Til Death Do Us Part: The Finale

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Natalie Miller Photography

One crisp Autumn day, I was having a casual browse in TK Maxx, like ya do, and I came across a wonderfully gothic, old-style notebook. Obviously I nabbed it and decided it would be perfect to start wedding planning! I’d been engaged for 3 years at the time so it was about time really, wasn’t it?

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Things didn’t go to plan; I made a list of initial themes and ideas and then poor gothic notebook lay forgotten for a few months.
Then, one incredibly sunny spring morning, I watched my lovely friends get married and it gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies and inspiration to get going again.

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Shortly after that, I finally got round to listening/watching The 1975 after meaning to for many, many months and the video for A Change of Heart instantly sparked ideas for a wedding theme and aesthetics for the photos. Also around this time I managed to feast my eyes on the film Fantastic Beasts, which, after having grown up with Harry Potter, was every bit as incredible as I could have hoped. It was this that made me plump for a 1920s dress code.

So I combined these ideas with something a bit more dark, gothic, curiosity-eqsue and my wedding theme was born.

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I took care of the cake fairly early in the process. This peacock one jumped out at me as soon as I saw it, so I worked from that. A BIG shout out needed here, to my lovely friends at Baked who took my initial sketch (and a raven that I bought from eBay for £4) and completely transformed it into the perfect cake.

Food

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Dinner was takeaway pizza from our awesome local pizza restaurant. They were amazing; delivering 50 pizzas to the venue right on time! The consensus was that it was the best pizza, so that’s always a bonus! Thanks Pizzaface

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As for the evening grub, I went for a simple ‘crisp and sausage roll buffet’. My uncle is a fab chef so he made a big pile of meat (and vegan) sausage rolls which went down a storm. As for crisps, we ordered a good 50 big sharer bags from tesco (that was a fun online shop delivery!) and out they went.

The first thing I started on after getting a theme together was the table decor! I had the idea of each table being named after an ‘unconventional’ couple from the world of film and TV. Now, coming up with the couples did take quite a while as Sweeney Todd and Johnny Depp were banned by the soon-to-be husband.

I spilled the beans on the couples and the table plan in this post, so give that a snoop if you’re interested.

So for each centre piece, I had a vase of flowers, a frame featuring an illustration of each couple and a frame with a quote from said couple. All the vases and frames I sourced from car boot sales and charity shops for mega cheap.

As for the place names, a quick browse on Pinterest gave me the idea of having an old key with a piece of card attached, displaying the guest name. I thought this could be a super cheap yet effective way of doing them and oh my, it worked so well. Chuffed, I  was.

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Initial VERY ROUGH sketch of centre pieces and place names
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Gwennan’s photo
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Gwennan’s photo
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My mum works in an auction house and luckily she managed to find some old keys that I could borrow. I had card and string already at home so the place names came together beautifully (and for free!).

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Photo by Melberryy

The venue hunt proved to be the only slightly stressful aspect of the planning process. A lot of the venues I looked at were insanely overpriced, lacked personality or had some sort of deal that meant you HAD to choose their caterers and florists. It all felt a bit commercial and driven by money, which is fair, it is a business but I wanted something a bit more flexible for my very personal wedding day.

In the end I managed to find a beautiful village hall which was built in the 1930s, had all the old beams and a gorgeous old stage, complete with red curtain. It felt instantly perfect and I managed to book it for £500 for the whole weekend.

The good news was that it was a blank canvas that I had total freedom over. The challenging news was that I had to plan and implement this entire thing myself, with the help of my awesome friends/fam.

I viewed the venue only twice before setting up for the wedding day. Once before booking and once with my fab photographer to plan lighting and photos.

I started with a rough drawing of how I was going to set up the tables, where everything was going to go and how I was to get from the entrance to the stage, for the ceremony to take place. The scariest thing about this was I had to trust the space and my own judgement because I had no pre-run to test it would all work okay.

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We were allowed in the venue at midday the day before the wedding so I got there on the dot of 12 and set to work. I knew it would take a while and wanted to leave time for any last minute issues that needed to be solved.

The husband and his best men worked their magic on the tech side of things while I set up the tables. Once that was done, my amazing blogger frens (I LOVE YOU), helped with the last bits of tweaking, putting up signs and generally making sure everything was purely instagrammable.

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I tried on my dress, checked that I could freely walk to the stage and we planned timings and cues for the ceremony, which was hand written by us and our minister/best man Shane (LOVE YOU). This was the most difficult thing by far. We had no official minister as we got married legally a couple of days before, so the whole welcome speech, vows and readings had to be scripted.

Doing the ceremony on the stage made it feel like some sort of 1920s/30s show so I went all out and made the Order of Service mirror a script.

I walked down the aisle to one of my favourite songs by a band called The Matches, played live by the husband, best man minister Shane and our friend Emily! As musicians, it made sense to us to incorporate it into our day somehow and this made my walk down the aisle all the more personal.

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One tradition we knocked on the head was speeches. I find them quite cringy and if your fam aren’t into public speaking it can be a day-ruining experience. Instead ,we pre-filmed our friends family member saying nice things about us (or doing silly dances in some cases) and made a little montage. I then put those into a full little film which also included our audition tape from Don’t Tell The Bride a couple of years ago as we realised no one else had actually seen it!
I ended it with a clip from each film/TV program that our table couples came from, as well as credits to thank everyone who had helped us with our special day. I’m really pleased with how the final little film came out as it took a LOT of time and many changes before we were finally happy with it.
We finished off the cinema vibe by bringing all our guests cartons of popcorn to eat as they watched.

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We embraced this manky shed as a back drop for our photos and it didn’t disappoint. Here are some of my fave snaps from the day. Enjoy!

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Our band, David McTea and the Swinging Magpies were incredible and I would thoroughly recommend them for your 1920s inspired events. Find them here!

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Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty… THE BUDGET.

I’ve outlined my whole budget here to hopefully inspire more creative weddings and de-stress brides-to-be when they google what the average price of a wedding is.

Dress: £75.51 (See how I managed this here)
Venue: £500 (for midday Friday to midday Sunday)
Main Food: £494
Groom’s Clothes: £34.98 (All hail TK Maxx)
Wedding Rings: £178 (Etsy)
Legal Ceremony: £120
Band: £1150
Photographer: *£650
Hotel for 2 nights: £236
Decor: £309.42
Cake: Gifted plus trade swap
Transport to venue: Gifted
Evening food: £34 (most of it was gifted)

TOTAL: £3781.91

* Please note, this is very cheap if you want excellent photography. This was a reduced rate due to our photographer being a very old friend AND doing a trade swap as well.

We spent most of our budget on the photographer and the band. The photos will last forever and allow us to remember each part of our fabulous day. We have a wonderful collection of images that not only captures every moment (and guest) but is the result of our collective creativity working together towards a shared end product.

And as musicians we know how much work, time and effort goes into learning and rehearsing a set. People rarely consider the amount of travelling, setting up and practising that it takes to get that perfect music set for your event.
Similarly for photography, honing that expertise and editing all the photos takes a lot of time; it’s not just a case of snapping away on the day.

I have many creative friends who have been asked to work for free or to do things on the cheap. PLEASE consider the work that goes in and be willing to pay a fair price for the service. If you wouldn’t haggle in Tesco or for a lawyer, then please don’t haggle with your band or photographer.

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EASTER EGGS
There were some very teeny tiny details that I felt should be shared and were probably missed!

  • The song that I walked down the aisle to was called Didi (My Doe) by a band called The Matches. The patronus of both Severus & Lily (one of the table couples) was also a doe.
  • All the table illustrations were in black and white except the top table (The Joker & Harley Quinn) which had splashes of red and blue. I had red in my dress, Sammy had a blue bow tie and all our guests were in neutral colours.
  • Our guestbook said ‘You Look So Cool’ on the front which is song lyrics by The 1975 but is also said in The Great Gatsby, both of which influenced the theme of the wedding.
  • There was a ‘PUDDIN’ sign by the cake which is the pet name that Harley Quinn uses for the Joker.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed snooping my wedding planning mind. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments.
BOOM.

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