I adore the wise words from todays bride “weddings are intimate occasions, and it’s very easy to get influenced by weddings magazines and people who want to organise your wedding for you. I believe if you design your wedding how you want it, it makes it extra special. Who cares if things don’t match, it is your day and it is something you will remember for ever!”
It is easy to lose sight of what a wedding actually is. It is about two people celebrating their love for each other and making vows to continue to love and support one another no matter what may come their way. Sarah and Richard are such an inspiring couple and their wedding is a testament to support not only of one another but of their wonderful loving family and friends who have also been there for them when times have been tough.
This is Sarah and Richards story…
We were married on the glorious Battersea Barge on the river Thames. We wanted to get married near water, as water held a lot of sentimental value for me. (Both my parents have passed away in the last four years and their ashes were scattered in Saltburn, Cleveland). We had looked at a few venues in the North East and in London; however the venues were very ‘formal’. We are not one for being ‘formal’, we wanted somewhere that people could relax and have fun and also we both LOVE London, (Me being from the North East, and Richard London). London is now my home and wanted the wedding to be in London. We visited the Battersea Barge on my birthday in February 2013, and fell in love with it. It was quirky, on the Thames and had views of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and even better it was next to Battersea Power Station, one of London’s iconic images – what was even better the venue had two spiral staircases leading to the upper deck as well as its own fairy lights – it was magical. We booked the date there and then. It was the best decision we ever made, everyone loved the venue and said it was quirky just like us, which brought a huge smile to our faces as it was exactly what we wanted to achieve.
As a non – traditional – bride I decided to have a red wedding dress (I did think about emerald green, however it didn’t feel special when I tried the colour) I decided to got for a red satin look – being a fan of Hollywood starlets and curvy myself, I decided the colour would be ideal and the style would suit the overall theme.
I had done extensive research on the internet about the style dress that I wanted, searching for Hollywood style dresses and the colour red stuck in my mind – I actually came across the Dessy range online and found the dress I had dreamt of. I phoned a few suppliers in London, and some of them stocked the dress I was looking for, but were miles away from each other. I remember thinking its going to take me a day to get from one place to another just to try on a few dresses, until a friend who lives in Brighton told me that there were a few wedding dress shops near each other in Sussex. I managed to ring around a few retailers and found The Ozone in Church Street, Brighton that stocked the Dessy range. I tried on a few of their dresses and explained I was looking for a particular dress (I had forgotten to write the code down), when I saw one dress in a coffee colour – I fell in love with the style and realised it was actually the same style dress I had found on the internet – fate or what? When I am hell-bent on a particular style or colour, I will go out of my way to get it. The dress was actually made in America. Being 6ft tall I had to have a few inches added on and I always dreamed of having a train and had never ever had a long dress before, I am so happy that Ozone this for me.
My Bridesmaid was my 10 year old niece Mia, and she lives in the North East along with her brother who was the pageboy. It was difficult as we don’t get to go North much. Last April I took her out to her local town, which was a bad idea as there was a very few children’s clothes shops around. However we managed to find a purple polka dot party dress which suited her and also the theme of the wedding we had in mind along with pink converse boots! Oliver’s clothes were from online shops, blue jacket and white shirt with thin black tie and burnt orange jeans, also with black converse boots. I took a risk with them as he was not able to try anything on until the Friday before the wedding, and everything fit perfectly – They looked so cool! We did not want them looking too formal as the invitations banned men from wearing ties!
Richards outfit was from Elys in Wimbledon. Richard is not one for clothes shopping nor does he like looking for clothes! I was so impressed with his choice; he actually chose his outfit within 5 minutes! He was looking for a dinner suit type outfit (He rarely wears suits!).
We were against the idea of ‘white chairs with sash’ look and wedding pomp, so I spent a lot of weekends researching ideas and colours. I decided the wedding theme was ‘mish mash/ quirkiness’. In our house, nothing matches, I like to have paintings and objects which can provide a good talking point, and wanted this spilled out into our wedding. I designed the invitations, with a rubber stamp specifically made for this, and carried on with the stamps for the bunting decorations. I also outsourced on Ebay for other stamps to use for other decorations as well as tissue paper balls and lanterns, which I ordered in different colours from The Lantern Shop, and got a good deal on bulk buying, that I was pleased about.
We are both BIG recycling/ Up cycling buffs and wanted to carry on this theme into the wedding. We asked friends and families for glass jars and milk bottles, so I could use these for jars to store flowers for decorations, recycling hessian potato sacks that we had lying around, covering jars with gingham ribbons and tags. I also made table runners from left over pieces of sacks. I weaved a table mat from leftover plastic that I had lying around for table centerpieces. I found bulldog picture holders from a local shop to display film quotes to add more ‘quirkiness’.
We had a few even more personal touches around the place, such as our favourite lines from films (everything from Aliens to Jungle Book), table confetti cut out from Superhero comics, maps as we both avid backpackers . I also designed the bunting which was cut out from a favourite book of ours – Don’t worry we bought it cheap on Amazon.
Instead of the usual ‘save the seat’ for absent people, we decided to use an old photograph of my parents wedding day and placed it on a candle during the ceremony. A lot of people didn’t notice this but it really gave me a sense of feeling that my parents were around.
Richard designed a wedding playlist for the bridal walk (Sarah – Thin Lizzy) and songs that meant a lot to us (With the reference to Jones in it!), as well as music for the evening. We did ask for a play list from guests with which we received really strange requests!
I managed to buy all my flowers for table decorations three days before the wedding from my local supermarket so that they came out of their ‘buds’ and were fully opened. A friend of mine who has a fantastic eye for floral decorations helped out with the flowers on the morning, Andrea – who was ordering my brother where to put the bunting up as well as tissue balls/ lanterns, after I had instructed where the bunting/ balls needed to go.
I designed the direction signs for the Barge, as the barge was off the main road, and wanted people to see my ‘Nearly there’ signs on the hoardings leading up to the venue – the last sign I out up said ‘YOU’RE HERE’. We hired a band for the first dance/ evening, The Academy who were superb in supplying us with quality music everyone really enjoyed them. They were absolutely fantastic and delivered our first dance which moved a lot of guest to tears (Stand By Me – a reference to Richard’s support for the last four years)
I had an army of talented friends who offered to supply us with a wedding cake, bouquet, button holes and help out decorating the barge on the morning of the wedding. This made it all the more special because it felt that everyone had a part in making our day extra special.
We did not have a wedding breakfast – as we have been to weddings in the past and disliked the idea of the awkwardness of sitting next to someone you did not know, the Battersea Barge were able to provide a delicious buffet. Because it was a 5pm wedding and the weather was balmy, the staff were able to provide the buffet in a canapé style, so whilst everyone was on the front deck, enjoying the glorious sunset, they were able to eat and drink at the same time. That is what made it extra special for us and that reflected well in our photographs.
Our photographer Marianne Chua was excellent and produced the most amazing photographs of our wedding. I had emailed a few photographers, as I am a believer in giving people opportunities when starting out their own business, and felt that someone who was starting out would be ideal in taking pictures of our wedding. I managed to get replies back from 6 other photographers, and Marianne’s photos online just stood out for me. I actually made the mistake of emailing her, when I should have emailed Richard to say I loved her pictures and think her photos are fantastic, when Marianne emailed me back and said ‘I don’t think this email was for me – hee’. She was professional from first point of contact. I met with her in a tea shop in Camden and we went on from there. She followed my wishes down to a tee and produced some astonishing photos. As our wedding was quirky and had an extra element of half the guests being deaf and using British sign language, I explained I wanted her to capture the emotions and sign language of the guests there, and she did exactly that.
I emailed a few photos to friends who were at the wedding her pictures and the feedback was that they did not notice she was taking photos, and they were flabbergasted at the result. They even went on to ask of Marianne added on the sunset in the background as it was so striking – she captured everything we wanted. I wish we could get married again and use her again! I am already recommending her to friends who are not married yet!
My advice to other couples getting married would be…
Do it! Seriously, weddings are intimate occasions, and it’s very easy to get influenced by weddings magazines and people who want to organise your wedding for you. I chose to ignore all of this, and thought long and hard about a wedding that reflected mine and Richards’s personalities. Richard was happy for me to design the wedding to our specification, however I wanted it to be about us and how we would like it. I did get a few funny looks from friends and families when I told them what I was doing/ designing, however they did admit to me in the end, the decorations were spectacular. This was the reason we chose the barge, they already had a few of their posters around and fairy lights in place. I believe if you design the wedding how you want it, it makes it extra special. Who cares if things don’t match, it is your day and it is something you will remember for ever!
Isn’t Sarah and Richard’s story just so wonderful, I love how they just wanted to stamp their personalities over absolutely everything. I am sure Sarah’s parents would be so proud of their beautiful daughter and Son in law, they are such a wonderfully inspiring couple!
Much Bespoke Love