Jess and Rob's DIY East Sussex Wedding :: Bewildered Bride

Jess and Rob’s DIY East Sussex Wedding

Jessica and Robert Elliott were married at The Powdermills Hotel in Battle, East Sussex on Friday 1st August 2014.

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

They first met at secondary school when they were both 16 years old. They were friends for 2 years before Rob plucked up the courage and asked Jess out; so you could say they are high school sweethearts!

Rob proposed exactly a year after first asking Jess out, which also happened to be Christmas Day!  He let her open all her other presents and then got her to sit down next to him and pulled out the ring from behind his back. Jess said”I was so surprised and happy and immediately said yes – whilst crying!”.

Choosing the venue for their wedding was an easy choice. Jess explains “For my 19th birthday Rob surprised me by taking me on a weekend away to the Powdermills Hotel.  It was such a magical time for us in terms of our relationship – we had been together for 6 months and it was that trip that made me realise that he really was the one for me – so we had to have the wedding there.  It helped that the venue was stunning and perfect for the intimate wedding we envisaged!”

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

The colour scheme they chose was cornflower blue with other lighter shades of blue thrown in.  Jess was inspired by her two favourite flowers – forget-me-nots and hydrangeas.  The overall theme was vintage shabby chic farmhouse.

She found her wedding dress in the first shop she went into!  It was Signature Brides in Hythe, Kent.  Jess said “I had a tough budget for what I wanted (tea length with lace) but the ladies in the store were so accommodating and found me a dress (designed by Jonathan James) and a jacket for under my budget! The great thing about the dress was that is was almost a 2 in 1 dress – I wore it strapless with the jacket in the day and with the detachable halter straps for dancing in the evening!”

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

Jess didn’t wear a tiara, but she did wear a gorgeous hair clip that was hand made in Canada. It was bought from Etsy.  The only jewellery she wore was a vintage pearl necklace and earrings that were a present from her dad to her mum shortly after their wedding – what an amazing, personal touch. Her shoes were a talking point! Jess said “I wanted them to stand out because I had a tea length dress so they were peep toe with a cluster of pearls and a bow.  They were an absolute steal at around £35 from a website called” And I think they certainly fit the bill!

Because Jess was wearing a tea length, 50s style dress, Rob wanted to reflect that in the suits for the groomsmen.  They saw a perfect suit in Debenhams that had teddy boy accents – they were grey with dark grey stripes down the edge of the lapels and the pockets.  They said that it was just right because they didn’t want it to look costume-y!  They were Red Herring/Thomas Nash suits and they snapped them up.

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

Jess had 4 bridesmaids. Her sister Katherine was her maid of honour and then Rachel, her best friend from school and her two best friends from university – Alice and Hayley.  She found their dresses on  Jess said “I wanted that particular colour and in a light chiffon style to match the summer month I got married in!  They then had nude sling back shoes from marks and spencer.  I bought them all simple silver pendant necklaces for their presents on the day from Debenhams.”

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

Jess’s sister is a huge beauty buff and has her own blog about make up and beauty so she offered to do her make up on the day.  She did a very subtle and natural make up look for the day.  She used Lancome primer and foundation, Touche Eclat to highlight Jess’s features and then a touch of No7 brown eyeshadow to bring out her blue eyes and some mascara.  Jess said that “I didn’t want to look like a had lots of make up on and I think we achieved that!”

Jess’s sisters best friend is a hairdresser so did everyone’s hair. Jess has her hair in low bun/chingnon and because all the bridesmaids have such pretty long hair, they simply curled their hair in to loose waves.

The ceremony was a civil ceremony that took place in the hotel. Jess’s dad walked her down the ailse. The reception was in the Orangery restaurant in the same hotel.

The main decorations in the restaurant were already done because the room is so beautiful. Jess bought a birdcage for each table from a little independent shop in Folkestone.  She used larger ones for the round tables and smaller ones for the top table so they didn’t block their view!  She put a church candle and a vintage glass bottle in each birdcage and put fresh flowers in the bottles.  The favours were little cupcakes Rachel made and they were put in vintage cups and saucers on each place with the name of the guest on a luggage tag tied to the handle of the cup.  All the cups and saucers were from charity shops.

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

A florist in Hawkinge called Serendipity Flowers made the bouquets and flowers for the centre pieces.  Jess had a very clear image of what she wanted – blue hydrangeas and babys breath for her bouquet and white hydrangeas for the bridesmaids.  They turned out exactly how she had hoped they would.  They also did a white rose surrounded with little hydrangea flowers for the groomsmen’s buttonholes.

They bought a plain iced white cake from Marks and Spencer and their bridesmaid, Rachel, who is amazing at baking and cake decorating – made individual little blue flowers to decorate it with and also make individual cupcakes for each guest with matching flowers.

When I asked Jess what was memorable about the speeches, she said “Rob was very nervous about making his speech as he doesn’t like speaking in front of lots of people so I was just happy that he managed to do it!  He also got a bit choked up at the end when he told me how much he loved me and that I was his best friend – that was my favourite part!  Rob’s best man Andy does stand up comedy quite regularly so we were expecting it to be good – and he didn’t disappoint!  Everyone was crying with laughter by the end!”

The photographers were Georgie H Photography who are a husband and wife team. The couple were really impressed with their portfolio and liked the idea of having two photographers – one taking the more traditional shots and one taking natural cameo ‘moments’.

Jess & Rob - Powdermill Hotel

The DJs were Most High Soundz from Hythe.  They had played at Rachel’s wedding and Jess thought they were great.  Their first song was Together by The Raconteurs.  “We are really into music and became friends by forming a band together and doing gigs etc so the first song was important to us.  We aren’t cheesy at all and like alternative music and so this song was perfect for us as it was romantic without being soppy.  The Raconteurs were also a band that Rob had introduced me to and we both liked.”

“My most important piece of advice that I could give to any engaged couple planning a wedding is to always remember that is is YOUR wedding.  Do it your way, what makes you happy and what is special to you and don’t let people influence you or tell you not to do something because it’s not ‘traditional’.  We got comments from people that Rob shouldn’t be wearing Converse, for example, because ‘you just don’t wear trainers at a wedding!’  If I hadn’t been strong and always stuck to my guns I might have let people talk me out of it.  I’m so glad I didn’t because it meant something to us.  The first time I saw Rob he was wearing his school suit and tie with a pair of beat up Converse and I thought he was so cool!  Some family and friends don’t always know what is special to you and why.”

“We had a very tight budget because we were both coming out of university so to stick to it I planned out every detail and calculated how much I was going to allow myself for each thing.  We saved a lot of money by doing it oursleves and having very talented friends and family.  My mum hand made all of the fabric bunting for the evening venue.  My mum and dad made the table plan stand (from some old bits of skirting board and some MDF) and the R & J sign that went behind our cake.  I collected all of the cups and saucers from charity shops over several months instead of buying them new or hiring them. My wedding definitely felt more special to me because we put so much time and effort doing things ourselves instead of paying other people to do it.”

Jess and Rob haven’t been on honeymoon as yet. After they were married Rob started his job in Critical Care after becoming a registered nurse. They has asked their guests to donate to a honeymoon fund through Trailfinders.  They set up an account online and printed cards to go into their invitations to let guests know how to donate online.  “Once everyone donated we went in and booked a 10 night stay in Mauritius.  We are going for our 1 year wedding anniversary this summer!”

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Photographer: Georgie H Photography

Venue: The Powdermills Hotel in Battle, East Sussex

Flowers: Serendipity Flowers

Cake: Marks and Spencer

Bride’s Dress By: Jonathan James Couture

Bride’s Dress from: Signature Brides, Hythe

Bride’s Shoes: Dress First

Bridesmaid Dresses from: Boohoo

Groom and Groomsmen Suits By: Red Herring/Thomas Nash

Groom and Groomsmen Suits from: Debenhams

DJ: Most High Soundz


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