So there are weddings that look like WEDDINGS, with all the traditional signposts of weddingdom – poofy dress, big-ass veil, 3 tier wedding cake, matching b-maids all in a row…and then there are weddings that look like, hands down, the best party ever. Holly and Matthew’s shindig thankfully falls into the latter category – and they did it all with a budget of £3K . Their guests feasted on food truck fish n’ chips, were serenaded by the very musical bride and her entire fam, and enjoyed the couple’s fave tunes on vinyl in between sets, all while downing (what I can only imagine to be) copious amounts of tea and pints at the couple’s favorite pub. Sound like your kind of party? Read on!
Your names: Holly and Matthew
Holly – musician – namely singer pianist (femalepianistsinger.com) and songwriter/artiste
Matthew – sailing yacht skipper
Wedding location: Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK
Wedding date: 3rd December 2011
Wedding budget: £3000
Approximate guest count: 94 in day, 130 evening
How would you describe your wedding? English seaside with an almost retro-feel, but here’s the catch – it wasn’t even SUPPOSED to be retro, it’s just that so many of the elements of the day – fish ‘n’ chips van, seaside bus tour where the driver has no mic so says his patter downstairs then runs to the upper deck to tell the guests up there the same patter, pointing out signposts to them that were once on the television. Scarborough is a beautiful seaside town and was in its hey-day in Victorian times when it was Queen Victoria’s favourite place to come on holiday. There’s a spa here that’s alleged to have healing powers.
Today, Scarborough is still a very popular seaside resort but in December when it’s completely out of season there’s something very eerie and dated and brilliant about it. Our guests from out of town thought this was a retro and quirky touch, but this is just Scarborough on a budget!
As Matthew is South African we also put a few touches of South Africa in there too – mainly in some Lady Smith Black Mambazo music choices during the signing of the register and as a surprise I also sang in the evening after my speech N Kosi Sike Lel iAfrika – the South African National Anthem, complete in 5 languages and 2 keys! So basically – English (Accidental Retro) Seaside with flavours of South Africa.
What was your favorite part of your wedding?
Walking down the isle with my dad, seeing Matthew looking so handsome in his suit all by himself up the front because his best man didn’t know he was supposed to wait with him.
Having no money for a band so making it up ourselves – my dad sang the first dance, I sang the second! Even Matthew and his friends from their ‘sixth form band’ days got up and played some songs (after about 15 rum and cokes for the courage!)
What did you splurge on?
The photography! Matthew being from South Africa has a lot of family and friends out there that couldn’t make it so we thought splurge on having the best photography so they could get as best feel as possible as to what the day was like. I don’t think I need to say that York Place Studios MORE than succeeded in this!
What did you save on?
Everything else!! The food – we got in a fish ‘n’ chip van and just hired a venue that could seat everyone (just about) and the people from the van came in and took orders and brought it to your table. Even the dessert we skimped on because we have so many apple trees in our garden we got the venue to make apple crumble and custard but knocked them down on price even more by saying that we would provide the apples!!
We also saved on the music. I’m a professional musician, my dad is, my uncle is, so many of my friends are. The guy who ran the pub was a mate and a musician mate of mine and he set up an acoustic line up and whoever and himself did the live music. It was in my local pub so it wasn’t a huge hall that looked empty if nobody was dancing. It was just so perfect.
We refused on a DJ or even a playlist – we simply took our vinyl player down and a few records (Motown Trilogy, Fleetwood Mac early stuff, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison – Astral Weeks) and so in between live music, we’d play full albums. It’s amazing what difference it makes to an atmosphere when you play a whole record through instead of skipping to genre to genre every other song. It builds!
We saved on the evening food also because our friends offered – as their wedding gift to us, to sort out the evening food. We gave them literally the cost ingredients and they sorted everything! It was amazing.
We saved on a wedding car because my brother works very high up in Mercedes and they lent him a Mark something that looked amazing and he chauffeured us around!
We saved on wine with the meal by having fish ‘n’ chips so wine doesn’t really fit! Instead we asked people to bring tea pots and bought a load of mis-matching china tea cups from charity shops and so we had fish ‘n’ chips and tea! Very Yorkshire! Very English!
We saved on even the welcome champagne by having “champagne cocktails” and because me and Matthew had been living on a boat in France before the wedding we smuggled back a load of French brandy, which was considerably less expensive than buying it in the UK. This meant we could buy cheaper sparkling wine as it was just to mix with the brandy, and we sugar frosted the glasses so it looked all nice! They were lethal in their alcohol content but much cheaper than just normal champagne and more interesting I think too! Especially for a winter wedding!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?
In all honesty – not a thing.
What was your biggest challenge in planning?
Fitting all the guests into the relatively small venues! At the registry office itself I think we had 60 people sitting, which is supposed to be their legal maximum and we had at least 30 people standing!
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? That it’s STRESSFUL! No matter how much we tried to make it a relaxed affair, it’s unbelievably stressful. I had endless nightmares of turning up to the ceremony and they were playing “I Feel It In My Fingers” by Wet Wet Wet as my entrance song instead of “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison that we had chosen! Or that my dog was at the ceremony weeing all over everywhere and the registrar was shouting at me to have her under control!
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
Walking down the aisle.
The music we chose for the day in both the ceremony and the evening.
My birdcage veil and my dress.
Having everyone you love in one place all together.
Making those vows.
Top 5 least favorite?
The stress in the build up!
The awkward invitations – having to invite certain people, not being able to invite others.
How cold it was when we were having our photographs done by the sea after the ceremony.(even though they look lovely, we were freeeeeeeeeeezing!!!).
The fact that I got so snappy with people that were only trying to help in the build up – I’m just not a wedding plannery kind of gal!
Hen do (Editor’s note: aka the bachelorette party) – I refused to have one but was talked around to having a ‘”sleepover” with just a few friends. I’m not really a drinker at all but was forced to drink chili vodka and then proceeded to dry-wretch on the lawn more out of panic of having drunk chilli vodka than the effects of the drink itself. I got so hot and bothered I had to take nearly all my clothes off (in November in Yorkshire!) and sit outside while my friend told me “it’s OK, I cried on my hen do too. Don’t even know why! I think there’s something wrong if you don’t end up upset and crying for no good reason!”
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
Nobody particularly dared give us any advice! I think someone tried to suggest to Matthew he ought wear Top and Tails because you only get to do it once, but I think he only had to see Matthew’s facial reaction to soon realise not to pursue the suggestion…
Like I say, nobody really tried to! Although I think it was my mum’s idea to shuttle the guests around from the different venues (there were 3 in total) in the seaside tours bus which everyone really did get a kick out of! I loved seeing everyone getting out of that bus – apparently there was a lot of banter on board too!
Please be sure to include a list of all vendors, with links!
Photography – York Place Studios
Flowers and decorations – Minnie Bees Floral Design
Music – Me!
Food – Mobile Fish and Chips of Pickering – tel: +44 (0)7536008741
Shuttle Bus for guests – Shoreline Cruiser Buses
Ugh, did you get a little misty reading this? I sure as hell did. I laughed (hen do hilarity!), I cried (at basically everything, because it was all so lovely!), I felt like I was right there, pint in hand. Our heartfelt congrats to Holly and Matthew – if your travels ever bring you stateside, pints are on me! And thanks to the fabulous York Place Studios for sharing these amazing photos.