When you plan a wedding with an easygoing approach, and have as your main aim that your guests and you will have the best, most knock out time, while adding details as you go along that reflect you and the things that make you happy, you cannot fail to have an amazing wedding day.
The Mexican flavoured wedding of Ben and Dilys has so much fabulous DIY, and some of the biggest grins I’ve seen! Not to mention the spicy, in-your-face colours, and the fact that they did the legal bit the day before so they could truly go to town on precisely what they wanted on the day that mattered. I love their relaxed attitude; it resulted in a super gorgeous day!
From the photographer…
Ben and Dilys’s wedding was a super budget wedding in a plain hired hall in Battle, Sussex, but they spent ages decorating it to a Mexican theme, and it absolutely rocked. The idea was just for everyone to have fun. They had a handfasting ceremony, a selfie photo booth with a big screen to show the instagram selfies, Mexican themed punch, cake toppers and decorations, chefs’ hats for one guest per table to do the carving, and Ben’s brother’s band played the night away!
From the bride and groom…
We met on match.com. Romantic to the core!
The proposal? On our first evening, jet lagged and tired, wandering around Kuala Lumpur, we decided to go and see the Petronas Towers. On a ‘romantic’ patch of grass in front of the towers, metres from a taxi rank where a number of local cabbies were shouting at us offering their services, Ben got down on one knee and proposed! After some tears and a bit of shock, I said yes. We then decided to celebrate and went on the hunt for a bar! We found ourselves wandering down the grim tourist strip with bars full of old men and young glamourous Malay ladies, so instead we returned to our hostel where we celebrated with a can of beer in our room.
We wanted a wedding venue that reflected us, and we were keen to avoid anything too grandiose, as it just did not fit with the kind of wedding we wanted. We also wanted to make sure the location did not cost us, or our guests, an arm and a leg, and was reasonably convenient to get to. We hunted through all the venues in East Sussex (my home county), and came upon Battle Memorial Hall. It was the ideal venue as it was a blank canvas to put our stamp on and had space to hold both the ceremony and reception, not to mention the highly appealing price. They allowed us to bring all our own booze and didn’t charge us any form of corkage! It had the capacity to sit large numbers for food, had an amazing stage for the band, a giant projector, and it even had a glitter ball. The slightly shabby, rough round the edges vibe gave our guests and us the freedom to let loose!
Regarding the budget, we knew we didn’t want to break the bank with the wedding, and wanted to come out the other side with our bank accounts intact. We succeeded in our aim, but weddings are an expensive event, and even when saving at every opportunity, they cost a sickening amount of money.
The bridesmaids were left to their own devices as I didn’t want to decide what three very individual women should wear, although I did ask that they wear blue.
The ceremony: Neither of us is religious, and we didn’t want a church wedding, but also felt that civil ceremonies can lack a little character and so wanted a ceremony that felt more personal. After some research, we decided that a humanist service fitted what we were looking for. We found the fabulous celebrant Kate Gee, who completely understood what we wanted. She came to meet us at our house and really got to know us, so that when it came to the ceremony our friends and family thought she was one of our best friends! It was a lovely service; we wrote our own secret vows, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We even included our own form of handfasting to include friends and family in the wedding.
We got legally married in the local register office the day before, making it as basic as possible so as not to detract from the real ceremony the following day. We wore jeans and t-shirts and didn’t exchange rings, and said the bare minimum that made it legal!
Our first dance was Island in the Sun by Weezer, and to see us down the aisle, Ben’s brother played an instrumental version of First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes on guitar.
There was no initial theme, and the whole wedding kind of evolved as we went. Ben wanted AFC Wimbledon colours, so there was some blue and yellow, although to disguise that, I made sure that there were lots of other colours, too! We wanted it to be bright, colourful and creative, and full of things we liked. We just added ideas and things as we went, getting inspiration from wedding blogs! There was a side room off the main hall that we made into the bar area, and we decided to give that a Mexican theme, as that was the honeymoon location. Ben’s friends in Mexico City were able to send us over some traditional decorations, and it made the area quite fun and colourful.
Pretty much everything other than clothes and the main meal was DIY, and it was only possible through collaboration with a large number of our family and friends:
- The invitation and gift list was a website designed by Ben on Squarespace, which saved us heaps and looked ace!
- After lots of searching we couldn’t find the bunting we wanted for the wedding, so it was all handmade by me with the help of my mum and a few friends. We found fabrics from all over, and it took a lifetime to make, but the final effect was worth it! (It’s now for sale, if you’re interested!)
- All the table numbers were designed by Ben, printed at work and made by his dad.
- The order of service was designed by our friend Steve and printed at a local printers.
- My mum did all the flowers for the tables, bouquets and buttonholes.
- The rings were via our friend who is a jewellery maker – Alice Gow Designs.
- The wedding favours were a stroke of genius and were carefully selected badges, representing each guest, all chosen from Ben’s childhood collections!
- The band was Ben’s brother and friends, and the ‘DJ’ was an amazing playlist put together on spotify by Ben and me!
- We had a giant projector with a screen and used it to create a live instagram feed on ii.do with our own unique hashtag. Our guests loved it and took hundreds of photos, including in our selfie booth using IFTTT. We were able to automatically download every photo and video with the hashtag, which was fun to look through the next day.
- Even the booze was DIY – we asked our friends and family to all bring a bottle, and got some other friends to run the bar! This saved us, our friends and family lots of money and meant everyone brought loads. We still have hundreds of bottles left!
DIY, however, is not for the faint hearted. We had no idea if it would all come together, and it took painstaking organisation and trust in ourselves that we were doing the right thing. However, it made the whole day so personal and really special as so many people had invested time, effort and love into creating it! A challenge was the clear-up the next day: the downside of doing everything yourself. Hungover friends and family allowed us to escape this task, but they had to go to the hall and clean up the chaos left behind, which took them some time. They are all AMAZING!.
The biggest advice we can offer is don’t forget that a wedding is just a day, and you are doing it because you want to spend a lifetime together. It’s a celebration of you as a couple, Do not get sucked into feeling like you have to stick with tradition. If it does not suit or reflect who you both are, then don’t do it!