So you’ve seen the outfits (part 1, part 2) and you’re going to know by now that my wedding had a theme, which is pretty obvious from the title of all of these posts! Firstly, I wanted it to nod to my mid-century vintage preferences and ideally James’s love of the 80s too, secondly our venue was in the middle of the sea, so it would have been silly to ignore that in the look of the day! I know that having a ‘theme’ is seen as a bit passé these days, but because I’m a contrarian it was sort of another reason I wanted to do it. What an ideal way to co-ordinate and bring a unique touch and personality to the day, is all I could think. It also makes life a lot easier to be able to rule things out because they don’t fit your theme – you’re not short of options with weddings!
Loosely speaking, here’s how we embraced our ‘vintage seaside’ theme in the details and decor of our venues! This is a long post – if you don’t want to know how we did things, just look at the pictures 😉
The ceremony venue was in a little garden overlooking the sea – and with that kind of scenery we didn’t have to do very much to dress it up. But we did have confetti to throw and rings to present…
Treasure chest ring box
This wasn’t a crucial detail of the day, but it’s one of the most special keepsakes I have. My craftsy bridesmaid – who helped with so much in this post – painted and finished a plain wooden box I bought from eBay for a fiver in our wedding light blue and red to make it look like a mini treasure chest. And of course, it had the most important treasure of all – our wedding rings! The crab on the box is a motif you’re going to see again and I’ll explain why below…
Bucket & spade confetti
I loved these! We wanted to have a confetti shot and I really wanted the confetti to be in our wedding colours to make for awesome photos (which it did!) so I wanted to provide some on the day. I thought a seaside bucket and spade would be great for this – I found these white heart shaped ones on Amazon and bought the confetti separately. My bridesmaid and I made the little heart tags from card and tracedown paper for the lettering – I explain more about this technique below – and tied them on with butcher’s twine! I’m not sure whose carrier bag that is, but it was kind of them to find one in our wedding blue…
So, most of the decor was at our two reception venues; the restaurant where we had our fish n chips and Mr Whippy wedding breakfast and the bar where we had our party. Starting with the wedding breakfast…
Beach hut table labels
This was an idea stolen from Pinterest, but in actual fact it’s the only one of these here – everything else came straight from the brain of yours truly, with a little help from my bridesmaid. As soon as I saw the picture of cute little beach huts holding up table name cards I knew I wanted to recreate it. As it happened, I found the exact same money boxes (that’s what they are!) on eBay. We then had to work out how to get the name cards onto the huts – this was a lot trickier. Thankfully, my bridesmaid’s fiancé is handy with a drill and had a tiny drill-bit that he used to put a hole at the top of the huts to slot the clips into. All that was left was for us to paint the clips white with metal paint, and I also added a tiny ‘stopper’ to hold the cards at the height I wanted, made out of strips of white sticky label paper I cut up. The cards themselves carried our stationery theme (of our own creation using Canva – also used for the seating plan I created here) and I printed them myself and cut them on a craft mat. Of all the wedding crafts, these huts were the most tricky job.
Origami crab namecards
Ok so the crabs – we got married in the Norfolk seaside town of Cromer, which in England is most famous for… Cromer crabs! That’s both the ones you eat (which are served literally everywhere you go in Cromer – yum), and the inedible ones you catch when you go crabbing, which on a summer’s day you’ll see scores of people doing off Cromer pier itself! I saw origami boats used as wedding name cards on Pinterest and I realised if there’s boats, there has to be a way to do crabs. My bridesmaid got to work trying out different origami crabs and the shape above was our favourite and had a nice big space to write names on. Getting the names on was more difficult – I wanted the writing to match the fittingly-named Lobster font we’d used on the rest of our stationery. I worked out the size of lettering using a test crab, created all of the names in Photoshop to size and printed them on A4. My bridesmaid then cut them out and using white tracedown paper and a white pencil, she got the outlines exactly onto the crabs – and then filled these in with a white gel pen. It was a long job for 54 crabs, but it looked so good in the end.
There’s nothing more British seaside than fudge, so it was the obvious choice for our favours! Fortunately for us, we’ve got an awesome independent fudge shop in nearby – the Ely Fudge Company – and my bridesmaid (a frequent visitor!) spotted that they did wedding favours one day. I didn’t want the polythene bag option they provided, so I spoke to them about how I’d get my fudge into a paper bag. Fudge is very greasy so putting it straight in the bag wasn’t an option. The shop worked out a halfway deal with me to make, cut and package my fudge into heat-sealed plastic pockets – I sent along a paper bag so they could work out the right shape. We bought the paper bags from eBay for a couple of £ and designed stickers to seal the bags ourselves in Canva again, printing via an online sticker manufacturer. Each favour altogether was under £2 each, which was the limit I’d set us. I couldn’t be happier with how cute they looked – and the sea salt flavoured fudge was a big hit with our guests!
We also made striped paper bunting for top table but sadly it doesn’t appear properly in any of the photos (partly because of how cosy the restaurant space was!). You can just about make it out in the title image of this post if you look hard enough (the ceiling bunting was nothing to do with us and was a nice surprise on the day!!).
Before I talk about the ‘guestbook’, the card crate was also us – we painted a plain crate white and again printed some Lobster font lettering to size and used red tracedown paper to get the outlines on, which were filled in with red paint. The crab was freehand – my bridesmaid got pretty good at doing crabs by the end of this! Anyway, so what you see here is how we asked guests to write well-wishing notes to us. Unfortunately, both signs I provided to tell people what to do were somehow overlooked by the staff setting up so everyone missed the point (and I didn’t notice they were missing on the day) – we wanted messages to save to read on our first anniversary!! My bridesmaids went round telling guests what to do – which was to take a postcard from the stand, write a message and put it in the chest. The stand was hard to buy secondhand, so I ended up getting this one made to order and at £40 it was one of the more expensive decor items we had. The postcards B and I spent an enjoyable day collecting from nearby seaside towns we spend time in regularly and Cromer itself. The treasure chest was originally a horrid ‘shabby chic’ cream colour, so we just painted it to fit in better 🙂
The cake was the most fun part of the planning – we had a really enjoyable meeting with our baker Buns of Fun where we brainstormed ideas for how to make the best seaside-themed cakes. I came up with the deckchairs idea, she came up with the sugar sand and little crabs you see on the middle tier and the general look. I absolutely love how it turned out and it was delicious as well. My bridesmaid and I painted the cardboard letters and she made the confetti shells out of left over fudge-paper bags. The cupcakes catered for our gluten and dairy free guests and were just as delicious as the main cake. You can’t see the cake-stand, but it was an Anchor (geddit?) butter promotional vintage stand that is cream with a red and polka dot pattern on the base.
Retro game machines
I think this one deserves a double pat-on-the-back because it’s one of the few things that worked for both the vintage and seaside theme! Whenever we visit any location on the British coast, you can pretty much guarantee you’ll find an arcade somewhere. B used to spend a lot of time at these places as a child when holidaying at the seaside, so they held a special memory for him in particular. Not least because one of his main hobbies is collecting retro video games! We rented two machines from ES Promotions and a competition to win a prize and it went down a storm! Most of our guests were around our age and there was a lot of happy nostalgia floating about as our games allowed you to pick from numerous options of retro arcade favourites.
The decades portraits
I’ve already told you all about the ‘decades’ portraits and you can see them all here, but I wanted to show you how they were displayed – around the roof of the bar. They were A1 size, so they were pretty huge! They were the most visible part of our subtle vintage theme underpinning the day.
Home-made selfie station
I’ve never really got the current obsession with photo booths at weddings, given we all have cameraphones and wedding photographers! As we had games machines, we wanted those to be the main activity, but, I know other people love a good selfie and I went for a compromise of offering a box of fun props, a fairy lit backdrop and a frame (which you can see sitting in the suitcase above). The great thing about this is that it was easy and cheap to keep it on ‘vintage’ theme, because I bought a bunch of props from eBay to wear on the face and head that linked to each era of style. You can see my sister’s boyfriend wearing a pair of 60s glasses and a 90s hat in the above! Another big hit with the guests.
We really wanted a band, but space and budget were at a premium so it was quickly ruled out. B and I both love music and had begun building a ‘wedding playlist’ before we were engaged – it was essentially songs about love that we, er, loved. We didn’t think any DJ could do better than we could at creating the perfect list for our day. Add to this that our bar had great audio equipment on accounts of it being attached to a theatre, all we needed was a device and one of our Spotify accounts. There was something else we did with our playlist to keep it ‘on theme’ though – echoing the decades portraits, we wanted our disco to tip its hat to yesteryear too. So, we picked songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and, played them in decade order from start to finish (it seemed to work best that way). As most of our guests were around our age, the 90s coming on towards the end of the night was a big hit (you’ve never seen a group happier about Spice Up Your Life coming on). And because the internet is wonderful, you can see if you agree with our choices by accessing our actual playlist!
And there you have it, I’ve now shown you the majority of the look of the day itself! I will be back with a couple more wedding posts though, as I want to share some more thoughts I have on planning etc