Wedding inspiration: Closer’s Matilda reveals how she organised a beautiful wedding on a budget

Closer's very own blushing bride Matilda Stanley has told us how she managed to organise a beautiful wedding for under £5000

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by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

How did he propose?

We went out for lunch and everything seemed normal – although looking back now he didn’t finish his food (very unusual!). Afterwards he suggested we went for a walk around this lovely little lake nearby; we used to go there a lot for strolls and picnics when we first got together.

It had just started to spit with rain so I wasn’t so keen, but Ollie kind of insisted on going for a walk, so we set off in anoraks and wellies. I was busy Instagramming pictures of swans and going on about how I fancied some kind of cake as we hadn’t had pudding at the restaurant – completely unaware of what was about to happen.

There's a lot you can do with an old jam jar...

We got to a little bench and Ollie said to close my eyes as he had a surprise – after my moaning about cake I was hoping for a chocolate bar or a bag of Maltesers and put my hand out ready for a cheeky snack! But, when I opened my eyes, he was down on one knee with a ring. It was perfect! Very low key, unexpected and we were totally on our own in one of our favourite places. It was a big yes from me!

What was your main aim when planning your wedding?

Right from the beginning, we said we weren't going to let the wedding take over our lives with planning and money. Obviously getting married is a huge thing and we wanted the day to be special, but were keen to keep it low budget and personal, rather than finding somewhere grand and putting on a big posh day to spend our savings on. We wanted all our guests to feel relaxed and happy rather than feeling like they are at a formal event and a little bit out of place.

Matilda and Ollie did all the decorations themselves - impressive work!

What was the theme – and why did you choose it?

We both had a similar idea of a vintage-themed afternoon tea with plenty of bunting, cakes and personal touches. To be honest, we never really talked about a particular theme, it just seemed to go that way as we started planning. We have quite eclectic style anyway, and not big fans of matchy matchy things – so the cosy, mismatch style felt right.

The smiles say it all, don't they?

We're intrigued - share your DIY ideas and solutions!

Jam jars can be beautiful! When buying vases/ jugs for tables, we were surpised at how much they can cost. I'd seen on sites like Pinterest that people had recycled old jars for flowers and loved it. Ollie’s grandparents helped us massively with boxes full of jars over the year, which we then decorated with patterned, coloured masking tape and ribbons. We used those on tables for tealights and flowers and they looked great and worked well with our theme.

They decorated the entire hall themselves.

We also made our own bunting – which we were hugely proud of. We found fabric for £3 a metre at a local market and spent nearly three Sundays in a row as a little sewing team – Ollie would cut out and iron the triangles and I'd sew them together. We made nearly 60 metres in the end and it looked so lovely on the day. It saved lots of cash and was a nice job to do together - and now we have our own bunting for future parties and celebrations!

Matilda and Ollie opted for a cute vintage-themed afternoon tea party - with amazing results.

How did you choose your venue?

We got married in a teeny church which is special to my family, I was christened there and my grandparents, aunties and cousins have married there too over the years. We had our reception at the village hall, two mins down the road. Mainly because it was so close, but also because we were getting married up north, we worried about the weather doing anything out doors based or in a marquee. It was also massively cheaper then anywhere else within a ten mile radius!

How adorable!

To be honest the hall was very basic and a bit dated looking before we started, so it took quite a lot of persuading to convince people it was a nice idea! Ollie and I had the vision though and right from the start could see how pretty it could be. We hired an indoor marquee lining to cover up the horrid, 60s foam ceiling tiles, which gave the room a whole new lease of life and fairy lights gave it a gorgeous cosy feel during the evening. Nearly every guest commented on how amazing the room looked on the day – and seeing it in the morning actually made four of our guests cry!

How did you choose your dress? Where was it from?

I wasn’t massively excited about dress shopping. There is so much pressure on brides to be to find 'The One', so I really started to dread it all - especially as I was also keen not to spend more than £500 on a dress that I'm only ever going to wear once. It sounds like a challenge but it really can be done!

Isn't this a lovely idea?

I hunted down, an amazing discounted, factory seconds kind of store in South East London (Wedding Dress Factory Outlet), which had an amazing range of beautiful gowns that may have been worn once on a catwalk or photo shoot – or simply a style from a few seasons ago. They were all gorgeous and it was more fun that I expected!

I tried on three dresses which were nice, and then the fourth, which was actually my least favourite on the hanger, was a massive surprise! I instantly felt comfortable, yet special, in it – and when I saw myself in the mirror, I could NOT stop crying. My sister cried too - and so did the lady in the shop - so I knew it was a keeper.

We love Matilda's gown - you would never guess she got it at such a bargain-friendly price!

The best bit was that it fitted me like a glove and was only £375!

How did you choose the bridesmaid dresses? Did you have any bridesmaid woes?

Bridesmaid dress shopping was quite easy as I hadn’t wanted them to match – my two sisters look so different and Ollie’s cousin was 13, so trying to find a frock they all liked and suited would have been a nightmare. We went shopping on separate days and went for a nice, teal colour and all the dresses looked great together.

We love the idea of choosing three different styles of bridesmaid dress in the same colour - it's such a great way to make sure everyone looks their best!

What did you serve for food / drinks?

We had afternoon tea baked by the local WI, which was a gorgeous selection of savoury sandwiches and quiche together with gorgeous biscuits, cakes and scones. During the evening, we had an amazing hog roast served in bred rolls and apple sauce.

How delicious does their rustic wedding cake look?

What song did you play for your first dance? And why?

We had an AMAZING four piece band, that played great swing versions of modern songs – so it worked well for oldies and younger guests. They played a cover of The Cure ‘Close To Me’ – it's one of our faves. When we first got together, Ollie lent me his iPod for a trip to London and that song was one of the first tacks on there and it always makes me smile.

Your favourite wedding anecdote?

During our rehearsal, there's a bit where the vicar asks Ollie to take my right hand in his right hand – because we were nervous we both ended up putting our left hands out and messing it up. We basically ended up kind of shaking hands. The whole church laughed and it was a really nice moment and kind of broke the ice for the guests, for a fun, giggle filled day.

Embracing the little mistakes made the day even better.

What do you think made your wedding unique?

Nearly everything on our day was made by us, bought from eBay or a charity shop, or donated from family  – so nothing matched yet seemed to work. The whole day felt like us – without trying to impress anybody or act all fancy.

What was the best part of the day?

We loved every minute of the day, but I'd say it was after the church, when Ollie and arrived at the venue to see the sun was shining and all our guests were out on the lawn drinking Pimms and having a nice time . There was this huge sense of relief and joy that everything had gone to plan, the weather was nice and we were officially married!

It's always wonderful when you know you've planned a gorgeous wedding, isn't it?

Your top tip for brides planning their wedding:

Get organised early – we made a list of jobs to do each month and would tick off as we did them throughout the year. It sounds a little bit anal, but even aiming to do five small jobs takes the edge off nearer the day. Things like buying candles and batteries just after Christmas in the sales meant that they were done and sorted, so when time was running out we weren’t panic buying. We had such a nice relaxed few days before the wedding because everything was done so early! Take time, enjoy every minute and don’t worry – it'll all be fine and fun on the day!

Photos by Beyond Imagination Photography

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