John proposed on our 22-month anniversary. After a lovely meal at the restaurant where we celebrated our first month’s anniversary John got down on one knee (after bumping the table to ensure everyone was looking) and simply said “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?” I nodded and started crying.
I loved planning our wedding. John and I live in London; he’s English and I’m American. Our wedding quickly became a huge mix of US and UK customs, traditions and planning. A week after the proposal we were headed to Arizona to visit my parents. While there, my mom and I went dress shopping. I didn’t expect to find something so soon, but after the second store, I had my dress. We chose to get married in England as I wanted to be hands-on in the plans, and we are planning to re-locate to the US after the wedding. It seemed only fair!
As soon as we saw Northbrook Park we fell in love with the venue. It’s not too far from where John grew up and has the perfect English garden charm, near enough to London for visitors, but far enough out of the city that you get the English countryside feeling. I love crafting and making things, and really enjoyed to getting hands on with our wedding. We solidified our ideas around a garden theme and the words “Love in Bloom.” I created a design that we had screen printed on tote bags for our out-of-town welcome gifts, and the words crept into several elements of the day. I couldn’t decide on just one color, so we had three, and I put each of my bridesmaids in a different color and my bridesman in a matching bowtie.
I had had my eye on the amazing Marianne Taylor before we actually got engaged, and we were lucky enough to enjoy a fabulous engagement shoot with her prior to our big day. She did an amazing job of capturing the feelings behind the day.
We had a Humanist ceremony in the stunning walled garden filled with blooms, and true to English weather it rained! Luckily we got through ¾ of the ceremony before the umbrellas had to come out. Our pet rabbit, Shakespeare, joined us for the ceremony with a fabulous carrot corsage by Fairynuff. As part of our ceremony we included the old European tradition of hand-binding, where your hands are tied together with a cord. The handbinding cord is meant to stay tied forever as a symbol of the union (this is where “tying the knot” comes from). It was really important to me that our handbinding cord represent our families coming together, so I created a delicate custom cord using lace from my mother’s and grandmother’s wedding dresses and a piece of re-constructed crochet from John’s mother and a piece of lace from his sister.
We created two memorial chairs for John’s parents who have passed away, choosing a small token we remembered them by along with some flowers. I also designed, printed, and individually cut scalloped edges (!) for the programs as well as creating the seating signs, and folders for the reading folders.
Unfortunately, a few of our “games time” activities got scrapped due to the rain, but our amazing coordinator Andri and her team kept everything behind the scenes running smoothly on the day. We were still able to have our dress-up photo booth and our pick-n-mix candy buffet and no one knew any different. We wanted to keep a rustic feel and hung the frames with rope from a tree, along with a few bottles holding flowers dotted about. Guests loved the mix of US and UK sweets for the candy table (we had a battle over who had the “real” Smarties – in the UK Smarties are M&M-like sweets and the US they are sugar candies that come in a roll.)
We kept to the theme of US/UK and served mini burgers and mini fish and chip. One of my favorite things was that we served the mini fish and chips in newspaper cones that we made with personal stories, the Thealey Times. We kept finding people unrolling the cones to read all of the stories! On the back of the place cards at dinner I also included wedding customs and trivia. It was a great way to get the families to mingle.
I loved sourcing things for our wedding, whether from antique shops, French flea markets, or the side of a dumpster(!) Our flat became overflowing with wedding things from the vintage scales to the bowler hat, to many photo frames and loads of small glass bottles. EBay actually became a great resource in the last few weeks of planning: I found our console table, letter box, plant stand, umbrellas, candy, and loads of odds and ends. Very few things were hired in, and I found that making things ourselves or sourcing was a great way to save a bit too!
For the reception we wanted bring the garden inside and onto the tables; Steph from Fairynuff created amazing centerpieces of mixed plants and herbs in various metal pots. Our favors were multi-colored vintage glass bottles (that I collected from numerous sources) to be used as bud vases, and I tied name tags on with various strings and lace. We named the tables after our favorite parks and gardens, and provided children’s activity packs for the kids with things like vintage yo-yos and bedtime books.
For our guest book we wanted something a bit unique. I had recently gotten into quilting, and was planning to make a wedding quilt, so we decided to incorporate our guests signatures into the quilt. I went through creating at least 7 different quilt patterns before choosing a very simple horizontal stripe pattern that would allow guests to write on one of five long narrow strips of fabric that will be sewn into a queen-size bed quilt. The last two strips with writing will be filled in with our vows.
Both John and I have a background in dance, so we convinced our bridal party to help us out with a surprise twist to our first dance…which quickly made its way to YouTube: http://youtu.be/YOVWWhTTctQ It was so much fun, and made a great memory. The day was absolutely magical, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Someone commented that it had our fingerprints all over it, and that is exactly how we wanted it to be.
Photography: Marianne Taylor Photography / Day-of Coordination: Always Andri / Cake: Ema Cakes / Flowers: Fairynuff /Ceremony and Reception Location: Northbrook Park / Invitations: “Petal Clusters” by Wedding Paper Divas / Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Dress: “Lucy” Vineyard Collection, Priscilla of Boston / Earrings: Haute Bride / Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids