Driving out of the registry office was great – Paul has a dixie horn fitted to the Fairway, we got lots of waves from other drivers on the M25, and our friends “The Wiskins” were hot on our tail, Kass taking pictures out of their car window. Please check out Her Altered Heart for Kass' blog post about our wedding.
I had given our guests quite specific instructions of how to get to our secret location, and somehow, we arrived before everybody else. The hog roast was cooking, we’d booked it with our local butcher, Michael Lord, from Caterham High Street, he provides a mobile hog roast service called Spot the Hog. He’d set up his own gazebo, and a stand which had bread rolls, apple sauce and stuffing.
Gradually, our guests started to arrive, my Dad and June started to set up an extra buffet table, and my Auntie Roma had provided salads and pasta with pesto. We had an old wheel barrow full of cans and bottles of various drinks, we’d set up a dispenser of old fashioned lemonade, again, Roma had filled two beautiful glass dispensers with Pimms and lemonade and all the trimmings. Our neighbour Ted had brewed two kegs of beer for us, which were set up on handmade crates made from pallets.
We had a mixture of old glasses which Lee had got for free from Trash Nothing, and some cool red plastic cups. I had gathered jars with colourful paper straws and peacock fan-tail cocktail sticks from Tiger. I’d also collected a lot of small colourful windmills for the kids to play with from The Works.
Some of our extra guests started to arrive. We’d asked friends to bring a few drinks and snacks with them also, which everybody seemed happy to help with.
The children were happily swinging on the tree swing, playing with the dangling ribbons, drawing with crayons (which Mum had provided) and playing croquet (also from Mum’s shed). We couldn’t afford a DJ, and certainly had no budget for a band, so we paid £10 for a Spotify Premium, and created a playlist of all our favourite songs (eight hours worth), this was streamed through Lee’s smart phone, which was plugged in to my Dad’s hi fi system with powerful speakers, it worked a treat, and we got loads of compliments about the music. It was a mix of songs ranging from Summer Breeze by the Isley Brothers to The House of the Rising Sun, a bit of Madness, a bit of country and a few chosen by the kids.
When we arrived the cake was covered over by a large box. It had been made by Karen, my friend Claire’s Mum, I have known Karen since I was a toddler, and although she claims not to be a professional, her cakes are amazing. Karen had made a vanilla sponge rustic “naked” wedding cake. It was stunning, sprinkled with icing sugar and covered with a few berries – sitting on a circle of wood. It The small mosaic table (from Mum’s garden) had been covered with lace and the extra large green ombre paper fan from Ikea made a fabulous backdrop. In front of the table was one of my pallet signs, painted turquoise with the lyrics “I belong with you, You belong with me, You’re my sweetheart”.
Dotted around and hanging from various places were my handmade signs.
The sweet table went down a treat! It had been built by my Dad from old wooden pallets and had watermelon bunting from Tiger hanging around it. We had collected various jars and some sweets from Poundland, I had paper bags left over from my daughter’s birthday party. Roma also added a whole load of extra jars of sweets and scoops to the table, it proved very popular with the kids and the adults!!
The Fairway was parked in front of the marquee, along with Paul’s lowrider bicycle. What I loved the most was that everybody looked so relaxed, there was no seating plan! Some were sat in the marquee at tables chatting and drinking, some were sat on chairs on the grass, others had perched on hay bales or were sitting on picnic blankets. The children were in and out the tipi, which had two small chairs inside. We had planned to bring up the rag rugs and some blankets to lay down in there, but we forgot those in all the excitement.
Everyone was tucking into food and drinks, John had brought his juggling balls along.
Then - the pièce de résistance - the ice cream van arrived, followed by a trail of children chasing it. The van is owned by Paul’s friend’s Dad – Steve. We had an hour to fill our faces with ice creams, again this was a great talking point and great for photo opportunities and also a fab way to feed a bunch of people! I didn’t need to be asked twice to get inside and have a go at making a Mr Whippy! Lee and I both got in a served a few ice creams. I think my Shannon certainly ate her fair share.
Someone had told me to stand back and take it all in, as the day passes so quickly, I’d tried my best to go and talk to everybody, there were around 70 people in total. But again, I had no concept of the time at all.
We had to hoof some of the kids off of the tree swing so I could have some pictures taken on it – then we set up some photos in front of the tipi. Paul had got me an awesome gift – a handmade Native American headdress from Bali! My flower crown, by this time, had wilted – so I swapped it for the headdress. I didn’t want Paul feeling pressured to take lots of posed group shots, so we set up one large family photo (eccentric bunch aren’t we?) and Danny (also a photographer) helped out here so Paul could be in the picture.
Time to cut the cake
We’d decided that it would make for good pictures to cut the cake with Hadhafang (Arwen’s sword) from Lord of the Rings, I’ve owned this sword for a long time now, it’s about time that it got some use!
The first dance
We’d debated the song for a first dance for a while. Do you go for something funny? I had visions of Day-o, you know, the Banana Boat Song from Beetlejuice? Then we’d talked about something like She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze. But in the end we opted for Budapest by George Ezra, we all love that song! We hadn’t been dancing for long before the kids joined us.
Not only am I very lucky that my brother is an awesome photographer, but he also has his very own photobooth which he sets up in the back of his taxi. Photobooths seem to be very trendy at weddings at the moment – so as some of our friends were leaving they jumped into the cab and took a momento home with them. Paul has done this fab slide show for us.
As the sun started to go down, the candles in the hanging glass jars were lit, as were the bamboo torches. The marquee came into its own with all the twinkly fairy lights, the temperature was dropping and we were all keeping warm with blankets and jumpers. A few people went up for seconds of the hog roast, which was still hot!
The last party-animals helped us to stack chairs, and move everything into the marquee. Paul was on guard for the evening, sleeping in the taxi. We headed home with tired little children.
It has been so lovely to reminisce, our wedding happened two weeks ago now. We were all exhausted for about a week afterwards. Mother nature had been extremely kind to us that weekend, the two weekends since our wedding it has rained!
We have just started getting our photos together which I gradually share. We are so thankful to everybody who came and to all the others who helped out, we couldn’t have done it without you!
In my next posts, I will share where we got our clothes and jewellery from. Our whole day was done on a budget of around £4000, to us this is a huge amount, but considering the average wedding costs £20,000, I think we did pretty well.
Our day couldn’t have gone better in my eyes – one piece of advice I would offer to anybody planning a shoestring wedding would be to use social media! We found our wedding venue via a plea on our town’s Facebook page. We got a lot of freebies from Trash Nothing, and you’d be surprised how many talented friends you have – just ask! We certainly couldn’t have done it without my Dad, who paid for the marquee, Mum who paid for all of our outfits and my Nan who paid for the hog roast and my flowers! Not forgetting my brother Paul, who was chauffer as well as photographer, he helped with many other things too, and thanks to Andrew for being our usher and Roma and family for everything they provided. Big thanks to Lee’s family who got up at the crack of dawn to travel from Cornwall, and to the best man Shane and his daughter India who travelled from Somerset and Phil who drove from Bristol.