Claire & Ben Image by Chris Cook
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Claire & Ben

Real Weddings

Claire & Ben

Claire met some of her bridesmaids on a 3D craft degree, so you can already guess that they had a natural creative flare that would come in handy when helping create the bouquets and bridesmaids dresses from scratch. Along with Claire & Ben’s family and friends coming together to create their wedding, Claire & Ben decided to use local wedding suppliers as they like to support local businesses.

Over to Claire to tell you more…

“Our wedding ceremony and drinks reception was at the Riverbank in Nottingham. We then transported our guests to Nottingham Contemporary on ‘Walter’ the vintage bus for the wedding meal and evening celebrations. We spent many months researching venues but always feeling like none of them fit with our idea of the day. Then after what felt like forever (in reality 3 months) Ben suggested Nottingham Contemporary, a museum and exhibition space in the city. It was an amazing idea that instantly felt right. As they don’t hold a licence for ceremonies we had to search for the place to say our ‘I do’s’. The Riverbank is such a lovely setting and due to our date they were kind enough to agree to hold our drinks reception on the terrace in the hot Nottingham sunshine!

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I knew I wanted an unconventional dress from the start, something classic and elegant but not necessarily a traditional wedding dress. I liked the idea of looking like a 30’s/40’s movie star, a style that fits my personality and maiden name! I wanted a dress that people would feel was different and after spotting a beautiful sequined dress on Pinterest I knew this was the right style for me. Finding it was another thing as it wasn’t something I could go into a wedding dress shop for. My dream dress was by Rachel Gilbert but was located in Australia. Buying the dress without trying it on was a huge risk, but one that paid off in the end! I had various alterations done to it to fit my vision, including shortening the sleeves and making the back into a V-neck. I had the odd second thought about not wearing the traditional white dress prior to the wedding, but on the day I couldn’t wait to put it on.

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If I had to put our wedding style into words, I’d say ‘contemporary elegance’. We wanted to embrace the contemporary setting for the meal and evening celebrations but also juxtapose it with sequins, candles and lots of flowers. Adding lots of details made the day feel special.

We decided pretty early on that we would do a lot of the creative elements of the wedding ourselves. We are very lucky to have such wonderful friends and family who wanted to help and who had such impressive skills. Ben’s mum volunteered to make the table centre pieces, which spurred the bridesmaids and me on to create our own bouquets and various arrangements for the venues. We ordered lots of our favourite flowers from Triangle Nursery and put the bouquets together the day before the wedding. We had so much fun, watching videos online then trying out ideas, I’d highly recommend it. I must say at this point that some of my bridesmaids and I had met on a 3D craft degree so do have a bit of creative ability, but certainly no prior floristry skills! We also made the bridesmaid outfits, spending a couple of happy weekends cutting out tulle circles and stitching them together to make beautiful skirts (and drinking prosecco).

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We wanted a more interesting approach to the dessert course so set up ‘the great wedding bake off’. We asked guests to bring a cake or sweet treat to enter into a competition and used their entries to provide a table full of delights to eat as dessert. This worked brilliantly, with people putting so much effort into their entries – the guests also liked having a choice.

Where possible we tried to use local suppliers as we believe in supporting local business. We used Oscar & Rosie’s to supply our evening food; they make the most delicious pizza that the guests couldn’t stop talking about. Another highlight was the sauces we placed on the tables by The Sauce Shop. People were trading bottles and searching out certain flavours – a total hit.

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I designed our stationery and website. I wanted to have a theme that ran throughout all items so created our wedding logo that was used on everything including the projection on the wall behind the top table. I also made place mats that had all the relevant information and a few fun games about Ben and I. Leaving a space to draw on the mats and providing a few pencil crayons gave people chance to express themselves!

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Our photographer Chris Cook was amazing, he has such a great style, and lovely shot ideas, he is great at getting people in the right places to capture the perfect picture. He puts everyone at ease and works incredibly hard to get the right pictures. We had some pics taken before the ceremony (also known as a first look) and more dotted throughout the day so we weren’t away from the wedding for too long, We were blown away by the quality of the photos!

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My advice would be to plan something in for the next day; we had family round at the house for coffee in the morning and a BBQ for friends in the afternoon. This gave us chance to see people and spend time relaxing, talking about the fun of the wedding. After all the excitement and hype of the day before I think we’d have struggled with nothing to do when we woke up the next morning.

Everyone says it but I wished we’d taken more time just the two of us. You really want to spend time with all the people that have made the effort to come share in the celebrations and the day goes so fast, have a schedule and get a planner or bridesmaid to make sure it runs (roughly!) to time.

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Also plan a break just the two of you, even if it’s only a mini-moon you need time together after the wedding, time to string out the feeling of being a newlywed but also time to come down from all the excitement. I’m not going to lie, I found the post wedding weeks a bit sad. I was delighted to be married but all the planning and anticipation had gone and I’d really loved that part; friends and blog posts reassured me this was totally normal.

Finally don’t feel like you have to follow all the traditions, it might not be part of your vision. Some might work well for you but others won’t: it’s your day, do it your way. The last thing you want is to feel after the event that it wasn’t quite what you wanted. Also don’t tell too many people about any unconventional plans prior to the day, I’m sure some people would have disapproved of my wedding dress if I’d have told them before the event but everyone actually loved that it was different. So keep some plans to yourself, a few surprises are great for everyone!”

{List of the lovely suppliers}

Images by Chris Cook Photography
Venue: Riverbank Bar & Kitchen, Nottingham Contemporary 
Dress: Rachel Gilbert
Flowers: Triangle Nursery
Catering: Oscar & Rosie’s & The Sauce Shop

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