A Wedding Retrospective

This weekend was my 5th wedding anniversary, so I thought I would take the opportunity to indulge myself, and you if you want to join me in looking back at my crafty wedding.   This is a bit of an epic post, apologies in advance – feel free to scroll to pics!  I will at some point add page jumps.

Our venue, Port Lympne House - in the centre of the wild animal park.

Our venue, Port Lympne House – in the centre of the wild animal park.

Only a bride to be, or a stationer, understands just how important the invites are.  They set the theme and tone for the whole wedding.  The problem is, when you’re thinking about invites, you probably haven’t even selected your flowers, finalised your dress or decided on the detail of the groom’s party waistcoats.  Whether you are making them yourself or buying them there is an element of danger to your invites!  Yes… danger!  Never underestimate the melodrama of planning a wedding!

I knew 100% that I wanted a gold/oyster coloured dress so that helped as  knew I needed to use a cream card.  Then began the search for embellishments and effects to use on the cards.  I had toyed with card making previously and liked the effect of using a patterned paper mounted and ribbon.  So began the search for the perfect paper!

I went out and bought 10-15 different patterned papers and card to try different combinations.  Strips of paper were cut and stuck to the card horizontally, vertically, mounted on coloured card then stuck on.  Ribbons in the middle, ribbons down the side, bows, sparkles, I tried it all.  Nothing was working for me.  So the invite design got put off out of pure frustration.

Then one day while wandering down Sidcup High Street in the window of the Cancer Research Shop some paper caught my eye.  They stock packs of wrapping paper, you know the ones, where you get 2 folded sheets and a couple of gift tags.  The pattern?  Vintage roses – perfect!  (I was having Cezanne roses for my bouquet.) My heart pounding with delight and pure excitement in I went.  My heart dropped, only 1 packet!  That was never going to be enough to 50+ invites.  With little hope, I asked the lady behind the counter, “please Mrs do you have more?”  I don’t actually speak like that – just having a bit of an Oliver Twist moment!  “I don’t think so, but I’ll check out the back”.  With heavy forlorn heart I thanked her and waited for the inevitable bad news.  Then… out she came carrying more!!  Yay, I could have actually done a whoop.  She had 5 packets left.  “How many would you like?” “ALL of them” I almost screamed at her!  Could this get any better?  No?  uuuuhhhhhhhh uuuuuuuhhhhhh (Family Fortunes noise!) They were £1 a pack, yes, that’s right, I got all the pretty paper for £6!  I happily paid the lady and could have floated home I was so delighted.

invite paper

Finding the perfect paper gave me a new found enthusiasm for making the invites.  As soon as I got home, out came all the supplies and I started sticking and gluing.  I still wasn’t 100% on the final design but knew the basics of what I wanted to do.  I had decided on the dimensions of everything so could make a start.  Once I had the basic invite the finishing touches came naturally.  The rose print was mounted and applied, the wording added, then the ribbon was attached.    Now I needed to add the wording inside the card.  This was going to be printed onto transparent paper and attached in the card.  This was a little tricky to get the wording placed well on the transparent.  In the end I relied on trusty photoshop to create the right size canvas.  After some trial and error I got the placement right and how the transparent needed to go into the printer.

They were printed and glued into the cards – glue mice at this stage were my nbf’s!  Gives you a nice clean line of glue but doesn’t leave lines or marks.

And that was it, the cards were done.  Or were they?  Of course they weren’t.  There was something missing.  I liked them but they seemed incomplete.  What does every wedding need?  Some sparkle!  I got some tiny stick on gems in a white/clear and a dusky pink and stuck them to the centre of some of the flowers on the card.  Not on every flower, I didn’t want to look like some swarovski party, but enough to give them a cheeky twinkle.

And now, they were done!

I actually can’t find any of the invites at the moment – even after coming across one the other day and putting it somewhere “safe”!! As soon as I find it, I’ll add a picture.  Soz!

Every good invite has inserts. I kept these simple and used the left over blank cards cut in half and trimmed down so they sat inside. We included an RSVP (with envelope), which people could also tell us which meal they wanted and to suggest some tunes. The other thing we included was a specially printed business card that had a super cheesy picture of us, our contact details and the URL for our wedding website.  I put all the maps and hotel details on here.

The Dress

Earlier I told you that I knew I wanted a gold or oyster coloured dress.  I actually knew this before I really started planning the wedding.  The reason being, I’d already kinda picked my dress!  My beautiful and very dear friend Louise was getting married and I was a bridesmaid.  Louise had decided to go bespoke and was having her dress and ours designed and made for us.  So luxurious and decadant!  The very talented Roswitha Molloy was making the dresses and on her website she had the most beautiful gold gown.  It was really simple but with a little lace jacket for detail.


This dress was perfect, but Ro was based in Dublin so logistically it didn’t make sense.  So I searched for a dress designer here in London.  Most assumed that I was looking for a copy – I was not – although Ro was even willing to share the pattern with them!  Eventually a designer referred me to Jacqueline Byrne whose style was exactly what I was looking for.   I met with Jackie, we talked ideas and fabrics – she totally understood what I was looking for and instantly put me at ease.  I just knew she was the perfect dress designer for me.

Now, having a bespoke gown made is not for the faint hearted.  It’s a long, incredibly involved and emotional process.  You agonise over the tiniest detail, the instantly change your mind.  There are fitting in toile, fittings in the basic dress structure, then changes to the shape of the neckline, the bodice, the skirt.  Don’t forget I also wanted a little jacket so, each step had to be done for both the dress and the jacket. In addition to making the dress, she would make a corset.  This serves a few purposes, it gives you an amazing silhouette, but most importantly it actually gives strapless dress the structure to stay on as it can hug you much better.

Jackie is adamant that the dress must look beautiful and spectacular from every angle.  Also, that the jacket was to look like part of the dress when it was worn, but that the dress was not to look bare without it.  It was all so precise and carefully thought through, she truly is a master of her craft.

At my one of my fittings.

At my one of my fittings.

The final dress was stunning, it took my breathe away.  An oyster gold duchess satin dress, with an oyster silk chiffon overlay which parted at the front and draped exquisitely from the button at the back into  “puddle” train.  A black velvet ribbon wrapped around the waist and cascaded to the full length of the dress.  The jacket was double layer tulle with French corded lace, hand beaded in Italy appliqued round the collars and base.  The placement of the lace painstakingly arranged and hand sewn on.  It was finished off with small capped sleeve with pearl bead edging.  To this day, I am in awe of this jacket.  Should we be lucky enough, I hope that it will become a family heirloom.

Table Plan

Louise had really raised the bar when it came to a table plan.  They hadn’t done the traditional plan of lists of names or table diagrams.  As their wedding was in the run up to Christmas, they embraced the festive spirit and had 100-ish tiny baubles all on line.  Each bauble had the person’s name and their table attached to it.  It was gorgeous – and we all wore our baubles! So, when it was my turn I really had to put my thinking cap on.  In my – many many – magazines I had seen an amazing centre piece which consisted of pussy willows with beautiful clear crystals and beads draped from them.  Now I didn’t need centre pieces, and certainly not ones of their scale.  But I liked the tree, sparkly bead idea. So some googling of “small plastic trees” later I came across a rather tacky, but totally intriguing little white plastic tree on amazon.  I ordered it and 5 days later began my task of transforming it.  I had bought a container ship of clear “crystal” beads both glass and plastic and I began to string them onto acrylic thread of varying lengths.  It soon became clear that the glass beads would be far too heavy (not to mention expensive) for the quantity I was going to need.  Each “dangle” would have between 10 -20 beads on it.  70 carefully hung bead threads later, my tree was converted in a sparkling delight.  Next I made all the name tags, these would match the name cards for the place cards (more of which next) and painted 60 tiny pegs white and attached them to the tree.

I still have this tree – it is now de-beaded but I am determined to one day again transform it into some centre piece for the home.

Table Names

I was keen on having table names rather than numbers and for once straight away knew what I wanted to do.  Being a Welsh (me) and English (Monkey) wedding I was going to use the welsh words for things like love, forever etc and have the translation in English underneath like a dictionary entry.

They were really fun to do and really easy to do as I could literally copy and paste the meanings from the dictionary!

I simply printed onto card – on both sides and hey presto table names ready to pop into the holder which the venue was supplying.

Place Cards

I don’t know how I came up with this idea, but if I’m honest, I hated it while I was making it, but loved the end result.  They truly were a labour of love.

The idea?  Peg People Place Card Holders!  On one of my jaunts to Hobbycraft, I had come across little peg dolls with top hats on.  So, I bought some, they were too quirky and interesting not too!  On the drive home, I decided these would somehow become the place card holders for the boys, and I’d get normal round head ones for the girls.  This is where the fun began.  What would they look like?  It was a wedding so there was no real question of how they should look – little brides and grooms.

They obviously needed to be clothed so the easiest option was to paint them.  I have oodles of acrylic paint, so would use that and then clear varnish them.  Easy?  No! The girls were ok, they just got their bodies painted white. Done  The boys though needed their top hats painting and then they had to have shirts.  So some masking tape later the boys had v shaped shirts.  Once they were dry I could paint the rest of the body black.  But remember, they had to dry between each step! Where was I going to put 60 peg people?  In the end I got a few shoe boxes and as I was painting them popped them on the edge to dry.

So, now they’re all painted – including spares to try out a couple of ideas.  Should they have faces?  What about hair?  How would I attach the name the them.  I drew little faces on some, that didn’t look right.  There was too much going on.  Next!  Hair.  I was going to use embroidery floss.  So it was cut to length  and fairly unceremoniously stuck to the lady’s head.  Perfect.  I toyed with giving the dolls the same hair colour as their recipient, then promptly decided no, they could all have brown hair, à la the bride.  Names, paint them on, stick them on, what would I do.  I liked the tags on the tree so in the end I simply printed more and made little ribbon loops and popped them over the dolls, held at the back with a tiny glue dot.

They were almost ready.  The girls needed veils and bouquets.  So net was cut into squares, a few stitches in one end to bring it together and it was glued on the head.  Then each bride got a little ribbon rose.    Just the boys left now, they needed a tie of some kind.  I had no intention of painting them on, but was a little stuck.  So, I went to hobbycraft!  After a little wander around all the weddingy stuff, I came across some table confetti, in it were little horseshoes, top hats, champagne glasses and …. bowties!  OMG, that was it.  20 minutes later I was home sticking little confetti bow ties on my boys.  And they were done.

They still couldn’t stand at this stage but my mum came to the rescue and via a school supplies contact got me little round peg doll stands.  These were simply painted white or black and the doll stood in it.

Peg BrideGroom

Well, that’s my little look back done and dusted.  I can honestly say I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

Now it’s time to get on with Christmas!

Boo x


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