Wedding of the Week: Martha McGarry and Dave Hill

11 Dec 2017

Presenting a meticulous attention to detail, this rustic wedding harnessed the talents of the graphic designer bride and featured a very personal idea for the favours

How did you meet?

I lived in a rented house with five other people and Dave moved in. For the first few months we didn’t see much of each other, but we ended up on the same night out on New Year's Eve 2012 and quickly realised we had a connection.



Tell us about the proposal.

I am not an easy person to surprise and Dave isn’t good at hiding things – there was a day between Dave buying the ring and proposing as he was so worried I would figure it out. On the day, he just played it by ear – I suggested we go for a walk and he bought the ring hoping where we went would be pretty enough and the weather would behave. He ended up proposing at the top of a hill overlooking Birmingham in Lickey Hills when there was no one else around. He suggested I take a picture of the view and when I turned around he was on one knee. I knew a proposal was imminent but when he actually did it it took me by surprise.



What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

We didn’t have a theme, just a colour scheme of mainly mint and navy with hints of hessian and pale pink. I then based all the branding, patterns I used and decorations around the wedding invitations I created so there was a strong visual link across the day.


What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We chose Hyde House in Stow on the Wold. I spent weeks researching venues online and obtaining quotes but Hyde House was the only one we actually viewed. I always wanted a barn with a modern twist and Hyde House was perfect. We fell in love with it straight away and the price was so reasonable, we knew it was the one. The bridal prep room was also a massive selling point, as well as the beautiful surroundings in Stow on the Wold and Lower Slaughter where our church was. St Mary's was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, as was the village it was in. I knew we could get some stunning photography there.



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

I went to three shops and tried on about 15 dresses before picking mine. The first two shops were a bit out of my budget and so I tried TDR bridal outlet in Halesowen where they sell ex sample dresses for a fraction of the price. I picked my dress out straight away and I knew as soon as I put it on that it was the right one. My friends agreed that I glowed more in that dress than any other one I tried. I had to go with my gut feeling. It was half the price it would have been if I had ordered it in and all it took was a £65 dry clean for it to look good as new. It was the ‘Oceana’ dress by Ronald Joyce.


What did the bridesmaids wear?

I got four of my dresses off ASOS and one was from Debenhams. They ranged from £30-£100. All of my bridesmaids have different body shapes and styles and I wanted them to be comfortable so I said they could pick anything as long as it was floor length and mint coloured. I generally don’t like things to be too matching and so I never wanted identical dresses and it worked out quite well.


Where did you find your suits?

We hired Ted Baker ‘Lounge Lizard’ suits from Moss Bros.


Tell us about your floral arrangements.

I was never that particular about what specific flowers I wanted, just the colours that they were. I found Emma at The Flower Girls online and found a few arrangements she had done in the past that I liked. We met up and she gave me a few ideas about the venue, including the crates that I ended up using for centrepieces. We also put a Pinterest board together so she would be clear about what I wanted. All I knew was that I wanted them to be made up of mostly green foliage with hints of blues and pale pinks and peaches. I decided to give flowers in the church a miss in the end as it seemed too complicated to organise the logistics of getting them there and back to the venue. I felt the church was pretty enough as it was and didn’t need any flowers and I would rather focus on decorating Hyde House instead. Emma did a brilliant job and the flowers brought my colour scheme together perfectly.



Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

The main thing I wanted was for the wedding to be very personal and for everyone to feel they had something individual to them on the day. This is why we decided to write personalised notes to everyone as their favours, as well as donating money to Cancer Research (in honour of my dad). Each letter was very long and took a lot of thought so they were pretty time-consuming but everyone seemed to really appreciate them on the day. We also felt that we had spent so much on the wedding that some of our expenditure should go to charity. Some of our budget for the favours also went on the photo booth as we felt people would appreciate the photos more than some sweets or something else we might have spent money on for favours. I also wrote what would have been my speech if I had had the guts to do one in the front of our guest book so everyone could read it.

I am a graphic designer and so attention to detail (but also sticking to our budget) was really important to me. I ordered a lot of my decorations off eBay. My bridesmaids and I created the bunting ourselves from fabric I ordered. The crates were cheap as I bought them dirty and scrubbed them down myself. I spray painted the table numbers mint and I made the ribbon backdrop myself too. I used the leftover fabric to create wraps for all of my tea lights to tie the colours and patterns in. I also bought confetti in bulk and stuffed all of the envelopes myself, then used leftover stickers from the invitations to seal them. I designed the table plan, signage, invitations, favour cards and place names myself and got them printed on I started collecting bits and pieces as soon as we got engaged to try and spread out the cost. I also made sure I could personalise our photo booth photo strip design with our wedding logo.



How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I am not comfortable being the centre of attention, so was extremely nervous. I was scared to look up and see all the faces looking at me and so my head was down for half of the walk. I was also determined not to cry as my sister did at her wedding and she looks really upset in the photos. When I looked up, I saw Dave and thankfully he wasn’t crying, so I managed to hold it together. I was so happy but it also felt really surreal. It’s such a big moment that you spend so long working up to and thinking that it almost doesn’t feel real when it’s actually happening.



How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

We had both of my brothers and Dave’s dad do readings at the wedding, which we asked not to know about before the day so that we were surprised as to what they were. My younger brother wrote a poem himself and read it out which made the ceremony extra personal. We also picked a hymn that we had both loved when we were children and used to sing at school – my bridesmaids insisted on clapping along to it like we used to do when we were kids, which made it extra special.


What was your most memorable moment?

Seeing Dave at the end of the aisle and also coming out of the church, hearing Coldplay's Strawberry Swing blasting out and having our first quick moment alone together as husband and wife.


What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Designing the invitations. I am such a perfectionist and I had so many ideas that I found it really difficult to narrow them down. As a designer, it is tough to design your own things as you are never happy. Although it was totally worth it, the financial side of the wedding payments was tough and it did put a strain on our relationship at times.



What was the most important investment for you?

The photographer and videographer were by far our best investment. The day goes so quickly and it is such a blur that we are so happy we have both the photos and video as our mementos. We were also happy that we paid for the photo booth and had the photos to keep from that – it is the things that last beyond the day that were the most worth it for us - the day itself comes and goes but you can keep them forever.


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

We didn’t have a song in mind for our first dance that meant something to both of us, but I had always had one in mind that I wanted... luckily Dave liked the song. We picked Elbow – One Day Like This. For me, it just represents that moment where you first realise you are in love with someone, and it felt very relevant for the start of our relationship. We also wanted something that was well known and that would get everyone up dancing as we didn’t want to be dancing alone for long.


Did you have any evening entertainment?

Just the photo booth and a DJ. We weren’t bothered about having a band. Dave isn’t much of a dancer and I actually preferred having a DJ.


Tell us about your wedding cake.

To be honest the wedding cake was never too important to me and I could have gone without one but Dave was keen to have one and so we went for something quite simple and within budget in the end. It was a naked cake surrounded by berries and fit with the rustic theme.


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

I would ask for a doggy bag for the food - I was too distracted and didn’t eat anything on the day and when I went to bed I was absolutely starving. I would also have booked our honeymoon three days or so after the wedding and not two days after as we didn’t have time to stop and were absolutely exhausted by the time we got on the plane.


Did anything go wrong on the day?

Nothing major, apart from a misunderstanding with our wedding car driver which left us stranded on our own for about 15 minutes by our church waiting for him to come and pick us up. We were getting some very strange looks just sat there on a bench waiting.


Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

On the day the smaller details aren’t as important as I thought they would be. It might have stopped me stressing out so much over silly things in the lead up.


Where did you go on honeymoon?

We got married on a Thursday and we left for Heathrow at 10am on the Saturday. We spent two weeks in California doing a road trip from LA to San Francisco.


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

  • Give yourself a few days after the wedding before going on your honeymoon – we could have done with a bit of recovery time to refresh before we left – but if possible, try and take that time after the wedding to spend just the two of you (even if you can’t afford to go away and it’s at home). You are in such a lovely bubble after the wedding it would be such a shame to go back to work straight away.
  • Start collecting little decorative bits as soon as possible – it can get stressful (and expensive) if you leave it all until the last minute. Ebay should be your best friend. Set up a bridesmaid get together and you can catch up at the same time as setting up a production line for some of the DIY bits.
  • Consider ex-sample wedding dress shops for your dress – you can save a lot of money. I paid £650 for my dress that was £1,200 new and then only paid £65 to have it cleaned and looking good as new.
  • Try ASOS for bridesmaids' dresses, although they sell out fast so you have to keep on top of checking they have what you want in stock.
  • It’s easy to get carried away with spending when you see so many other weddings/Pinterest etc with little bits that you like and end up wanting them. I would always give myself a sanity check at that point – if it was something that would make a real difference to the day or last after the day then it was worth it, if it wasn’t then I would resist the urge to pay for it.
  • Make sure you invest in a good photographer and I would also recommend a videographer. The weeks after the wedding are such a come down, so it’s great to know you have them coming from suppliers that you trust. Those are the things you keep forever so if you are going to invest in anything they are worth it. Book them up as soon as possible as the good ones book up fast.
  • If you can, try not to get into any debt to pay for the wedding. If that means getting married later than you want then it will be worth it. The last thing you want to deal with when you’re coping with the post wedding come down is realising you are now going to be paying the day off for months on end.
  • Give yourself a deadline of at least two weeks before the wedding to get everything you need to get done sorted. That way you have two weeks to relax before the wedding and be as de-stressed as possible before the big day.


Steal their style:

Venue: Hyde House,
Photography: Katie Hamilton Photography,
Videography: Raggtime Pictures,
Wedding invitations and branding: By the bride,
Cake: Pat A Cake,
Flowers: The Flower Girls,
Dress: TDR Bridal Outlet,
Photo booth: Pic Me Booths,
Hair and make-up: Hair by Dani,

For more real wedding inspiration, pick up the latest edition of Bride magazine

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