The Offbeat Bride: Gemma, receptionist
Her Offbeat Partner: Neil, asbestos surveyor
Date and location of wedding: Liversedge, England — October 6, 2012
Our Offbeat wedding at a glance: I am one of those girls who has been imagining their wedding since they were two. Neil and I always knew we wanted “the works” but in a different way somehow. We just wanted everyone to have the most amazeballs day possible! For me, the luckiest thing to happen was that I married someone whose brother has a degree in theatrical costume.
My husband's brother (and best man) actually made my wedding dress! There aren't many brides that can say that. Mark and I collaborated on the design and came up with the creation you can see in the photos.
I also wanted the wedding in autumn just when the leaves are turning and it is cooler as I am always too hot even in the middle of winter, and the tent in a field idea was just too fabulous to say no to. We totally embraced the season and had pumpkins and hay bales and tractors everywhere (the tractor met us at the end of the lane down to the farm and we climbed onto the trailer at the back while all our guests followed us in convoy in their cars — amazing!) There was even a fire pit inside the tent that everyone congregated around later in the evening. We couldn't decide on one theme, so in the end we just had a little of everything!
Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony was a very traditional church wedding, but my sister did a reading which was an adaptation of a Pam Ayres poem which she centered around our quirky natures, about how we go to garden centres — not to look at plants but to have cream teas and eat cake — and about Neil's very odd obsession with gaffa tape. We also sang a hymn called “We plough the fields and scatter” which was really fitting with our reception in a field on a farm and the harvest. We were very lucky that the harvest festival was the weekend we got married so the church was decked out for that too.
Our biggest challenge: I do tend to worry a lot about things, so when Neil asked me to marry him it actually took me three days to say yes! I finally came to my senses when I remembered my dad had previously said “you're both perfectly suited because you're both complete lunatics!” I realised that was actually very true and that I never wanted to be with anyone else. So we did it!
My favorite moment: I had actually bawled my eyes out at the rehearsal in the church a few days before the wedding and I was totally dreading doing that on the day. I know it wouldn't have been terrible if I had cried but I know I would've been stressed about it. On the day of the wedding, I didn't cry during the ceremony at all, and I was able to look Neil in the eye a few times as we were saying our vows. A good friend had said a little prayer for me not to cry during my wedding, and catching her eye to smile and say thank you when we were walking back down the aisle was a great moment.
Another meaningful moment was when my dad was giving his speech which was absolutely hilarious and then he had to pause near the end, because he was getting so emotional when he was telling everyone how proud he was of me. My dad is a proper broad Yorkshireman who never gets emotional, so that will stay with me for a long time. Also, my new sister-in-law came up to me and said, “Finally, I have a sister!”
My funniest moment: Picture this: I'm at at the end of the aisle about to walk down it towards Neil, all my friends and family are facing me. I have my walking down the aisle song on — Kate Bush's Under The Ivy — which is a really emotional song, I am drinking in the scene. I took a step forwards and realised I could go no further only to turn round and see my photographer accidentally standing on my train! After a quick “Kev, you're standing on my dress!!” and a giggle, it totally broke the tension and I walked down the aisle with a big grin on my face. I'm actually really glad that happened!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? In the months running up to the wedding the weather had been a complete nightmare — so much rain and really bad flooding on a scale never seen in Yorkshire before. Local shops had had to throw away merchandise and use sandbags to stop the water coming in after a nearby river had completely burst its banks. I was panicking a little bit (alright, a lot) that the field would wash away — us and everything else in it — and that it would be a giant mud fest and just be totally wet and miserable. The organisers had contingency plans, but I still worried. We had a lot of small kids at our wedding too, and they needed space to run about in and I was relying on the field to provide that space.
I kid you not, all my wedding day the sun was cracking flags! We hadn't seen the sun in months and there it was, bright as a button. The views from the field were absolutely breathtaking too — green fields as far as you could see with the sunlight dappled all over the horizons. Someone was definitely smiling on us that day.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Seriously, don't stress too much about all the planning because you will eventually want it to be over and done with which is not the ideal attitude when you're trying to enjoy the whole thing. You will feel the pressure to have “the best day of your life” but just go with the flow. Yes, you may get stressed at times but just take a step back and re-evaluate what's important here. Delegate to bridesmaids, friends, best man if you can.
I personally wouldn't recommend going to wedding fayre type things — they make you believe you NEED all the things they are selling otherwise your wedding will FAIL. It's complete tripe. You do not need a teeth whitening service or sugar mice that are actually soap that smell like vomit when you leave them at room temperature (here speaks the voice of experience!) Talk to your partner about how you are feeling about everything, communication is always key. It's so easy to be snappy with the ones you love most when you're stressed to the eyeballs, but just have a chat, let it all out and I guarantee you will feel much better.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Without meaning to sound properly cheesy, I learned how absolutely lovely people can be. With all the stress of planning and thinking of nothing but weddings for months, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. I have never had so many friends tell me they loved me and all pull together to help me and surprise me with gorgeous personal presents that meant something just to me and them and wish us nothing but happiness… there's nothing more important than that. Never lose touch with your friends. You will always need them — even (or especially) once you are married.
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