Saturday, 27 September 2014

The ultimate DIY wedding: peaceful preparation

And finally we have it!! The big day itself. Our vision was for a fun, loving, relaxed and cuddly day. To bring a bit of glamour and vibrancy to the field, to create a sense of occasion and round it all off with a fabulously boozy and banging knees up!!

These are the first selection of wonderful photos captured by the gorgeous Anushé Low. As you can see, her style is light, airy and relaxed and exactly what we were looking for. Inundated with over 700 photos, the exercise of picking out our favourites has been agonising! (Hence it's taken me so long to share and the multiple posts to come!!) But I'm sure you'll agree that Anushé has done a fabulous job of capturing the love, fun and laughter that abounded on the day.

We did so many things for this wedding ourselves, that the few weeks leading up to it were a complete frenzy! Izzy calls me a little whirlwind on a regular day (creating a swirl of energy and chaos everywhere I go, apparently!), so I can only imagine what sort of weather phenomenon I resembled in those weeks...a full on tornado I imagine!! Anyway, I'll share those projects next, but on the morning of the wedding a calm descended on me and despite running around town, decked out with our coiffured hairdos and diamante accessories, to grab a few last minute supplies nothing seemed to be able to ruffle my feathers (thank goodness!). 

I enjoyed getting dressed up and was so pleased I'd decided to do my own makeup. We had a few practice runs, swotted up on tips from a series of makeup blogs and bought an array of fancy makeup from Selfridges to add to my collection gifts from my mother-in-law. :) I didn't go crazy and make any statements, but tried to do all the basics very very well (emphasis on the 'tried'!).

My wedding dress was designed and made by my dear Ma. It was a true labour of love and a real team effort! I'll share more about the process as it deserves it's own post it was so involved! But suffice to say, it turned out better than I could have imagined! :) My something borrowed and old were the gorgeous pearl and diamond earrings that my sister in law so kindly lent me. She had worn them on her wedding day too! I completely forgot about my something blue, but luckily realised I'd picked out some blue lacy undergarments for the day. (Not pictured!) ;) Phew!

The heart locket was a lovely gift from my God Father the evening before the wedding. I hadn't really formulated a plan as what to wear, with all the bling on the dress I had even considered going naked! But the locket was a perfect fit, bold enough and simple enough to really work with the bling rather than fight against it! It was empty on the day, but I shall definitely fill it with mini pictures of my loved ones to wear on special occasions going forwards. 

The garter was my Mum's idea - she found it in my sewing kit (I'd been planning to use the lace on it for another project!) and whipped it out on the morning! It was fun to put on but slipped down after about three steps!

The colour of choice was coral - although I really couldn't restrict us to one colour on most things!! Side note for future brides to be, pick an easy colour that isn't absolutely impossible to match!!! Izzy had a lovely silk maxi dress from Boden in coral that we jazzed up with some leftover diamantés from my dress to tie it all in.

The flower girl dress was also made from leftover silk from my dress and embellished with little coral roses. So cute! Isn't our flower girl an absolute sweetheart, she was good as gold all day! She kept telling me I had 'such a big dress!!' She would run over for a cuddle every five minutes - she certainly knew something out of the ordinary was going on and that she was a big part of it!

We arrived in our Landrover Discovery, just visible in the background there - glamorous eh?! But luckily it is super roomy inside for all those underskirts and a fetching champagne colour that went well with the colour scheme! All part of the grand plan! ;)  

This view when I finally looked up from the bottom of the path really got me. Knowing that Ben and all our guests were hiding inside, awaiting out entrance. Suddenly it all felt like a BIG DEAL. Isabella joined the wedding party and seemed to approve of us all, so we figured we must have scrubbed up ok and were fit for the day ahead!  

As we approached the steps of the church with Dad doing a fantastic job with the flowers! We had no time to catch our breath or have a pep talk amongst us. Felicity, the curate, promptly flung the doors open, announced our arrival and started off the procession. Dad and I took a big deep breath and stepped into the church...

And I'll leave it there for today! We'll be back with the service next!

A few key links below for the curious:
Photos all courtsey of Anushé Low
Isabel's coral maxi dress
Flowers ordered from the Triangle Nurseries
St Peter's and St Paul, Wadhurst
Mum's coral Topshop jacket

Thursday, 18 September 2014

DIY Wedding: Stationery part II

Next up we have the rest of the wedding related stationery. After whetting your appetites with the formal invites, I now want to share the rest of beautiful paper pieces! Namely the orders of service, menus and place names. Three cheers for yet more paper wedding paraphernalia!! No? That just me?! ;)

For the orders of service I whipped up a quick illustration of the church for the front from a grainy old black and white picture we found online. We used some of the original hand drawn artwork from the invites for the rest of the cover. It's magic what Izzy can do with a scanner and photoshop! :) The interior itself we kept very simple in black text with a decorative loose calligraphy font called Bombshell Pro for the titles. We wrapped all the finished booklets up in a variety of bright ribbons.

The beauties we pictured here have actually been on a bit of an adventure! The morning after the wedding, I realised that none of us had kept any orders of service! I was a little distraught, but figured if worst came to worst we could actually just print out some more and pretend they were original. No one would know. But I would!!! But unbeknown to me at this point, my lovely, thoughtful cousins had quickly, and thankfully, swept up all the abandoned orders of service from the church pews after the ceremony, and whisked them all back to the reception. Without quite realising it, these then made the rounds first on their family holiday to France and then all the way back up to Edinburgh, hiding in the boot of the car!!! Clever little things these!! They finally made it home with me on a flight a few weeks back, so they definitely took the scenic route!! 

The place cards were SO much fun to make! We had all these wonderful thick watercolour card cutoffs left from the invites just crying out to be turned into placecards. Naturally I turned to my watercolours and let rip with splashes of colour to create the backdrops! So liberation to splash colour around like that - the messier and artier the better! Ha!

I contrasted the whimsical delicate colour with bold black hand written calligraphy names and loved the result. Ta-dah! Job done.
Oh yeah then I wrote 99 more of them....!

Last but not least, the menus. I wanted everyone to have a personal menu - there is nothing more important than knowing how much room you need to save for pudding!! (Not a joke.) We used a similar calligraphy font for the headings combined with a quirky handwritten one and laid it all out in a tall upright orientation.

They were packed with detail on all the delicious home grown ingredients and local reared meats and hand picked cheeses that our wonderful caterers Nikki and team sourced from local farmers and producers! The three formal meal courses were laid out on the front, plus our hand picked wines on the back along with a selection of artisan cheeses and five different types of bread for midnight munchies.  Gosh, re-reading all that has got me quite peckish, again...!

Hmm, shall just see if I can find myself a little snack before bed....nom nom.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ditching refined sugar

I've never been on a real diet. Not since I was a kid and my Ma decided I needed a 6 week sugar and yeast detox. Cue a long drawn out 6 weeks of living off avocado on oat cakes and eating a pot of plain yogurt at the school lunch tables whilst longingly watching the rest of the kids tuck into jam roly-poly with custard. Oh the trials and tribulations of a 9 year old's life!

About 6 weeks before my wedding I read Lauren Brimley's blog 'Eating Whole' about ditching sugar for some reason something twigged in my mind and I decided just like that to give it a go. I know that I eat far too much sugar. It's my biggest vice, hands down. (yes my ma might have been bang on about that, all those years ago!) I wanted to prove to myself that I could live without it, if I really wanted to!  

When I got home that evening, Ben practically laughed in my face when I told him my decision. Little bit of perspective for you there - this is how much I love my puddings and treats!! But that response pretty much cemented the plan in my head, now I had to prove to both of us I could do it! So I am super pleased to report that I gave up refined sugar for 6 weeks. And I am incredibly surprised at how easy I found it!

The beauty is that you can still have sweet things...honey, fresh fruit, dried fruit, milk, natural maple syrup etc etc. These are the things that made this change in diet even vaguely feasible for me! Cutting out sweet things completely was never going I work long term, I have a sweeeet tooth! But this was sustainable. Eschewing my morning toast and jam for yoghurt and honey, I switched out my mid afternoon chocolate bar for dried or fresh fruit and went cold turkey on evening desserts. The nearest things to a sweet snack I now have is a spoonful of peanut butter! Yum!

This brings me nicely on to some of the bigger challenges I faced on this change in eating habits - hidden sugars!! They are EVERYWHERE!! And it's not until you start reading the fine print that you discover them. Finding a peanut butter with no added sugar is like the hunt for red October! And so many times I've ordered an iced coffee out only to find they've laced it heavily with sugar. Grrr! Sugar lurks in the most unlikely of places and until now it was easy to be oblivious...ketchup (isn't that just squashed up tomatoes?!), crisps (pretty much restricted to ready salted here), bread, ready meals, etc etc. And even dried fruits, cranberries, banana chips and coconut flakes, they are all proving to be super tricky to find without added sugar. That's nuts!!

I am also surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the challenge. This was completely unexpected! I never ever thought I could actually stick to a diet, let alone enjoy one. Turns out I just need rules. If I say to myself I'm going to 'eat healthier' I have no qualms about a little afternoon treat to get me through the day. But if I say no sugar, full stop, then I simply find an alternative that's natural and go with that. I practically ate my own weight in dates over those 6 weeks. I don't want I see another dried date for 6 months!!! I've also overdosed on dried mango and I think I'm about to meet the end of my relationship with Nakd bars (mostly dates and cashews mashed together!).

Plus it worked! Doing this and cutting down drastically on alcohol (plus a super streshful month in the lead up to the wedding day!) definitely leaned up my body a teensy little. Nothing drastic, just a subtle effect, in all the right places (sort of!). So, after three weeks of gluttony and indulgence over the wedding and honeymoon I'm back on the wagon. I've modified it a little to make it manageable for me - I simply get the weekends off now. Bonus!

To briefly mention the photos accompanying this post - I did NOT want to use pictures of all the sweet and yummy things I currently choosing not to eat, talk about torture! So instead I dug out these sugar free pizza pics. :) We had a pizza party with my folks last week when we experimented with our new wood fired outdoor pizza oven. Yep, you did hear that right! We now wood fire our own pizzas dontchaknow. We're fancy like that. ;) Slightly blurry pics I'm afraid, wasn't planning on sharing them here, but they were too yummy not to! :) 

Big shout out to Joanna for such a creative wedding pressie, the pizzas are rustic, woody and delicious! Plus there's nothing more fun that choosing your own pizza toppings. I'm definitely a delicate zucchini Romano pizza kind-a girl, every time! Whereas Ben always opts for a punchy anchovy and caper laden Napolitano. Now we just need to work on our Italian accents! What's your favourite pizza topping combo?!

Monday, 1 September 2014

DIY Fantastic: What's your perfect wedding stationery?

As other brides dream of their wedding dresses or fixate over their shoes, it was the stationery that I drooled over. And so, this one is BIG! It's the full complement of our wedding and I am super proud of it. The design and production and posting of our wedding stationary felt at times like a full time DIY job. Not the dry, chained to my desk bored out of your wits sort, but more one of the most rewarding, creative fun full time jobs ever! :) But still full time! I was determined to use the wedding as an opportunity to try some new things and lettepress was high up the list. Our first tasters at the LCBA here and here was awesome fun and a great success so were determined to build on it. We'll go into the detail of the design and production with you next, so without further ado I present the Needham wedding stationery, I hope you like it:

I was pretty clear from the outset what vibe we were aiming for: fun, quirky, colourful - specifically I wanted each item in a different bright, bold colour on crisp white paper for each item. I wanted them to look hand-drawn but still polished. Buzzing with life, but professional. So nothing like a delicate balance. 

The save the dates were block printed. Our forays into foil embossing were a massive Fail, yes with a capital F. I may share here when the pain has subsided! ;) and so we swiftly resorted to block printing with the metal plate! The results were not all bad. Each print looked unique, textured and imperfect. Yep that last bit bugged me, but it undeniably contributed to the handmade vibe! Plus the envelopes had a little glitter twist that made them a teensy bit more festive as they went out before Christmas (and probably covered everyone's doormats with green glitter!). 

We picked out a few things that Ben and I love - mostly things with two wheels - bicycles and scooters, since we're pretty obsessed with both! We added our wedding logo, naturally and lots of different hand written fonts to keep it casual. I'll share a bit more about the design and printing process sometime soon, this post is going to be long enough already! We kept the language pretty informal but characterful to try and imbue a sense of how we hoped the whole day would pan out. 

The invitation and RSVP themselves we printed at the fab London Centre for Book Arts in Hackney. Simon and the team there helped us through the whole process which was fabulous. In one long, but super rewarding day Isabel and I churned out over 100 prints! The presses are works of art themselves and it is such a privilege to be able to use them for creative purposes today. We hope to be able to head back there soon to undertake some more projects.

The RSVPs were possibly my favourite thing out of all the pieces. They were like homing pigeons, we sent them out into the big wide world on an adventure and slowly but surely they one by one found their way home to mama! It was a teensy bit weird finding envelopes with my own handwriting on the front each morning, but still, magical! :)

I obsessed about stamps. Postage stamps. As much as I love Her Majesty, I was determined not to use regular stamps with her mug on the front! But after much investigation and many failed visits to the post office I managed to establish that the special stamps are only issued once a month and you have to get in there quickly to get them! Armed with my new calendar of stamps I turned up at the local post office on the first day of issuance one month and cleaned them out of stamps! 

Turns out is was a celebration of British film, so we had stills from the likes of 'Bend it like Beckham', 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'Chariots of Fire etc. Not exactly the world's most romantic movies, but they were good fun and hopefully added a bit of interest when they landed on doormats around the country. It was fun playing match the stamp to the invitees and trying to guess which film would resonate best with the recipients! :)

The envelopes were an absolute mission to track down. I trawled the internet high and low for bright coral A5 envelopes as this was the 'colour' we'd chosen for the wedding. What a foolhardy decision! :s  After drawing a blank we instead opted for the brightest orange ones we could find! I had to buy them in bulk and as a result I now have a box of 150 orange envelopes and another with 150 lime green envelopes sitting discreetly under my desk just waiting for a rainy day. I'm hoping to have a flash of inspiration someday soon and put them to good use, but till then they'll act as a great little footrest under the desk. The dark green envelopes for the save the dates were much easier to track down, in fact we picked them up in the local Rymans. Phew! ;) 

The envelopes I hand lettered in a loose calligraphy with white ink. This was so much fun! As I progressed I have to admit I loosened up massively and by the end was adding all sorts of fun embellishments wherever there was space. I also discovered a preference for city addresses over country ones - turns out they are much shorter! And the one that went to Japan, that was a whole different story but suffice to say I'm impressed it even made it! :)

In part two of the wedding stationary I'll share the details of the orders of service, menus and place names. A little secret, it includes neon ribbons, watercolour and more, Ah, paper heaven! :)

I didn't get to send back my own rsvp :( but if I had, I'd have put sunshine and pavlova as my special requests, for sure! What would your one special wedding request be?