So 2017 has been a big year for us. In January 2017 we welcomed our baby girl, Evie. In April 2017 we decided we were going to move our estimated wedding date forward from February 2018 to June 2017.
It gave us about 10 weeks to organise and plan our wedding. A lot of people have said they don't know how I did it but this is the girl who did her university dissertation a month before it was due. I work best on a short deadline. The same goes if you give me 10 minutes notice before you drop round - amazing what motivation I have to clean in that time!
So this post will be in four parts! A little timeline of when I did things and how and of course sharing all the wonderful companies that helped it happen.
The Deciding Factors.
When we got engaged in May 2016, it wasn't more of a case of when we wanted to get married, it was when can we afford to get married? We knew we were expecting a baby in January 2017, so we set our sights on 2018 for the Wedding. Summer dates were proving expensive and as we both suffer big time with hay fever, a winter or Autumn date seemed the safe bet. I did a little browsing of venues shortly after we were engaged. I got some price lists through (shock, horror!) and started following a few venues on Facebook and even went to a wedding show for some inspiration. I must admit at this point I wasn't feeling the push of motivation to get much sorted, I was busy nesting for my baby girl and we were slowly doing bits to the house. The wedding was put on the back burner.
In April 2017 as I was browsing through Facebook, a sponsored post came up. Last minute wedding dates at Woodhall Manor. Now I had looked at this venue last year, it was perfect and it had a price tag to match to the point I didn't even follow up going to the open day because my dreams were already crushed when I got the price list. Curiosity got the better of me (and the advertising clearly worked) as I clicked on the link. Imagine my amazement when packages came up for £4,000.00 including 50 day guests and all food. I'll give you a hint, thats about £10k CHEAPER than the summer dates for this venue. I jokingly said to Mart - can you imagine if we booked a last minute wedding date?
[photo by Sharon Cudworth Photography]
Next thing I'm emailing them to enquire what dates they have available.
They came back with four dates, the last two being Thursday 22nd June and Monday 26th June 2017. It was suggested we check with the local registrar for their availability before proceeding with anything. We were also invited to an open day on the 19th April.
We sat down - could we do it? We'd have to get a loan and we'd have to be on it with planning, but I was on maternity leave - we could do it, right?
17/04/2017 - Is everyone free?
One of the most important things in planning a last minute wedding is can everyone you need to be there make your date? We spent the Monday night messaging and ringing all our family to check no one was on holiday over these dates. By some miracle everyone was in the country! (If you knew how frequent our family went away on trips then you would realise the scale of miracle this was!) This of course created the buzz of oh my god, are you guys getting married!
We MIGHT be. ahh.
Next up was checking my two bridesmaids were available - I created a group chat on WhatsApp (highly recommended for modern age bridesmaid arrangements) and yes they were both available!
The deciding factor on the date in the end was due to the fact my mum and sister had tickets to see Annie in London on the Thursday date! Monday 26th June it was then.
There was of course some grumble about it being a Monday date but I can tell you the key to a last minute wedding is a Monday date - suppliers are your friends! I will talk more about that later.
18/04/2017 - Checking the legal bit
Next up - the registrar. VERY IMPORTANT.
So it is important to note you need to make sure the registrar is available on your chosen date otherwise you won't be legally getting married that day. You can phone and reserve your booking and you pay the balance at least 6 weeks before your wedding date.
Another important factor is you need to give a notice of marriage and this must be done at least 28 days before you are due to get married. The other factor is that even if you have more than 28 days to play with, you need to ensure your registry office has appointments available before your timeframe. We arranged in April and couldn't get a date until mid May to give notice. We cut it VERY fine indeed. You can read more about the rules HERE.
We booked a time slot for 1pm on Monday 26th June 2017 and I spent the next 24 hours in panic mode that someone else was going to swoop in and steal my date from the venue.
19/04/2017 - Booking the Venue
We gathered up the mother troops from both sides and we went along to the open evening after work. The venue was just as beautiful inside as it was on the outside and I spent the entire hour with a smile permanently fixed on my face.
We sat down with the venue staff and confirmed we would love to book one of their last minute dates. The deposit was paid and next thing we knew - we were going to get married in 10 weeks time!
These cards were gifted to me when I was engaged - they are from Milestone World and a great way to document (or work out!) the wedding planning process. We may have missed some of them out - I imagine they are usually used across one or two years!
20/04/2017 - Colour Schemes
Now the real fun begins, the planning! The only issue I had was all that I had imagined for a wedding (and pinned on Pinterest)was for a winter wedding and now I was having a middle of June wedding. I needed to rethink a lot of things.
Originally I was going to have Burgundy or navy dresses for my bridesmaids but it seemed a bit out of season for my Summer Wedding. The important thing was I needed to work out my colours and then I could get ordering the bridesmaid dresses and everything else that requires a theme.
I had my two best friends as bridesmaids, as much as I would have loved to have all my girl cousins and my sister, it was going to cost too much and with just 50 day guests, I needed some people to be in the aisles and not all walking down it. I wanted a style to suit both of my bridesmaids so I went about browsing some different sites that sold bridesmaid dresses. What I learnt is that lots of high street shops now do dresses! The year before we got our dresses for my mums wedding from Quiz. Maria had already purchased our bridesmaid dresses for her October wedding from Dorothy Perkins. So I started off on these sites and jotted down a few ideas and what colours they were. This is where your group bridesmaid chat comes in handy as you can throw ideas into there and see what your BM think. The good thing about Quiz and DP is they have sizes that range from size 6 to 20/22, so often you can find a style that works for all your bridesmaids and they can wear the same colour.
I also made a new Pinterest board - SUMMER wedding. I must have spent about two hours just going through summer wedding ideas and pinning things to give me inspiration. This website is so handy for keeping all your cluttered thoughts and bookmarks together. You can add your own links from sites you see and photos to the account to keep things together.
22/04/2017 - Dresses and Rings
After a couple of days of searching and pinning, I discovered that the site I had planned to get my wedding dress (Wed2b) from also did Bridesmaid dresses.
I loved the style, it would suit both of my friends and the colour was summery enough but not too different from my original ideas for my wedding. We were due to go to Norfolk for a family holiday at the end of April and so it was decided we would purchase both my dress and the bridesmaid dresses in the Norwich store while we were away. With a colour to work with the rest could start to fall into place.
We then worked on things we could start getting ticked off and sorted straight away. We spent the first day off together in town visiting H Samuel. Luckily my sister worked here at the time and I admit did ALL the research for me regarding rings (including e-mailing me a A4 document (assignment!) on my options and her suggestions. We went in to see one of her colleagues and he assisted in letting us trying on the rings to decide which to purchase. Now this is where things can be as cheap or expensive as you wish to make them. Personally, Mart and I weren't too fussed on having expensive rings, we wanted good quality ones but we didn't need bling. We made a pretty quick decision and ordered them in. It is defiantly worth asking what would suit your engagement ring and matching the type of material it is made from. You are going to have to live with this decision for the rest of your lives!
Next up was purchasing Evie's bridesmaid dress! Now I had imagined she would be about one when we got married and now she would just be 5 months. I however had already picked out the dress I wanted to purchase, I had seen it a few months before in Monsoon and fell in love with it.
[Photo by Sharon Cudworth Photography]
PS - It's currently in the sale!
So it was decided we would have two colours - Pink and Gold. We popped into Coes to get an idea what sort of suits we wanted and the colour. We knew it would be hard to match the pink of the bridesmaid dresses, so it was decided the men and the children would be in gold and I'd have my two besties in pink. This worked really well to have a contrast and two colours to play with to match the other elements of the wedding.
23/04/2017 - CAKE CAKE CAKE
Now another important factor to consider - the Cake! While pinning into the night I had gathered a few ideas up.
I wanted simplicity and I knew I wanted cupcakes. My mum had done cupcakes at her wedding, as well as another friend and I was confident they go down easier than slices. If there is one thing I've learnt from my job in an office - people like food they can walk by and grab without feeling guilty (or having to make small talk with poor Janice about how sad it is she is leaving when all they wanted was an extra donut).
So it was time to call upon my friend of 24 years and an excellent baker - Laura. Yes I know its last minute but pretty please could you make our wedding cake/cakes. Thankfully she was fully on board! We also knew they would taste amazing because she had done the cakes for my mums wedding the year before.
A quick snapshot of the Pinterest photos either side and she confirmed easily done and we arranged to discuss further in May. Brilliant, another decision made and another thing ticked off the list. We were whizzing through and it hadn't even been a week yet.
24/04/2017 - Decoration Planning
I seem to be targeted by Facebook advertising a lot (or I'm the perfect consumer) because I found my place names via Facebook too. Manta Makes came up showing wooden names and with 10% off your first order. The names worked out at £1.29 each and we thought they would be nice for people to take home with them. They come in plain wood and I bought a can of gold spray paint from Hobbycraft to spray them all after. We also bought our table numbers from here and I sprayed them also. They had a turn around of about 3 weeks so I'm glad I ordered these when I did. The only downside to last minute planning is some things might have longer turn around times, especially if they are handmade, therefore it is worth trying to purchase these things as soon as possible.
25/04/2017 - Invitations
Pre-last minute wedding me would have spent weeks working out how I was going to design my invites and I had a whole Pinterest board on wedding invite ideas. However last minute wedding me had to make a fast and affordable decision as we were due to go away for a family holiday at the end of April and I needed the invites to arrive before then.
It is also worth noting at this point we had to do the very difficult decision of the guest list. Our package contained 50 day guests with optional add ons. We worked our day list out to be 55 and paid the extra 5 heads. We had to stick to strictly family with just a handful of our close friends. We then added on evening guests to contain a lot of our friends, however due to it being a school night and some of them not based in our home town, this number turned out to be an additional 30 in the end.
I used two different companies for our evening and day invitations, this is based on deals I got regarding how many invites I was ordering to make it cost effective.
The day invites were ordered from Optimalprint as they do lovely invite designs with matching menu enclosures as part of bundle deals. We got a money off deal that was being advertised at the time and our order of 30 invites came to £52.00 with a 2 day delivery turn around.
I was really impressed with the quality of the invites and they looked just as nice for the fact I'd spent 30 minutes on them to if I had designed or made the invites and spent days on them. Time is money my friend!
Our evening invites were ordered from Truprint and again I had a 15% off code (most of the time if you sign up to any website you get a discount or an e-mail of a discount to look out for) we ordered 40 7x5 cards with the fastest delivery for £34.00. This would ensure we received both sets of our invitations before we left for our holiday on the 28th April.
26/04/2017 - Toppers and planning
It was around this date I thought I needed to get myself a planning book to keep everything together. I already had a Paperchase scrap book at home and some stamp letters and paperclips. So I set about dividing the sections up to cover everything I needed to organise and plan and used the paperclips to bunch these sections together or attach any photos or sample ideas to give me inspiration.
I also received our beautiful cake topper from Capola Designs who I found via my friends post on Instagram. This came so quickly and beautiful quality and a great price (£13!) and fitted our theme perfectly.
27/04/2017 - Seating Plan
This was hands down one of the hardest parts of my last minute wedding. It is actually really hard to please everyone while fitting into a certain number of seats around tables.
I found the easiest way to plan (due to the many changes you might have to make as your brain works it out)was to write all your guests names on sticky labels and draw some circles for your table arrangements. This way you can pick people up and place them down and shuffle them about until you are happy. When you are happy you can then type up a final list (print one for you, one for the venue) and its handy to put peoples meal orders next to them as well.
Now Mart and I both have separated parents and this always makes things a little interesting at weddings. Everyone does it differently, but we wanted our parents and siblings to sit with us at the top table. We placed one of our own children between each parent to keep the peace and we placed our siblings on the end of the table each side to box them in. We figured this is the one day of our lives we could ask our parents to sit together again for us, I know this doesn't work with everyone but if you can play the 'but it's my wedding day' card then do it!
We are extremely lucky to have all our grandparents earth side with us and therefore thought it would be lovely to sit them all together on one table. We ensured they got the table closest to the top table for the optimal sight and hearing spot.
There are so many different ways to seat people and I can honestly say working it out is brain taxing but remember - it is YOUR day and don't start taking requests from people because you will end up stressing yourself out. It's for a maximum of 2 hours at the end of the day and people can get up between courses if they must.
[Photo by Sharon Cudworth Photography]
It all worked out fine on the day!
So we were 10 days into our wedding plans by this point, I felt I had achieved a lot! What I haven't mentioned before is in this 10 weeks we also had the following - a week away in Norfolk with family to celebrate my mums 50th, a week away in Butlins for our little family holiday, Logan's 4th Birthday, a trip to Thomasland, a visit from America of Martin's family and an ongoing garden project.
Told you we don't do things by half right?
End of Part 1!
Least we had a hot tub on holiday!