How we created our wedding.
When we got engaged in July 2010 and started talking about ideas for our wedding, we both knew that we wanted a relaxed garden party-style wedding and, as a lover of sewing, bunting was definitely going on the DIY list. However, at time went on this list just seemed to grow and grow and bunting soon turned into bunting, place mats, napkins, cake topper, table clothes and runner, seating plan, place settings, table numbers, seat pad covers, cakes (and cake flags), kids party bags, gift bags, lanterns and pom poms.
Cheap and cheerful. We kicked off the whole DIY-thing with our Save the Dates, I painted signs which we took pictures of us holding, and Pete converted them to black and white. He then formatted them to look like a photo booth photo strip, which were printed on photographic paper and posted to all our guests. Really cheap and easy and everyone loved them.
Every spare minute. I started making the wedding decorations just after Christmas 2011, and spent pretty much every evening and weekend (and most mornings before work!) until the wedding cutting, ironing and sewing.
Production line. For the bunting, we (or more accurately Pete!) did many calculations working out how much fabric and binding we needed to buy based on the size of the marquee (including droopage!). And every evening I would give a pile of flags to Pete to turn the right way round and poke the end out with a pencil while he was watching TV ready for me to iron and sew together the following day.
Love a bit of Ric Rac! On receiving a fabric bundle one day, and noticing how nice the fabrics looked together, I suddenly decided making placemats and napkins for everyone would also be a good idea. As we didn’t have a colour scheme, I just bought a range of fabrics that I liked, deciding on two blue, two pink, and two yellow fabrics that I thought looked nice together for placemats for each table. I also got custom labels made to sew into the corner of each placemat to make them a bit more personal. All the napkins were the same fabric but I edged them in ric rac so they looked pretty cute. I made 114 place mats in total and 120 napkins (a few extra for good measure!).
Take two. Having made my bunting already (60 meters worth) of lovely but completely mis-matched fabric, I started to worry is was looking a bit too crazy, especially next to the place mats as, even though they didn’t match, at least the prints worked together! So, having still a few months to go I decided to make a second set of bunting with the same fabric as the placemats and napkins – I was much happier with this plus it meant we had an extra set to decorate the garden and the house with!
Small table, big table cloths! We even did our own table cloths, getting two whole roles of white fabric from Leeds Kirkgate market and working out the lengths for each row of table (so four times the length of each trestle table!), cutting them and hemming each piece (which was a nightmare as they were so long…and we only have a small house and sewing table!). I don’t think the edges were very straight but I don’t think anyone noticed! We did the same for the runners, buying one complete length of hessian; however, for these, I had to cut in half then quarters the entire length of it before cutting it to the right size for the tables.
Mini us. My mum made and iced our wedding cake but for the cake topper I painted little wooden people to look like me and Pete and used left over scraps of fabric to make cake bunting and cake flags.
Scraps. From all the scraps of fabric left over from the bunting and place mats, and hessian from the table runners, as well as the cake decorations, I also made table numbers and part of the table plan.
Gherkins and Toilet Chain. As months went by, in the run-up to the wedding, we kept and washed loads of jars from jam, peanut butter (there were a lot of these!), curry paste, gherkins and anything else that came in a nice shaped glass. We spend [what felt like…] hours scratching off the sticky labels taking and borrowing a friends dishwasher to make them nice a sparkly before we delivered half of them to the florist, the lovely Leafy Couture ladies, to use for table flowers.
The other half, the shorter jars (the best we discovered were honey and condiments), Pete spent more evenings making them into lanterns using florist wire and toilet chain!
With a little help from my freinds. My friend and colleague Rose (www.rosemountague.co.uk), who is a graphic designer, made all our invitations which we absolutely loved – she got a very vague brief off us which included us saying ‘we like the retro screen print style of design but also maybe something pretty’ and what she came up with were just perfect. Rose also did all the wedding stationery including table menus, cake labels and the list of names for me to use on the table plan (which also used left over scraps of fabric!)
Cheese! For place names, we managed to get photos of all our guests (mostly silly photos) which Pete converted into polaroids on the computer, printed on photo paper, and spent a few evenings guillotining. I just hand-wrote names and these were placed on top of the napkins and tied with twine.
Comfort over style. About a month before the wedding, I saw a real wedding featured on Rock My Wedding (www.rockmywedding.co.uk) where the bride had made her own seat covers – I thought this looked brilliant, so colourful and cool. Having only a few weeks to go, I emailed the bride (her address was linked on the blog) to see if she would hire them to me. Unfortunately, she had to remove all the covers when she returned the seat pads to the hire company.
So, even though Pete thought I was crazy, he found 100 pieces of foam on ebay, which we came up with a pattern for – we made it like a pillowcase so I didn’t have to spend time with Velcro or zips. I then set out making covers using spare bits of fabric I had at home, and any I could get from friends (even bed covers and unworn clothes!). ‘What am I doing?’ did cross my mind perhaps just a little at the start but I’m so glad I did it as they, surprisingly, took a lot less time than I thought, looked great and were much more comfortable for our guest’s bums! Some guests also took a matching set home for their own kitchen or garden chairs.
Party Bags. I made gift bags to put little presents in for friends and family who had helped with the wedding. As well as these, I also made similar style party bags for the kids and my sister bought a few little toys, sweets and bubbles to go inside them.
Ahh tissue! One of the final things we made were the pom poms. I had found a tutorial for these on the internet a few weeks before and did a test run – I was so surprised to find how easy there were to make but how effective they looked. So, in the week of the wedding, my sister and I spent an evening preparing them, and my dad (risking his life on the dodgy ladder!) hung them up the day before the wedding using nylon thread so it looked like they were floating – I think everyone loved these! I have posted a little ‘how to’ for these as well as the video tutorial that I used.
Things we didn’t make! We bought candles which came in blue and yellow glass holders – they are same often used in bars so were pretty cheap but nice and colourful, and table trivia to keep our guests entertained throughout dinner.
Mmmm cake! The final things I made, as well as my sister and a few of my friends, were the cakes. Instead of pudding, we decided to have a cake table which lots of people contributed to. On Thursday before the wedding day, my sister and I made cupcakes. I had done a few test runs previously for friend’s birthdays to see which turned out the best, so on my list was Strawberries and Cream, Lemon and Poppyseed and Peanut Butter (my favourite!) which I decorated with flags I had made out of left over fabric and toothpicks. My sister made Lavender, which looked ace with glittery pink sparkles. On Friday before the wedding day, I also popped into work and picked up a couple of batches from the girls in my office (who, incidentally, came joint first in our staff’s baking league a week earlier!). My other friend Sam, who is the best baker ever, made some very posh cakes – one a Mojito cake (I was very disappointed not to try this!) and Pete’s mum and sister also made some delicious cakey goodness. Rose, who designed our stationery, made cake labels for these which had the name of the cake as well as who made them. On the day, the cake table looked AMAZING.
Of course it had to be fairy lights! Pete spent a lot of the time Googling for the best deals – we needed a lot of lights! In the end we had 100 meters of fairy lights decorating the inside of the marquee and some festoon lights, which I think were meant to be for building sites, but looked great all the same and lit up the garden in the evening helping to guide people to the loo.
Dress Rehearsal. In the weeks nearer the wedding, as I was finishing off all my sewing, I began to worry (again!) about how everything might look together as, obviously, we weren’t really going to know until the actual day. So, to help put my mind at ease, Pete suggested we set up a table in our house with all the items – we had to improvise a little for flowers!
In the end. Making all the decorations took a lot of time, effort, and was at some times stressful, not knowing whether I was going to get things finished in time or if it would all look nice, but it was so worth it! I was so happy with how the marquee looked, and felt proud that it was a real homemade wedding with help from our friends and family, and everyone got to keep a piece of our wedding.
You can see the finish results and all the details in our wedding photos taken by Dominique Bader.