Friday, 19 August 2011

the makers

People talk a lot about 'handmade' weddings. Rustic, vintagey things that have, in the year and a half that J and I have been engaged, almost become a wedding cliche in themselves. That's what our wedding will look like. Lots of things will be handmade. I think it's lovely. The invitations were handmade, and I am so very very lucky that the dress will be too.

I'm also very lucky in that handmade is just the normal way of things for many people in my life. It's the way things were when I grew up, and for J too. The major 'makers' in our life are our parents.

So this post is for the makers of things that will make the wedding. They won't read it, but it's a thank you to them, for every time I've made an enquiry, asking 'i was just easy would it be to do x y z?' they have just gone away, done it before we even knew it, or just surprised us with things and been totally amazing.

I didn't think this would be the case at all. I didn't think I knew enough crafty people. What a fool not to think that our parents are the original crafters. They are amazing.

My mum

My mum and dad make things. They just can, and do, and always have. When I asked mum if she could make some bunting (I can do it, but she has the sewing machine), within a week she had sent over seven samples for various bunting designs that she had just dashed off. Now, we have 70+metres of bunting in two sizes (for two locations) which has been sitting in an airtight bag, fully pressed for four months.

I suggested we fill some activity bags for children. I found the bags online, discussed it with her. She declared the bags for sale online rubbish and proceeded to procure age-appropriate fabrics for all children in attendance (including some Paddington Bear fabric, found in a charity shop as a former pair of curtains) and make and fill all the bags. She'd done two before she even told me. I also asked if she (and J's mum, see below) would help me make jam and chutney for favours. She is an avid jam and chutney maker anyway. She has produced 35 jars. I fully anticipated about 10 from her and making about 50 myself. This is now totally unnecessary.

My dad

My dad is a rare breed indeed. He has always been able to make and fix anything, and I mean really make, really fix. He fits kitchens, mends cars, turns wood, does everything. So I asked him if he could knock together a quick box. I was thinking four sides, a base, that's it. Just for the guest book postcards on the night, something to drop them into. I know he could do that in half an hour.

He has produced an oak chest, with beautiful vintage style hinges (which he made HIMSELF - my tiny mind boggles at this) and an engraved plaque on the front, with both our names, the date of the wedding and the name of the farm. Wow. I should add that he made it in about three days in the evenings after work. It is incredible.

I also asked him if he could cut some little blocks of wood with slits in, just to hold table numbers. Instead, he sent me a photo of some bent-wire heart-shaped table number holders that he'd just 'knocked together'. He'd seen the wire heart we're using to hold the table plan and just copied it in table number holder form. He asked if I liked the photo of one he'd made and texted over and by the end of the day, he'd made 12 and sprayed them cream to match the table plan heart thing (which I just stumbled across in a gift shop). I need to do one of those 'surprised smiley' face things here. WOW.

J's mum

Just after we got engaged, J's mum asked us: "What colours do you like in the bedroom?"

Erm... OK. We thought she was maybe upholstering us a chair (her big hobby, restoring antique chairs). We said blue and cream. She asked for specifics. OK: St Pancras Blue. She wouldn't divulge any more.

At a pre-wedding lunch she threw for us (really, for all the oldies that can't make the wedding itself), we were presented with a large, tissue-wrapped parcel. Inside, was the most incredible blue and white quilt, onto which she had sewn all of our favourite things. There were swimmers (for we are avid swimmers, famous in J's family for our love of wild swimming) and buttons and blue and cream and embroidered words: bake, film, swim, and hillariously, 'his car'. (J loves is knackered, 16-year-old VW Polo) and more.

And on the back is embroidered a large heart, with our names, initials and the date of the wedding. And in the corner, on the back, a screenprint of our invitation.

Of course, the quilt won't be there on the day. But it will be with us forever.

J's mum has also made about 50 jars or assorted jams and chutneys using the glut of produce from her allotment (again, she does this every year - averaging around 200 jars by autumn). And when I told her that we had to buy natural petals for confetti, she looked thoughtful. The next time we visited, she showed me a carrier bag of petals that she had assiduously saved and dried. Now she has enlisted the help of the flower grower on the next allotment, her own garden and bunches of flowers in the house and is onto her third carrier bag.

Friends have also been makers. One friend and best lady arrived at the hen do with the most divine decorations - string balls on a garland, mini bunting, pom poms. Where had she got these amazing things? Oh, she said, I just made them. She has been teaching me how to make giant pom poms. She is the queen of the pom.

And there have been other makers too - ones we have paid. My earrings are handmade by this wonderful lady, Angela Evans, who has also made the presents for both mums. Some best ladies' presents are vintage necklaces. Other are from independent designers like Joanna Rutter. But there will be a fuller run down of all of these things after the event.

I never dreamed that we would be so inundated with wonderful things. People have created heirlooms for us. I think team C&J's parents could be hired out for weddings.


  1. I would totally hire them! They sound great! I would love gifts like those. So thoughtful.
    My parents are not really makers. My mum is a bit of a crafter but for the wedding she seems to think all the DIY we're doing is to save money, when sometimes it's just nice to have something handmade.

  2. How wonderful - what a lovely, heart warming story. The box, the quilt, everything - I'm just so in awe of what your family have done for you, it's such a celebration of you, of them, of you all.

    I don't think I'm going to be this lucky - I think I'll be doing some making (mainly invites and so forth) but I don't think it will be such a group effort.


  3. That is just wonderful. It shows how much they love you guys and want you to be happy on your wedding day and in your marriage. So it means you have a wedding made with love which sounds like the best possible start (I don't know why I am so soppy this morning but I am!).

    I'm sure your day will be beautiful, and that a marriage with that much support will be wonderful.

  4. wow, such talented people. Less than a week to go eeeeeeeeeee, so excited for you.