The venue: For me our wedding was very much about coming home. I moved out of Leek at 18 to go to university, met Phil and then pretty much stayed in Birmingham. It had never been my plan to do that because I always thought I’d go home. I love Leek, loved growing up in the area and I had always imagined myself getting married in the church my Mum and Dad got married in and where I was christened. Phil has always known that it’s difficult for me being away from my home and family and over the years, he’s fallen in love with Leek too! So while our jobs keep us here in Birmingham, we both agreed we wanted to be married in Leek. One of my favourite things about the day was being able to get ready in the house I grew up in and have the neighbours come out and wish me well. It’s those personal touches that I really wanted. The church was an easy one because of sentimental reasons and then when we were looking at venues we wanted somewhere within easy reach of the church but also somewhere that we felt was interesting and beautiful. Being so familiar with the area, I knew of The Ashes Wedding Barn and after we went to visit, we just loved the intimacy and the scenery. There was no other contender after that visit!
Bridal outfits: Bridesmaids: That was a hard one! I had two bridesmaids who were my lifelong friends – we grew up on the same street and lived in each other’s houses! I also had two bridesmaids from Birmingham – who are my close friends and colleagues. 4 very different personalities and I was really concerned about finding them something they’d all like! We had one day of shopping in Birmingham and that went pretty badly ha. What one loved, the others hated. What suited one looked off on another. We were restricted in being separated by distance – we couldn’t be driving back and forth for every shopping trip! After that, we went on ASOS and saw these dresses that we liked by Maya. I loved the colour and thought the fit might be something we could all agree on. I ordered two to Birmingham, two to Leek and said send me pictures and thoughts. Miraculously, they all fit and they all loved them! So it ended up being pretty easy.
My dress: My dress was a really difficult decision for me actually. I had very precise ideas of what I wanted and didn’t end up with anything like it! I wanted edgy, Stevie Nicks, boho and I wanted tight fitting – no big skirts. We went to two shops and eventually ended up in The Dressing Rooms Bridal in Halesowen. I’d seen them at the NEC wedding show and had seen a couple of dresses I liked, so I took my two Birmingham bridesmaids and my mum. I picked out a few of the things I wanted but my mum begged me to try on her pick. Eventually I did, it was a Rebecca Ingram dress called Ruth. I put it on and – I know it’s cliche – but I felt so special! I walked out and my mum and my – usually hardy – bridesmaids burst into tears. So my plans and ideas went out of the window! I also added my personalised leather jacket so it didn’t feel too princessy! I sent off my own jacket to a seller on Etsy, who hand painted my married name on and sent it back. I love that I had that little bit of edge to bring a bit of my personality back in. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BespokeChalkandPrint
Rings: Phil had taken my best friend Robyn to help pick out my engagement ring. A few weeks before he proposed, she’d dragged me round the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and had asked me what kind of rings I liked. They key thing was that it be in rose gold and I also liked the tear drop shape. Luckily for me that’s exactly what I got. So when it came to getting wedding rings, we went back to shop he got my engagement ring from which is called Newey’s. I had the matching wedding band to my engagement ring – rose gold and diamonds half way round the band. I like that it’s slim because I have tiny child hands ha! Phil picked out his ring by pretty much asking them to recommend a metal and style. He’s not really one for jewellery, so he was happy with something quite simple!
Cake: The cake was made by one of our neighbours in Leek. Mum had seen some other cakes she’d done and knew she was good! So I showed her a picture on Pinterest and off she went! We got a cake topper from Etsy and that was that. I wanted it to be really simple and clean. Nothing too fussy and I wanted it to have some of the flowers from my bouquet to tie in. Flavours were: 1 tier chocolate, 1 tier vanilla and 1 tier lemon. No fruit cake because personally…blegh!
Flowers: Again, having grown up in Leek, there are just some businesses that you know are good. Possibilities always has the prettiest window displays and so we went in and spoke to Simon. He was so knowledgeable and helpful that I felt confident he would be able to do what I wanted. He also was really good about helping us work within our budget. I’d seen pictures of what I liked on Pinterest (the rustic crates and vase with candles) and he suggested the same idea to me before I’d even mentioned it! I had 100% confidence in the quality I would get if I went with them and I was not disappointed. I was blown away by how beautiful The Ashes Wedding Barn looked.
Photographer: Phil was very much the force behind finding a photographer. We both knew we didn’t want stiff and traditional photos. This wedding was all about family and having fun and we wanted our photos to reflect that. I think we came across your page on instagram and your photos just had that quality that we really loved. Intimate and candid! Once we found you, we stopped looking!
Band: So the band is another personal touch that we were super excited about. At first, we didn’t think we would be able to to afford a band and were super bummed about it. However, my bridesmaid Sarah (who I grew up with) said she’d ask her brother. We all grew up together and so I know Stu (the bassist) pretty well obviously but didn’t think we’d be able to have them due to budget. He immediately spoke to his band (The Red Letters) and they agreed to play within our budget. This was amazing news because I’d spent my youth going to their gigs with Sarah and can even remember watching them play in their school talent show! I was so glad that they would be a part of our day anyway but I think they really made the whole evening. They learned our first dance song without having to be asked and Sarah and Steph (my two Leek bridesmaids) had asked them to learn a My Chemical Romance song from our youth which was possibly one of the best things about the evening! I had the best time dancing to them and they are amazing at what they do! I wouldn’t want anyone else to play my wedding.
Venue decor: Another connection! My mum’s friend (Mandy) had recently taken over an events decor business and when I was panicking about the ashes wedding barn being empty, my mum took me to meet her. They’re called Enchanted Venue Dressing and when I went to pick out some things, I loved everything they had! Mandy really understood my vision (limited thought it is) and suggested lots of things that I loved. When I first saw our venue, I let out a literal gasp because it was everything I’d dreamed of!
Hair and make-up: Was done by the very talented ladies at Dollface Make-Up studio. We had so much fun with these ladies!
I felt like a really bad planner! I am so indecisive and I get too many ideas at once to form a cohesive overall plan. However, the most important thing to us was that it be fun and not stuffy. We wanted everyone to feel welcome and to get along because we had guests from Leek, Birmingham, London and elsewhere. We also wanted people to feel like they’d come all that way for a good reason. Ultimately, we wanted it to be about home and family, which it definitely was. The most important thing was definitely for us to have the best evening ever with our loved ones and we did.
Phil would definitely say no to this one. I, on the other hand, am a massive self critic and so I’ll sometimes pick on little things about how I looked on the day and put myself down but ultimately I know that my wedding day was the best day of my life and I had the best time. All day, people kept coming up to me and saying, “I’ve never seen you so happy!” and that’s because I genuinely felt on cloud 9.
Our biggest piece of advice is try not to stress, especially about money. Obviously stick to your budget and don’t end up in debt, but for us it was really hard to let ourselves spend money at first. It’s not that we didn’t have the money but neither of us had ever spent so much and on one day! In the end, we didn’t regret a single penny because we loved every minute. You can earn more money but you can’t replace the memories we have.
If you’re planning your wedding at The Ashes Wedding Barn then I’d love to hear from you!
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