Miss to Mrs Real Life Weddings – Fox’s, Real Ale and Sweet Peas

I am very excited about the wedding I have to show you this week. It is the big day of one of my lovely Facebook followers, Sam.

Sam says that she loves finding independent maker-artists through Facebook, and is amassing a collection of handmade goodies from FB artistes with which she decorate her windowsills and walls at her GP surgery. She loves Quirky, and adores the fact she is allowed to express part of her own personality at work.

She had applied the same idea to her wedding last August, and because it was so DIY and crafty inspired she thought I would like to hear about it. I did! In fact I loved it!!

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Rob and I met at ballroom dance classes early in 2010. I was a newbie, and he’d been dancing for years but shy as he is, he graciously volunteered to partner me up to help me along. Our first inofficial date was to Blackpool to buy some dance shoes, which we were totally unsuccessful at achieving!! We love walks and gardening and he proposed to me in a wildflower meadow 3 years after having stumbled across it by accident in Slaidburn.

Rob’s surname is ‘Fox’, and I love foxes! So it just had to be incorporated into our wedding day, but not too overkill. I’m Chinese-Malaysian. That is, I’m Chinese by ethnicity but brought up in Malaysia.

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Having big Chinese banquet weddings is part of my culture weddings.  My brother had 300!! guests at his. I however did not want that, and I wanted a really individual and personal wedding with people both Rob and I knew and loved.

In Malaysia we have so many religions and cultures that it is normal to be legally married at the registry office – usually with only close family in attendance, a few weeks before the ‘ proper wedding’. This allows us the freedom to celebrate the union in any way, shape or form. So we decided on a similar approach to our wedding to free us from the constraints a civil ceremony in the hotel grounds would have imposed on us. We officially married the day before our ceremony, which meant we could have a friend ‘marry’ us at the hotel.

I couldn’t decide on a ‘theme’ or colour scheme. I made the rookie mistake of turning up unplanned at a wedding fayre after a day out on my own. Talk about deer in headlights moment!!! Everyone asked where I was getting married and when and what colours I was planning etc and I had no answers to any of it. I decided then I was just going to do it completely my way.

We grow our own veg and flowers in our back garden and Rob proposed in a wildflower meadow, so it my ideas stemmed from there. I wanted to grow as many of my own summer flowers as I could and supplemented these with flowers from my in-laws and some very local growers. I collected clear coloured galss vases of varying sizes from charity shops for the table decorations.

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A backdrop was important to me to personalise our ceremony which was going to be held in a hotel function room, so I hand crafted giant crepe paper flowers which could be transported in our car and attached to some wicker folding room dividers to act as a screen. One panel was re-purposed to be a backdrop to our photobooth! We spent Christmas 2014 with Rob’s parents drawing and cutting out paper petals!! I found some tutorials online but I also made up my own as we went along.

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I enlisted the daughter of one of my surgery receptionists who was starting out her own business in design and handmade crochet items to design our wedding invitations, programmes and my handpainted wedding shoes. Charlotte of Charlotte Amy Designs was absolutely brilliant and completely embraced my vision for our wedding. She had never painted shoes before but I had gotten the idea from Pinterest and gave her free rein. They are amazing and my most treasured wedding keepsake!!

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Our invitations were printed on beermats as Rob and I enjoy real ale and one of our first dates was to Hawkshead Brewery Beer Festival. They also supplied beer for our wedding, but I sent Rob and his best man on a personalised brewing experience at Nutbrook Brewery to make a special beer for our wedding as wedding favours. We called it the ‘Yellow Fox’ as my surname in Chinese means ‘yellow’.

BW-11Rob works for the Environment Agency and we are very keen on reusing and recycling so we wanted everything to serve a dual purpose – invites as beermats, programmes as fans, ribbon wands for the kids to play with.

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My dress was a second hand Justin Alexander as the style I wanted was a previous season and I wanted to spend my money on other things more personal to me.

BW-21I collected brooches from ebay and Etsy and local charity shops and had some sent to me from family and friends and made a bouquet for myself and my maid of honour. Incorporated into my bouquet is a fox, a blue owl (Rob supports Sheffield Wednesday!), a stone cross from my mum, a flower from the friend who introduced us, a dandelion to represent my dad (there is a story behind that!), and some from my aunts.  I made the boys boutonnieres with buttons and feathers and drawer pulls.  I also made a ring book/box by cutting out a heart shaped cavity inside a book to hold our rings.

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Instead of confetti, I went for wedding wands as they could be kept as a memento and also we didn’t have to worry about messing up the hotel grounds! One of my best friends made and decorated our wedding cake, which I topped off with a pair of fox salt-and-pepper shakers and a handmade Scrabble tile ‘Mr + Mrs’ bunting.

BW-260Rob’s father hand cut, cured and varnished and the wood slices, upon which the cake and the vases of flowers we used as table decorations sat. My aunts, sister-in-law and mum worked until past 1am arranging flowers in vases the night before the wedding.  I am also blessed to have a close friend,  Sofie Close from Headturners in Leyland who is a professional hair stylist do my hair for me. She even adapted it for my change in outfit for the first dance!

My maid of honour flew in for the wedding from Malaysia. We opted for a bright turquoise as I felt it would contrast nicely with the warm pinks and peaches I was predominantly using in the backdrop.

BW-103The boys ties were sent as a gift from a friend in America who had used the same colours in her wedding. How completely serendipitous it was that the colours were an exact match! I made the hair piece for my M-O-H which again purely coincidentially matched the orange cheongsam she chose to wear for the Chinese tea ceremony.

BW-318I made it with a brooch and some feathers on a piece of felt. The brooch tied in with the bouquets, and also the enamel flower brooches I had made by Alicia’sOddities on Etsy as favours for the ladies.

We opted for the Lake District, as it was ‘North’. I wanted an excuse for my friends and family to visit a beautiful part of England that wasn’t London, and it was near enough to Preston where Rob and I live. The Belsfield was undergoing a revamp and being rebranded as a Laura Ashley Boutique Hotel with an amazing view of Lake Windermere from its grounds. The staff were amazing and willing to go with the flow of my un-traditional fusion wedding which made things so smooth and easy.

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We had set up a few things to keep guests amused; namely a photobooth which I sourced props for and made some of my own. Instead of a guest book, my mum had bought me a handmade patchwork quilt which I’ve always wanted and we had guests sign that instead. I loved the idea of wrapping ourselves up in the love and well-wishes of our friends and family!!

il_570xN.558106043_8od4We also set out a vintage typewrite so guests could type a message out for us to read on our first wedding anniversary. I managed to source an unusual purple ink for the typewriter!! We had a snack bar available all afternoon with – a candy buffet with and ‘East-meets-West’ twist. My parents brought a selection of Malaysian sweet and savoury snacks all the way from home so we could introduce them to our guests.

The ceremony itself was a fusion – I had a church friend marry us with traditional vows as I’m Christian and it was important to me to be able to do so. Rob’s best man sang a song and played his ukulele in lieu of a reading

BW-143and we lit a unity candle, and afterwards had afternoon tea as our wedding breakfast.

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We also had a Chinese Tea Ceremony where we serve tea to our elders as a show of respect and to be accepted into the family, and also to show the younger members where we stand in the family heirachy.

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There was such a mix of age groups we didn’t feel a DJ or disco would be appropriate, and instead had a ceilidh ( social event with Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.) which was much much more fun!

We hired the band Tumbling Tom as I had read great things about them on the internet and they did not disappoint.  Rob and I did a ballroom jive as our first dance as we weren’t comfortable with the idea of a soppy romantic first dance in front of our friends.

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It was topped off with a supper of mini fish and chips, Lancashire hot pot, and bacon butties. Special kudos to Adam from Lake District Wedding Photographery. Rob and I are really not posy-magazine-shoot people, and he absolutely went with what we were comfortable with. We had an amazing pre-wedding shoot in Keswick, and his enthusiasm for our ideas really helped to give it impetus when we thought we were being too quirky. To save on costs of a formal wedding photo album, I opted to make my own photobook online with Photobox because they had an offer on, but also because there was such a journey with my wedding I wanted to incorporate all the crafting elements and behind the scenes work that would sadly be omitted in a formal wedding album with just the official photos.

Photography: Lake District Wedding Photographery

Brides Dress: Justin Alexander

Venue: Laura Ashley Boutique Hotel

Brides Shoes: Charlotte Amy Designs

Band: Tumbling Tom

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