Thursday, 11 August 2016

Our Wedding Day at South Farm // March 2016

I've spent a while thinking about this post before writing about our wedding day. Its been nice spending the last few months replaying it in our minds and reminding ourselves of little things that happened, and I've embraced that. I don't really expect anyone to read this post, but I hope in the years to come I'll look back at it almost as a little memoir of our wedding. I'm notorious for my shockingly poor memory, so its a chance to relive it in future, I suppose. 

As wedding photographers, we see a lot of wedding venues. I hadn't grown up thinking of wedding dresses and husbands, I was more interested in boyish things. In the few fleeting thoughts I'd had in the past, I'd thought of a Bentley, grand hotel setting a la 'Sex and the City' and all that jazz. In reality, after Dan proposed I couldn't really have thought of much worse. We had recently shot a wedding that Winter at South Farm, and we felt like we were home amongst the piglets and humble setting. As a newly engaged couple, we mentioned South Farm straight away but due to the price, it was looking bleak. After a half-arsed look around at other venues we loved, we were only reminded more of South Farm. So, we swapped our idea of Saturday in June, to a Thursday in March, just to make it affordable (it actually made a huge difference). We've had a lot of advice from our previous clients and couples, and one that we reminded ourselves of often was to think purely of ourselves and what we want, rather than what might please, or look good to others. If we thought too much of others, we'd be in a venue we didn't really love, closer to the church, just to make sure it was on a Saturday, meh. 

Fond memories of tying those pom poms onto the tree the day before, catching branches and tying them on with my dad, and one of our ushers and buddies, Ant. South Farm is booked pretty much every single day, so we were amazingly lucky to be allowed in the day before to set up, thanks to their renovations. We took an entourage and got the whole place set up in a couple of hours. So much adrenaline, and we were so humbled by the help from our nearest and dearest; as much as I hated them asking me to tell them what to do! 

Venue booked, t'was time to find our vendors so we could relax and focus on buying our house before sorting the finer details. Dan was keen to be involved and I was relieved to learn this, although no amount of coercing could encourage him to pay an interest in flowers. I was happy to take charge of this, naturally. Choosing the vendors was the easy part really; Our gorgeous photographer Binky (and Sally), florist, band and the likes fell nicely into place and I wondered if it was meant to be this easy (ha, fool). I was, however, pained looking for a hair and make up artist that made me feel 100% confident. I stumbled across Kristina Gasperas and all of a sudden nobody matched up. She invited me to model for her to 'try her out,' and I was sold. She's one of the very few make up artists I've seen recently who wasn't blindly following the trends, and instead seems to really apply an individual approach to features. I trusted her so much that I booked her recommendation and pal, Kasia Fortuna, for hair. They cost a lot more than I originally wanted to pay, but I wasn't going to hand money over to anyone who made me feel like I could probably do something similar myself. And I really didn't want to be messing with liquid eyeliner on what I anticipated to be the most nerve wracking morning ever. 

Thing is, I overthink things, a lot. I make hasty decisions without thinking things through, and then I overthink them, and change my mind a lot. I dare say our florist, Charlie, might agree. I've been known to totally overreact, panic, and then all of a sudden after everything erupts, things disperse, and I don't care anymore. This was repeated on an exaggerated scale for over two years of planning. Dan really is a patient, forgiving man sometimes. I even bought two wedding dresses.

I really didn't want to walk down the aisle. I was certain I'd need a wee, I'd slip, or I'd cry and ruin my expensive make up. Truth be told, I just didn't want people to look at me. It was an embarrassing prospect, incredibly daunting, and it took a long time to get over that. I suggested we walk down the aisle together, and whilst Dan agreed it was a cute idea, he wanted to keep things traditional. The church wedding was 'his thing,' so I agreed, with reassurance. I told myself that seeing his face would make it worthwhile, and hoped he'd like my second chosen, final dress. You know, it was incredibly difficult to keep the dress from him, when he's always the first person I ask 'does this look okay?' before I step out. Strange. 

My biggest chunk of advice to future brides, and grooms, is to face a little fear, if it is just fear that stands in the way... All morning I was super relaxed, feeling like it wasn't quite real, and I feel like two years of emotions hit me as soon as he, and everyone turned round to see me and my Dad walk down the aisle. Worth it. Truth be told, the slippery floor didn't cross my mind, my bladder was forgotten, and the tears on the edge of my eyes were luckily held back by pure excitement to get to the end of the aisle. I didn't even notice the entrance music I'd spent ages choosing. In a single moment, all of the anxiety that I've ever carried on my shoulders disappeared. Seeing everyone smile at me, really smile, including my brothers and Pete from work who has only ever taken the piss, instilled me with a confidence I will never forget. Four months later, if I ever wonder whether my friends really like me, if I look like a rotten tomato, or where the hell I'm going in life, I think back to that moment and honestly, I'm okay. I realise thats probably incredibly humdrum, but so be it.

The night before the wedding I couldn't sleep at all for thinking of Dan's face. I attempted to sleep on a sofa bed with my maid of honour, in my old bedroom that we'd turned into a bit of a bridal suite. We'd actually planned a chilled out night before, getting our nails done with a light dinner, and 'Bridesmaids' on DVD but somehow it turned into chaos with KFC and I needed to go to bed as soon as we put the film on. I stopped tossing and turning at maybe 3-4am and my mum followed me downstairs to watch the tv on mute with a cup of tea. Roll on 6.30am and I was outside waving Kasia in to start hair prep. 
With my panicky ways, I was sure I'd be a bridezilla. Yes, I was worried about being a bridezilla, as well. I was literally worried about worrying! I think I did okay, for me it felt like a really laid back morning and I enjoyed that period. I don't really remember too much of that morning. I do remember a FaceTime call from Cerys, the camper vans turning up almost two hours early, the flowers turning up and blowing me away, and Dans pal and our videographer Dean, texting to apologise for being late when I wasn't expecting him for an hour yet. My niece Abigail was her usual inquisitive self and lots of lectures were given that morning. Also, Dan gifted me a freakin' Mulberry (though he slipped and told me a few weeks before), and each of my bridesmaids gave me a little card from him at 'key' points in the morning. When we arrived at the church, Reverend Steve was stood outside with the final one. Bless him. Somehow we were ahead of schedule for most of the morning, and then all of a sudden we were in a mad rush to leave and I haphazardly stuck my veil in on my way out of the door. 

Anyway, here are a bunch of random bits and bobs about our wedding day, with a bunch of random tips, photos, and snippets from our Cheerz album. One day I'll be glad I did this, I'm sure. 

In a bid to save a bit of money, I made all of the stationary myself. I'm in no way good at this kind of thing, so it took ages, but we got there in the end and I was thrilled with the outcome. Dan wanted his favourite colour 'green' in our wedding, so I went with that as a starting point. You'll see a subtle Minnie and Mickey, too! Just because Dan proposed in Disneyland Paris.

Ah, the flowers. Charlie from The Flower Fairies was just incredible, she really is the creme de le creme of floristry. I felt a little bad for her throughout the process of working with me. I showed her some pictures of other bouquets she'd previously done that I loved, and asked for something similar but with anemones added. And then a bit more 'pink.' And then some of the 'brighter berries' to brighten it up a bit more. But not too bright. Sorry Charlie. Somehow what she presented was a million times better than I could've imagined, and she was really helpful and suggestive throughout. 

When the flowers turned up, my maid of honour encouraged me to go and see them. I was getting my eye make up done at the time and told her it'd be fine, I didn't need to see, here I was being a super chilled out bride, etc, etc. She was adamant that I saw them and I'm glad she made me - I'm so glad I got to hug Charlie and thank her personally. I don't think I was prepared for how perfect the flowers were going to be, and on that morning they were suddenly so significant. I now have everything I 'need,' to go and meet the man I am to marry - and I'm so excited!

Guys, pick suppliers you trust, and then let yourself trust them. If you're confident in your decision that you've chosen the right suppliers, you should be able to trust that they probably know a lot better than you do. If you're a class-A worrypot like me, its pretty hard to hand over the reigns, even though you know you'd do a crap job on your own. So find the right guys. 

Ah, the second dress. I bought my first in a sale and felt a little over-excited and hastily bought a dress that I never really wanted. I somehow convinced myself otherwise. 
I always said that I didn't really fancy satin, or lace. Truthfully, I saw myself in a Reem Acra style, floaty, boho dress with cap sleeves. It took almost a year of pointless reassurance from friends and family to finally admit to myself that I didn't like that dress, and now I can't stand to look at it. I'm truly too good at lying to myself. I went to Serendipity Bridal in Northampton with less expectation and a lot less people/opinions by my side, and was honest about the other dress. I was conscious that they'd think I was just eager to play dress up, but I never got that vibe from them, and Becca picked this dress out for me after the ones I picked out for myself turned out to be a little naff. Again nothing like I thought I'd end up in, but it turns out the style of dress I love just doesn't make me feel swishy enough (oh, and hips). 

Let your mind remain open when you're dress shopping, and be honest with your feelings. Have a good look at yourself and listen to how you feel about the dress before you step out in front of 'your entourage,' and I swear it will make so much of a difference to your whole experience. Wear nice knickers because someone is going to see them.

For the bridesmaids, I knew I'd be going for wrap dresses, purely because they seemed to be flattering on everyone and I liked that they could decide how to wrap them. They were originally going to be sage green, but we saw these ones on sale at a wedding fayre and as impulsive as I am, bought them there and then. I think they turned out pretty awesome, and the flowers tied them together beautifully. My maid of honours bright coral dress was the reason for adding 'some more pink,' to the bouquets, to even them out somehow. 

Kristina and Kasia - Absolutely, 100% the best in the business. Dan had booked a bridal make up course with Kristina for my make-up, but we had to cancel it. This will, from this day on, be my 'one day,' thing. Bucket list.

Reading my 'final note' from Dan. Rushing through, desperate to get inside.
Our Reverend, Steve. Into rock and metal music and ventriloquism. 

We shoot a lot of weddings, and we meet a lot of lovely people. We always spoke fondly of Steve from Cardington Church, with his kooky personality and laid back style. We always joked that he would one day marry us, so when we turned up one day for real, he was over the moon for us. We really felt like we got to know him, and he us, and I absolutely adore the guy. We need to buy him a coffee, actually. I walked down the aisle to 'Concerning Hobbits,' from Lord of the Rings, which the organist learnt for us especially! 

The ceremony was beautiful. I remember spotting a little butterfly flying around and we both had our eye on it. 'Hi Grandad.' We chose upbeat hymns that we remembered from school, with as little religious connotation as possible. My feet really hurt.

Everyone told us to take time out for ourselves. We had a thirty minute journey from the church to South Farm, so we had a good chat on the way there. I distinctly remember having the driest mouth ever after the ceremony, and was climbing over the back seat to try and find some lip balm from my suitcase. We, for some reason, didn't take advantage of the prosecco in the camper van at all. It still didn't feel real, although we almost died laughing when Dan pointed out he'd forgotten to put the bins out as we drove past our house - Just a little surreal. Thirty minutes of the same three Beach Boys song over and over, and lots of 'omg' glances at each other on the way. Throughout the rest of the day we both agreed we saw enough of each other, and we think it helps that we had a small wedding of just over sixty people. Several high fives and further 'we're married argh,' glances were swapped throughout the day whilst mingling.

Fond memories of tying these pom poms onto the tree the day before, catching branches and tying them on with my dad, and one of our ushers and buddies, Ant. South Farm is booked pretty much every single day, so we were amazingly lucky to be allowed in the day before to set up, thanks to their renovations. We took an entourage and got the whole place set up in a couple of hours. So much adrenaline, and humbled by the help from our nearest and dearest, as much as I hated them asking me to tell them what to do! 

I do not recommend dried natural petal confetti. Actually I don't recommend confetti at all, its a pain, although it makes for good pictures. My bridesmaid Rachel and I got a lot closer that day, as she went under my dress to sweep it off my entire body whilst my other two bridesmaids picked it out from hair and tulle layers after the entire bucket got chucked over our heads. Such an amazing bunch of ladies.

Obsessed with our dog, Penny had to be there. We bought her a pink bow tie and hired Bekki from Total Pets to look after her and bring her along for a little while for love and photos. It meant the world to have her there, and I'm sure she provided a bit of entertainment, too.

We never really had a theme. We loosely went for the barnyard, rustic feel, but with a bit of a fairytale sprinkle, too. We (mostly ) didn't want to spend time panicking about matching colours and that (I did anyway). We just wanted things to reflect us, and what we're into. 
I walked down the aisle to Concerning Hobbits from LOTR, we had Dumbledore quotes dotted around, our postbox was inspired by the Disney 'Up' house, and we had a Disney cake as well as a 'normal' one. We thought better of adding Game of Thrones 'Red Wedding' references. 

Our table plan was a little travel themed, complete with globe commissioned from a lass on Etsy and sent all the way from the USA. Tables were moss and logs set on a hessian runner, with gold spray painted and glittered jars. In the middle was a bell jar, with a place we've visited as a table name, and photos of us in said place too. Some of the places had little momentos from the place we visited too, like shells from the beach in Cyprus.
Most people advised against the glitter, and I listened. I am so glad that a week before the wedding I went mad and glittered absolutely everything. I love glitter, damn it. 
I spray painted endless amounts of jars and bottles, used three tubs of glitter, and stamped out 64 names twice over, and then some. One of the best nights wedding planning we had was laying out Disney badges and assigning each guest their own character badge to attach to their name. We were Cinderella and Prince Charming, naturally, but we didn't entirely agree as Dan wanted to be Beauty and the Beast. So really, we had two badges on ours. 

I didn't really sit down much for dinner. We had our speeches before we ate, to allow nerves to dissipate, and we're glad we did so everyone could enjoy dinner. We had a casual buffet because we knew the food was awesome anyway and this way we could offer a few options. it seemed a little more laid back, too. We each chose an option, and then we went for a wild card to even out each option and hopefully cater for every taste. We served pork belly, chicken and leek pie, and chili con carne, and for dessert, apple and rhubarb crumble, raspberry and chocolate roulade, and a vanilla cheesecake. Canap├ęs were mash and chorizo, goats cheese tart, and a pea and mint... Thing. I chose the veggie ones and I never even got one. Ask your venue to keep a few aside for you.

As soon as I heard these guys I knew they were special. I told Dan to go and have a listen, and we booked them there and then. They're the Strayhorns, a swing band. We figured that DJ's and cover bands are pretty standard, but how often do you enjoy a good swing band? And who doesn't enjoy swing music? I know as a kid when I used to go to the theatre I was almost more interested in the big band at the front. They were awesome. At the end of the night when the lights were up and the music had ended, stood at the bar I asked Joe why he hadn't sung 'L-O-V-E,' so he sung it for us, acapella. Right there and then, we had a little jig by the bar and it was awesome. 

They sung our first dance for us, and on the theme of avoiding overly soppy things not wanting to cry, we chose to avoid 'our song,' and choose a new one, with a new meaning, for our new marriage. Cliche, but they sang 'it had to be you,' I barely even remember it, but I do remember the conga to 'coco cabana' and several dance offs that followed. 

I cannot for the life of me remember who recommended that we soak our feet after the wedding, but thats another bit of advice I'd pass on. I thought my dress would be relatively simple to get off, but it took Dan an hour and we were exhausted. We filled up the bath with hot water and sat on the edge in our pants with our feet in the water. Easily one of the best moments of my life sat there at 2am, smiling like crazy pigeons, crazy in love, reflecting on the day we'd just had with all of our absolute favourite people beside us. 

Its been over four months since our wedding day, and we're yet to get our photos printed out. I'm not sure how we've managed to leave it so long, but I'm a huge advocate for printing photos out and having physical copies. I'm pretty happy with these Cheerz books for now, but I'm planning on getting a huge print box of all of them, and a 'proper' leather album, just when I get round to it. These Cheerz books cost around £50 and there are 150 images in each one, with customisable covers and boxes too, that can be made into albums. You can get £4 off any orders with the code 'SARBAI1' 

I doubt anybody has managed to get through all of this, but thats all fine by me. I can't wait to read this back in ten years time! 
Signing off,

MRS Davies xx

1 comment

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