A DIY wedding in Rutland

Emily and Joe’s Rutland wedding is everything I love: a very beautiful day full of smiles, romance and magical moments. Their DIY wedding came about from a wish to have a very personal celebration which would be – in Emily’s own words – “full of the things and people that we love”.

wedding blog photo by Geoff Kirby (4)
Emily and Joe: A DIY wedding in Rutland

The day turned out to be everything Emily and Joe had dreamed of: with a relaxed and cosy reception venue (The Finch’s Arms) and plenty of home made details, it was perfect for today’s gorgeous bride and groom to celebrate their love in a very personalised style. There are ideas here for all of you creative brides and grooms – from hand-sewn tea bags as wedding favours to applique table numbers and handmade bunting.

All of the images used in this blog post have been kindly submitted by wedding photographer Geoff Kirby.

Emily has very kindly written a wedding report to share with you, which you’ll find at the end of the blog post. And I’d be delighted to hear your comments on this glorious wedding blog post – use the comments box at the end to congratulate Emily and Joe, or to share your thoughts on their fantastic DIY wedding style!

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Beautiful bride Emily’s wedding report

When we started out on the long road of wedding planning, we knew that we wanted the day to truly be ours and to be full of the things and people that we love. What better way to do this than to make most of it yourself?

Whilst Joe really isn’t the crafty type, one of my favourite parts of the planning was sitting around out dining table the week before the big day with my bridesmaids and my mum filling homemade teabags, sewing tiny drawstring bags to put them in, hand-printing the labels, appliqueing the table numbers, and arranging flowers in the collection of teacups and jugs that I had manage to amass over the year. My maid of honour and I even iced the cake ourselves before Stuart from Knighton Flowers decorated it with a beautiful cascade of roses.

The Dress & the Suit

Tabitha, by Charlotte Balbier, was the second dress I tried on after my mum and I made a spontaneous visit to Brides and Belles in Wigston. The champagne coloured, vintage-inspired, lace dress was perfect. Having been expecting to try on hundreds before I found ‘the one’, I was slightly apprehensive about committing to buying it, but I took the plunge. Knowing how indecisive I usually am when it comes to shopping, to say that everyone was surprised with my impulse purchase would be an understatement!

Joe is not normally a suit wearer so was a bit anxious about finding one. Unbelievably, it only took one trip to Next and less than an hour in the fitting rooms and he had a lovely slim fit charcoal grey suit and waistcoat. Quite a contrast to his usual work clothes covered in plaster!

The Shoes

Shoes were the one thing that I knew I would struggle to find. Despite having scoured the pages of many wedding magazines during the preparations, I had not found any inspiration. So, after numerous shopping trips, and unwilling to compromise, I drove down to the south-west and headed to Swindon outlet centre with Charlotte. The journey paid off. In the first shop we entered sat a beautiful pair of turquoise silk heels, just the right height, unbelievably comfortable, and 75% off! I did take a little bit of convincing (something that Charlotte is excellent at when it comes to shopping) as I was slightly concerned that they were a bit too ‘different’. They certainly proved to be a talking point on the day.


My four bridesmaids were all former housemates from my time at university, and I could not have chosen a more supportive, helpful, and excitable group of girls! The only problem was distance. Two lived in Wiltshire, one in South Yorkshire, and one in a mining town in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia. This, together with work and other commitments, made getting together to go shopping rather problematic.

I knew from the beginning that they should all have different dresses as we would never find a style that suited and pleased them all. So began the search that took them to Leicester, Sheffield, Bicester, and London. We had agreed to look for neutral colours in different tones to suit them. Fran was the first to find hers – a beautiful, simple, silk Ted Baker number in white. After some reassuring words from my mum that the colour would be fine, I gave her the go-ahead. We finally had a colour to stick to!

Charlotte found a lovely fitted dress in Monsoon and, after any emails back and forth, I bought a pretty summery dress for Hannah in the same shop. Kayleigh was slightly more awkward. After many fruitless shopping trips she decided that, being a dab-hand with a sewing machine, she would make her own. The result was stunning.

Shoes for the girls were also a difficulty. To tie everything together we decided that they should all have the same footwear and so the hunt began. Again, Swindon outlet centre came to the rescue. Whilst enjoying the sun and the Olympic marathon swimming in the Serpantine in Hyde Park, I received a phone call from an excitable Charlotte in the LK Bennett store.

Due to bad phone signal, I couldn’t load the picture she had sent me on my phone, but I trusted their judgement and the purchase was made. Due to alterations to Charlotte’s dress and finishing touches being made to Kayleigh’s, I only saw them all together in their outfits on the morning of the wedding. They honestly could not have made better choices.

The Ceremony

Normanton Church Museum was the only venue we looked at and we both instantly new it was the place for us. Jutting out into Rutland Water, the former church was beautiful, idyllic, and the perfect size for our 50 guests. On the day, my dad, the girls, and I had to get there before Joe and hide in a back room in order to be able to walk down the aisle. Being fashionably late wasn’t an option!

My dad and I travelled in a 1971 Morris Minor cabriolet which, despite not being built for speed, got us there before Joe who happened to be running a bit late. I walked down the aisle to an acoustic instrumental version of the Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and we chose W. H. Auden’s ‘Foxtrot for a Play’ for Charlotte to read during the ceremony, which she did brilliantly, despite her teary eyes.

The DIY wedding reception

We were equally as lucky with the reception venue. The Finch’s Arms in Hambleton was just what we were looking for – relaxed, informal, and cosy. Luckily, the sun shone on the day so were able to take full advantage of the large terrace overlooking the reservoir. Wanting to keep things informal, we opted for a hog roast which went down especially well with our two young nephews, especially when the chef gave them some ribs and vertebrae to play with!

We went for a wander into the village with Geoff and the buildings provided a beautiful backdrop to some of the photographs. For the rest of the day, Geoff stayed in the background and captured so many amazing and spontaneous shots that will help us to remember our day forever.

As most of our guests aren’t the disco type, we kept the music low and everyone was able to chat late into the evening. Some people might be horrified at the idea of a wedding reception with no dancing, but it was the right decision for us.

In Conclusion…

So, overall, despite being one of the most disorganised brides ever, everything came together on the day. The glossy wedding magazines may tell you that you need numerous things for the perfect day – a colour scheme, huge centrepieces, a formal three course wedding breakfast, a groom wearing a suit which matches those of the best man and the father of the bride, and whose tie is co-ordinated with the bridesmaids’ dresses. We had none of these, but our day reflected us.

I loved being able to look around the room and see table decorations, bunting, table numbers, and favours that had been handmade by myself and my bridesmaids. We ended the day sat around the top table with our closest family and friends, chatting, looking through photographs on cameras, and fighting to keep our eyes open after such a long day.

Emily and Joe’s recommended wedding suppliers

wedding blog photo by Geoff Kirby (28)
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wedding blog photo by Geoff Kirby (32)
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Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



  • Amanda Balmain
    8 years ago

    Gorgeous venue and love those shoes! Lovely wedding x

  • Hannah Webster
    8 years ago

    Oooh – I’m shooting a wedding at Normonton Church Museum in the summer and I can’t wait. Rutland Water is so lovely. Hee. Lovely shots – so many smiles! That’s what I like to see 🙂

  • Laura Calderwood
    8 years ago

    Beautiful images, and what a fab venue. And I love flowers in tea cups! x

  • David Stubbs
    8 years ago

    Geoff, amazing photography here. Grand job. I hate group shot in general, but love the long shot of them infront of Normanton Church. David

  • Laura George (@lmgeorge92)
    8 years ago

    the bridesmaids dresses look like they’re made to go together, beautiful xx

  • Eric
    2 months ago

    Beautiful wedding and set of photos! Great Job!

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