Charlotte Balbier

doing it for themselves. a vintage village hall DIY wedding near chester- alice & dan

April 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (28)

One of the biggest concerns for the majority of couples when planning a wedding is the budget, with hidden costs and little extras often taking brides and grooms way over their original limit. However today’s couple prove that with a savvy mind, a dash of enthusiasm and a sprinkling of imagination you can have your dream wedding without breaking the bank!

We love the pretty homemade bunting (well done mum), the retro board games and dance-happy guests that make this both a picturesque and enjoyable big day!

With images by Rachel Ryan Photography.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (2)

alice says: We got engaged 3rd August 2013. Dan had planned to do it at the open air cinema viewing of Amelie at the Roman Gardens in Chester, along with a picnic. However, with Dan not booking tickets in advance we were turned away and set off to eat our picnic elsewhere! After trekking over to the meadows to find a picnic spot I managed to step in the biggest cow pat – in sandals too! We then gave up, headed home and after a shower ended up having the picnic in the back garden! After the picnic Dan suggested we head up town for a drink and whilst walking over the suspension bridge played the old trick of ‘wait I need to tie my shoelace’ and there he was on one knee! It was a complete surprise, although we had been together for over three years I wasn’t expecting it!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (3)

Without my knowledge Dan had been to ask my dad’s permission too, which my dad really appreciated. Dan told me although he knew he had wanted to propose for a long time, he chose to do it then because he wanted our grandparents to experience it too. We are both very close to/admire our grandparents so this really touched me. Although my granddad unfortunately never made it to the wedding he was so excited/happy for us and so glad we got to share this experience in our lives with him.

We set the date for 7th February 2015. The time of year that we got married had never really bothered us that much, British weather is so unpredictable and as our wedding was going to be DIY budget we didn’t want to pay premium wedding prices for a summer wedding when it would probably rain anyway! We picked our wedding date a few months after getting engaged and after deciding a budget we worked out how long we would need to save up which resulted in February. Dan who is not really a fan of Valentine’s Day was adamant it couldn’t be on the 14th!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (12)

We got married at Eccleston Village Hall near Chester. Having lived close to Eccleston for most of my life, I had always been fond of the village, its church and the hall so for me it was an obvious choice. As soon as Dan came to look around he was taken with its charm too, and the price only costing a few hundred pounds to hire it for the weekend! This was the only venue we viewed as we knew immediately what we could do there!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (13)

It was really important to me that our wedding was about everyone having a great time, spending quality time with friends and family and a celebration that wouldn’t break the bank for our guests too! Eccleston was a short taxi journey for most of our guests and there were B&Bs close by for those that weren’t! Having the wedding at the village hall also meant we could hire our own bar without the hefty prices that you find at hotels. We looked the big rustic beams in the hall and its cute charm. The hall had lovely views of the river and lots of greenery around too. It was a blank canvas for us to throw a wedding party that was personal to us for our friends and family!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (19)

I’ve always loved being a bit crafty and would much rather, if possible, do something myself as opposed to buying it. The general style I wanted to reflect was a vintage, quaint fete theme. Lots of bunting (my mum and her friends had bunting parties and made it all), vintage crockery and fabrics. I genuinely had the best time planning the wedding and thankfully, sometimes a little reluctantly, Dan left me to it (still being very supportive of course). A great tip one of my mum’s friends passed on to me was that sometimes you can spend hours stressing over tiny details that often people won’t notice and although personal touches lovely, don’t over complicate things decoration wise.

I didn’t really have a colour scheme, which was pleased about. In the hall, the stage curtains were a deep red so I collected lovely floral fabrics in similar/complementing tones to this as it was such a big feature in the room. These colours also stood out well against the white walls in the hall. I chose white/pastel pinks for my flowers as I love feminine, pastel colours which complemented the navy bridesmaid dresses too.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (21)

The only thing I knew before I started dress shopping was that I wanted something covered in lace that didn’t show much, if any cleavage! I love lace, I think it’s so pretty and feminine and thought it would complement the theme well. I chose a fitted lace dress with a gentle fishtail which had an embroidered lace voile at the top so to cover my chest. I was never quite sure I would ever put a dress on and immediately know that it was ‘the one’ but I was wrong! I felt great in it straight away and comfortable too. I got my dress from Cheshire Rose Bridal.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (22)

Dan wore a three piece grey suit from Marks & Spencer with a blush pink tie from Debenhams.

Dan works at M&S Bank so was lucky enough to buy suits for himself and all five ushers with his employee discount, saving us quite a good amount for such good quality suits!

The bridesmaids wore a navy maxi dress from ASOS for £65, it was a really flattering, feminine fit with little lace cap sleeves. It was a real struggle to find a dress that fitted and suited five adult bridesmaids who are all different shapes and one being 20 weeks pregnant too!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (29)

My dad sorted wedding cars through friends of his, we had a maroon Mercedes dressed with a traditional wedding bow.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (30)

Our photographer was Rachel Ryan Photography. I saw Rachel’s work on Facebook whilst browsing vintage crockery hire. After viewing a few photographers but not really engaging with their pictures I was immediately excited by Rachel’s photographs and the natural story she captures through her work! After meeting Rachel, her professional yet passionate personality impressed us and her genuine enthusiasm for our wedding made us so excited and we really connected with her. Rachel really listened to us and made great suggestions to help our day run smoothly yet make the most of it too! On the day we both felt completely at ease with Rachel.

Following the wedding we were overwhelmed by the amount of photographs we received from Rachel, every single one edited. It relayed the story of our day all over again to us, bringing back so many great memories! Rachel also has a blog on her website which she updated about a week or so after the wedding. This was such a lovely, personal touch and a great way to show friends/family some photos from the day! We were so pleased we chose Rachel to capture our day.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (31)

I carried a white/pastel pink bouquet made by Clare at Cocoa Flower in Chester. It included avalanche and spray roses. Cocoa Flower replicated this pastel theme through the floral arrangements in the church too. These were faux flower arrangements we hired from them and to save money the ushers carried them down to hall after the ceremony. They were so good nobody noticed they were fake! I bought the flowers on the top table/welcome table discounted from a supermarket the day before and rearranged them myself in jars.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (32)

The main decoration we used in the hall was bunting hung from the beams. My mum spent hours hand sewing 40 metres of bunting together with a little help from myself and also by holding a bunting party with a few friends (and some wine)! I wanted lots of atmospheric lighting in the hall so hung fairy lights round the beams and had bird cages with tea light in on the tables from Home Bargains! They have a great wedding section there with lots of decorations and bits and bob’s at fab prices.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (38)

We both really loved the idea of a photo booth but they were way out of our budget so we bought lots of props made of card off eBay for £5 and glued them onto kebab sticks and then left them on the tables in milk bottles for people to take photos with!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (45)

As favours we gave each of our guests a scrabble tile keyring in their initial. We both love scrabble so wanted to incorporate this in a small way! We ordered the wooden tiles and keyrings separately from eBay for only £27 for the whole lot and then Dan spent an evening putting them together, resulting in a few finger blisters! We also had chocolates for everyone, kindly bought by Dan’s mum.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (40)

We chose a three tier chocolate sponge cake with white fondant from Marks & Spencer. We decorated it simply with a Lego bride and groom off eBay – Dan is still a massive fan of Lego, even at 27!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (42)

For food we had a vintage afternoon tea with lots of finger sandwiches, scones and miniature cakes. This was served on vintage crockery on the tables. The tea ladies also served lots of different teas as well as their own blend! We served the afternoon tea with prosecco which we bought again with Dan’s M&S discount. The afternoon tea worked out well with having a mixture of guests who are meat eaters/veggies as there was lots of choice for everyone without any hassle. For the evening meal we had a big pan of chilli – which was amazing! The Caterers were Yours Truly Vintage Catering Company. They left us a tin of homemade blended tea for us to take home too!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (47)

To keep guests entertained throughout the day we had a big vintage suitcase filled with lots of childhood games for people to play. We basically ransacked my nana’s house for all these! We had Hungry Hippos, Connect Four, Snakes and Ladders and Dominoes, to name a few. For the evening we had a DJ as we wanted something that people would enjoy, a crowd pleaser! We asked guests to give a request for the DJ on our RSVPs and Adam was great in honouring them! The DJ was very good in reading what people wanted and we had a full dance floor all night!

When figuring out the itinerary for the day it was important to us that things went as smoothly as possible for our guests. We made sure we reserved seating at reception drinks for grandparents so they weren’t left standing and we made SOS baskets in the toilets filled with bits and bobs such as safety pins, hair grips, mints and toiletries for any small fashion disasters that might happen throughout the day. We also baked lots of gingerbread men a few days before and put them in a basket near where guests entered the marquee after the ceremony. We didn’t want anyone to be hungry throughout the day so made these for people to have with their reception drinks!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (46)

I would definitely recommended Eccleston Village Hall to other couples who are looking for a budget DIY wedding. Eccleston Village Hall only hold eight weddings a year and it’s quite popular due to the picturesque surroundings. It does book up quite quickly!

On the lawn connecting to the hall we had a small marquee supplied by Border Bars and Marquees and then the bar inside free-of-charge and the prices were really reasonable. They helped us out massively throughout the day, serving the prosecco we bought to go with the afternoon tea as well as nipping out mid evening do to grab another bottle of Jagermeister (which my uncle had ‘discovered’ that night). Nothing was too much trouble for them, they were great!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (50)

It’s so hard to choose a favourite part of the day – I think the evening celebration was just so much fun, having all our friends and family together having the best time. It was also great to see all the decorations and organising coming together, it makes any stress or worries all worth it. The morning of the big day was also special, spending time with my bridesmaids and all the excitement flowing around from everyone was amazing. As well as the obvious pampering as well!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (62)

Dan’s parents very kindly booked us a surprise honeymoon to Majorca after the wedding. We didn’t have enough budget left for a honeymoon and so we were so grateful/excited! It was great to get away and reflect on the day by ourselves. The run up to the wedding was so exciting but very busy so we very much needed time to sit back and relax, which we were able to do.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (63)

My top tip to other Brides Up North is your budget doesn’t matter, there’s always a way to create your ideas with a bit of imagination – and help from family friends!

the big picture

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about the author

Rachel Parry
Rachel joined the Brides Up North editorial team as Features Editor in February 2015. Rachel draws on her news reporting background, experience in features, bridal & lifestyle editing for previous regional titles and time spent working for Yorkshire’s most successful PR agencies. Yet to tie the knot herself, Rachel's own wedding looks set to be very, very pretty...

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