Our house renovation dream

How to plan a wedding in 3 months

When we told people we were getting married in May after becoming engaged in January, the range of reactions went something like this:

  • “You’re insane. Literally insane.”
  • “WHY?!”
  • “May 2016, yeah?”
  • “You are jeopardising your relationship doing this, you might not actually get married”
  • “Surely not on a SATURDAY?!”
  • “You’ll have to compromise on everything”

Or the rarer but most welcome variation of:

“Amazing, you can do it.”

We only went and did it!

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It wouldn’t be fair to put this post up without a big caveat. I know most people spend a year or more planning a wedding because it is really swear word expensive. Our wedding, despite being DIY’d to the hill, was still really expensive but we’re doing ok and could afford to do it, with well-practiced, spend no money on anything techniques – perfected in 2 years of renovation and 2 previous years of saving for a deposit. We’re masters of living without spending. So first up, if you want to get married in 3 months and you want a nice dress, suit, cool band, free bar, you’ll probs need to be a bit skint. See previous post here on stuff we gave up in 2013 to fund the renovation.

Here’s a rough guide to how we cobbled together our wedding in 3 months. I’ll write some more detailed posts on some of the DIYs and once our incredible photographer Anna has our official (read non-gurning) photos ready, I’ll get some of those up too.

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  1. Venue

You have 3 months. You can’t have the trendy druid temple (it’s booked until 2024), the incredible glass box in a field or the quirky hotel with skulls hanging everywhere. The cool wedding locations are completely booked up and unless you’re lucky enough to get a cancellation, you need to let that go. So look for non-wedding venues. We started our hunt by trying to find an enormous industrial greenhouse. We found one 5 minutes from our house, it was perfect but the business who owned it really needed to grow actual flowers in it in May even though they really wanted to make our Greenhouse wedding work. They were lovely and really excited about the prospect but it just wasn’t to be because of the time of year.  Get married in June and you’ll be fine. Seriously do it, imagine the photos!

Other good places to search: airbnb, sykes cottages, canopy and stars – tons of big country houses, wooden shacks, barns, glampgrounds. For the more adventurous, just hop in the car, drive around, find a barn/old garage/factory/any kind of structure that looks empty but workable and knock on their door.

On our travels over the years in Yorkshire, we’ve visited many a farm shop, loads of which have huge cafés which we thought would be perfect for a wedding. In furiously googling farm shops, we somehow stumbled across Lineham Farm. A not-for-profit Children’s charity, giving kids the chance to go on residential and have a brilliant time. Lineham jumped out at us as we wanted to find somewhere that our family and friends who’d travelled from afar could stay (it has 24 bedrooms) but also had the option to become a wedding venue. We went to Lineham just a week after we’d got engaged and fell in love with the place and what they do to help kids in our hometown. They’ve had just a couple of staff weddings there before, so it was fortuitously available as  wedding territory is very new to the (AMAZING) team. The location is incredible and we just said balls to it and decided on a very outdoorsy wedding using 2 Yurts despite the threat of rain in May. We lucked out massively as the day before was practically a monsoon.

 

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2. Don’t Compromise*

You actually don’t really have to if you’re working with a tight timeframe.  We had 1 date – 9th May. There was no other date we wanted – one of my bridesmaids was over from Vietnam for the first time in 2 years, it was the best time to fly over Paul’s sister from Australia and my parents were at another wedding the previous weekend, which would have been our only other option. My best friend was 6 months pregnant, Paul’s best woman was 5 months pregnant and we just didn’t want to have our wedding too much beyond that to make it easy for them.

So we tried to work around everyone else and everyone tells you that’s a ridiculous idea. Well, we love other people and we really wanted our nearest and dearest to be around us. As with almost any wedding, some of your nearest and dearest have other things they have to do that day and can’t join the fun. That really sucks and we were gutted some of our friends couldn’t make it, but we know it’d be the same if we’d left it a year – other people get married in summer too.

We had the lovliest photographer in Anna Hardy, all the food we wanted – 4 amazing and different street food vendors (Manjit’s Kitchen, The Mussel Pot, American Burgers, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and in the evening, The Pizza Guy), the best wedding band known to man – The Mini Big Band, a Morris Minor that Paul drove to get us from the Church to the Farm, Yurts with wooden floors (not carpets), accommodation so that we could fall out of the yurts and into bed, and the church was available too.

Having a church wedding wasn’t critical to us, but it’s on our doorstep (I walked to Church – was NOT prepared to compromise on that, even if it had been chucking it down!), we hear the beautiful bellringing once a week and I just love church music after having been in a choir for most of my childhood. Also, it’s a relatively inexpensive and beautiful venue and isn’t always booked up until 2024 like reception venues can be.

 *My only compromise, I have to admit, was with the chairs. If I’d had a year or so, I’d have scoured the car boot sales and charity shops to find and paint 75 chairs instead of having standard-fare wedding chairs. But there’s only so much time….

3. You have time to DIY

As long as you’re prepared to have no life. People were confused at how we could spend literally all of our free time, evenings, weekends, mornings, making things for the wedding. Dunno why they were confused, we’ve done exactly the same with the house. My advice? Renovate a house for 2 years, then get married. You’ll piss it. The spreadsheets with action lists, deadlines, items to buy, items to make were my multi-tabbed heaven.

I had 2 spreadsheets: Budget and Planner. I may regret sharing the joy of these spreadsheets with you, but here goes (soz if this ends up being the longest blog post you ever read IN YOUR LIFE)

Budget

  • Payment Schedule: has dates across the top, categories and sub categories down the first column, labelled by cash or credit, with outgoings vs incoming
  • Deadlines: Supplier, cost, date due, paid/outstanding
  • Budget vs. Actual Tracker: linked to the finance schedule to highlight using conditional formatting if we were under or over budget on every line item.
  • Post wedding finances plan:  exactly how long it’ll take to pay off the credit card (don’t worry, it’s only a couple of months)

Planner

  • Guestlist – obvs
  • Table Layout
  • Action list – this is a to-do list rather than a to-buy list. So for example: go to the woods and collect logs is an action on there. Each action is part of a category and subcategory e.g. Venue and Decoration, description, date due and priority.
  • To-buy: all the individual components we needed to buy, ties back to the Budget spreadsheet payment schedule but is as detailed as teabags, salt and pepper etc. which falls under the category of refreshments in the overall payment schedule
  • Music: collated playlist uploaded to Spotify
  • Lighting and electricity plan: we had to power everything from a generator which means extension cables galore to power fairy lights galore
  • Yurt layout plan
  • Schedule of the day: timings when everything is happening as a gant chart. (n.b. you don’t want your wedding to feel overly structured, but you need structure if you want to have a first dance, or you want people to eat at a certain time – have the structure, just don’t let it show J)
  • Set-Up planner: had jobs for individual people on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning before the wedding
  • Wedding coordinator plan: ok we’re not in America but we had a fantastic and really organised friend who was given a load of jobs to do – lighting candles, meeting food vendors, meeting the band and a zillion other things that as the bridal party, you just don’t really want to do. Most traditional wedding venues have someone who does this stuffs, ours didn’t – so it’s one to think about if you’re having a DIY wedding.
  • Cards & Gifts – to be filled in when you’re opening the most generous gifts and to ensure you don’t forget who bought you what when you’re sending thank you’s out.

 

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We made almost all the decorations for the wedding, the stand-out two being the H&P marquee letters that Paul made from the pallets our flooring was delivered on, and the 1,000 paper cranes that me, my sister and mostly my Mum made in the last 2 weeks when we were twiddling our thumbs.

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1,000 cranes, totally doable in 2 weeks if you have my Mum’s dexterity and a fire in your belly!

I won’t lie, there were a couple of wobbles, especially the night before the wedding through sheer exhaustion but all in all, turning our day around in 3 months was such a good call for us and our post-wedding blues aren’t too bad either, because we’re onto the next project…

The Extension.  Coming Soon!

 

Sneaky Peek at the Bathroom

I’ve said many times that within half a second of walking into the house, I knew it was the one for us. It was at the optimum level of disarray, with a roof looking like it would blow off any minute (which proved quite close to the truth), knackered walls, freezing cold and generally horrid. It showed its potential without having endangered bats flying around in it or pig troughs, like the previous place we’d set our hearts on.

The structural issues aside, there was one thing that I remember most about the first day we walked in – the stench. The whole place absolutely stank. I’m not talking a little whiff of wee like the cosy smell of a nursing home. I’m talking years of built up leaking pipes of excrement. Seriously, it ponged, and it all came from the glorious house bathroom leading to the downstairs loo, the channel of stink which likely was coming from all the other houses in the terrace.

It’s difficult to forget that smell, and every time I see photographs of the old bathroom, I’m taken back to it. It didn’t help that the old bathroom was a spectacular example of 70s brown suite experimentation. Everything was brown – the tiles, the suite, the poo.

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So in case you’re eating your lunch (soz), here’s a sneaky peek through the door at the almost-finished bathroom. Sadly, smellovision didn’t take off in the way that was sold to us in the 90’s so I can’t share the before and after smells, but I can share the before and after pics!

It’s not quite finished and need a mirror which will conceal the shaver unit, shelves for beautifully folded towels, (I’ve learned the towel folding technique from Anthea Turner which has changed my life) and plants and things to make it look a little less stark.

Our tiler did a magnificent job with those metro tiles and dark grout, getting into all the awkward corners beautifully.  And yes, the copper bath is ridiculous but we love it.

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The Wensleydale Heifer, also known as our new favourite place

In our lives before renovating the house, we used to spend all of our disposable income at the weekend. Typically heading up to the Dales, the Lakes or Scotland, our favourite weekend activities usually involved a long walk and a lovely hotel to wind down in. Then the house got in the way and our weekends involved tooling up and breaking something or something along those lines.

This year, we’re giving back to ourselves a little bit and for Paul’s birthday I arranged a weekend at The Wensleydale Heifer and bought their “winter warmer” package as a treat. The treat involved a night in any of their incredible themed rooms, a 3 course dinner and a Yorkshire breakfast to rival no other, (seriously, best breakfast I’ve eaten for some time!) as well as some lovely treats and special touches thrown in.

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This weekend treat was a little bit different, as although it was Paul’s birthday treat, Paul had sneakily asked me to marry him the night before we headed up to the Dales! We took the weekend as our special secret and felt like we were running away. We kept our engagement to ourselves for 2 precious days and I’m so glad we did. I’m the first to get on the blower to my sister as soon as something important happens but I resisted on this occasion only and my family got the surprise when we got back. If you’re getting engaged, I can’t recommend doing this enough, it’s a bubble of lovliness that will be difficult to replicate.

I can honestly say it is the best experience we’ve ever had at a hotel and I’m certain it wasn’t just because we’d just got engaged (although we were definitely the talk of the place!). The team at the Heifer are simply the nicest bunch of people who genuinely take an interest in you, make you feel so at home and know what you want before you even say you want it (seriously, it’s borderline psychic). We left the hotel longing to go back, armed with Happy Birthday and Happy Engagement balloons and a bag of homemade chilli fudge, all chucked in to demonstrate their genuine thoughtfulness.

I could go on for days about every aspect of the Heifer and how brilliant it is, so I’ll try stick to a brief summary!

The food

Seafood in the Dales. Shouldn’t work. Does, with bells on. Kippers for breakfast with roasted tomatoes made me never want to eat another thing again, until I powered through their Maple Lobster Salad. Sounds like a fancy salad (and how fancy can a salad possibly be?) – turns out to be the best fish combination I’ve eaten, and yes, there’s a little bit of salad in it.

 

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 The Rooms

Comfy (I checked the mattress to see if it was the same as ours at home as it seemed custom made). Each room is decorated in a specific theme – we had the Black Sheep room, complete with the locally brewed Ale waiting for you when you get there

 The Location

Middle of the Dales. We were lucky enough to have just enough snow to make it beautiful, not enough to make it panic-inducing in a how-will-I-ever-see-my-family-again way.

 

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 The Interior Design

Quite frankly, nuts. The decoration and general feel of the Heifer, despite it being a really very old building (16th Century) is wacky. They have a coffee table which is a fishtank, an enormous replica of a prize-winning fish sitting in the bar and toilets decorated with those iconic cheeky seaside postcards of days gone by.

The thing is, it works. The wonky walls of the old building are adorned with all sorts of odd paraphernalia and it all fits in perfectly. It made me think about how we can make some of the quirks and wonks in our own house work harder and shout louder about how random and weird they are (look out for a fish-inspired cloakroom coming your way soon!)

 

We’ve stayed in some lovely places but nothing tops the Heifer. We can’t wait to go back.