I have the most gorgeous real wedding to share with you today! Katie and Becky got married at the lovely Stirk House in Lancashire. The couple met at University where they were both studying English and Drama - and they wanted to reflect their shared passions in their wedding decor. Their day is full of beautiful personal touches - book-lovers, get those pinning fingers ready!
The couple chose Rachel Joyce as their wedding photographer - and her stunning images have really captured all the emotion, joy and love that radiates from this wedding. And of course, the fact that both brides looked absolutely beautiful! If you're getting married in the North of England and looking for a photographer who can take relaxed, natural photographs packed with emotion, you must check out Rachel's work.
Becky and Katie's reflections on the challenges they faced when planning their wedding, and the heternormativity of the wedding industry, really resonated with me. There really does need to be so much more inclusivity, diversity and representation in this industry, and it's certainly something I want to, and will, do better.
Anyway, I will hand over to Katie and Becky now to tell you all about their gorgeous wedding. Thank you both so much for sharing your day with us! xx
HOW THEY MET
We met in September 2009. It was our first day of University, I was sat in a lecture and Becky came in late. I remember exactly what she was wearing and how her hair was. Neither of us believe in love at first sight, and it was more lust than anything else. We were on the same course, studying English and Drama, it was a small course less than 20 of us and we became a quite tight knit group. Our course friends had told Becky how much I fancied her and she wasn't in the least bit interested, still hung up on her ex-girlfriend and being far too into being angsty and artistic. And anyway, I was far too loud and abrasive, my lust was unrequited and she became known as Beautiful Becky. We became friends and grew closer, we both had other relationships and remained friends. We were both from the same city in Lancashire so we managed to see each other in our summer breaks, we went for a picnic in a country park between our first year and second year of uni - I considered it our first date. Although we got "friendlier" a few times over the next year and a half we remained friends. That was until one day after I'd stayed at Becky's over night (honestly just as friends), she text me to tell me that she had feelings for me and she wanted us to be more than just friends. The rest, they say, is history!
5 and a half years after getting together, we'd booked to go on an all inclusive holiday to Turkey. We were all ready go, had all of our holiday clothes when suddenly my sister passed away. There were no warning signs, she had a sudden cardiac arrest and was gone. I can't describe the heartbreak, shock and devastation that hit our family. This was the week before we were due to fly away, after some discussion we decided to cancel the holiday. During that week we were in our kitchen at home and Becky started crying, differently to how we'd been crying all week. She told me that she'd planned to propose on that day, when we should have been on a beach at sunset. She went on to tell me that the last thing she'd spoken to my sister about was telling her that she was going to propose and how happy Claire had been for us. She said she would propose to me when the time is right. One seemingly normal Saturday morning in late November, Becky suggested we went for a walk, something we do quite regularly, so nothing out of ordinary. She suggested we went to a local country park, it was a beautiful frosty morning, the sun was out and we thought we'd make the most of it. We went for our walk and went all the way round talking about this and that, and remembering the first time we'd come here together, for a picnic, our first date. Becky suggested we go and find the spot where we'd had that picnic and when we found it, she got down on one knee and asked me to marry her.
THE WEDDING VENUE
Stirk House, Nr Gisburn, Lancashire.
We're gay atheists, so getting married in a church was never even discussed. We wanted to get married and have our reception all in one place, and we also wanted our friends and family to be able to stay there. Stirk House was the first place we looked, it was beautiful, had a separate room for the ceremony and reception, it was a great size, but above all the staff made us feel relaxed and comfortable they were flexible with what we wanted to do and made us feel like if we wanted something, they would make it happen for us. We looked at a few other places that really didn't make us feel that way, so Stirk House won out easily.
Our wedding was literary themed. We met studying English and Drama, so books were a natural go to theme. We wanted to have OUR wedding, we wanted everything to be so us and have as much of our relationship and our passions included as possible. (Katie is also a huge Harry Potter fan, so tried to sneak as MUCH in as possible!)
We knew we were never going to have a huge budget, so when we started planning we priorities 3 things that were most important to us. These were the things we weren't willing to compromise on and we knew we'd be happy to pay for.
For us, our priorities were -
1. Venue - we wanted everything to be in one place, so we needed somewhere big enough, with good food, that had a relaxed feel and would work for us.
2. Photographer - after the wedding, you're left with the marriage (which so far is going well!) but you're also left with the photos, and that's it. We wanted something contemporary and hopefully timeless. We both love documentary style photos
3. Entertainment - We wanted people to have FUN.
Katie - Dress from Gown Bridal in Chorley.
I'm not a size 10, I'm never going to be and I don't want to be. I didn't want to try on sample dresses that I'd be squeezing into and not really getting an idea of how a dress might look. Gown Bridal was friendly and their sample dresses are for the larger figure and Sally and Beryl were really friendly. I really liked different parts of two dresses I tried on, so they designed me a bespoke dress, they even added pockets in for me. It was lovely!
Becky designed my engagement ring herself, it's from Alba Rose.
For our wedding rings, my dad gave us a bracelet that had been his grandfather's watch chain and was given to him by his father. We wanted to use this gold for our wedding bands and these were made by Michael Robert Jewellers. We kept the name plate from my dad's bracelet and put a new chain on it, I gave him this on the morning of our wedding.
THE WEDDING PARTY
Bridesmaid dresses from Dorothy Perkins, they wore their own shoes.
Bridesman/Flower man wore a suit from Matalan.
Best Man, and Fathers of the Brides wore suites from Matalan. We went to a popular high street shop to hire them and had a homophobic experience. We were so disappointed and we found these suits for the same price as it would be to them, and the men can keep them afterwards!
We saw Rachel's images and fell in love with them. We had no doubts she would capture our day and us exactly as we are. We met her before booking and we felt so relaxed and comfortable. She's warm and friendly and funny. Rachel was down to earth and got that our wedding was about getting people together and having a party far more than it being pristine and sleek.
I LOVED THESE FLOWERS. Our literary themed wedding called for paper flowers. They are one of the things I am happiest about. I knew I wanted paper flowers and wanted them to be personal. I found Fleurever on Facebook and we started messaging. I must have done their heads in because I kept thinking of different things I wanted to include of have. The book pages were Harry Potter pages from the chapter The Wedding (another way to sneak it in), there were buttons with the names of family members who had passed away in my bouquet, this meant that I could take those people with my down the aisle.
Becky had a fancy buttonhole to give her some difference from the other people with buttonholes. My bridesmaids had smaller bouquets, and my usherettes had flower wands, with actual Harry Potter wands. And what's more, they will last forever!!
THE HAIR AND MAKE-UP
Ward Cosmetics were fantastic! Becky doesn't wear make-up normally, she didn't want to look unlike herself and she didn't want a particularly girly experience. George at Ward Cosmetics got it totally, he was great with her, listened in her trial and people could not stop commenting on how great she looked. Becky was let down when her hairdresser disappeared 3 weeks before the wedding. Headit in Leyland stepped into save the day.
Katie - Hair and Make-up by The Dollz.
The Dollz do both hair and make-up and I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, I also love the airbrush makeup .
Wedding cake by Best Man's mum, cheese cake by Katie's dad.
The cakes weren't top of our priority list and we just wanted to keep it simple. Our friends and family wanted to help us out and we are very grateful.
We'd seen them at our friends' wedding in 2014 and they were incredible. We wanted a live band because we just wanted people to DANCE. We were really happy with them, they were flexible to what we wanted and really made our party!
Becky designed all our stationery. We wanted to save money on this! Very few people really care about your stationery other than you!
For our wedding favours we gave everyone a book, we also got everyone personalised keyrings with their name on one side and the date of our wedding on the other. These were tied onto the book and so also acted as our name places. They were great, well priced, and a lasting reminder for everyone of our day. They were made by Trilogy Lasercraft.
Venue Dressing by Creative Events - this was more expensive than we were hoping it would be but it made a huge impact.
We wanted to carry our book theme throughout our wedding. Our centrepieces were stacks of books, we had books on the bar and in the loos. We had little jars with tealights and fairy lights everywhere. It wasn't boho it wasn't chic it was relaxed and warm. Just like us and our wedding.
THE WEDDING MORNING
Katie - Our party drove up to Stirk House that morning and got ready there. We took loads of food and kept grazing all morning, had the music on and just had a relaxing morning together. At that time there was nothing more we could do, I knew I'd planned really hard and no amount of stressing would make anything change so I just enjoyed spending time with my bridesmaids and mum.
Becky - Got ready at our house about an hour away from the venue, she's most comfortable at home so that worked well and then our bridesman drove her up to the venue with plenty of time to have a drink at the bar before the ceremony.
We tailored the civil ceremony to exactly what we wanted. We had it in the order we wanted and again tried to put as much of ourselves in as possible. We were really keen to include our friends and family as much as possible While we were serious about the commitment we made to each other, we wanted to have fun.
Katie's cousin Rachel played piano while guests came in. Katie walked down the aisle to We Ride by Missy Higgins. While signing the register Katie's cousins Rachel played the piano and Jess sang Your Song and the theme tune from the children's TV show Arthur. We walked back up the aisle to Mae.
Our friend Amee read Love is a Temporary Madness from Captain Corelli's Mandolin - the same extract we'd read at her wedding a few years earlier. Becky's cousin read The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
Our favourite part of church weddings is the hymns, where everyone gets to sing together. We wanted to have our own version of that, so as a congregation we sang Can't Help Falling in Love with You by Elvis and Rachel played the piano for us.
We studied poetry and wrote poetry at Uni. Words are important to us. We're not traditional or mushy, we're realistic that things aren't always going to be sunshine and rainbows. There wasn't an option that fit with us other than writing our own vows. We each wrote them and didn't share them with each other until that moment. Becky went first, she wrote basically spoken word poetry - her vows blew everyone away, even the registrar who had never met us was crying!
Katie's vows were nice and all but didn't really compare. Becky described this as 'her moment' - she says that I got a big white dress and the attention but this was her moment. People are still taking about her vows months later. It was a GREAT way to make our wedding about us. We weren't taking part in some ancient patriarchal ceremony system. This was us, standing in front of the people we love the most, saying that we will love and take care of one another as equals.
Married at 2.30pm
Canapes and drinks - 3pm
Photos - 4pm
Seating and speeches - 4.30pm
Dinner - 5pm-6.30pm
Evening guests - 7.30pm
Cake cutting - 8pm
First dance - 8.15pm
Both fathers of the brides, we did a joint speech, and then Becky's best man. We made a point in our speech of raising a glass for all those who had supported LGBT people's right to marry who they love. At the start of our relationship it would not have been legal and even is some parts of the UK it is not recognised. We wanted to thank those who had stood by LGBT people and singed petitions or gone on marches to make our love equal to theirs. We wanted to use this platform in front of 80 people to say thank you.
THE FIRST DANCE
Always a Woman by Billy Joel, sang by our friend Sally. Again we wanted to bring our friends and family into our day and found the song to be a realistic and not too soppy.
THE BEST BIT
The whole thing was amazing. There isn't anything I'd do any differently. I'm so happy with how everything went. I found the bit where we were trying to get everyone together for 'formal' photos a bit stressful, but I think it always will be, and I'm so happy with the photos we got, they're so great.
THOUGHTS ON WEDDING PLANNING
We did enjoy planning it. We felt like there were really busy times and times that you were doing nothing apart from saving money. I'm glad we had our priorities agreed it helped keep costs in perspective, we even came in under budget.
I went on Pinterest a bit. But it was mostly all just from our own imagination. We didn't want to try to have something that didn't look quite as good (and it never does) so we didn't try. We did it all our own way.
As a same sex couple we came up against a LOT of heteronormativity. EVERYTHING was Mr and Mrs, Bride and Groom, Mr Right and Mrs Always Right. Not just in decorations, or stationery, but on every form we had to fill in, and in the way we, and particularly Becky, was treated. It's 2018, and the world is more and more accepting of LGBT love. It's about time the wedding industry took a look at how inclusive it is. If you're a same sex couple getting married, expect to come up an uphill battle. Please don't shy away from pointing out that this doesn't fit you, and not that you don't fit it.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
1. Agree your priorities and stick to them.
2. Don't do something because there's an expectation. If someone says "Well traditionally...", "Ususally...", "What's meant to happen...", ignore them. This is your wedding, it's your story, it's you two getting married. Do it your way.