Review of the year - the wedding
31.12.09 | Some things old, a few things new, many things borrowed made nothing blue
Love is a private thing, a deep and mysterious bond between two people. But a wedding is a public celebration, and the best weddings somehow bridge the gap between the intensely intimate and the world beyond. Between a couple and their family, friends and community.
This was how my business partner, Nicola Sherlock, and David Windle were married.
Every detail of the wedding was carefully chosen to be both magical and sustainable – bringing together family, friends, local businesses and fellow designers from the ethical fashion world to create a community wedding that reflected the spirit of the couple, their values and the bond between them.
“It was important to involve family and friends, and to have a light footprint and also to be inexpensive – we wanted people to have a wonderful time and beautiful memories but not to feel that there was a lot of over-consumption or waste”.
So the couple planned everything and made much of it themselves – from collecting and pressing rose petals for confetti to baking the wedding cake. We held the reception in my barn!
It helped that Nicola could make her dress and the outfits for the bridesmaids and her mother.
“We did spend money on things that last – for instance the rings were made from ethical gold. We had to know that the symbols of our love were not causing harm to people mining the gold or making them.”
It took a year of planning and preparation, making things that could be made and buying and storing bargains from charity shops and car boot sales (cutlery for the reception meal for instance), and organizing contributions from family and friends, but in the end everything converged in a glorious, fun, laughter filled day.
The couple were married at Lumbutts Chapel, high on the Pennine Way on 29 August, where the bride was given away by her father in a traditional ceremony. They exchanged rings made from ethically mined gold by Fifi Bijoux. The church was filled with locally grown sweet peas and roses spilling out of tiny reused jars hanging over the backs of pews. The flowers were grown specially for the wedding by Green Flowers of Hebden Bridge (a small local company growing flowers seasonally) and arranged by a group of Nicola’s girl friends that morning.
It was true Pennine weather – a shower on the way into the church and sunshine as the married couple emerged smiling. This time to a shower of confetti of hand pressed rose petals and rice.
Nicola looked beautiful in the dress she made from honey-coloured undyed Peace Silk (made without killing silk worms). The dress featured a fabulous rose clad bustle and train made from a Victorian shawl, decorated with Peace Silk and hand crafted vintage lace roses. She completed the outfit with a delicate felted English Alpaca knitted jacket with ruched sleeves using signature Makepiece stitches and trimmed with antique linen.
I created a hair vine and earrings using 1950's vintage jewelry with crystals and pearls decorated with pearly daisies and tatted lace butterflies. She carried a bouquet of deep red and cream roses – locally grown by Green Flowers. Her shoes were hand-made in England by Hetty Rose Shoes using vintage fabric to match the bride's clutch bag which was made by local designer Sam Peare.
“These were bits of fabric I’d collected over the years – and it was lovely to see them made into something. The shoes were expensive but the bags we swapped for a piece of knitwear Sam was coveting.”
The five bridesmaids wore berry coloured Makepiece knitted dresses with signature shrugs whilst as Maid of Honour, I wore an open knit Makepiece skirt, Peace Silk vest and cropped felted jacket. We all carried butterfly embellished clutch bags made by Sam Peare and wore bespoke necklaces by local jeweler Clare Lupino.
To match Nicola made and dyed hemp and Peace Silk cravats in berry for the groom, page boy, best man and her father.
After the ceremony the reception was held my farm, just a mile away, where 50 guests dined on a banquet of food made by family and friends.
“ We hired very little – just the tables and plates – the rest was borrowed or bought cheaply from charity shops where what we don’t need again can be donated”
The barn was cleared (mainly by Nicola's friend and bridesmaid Gemma) decorated with candles and branches festooned by fairy lights and Nicola’s origami roses.
The kitchen was run by friends of the couple – including Hywel (who lives on the farm and is better known as a local dry-stone waller), Michael (a former Amnesty colleague who now lives in Todmorden) and fifteen year old Rachel (who helps on the farm sometimes and is a student at a local college), who between them marshaled all the contributions and served them with dash and charm.
The menu started with bread rolls (baked that morning by two of the wedding guests) served with butter churned by the bridegroom earlier in the week, Nicola’s mum’s vegetable terrine and stuffed mushrooms.
The main course comprised a vegetable gateau with layers of roast vegetables, crepes and shavings of parmesan prepared the previous day by the bridesmaids, Dave’s vegetable stew served with dumplings and my local beef meatballs on the side, with a fragrant Thai curry, rice and wedges roasted in the farm aga.
For dessert the bride and groom had made ice cream in several flavours (lavender, real mint and dark chocolate chips, basil and cinnamon and fig and mascarpone), chilled paschka and baked cheesecake.
The meal was served with 20 gallons of elderflower wine made at the farm by Hywel as a wedding gift to the couple. The elderflowers were picked locally and a farm room was lined with demi-johns for several months as the wine fermented and matured.
Nicola designed the wedding cake and learned how roll chocolate roses.
The final creation was a three tier chocolate and ginger cake made by her mum which she covered in luxurious roses made from organic fairtrade Divine white chocolate.
After the meal further guests arrived for the speeches – where the best man Ian Singleton made his speech in a many part limerick.
There was then dancing!
“It was amazing how it all came together. We felt like we’d spent every evening and weekend on the wedding for months – and many of our friends had been dragged into it too – whether it was just a couple of drawers of freezer space or lending us a whole barn – but it was this involvement that paid off in the event.
On the day everything just converged, people delivering things they’d made – plates of canapés, bread, flowers.
It was that feeling: of festival, of warmth, of people joining together and a lot of small things making something amazing that really stays with you.
It’s very much how we hope our life together will be.”
Photography by Steve Morgan