I am thrilled to be sharing this fabulous wedding with you today! One of the first images I posted to The Wedding A-List Instagram page last year was a gorgeous wedding dress from ASOS. I wrote in the caption that I’d love to see the dress styled with a big, blousy bouquet and some statement shoes, only for newlywed Stephanie to comment saying she had worn the dress at her wedding and styled it exactly as I had described. Of course, I had to see more, and I’m delighted that the lovely Stephanie and her husband Barney are the first couple to have their wedding feature on our brand new blog!
And what a wedding it is! Beautifully captured by Daniel Hughes, a brilliant photographer based in Nottingham, Stephanie and Barney’s wedding is a stunning and completely personal celebration of their love. From making all the stationery herself to having a Bake-Off competition for guests, Stephanie thought through every detail and created a unique and truly beautiful day. As for that ASOS dress? Stephanie looks incredible!
I’ll let Stephanie tell you about the day in her own words – she’s described it all beautifully and in wonderful detail, so grab a cuppa and enjoy! If you’re planning a wedding at the moment, make sure to read her excellent of advice at the end – this is one very wise bride!
Thank you so much Stephanie and Barney for sharing your day and being our first ever Real Wedding – we are truly honoured to feature such a gorgeous wedding!
HOW THEY MET
We went to school together and became good friends during the last two years of school. We then moved onto different colleges and officially got together a year later. We have been together since we were young and sweet, only seventeen! (May 2009 – nearly 9 years!)
We got engaged in Stratford-Upon-Avon in May 2016. We had booked the trip together to celebrate our anniversary but Barney has sneakily booked a few additional activities along the way that I was unaware of!
He surprised me with a trip out onto the River Avon in a little rowing boat. He rowed us up the river to a secluded spot surrounded by countryside. Barney got down on one knee in the rowing boat (without capsizing us!) and proposed to me.
How I felt in that exact moment is a feeling I’ll never forget – pure joy, excitement and love. I always knew that I would marry Barney and my answer has been “yes” for many years.
We got married at St Werburgh’s Church in Spondon, Derby.
Our reception was held at The Walled Gardens at Beeston Fields, Nottingham.
Our wedding had a botanical theme with bohemian fabrics. We both love lots of greenery and bright colours – it gives such a fresh feeling, full of life.
Barney wasn’t really interested in the decoration side of things. He gave me full reign to create my own vision, something which I loved doing and it allowed me to get back in touch with my creative side. I roped in my Mum for help and together we designed and created something completely unique that we were both very proud of.
We didn’t follow a strict colour theme – I chose a selected of colours I liked and we subtly weaved them through in different ways. I wasn’t interested in everything matching or following set colours – I chose plants and fabrics I loved and Mum and I found ways for the colours to complement each other.
Throughout the planning process I was continually asked by friends, family and colleagues, “What’s your colour theme?” and when I replied, “Well, we don’t really have one…” I was greeted with looks of confusion and slight shock. What on earth were we doing not having a colour theme?! I found myself defending my decision to break tradition, as if I were doing something wrong.
However, I stuck to my guns and what Mum and I did create was beautiful – we even had a little cry when we had finished setting everything up the day before. Our wedding style was enjoyed and appreciated by our guests and, as one of my close friends commented, “Steph, this is so you!” Mission accomplished!
We really wanted to create a wedding that reflected us as a couple – relaxed, happy and bursting with love. We were determined not to get swept away by wedding madness, instead staying true to ourselves as a couple and only including elements that were important and meaningful.
Stephanie wore the gorgeous Lace Burn Out Maxi Dress from ASOS Bridal.
It is incredibly unique and effortlessly beautiful. It was also an absolute bargain!
Stephanie did her own make-up and chose Sarah from The Makeover Lounge in Sandiacre to do her hair.
Sarah has been my hairdresser since I was about thirteen years old, and I knew she’d do a fantastic job. I chose a bohemian style, with lots of messy entwined plaits and loose hair around my face. I decided to do my own make up (with a little help from my bridesmaids). I know I could achieve the look I wanted without paying for a professional.
Stephanie and Barney bought their wedding rings from Marlow’s Diamonds at The Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.
Barney bought my beautiful engagement ring from this jeweller so it seemed right to buy our wedding rings from here too.
THE WEDDING PARTY
I chose my two sisters as my bridesmaids. They wore dresses from Nine by Savannah Miller.
I can’t actually remember who chose them in the end! We never did the whole ‘trip out together to try on endless dresses followed by lunch’. Instead we all just kept an eye out until we stumbled across the right one!
Barney had one best man (Stephen) who is a good friend from university. He had two Ushers (Dan and Sean) who we’ve both known since school and who have seen our journey together since the beginning.
Daniel Hughes is a warm and friendly guy and also a true professional. His communication with us was excellent and he completely understood what we wanted from our photographs, which are absolutely stunning!
We chose Sweet Williams because it is a local business with a good reputation.
I chose a large botanical bouquet with hints of orange and dark pink. I wanted lots of greenery with subtle hints of colour. No roses, peonies or gyspophilia were allowed (yuk!)
My vision was very particular and Sue executed it perfectly. She did an exceptional job and created such beautiful bouquets.
I spotted The Burgundys playing at a venue I was attending as a guest and loved them, so I enquired about them performing at our wedding.
Rob and the guys were absolutely fantastic – very talented and really lovely!
Hiring a band was one of the best decisions we made because it created such a brilliant atmosphere and the dance floor was packed all evening! They played two sets and then DJ’d for the rest of the night, following our pre-selected playlist to a T!
The reception venue, The Walled Gardens at Beeston Fields, provided the catering.
We had a barbeque! It gave a lovely relaxed atmosphere which was very important to us. We also had an ice cream bike for pudding and pizza in the evening.
Our wonderful friends and family baked a selection of cake-related goodies.
We decided to have a ‘Bring a Bake’ style table that showcased the baking talents of our guests. We asked a small number of people to bake us a cake (or cakes!) and on the day we chose our favourite cake to cut – a grand gingerbread cake with a personalised gingerbread bride and groom, and a gingerbread church!
We were not interested in spending money on a car so my Dad drove me to the church, and he drove us both to The Walled Gardens after our service. It was so lovely to have that extra time with Dad, especially on the drive to The Walled Gardens.
We didn’t pay anything for stationery. I designed and handmade all our Save the Dates, invites and Orders of Service and signs myself.
THE WEDDING MORNING
I got ready at my Mum and Dad’s house – a very relaxed and low key morning. We went to our local hairdressers at 8.30am to have our hair done. We were back home in plenty of time to do our make up and put our dresses on.
Barney got ready at his Dad’s house with his best man – again very low key and chilled!
We had a traditional church service with a modern twist, reflected in our song choices and personalised ‘journey’, read by the vicar.
I walked down the aisle to ‘The One You Love’ by Passenger. I’ve loved Passenger for many years, after being introduced to him by my sister Eleanor. The lyrics to this song are spot on and every time I hear it playing I get goose bumps.
We had two worship songs – ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ and ‘The Power of Your Love’. Having attended church for a large part of my life I knew that I wanted modern songs because they create so much feeling.
We had traditional Church of England wedding vows. They encompassed everything we wanted.
We scoured the Bible for readings that were relevant to use a couple. We chose Song of Solomon 2: 8-17 and Colossians 3: 12-14
We walked back up the aisle to ‘I Got Love’ by The King Blues. Barney and I love this band and we’ve seen them play live in Sheffield. ‘I Got Love’ is a fun song all about celebrating the love in your heart. Hearing this song play in church was brilliant and it got everyone clapping and dancing!
We styled our reception venue with lots of potted flowers, cacti and succulents, and ivy.
We used brightly coloured table clothes and plant pots, and our stationery followed a botanical theme.
My mum cared for all the plants prior to the big day and we set everything up the afternoon before. Our seating plan was arranged on wooden crates adorned with flowers and ivy.
We handmade/grew(!) the majority of our decorations and it was a real explosion of colour, pattern and life!
We were not interested in having favours. We greatly appreciated the presence of our loved ones without feeling the need to give them a gift to show this.
The marquee was adorned with a variety of potted plants and guests were invited to choose some to take home at the end of the night if they wished.
1st – Father of the Bride – Jonathan
2nd – Best Man – Stephen
3rd – Barney – Groom
We ignored the traditional order of speeches and chose to have Barney’s speech at the end – this rounded up the speeches nicely. Each speech was no more than ten minutes long which was a perfect length.
THE FIRST DANCE
Our first dance was a salsa routine to ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran.
We secretly put a salsa routine together and wowed our guests with something a bit different! It was tremendous fun and a real highlight for us.
THOUGHTS ON WEDDING PLANNING
Overall our wedding planning process was very relaxed! We tackled jobs little and often, allowing progress to be made without having to organise everything at once.
I loved designing and collecting decorations for the reception venue and finding Barney’s gorgeous suit was a highlight (yes we went together to choose it!).
Pinterest gave me lots of ideas and I also enjoyed browsing Instagram for inspiration.
The last few days before our wedding were a bit stressful but that’s because I wanted everything to be perfect and all loose ends to be tied up before our big day.
THE BEST BIT
We wouldn’t change a thing! We stayed true to ourselves in all the decisions we made and we created an absolutely beautiful day.
The whole day was an absolute dream and we both loved and savoured every minute.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
Dare to be different! You can get so caught up in what is ‘expected’ from a wedding and before you know it you can be paying silly amounts of money for things you don’t really want. Don’t be afraid to say “no!” or choose something different. Traditions are lovely but if they aren’t what you want then don’t follow them.
You don’t have to buy your wedding dress from a bridal boutique – there are lots of beautiful dresses available on the high street and online for a fraction of the price (and it saves you stripping down to your knickers in front of multiple shop assistants whilst they try to squeeze you into yet another overpriced dress!)
You don’t have to pay silly amounts of money for a cake that you’re going to spend thirty seconds cutting and then be too drunk to eat!
You don’t have to arrive at your venue in an expensive car (when who sees it anyway because the bride is the last to arrive?!)
You don’t have to stress over finding meaningful favours that everyone leaves behind at the end of the night anyway. Thank your guests with love instead.
Prioritise what you truly want and stick to it.
Make your wedding all about YOU. Make it reflect everything you love about each other and the love you share as a couple. Putting our own unique stamp on our wedding was the best decision we made and our guests loved it too.
In terms of wedding admin, do it little and often e.g. something every other weekend. This will keep everything ticking along nicely whilst preventing too much stress building up.
Your wedding day is celebration of your love for each other and your union together. Make sure this is at the centre of your special day and make decisions that are right for you as a couple.