Rachel's Wedding Part One- The Preparations
Posted on October 16 2019
Two months ago I got married. At home in my garden, surrounded by family and friends, I said “I do” to my best friend and it was amazing.
Shall we just do it?
This was the conclusion of a conversation with my lovely other half as we sat at home one evening. Having got engaged on my birthday the previous year we never wanted a long engagement, but as we both lead somewhat busy lives each running our own businesses, we simply hadn’t got around to setting a date. A recent family illness started our chat about what was really important about getting married, and we concluded that it was all those we love being there. Diaries out, a weekend in mid August was the first we were both free and our families too, so one quick call to our local Registry Office to check availability later, and the date was set- seven weeks and counting!
Seven Weeks To Go
Our Save the Dates were hurriedly sent group Whatsapp messages and phonecalls, and luckily our friends and family know the crazy pace of our lives so they weren’t all that surprised by our last minute style! In the end we actually only fully confirmed the guestlist two days before the wedding, and we even found space for two additional people on the day when my heavily pregnant friend realised she could make it after all as the baby was yet to make her appearance!
I have to say, we were blown away by how many people made the effort to be there. Having originally though we’d have around 60 people, we ended up with over 130 guests! Planning it with so little notice, we were fully prepared for people not being able to make it- especially as many of Ben’s friends live all over the world- but people moved holidays, changed plans and in the end there weren’t too many who didn’t make it. It meant so much to us that all those people wanted to be there to share our day, and echoed our original belief that people are what matter more than anything.
“There’s no place like home”, said Dorothy, as she clicked her infamous red heels together. How apt then that we decided that our home in Oxfordshire would be the perfect place for us to tie the knot. Obviously this wouldn’t be legally binding, so we opted for an intimate Registry Office ceremony the day before for that part.
Having sent out a number of emails to local marquee companies, it was Caravetti Events' positive, 'can do' attitude on the phone which prompted us to arrange a visit. Along came the super capable Rod and Sandie, tape measures at the ready and our garden was magically transformed! At a push you could probably get up to 130 people seated, they said. We're sure we won’t need that many with such short notice, we said. Famous last words…
To decorate the marquee we ordered a load of paper lanterns in a mix of pastel blue, lilac and ivory from The Paper Lantern Company. Their website is great and gives you guidance on how to mix sizes, colour etc as well as offering super quick delivery- which is a good job as this was the week before! These were combined with around two hundred festoon lights and the finished effect was stunning!
The Place Settings
Part of the joy of planning the wedding was doing things ourselves and also involving family and friends, so that it’s all part of the overall enjoyment rather than it solely focussing on one single day. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty creative family so when it came to what to do for table settings I roped in my team of crafty nieces, mum and sister.
My mum came up with the idea of putting a little mixed sprig of lavender and rosemary on each place setting. This not only looked pretty but also gave off a subtle scent which really added to the overall ambience. Mum and my family friend Margaret spent hours tying 133 individual bundles in advance of the big day! My niece Lottie wrote cute little tags with phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘celebrate’, and ‘love’, which they then tied around each folded serviette with thin coloured ribbon.
I designed the Order of Services, menus, table numbers and place cards using a template from Creative Market (they’re great- take a look if you’ve never checked them out), and bought simple gold wire table number holders from Ginger Ray. The final touch was a scattering of pretty little peace cranes patiently crafted by Lottie in the weeks before the wedding.
The Bar & Bunting
Never let it be said that my dad doesn't like a challenge. Having seen a rather funky bar on Instagram I showed the photo to my dad with a casual 'wouldn't that be cool in the garden?'. Cut to one week later when he proudly presented one he'd constructed out of old palettes and recycled kitchen worktop! Costing him nothing but time, it brought new meaning to the phrase 'free bar'! It was perfect for the big day, finished with some homemade bunting from mum too.
Now rather fortuitously a friend of mine is a wedding planner, and not just any old wedding planner at that. Jeni from Vanilla Rose Weddings lives round the corner, and having only moved at the end of last year I didn’t know any local florists so it was her recommendation which led us to the incredible Green & Gorgeous.
And so it was one Saturday a few weeks before the wedding I found myself walking through fields of locally grown flowers with my parents, seeing what was in season and getting inspiration for the wedding flowers. Rachel from Green & Gorgeous was so helpful, knowing exactly what I was after and managing to combine it with what was available at the time of year. I knew we wanted something laid back and rustic to go with the relaxed garden vibe of the wedding, but how she translated my waffly vague description into the out of this world arrangements which subsequently arrived is nothing short of a miracle!
We went for a package called ‘Buckets & Bouquets’ which is a wonderful combination of finished bouquets and large buckets of loose flowers, which we collected the day before and arranged into mixed size jam jars to create the centrepiece for each table. I chose bouquets for my sister and my eldest niece, but opted for flower crowns for the younger three instead and the final effect was just as I’d hoped! I wore fresh flowers in my hair along with my sister and eldest niece. The final touch was delicate little buttonholes and corsages for the groom and extended families.
We ended up going for more flowers than originally intended, and they actually became a central theme of the wedding, focussing around a stunning floral arch. I didn’t actually see the finished arch until I walked down the aisle as Rachel and her team arrived on the Saturday morning to work their magic, when I was at the hotel getting ready.
What we really loved was the way the garden became part of the wedding, bursting with flowers on the inside with the open sides of the marquee giving way to our flower beds, trees and bushes to create a really natural feeling throughout the whole wedding.
When it comes to capturing the big day, as well as ending up with incredible images it was important to both of us that photography didn’t overtake on the day itself. I’ve been to weddings where the couple disappear for hours, and/or the photographer is really in your face and neither of us wanted that, or to miss out on any more of the party than we had to.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with the fabulous Emma Case for years now- we launched our businesses around the same time, won our first industry award the same evening, and Emma has created some of our most iconic campaigns over the past eleven years. Knowing all of this I also know how difficult it is to book her, so fate was definitely smiling on us when I sent her a tentative “So, I know you’re probably booked, but what are you doing seven weeks on Saturday” text, only to receive the reply, ‘Hell yeah, I’m in!”
In more recent years I've also had the immense pleasure of working with two incredibly talented filmmakers, James and Scott, who created the recent film showing you inside our factory. Luckily for us they were also available for the big day, and we're forever grateful to them for capturing all those magical moments on film.
So that's a little bit about the wedding setting and preparations- more to follow. I'd love to hear your stories about how you styled your wedding, or any home made bits you're doing for your big day.
Photos by Emma Case Photography
Marquee by Caravatti Events
Flowers by Green & Gorgeous
Paper Lanterns by The Paper Lantern Company
Planning & Advice by Vanilla Rose Weddings