Top tips for a handmade wedding

As part of The School of Thrift, I’ve written some special wedding-themed tutorials as well as my top 5 tips for a handmade/thrifty wedding. It has been really lovely to look back at our wedding and think about how we planned it, so I thought I’d put together a more detailed post about it. So here goes! My top 5 tips are:

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1. Start collecting ideas and materials

There are so many ways to collect ideas for your wedding, but one of the most helpful is probably Pinterest. When we started planning I created a wedding board (which mainly consists of flowers and cake ideas!) and it meant that I could keep all of the things I liked in one place. It also meant that Tom was able to have a look too – from the start we planned things together, even though I did do most of the ‘making’ bit! The first thing we collected for our wedding was the paper to make the envelopes for our invitations, and then we designed the rest of the invitation around it (you can read more about them here). When collecting ideas, don’t be afraid to be selective – you might like a bit of that and a bit of something else. The beauty of putting something together yourself is that you can combine ideas to create the perfect thing for you, whether it’s your invitations, colour scheme, flowers or any other element of the day.

2. Make it personal

Making things for your wedding yourself will ensure that they reflect you and that they are totally unique – and it really is so much fun! When you start planning your wedding, you’ll realise that wedding stuff is everywhere! I remember that as soon as I changed my relationship from ‘single’ to ‘engaged’ on Facebook, I was bombarded by wedding-related adverts (and then, quite soon after, baby-related ones!). Although getting ideas from lots of other people and places is a great thing, I think it is really important to remember that your wedding day is your day – it’s about you and your husband/wife and the day should reflect that. There is a lot of pressure to do things in a particular way or have certain things, but you don’t have to at all.

I wouldn’t say that our wedding day wasn’t a traditional wedding, but we didn’t do things just because ‘that’s what people do’. So we didn’t have a theme or a colour scheme as such, but instead went for pinks, purples and creams in patterns that complimented each other. We kept the table decorations really simple, opting for simple name cards and lovely flower arrangements that Tom’s Mum put together on the day. We didn’t have the usual ‘line-up’ before the meal, we had a ‘first dance’ that wasn’t really a first dance as such and our guests joined in with us, and we didn’t have speeches except for a rather impromptu one that Tom and I gave in the garden! For many people those things are traditional and integral, and I’m certainly not saying that everyone should scrap them! But if you don’t feel comfortable doing something then don’t be afraid to leave it out – it’s your day and you want to be relaxed and enjoy every moment. Our wedding was just the most amazing day and it was a true reflection of us both, and I’m really proud that we planned it together.

3. Get your friends and family involved in the planning

I have played at weddings for several of our friends, and I always feel that it is an honour to be asked to do something special on such an important day. So no matter how big or small it is, get your friends and family involved in the planning! We are very fortunate to have very talented and kind family and friends who wanted to get involved with our wedding! Our friend Hannah made our beautiful wedding cake, and amazingly (with the help of her Mum) managed to get it from Stockton down to York in the back of her car! It made it there safely and Hannah has received so many lovely comments about her cake – read more about it here. We asked our friend Lee to provide the musical entertainment in the evening, so she brought along her PA and we hired some lights and did a brilliant job! We selected the songs we wanted her to sing and so the playlist for the whole night was very personal to us – I LOVE dancing, and I’ll never forget that wonderful night!

To decorate the venue we borrowed our family bunting that was originally made for Tom’s Aunt’s wedding a few years ago. When it was made, all the guests were asked to donate some fabric so that it could be made in time to be hung up at the reception. Since then, it has been used at several other weddings and family events – I always try to find my old pyjamas that contributed to it! If you would like to make your own bunting with your family and friends, follow my exclusive tutorial for The School of Thrift. It’s a great way to give life to old fabrics and get everyone involved in a special project!

4. Shop around

Weddings can get very expensive very quickly, so if you’re trying to keep costs down then you’ll certainly need to shop around. You can support local businesses by buying your supplies from them – we bought chocolates for each table at the reception from an independent shop in Alnwick (click here to read my post about them) and I bought most of my flowers from various stalls at York market! The main reason that I decided to make the bouquets myself was because I nearly fell off my chair when I started looking into the prices – £80 for the bride’s bouquet alone was an average estimate!

Whilst you may prefer to get your flowers done professionally, don’t rule out the possibility of doing them yourself. In my tutorial for The School of Thrift, I show you how you can make a beautiful bouquet – the flowers I used to make it cost me just £10! It is a really simple bouquet to make as it just uses roses and spray carnations, but even with just two types of flower in the same colour it looks beautiful. Once you have done a practice bouquet or two (which I would highly recommend!) you can get more adventurous with your choice of colours and flowers. For my wedding bouquet I used all of my favourite flowers such as peonies, roses stocks, freesias, gypsohila, and spray carnations in pinks, purples and creams. My bridesmaids had smaller bouquets with cream freesias, roses and spray carnations, and when they arrived the day before the wedding we made them in my Mum and Dad’s kitchen! We had such fun catching up and making the bouquets, and it is a lovely thing to do together with your friends.

5. Give it a go!

For many people (especially if you don’t regard yourself as being a crafter), the idea of a handmade wedding is very appealing but daunting. My advice is to not worry, but to just give it a go! You don’t have to make everything yourself, so you could start with something small and go from there – for example, you could make the buttonholes (see how to do that here). If there is something that you can practice before making the ‘final one’ then I’d always suggest doing that – and try to leave enough time to do it too! What you’ll probably find is that once you get started, you’ll get hooked and will want to make lots of things! I think that’s how I ended up making waistcoats…I asked myself many times ‘why am I doing this?!’ during the making process, but it is a project that I’m so proud of. I also made a stole for Tom’s Dad, as he conducted our wedding service. Everything that you make will become a special part of your day – no matter how big or how small.

Whatever you decide to make (or not) for your wedding, enjoy the planning process and the day itself, as this time will simply fly by. Everyone said this to us beforehand, but until it’s actually happening you can’t imagine just how fast it goes! 🙂

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