Erin and James’s steampunk wedding day is hands down beautiful. It’s so light and airy and so all the accoutrements of this style of wedding, such as the machinery cogs, the goggles, the leathers, etc., which can be heavy, really shine out and everything is perfectly balanced. More importantly, isn’t everyone having an absolute blast!! I would love to go to a wedding like this – so much fun!! Everyone is dressed up in the style, the décor and reception table games are great, and as for the ceremony venue, well it’s exquisite and dramatic. The absolute perfect setting. Such a beautifully styled day…
The Story of the Wedding
“We met on eHarmony back in 2011, when I was just about to start a PhD in Southampton and James was just coming to the end of his PhD. After several long messages over the January, we met up at the start of February, as I was due to go away to work for a week and we thought it would be good to know beforehand if things weren’t going to work out. We spent the following week texting each other, and after that we quickly started spending all weekend with each other and some time in the week. We both knew very early on that this was something significant, with me joining James, his mum and stepdad on holiday on the Scillies less than three months after we started dating. It was quite a tough year, with James finishing his PhD and me quitting mine, but we knew at the end of it that this was it – it was a make or break experience and it definitely made us. We had our daughter a couple of weeks after our second dating anniversary and got married a couple of months after our fourth dating anniversary, and we’ll be having our second child just around our first wedding anniversary.
“James had been planning his proposal for a while, and was initially thwarted when we decided we couldn’t manage a trip away in the April. He managed to sneak the ring into the packing for a holiday in Northern Ireland and ended up proposing at the Giant’s Causeway – one of my favourite places in the world. Thankfully, we’d had a quick stop by Bushmills distillery and sampled a quick drink just beforehand, which came in useful when James wasn’t sure if he could shake off my dad, who was trying to tell him all about the area! Luckily, he did, and he even chose a location where getting down on one knee was not required and there was no hanging around waiting for a yes. He’d picked a beautiful ring, and even sneakily managed to get the right size, so we spent the week being able to celebrate with people and show off the ring.
“We’d been meaning to visit Papplewick before we were engaged, as it was somewhere James had heard about and it held an interest for us both. He’d noted that we could get married there, and we decided to check it out as one of the first things we did. We both fell in love with it as a venue – it suited us perfectly, being a bit sciencey, a bit geeky and yet really beautiful. We’d also already joked about having a steampunk wedding, and deciding on this as a venue just brought it all together into reality. We mooted organising travel back to Warwickshire (where we live) from the venue, but decided it would be too much on the Friday for those there to enjoy, and risked meaning a lot of extra work to sort something after the wedding on the Friday and then get back to Warwickshire for the reception on the Saturday, and so we decided to hunt around Nottinghamshire. We wanted something that would fit the theme and would fit us – we didn’t want a hotel reception as we just didn’t feel like it suited us. We came across the Galleries and booked a visit and realised that we really loved it and that we could make the venue work really well for us with the multiple rooms (plus, who wouldn’t want their speeches in a courtroom!). They could be flexible with what we needed and were enthusiastic about what we wanted to do and so it just seemed to complement Papplewick perfectly.
“Our families were generous and we ended up spending about £16000. Although we’d had a larger budget to work with, we were keen to keep the costs lower, so we were pleased with what it ended up as.
“Favourite moment? We both loved the moment when I reached the top of the stairs in Papplewick and we saw each other for the first time. For similar reasons, the few moments we got outside, once we were married, before everyone else joined us was wonderful, just soaking it all in. The best man’s speech had us both in hysterics and remains a much talked about highlight. Finally, walking into the courtroom and seeing that almost everyone in attendance had made some effort to the theme and how different things were made us feel very loved and supported.
“There were many DIY elements to the day, particularly in terms of décor. James made the cake toppers (the cake was also made by friends as a wedding gift). He also made the guestbook tree, which worked really well and we had many lovely messages. The centrepieces were something that we did together – they were made from tin cans that James sprayed outside in January, and then we made up the clocks and scrolls to go in them (we did end up having to find inventive ways to use sweetcorn, as it was a specific sized tin we wanted!). The clock hands we had seen at a steampunk fair and ordered online, and we were lucky enough to make the scrolls with old pages from an engineering textbook that a friend was getting rid of, so we could get interesting pages with diagrams on. I made all the hot air balloons that were hung up in one of the rooms from paper lampshades, fabric and paper bags. We made the table plans, which we mounted on card and easels, and printed the orders of service, photo lists, information packs, and a few other miscellaneous paper bits ourselves. The bridesmaid bouquets and buttonholes were put together ourselves; we ordered 200 scented narcissi from Scilly Flowers and put them together the morning of the wedding – the smell was overwhelming but very sentimental to us both. The suitcases used for cards and gifts were borrowed from the family of one of the bridesmaids and worked really well.
“We were really fortunate that over the two days almost nothing went wrong and what did was minor and easily sorted (the groom cake being left in the flat, for example, but that was only three minutes’ walk away). We mostly achieved this by having a kick ass wedding party, who shielded us and dealt with so much; it helped having so many of them, because they didn’t end up being overwhelmed, either, and got to enjoy themselves. We had a few near disasters just prior to the wedding, like finding out that we weren’t going to have as many beds as we’d booked as the flats had to be changed; thankfully, owing to being a city centre location, and having flexible friends, we easily remedied that.
“Advice to those getting married? With regards wedding planning, don’t compromise on things you want for other people. We had a lot of pressure to change certain elements of our day, which were really important to us. We’re really glad we stuck by each other and stood firm, as everyone came around and enjoyed the day, and we got to enjoy everything knowing it was as we wanted. Also, take time to listen, take time to be individuals and take time as a couple out of wedding planning (or whatever other big events are going on).”
Photography – Scuffins Photography
Bride – dress ‘Nora’ by Charlotte Balbier; boots from Duo, now Ted and Muffy; gloves and steampunk hat from Etsy; other accessories were borrowed or made (James made the necklace Erin wore from a stone found a couple of days after they got engaged).
Bridesmaids – skirts from Angels Face and each built their own outfit from there based on a colour theme; most of the corsets came from Corsets UK
Erin and James’s daughter’s main dress was made by James’s mum to the Butterick B5900 pattern, using fabric bought from Spoonflower
Groomsmen – suits from Suit Yourself, as above
Music – walked down the aisle to Drops of Jupiter by Train, and first dance was Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen