Even though it was sunny outside, the marquee blocked out most of the sunshine and these bauble lights created a warm glow that really added to the atmosphere. I highly recommend checking out their whole line, their handmade flower lights and paper lanterns are perfect for brightening up any space.
Most of the other decorations were from Ebay and Amazon. Tassels, tissue pom poms, and streamers created a festive look.
We didn’t have a theme per se, but just tried to keep things fun and colourful. Matthew loves board games and so I had the idea to have some simple games set out for people to play. We decided on Hungry, Hungry, Hippos; Connect Four; and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. At first I was worried they wouldn’t get played with but guests quickly made a beeline to play against one another. Luckily no permanent family feuds were formed but I will say that the Connect Four matches got particularly aggressive.
Matthew and I are both vegetarian, so it was important to us to have a meat-free day. We enlisted the help of Cashew Catering to come up with a menu that our non-veggie guests would also enjoy. Because our reception took place from mid-afternoon to early evening, we served a buffet of canapés that people could nibble on throughout the party. The food was everything we’d hoped for and we heard a few people were finally convinced that you don’t need meat to make a delicious meal.
Lily Vanilli made our cake (you can read my interview with her here). It was lemon sponge with white chocolate buttercream and decorated with red currants and flowers from her edible garden. It was as delicious as it sounds and just as beautiful as I’d hoped. Lily was amazing about working with our small budget but still creating exactly what we were looking for.
We had lots of other sweets out as well, which I think contributed to our fun, playful atmosphere. There were vegetarian gummies, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and Yvonne & Guite sent me some their delicious caneles for our guests to enjoy. These little French delights are like sweet, pillowy pastry clouds. I’m totally hooked!
We excused ourselves around 7:30pm and made our way to High Road House hotel for a one night minimoon.
It was as we were lounging in a rose-scented bath, clinking our champagne glasses (after the photographers had left), that I finally relaxed for what felt like the first time in months.
A claw foot bathtub beside our king-sized bed, fluffy bath robes, breakfast in bed, and time just the two of us taking it all in were exactly what we needed after such a busy and exciting day.
Planning a wedding, even a small ones, can be stressful and all-consuming. In the weeks leading up I had a few meltdowns and freak outs. But ultimately I stayed focused on what was really important to me: the beginning of our marriage.
Not everything went perfectly. I got motion sick on the way home from the ceremony and vomited in a carrier bag while laughing about what a “fairy tale bride” I made.
But this isn’t a fairy tale. It’s the start of our very real life together. Full of messiness and mistakes and laughter and fun.
And mixed in with all of the food and music and conversation, there were so many tiny, unexpected moments that I know I’ll remember the most. Like a young girl stopping with her mom while we were getting our picture taken to tell me I looked beautiful and then taking our photo with an iPhone.
We were so lucky to have Warren and Carmen from Luminis Photography capturing our special day, and Sarah from Insta Wedding who made the video below. It’s so incredible to have all of these special moments documented so that we can look back on them for the rest of our lives.
(Use this link if the embedded version is giving you grief).