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Happy Friday Lovely People!

We have such a beautiful wedding to share with you today. It’s been a pleasure putting this post together as Zoe has one of those infectious smiles that instantly invites you to smile back and the way she describes her and Steve’s amazing wedding has completely warmed my heart. She is also a reader of Festival Brides and used our blog as inspiration to plan her day so of course that’s made me love her even more!!

I’m sure that after reading this post you would have fallen in love with Zoe and Steve just as much as we have!

Zoe and Steve held their Tree Top Wedding ceremony at Sole Street Treehouse, Faversham which was then  followed by their reception at Chilham Village Hall, Canterbury. More or less everything at their wedding was handmade including their beanbags for seating; fete games for entertainment; and goody bags for each guest with handmade gifts inside including engraved ceramic love hearts, bookmarks and train spotter badges! Their friends and family pitched in with cakes and crafts. They basically cut, stuck, sewed, cemented, sawed, glued, stamped and moulded for a whole year but, if the pictures are anything to go by, it was totally worth it.

Enjoy reading this one guys…………..it is guaranteed to inspire you for your big day.

Over to Mrs Zoe Croucher……..

Don’t you want to take your coat off……..

“Whilst on a camping tour of the south coast in my ridiculously small two seater car (long term dream of mine) for my 30th birthday, we left Bristol and set off for my favourite place in the world. Heavy rain showers and glorious sunny spells teased us all the way down to Cornwall. As we arrived at the beach, I kid you not, the clouds parted and the sun won the battle and the temperature soared. I distinctly remember a conversation that went like this. ‘Don’t you want to take your coat off? It’s gorgeous now.’ That was me to the other half. ‘Nope’ he said as we passed surf dudes stripped to the waist and girls in bikinis and flip flops ‘I’m still not quite warm enough’.’ Weirdo’, I remember thinking. A few moments later all became clear as he wobbled on one knee in the sand dunes and popped the question with a ring from his coat pocket, to which my response was met with popping the cheeky bottle of bubbly we had on hand for my birthday. Cue aching smiling faces for the rest of the day.

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An outdoor adventure on a budget…..

We knew exactly what we wanted from our first trip to the pub to discuss our dream day – an outdoor adventure on a budget. Ok, a bit risky with the British climate, but it turned out to be the hottest day of the year so every photo is caked in glorious sunshine. Thank you weather gods! To keep costs low, we had two different venues. Our wedding ceremony took place up a treehouse at Sole Street in Kent (I’m pretty certain there’s nothing quite like getting married barefoot to your best mate up a tree amongst the sun dappled leaves) and after a bellini or two playing games on the lawn and eating ice cream in the sun, we headed to a local medieval village hall in Chilham to celebrate long into the evening with pimms, real ale and fete games. Our one lavish expense was the wonderful red Routemaster bus ferrying guests between the two venues, which meant everybody could have a drink with us and hang out together on our mini adventure. Luckily my folks live in France so they single handedly kept the party going with their contribution of wine! 

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Matalan and a customised wedding dress….

We chose not to spend a fortune on outfits (or anything else really!). The boys waistcoats were from Matalan and my dress was £50 from ebay which I customised with a sharp pair of scissors. What a relief though as the end of the evening proved that I am the messiest, clumsiest person, so the dress is well and truly covered in battle scars, especially after the spacehopper race, but it makes it seems so much more loved!

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A Square of fabric and a hiding place….

We kicked off the wedding with homemade invitations asking all our loved ones to send us a square of fabric with which I made a rather colourful quilt which is an awesome keepsake but also gave me something to hide under on the top deck as my groom-to-be boarded the same bus for our trip to the treehouse!

All the little details were homemade including decorations, signage and games with a heavy emphasis on recycling whatever I could lay my hands on so the entire day felt so personal and ensured our guests were always entertained.

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A Coffee Pot, a Bamboo Cane and lots of Cement…..

We had 40 minutes to get the treehouse venue decorated which left us 40 minutes to get ready as in makeup, hair, dress on, bucks fizz down, jump on bus. We did it though! I purposefully had the boys in the family mixing concrete and pouring it into coffee pots weeks before. Each coffee pot had a bamboo cane with a hook at the top. On the day we literally plonked these pots along the paths and hooked on our bunting. This saved loads of time. We filled old tin cans with ivy and hung them on shepherd crooks to create an aisle. We collected blankets from charity shops and friends for guests to sit on and I made cushions too, some shaped like hearts from old pillowcases and some with the words ‘love’, ‘honour’ etc stitched on with black wool. 

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A Quiz, Yay Flags and lots of stitching….

I made swinging hearts from an old pvc tablecloth and fishing wire which hung from the treehouse and swayed in the breeze. We planted up pots with red roses and ivy too. I made numerous signs inscribed with words of love and some comedy messages too to make our loved ones chuckle. We made YAY flags for everyone to wave as they pronounced us husband and wife. I also stitched fabric covers to booklets for each of our guests which gave the highlights of the day and also a silly quiz for something to do whilst they waited – they could look up what tree they were according to their birthday and see what characteristics they might share. 

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Mum’s Homemade Sausage Rolls….

We used a pop up gazebo (can highly recommend for speed!) and purchased a few cheap benches in the winter sale which we used for reception seating along with homemade bean bag squares instead of hiring chairs. We made our own Bellini’s with fruit juice and sparkling wine along with Steve’s mum’s legendary homemade sausage rolls. One friend made us quoits for the lawn games, another cut a secret heart out of a railway book to beautifully store our rings, we were so lucky that so many people wanted to get involved.

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Handmade Letter Lights, hula hoops and a train enthusiast…..

At the hall we had a bit more time the day before so we put up bunting (in total I think I made over 150m for the two venues!), fairy lights and hula hoops dressed with ivy and red tissue paper flowers hung from the rafters. My Dad made us some letter marquee lights which are now our bedside lights – they’re lush! We found some old abandoned frames so I converted some of our favourite photos from our adventures into railway station adverts as Steve is a bit of a train enthusiast. We put these along the sides of the hall with a mixture of our floor and table lamps from home to create more romantic lighting in the hall. We also made our own crate tables to display the lamps on and stencilled them with some of our favourite things like Cadburys and Hornby! 

We also created a photo wall of us as children and as a couple and displayed framed silly poems we had written about each other which people found hilarious and provided a spot to bond with others, albeit laughing at us. Each table had potted flowers which held the hessian table numbers which we made from old bags.  

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Wild Flowers, a goody bag and a great british bake off….

Two day before, we spent an hour at a flower meadow in Maidstone with our folks picking our own flowers in the sunshine. It was such a gorgeous experience and a great moment to relax in the calm before the big day. The following day, our aunts then filled old jam jars which we had antiqued up with spray paint and so the tables looked so very pretty with all the blooms. Steve and I spent quite some time printing and making gifts for the goody bags for each guest as we wanted them to be able to take something home with them that summed us up. So we made engraved ceramic hearts for the girls, and re-covered playing cards displaying the rules to our favourite game – Poop Head or something of a similar name!!! We made bookmarks featuring pictures from our favourite places, trainspotter badges, hand stamped packets of seeds and threw in a few sweeties too. The bags looked amazing on the tables and helped make it look so special when you first walked in.

We went with a cake table instead of a cake. Cake is our thing and luckily lots of lovely bakers wanted to offer their services – it ended up looking like a professional patisserie at the back of the hall! Along with cake, a little tipple was also quite important to us so we set up two bars – one for pimms and real ale and another for wine and so we made pub style chalkboard signs inscribed with booze menus.

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Handpainted Signs and Splat the rat…..

Outside we used gazebos to house the fete games that we had built from scratch like the coconut shy (windbreak poles and half a tennis ball), splat the rat (bit of gutter, old shelf and Ikea rats), fireman sling (Steve made a bit of plywood look like the inside of a steam engine which you had to throw coal at, made from old black socks and rice) and catch the duckling (a paddling pool, hooks on plastic ducks and fishing rods from canes, corks and hooks). We hand painted the signs for each game and I even converted an old shelf to a long AMUSEMENTS sign which now has pride of place in our lounge. Back inside the hall and my Dad had made us an old fashioned sweet cart for the kids, big and small alike, as well as a red and white striped photobooth which we added a selection of silly hats to and some printed speech bubbles – it was very popular with our guests after a few drinks meaning some hilarious shots. We will be using these photos to make up our guest book along with our raffle tickets which we left on the dinner tables and asked each person to write us a message or leave a pearl of wisdom. They are hilarious and we absolutely loved reading these while we were on honeymoon. 

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Any advice for couples planning their wedding day?

A DIY wedding is not for the faint hearted, but if you are pretty organised and a little creative, it will be easy. But remember to start early. We cut, stuck, sewed, cemented, sawed, glued, stamped and moulded for a whole year, it was ridiculous, but it was totally worth it. 

Also, make a budget, add a little bit for emergency plastic glasses and such things that crop up the day before, and then stick to it. There’s no need to go crazy with the cash for just one day. 

Guests love activities so make sure there’s not a single moment for them to get bored – think puzzles, games, photos to get people talking and giggling. 

Figure out what would really make your day and then try and do it yourselves and don’t be afraid to ask for help – friends and family all wanted to get involved and that made it so much more special for us. And them as they had a stake in our big day! 

Definitely schedule in some alone time after the ceremony. Lots of people said this to us and we’re so pleased we made time for a private photo session. It was only for 20 minutes but it was so lovely to just have a giggle and catch up about our mornings without the other one and what crazy things had happened so far. Oh and to have an emergency practice session for our first dance which we had totally forgotten about! 

Don’t feel you have to spend too much money on a wedding dress as it is only for one day. By the end of the evening I proved that I am the messiest, clumsiest person, as the dress was well and truly covered in battle scars, especially after the spacehopper race, but it makes it seem so much more loved now.

It really is possible to have the wedding of your dreams on a budget as it is all in the details. You just need to be prepared to beg, borrow and steal and perhaps use a little elbow grease and test the extent of your friendships. Most importantly have fun whilst you’re planning – we incentivised friends and family with dinner and drinks for evening crafting sessions, bbqs at the end of long days concreting, we spent hours giggling on YouTube researching music – Discovery Channel  anyone? The build-up was just as much fun and filled our memory banks with lots of funny moments to look back and laugh at. Plus any excuse to head to the pub to discuss what fete games to make and how best to tackle the ‘drunk-after-one-glass’ member of the congregation. It was definitely a year we will never forget. Plus after the wedding, arriving home and realising you don’t have to hurriedly make dinner so that you can crack back on with sewing more beanbags is such a wonderful feeling!”

The Line Up

Photography: Tim Stubbings
Ceremony Venue: Sole Street Treehouse, Faversham
Reception Venue: Chilham Village Hall, Canterbury
Red Decker Bus: Ted at Routemaster Travel South
Bride’s Dress: Ebay, then customised
Bride’s Shoes: TK Maxx 
Bride’s Jewellery: Something old earrings & Etsy bangle as something new. Something blue brooch from best man in Australia. Something borrowed was a pocket watch which my Mum and Grandmother wore on their wedding days.
Groom’s Outfit: Matalan & Jaeger  
Cake table: Homemade by friends and family. 
Flowers: Handpicked by us at Blooming Green Flower Meadow and arranged by family. 
Entertainment (Band/DJ/Silent Disco etc): Ceremony tracks from Festival Brides. The dinner was a mixture of our favourite chill out tunes. Evening was down to our cousin and his ipod with requests from friends. 
Stationery: Homemade
Ice Cream Trike: Becca Green 
Caterers: Orchids Catering
 

Thank you so much to Zoe and Steve for sharing their day with us. You’re both an inspiration – we can’t believe how much work went into your wedding but it 100% paid off – all your elements were great. LOVE the goody bags! I want one!

Have a lovely weekend peeps.

Big DIY Love

Festival Brides xxx

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