Welcome to Wedding Week! All this week I’m going to be sharing details from our winter wedding weekend which took place on the 21st and 22nd of November in Scotland. I’ll be showing you how we pulled our day together, relaying all the emotions from the occasion and hopefully providing you with some inspiration and tips.
It’s the final day of wedding week! It’s been a bit of a whirlwind hasn’t it? I’ve actually surprised myself with how therapeutic I’ve found writing the words down and relaying the day so I do hope you’ve also enjoyed hearing about it all.
Today I thought I’d end by sharing a little more about the creative side of things and how we went about styling our day. I know a lot of you who have been reading and commenting on these posts are also in the midst of wedding planning and probably also creative so-and-so’s so hopefully it will be helpful for you to hear what worked and what didn’t work, what to do and what not to do, and what I wish I hadn’t stressed out so much about.
Having a wedding that was creative, unique and personal to us was really important for GB and I. We worked really hard on all of the creative elements of our wedding and where possible tried to do as much as we could ourselves. This was partly because I’m a bit of a control freak (hopefully other brides can relate to that!), partly because we enjoy those sorts of making and creating tasks (maybe me more so than GB but he tried for me) but mostly because we were planning our wedding on a small budget and doing things ourselves was a sure fire way to save a lot of money.
I guess the biggest lesson in all of that though, is that as much as I enjoyed making decorations and arranging flowers and so forth (and I really did), I realised that in many cases it wasn’t the easiest (or the cheapest for that matter) option, put a lot of unnecessary pressure on us at a time when perhaps we didn’t need it and it probably would have been done better had I passed it on to someone else. In hindsight, were I to do it all again, there are aspects which I would pass on, hire a professional or simply not bother with.
It’s also true when people tell you that you can’t do everything yourself. This annoyed me slightly as I wanted to do everything. I wanted to be the one who arranged the vases of flowers for the tables so that they were just as I’d imagined them. I wanted to be the one who set up the cake table just so. I wanted to be the one who made sure the old vintage bath tubs we’d found at carboots were used in the right way, and who laid out the plants and flowers at the barn on the morning of the wedding as they should have been laid out. But you’re the bride. And you simply cannot be both the bride and the wedding planner at your own wedding.
On the set up day, I was so busy running around from one section to the next, people asking me to look at this or check that, or ask me how I wanted such and such done, that I had no time to just sit and do the things I wanted to do. If I’d been the one to arrange all the flower displays for the tables I’d have still been doing them at midnight. At one point in the afternoon I had to, disappointingly, accept that after a year of being really excited about arranging my table centres, I wasn’t going to be the person to do it. I just didn’t have the time and was being pulled in so many directions that I had to pass it on to those who were looking for a job to do. They did a great job of course and the flowers in the barn looked lovely, but it still makes me sad that I didn’t get to do them. If I’d known that would have been the case, I would have just taken Sophie (our florist who did the arch and bouquets) up on her offer to also kit out the barn – but I didn’t because I was adamant that this was one thing I really wanted to do myself. Hindsight hey?
A few weeks ago when chatting to one of my friends (who also got married in the same year as me) I was describing how I still got those pangs of regret that ultimately our wedding venue didn’t look exactly as I’d imagined it looking, that I was annoyed that decorations that I’d spent ages making fell down or couldn’t be used, and that little things like empty water bottles left on a table and subsequently ending up in all the shots, or a tea towel placed under a vintage bath tub that just completely took away from the stylish look I was going for, really really plagued me. And she told me this;
‘For you to have the EXACT wedding that you wanted, right down to the very last detail, you couldn’t have been the bride’
And even though all those things do still grate on me, and will no doubt grate on you too if you work hard on creative elements for your day, I knew she was totally right. You can’t be the bride, and the stylist, and the on-the-day coordinator and the one who sorts out every problem. You just can’t.
It took me going through a wedding and trying desperately to be all of those things before I learned that lesson, so while I will never tell you not to be creative and work hard on the personal touches on your day (these really are what will make your day memorable), do not regret for one second spending all my weekends writing calligraphy tags and making signs (I loved all of the decorations we created even if they didn’t look perfect or professional) and will never EVER spout that overused phrase of ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ (if it’s important to you then it’s not small and it is worth sweating over. End of.), I will say; consider the things that aren’t so important to you and either pass them on or shelf them. Consider the aspects, which although might be an expense, are an expense you’re willing to pay in order not to have to think about them yourself. And lastly consider the fact that on the day you will want to be the bride and groom and nothing else, and allow yourself that. Give jobs like paying the band on the night or announcing the evening food is up to those in your wedding party, and let yourselves be free to just soak it all up.
Right, anyway now that my – agony aunt of wedding planning – session is over, let’s get on with it shall we?
Seeing as I just banged on a lot about the flower displays I figured this was a good place to start. First off, flowers are a really expensive part of wedding planning. As in you (or more likely your groom) will probably fall off of your chair when you get your first quote for five bouquets (that you know your bridesmaids will end up tossing on a table, or in our case the bathroom floor grr, come the end of the night when they’ve had a few drinks and want to dance) and a few buttonholes. But, on the other hand they really do make a wedding and take a plain venue from ‘a bit dull and uninviting’ to ‘so cosy and beautiful’. We actually entertained the idea of not having flowers at our wedding at all because the costs seemed so outwith our budget, until my Mum gently pressed on us that an empty woodland and an old cow barn in the middle of winter, might need a little sprucing in order to look pretty. And she was right – flowers absolutely made our wedding. Without them both of our venues would have looked incredibly dull.
In order to keep the costs down though, and knowing that our barn venue would need a LOT of sprucing up we decided on a combined florist and DIY approach.
We decided to hire a florist to do the parts we couldn’t do ourselves and that were important to us to have right, and then compromise and do all of the other parts ourselves by ordering flowers from a wholesale site and arranging them.
I fell in love with the work of Sophie from I Heart Flowers really early on in our wedding planning and was so so glad that we booked her in the end as she was an absolute gem. It was her floral arches that really made her stand out for us. She did sculpture at Art School and clearly still has that raw talent for creating sculptural pieces. When we imagined an outdoor ceremony we knew a structure of some sort to get married under would be lovely and suddenly a floral arch was a really important aspect for us, and finding the right person key. Sophie, created something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, using all of the flowers and colours we loved. It was outstanding and I am beyond grateful to her for her work. Taking it down the next day was so sad and I kept as many of the flowers as I could, took them home and displayed them for as long as possible and even pressed a few of the key flowers just to remind me of the day.
She also created the bouquets for me and my Best Women, which were also gorgeous. We’d spoken on the phone a few times about all of my ideas and I’d described that undone, bohemian look which could give the impression that we’d just run into the woods and handpicked a bunch of flowers wild. She nailed it perfectly – there was nothing round or precise about these bouquets and the flowers she used were all spectacular. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t have bright colours at a winter wedding – I was certain I wanted bright pinks and oranges as well as burgundy’s and blushes – and although not all of the flowers I loved were available (dahlias weren’t in abundance at this time – boo) the colours were possible to achieve.
A lot of florists might have turned us away for such a small order but Sophie was more than happy to help us create our dream day and genuinely excited about creating our arch for us – she was superb and I really can’t recommend her enough for any fellow Scottish brides.
For the rest of the flower decorations we used a wholesale website called Triangle Nursery. For any couples looking to cut down costs I’d definitely recommend this as you can source a much bigger quantity of blooms for a lower price, however it is a big undertaking and a lot of work. I personally really enjoyed it but when those crates full of flowers arrived at the cottages I’ll admit to feeling pretty overwhelmed with where to start. I knew creating our own bouquets the night before would be too much (and result in them looking terrible) so only aimed to do this DIY approach with the easier parts we knew we could handle such as filling small jam jars and milk bottles with a couple of stems for the tables, and doing a few larger vase displays for around the barn. Asking a florist to do as many vases and displays as we ended up doing at the barn would have undoubtedly cost us thousands, and so it was the right thing to do but it was a big job.
I spent an evening a month or so before the wedding going through the website with my Mum and picking out all the flowers and colours we loved which was lots of fun. We chose an abundance of smaller blooms such as freesias, anemones (my favourite) and ranunculus (another fave) in bright pink and orange (our wedding colours) as well as roses in mix colours such as blush pink and dark burgundy. These were used for the tables along with steel berries and viburnum (for that winter woodland look) and lots of foliage to run down the centre (ivy, eucalyptus and pistache). For the larger displays we used cheaper filler flowers like astilbe (a heather like flower which is lovely) and crocosmia (a fab foliage with small bright orange buds) along with hydrangea (I love!) lots more berries and foliage, tall gladioli and snap dragons (for that difference in height) and even more roses and ranunculus (but this time in dark woodland colours such as azure black and pauline violet – gorgeous burgundy shades).
One small hiccup a few days before the wedding was that it turned out a lot of our choices weren’t available. With wholesale you really are dependant on what is in season and what has managed to bloom and they can’t tell you for sure until right before the day. We had to accept a lot of substitutes – particularly in the hydrangea (which came in much darker colours than I’d imagined), the dahlias (which didn’t come at all) and a few of the roses (which had to come in different shapes or shades). This, admittedly was a stress I could have done without while driving in the pouring rain to Scotland and having no signal to email and say no to the yellow substitutions (definitely not in the colour scheme for a winter wedding) three days before the wedding, but our displays really did look great on the day despite the changes.
I’d imagined a lot more plants outdoors too but the harsh winter played havoc with this and we weren’t able to grow or buy as many as we’d hoped, but I think the colour indoors hopefully made up for it.
The Woodland Decor
Overall we wanted to woods to be as natural as possible and just let the scenery speak for itself but we did set up a few chairs, which we draped tartan blankets (collected at charity shops) over the back of, and GB’s friend who is a tree surgeon cut us some small log barrels which could run down the middle and create an aisle. I had an idea of collecting whisky tubes throughout the year and using these to display our flowers (for a Scottish element) but we had to abandon this slightly when a lot of the tubes ended up leaking after being filled with water the night before. We did have a few of these, along with other vases of flowers, sat on top of the logs though and then at the front of the aisle we used a small wooden table we’d found at a carboot to hold a larger floral display (and be the area we could sign the registar). We found vintage rugs on Ebay and at Car boot sales for the aisle and a large one for us to stand upon (which we’ve kept to be cleaned and used whenever we finally get a house!).
We created a ‘welcome to our wedding’ sign using an old piece of wood and chalk pens, and then set up a table as people arrived filled with extras. My Mum and Dad created us a wedding newspaper which people could read while they waited for the ceremony to begin and was full of info on the day and a who’s who of our wedding party. We put these inside an old suitcase, we bought pink and orange ponchos which we piled into a basket with a ‘just in case’ sign, and had a basket full of tissues with a ‘you cry you buy’ sign for a bit of a laugh.
I made all of our wedding signs by painting wood with dye and then using chalk pens to create the calligraphy. We had one to direct people where to park, one to lead them towards the wedding, and then one directing them into the lodge for beer and bubbles.
Inside the lodge we kept things simple with a few floral displays and then set up a table at the top for drinks. We bought old tin baths at car boots which we filled with ice and served beers in, and then found a huge vintage wooden crate to house all the Prosecco (the person who lined this beautiful antique with a black bin liner is no longer on my Christmas card list!!)
We made our own confetti (with help from friends and family) by drying rose petals throughout the year before, and made confetti cones from old ordnance survey maps of Scotland my Mum gave us. Again this was something I really enjoyed but was probably an unnecessary task as a lot of it didn’t last the distance until November and had to be thrown out – doing it again I’d just buy confetti from Amazon!
There were loads of other ideas we benched for the outdoor space (such as stringing jam jars from trees and filling them with tea lights or flowers, and winding foliage around all of the beams in the lodge) due to lack of time, but I don’t think it mattered in this case – if you too are getting married outdoors you’re probably doing so because it’s a lovely setting so just let that speak for itself and you won’t need much in the way of decor.
The Barn Decor
Our overall theme for the wedding was a rustic winter woodland, and we carried this through to the barn venue, as well as adding in a few typically – country farm wedding – aspects as well. On top of this we had a few more personal sub-themes running such as our love for photography and polaroids, and our personal story of meeting online.
We knew lighting would be really important for our black canvas venue, especially in winter, so we hired extra festoon lights to add on top of the ones the barn already had and strung these everywhere we could – all around the main barn and the gallery space and across the front where people would arrive. The main barn already had fairy lights hung from the roof indoors which really kept everything looking cosy as the night progressed. We hung ivy and foliage around all of the door frames, windows and window sills, as well as running it down the tables for that outdoors brought indoors appeal, and had vases of flowers and candles everywhere to keep things bright and cosy.
The walls were plain white and quite blank, so we hung odd shaped frames (found at car boots and in charity shops), some of which we spray painted rose gold and some of which we left dark wood, on the walls. To add a personal touch we then came up with a few memorable quotes from our relationship (a couple from our respective online dating profiles which raised a few laughs, and some just things we said to each other regularly) and I wrote these in calligraphy onto white card which was then stuck on foam board and suspended within the frames. We printed lots of our photos as polaroids (using Polargram) and had these displayed all over the venue, using some within these frames to depict the event from the quote.
We also created a display for the back of the wall where we would be sitting, using cardboard letters (bought from Hobbycraft and spray painted rose gold) and paper flowers from Comeuppance (this lady is such a talent – I wish I could have afforded even more so that the whole wall could have been decorated with these). By the time the photos were taken a few had already fallen down so it doesn’t look quite as good but you get the idea.
For the stage and dancefloor we made giant J and S letters which we filled with flowers (sadly we didn’t get any photos of these). Me and My Dad created these one weekend using foamboard and some very precise measurements and then the day before we simply stuffed them with floral oasis and filled them full of blooms. We probably should have displayed them somewhere more noticeable – maybe outside so that everyone could have appreciated them!
Carrying on with our photography theme we set up an area in the corner of the barn with wooden stepladders and displayed lots of old polaroid cameras along with a couple of new ones which guests could use on the night. I then found a giant frame, which I sprayed rose gold and we used those leftover leaf shaped luggage tags (originally used in our invitations) to create a ‘polaroid replace your name’ frame. I wrote each guests name onto a tag using calligraphy and they were tasked with finding their name and replacing it with a photo on the night.
The tables were kept pretty simple, with foliage running down the middle and small, one stem, vases, plus tea lights running with it. GB’s tree surgeon Best Man yet again made us little wooden coasters which the vases were sat on top of and tea light holders from logs, and also larger log slices to sit our cakes onto. I also spray painted autumn leaves, conkers and small cherry apples rose gold to add a little metallic touch to the decor and those were placed randomly down the middle. My Mum made our gingerbread man and woman favours (well I did marry a ginger boy!) and iced them all with orange bow ties and pink tiaras (how cute!) and I glitter dipped a bunch of feathers in silver, gold and rose gold which my Best Women tied together with some eucalyptus to make table centres.
We wanted our cake table to be an eclectic, country cottage look filled with odd mismatched cake stands and plates, baskets full of scones and upturned plant pots with cakes spilling out. We had drawers on the table opened and full of jams and chutneys, milk churns filled with cream and stands and cake plates displayed. I made tags to tell people what each bake was and who’d made it for a personal touch, such as ‘Auntie Marianne’s profiteroles’ or ‘Mum’s toffee tarts’.
n the gallery space where we had our drinks, we set up a cards table using an old suitcase and photos of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days plus some memorable bits and pieces from our relationship. My friend Laura expertly created our J&S timeline for us, using yet more polaroids we’d printed and stringing them from a branch on the wall to tell our story. We then laid out all of our glass tankards which we’d stuck blackboard labels onto for guests to choose and fill up, and had a drinks table set up using kilner glass dispensers for soft drinks, and displaying beers in yet more old tin baths filled with ice.
I’ve already told you about our old door, which GB’s Mum and Stepdad sourced for us and we used as a display for people to hang their keys onto, and then the rest of the barn decor was a mixture of wooden crates we’d found at carboot sales, old watering cans and milk churns filled with flowers and plants, and stepladders displaying flowers. We had more signs at this venue – we used an easel for the main welcome sign and then GB’s Stepdad Mick made us the direction sign by nailing our wooden arrows into an old tree branch and sitting it inside a pot. I had the idea of making these Scottish sayings such as ‘aff to the lavvies’ and ‘tak a dram’ which I think went down well.
We collected tartan blankets throughout the year at charity shops and filled baskets with these for people who wanted to sit outside – I made a ‘feeling cold?’ sign to go with and also a ‘toast me’ sign to sit with a bucket full of marshmallows once the fire pit came out (both of which I have no photographic evidence of 🙁 but they were my best ones!) and I also made tags with our wedding date on for the sparklers which again no one really noticed but I had fun creating!
There were other bits and bobs, like the confetti pops we made for the video booth and the Jacpots Macpots which we created for the evening meal of Mac and Cheese but I showed you those yesterday and don’t want to blab on too much more than I have already.
I really loved being creative for a whole year and making so many things for our wedding. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and hopefully once I get my wedding website set up, I can go into more detail on some of the DIY projects and show you how I did them.
Final supplier list to follow…
Photography – Amy Shore Photography (plus a few from friends)
Florist – I Heart Flowers
Wholesale Flowers – Triangle Nursery
Venue – The Barn and Dalduff Farm