During my adult life I can remember going to various weddings and seeing the table decorations and thinking that when I get married I am going to do that all myself. As a self-confessed craft addict I had dreams of a trip to a flower market the day before the wedding and a nice and easy day of making beautiful flower arrangements for the tables. This was all ‘pie in the sky’ thinking before I really understood what work it takes to get a wedding together.
When my closest friends got married about 4 years ago, they often told me how stressed they were with just having to decide what flowers they wanted, what napkin colour to choose and if it rains what would they do with the Chuppah?! I just kept thinking that if I ever got the chance to have a wedding I wouldn’t need to worry about all that stuff as I would have it all planned in my head and know exactly what I would want and then go and do it all myself in my own hand made style… How wrong was I?!
There are many reasons people want to craft their own wedding. I’d say for me, hand-making things for our big day would mean that the day is that bit more personal and special, but for many it is also a money saving method. If you are like me and you like to do your crafting properly or not at all, then it is definitely not a money saving method!
Image: Most Curious Wedding Fair by Oh Squirrel
You can often spend more on the materials that you use than you would if you were paying someone to do it for you. I have also seen some stressed out brides who have a very tight grip on all elements of their wedding, delegate very little and then end up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed on their big day. I don’t want to be like that. I have never been very good at delegating; I much prefer to have control of everything. But increasingly since we got engaged I have realised that this is just not possible, especially with the demands of every day life.
During the early stages of planning I grudgingly had to accept that there are some things I can do and some things I can’t, but we can still have our own personal touch on the day. So long as I choose the right suppliers! The first thing I had to decide was what could I do myself. I looked down the list of things to do and picked out things I’d either really like to do or thought I could do successfully ahead of time and not be left doing the day before the wedding. So I came up with a handmade list. Favours. Signage. Table names. Place cards. Table plan. Chuppah.
The one thing that I really wanted to do was our invitations. My grandfather was a sign writer and brilliant calligrapher and recently I have been trying to learn a little bit about modern calligraphy in the hope that I could be half as good as he was. I also thought that this would be a lovely way of incorporating my grandfather into the wedding when he (along with my maternal grandfather) would be sorely missed from the day. I had taken part in a couple of workshops for modern calligraphy and brush lettering at Quill London and really hoped that I could get my skills up to scratch in time. To be fair to myself, they aren’t that bad, but I was not confident enough to do such a big task and I knew that I would never truly be happy with it if I did them myself.
So we set along the road to find the right person to help us with getting our vision onto paper. We went to the Most Curious Wedding Fair in East London and found some lovely stationers that we were really keen on. Their prices were very high and we weren’t too happy to pay those prices. We went away with a lot to think about and started contacting people that we had met for further more detailed quotes and found that many people just didn’t get back to us or when they did, they were not willing to edit details of their designs to suit what we wanted… very frustrating at the time. We then got in contact with some people that I had seen on Etsy and found the whole process quite overwhelming, there were just too many things I liked. I still couldn’t decide if I was capable of doing this myself and this made it harder to choose something.
Then I remembered that I was following an old school friend’s sister on Facebook and Instagram and she did the loveliest hand lettered invitations in a style that we really liked. So after a lot of procrastinating I got in touch with Zoe at The Golden Letter and she has been AMAZING! She completed all our invitations and RSVPs within 2 weeks of initial contact (as she was gong away for a while) and then did our additional information sheets whilst she was away. She dealt with constant emails from me asking to change things, never saying no to anything. Once we had them, the production line began and I have spent three solid days tying up the invites with glittery twine that I had found and hand lettering the envelopes.
On top of this we decided to use a wax seal the envelopes. Anyone that knows me, or my family, will know that we have quite a thing for owls. One of my favourite little illustrations that I had created a while back was of two love owls. So I looked around to see if we could get a custom seal made of my design.
We found someone on Etsy and he was able to produce this quite quickly and it has just added a little bit of extra hand made-ness to something not on my hand made to-do list.
Next on the ‘I wish I could do this’ list were flowers. I love flowers and want them to be the most significant part of the decorations at the wedding. My mum and I have previously made our own small flower arrangements for family celebrations, mostly using random jam jars and small vases with wild looking flowers that we had found in one of our local florists. This is exactly what I hoped to recreate at our wedding.
So we set about finding a florist that would be able to help us with the rustic, jam jar look. We found Lily’s Flowers at a wedding fair held at our venue and loved the wooden, wild look of the display they had, so John and I headed over for a meeting and they were clearly the right people for us. I don’t want to give too much away, but I really can’t wait to see what they create on the day!
I am now at the stage where I really have to start moving on the actual hand made list. Favours were the one thing I knew from the start that I would definitely make. A few years ago I made some candles for a friend’s wedding and knew that some how I would do something similar for ours… the only thing I’ll say at this stage is that the favours will be personal and useful!
We are very lucky that John works for a builders merchant and that we can easily get hold of reasonably priced wood for the many signs we plan to make. We are also even luckier that John’s mum and sister-in-law are wonderfully crafty too and have both have a very strong eye for detail… they have been warned that I may be begging for some help in the next month or so.
We are most excited about building our Chuppah together. I think this is one thing we won’t ask for much help with as we like the idea of building something together that will go on to represent our first home as a married couple. John’s building skills will be useful, as will my sewing skills with this one. It will definitely represent us and our families and friends coming together and will make a significant nod to our personal histories that have led us to that day. John and I are notorious for not being able to keep secrets and we are trying very hard to be a little bit more secretive, so forgive me for being a bit shady about what we have planned for this… but I will definitely share when the time is right.
The BEST place I have found for ideas and a potential supplier is Instagram. Obviously as a new bride and craft addict I love Pinterest, but Instagram has been great for getting more specific ideas about places to go to learn new skills and for local suppliers. I am drawn to attractive visuals, so this platform works well for me.
I look at recommendations from other people I follow, sometimes click on a hashtag and follow accounts that I like. I will look at their home page, check they are in the UK and then go and have a look on their website. I also follow links to Facebook as there are often really useful customer reviews there that can give further insight. In terms of trust I guess it is always a bit of a gamble, but you can get a good impression of a company from following them, seeing what they do and then getting into conversation with them about what you are looking for. There are quite a few people that I have been in touch with after seeing them on Instagram, but it didn’t work out. I am quite an intuitive person and often get a good feeling from the people that I want to work with. If communications aren’t positive, then I tend to move on and look elsewhere.
So far (I still have a little way to go) I have realised that you don’t have to hand make everything to have a truly personal feeling to your wedding. For me it has been important to be realistic about what I can do in the time I have and with the skills that I have. If you can’t do something, then look for those people who can help recreate that vision you have and don’t be scared to say exactly what you want. Personally I have preferred finding smaller independent designers to help with smaller elements, not only have they been more flexible, but they are also much more pleasant to talk to.
You can read all Lauren’s wedding planning posts so far here.