DIY Village Hall Wedding
Amy & Chris didn’t want a traditional wedding. So they did everything their own way. A week after moving into the first house they bought together. A rustic DIY village hall wedding full of love and laughter (and all of the good foods). And it was bloody brilliant. From start to finish. No bridesmaids or groomsmen, no formal group shots or drawn out speeches. Just fun and some really good tunes. But I’ll let Amy tell you all about it…
I can’t remember the exact moment I feel into the magic of Lifeline – but it was an instant hook. I’m not a natural bride, or stereotypically pulled by any of ‘the norm’ when it comes to a big white traditional wedding. Seeing shots of other humans out in the countryside looking hysterically happy, doing their own unique celebrations on their own terms was enough to actually make me want to get married – meeting the man of my dreams of course also helped.
We are great lovers of Yorkshire, the moor, and the beautiful countryside we have up here. So to be based in all of its magnificence was a top priority. Chris proposed (as a COMPLETE surprise) on our favourite spot on top of Ilkley Moor – a very special place for us both so finding a link there was key. We put my mum up at the Cow and Calf, and used that as a base in the morning for some dutch courage and photos. The team there are super stars.
Skipton Registry office homed our legalities. I saw it for the first time on the morning we walked in and said ‘I Do’. It was always designed to be functional, short and sweet. The delightful women who ran our ceremony absolutely surpassed these expectations and made it incredibly special.
I have a background in coffee, food and booze. Finding a venue where we would be able to indulge in everything we love was a priority. But it wasn’t easy. It turns out village halls are not what they used to be. The majority are now tied to local pubs, or their very own venue managers with a pretty wild amount of input and their own ideas… It look a bloody long time to scavenge and seek out a beautiful space that didn’t offer jagerbombs or corkage… HOWEVER, Bolton Abbey Village Hall is an absolute gem, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
We kept this area pretty simple. I knew I didn’t want to wear white, and to be honest I had a fair amount of backlash from family and blank faces from some friends when I suggested it wouldn’t be as expected. Which is crazy. I am so thankful for Chris, and our very best pals, for helping us stick to our instincts. My dark green A-line from Cos was a total dream, I will wear it for years. AND it had pockets. My shoes were a cheap high street purchase for a previous bridesmaiding experience. They were nude but comfortable and I liked the shape. So I covered them in glitter to claim them as mine.
I can’t cope with being styled in any way so I did my own hair & make up. There was a minor faff on the morning fighting with hair grips, but I stuck a few gold trinkets in from eBay and felt magnificent. My family are from a jewellery business called Hoppers based in Lincolnshire. Mum helped Chris find the engagement ring, our wedding rings and the beautiful drop earrings as a stealth Christmas gift one year. I also wore the STUNNING opal drop necklace that my mum wore herself on her wedding day. The rest of the beads were my own creations – I love a long necklace and loved gathering up all the gold trinkets to string up and wear.
Chris wore a handsome suit from Next, same for the shoes. He added an M&S belt and TM Lewin tie – it took some finding to get a near match to the dress!
We rejected quite a lot of tradition on this day – no bridesmaids, no best men, no formal flower arrangements etc. The bouquet was an impulse buy in Waitrose the day before, reconstructed to suit the occasion. As for the tables, we wanted something that lasted beyond the day and could be kept. I stock some of my illustration work at a magnificent shop called Short.Press in Leeds. who also sell the most beautiful plants, with the very best cultivating advice. Lydia helped us pick out a couple for each table, and a paired them with a heather from my favourite flower shop in the market as a nod to my beloved Grandpa. We then invited our friends and families to take them home, with a donation to our favourite charities if they felt inclined. We had a crowdfunding page already loaded in place of gifts to raise money for Alzheimers and Crohns.
The beautiful white cake with the ‘Superpals’ topper in it was by a wonderful lady called Jeanette who works at the family jewellery shop. The rest I baked a couple of nights before. I used to supply cakes to my old work place, and a lot are magic party cake recipes we grew up with. I have grown a reputation for the sweet goods, and couldn’t disappoint our guests.
With it being such a DIY wedding, and such a blank canvas at the hall, we were able to have a good think about how we wanted it to look. Candles, twinkling lights, plants were an obvious start point creating a nice atmosphere. The hanging candles were made from poster tubes, using glue guns to imitate trickling wax, painted white, with LEDs flickering on top. Strung with copper wire to make them float. We also found a load of lanterns to string up on offer in the supermarket. These were a mix of plain and marbled, as a nod to the planets and moon that Chris loves to gaze at. The invitations were chronic characters of all the food and drink we love – the basics to our party. I drew these and got a little help on the layout from our best pal Luke. They were printed by the dreamboats over at Print.Work in Leeds. These were stuffed with colourful confetti and posted out to all our pals.
Alongside the flowers I made good use of the #motherfrickinlaser I have at my work – Duke Studios. We imported the characters and designs that I drew for our invites so each guest had a laser etched coaster to keep and take home. We also gave each guest a bag of coffee – very kindly gifted to us from Dark Woods. Chris and I met while I worked in a cafe, with him popping in for an early morning cup. It was arguably their delicious beans that brought us together and kept him coming back.
We also used the laser cutter to paper cut the order of the day, the table plan, and etch out table names of all our favourite places we have discovered so far. One extra little touch was finding a hardback road map of the UK, we laser etched a note alongside asking people to pop in recommendations and notes for futures places for us to walk, explore, indulge and escape.
A major part of our day was the food and drink. I am very lucky with my work and the wonderful contacts I have made over the years. We experienced such kindness and gestures from all the wonderful people who helped on the day. Our beer was sourced via Duke Studios, Sheaf St and our pals Luke and Sara through the Curious Hop in Otley (our new home!). We had a calm keg of North Brewing Co Sputnik, and a wild keg of Bloom which was a major treat. We supplemented this with cans of our favourites – Transmission and Beavertown Gamma Ray plus Neck Oil for others to enjoy.
Despite my super wine based background (shops, bars etc for over 10 years), you just can’t beat Cava. We bought this en masse via a 25% off deal in a supermarket in advance. Having that many bottles in close proximity for so long without drinking was chronic. The red was our favourite – a fair-trade carmenere from Co-op. We had it on one of our very first dates, and saved up our collective points for over a year to buy it. White – Picpoul. A wine that has brought many joys to my family, and the first that Chris enjoyed. He didn’t drink much wine before me, especially not white. A triumphant success of mine.
We also offered damson gin homemade by Joe and Rosie, two of my oldest pals. They managed this while they also brought a brand new human into the world and moved house. Incredible. We used this with the welcome drinks for our own slant on a Kir Royal, and for some wonderful nightcaps later on. And then there was the homemade lemonade from my grannys recipe. Made by my two younger cousins – Sebastian and Hugo – the bottles had the sweetest messages written on them.
For the daytime we simply wanted a feast. Cheese, meat, olives, breads, dips, pate, salads (token gesture) and enough goodies for the vegetarians too. An excellent pal of mine escorted me to Costco to gather the majority of these treats, and a supermarket trip followed for party crisps and crackers etc. The salads were made by the delightful Grub and Grog – our resident cafe at my work, and the breads baked by Bondgate Bakery based in Otley – longterm supplier pals of mine over the years who also supplied a hundred sausage rolls to welcome us in. This was all served by one of our very best of pals – Kay – who manages the bar at Sheaf St. I promised all of our friends and family that I wouldn’t work on my wedding day and she ensured I didn’t lift a finger.
Later on we had Dukes Pizza to cater for a need for delicious, hot and quick grub which they completely surpassed. I think Chris may have loved this moment the most across the entire day – especially that fennel sausage topping. It is the main thing I have heard about from our guests. From this point and into the evening it was a free for all on all food and drink. Any leftovers from the feast were organised into a grazing trough and the pizza flew out. The night was BYOB and drink up any left from the daytime. We didn’t want limits of pricey bars, or anyone to go hungry. Basically as a big bloody treat for all.
Do what makes you happy, sack off intricate bullshit decorations if you can’t be arsed. Life is too short for one day. Lanterns are just as magic. All children, and many adults, love balloons. Pound shops do great ones filled with confetti. If you’re doing a DIY village hall wedding, still try to avoid mentioning the word wedding. We had so many disappointing quotes become double as soon as people knew it was for that kind of party. Genuinely outrageous in places. And get help when you need it. I knew I would be elbow deep in washing up if we didn’t have Kay, or the pizza later. And I would be mortified if we ran out of booze.
You do not need to be thinner, perfect, dressed in white, coiffed, decorated, being given away, spending nights apart, having formal speeches – UNLESS YOU WANT TO. The only thing people will actually notice is your smile. And if its not, perhaps they shouldn’t be invited. Being able to wake up with Chris that day, calmly get ready, then enjoy a relaxed glass of fizz with my mum was magic. Number one – talk to one another. It is all so easy to be swayed by what everyone else thinks, or be swept up in other peoples emotions. It is your day – to celebrate and enjoy as you wish – just make sure you are one another best pal, sounding board, and reality check. It is not just the bride, or the groom, or either of your families. It should be yours. If it wasn’t for our ability to stay strong to what we wanted, it would have been a very different day, and not half as much “ours” as this was. It wasn’t a perfect fairytale, but we didn’t want that – our DIY village hall wedding was the most magical day we could have dreamt of for us.
SO many magic moments! Top level would be the dance floor with all of our family and friends. Granny (my side) and Grandad (his) took the floor early on, and stayed on it. To have all the generations, and our friends over the years, all with us with giant smiles- that was the whole point. Also – The Moor. It had to be. In the calm before it all began we went for a walk in our finery, looked at our spot, and a random brass band started playing. The hysterical laughter that we had at that moment, we knew it was going to be an amazing day.