The Offbeat Bride: Beth, Operations Manager and Corsetière
Her offbeat partner: Patrick, Firmware Developer
Date and location of wedding: Layer Marney Tower, Essex, UK — October 13, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Patrick and I got engaged and knew we wanted to get married straight away. We also knew we didn't have a huge amount of money, and we had a huge number of family and friends. We were trying to achieve a grand English wedding on a small budget. Initially we wanted a simple registry office wedding and a party in a tent in a field, but my maid of honor was working on the London Olympics and wouldn't be available to even come to my wedding until the end of September 2012. I knew I couldn't get married without her, so we put it off until October.
Changeable weather in the UK means outdoor venues aren't really much of an option, particularly in October, and with nearly 100 guests for the ceremony and another 100 coming in the evening we needed somewhere big! We both grew up in Essex and knew we wanted to get married somewhere close to "home." We wanted everything in our wedding to be significant or have a reason to be there, including the venue. I'd been to Layer Marney as a little girl to visit craft fairs, and when we went to view it for the wedding we knew it was just perfect for us: full of history and beautiful.
Fortunately, making the wedding as personal as we could, having a smaller budget, and including a lot of guests were priorities that all worked well together for us. Most of our wedding was handmade by me or my bridesmaids, and with an autumn theme, many of the decorations could be found in our local woodland.
My Maid of Honor made the wedding cheesecake (we love cheesecake!) and cake topper (little replicas of Patrick and me on a miniature version of his motorbike!), the invitations, the table plan, and the menus. I decided to make my own wedding dress, and all the boys' waistcoats, the bouquets, the flower girls' dresses, as well as the bunting, the centerpieces, place cards, and other bits and bobs.
Tell us about the ceremony: As Patrick as I are both Agnostic, we went for a non-religious civil ceremony. We'd wanted to keep it as traditional as possible with the wording as we felt it sounded more "official" but we didn't want it to feel too long, either.
We'd asked one of my bridesmaids, Niki, to do the reading. She had known Patrick and me as a couple best as we'd lived in her house together for a little while. She'd sent us a selection of readings she thought was appropriate and we picked "Our Great Adventure" by Pamela Dugdale. It's short but very sweet. She almost cried when she was reading it. The feeling of love we got at that moment was pretty epic!
Our biggest challenge: Honestly I think my biggest challenge was my wedding dress. I'd known for a long time that if I was ever to get married I'd want to have my gown made. I'm an odd shape, and I've always struggled with getting things to fit me correctly, and I had such a clear idea of what I wanted in my head that I couldn't find it in a store. When it came down to it though I decided to make it myself. I'd been learning from friends how to make corsets and was becoming quite confident (in retrospect perhaps overly so at that point) and so decided to do it myself!
Talk about biting off more than you can chew! Well, there was blood, sweat and tears, quite literally. I ended up taking an entire week off the day job just so I could concentrate and get it finished. And there were moments when I just wanted to throw the whole thing in the bin and go and buy a cheap white dress from a charity shop and forget the whole sorry mess, but my bridesmaids and Patrick were so supportive and it was all worth it. I got a custom-made wedding gown for a fraction of the price, it was exactly what I wanted, and I've honestly never been so proud of myself. Even better: it has now given me the confidence to start my own corsetry and bridal-wear business.
My favorite moment: There were so many moments… One of the most meaningful moments to me was the moment I showed my mother my bouquet. My father died when I was 14, but I still wanted to make sure he walked down the aisle with me, so I'd tied his signet ring into the middle of my bouquet. When mum saw it her face just lit up.
Seeing my two little nieces all dressed up in their flower girls dresses. They behaved beautifully on the day, and looked adorable. I'll never forget the way they were on that day. They grow up so fast!
My dress meant a huge amount to me, too. I'd poured my heart and soul into making the thing and Patrick's face when he saw me walk down the aisle, and him whispering in my ear that I looked beautiful was a little private moment in front of everyone. I almost broke into tears right there before we'd even started the ceremony!
Patrick placing the wedding ring on my finger — I can't really put into words how I felt at the moment but it was very significant. I knew it was the start of something big!
My funniest moment: There were so many funny moments… My brothers speech as "giver-away" was really very good, and Patrick's Dad said a few words too which had the place in stitches. I can barely remember what was actually said, but I remember laughing, a lot. There was a purple top hat getting passed around that had randomly turned up with one of the guests, and some pretty epic Dad dancing. It all seems so much of a blur now, but there was so much laughter.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Concentrate on what's personal to you and stay away from the gimmicks (unless that's what your going for). It's all too easy to fall into a "category" of wedding, and you can end up with something that looks like it was put together by someone who isn't you.
Also Pinterest is absolutely brilliant, and now that they do private boards it's even better. It's great not only for inspiration, but also for keeping on top of your ideas and much more environment-friendly than printing reams and reams out. Be inspired by what's around you. You really don't need to spend a fortune on table centerpieces and bouquets! Simple is often better.
And get the people who know you best involved. You know that if they know you well enough, they know what you like, what your style is and what you're into, they will make the right decisions and support you in your own.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Sweat the small stuff. I know so many people tell you to ignore the little bits and make sure the big stuff is organised, but I found that most of the big stuff gets organised by the professionals involved. They do it for a living, they know what they're doing. But on the day it was the small bits we'd done ourselves that made the biggest difference to us.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: made by me
- Venue: Layer Marney Tower I cannot recommend them enough.
- Wedding Rings: Brent&Jess
- Photography: David Micheal Photography
- Most other things were done either by me or my Maid of Honor — she was an absolute star making the cake and the topper and all the stationery. (Thank you!)
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: