Handmade wedding dress, bridesmaids, and decor for a budget lakeside wedding
So I had to write about my own wedding which inspired this business and my journey to a fairer wardrobe and more sustainable life.
Myself and 'Mr Conscious Bride' (aka Ben) got married in 2015 after I waited patiently (ok that last year I wasn't so patient!) for just shy of 9 years for the proposal. I know as a modern gal I could have asked him myself but hey I'm a romantic and this is one thing I wasn't going to be non-traditional on.
Ben proposed to me at a local beauty spot that I have frequented since I was a little girl. It is a part of town we both love as it has a sense of peace and escape, but at the same time you can see over town and all the way to the welsh mountains - on a good day. After walking down the valley then back up it Ben proposed on a bench near the top; maybe he was just looking for an excuse to make me sit down longer whilst he was catching his breath!
As you can probably imagine I couldn't wait to get stuck into wedding planning! We agreed we didn't want to spend much more than 5K and we wanted low key, fun and interesting locations. Well off I went researching, which took a bloody age! I looked at so many venues online and all of them took us way over our budget. After much research and driving around the local area looking at village halls we chose a local non-denominational chapel and a yatch club.
The all important wedding dress, which if I am being honest I didn't include in the budget as I had no idea what I wanted and didn't want to be overly restricted. I knew whatever I bought I wanted to feel luxurious, it was a dress I wanted to keep for future generations - though being short and having married a tall man it will be my luck that all future generations will be too tall for it!! So I positively set off shopping, finding lovely gowns but all making me feel too much like a princess rather than the fairy like feeling I wanted. I started to believe maybe what I wanted wasn't out there so I settled for a dress that had most of the elements I liked but wasn't what I set out for, it was a princess dress. To compromise I was going to take the underskirts out.
Not long after ordering the doubts creeped in! And by the time it arrived (later then stated with no update from the shop which wasn't the best experience!) I was no longer in love with it. It felt cheap, uncomfortable, boring. It hung on my wardrobe and I stared at it a lot (when hubby to be wasn't around!). I put it on most evenings to try and fall in love but it never came, it got worse when I read the label '100% polyester Made in China'. On the designers website no mention of who makes these dresses and how. So I made a bold decision to sell it (the shop refused a refund even though she said it was their best seller and 1 year later it was still one they stocked!), unaltered it sold quickly and for not much less than I purchased it, woo hoo!
But what now? 2 months to go and I had no dress. In the back of my mind I was thinking I should make one, I ordered some samples. One day on Ebay I discovered a dress I liked in the US that a store was getting rid of for a (ridiculously cheap price!) so I took a gamble! It arrived quickly and it was the real deal, an end of line Catherine Deane gown, but it was massive! This was the kick I needed to create my own and with the benefit of a dress that already had beautiful fabric I could make the making time quicker by using the skirt and remaking the top. So it came apart and I reused the fabric to create a new shape, with the addition of a piece of vintage lace it was a totally different dress and I loved it! I still love it!
Bridesmaids and Decorations
So amongst sorting these two key elements I knew I wanted decorations that didn't add to pollution, I wanted them to be sweet, handmade and summery. I began testing my sewing skills (it had been a while) with the first bridesmaid dress. It turned out beautifully! Made from a vintage quilt cover it was exactly what I wanted. All the bridesmaids chose their pattern (by luck they all chose the same one no persuading needed!), mum helped me to find gorgeous vintage fabrics and I spent the next year making dresses, and with the off-cuts creating bunting.
I roped in all the family to save jam jars in interesting bottles and my dad tending to his garden which was to provide me with flowers. Other up-cycled and eco elements included biodegradable plates and cutlery, and napkins from an old bed sheet so they can be saved and reused.
We didn't hire a wedding car, instead a friend with a nice car drove me to the chapel and then me and Ben drove off in our own VW 1976 Bay window camper - which we had been hastily restoring in time for the wedding and our honeymoon in it!
Finding the grub
So finding wedding food for about £20 per head isn't easy as it turned out. Fish and chips is a good option for this one, if you are happy for people not to eat at the same time. We also bought a pizza express pizza one afternoon and drove to the venue to see if it was still warm.... it wasn't! But then we found a great food truck online and visited them at a local market, yummy street food and we were hooked! Goat curry (yummy), hot dogs, rice, barbecued chicken and beef goulash and more were on the menu, yes people were dubious about the goat curry but to this day people still talk about how yummy our wedding food was.
The cake table, wow until I told people to make and bring cakes for dessert I didn't realise how competitive my family was! It was great fun and everyone loved the choice and visual appeal. We really loved having so many people playing a part of our day.
Yes we ordered this stunning sunset in advance!!