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My DIY Wedding (Part I): Dress, Braid, Pout

A wedding is a special occasion for every girl and many of us want a fairytale, one-of-a-kind, experience. Yet, what do you do if neither you nor your fiancé want a big wedding with months of planning and hundreds of guests? DIY wedding could be your answer!
Maybe because we both don’t like too much fuss and attention or maybe because we are too practical and don’t have patience for months of planning, my now husband and I decided to go for a small and intimate city wedding at the local Town Hall. That also meant that we could keep our expenses moderate and avoid starting our married life with a debt.
Having planned our wedding in a  month (!), I wanted to share my top tips on how to organize a fabulous small wedding in a short time and within a budget.

Before you get started:

  • Before you do anything, get a Pinterest page (if you don’t have one already). You will thank me later! Pinterest will become your best friend in planning your special day, letting you bookmark ideas, tips and inspirations. It will become your mood board and your tool for handling one of the most exciting events of your life.
Source: Pinterest
  • Also, discuss and set aside a rough budget of how much you are able/willing to spend on the wedding and create a ‘to-do’ list in a spreadsheet where you can enter main expenditures, put comments/notes and set deadlines.

Invitations

Invitations are one of the first thing that will need to be sent out ahead of the big day. Since we were only inviting immediate family, we emailed everyone ahead of the invitations to block the day off in everyone’s diary. Today there are plenty of online printing services, such as Vistaprint and Moonpig, that allow you to print customised wedding invitations at a reasonable cost.

 

I, however, went for an even simpler option – to buy pre-printed invitations at Paperchase, which offers a good range of beautiful invitations. Armed with a colored gel pen, I filled them out and sent them off to our guests.

Here are my actual wedding invitations

 

Rings

With invitations out, we needed to buy our wedding rings. While Tiffany’s rings were out of our budget and high-street jewelry shops with wedding rings mass produced in China seemed unappealing, the other option was to get custom-made rings. There is a special place in the heart of London that is a well-kept secret for diamond and jewelry shoppers. It’s Hatton Garden (off Holborn), London’s jewelry quarter and center of the UK’s diamond trade. With over 55 shops, here you can pretty much find any ring design at any price.

As a savvy shopper, I had done my research ahead of time and all paths were leading to the Hearts of London jewelers that deal only in GIA certified high-quality (not blood) diamonds. With a huge variety of settings, shapes, stones and metals to chose from, they can easily create a ring that will be as individual as you are. They can also recreate designs from luxury jewelry companies, such as Tiffany & Co, but at a much lower cost. Just keep in mind – a customized engagement ring will take about 4-6 weeks, while wedding bands will be usually ready in 3 weeks.

Since we ordered both my engagement and our wedding rings there, we became good friends with the Hearts of London staff, especially Eddi, who was our trusted guide in the world of the 4Cs (carat, clarity, colour and cut) and precious metals.

While I settled on white gold for my wedding ring, my then fiancé went for a heavy platinum ring.

Wedding Dress

When I started looking for my wedding dress, I wanted something short, modern, yet feminine, and made out of lace. My inspiration came from these looks that I was aiming to recreate.
Source: Pinterest
Source: Buzzfeed.com
Source: Buzzfeed.com
Little did I know that finding a cute little lacy dress in October would be a bit of a challenge! After tens of fittings, I realized that those lace dresses that I did find and try just didn’t suit me and made me look much older. Thus, I had to find another style that would be both beautiful and comfortable. I found  this stunning Warehouse dress in a vintage dress style, with open back and heavy beading, on ASOS.

I completed the look with a pair of my fabulous LK Bennett patent heels that not only went well with my creme-colored dress but also elongated my legs even more. For jewelry I chose a pair of Lido pearl earrings that matched my hair comb and beading on my dress.
If you are looking for nice short dresses on a budget, I would recommend checking such high street brands, as Warehouse, Topshop, Coast, my forever beloved Zara and Ted Baker. Here are few white lace dress ideas from these brands. See more inspiration on my Pinterest board.

Also, ASOS offers a huge variety of choices and free, no hassle, returns means you can try as many dresses as you want to find the perfect one like I did. Also, they have recently created a wedding shop which makes the search even easier and more fun.

 

Wedding Hair 

Those who know me will tell you that I occasionally like to  play with my hair and make-up. Rather than hiring a make-up artist/hair stylist, I decided to do my hair myself. If you feel confident enough to do your own hair, there are plenty of online tutorials to create different wedding hair styles. Originally I wanted some loose romantic waves with my hair twisted in a bun. But once I found the dress, I had to come up with a less bohemian and more traditional style that would not only look elegant but also withstand running around town and post-wedding lunch at the local restaurant.

About 7-10 days before the wedding I watched several hair-do tutorials and practiced the ones I really liked to assess the level of difficulty and amount of time they would take to recreate. I ended up with a super easy style that was based on this Missy Sue’s design (see tutorial here).
Source: Missy Sue
Here are 5 simple steps to create a hassle-free wedding hair-do as shown on my photos:
  1. Curl your hair either with tongs or rollers, especially if your hair is super straight and unruly like mine. I slept with my rollers in the night before the wedding to create tight curls.
  2. Take one thick strand of hair from each side and clip at the top of your head.
  3. Brush remaining hair to smooth it out, tie in a low pony tail at the nape of your neck. Tease it with a fine comb and then twist this disheveled pony tail into a loose bun, and secure with hair pins.
  4. Now take strands of the hair you clipped, part in the middle and separate into two on each side. Braid the one closer to your temple in a french braid and braid other strand as a regular braid. Secure ends with invisible elastic. Once braided, loosen up each braid  to make it look more relaxed and fuller. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Now take two regular braids from each side and cross them under the bun, wrap around and hide the ends under the bun. Follow by two french braids, crossing them over the bun, wrapping around and hiding the ends under the bun. Secure with pins and spray with hairspray lightly to fix any flyaways and keep the up-do in place. Voilà, here is the final look!
If you have a hair broach or decorative hair pins, place them either above the ear or at the top of the bun like I did above.
Source: Pinterest

You can also use jewel hair band that will add some glitz and glamour to your look. Here is my take on a pearl hairband.

Source: Pinterest

Make-up

For my wedding make-up, I chose smoky eyes, pink lips and dewey skin – a look similar to these Pinterest ideas.
Source: Pinterest
After some research and comparison between different brands, I entrusted my face to the experienced hands of the MAC make-up artists. Before you wonder why I used them and why it was cheaper than getting a make-up artist for the day, I will tell you a little secret. Not only MAC has one of the widest selection of high-quality make-up products for any occasion, but their services of creating a customized look for a special day are free. Yes, they are FREE! How does it work then? Well, somewhere on Selfridges website I found in small print that MAC studio (MAC on 3) is open on the 3rd floor of London’s Selfridges and offers a number of beauty treatments.
An hour make-up session costs £30. While MAC staff may try to persuade you to go for an 1.5 hour bridal make-up, which runs for £50, trust me – an hour make-up application will be just as good but cheaper. Here comes the trick – the cost of the service is redeemable against the products you may chose to buy (double check at your local MAC counter). So, not only did I ended up with amazing professional make-up, but I also took home two MAC beauty products.
These were some of the colors and products my MAC make-up artist chose for me
To create your desired look bring along pictures (or pins from Pinterest!) to use as guidance and discuss with the make-up artist. There will be variety of palettes and ideas to chose from. Similar to MAC, other cosmetic companies offer complimentary make-up services so it’s worth checking around and speaking to different beauty brands.
Here I am getting all glammed up few hours before the wedding ceremony
To relax the day before the wedding and get my skin in tip-top condition and glowing, I booked two express beauty treatments (a Get Glowing facial and a DeStress Express massage) at the Clarins Beauty Bar at John Lewis. With each service lasting 30 mins and costing only £25 each, it was such a bargain! For more information please visit here. Finally, to get the rest of my body glowing I skipped the spray tan (which tried a couple of weeks before but didn’t like how it smudged on my clothes and left my skin streaky). Instead I chose Dove Derma Spa Summer Revived lotion which allows you to build your tan gradually while moisturizing your skin.

 

Well, this is the end of Part I. For my tips on wedding bouquet, wedding lunch and reception please read Part II.
DYI-wedding

6 thoughts on “My DIY Wedding (Part I): Dress, Braid, Pout

  1. ohhh want to marry again!! Seriously, this was worth a read!!
    Will definitely use some relevant make up tips while attending parties in future 😀
    Happy wedding month!!:)

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