Katy & Steve became Mr & Mrs Gray on a sleepy summer’s afternoon in Kent. The day was filled to the brim with personal touches, friends and family that had flown over from all other the globe and lots of hazy summer sunshine.
This was a special booking for me, having met Katy when I was in my early teens. We hit it off almost straight away with our sarcastic sense of humour and general silliness. I remember many a fun day out and giggling at her texts on my Nokia 3210 (yes, it was that long ago!). Our fun-filled friendship centred around who could make who laugh the hardest, and some very questionable nick names that I no longer remember the origin of (who was Ralph and who was Willy… and why?!). After having lost touch for several years I was so, so happy to hear from Katy and to get to witness her and Steve tie the knot.
The most memorable part of the day for me was Steve’s speech. I was truly bowled over by it - a truly stunning sonnet, a declaration of love (as Celine Dion so energetically sang about) and a heart felt celebration of Katy and all that she is. If it had been planned and written out before hand I could have shared some of it with you, but it wouldn’t have made for the special, authentic moment that it was.
Thank you both for trusting me with documenting such a beautiful and personal day x
Scroll down to hear from Katy & Steve all about planning a DIY wedding, finding the perfect venue and to see their favourite photos from their big day…
Why did you choose to get married where you did?
We live in London so we initially explored some of our local wedding venues but we found that catering prices quoted for the number of guests we wanted were really high. We had both already decided that we didn't want to spend a silly sum of money on our wedding so we were willing to look outside of London to see what was available - and hopefully cheaper.
We chose Kent because the Steve is from Kent and growing up Katy had spent quite a bit of time there - plus it is so beautiful. We found that the list of venues that could cater for our invite list of 120 guests was limited so that immediately cut out quite a few castles and manor houses. We were not so keen on a barn/tent wedding as you can NEVER guarantee no rain in the UK.
However, on one web search we found a little unknown church on a photographers website that had previously been used to host the whole wedding day so we went to check it out. We remember turning up this country lane to find this imposing old flint church, looking round and thinking it was a bit too rustic and a lot of work - but the building inside was stunning.
There was just about running water and electricity but no kitchen, no toilets and a fair amount of dust and BATS! We then visited a beautiful venue called The Secret Garden and when we arrived they were 45 mins off the start of a wedding. They let us have a look round and the gardens lived up to all expectations and everything was beautifully set. The problem with the secret garden was that with our number we would need a marquee and their only availability was September - if it rained we knew we would be stuck in a marquee which could have been anywhere as the venue was all about the gardens.
We had gone from one extreme to another - this dilapidated church to a stunning well trimmed beautiful gardens - but we took a deep breath and decided to go for the church. The building was just too good to pass up and even though it would take a lot of work and organisation, we could manage the whole day and really put our stamp on it. We also knew we would be able to spend as much or as little as we wanted and would have a lot of freedom to do as we liked. I think we also both secretly liked how different it was and were excited by the challenge.
What was your favourite part of the day?
We loved the whole thing! Cliche to say but no one part really stands out above all the others. The day came together exactly how we wanted it to - we had our friends and family around us to stand with us and support us in the commitments we were making to each other. We ate and drank (too much of both) good food and wine, had some wonderful speeches and were able to just hang out in the sunshine. A special mention should be made to the hog roast though which everybody agreed was exceptional. It must be said as well - our Vicar was actually called Ravi Holy which is pretty special.
You boldly took on a lot yourselves, any advice for DIY bride & grooms?
Gosh there is so much advice we feel we could pass on. The biggest piece of advice I would give any Bride and Groom is to be flexible and not fixed on your ideal picture of your wedding. To get bridesmaid dresses and table runners in the exact colour of your scheme is harder than you would imagine - plus with DIY weddings, the more extras you want, the more you'll have to set up and pack down when the day arrives. Also if you're a perfectionist about what you want, the day will never live up to your expectations or will cause you more stress than you need.
Next we would say be organised...
From researching the best deals to knowing when the next sale is coming up, to creating the running order for the day so everyone knows what they are doing, organising various suppliers deliveries and pick up - with DIY there is a lot to do! It also takes time to DIY - we hand wrote all of our name settings which must have taken an entire weekend. And also don't take on too much, we created a pattern for our wedding using a number of botanical flowers which we then used in our stationery as well as printing on material for bunting around the venue. Making 200m of bunting from scratch really does take a lot longer than you expect!!!! When we put together our flower jars for tables, we glued and made all the lace ribbons and bows to them which took a weekend but longer than that was collecting the jars from friends and family in the first place.
Also, enlist help.
We are not very good at asking for help but we had some wonderful friends who stepped in and asked what they could do. Don't be afraid to get people involved. DIY is fabulous though as you can really make the day about yourselves and what you want!
And finally... sell and take back what you have bought.
We looked at a number of hire companies for decorations but found it was often cheaper for us to buy our own decorations than to rent them. Although this is an outlay at the beginning, we managed to sell the wedding decorations and make back nearly £2,000. It's worth remembering that Ikea also have a 365 day return policy if you decide having used something you no longer want it. It's a small known secret that they advertise on the back on their receipts but made a huge difference. In fact I loved it so much I am starting my own party planning business to launch shortly!
What is your favourite photo from the day?
Our favourite photos were the one of us clinking glasses outside the church - the one with us stood in front of the car in front of the church and then the one with us jumping outside with the bridesmaids et al where Steve is really high in the air. There were so many awesome shots it is hard to pick!
Where did you honeymoon and what relationship/marriage advice do you have for others?
We honeymooned in style in Mauritius - Preskil Beach Resort for 2 glorious and much needed weeks. You definitely need a break after a DIY wedding!!
To think of anything more than what people normally talk about is difficult. But really marriage is something you choose and have to work out everyday as you both change through life. Honesty with yourself and each other is key as well as to live in the moment, not living for a future day or event. And when you've got that all down, eat a little too much and laugh a little too long.
Have adventures and learn each other daily.
Thank you to Katy and Steve for asking me to capture their special day, and for their answers to my nosey questions!
Here’s some info about the details of their day:
Dress: Lusan Mandongus - purchased from Hitched Bridal in Chislehurst
Shoes: Benjamin Adams - second hand from ebay (they were only being worn for one day so instead of paying £180 I got them for £40)
Veil: Vintage second hand cathedral length veil - Alisa brides New York
Bridesmaid dresses: Ted Baker 'Tie the Knot' wedding pop up - design is oriental
Groomsmen: Ted Baker from Moss Bross
Cake: Croft & Green Bespoke wedding cakes - designed by the bride and groom
Flowers: Distinctly Floral - Amanda was incredible!!!
Caterers: Pomegranate Catering - Wye
Calligraphy & decor: The Bride
Printers for stationery and all printing on the day: Oldacres - Hatton Garden. Designs by the bride and groom.
Car: White Rolls Royce Silver Cloud from Kent and Medway wedding cars (the groom came in the Ashford Self Hire van - oh so glamorous)
Rings: Engagement ring was a 1915 platinum vintage ring from John Joseph at Grays Bond Street and the wedding bands were commissioned from in The Wedding Ring Boutique - Greenwich market where we live.