Emma and Richard tied the knot this spring at Stapleton Church, just outside Shrewsbury. They held their reception in Richard's parents' back garden, where three joined tipis squeezed into a corner of the garden, creating a spectacular 'secret garden' theme. In this blog, they share with us their beautiful and quirky story and wedding memories, with some advice on making your wedding unique and your own .
The pair met on match.com - it does work!! Emma says, "We had our first date at The Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury where we talked and drank more tea than a human being can consume in one sitting, until finally we had to leave as they were closing. We both knew then and there that we were onto something special."
Richard proposed in their kitchen. He had prepared her a meal that they had seen Mary Berry cook at a Good Food Show - duck and apple chips. "I hadn't even got through the door from work when he popped the question. He was very nervous and couldn't stand waiting any longer. It was simple, and perfect", Emma recalls.
The couple really took care to include both their personalities into their wedding celebrations, which made it all very personal as well as uniquely quirky and memorable. Richard and his family are very musical. They had a brass quartet playing in the ceremony, and Emma walked down the aisle to the quartet playing "Rule the World" by Take That. To add more musical elements, their confetti cones were homemade out of Richard's mum's old music sheets. "Rich and I love going to ceilidhs so we had a ceilidh as our entertainment in the evening."
Emma is a biker, so all her family and bridesmaids wore leather jackets and she wore white and gold boots as she can't live without her leather boots! Emma tells us, "I also wanted to wear a leather jacket on the day and so had the idea of painting a jacket with the words 'Mrs Jones'. I bought a really lovely jacket off ebay for next to nothing and painted a flower design on the back with leather paint, with the words 'Mrs Jones' in the middle. I'd never done anything like it before so I was really happy with the result. Rich loved it when I showed it to him so he decided to do one himself, although he cheated and bought an iron on vinyl that said Mr Jones. Not only was it a crowd pleaser, the evening was so cold that it was a life saver too!"
"Rich had the crazy idea of me arriving at the church in my brother's motorbike and sidecar because I am a biker. I was up for the idea but the sidecar was still in the 'project' stage as my brother was restoring it. The weather was pretty windy and rainy when I got to the church so I was glad that we decided on a classy Rolls Royce instead!"
As with any British wedding, one has to be prepared for any weather eventuality. The only little hiccups for this magical wedding were unsurprisingly mainly to do with the weather. Richard is a meteorologist, so nice weather tends to be rather boring for him! Of course, it had to be 'interesting' weather on their wedding day! It started with Richard and his family getting up at 5am to tie the tipis back down as they had come loose in the wind. They even had to get the tipi company out to try and secure it for the day. Thankfully Emma blissfully didn't know anything about this as she got ready in her nice warm cabin surrounded by her bridesmaids and family. She recalls, "The weather cleared up thankfully in the afternoon but it was still chilly for spring time - not helped by the fact that our blown air heating in the tipis ran out of gas and members of our families had to try and track down a new gas bottle".
The couple did most of the wedding organisation and decor by themselves, which was a lot of work as it was a completely DIY wedding. They rallied friends and family on the day and they all chipped in to make sure that everything was running smoothly. They made all the decorations themselves, so everything had a 'homemade' feel to it. And a fabulous quirky idea was that of having a guest 'bench' rather than a guest book which is now in their garden: "We love reading all the messages when we sit in the garden".
With all the hard work put into the preparations, Emma and Richard remind us that all of it is actually rather unimportant considering what was actually happening on the day, i.e. getting married, making a commitment to each other. "When you're wedding planning you get very bogged down in the details of the table decorations and how the dress is going to look and so on but that was all forgotten as soon as we said our vows. For both of us, it was like there was no one else in the room when we said out vows and it was truly magical - definitely the best and most important moment of the day!"
What would be their advice to couples getting married? "I think it's the advice that everyone gave me beforehand - what matters is that you are getting married, not the decorations or the guests or the venue. The day is an absolute blur and we made a real effort to have moments together. Our photographer commented how much we were together on the day and that was because we made sure that we didn't experience our wedding day separately as we had seen so many couples do at weddings."
And their advice to couples looking for something a little different and fun? "Pinterest is your best friend! And also don't be afraid to make things yourself - we bought so much stuff from Facebook groups and it was a great way to find interesting and quirky things. We made our decorations out of embroidery hoops and hula hoops, garden string and artificial flowers and it looked great."
Photography by Florence Fox with permission from Emma and Richard. Thank you :-) To see more of Florence's work, pop over to her website here.
Emma's gorgeous dress fitted perfectly but the length was altered by Sharon at Blue Lily Magnolia.
When Melanie had her bridal photoshoot at the Zilker Botanical Garden, groom Daniel was around, also taking photos from different angles to that of the wedding photographer. The results - the way a groom sees his new bride - were so beautiful that the couple agreed to share them with us.
The pictures were taken in the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden within Zilker. One of the key features of the garden is the Togetsu-kyo bridge ("Bridge to Walk Over the Moon"), which has been positioned such that when the moon is high, it follows you across the bridge as a reflection on the water. "The idea is that as you gaze at the reflection of the moon on the water's surface, ultimate universal beauty will be revealed to you". Melanie has always reflected that as they were dating, Daniel had a way in making her feel beautiful in photos through the random snaps he would be taking every so often.
With a Vietnamese cultural heritage, the bride had two outfits for the wedding and photoshoot - an ivory wedding dress and a red traditional Vietnamese outfit, complete with the matching headgear. In Vietnamese tradition, red is believed to bring good luck to a newly married couple, so it is generally a predominant colour in weddings and the colour of choice for brides.
The traditional dress - an Ao Dai - is very much the dress to wear for any formal Vietnamese occasion. Typically, the Ao Dai is a closely fitted long silk tunic, with high collar, split on the sides from the waist down, and worn with loose trousers. The modern versions are often dresses worn with an under skirt or culottes. Here Melanie's version has a lace overlay on the bodice and is worn with contrasting yellow trousers, widened at the bottom to give the impression of a skirt.
The accompanying red headgear, called aKhan Dong or a Vietnamese turban, is normally worn by the bride to complement the dress. It is also worn during festivals and on other formal occasions, both by men and women. Although it looks like a hat, it is technically a bit more like a headband, made with a large number of fabric strips laid over each other as rings, and beautifully hand embellished. The higher the number of fabric rings, the wider the headgear, and of course, the more difficult the turban is to make. An interesting overview of the process and tradition of wearing the Vietnamese turban can be seen here.
I hope that you enjoyed this little introduction to traditional Vietnamese wedding attire, and the beautiful photographs by Daniel Mullins. To see more of Daniel's work on landscape photography, check out his Instagram profile here.
Thank you to Daniel and Melanie for sharing their photos. To read more about their rustic ranch Texan wedding with a bit of French, Vietnamese and Moroccan elements, have a look at our blog post here.
You can't get more of a mix than with the amazing wedding of Melanie and Daniel. In this blog, Melanie shares with us her story from the very beginnings and the key highlights of their beautiful wedding day.
"We met online via a dating website in 2013. That was my first time trying out online dating and I think I got lucky because my husband was the 2nd guy I met in person via the website. I am French Vietnamese and he is Texan. I was attracted to him right away but for him it took a little bit longer for him to call me back for another date. Love and attraction is very interesting in a sense that everyone moves along at their own pace and I really have the feeling that it took some time before we started being on the same wavelength. But once we got there, we were hooked to each other. He is passionate about photography, landscape and nature in particular and that was one of the main feature I loved about him. Also, I didn’t really care to take pictures of myself for the longest time, and as we were dating, he managed to make me feel beautiful in pictures as he would snap random ones every so often. He taught me how to camp, and get that adventurous side of me out which I always wanted to."
As with many couples (mine included!!), proposals don't always go to plan, and for Daniel a little bit of improvisation was required. Melanie recounts: "During the New Year holiday in 2015, we went to Colorado Springs, CO and he was hoping to propose at the top of Pikes Peak as we had planned on taking a train ride to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating with his plan and the train ride could not take us to the very top, but only midway. Therefore, he had to find another idea and he was quite bumped about it. On December 31st, 2015, we drove to the Gardens of the Gods (a public park in Colorado Springs) which faces Pikes Peak, to see the glorious fireworks display from the summit to usher in the New Year. We went a couple of hours early to make sure we would get a good parking spot. We were in the car, it was freezing cold and he proposed then… completely warmed up my heart and I of course said “Yes”! This made the firework celebration even more amazing for us!"
The couple wanted their wedding to represent them together, by combining elements that show who they are individually. Daniel loves mountains, so getting a hilly landscape was a good compromise. They chose to get married in a lovely town called Wimberley, in the Texas Hill Country. Both wanted the wedding to have a rustic feel and be close to nature, but also incorporate French gastronomy and Vietnamese culture. "We wanted the ceremony to occur under a big oak tree because a tree represents life, the idea of growing old together, and overcoming obstacles. We came across the perfect venue called “Rustic Ranch” which had all the elements we were looking for. Therefore we had the ceremony outdoor and the reception mostly indoor with a saloon and dance hall. The history of the venue itself was quite attractive to us as well: the owner, Kevin Fowler (famous country singer), picked out each of the buildings (Bridal house, Groom’s house, Reception building, …) and had them shipped to his land from everywhere in the US and to make it a wedding venue. These buildings include for example an 1800s log cabin and a 1900s farm house."
The wedding cake, sitting on top of a rustic log slice, also complemented the rustic look. Melanie explains how the venue and wedding elements came together: "The venue itself already came with a lot of greeneries for the nature side of it, and the ranch for the country side of it, which both represent my husband quite well. We added my French touch with French wine, cheese platters with French baguettes for the cocktail hour and of course French “macarons” for dessert. We had displayed three of our favourite engagement pictures that where taken in Paris with the Eiffel Tower and at Versailles."
The wedding colour scheme was a combination of red (main colour), light pink and white, which is beautifully summed up in the bouquet by Jones Florals, and continues across the wedding theme. The couple, in line with Vietnamese traditions, had a change of outfit after dinner - swapping the traditional white dress and tuxedo to traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits, bright red for the bride. In Vietnamese beliefs, the red colour is meant to bring luck to the young couple. Melanie continues: "We also picked that colour along with light pink because they represent the colour of LOVE. White was used to create a mood of peace and comfort for the two families and friends getting together for our marriage. This was used also for the ceremony decor."
To add more to the uniqueness of their wedding, the couple had Moroccan souk food for dinner. With the other elements of their backgrounds already in the venue and other wedding aspects, Melanie explains: "We didn’t wanted to do Texas Barbecue or Vietnamese / Asian food and I knew The Flying Carpet restaurant (they are family friends) in Austin, TX. The caterers are husband and wife, the husband is French Moroccan and his wife is American Mexican. I have always loved Moroccan food and had my husband try it one night and he was hooked right away. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the dinner at the wedding, and it made it eclectic and unique."
When asked about the most memorable moments of the day, Melanie responds: "The best part of our big day for me was to finally walk down the aisle with my dad, seeing everyone that came for us, all the familiar faces and my future husband with tears in his eyes as he sees me coming."
There were some funny moments too, notably: "For our ceremony, we had a French translator (who was my cousin), and for the last part of the ceremony speech, where the celebrant says “you may seal your vows with a kiss”, the translator may have been distracted as he remained silent for a while while us, bride and groom, were just waiting for him to translate because we eager to finally get to kiss. We both turned and looked over to him and he finally realised it was his time to speak! It made us and the entire guest crowd laugh to end the ceremony and it was great!"
And of course, being a wedding, there were bound to be romantic moments. "Our first dance… neither I nor him can dance. We took dance classes - 12 classes in 2 weeks prior to the wedding! We think it surprised everyone when we started our choreography and we got a lot of cheering and screams from the guests. Our choreography was based on rumba steps included 4 figures and a dip at the end with a kiss on James Arthur’s song, “Say you won’t let go”. We may never do this again, who knows, but it will be a great memory forever."
Did everything go as planned on the day? The weather nearly got in the way, which can be a bit stressful for everyone planning an outdoor wedding. Our bride recalls: "The forecast predicted 90% chance of rain all week for that Sunday afternoon. I was really upset about it because the main reason for choosing the venue was for the outdoor ceremony under the big old oak tree. On the day of the wedding, my wedding coordinator asked if I wanted to setup the ceremony indoors, because of the forecasts. Looking at the sky, it didn’t look bad so I said no, and told them to keep base plan as is and setup the ceremony outside. My wedding coordinator agreed and kept plan B in her back pocket just in case. At the end, it didn’t rain at all during the ceremony! We had the sun and a little breeze to cool off from the Texas spring heat, and it was beautiful. We were so pleased. Rain came a few hours later at dinner time during the reception while everyone was inside already. We are very thankful for the weather we had that day."
"Everything did not go as I planned, but everything that happened did go as we imagined! Time did not allow to do everything that I had on our schedule but my wedding planner did a great job at coordinating everything and following the timeline as much as possible. I believe we got 90% of the timeline completed. For example, we skipped getting couple pictures done prior to the ceremony, what they called “no look” behind a door, and we have no regrets about those. Another example, during our first dance, we did not start in the correct orientation to end the dance facing our guests for the dip (and it was my fault!), but my husband managed to improvise at the end and get us in the correct orientation for the important dip and the pictures! Everyone had tons of fun during the wedding, especially with the photobooth by the Classic Photo Booth Co., which had a lot of success. We would recommend it to anyone throwing a party."
And finally, Melanie shares with us her advice to brides-to-be and couples planning their wedding:
- Make sure you look at what the venue already has to offer as far as decor and ambiance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with ideas with website such as Pinterest and wedding websites and wanting to do more than is required.
- Ask your family and friends to help out with DIY. We saved quite a bit of money by doing that, and our family and friends did an amazing job for us on the wedding day to help us set up and decorate.
- Take dancing classes if, like us, you don’t feel confident about your dancing skills. It was a great experience for us to meet a dancing instructor and to learn so quickly!
- Talk with your wedding planner/coordinator with regards to timeline and confirm which event you would be really upset about if they do not occur, and which one you are ok to let go if time doesn’t allow it.
- Have a plan B in case of rain.
- Have a realistic budget and try to stick to it as much as possible.
- Check out Etsy for hand made items that are unique and special! You can usually find a better deal than going to the mall or wedding stores.