A rustic DIY wedding in Southampton

08 Oct 2019

Alex Tibbitt married Alice Mortimore at Highfield Church, followed by a marquee reception at Bradgate Manor, Netley 

How did you meet? 

We met on Tinder. I was a second year nursing student in Cardiff. Alex had just graduated from university in Perth, Australia, and had come to Cardiff on an extended visit to stay with his cousin. 

Tell us about the proposal. 

We were on a family holiday with my family in her childhood holiday town of Barton Turf, Norfolk. We went on a tandem ride to the local coffee shop then cycled to the Barton Turf Broads, sat looking out at the broads and Alex proposed. We then went back to the holiday house to surprise and celebrate with the family.

What was the theme for the day?

The theme was 'summer garden rustic'. We wanted to do as much ourselves as we could such as homemade signs, seating plans, the cake, and homegrown flowers. There was no strict colour scheme but the bridesmaids wore dresses in dusty pink and eucalyptus green was used to decorate the venue.

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What venue did you choose? 

We chose Bradgate Manor. We wanted a venue that wasn't too far from the church so that guests didn't have to travel too far. We also wanted a venue that allowed us to be flexible and organise things ourselves.

We looked at a couple of venues that offered package deals but we wanted to do more ourselves. The location was good and the garden was beautiful with nice woodland surroundings. We also wanted an outdoor marquee and the venue provided the perfect setting for one.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

Straight after getting engaged, I went to the first bridal shop we could find in Norfolk with my mum and sisters. I then went to Brides of Southampton, which is down the road from my family home, where I tried on a couple of dresses before finding my dress. I had two dresses I was trying to choose between. I went back two more times to try on those two dresses before deciding on the one... the dress is by Justin Alexander. 

Does the dress match the one you originally thought you would choose?

I had about ten completely different ideas of what I wanted but when I think of each element I really wanted, my dress pretty much had it all and more. I wanted something simplistic and not too showy.  I knew I didn't want anything too tight or low cut, but I did want a low back. When I was looking back at one of my bridal magazines, I actually found my dress from the back which I had flagged when first looking through. 

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What did the bridesmaids wear? 

They wore dresses from TFNC in the style Halannah, in a dusky pink colour. I found the bridesmaids' dresses first and fell in love with them straight away. I had five bridesmaids: my two sisters, one of Alex's cousins who he had lived with in Cardiff when we first started dating, my very close cousin and then my oldest childhood friend. I also had my two and a half year-old niece as a flowergirl. 

What did the mother of the bride wear? 

Mum wore a dress from John Lewis by Fenn Wright Manson.

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Where did you find your suits? 

Alex already owned a suit by Kiin from John Lewis but bought a matching waistcoat. The best man had the same suit and the rest of the groomsmen hired similar suits to match.

Tell us about your floral arrangements. 

The florist made bouquets, buttonholes and a couple of large displays for the church. She also supplied bulk gypsophila and eucalyptus which we used to decorate. Flowers for table centres and reception decorations were grown by Alex’s step-mother and arranged by Alex’s mother. 

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Tell us about the details of the day… 

We created our own DIY decorations including the seating plan sign, wooden large photo frame prop, welcome sign and order of day pallet. Alex made the wooden signs and decorations from recycled wood and I painted them.

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We also made homemade rhubarb gin with rhubarb from my parents’ garden as wedding favours. Our wedding logo was designed by Alex’s brother who made it into a stamp.

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We used a Polaroid camera for getting photos in our wedding guest book. My sister made and decorated the cake and my mum made cheesecakes for pudding. Alex used a book from his late uncle for his speech. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle? 

I was so excited - my dad had to stop me from rushing. I expected to feel nervous but I felt nothing but love and excitement. It was so amazing looking out at all our family and friends as I was walking down the aisle. 

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 

We chose our favourite bible readings and one was read by Alex’s mother, the other by my brother. We had another reading by Lemony Snicket which we both loved, read by Alex’s brother. The service was conducted by the church's reverend who I have known all my live and was a close friend of the family.

My brother played piano and Alex’s best man sang as we were signing the register. My dad's saxophone quartet played during the tea party following the ceremony, and he also surprised us with a solo saxophone performance accompanied by my brother on piano. 

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What was your most memorable moment? 

It was when we left the church before our guests, so we arrived first at the reception. We had a few minutes together in peace at the venue where we just enjoyed and reflected - with some Pimm's in hand. 

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding? 

Not letting it take over and trying to just take our time to enjoy it. We had great families and support coming from everyone so we didn't find anything too challenging. 

What was the most important investment for you?

For Alex it was the food and for me, it was the honeymoon. 

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We had Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love. We both love the song and are both fans of the oldies. When trying to choose a song, we listened to it and both instantly agreed it was perfect.  

Did you have any evening entertainment? 

We had a DJ. 

Tell us about your wedding cake. 

Our cake was made by my sister. We couldn't decide on flavours so she made vanilla, red velvet, chocolate and carrot cake layers. It was iced semi-naked with buttercream icing and decorated with gypsophila and eucalyptus to match the venue decorations. We also had a small fruit cake wedding cake for the church tea party. 

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be? 

Make the day longer. It was perfect and we wouldn't change a thing, but we would only have wished we'd managed to spend more time with and talking to each of our guests. The day just flew by.  

Did anything go wrong on the day? 

Nothing that we were made aware of. It rained all the day before and rained in the morning but then cleared up as we were getting ready and it was gloriously sunny for the rest of the day. 

Was there anything you wish you’d known before? 

We had been given lots of advice from family and friends and felt we were pretty prepared. I guess that all the little details you fuss and stress over don't really matter. It’s a day full of people you love and everyone is just so happy for you. 

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

We went to Thailand the night after the wedding. 

Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages? 

Make sure you have time away from wedding planning and have ‘no wedding talk' dates to remind yourselves why you're getting married and enjoy time as a couple. We attended a marriage preparation course run by the church that we found really useful because it made us discuss the important things of a marriage and reminded us that we weren't just planning a wedding but we were beginning a marriage. Also remember that lots of people are very happy to help - we enlisted all the help we were offered. 

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Steal Their Style

Photography: Jessica Hayman Photography
Venue: Bradgate Manor
Entertainment: BAY Entertainment
Marquee: Western Marquees
Catering: Flaming Peaches
Bar: Rolling Barrels

For more Hampshire wedding inspiration, browse the latest edition of Dorset, Wiltshire & Hampshire Bride magazine

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