Paul and I had been together for five years when he proposed to me on a frozen lake just outside Stockholm.
We started planning an early summer wedding for the following year and decided to hold it in Kent, England, where Paul grew up. What we really wanted was to keep everything relaxed – to ditch formalities and focus on eating, drinking, and having fun. We settled on a village fête theme, drawing on influences from the ’30s and ’40s, and held our reception at a village hall.
The ceremony itself was held at a stately home and hunting lodge where my mum gave me away. The choice of music was important to us – Paul and I knew from the beginning that the first song we’d play as we walked down the aisle together would be “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. At the village hall, we had a cellist and a banjo player from a folk collective playing on the veranda. It was great to see Paul’s grandad, who is in his nineties, having a little dance.
I’m lucky to have a lot of creative people amongst my friends and family, and we roped them in to help. We tried to stay color scheme-free and keep things deconstructed and casual (which perhaps backfired during the meal, when we hadn’t allowed for enough room for people to get in and out of their seats!). Before the big day, we got busy making candle holders from old jars strung up with wire, and a friend let us borrow 1 km of bunting to use as decoration. To build help up the festival atmosphere we found hay bales, a glut of vintage lace tablecloths, and little foam airplanes. My friend Louise Riley is the fabulous textile artist who made our invitations.
Paul’s groomsmen gathered and made fairground games, like a coconut shy, that claimed a few casualties. I also collected ceramic swan plant holders for table centerpieces, and Paul’s mother found a way to age glass bottles for the flowers. Another family friend arranged the most beautiful flowers for us – I asked for the brightest country flowers, and I definitely got them!
A lot of our ideas revolved around a sense of playfulness and community. We drew from school gala days and Jacobs join (where everyone brings a dish to a group meal). My mum is a fantastic cook, and she made a delicious Guinness and chocolate wedding cake. Other friends and family members brought wonderful homemade desserts for the dessert table. Our vision came to a full realization with our after dinner tug-of-war!
It was a lot of work pulling everything together – I was totally absorbed in the creative side of organizing our wedding and completely forgot about little things like toilet rolls and wash up liquid. Thankfully, I had lots of help.
Before the big day, Paul and I were worried that the stress of planning a DIY wedding wouldn’t be worth it, but it was. We had the most amazingly wonderful day and a fantastic start to our life together!
All photographs by Nabeel Khan.