Olivia Ripper, 27, married Robert Morton, 26, at Lime Wood Hotel, Hampshire, in August 2012. She says:
Lime Wood Hotel seemed the perfect choice for our wedding as Robert had proposed there. We held the ceremony in it’s enclosed courtyard — we opened the sliding glass roof as the weather was good.
We decided on a white colour scheme because it suited the neutral interior of the venue. I wanted a clean, unfussy look.
I wanted them to be white, abundant and candlelit to create a romantic scene.
We had three different designs for the centrepieces, all using white flowers and candles. One was a crystal candelabra in a bed of hydrangea heads, while other tables were decorated with orchids in tall vases.
I found the vases in Dunelm Mill — they were a bargain. We also lit fig-scented candles for an amazing fragrance.
The hardest things to source were the bridesmaid dresses. I struggled to find anything I liked, so I designed them from scratch with a dressmaker.
We created our own bespoke dinner menu that included our favourite foods, such as breaded prawns with a chilli crust. My top tip Cut down costs where you can. For example, thinner card for stationery can make a big price difference.
Kate Salt, 30, married Atex Kinderstey, 30, at St. Peter’s Church, Winchcombe, in December 2012. She says:
Our theme was a winter wonderland with a touch of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I wanted it to look elegant and sophisticated, but with texture to keep it interesting. The colour scheme was white, midnight blue, green and gold.
It was important for me to use seasonal flowers to fit with the time of year and cut down on costs. We chose white and green arrangements with lots of jasmine for scent.
Because it was the run-up to Christmas, the church was already decorated with foliage and candles in the windows. We donated a Christmas tree to the church as part of our contribution for the wedding.
We served guests sloe gin on arrival. It was a cheap idea that got everyone in the mood for loud carol singing!
We had professional lighting in the marquee to make it look amazing when darkness fell. We hung chandeliers from the ceiling and placed LED lights, which changed colour during the evening, on the walls.
As we now live in Tanzania, we included some African touches on the day. Our favours were beaded Christmas decorations made by an African women’s charity.
I started with breakfast in bed, but then I had to rush to get my hair and make-up done, and felt very flustered.
Sarah Blackwetl, 27, married Thomas Williamson, 29, at Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany, Italy, in May 2012. She says:
Our wedding planner showed us 10 venues before we fell in love with this villa. It once belonged to the family of Lisa del Giocondo — the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa — who was born there.
Our colour scheme was white with dove grey and lavender, which worked well with the villa’s vibrant terracotta backdrop. I couldn’t find bridesmaid dresses in the colour I wanted, so I had them made.
Sprigs of lavender were tucked into napkins and guests threw lavender instead of confetti.
I wanted the dinner to be really romantic. We ate as the sun was setting, with hundreds of tea lights hanging in jars from the trees.
The venue is a working winery so we were able to serve good quality wine at a reasonable cost. We used corks as place-card holders and put table numbers on wine bottles.
Our celebrant had spoken to us individually about our relationship, and read out our answers during the ceremony. Neither of us knew what the other had said, so it was heartwarming to hear.
Suggest hotels and transport, but don’t book anything. My planner warned me but I couldn’t help myself.
Yulia Mykhalova, 27, married Carl-Fredrik Rorstrom, 29, at Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, and Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, in August 2012. She says:
I wanted the wedding to be both timeless and glamorous. My favourite colours are white and cream and I even put the waiting staff in white jackets, which looked fantastic.
I had the privilege of getting married at Ely Cathedral — something I’ve always dreamed of since my school days. I was only allowed to marry there because I went to King’s School, which has close links to the cathedral, on a scholarship.
It was difficult to find a reception venue available at the same time as the cathedral. We loved Wrest Park’s grand drive and total exclusivity. It was an hour’s drive between the two, so we supplied champagne on the buses along with a great playlist!
The drinks reception urns held on the terrace where we set up a bar area with a swing orchestra. We served our favourite cocktails, along with seafood and blinis.
Our florist created high centrepieces to make the most of the space, using candelabras wrapped in gypsophila and white spray roses.
Our biggest extravagance was our dance floor. We set up a stage and red carpet, and created special lighting and pyrotechnics to ramp up the drama and a sense of occasion.
My top tip Picking suppliers that go that extra mile will pay off in the long-term. Tried and trusted companies are happy to make the effort to ensure your big day dreams come true.
Marla Medders, 31, married Sager Davidson, 28, at the Old Brick Church in Mooresvitle, Alabama, in the US, in October 2012. She says:
We got married in the historic town of Mooresuille as it had everything we wanted for a simple. Southern-chic wedding. We loved the quaint charm, and that the church, reception venue and accommodation were all within a few streets of each other.
We picked neutral tones to fit the autumn weather and rustic surroundings. My bridesmaids chose their own dresses from a selection of colours I suggested, including grey, brown and green.
Our florist works with the venue and Hues in town, so knew what would work in the church. We chose white and green decor to accompany the natural beauty of the setting.
The menu consisted of Southern comfort food as we wanted everyone to feel relaxed. We had shrimp and grits with barbecue-pulled pork on cornbread pancakes, and we served fresh popcorn from a vintage cart.
We tried to recreate the feeling of a close family get-together. We put rocking chairs on the front porch of the restaurant and had a fire pit so guests could toast marsh mallows and make S’mores (crackers filled with marshmallows and chocolate — a US treat).
All the wedding party photos were taken a few of hours before the ceremony so the photographer could capture our first emotions.
My top tip Have an engagement shoot with your photographer. It meant that we knew her style so there was no awkwardness on the day.
Rebekah Weinberger, 23, married Brent Hester, 25, at Rucker Place in Birmingham, Alabama, in the US, in June 2012. She says:
We loved the historic look of the venue as it really captured our theme of vintage elegance It also meant that we could have both the ceremony and reception in the same place.
My colour palette was ivory, pale lavender, blush and washed grey, as I wanted everything to look soft and whimsical.
We held our ceremony in the garden just as the sun was setting. It was a Jewish wedding, so we couldn’t get married on the Shabbat (our holy day) from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. The arbour was strung with fairy lights to make it really romantic, and we hung jars filled with flowers along the aisle.
Gardenias are my favourite flowers so I made sure we used them throughout. Luckily June is gardenia month in Alabama! My bouquet was made of white and blush roses, ranunculus, August Beauty gardenias and Bowl of Cream peonies, tied with a satin ribbon from my mother’s wedding dress.
The tables were decorated with small lanterns surrounded by mixed white flowers. I told our wedding planner that I liked the look of organised clutter.
My top tip Remember that you do have a voice when it comes to working with wedding planners and suppliers.