In June, I shot Joe and Sam’s sixties inspired Liverpool wedding. I knew from my first point of contact with Sam that we had a special connection and that their day would be wonderful. It did not disappoint. Sam and Joe’s day was family focused, fuss free and beautiful. It was huge a pleasure to photograph such a beautiful relationship and i’m so grateful to Joe and Sam for putting their trust in me. I left with a full heart, a full belly and shoes full of sand! I’ll hand you over to Sam to talk you through their planning process.
We both knew from the beginning that we wanted a more informal day, done in our own style and as such we spent hours looking online for a venue we could put our own stamp on. We were planning to do all the decor ourselves and needed somewhere that was a blank canvas where we could set up the day before and bring our own drinks for the toasts.
I’d read a lot of wedding blogs featuring Village Hall weddings and this really matched well with our idea of a fun, relaxed day. We trawled the internet for Village Halls in the area and it was quite sad to see very few remain! I was so excited when I found Ince Blundell Village Hall, although Joe needed a little more convincing as all we had to go by was the Google Maps picture! We took the plunge and booked for our date having not seen the venue and went along to the monthly Car Boot Sale to get a proper look round! Thankfully, the space was great with a big open hall and loads of outdoor space. The volunteers at the hall are brilliant, they organised a really well stocked bar for the rest of the day and I really couldn’t recommend the space enough.
When it came to choosing the location for the ceremony, we both wanted a non-religious civil ceremony and we booked Waterloo Registry Office in Crosby Town Hall as it is local to my parents’ house and I was hoping my Grandad would be able to make it for the service. (Eventually he decided not to come along but Laura came along to his house with me before we left for the Registry and we got some really lovely photos together). Again, a running theme, we booked the ceremony without having seen it beforehand but we were both really pleased as the Mayor’s Parlour is a lovely space big enough to seat 80 but the layout means everybody was sat within a close proximity to us as we exchanged our vows.
I had come across my dress (the B52 by Fur Coat No Knickers) quite by accident on one of my Pinterest sessions a couple of years ago. I knew straight away that it was the dress for me with its 60s styling and unusual lace jacket- I was already imagining taking a day trip down to the shop to pick it out. At the end of last year, I just happened to search for their website and I was upset to find out the company had sadly closed not long ago. Around the time we went shopping for my engagement ring in January, I was overjoyed to find the exact dress on eBay, unworn and just one size too big. I ended up buying it on the day we picked up my ring from being resized and it really felt like things were meant to be.
When looking round for my veil, I had a very clear idea in mind of what I wanted- I was looking for a short, vintage style veil to be worn at the back of the head. I had previously ordered one but the bright white colour just didn’t work well with my ivory dress. I came across Me and My Girl Vintage on Etsy and sent the seller a message with a picture of my dress, explaining that I had struggled to find a colour match. I was so surprised when Emma who runs the shop got back in touch to say that she had been half of the duo running Fur Coat No Knickers and that she had actually designed the dress! Emma was able to make me a veil to match my dress perfectly and was so helpful in giving extra advice and care instructions for my dress, she really went above and beyond.
I had originally planned to have my two best and oldest friends as bridesmaids, but unfortunately one was already attending a family wedding abroad that weekend so couldn’t make it. It didn’t make sense to me to replace her for the sake of it, so I just had one bridesmaid.
I found my shoes in T K Maxx by chance and loved the peep toe shape with the bow at the front. They were Ted Baker and a gorgeous pale blue colour. I had originally imagined my bridesmaid to be in a mint green colour but as soon as I saw my shoes, I knew that the pale blue would look great. Over the next few months, my best friend Wij and I looked around for a pale blue dress to match and eventually I found a Ted Baker dress which we both really liked the look of. I had it delivered to Wij in Manchester and I was so pleased to hear that it fitted and more importantly that she loved it!
When it came to my wedding ring, I had pictured something quite slim but with a pattern or texture of some kind. I looked high and low for something suitable. Most of the rings I found were either too wide or way out of budget. Eventually, I came across Edenly and I was a little hesitant about ordering from abroad initially but the site had good reviews, the ring was a good price and had an unusual braided detail that I really liked. When it came to ordering, I mentioned to Joe that he should have a look in case they had any he liked (I had actually seen a simple gold band with a black stripe running through it that I thought would suit him). The next day, he sent me a text in work with a picture of the ring he had chosen- it was the same one I had seen, so it’s good to see I know his taste by now!
I’d shown Joe pictures of ‘naked’ wedding cakes online and we both liked the simple, unfussy design. I’d planned to make this myself and rope in the help of a couple of willing volunteers but my mum came across the perfect cake from Marks and Spencer’s made to order cakes and my Godmother offered to pay for this. In hindsight, I’m really glad we went for this in the end as we were so busy in the week leading up to the wedding that I don’t think I’d have had time to think about making a cake!
On the Friday we were setting up, it was my intention to decorate the cake with some fruit and flowers. It got to around mid-afternoon and I was still working on trimming the flowers and putting them in vases so my dad took charge and started on decorating the cake. He did a great job and really found his creative side, everybody said how nice it looked on the day and I made sure he got the credit!
M&S was a great choice as we were also able to order a number of cutting bars (plus gluten free versions) to give out to the guests to take home with them. I bought plain kraft paper cake boxes on eBay and Joe spent a couple of nights stamping them with a stamp with our initials and the date (also bought on eBay!).
When it came to my flowers, I knew exactly what I didn’t want- anything too ‘structured’ or traditional. I loved the meadow and wildflower type bouquets I’d seen on pinterest but also wanted larger flowers like peonies to add some contrast. I pinned lots of styles I liked and was originally planning on making these myself until Wij mentioned that her mum would be glad to make the flowers as she had recently retired and taken a floristry course. Somehow, Wij’s mum was able to take my mish-mash of a pinterest board and turn this in to a perfect pair of bouquets, along with buttonholes for the men in the family. They were hand-delivered by Wij’s boyfriend, Sam, on the day and I was so happy with how they turned out, I can’t think Wij’s mum enough for all her hard work.
From the offset I had pictured a room full of flowers, but nothing too fancy in terms of arrangement- I bought and collected jars and vases over the months leading up to the wedding and thought it would be easy enough to do this myself. I had heard about Liverpool Flower Market from Wij so we went along a couple of days before the wedding. The selection they had was great and the stall owner was really helpful. We bought what seemed like far too many flowers but once all the leaves and stems were trimmed, I was pleased to see we’d got it about spot on. We mixed peach and white carnations, daisies, stocks, snapdragons and lisianthus with blue delphiniums and hydrangeas then padded some of the vases out with gypsophila. We spread the vases down the length of each table and laid out green foliage along the top table. As we left the hall on the Friday night after setting everything up, the smell in the room was incredible!
We had a brilliant A Team of close family friends helping set up on Friday, as well as tidy up on the Sunday and as well as buying them a little thank you present to show our appreciation, I was really glad to be able to give them the bouquets from the day to take and enjoy at home.
Now for the easy part! We both agreed that the traditional, very posed photos just weren’t for us. We wanted a few group shots with family but the most important thing to us was that we document the day to pick up on all the things we may have missed and get some photos together, just the two of us, that we can treasure forever. Late one night, I came across Laura’s website and knew instantly that she was the photographer for us. Her style shone through in every photo I saw and I sent her a message straight away to check her availability (we planned the whole wedding in less than 6 months so I was so relieved to hear that Laura had a free slot available on our date!) I showed Joe in the morning and he agreed straight away that Laura was the right choice for us.
We were both so pleased on the day, Laura worked so hard yet we barely noticed her around, blending seamlessly in to the background to get some great candid shots of the guests. For our couple portraits in the afternoon, we went to the beach and the photos turned out phenomenally. We have received so many compliments on these and I can’t wait to get some hung around the house. They make me smile whenever I look through them!
We were working to a budget for the day as we were both determined to not borrow or take on any debt. Our photos were one of our biggest investments but one we were both glad to make. We have such a gorgeous collection of images from the day and we’re so grateful to Laura for all her hard work and her brilliant creativity.
Lastly, we also decided to go for a video too, made up of short 3 second clips from the day. This was by far one of the best decisions we made across the whole wedding. The video is just beautiful and picks up on so many little moments we’d both either missed or forgotten about in the excitement of the day. I would urge anybody considering a video to go for it, you won’t regret it!
I came across Ukebox, a local Merseyside band, online- I can’t even remember how I found them now but I loved them from the off! They just looked like such a lot of fun and I knew they would be great at getting everybody moving in the evening (even Joe and I!). Joe got in touch with the band and they were really helpful from the off. On the night, everybody had a whale of a time and even now, 2 months later, the guests are still telling me how great they were.
The band were another investment but again we were more than happy to go for this as the music and the photography were the most important elements for us and we knew the day just wouldn’t have been the same without it. We saved money elsewhere by creating Spotify playlists to play throughout the day and the night time, after the band. Quite a few of the guests complimented us on the music choices and said they hadn’t heard a bad song all day- high praise indeed!
I love crafts of any kind so had always planned on doing the venue decorations myself. I had pictured long, banquet style tables where everybody could sit and chat easily, without anybody feeling like they were hidden away in the corner of the room. I managed to track these down, along with lovely ivory Chiavari chairs and a 5ft high light up wooden ‘LOVE’ sign from a local company, Wirral Table and Chair Hire. I saw a picture on pinterest of the same chairs, with coloured ribbons tied to the back of them. I spent hours cutting the ribbons and seriously underestimated how long this would take but I was really pleased with how they turned out and think it was well worth the effort!
We had looked in to table linen hire but found this to be a little bit too expensive. I wasn’t bothered about full length table cloths and started looking in to table runners. My mum found some lovely plain white ones from The Range that were an absolute bargain. She bought up all of the ones in the shop and I ordered the rest from their website. I bought lots of different styles of vases from T K Maxx and Hobbycraft and I was lucky enough to borrow a whole load of hand decorated jars from a friend of my Godmother that she had made for her own wedding. We filled these with remote controlled LED candles that were a great buy, they made things so easy!
We decorated the top table with foliage that we laid out along the length of the tables and put some battery-powered fairy lights in amongst them. I bought hessian and lace cutlery holders to mark everyone’s place setting, along with a piece of ‘Mr & Mrs’ strawberry rock. For favours, we bought pin badges from Cancer Research and made a donation on everyone’s behalf, along with brass bottle openers in the shape of old fashioned keys, which I tied with a hand-stamped label with everybody’s names on them.
We laid out bottles of water and wine to accompany the afternoon tea and had a pick & mix station which went down really well with the children (and the big kids too). The stand was another thing we were lucky to borrow and looked really great on the day.
We bought an Instax Mini camera, loads of film and a plain guest book for everyone to fill with photos and messages for us. Our Best Man’s girlfriend, Christy, took charge of the camera and made sure we had photos of everyone. She was great at making sure everyone left us a note alongside their pictures- the guest book is great and something we’ll look back on in for years to come.
- When you were planning, what were the most important things that you wanted for your wedding?
Neither of us like a lot of fuss, the thought of being the centre of attention for a whole day was a little overwhelming so we knew we didn’t want anything too grand or extravagant. We wanted an informal, relaxed day where both us and our guests could enjoy themselves and didn’t want to have to worry about any small details (I’m notoriously laidback so the thought of stressing over a seating chart just isn’t me at all). Our biggest difficulty was probably finding the right venue as sadly there aren’t many spaces to choose from that will let you arrange your own catering and bring in your own drinks for the toasts. Once we had the hall booked, everything else seemed to fall in to place quite nicely.
The main priorities for us were an excellent photographer, great evening entertainment and a hog roast for Joe! We found Laura and knew we didn’t have to worry about the photos, we both knew we’d have a great selection to choose from and we weren’t disappointed. Ukebox were incredible and everybody had a ball dancing to them. I think we achieved our goal of a fun, relaxed day quite well- I know we certainly enjoyed ourselves!
- Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?
I think my main regret for the day was that we didn’t bring a back-up speaker at first. We had tested the speaker system in the hall on the Friday when we were setting up and everything had worked perfectly. Of course, in typical fashion, the connection was faulty on the day which meant the music kept fading in and out whilst we had our afternoon tea. My dad had to go home in the afternoon to pick up my brother’s amp which thankfully solved the problem but it had meant a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to the iPod for Joe whilst he was trying to eat his food. This was an unforeseen problem of course and certainly didn’t spoil the day in any way but it would have been nice if Joe could have eaten his lunch in one sitting!
Otherwise, I think things turned out pretty much exactly as we had hoped. There were probably some other elements we might have added in, had funds been unlimited, but I honestly don’t regret setting the date for 6 months’ time (as opposed to waiting longer and saving up). I think the lack of time to plan made us more efficient in making decisions and didn’t leave much time for changing our mind- something I probably would have been guilty of had we had longer to think about things!
My favourite part of the day was at the very end of the night, most of the guests had already left, leaving just my oldest family friends and mine and Joe’s closest friends. It was a chance to stop for a moment and take everything in and just appreciate how much everybody had helped us in the preparation and setup.
- Can you offer any advice to couples in the planning process?
My number one tip would be to stick to your guns- some people I spoke to were a bit surprised when I mentioned the Village Hall, with it not being a traditional choice as such, but I was determined to have somewhere I could decorate in our own style and somewhere we could relax and take things at our own pace and it really paid off in the end.
Also, my other comment would be to shop around- you don’t have to go direct to a specialised wedding supplier for everything. Most of my decorations came from eBay and Ali Express and if you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work in terms of setup, you can save a lot of money this way. If you’re not 100% sold on the traditional wedding styles, go for it and put your own spin on things- it’s your day and what matters is that the two of you are happy with the outcome.
Village Hall Wedding
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I also have some helpful wedding planning blog posts for you to have a look through here.