Real Weddings: Lauren and Paul by Jessica O’Shaughnessy

Happy Friday one and all!

We have such a pretty wedding for you today, and all done beautifully on a £10,000 budget! This in itself is a miracle, but its so gorgeous as well.

I will hand over to Lauren and Paul, to tell us all about their big day, which was captured beautiful by Jessica O’Shaughnessy

Real Weddings Banner

Lauren and Paul

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What was your budget?

Our budget was £10,000.

How would you describe your wedding theme?

I would describe our wedding theme as vintage folk with just a hint of rock and roll.

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

Lauren: My favourite part of the wedding was asking our guest to sing ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’ by the Beach Boys as part of the service. As we were having a civil ceremony we decided to incorporate an element of a traditional church wedding (singing the hymns) in a non-religious way. We wanted our guest to feel actively engaged with the ceremony and we also wanted them to stay on their toes.

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Paul: My favourite part of the wedding was the speeches. We took a non-traditional approach and encourage the best men and the bridesmaids to get involved. Rachael (Lauren’s sister) a long with the other bridesmaids (Hollie, Sophie and Freya) sang an edited rendition of ‘Crashed the wedding’ by Busted (one if Lauren’s favourite bands). They edited the words, printed scrolls for all of the guests and invited everyone to sing-a-long) it was absolutely hilarious.

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They definitely set the tone for the speeches and all of the pressure was then on the ‘Adequate Men’. As I had 3 best men each of them took responsibility for telling different stories from different points in my life. The speeches included pictures (which all of the guests had a copy of) and a little toy pony called Jeff (who had been an integral part f the stag do). I must also mention Lauren’s Dad, Craig, who opened proceedings and did an amazing job of both embarrassing the bride with funny stories and expressing his pride about the lovely young woman she has become.Lauren&Paul81

Tell us about your Wedding Dress

The hunt for the perfect wedding dress began early in 2015. My Mum, Sister and I decided on one Saturday morning that we would go into Chester and try some dresses on in some of the Bridal shops. I was the first one of my close friends to get married and so had no idea about protocol.  As a result it some became apparent that just turning up and asking to try dresses on wasn’t the way things were done. One shop allowed me to try on a couple of dresses however I was advised that they only stocked sizes 8-10 and therefore none of the dresses were going to fit me properly. The whole experience was very unpleasant as I left feeling fat and uncomfortable. I already had a very clear picture in my mind of what sort of dress I wanted but this would prove very difficult to find. In wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that we tried again. I had discovered a discount Bridal store in Newcastle upon Tyne (which is where Paul and I live). My Mum, Sister and Nan came to stay for the weekend and we visited the store. The staff were amazing, they had hundreds of dresses in different styles and sizes. This experience I really enjoyed. On that day I tried on 4 dresses, I knew instantly that I had found ‘the one’. We bought it then and there. In the months that followed I tried on 3 other wedding dresses as I wanted to be sure that I had made the right decision. I had. No other dress even compared.

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Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

Lauren: My family are really close and I am lucky enough to have cousins who are like sisters to me. I choose my sister Rachael and my cousins Hollie, Sophie and Freya to be my bridesmaids. I also choose my younger cousin Isobel to be our flower girl. They looked beautiful and did an amazing job of keeping me calm and getting me drunk before the ceremony.

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Paul: I decided not to have one best man and instead had ‘The three adequate men’. Matt, my brother and Will and Blandy two of my best friends were in charge of best men duties and they did an outstanding job-from planning and facilitating my two stag do’s to delivering their speeches. I couldn’t have asked for more.

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Why did you choose your venue?

We wanted the wedding to be as informal as possible. We talked about the fact that we wanted the wedding to reflect the freedom that we felt at festivals or when we went away camping with our friends. Listening to music we loved, drinking and talking into the early hours. We didn’t want to be constrained by formalities. We also wanted the venue to be stunning and unforgettable.

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Tower Hill Barns ticked all of these boxes. We booked our wedding when the refurbishment was still happening but we knew from the plans that it was exactly what we wanted. The setting, the buildings, the gardens and the staff were amazing. It really was the dream wedding.

Tell us about your photographer

I found Jessica by chance. I had been searching for photographers over Christmas and happened to come across her website. I had a very specific image in my head of what our wedding photographs should look like. I hated the idea of forced pictures with fake smiles and formal compositions. When I saw Jessica’s work I knew she was the one. Her images are so informal, they capture moments of reality. You can see from the images that when people are smiling it’s because they are happy and having a good time. She was outstanding. She added so much to our day and she has created images that truly depict our personalities and exemplify the emotions of the day. She was so professional but also a friend. When I was unsure about what was happening or where people should be, she took that pressure away from me, reassuring us that everything was as it should be. I can’t thank Jessica enough for the role she played that day or for the amazing moments she captured.

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How did the proposal happen? 

Originally Paul is from Cumbria and as a result we have spent a lot of time in the Lake District. We had planned to go back for the weekend with some of our friends for a get together. On the journey over I had asked to use Paul’s phone as my battery had died and he was very sketchy about handing it to me, this started alarm bells ringing and I honestly thought the worst ‘there is someone else’.

When we arrived at Paul’s Mum and Dad’s house all was calm. We spent the evening with our friends and usually this would result in a very late night and a horrible hangover the next morning. As 1am approached Paul suggested that we should get some sleep, this was very out of character. The next morning we woke up and got ready to go for a walk with our friends. They had gone home to get ready and this seemed to be taking them a very long time. They finally returned at about 12.30pm and we set off to Lake Ullswater for a walk.

We pottered around the Lake, threw some stones and dipped our feet into the water. As I was walking back the shore I turned to see my friends had formed a horse shoe around Paul who had got down on one knee. He pulled the ring from his pocket and asked ‘will you marry me?’. He may have also said something else before the words came out but I honestly can’t remember, it is all a blur. I covered my face and started to cry and asked ‘are you joking’? He laughed and replied no. I of course said yes. We popped a bottle of champagne and enjoyed ghe moment with our best friends. I began trying to call my Mum and my Sister. There was no answer. Paul pacified me and said we would go home, get changed and head into town for some celebration drinks, he also reassured me that I could keep trying to ring them for as long as it took.

As we pulled into the drive of Paul’s Mum and Dad’s all seemed calm as we had left it. Paul took my hand and walked me through the house out into the garden, I could smell smoke. As we turned the corner music began to play, I look down the garden and there was my entire family, who had driven up from the Chester in the morning, all of our friends, a BBQ and a gazebo set up in the garden. Paul had organised a surprise engagement party. I cried as my Dad hugged me. Paul hadn’t wanted me to use his phone as he had been texting my Mum and Sister organising the party.
The engagement party set the tone for the wedding. We knew that we wanted the wedding day to reflect the laid back and fun atmosphere he had created on that day. People still ask Paul ‘what would you have done if she had said no’ and his answer is always ‘I knew she would say yes’.

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Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

Buy a decent printer and make your own invitations-this saved us a fortune. Everything was done on publisher and all you have to do is download different font styles and images from the internet. I was really proud of our invitations.
We did the same with our seating plan, I mocked it up on publisher and then we sent it to be printed on canvass. I really liked having creative control and again it was so simple to do.

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My mum spent a year buying crystal vases from charity shops for our table decorations. we filled each of them with gypsophila. Each of the vases was slightly different and this added to there charm.

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We bought all of the decorations ourselves and on the morning of the wedding my Mum conducted a team of happy helpers to decorate the venue. We couldn’t have done it without her.
My favourite decoration was a guitar which my Mum re-designed. She painted and added the lyrics to one of our favourite songs-this was a surprise for Paul on the day. All of these little touches really make the difference and made the day ours.

What was your first dance & why?

We spent months deciding on our first dance. Both Paul and I are really into music, it has been a very significant part of our relationship. We selected songs that had meant something to us throughout our relationship and rated them out of 10. Then one evening we discovered a cover of ‘Don’t let me down’ originally by the Beatles, but beautifully remastered by one of our favourite artists Paolo Nutini. We knew this was the one. It felt significant that this was a new song in our relationship and would forever only be associated with our first dance. We kept it a secret until the day and it was absolutely perfect.
As a homage to the other songs that we had wanted, we incorporated them into our vows, selecting specific parts and re-writing them into our own words.

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing we would have done differently is hiring a live band. This would have been more in-keeping with theme and would have added another element of fun. But this is a minor detail for us as the DJ was absolutely fantastic.

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Do you have any advice for future couples?

Be really fussy about you DJ. I spent months searching for a DJ who would be willing to only play songs that we suggested. We asked our guests to choose 5 songs that they would like to hear and we also created our own wedding playlist. As I already mentioned music is a very big part of our relationship and we wanted the music played to reflect who we are as people and not be the standard wedding tunes. The DJ was amazing, they got just the right mix of soul, rock and roll and Indie tunes.

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

It will be exactly the same as it was before. It is. Nothing changes, you wake up in the morning and bask in the idea that you have engaged in a traditional rite of passage that means that you are now part of a club in society with millions of other people. But how you feel about each other and who you are doesn’t change. That’s the most amazing thing about it, you have this incredible day which celebrates your love for each other and everyone who is important in your life, but then you just go back to your normal life, with a ring on your finger and memories that you will cherish for a life time.

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

I adored planning the wedding. There are so many parts of the planning process that I loved: finding the venue, thinking of the theme and seeing it all come to life, creating the invitations, planning the table dressings with my Mum, coming up with the playlist, designing my cake with Jan which was absolutely beautiful. All of those things add to the excitement and contribute to the build up. At no point did I feel pressured or stressed because we had so much support from everyone around us. I love the fact that everyone played a part in making our wedding perfect, it was a team effort and that truly reflects our relationship with our families and friends.

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The Suppliers

Photographer: Jessica O’Shaughnessy
Ceremony Venue: Tower Hill Barns 
Reception Venue: Tower Hill Barns
Bride’s Dress: WED2B 
Bride’s Shoes: Aliexpress 
Bride’s Headpiece: A Day to Remember 
Groom’s Outfit: Slaters 
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Debenhams 
Cake: Too Good To Eat Wedding Cakes 
Flowers: Flowers by Gaynor 
Hair: Laura O’Callaghan 
Make Up: Laura O’Callaghan 
DJ: Big Boss Man 

The Wedding Album

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