Blog Written by Bethany, PA to Luke Granger Photography & Bride
A little different to our usual wedding blogs, I am delighted to be writing about our own wedding day. Those of you who have followed our wedding planning process or read our 'How To Plan A Wedding In 3 Months' blog may already know some of the details but just as I love writing blogs about the wedding days we attend as photographers, I felt it was important to document our wedding day too and share some more details of how we made it happen. Not only did we plan it in just 3 months, we spent just £3500!
Luke and I met in February 2018 and knew from fairly early on we had found a great match. Luke made it clear from the off that his daughter Jessica (aged 6) was his priority and only when he knew for certain I was "The One He Would Spend The Rest of His Life With" would he allow me to meet her. On July 15th 2018, I met Jessica for the first time and from that day the three of us became a family. The following year I proposed to Luke, and we have navigated life together as an amazing team, so it was about time we officially tied the knot.
It was well known I would have married Luke the next day, but although attending so many grand and elaborate weddings is fantastic, we realised that there were lots of elements of a wedding day that we didn't feel suited us.
We instead chose to have a relaxed, non traditional wedding day with a family friendly focus and managed to do so on a budget of just £3500, we do love a challenge =]
The Day Before Our Wedding Day
Our usual routine of collecting Jessica on a Saturday kicked off our wedding weekend, she was full of excitement about her pending bridesmaids duties but we also had a little secret we needed to let her in on. On the 14th of October (3 weeks before our wedding) Luke and I had found out we were expecting the 4th member of our family. Having been trying to expand 'Team Granger' for some time, we knew we wanted to share the news with all our guests on the wedding day. Naturally, we wanted to tell Jessica the exciting news on our own and after initially not understanding what the blob on the scan picture was, she was very pleased to hear she was becoming a big sister; immediately asked if we had names and how long until Baby would be here. We had lots to celebrate this weekend!
After checking we had all the belongings we needed packed, we had a couple of last minute wedding planning duties to complete. Firstly, we took a trip to Sainsbury's where Jessica helped us choose our wedding cakes (Flavours - lemon meringue and chocolate with salted caramel) . You may think we are a little bit mad but as much as I love a slice of cake, we know from experience that wedding cakes often go to waste so this was a way of stretching our budget a little further.
We then dropped our decorations box and the cakes off at Danson Stables, our wedding reception venue, before Luke delivered Jessica and I safely to our hotel.
Wanting to stick with the tradition of not spending the night together before we got married, Jessica and I would be spending the night at the Premier Inn Hotel in Bexleyheath, alongside my Sister (Abbie), Brother in Law (James), Neice (Isla aged 2) & Nephew (Jack aged 5). We checked in and found our adjoining rooms, began to unpack and were soon joined by the others.
The children played and casually watched tv, we headed downstairs for dinner and spent the evening relaxing together. I had a nice long bubble bath before getting in my PJs and heading to bed next to a sleepy Jessica and her Cuddly Elephant, Luna who were taking up most of the bed. Luke, who was enjoying a peaceful night at home, messaged me gloating that he could starfish and that he had eaten a whole gammon for his dinner.
Jessica and I were woken up the next morning by a very excited Jack and Isla wishing me happy birthday, Today was not only my wedding day but my 30th Birthday too! Sunday mornings are usually quite slow for us, so Jessica and I chose to stay in our room watching tv, whilst the others headed down for their breakfast. With cards, decorations and a selection of messages wishing us the best day ever, It was soon time to begin getting ready for my wedding. Eeek!
Becky from Becky's Unique Creations was our hairdresser for the day and she arrived just after 9am and began working her magic. My hair was set into curlers and then she alternated between doing Abbie and Jessica's hair so we would all be ready at the right time. We each had similar half up half down styles but mine had more curls framing my face and Abbie & Jessica had pretty plaits.
At around 10:30am, Rosanne arrived as my make up artist and I was soon sat in front of the window being made up proudly wearing my "Bride" silk gown, a lovely gift from my Mum, alongside personalised hangers for us all. I wanted a natural look which she achieved effortlessly.
The three children enjoyed multiple games of hide and seek, underneath Premier Inn beds make a great hiding spot according to Jack, and we waited until as late as possible until getting them ready so as not to have any spillages or dramas. After saying goodbye to Rosanne and Becky, It didn't take long for us to finish getting ready and by 12:30 all 6 of us were packed up, looking fabulous and headed on our way.
Unfortunately, I stepped out of the front door of the hotel and was immediately met by a huge gust of wind, a downside to getting married in November I guess but at least the sky was clear and bright.
My veil flew off (luckily we grabbed it) and my hair was pretty windswept, bye bye curls). Jessica and I took cover in the lobby as we had a few minutes until our taxi arrived and although I was a little nervous I was more excited to see Luke and finally say I do.
James and Abbie headed off in their car with the children and a couple of minutes later our taxi arrived so Jessica and I jumped in. She was very helpful with my dress, held onto my flowers and generally looked after me as I had been feeling quite unwell with a chest infection, the perfect bridesmaid. We traveled the short journey to Danson House without an issue and would soon be reunited with Daddy.
Wedding At Danson House Registry Office
After strict instructions not to be late, I was delighted that Luke had arrived earlier that planned, I had written quite a schedule with instructions and I think he knew I would never forgive him if he didn't make it to our wedding on time.
We were actually the only wedding ceremony booked at Danson House that day so he even beat the registrars!
He met with Geraint and took some solo photographs on the steps of Danson House. Looking gorgeous in his tailor made Moss Bros suit, he had opted for an open collar for a relaxed groom look. I don't think I have ever seen Luke wear a tie so I didn't expect him to wear one and the blue and grey combination worked perfectly.
Our wedding guests soon began to arrive, followed by the registrars and they all headed inside out of the wind and into the warm.
Luke had his formal chat with the registrars - this is nothing to be worried about, they just ask you to check over the details listed on the wedding certificate and confirm that you are marrying of your own freewill. I was a bit concerned that Luke would attempt to make a joke but he passed with flying colours before taking his place in The Salon to await my arrival. He claims he wasn't nervous at all, but no matter how much he tries to convince himself, he was.
Jessica and I were soon pulling up outside Danson House and chose to wait in the taxi until Abbie, James, Jack and Isla had made they way to us from parking the car. Father of the Bride, my Dad Martyn, met us at the bottom of the steps as planned and we were soon on our way in.
Isla was a little unsettled, not quite sure what was going on so Jack stepped into wedding dress holding duties and we made it into the warm, where I was whisked off for my registrar chat. Just a few minutes until I can see Luke and I was very excited.
As Canon in D played, Jessica and Jack lead the way hand in hand. Both of them can be a little shy so I was worried for them; after seeing lots of familiar faces around the room, plus the fact the walk is probably the shortest aisle in history, their nerves were eased very quickly. Abbie and Isla then followed and waited at their seats before Dad and I made our way in. I just remember seeing Luke standing there and feeling such a relief, I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. I could tell he was a little nervous but held onto his finger and kept mentally pinching myself that we had finally made it to the alter. I did also think, I hope he doesn't change his mind in a minute and walk back out, but thankfully that didn't happen.
The Salon at Danson House is a really unusual room. Small and Hexagonal in shape there is no traditional aisle, and guests seat alongside the windows whilst the couple stand together at the front. Personally I love the wallpaper but I do think they could tone down the carpet a little.
We listened to the registrar and were soon saying our vows to each other. Luke opted against having a Best Man, choosing instead on having Jessica as our ring bearer which was the perfect way of joining us together officially as a family.
Sealed with a kiss, we were Husband and Wife, even Luke who is known for being pretty unexpressive, he couldn't stop smiling.
The Kentish Ceremony, who manage all the Registrars in Kent, offer a series of choices to the wording of each wedding ceremony. Couples select the options that they feel suit them best and there then are standard sections that must be read alongside. Our registrars were XXX & Christine and did a lovely job of hosting our ceremony at Danson House, all weddings in Kent will follow the same script with just minor variations such as adding readings if desired.
We chose the following options: Entrance One, Presentation One, Personal Promises One, Marriage Vows Two, Exchange of Rings Two. Wording may change in the future, but here is the options booklet we were issued which explains further, If you are planning a wedding with a Kent Registrar this might be helpful.
We had chosen our Mum's to act as our witnesses so we all signed the register and took a handful of photos to celebrate. In our opinion, the great thing about Registry office weddings is that the ceremony itself is kept quite short, neither of us are big public speakers so this suited us perfectly. We were soon presented with our certificate and sent on our way, the whole ceremony had taken around 15 minutes.
Before leaving, we took the opportunity to take some iconic photos on the spiral staircase in Danson House. Luke spun me around and we giggled together and took a photo half way up the stairs with Jessica too. At this point only a couple of people knew that there was an extra guest hidden at the wedding but it wouldn't be long before we shared our special secret.
We headed outside to join our guests and began to take our group photographs at the bottom of the steps. There was a short delay as my Great Auntie Mickey, was being held hostage by the lift but thankfully the team managed to break her free and everyone was able to join us.
Family group shots naturally take a considerable amount of time at any wedding, but we had listed around 10 group shots that we required so between Geraint and Alex they herded people in place. We were so lucky with the weather throughout the day, at times the wind was strong but the afternoon was bright and dry which is all we could have asked for.
With group shots complete, our guests made their way to Danson Stables, the local pub restaurant we had chosen to host our wedding reception, whilst we spent a few minutes on the steps before heading into the English Gardens for some photographs together as a couple.
I just remember giggling and laughing together, it was all such a blur really but seeing Luke's smile and knowing he was finally my husband felt so fantastic. Every time I caught sight of our wedding rings my heart did a little leap and I still get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I hold his wedding hand now.
Some of our guests has already settled inside, but anyone who wanted to join in was welcomed as it was time to shower us with confetti. Jessica and I had hand punched a basket of tissue paper and she took great pride in wandering along with the basket letting everyone take a handful.
I have no idea who began the tradition of throwing confetti but it certainly isn't a glamorous event for the bride and groom. It gets everywhere, but I will admit it was quite fun.
We headed inside to greet our guests properly, get a drink and enjoy a sit down. I think adrenaline had kept me going up until this point but having been unwell for the last week or so, I was starting to run out of energy. Our secret baby bump meant I was unable to take enough medicine that would take the edge off but I was determined to keep going and enjoy our wedding day.
Our Wedding at Danson Stables, Bexley
With everyone we love sat around us, it was amazing to hear chatter and see so many happy smiling faces. The children were either blowing bubbles and colouring or on the dance floor, family members were catching up and everyone was congratulating us and saying how they were loving our relaxed approach to our wedding day.
As dinner was due to arrive shortly, It was time for the speeches to commence. Having been to many weddings as photographers, we always find that speeches before food are preferred by the speakers. They can then relax and enjoy their meals without their nerves getting the better of them, plus if there is less impact if there are any catering delays and no one has to rush.
My Dad took the attention of the audience first, telling our guests of the time I embarrassed him in our local Tesco Cafe. I must have been around 5 or 6 years old and somehow had learnt the word Lesbian. Sitting together over a Daddy Daughter breakfast, I pipe up really loudly and say "Daddy, I must be a lesbian, because I love Lily".
For context, Lily was my childhood best friend, my parents had brought me up to be fairly open minded so my Dad's response as he turned a little pink was "Yes, Dear" followed by raising his morning paper a little higher as we received some interesting glances from fellow diners.
It was then Luke's turn but despite planning a traditional speech, his nerves got the better of him and he decided to wing it a little, opting for the shortest Groom's speech I have ever heard. He briefly thanked everyone for coming and said how beautiful Jessica looked, she beamed with pride and we were both sat waiting for him to share the secret.
"Yea thanks for coming that's my speech. Enjoy some free food, buy yourself your own drinks because that's going to get expensive otherwise. We won't keep Beth waiting as a lot of you will know she will get very hangry and she is now eating for two"
He said it so quickly that there was a hum of "What did he say?" then the cheers, claps and tears began as everyone in the room realised that we were not just celebrating our wedding and my birthday, we had a new member of the family on the way too.
After the shock of the announcement had sunk in, and tears of joy had been wiped, our food began to be served and we were all soon tucking into our dinners. We had narrowed down the full Danson Stables menu to a small selection but we specifically chose a range of options that offered flexibility to cater for our guests.
Cheesy Button Mushroom Bruschetta
Baked Smoked Haddock Florentine Fishcake
South Fried Chicken Goujons
Grilled Chicken & Chorizo Skewers
Cheese & Bacon Burger and Fries
Hand Battered Cod & Chunky Chips
10oz Horseshoe Gammon With Eggs & Chips
Roast Dinner With All The Trimmings
(Triple Roast - Beef, Pork & Turkey or Vegetarian)
Chocolate Fudge Cake with Ice Cream
Crumble of The Day With Custard
Eton Mess Sundae
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Mains (Pick One)
Sides (Pick Two)
Buttery Mash Potato
Corn on The Cob
Apple & Blackcurrant Jelly
Ice Cream Sundae
Wedding Reception at Danson Stables
One of the most important things about going to a wedding from a guests perspective is often the food and Danson Stables certainly didn't disappoint. I am so pleased we chose to break from tradition, it really helped keep with achieving the relaxed wedding vibe we had planned for.
After everyone had enjoyed their dinner, we spent some time mingling with our guests around the room. We had lots of questions about Baby Granger and everyone was so excited for us which was such a fantastic feeling. The last baby in Luke's family was Jessica 10 years ago, so his Nan was excited to get knitting and my Mum had worked out why I had chosen to be the designated driver to my own Hen Do!
After everyone sang me Happy Birthday (I'm sure the people next door in the pub were a bit confused, Luke and I cut our wedding cake and I last minute managed to convince him to join me in a first dance. Random Fact - When we were first dating, we actually went to ballroom classes together and Luke was always so much better than me.
We span and giggled to John Legend's "One Woman Man" and then followed with The Temptations "My Girl" where Luke made Jessica dizzy, and I danced with My Dad, Sister and Isla as others joined in. We aren't particularly party people so this was the best of both worlds for us and although maybe not for everyone it was perfect.
Shortly after, we ventured back outside Danson Stables or a short sparkler session. Given that our wedding was on Fireworks weekend, even though it was a little chilly there were plenty of "Swish and Flicks" to be enjoyed and it was a nice way to finish up the evening.
There were lots of reasons why but we chose to get married on a Sunday but we were always keen on having a shorter timeline for our wedding day and I feel a lot of our guests were grateful for this too. Children were able to go to school the next day, everyone could go to work and most guests were local enough they could travel home that evening, with everyone saying their goodbyes to each other at around 6-6:30pm.
My parents had had the final dance of the evening as their own wedding song "Lady in Red" which featured in my playlist which was lovely to see. Together we packed up the decorations and gifts into the car plus the remaining wedding cake came with us too. At 7pm we left Danson Stables and made our way to drop Jessica back to her house. She was tired and excited in equal measures, armed with cake for her pudding the next day. In the car told us she had such a great day being our bridesmaid and was now excited that her next special adventure was to be a big sister.
After doorstep cuddles and goodbyes, we headed home ourselves and settled on the sofa. We spoke about our favourite parts of the day whilst opening all the lovely cards and gifts we had received, generally soaking up the happiness bubble that we were in. After removing my dress our floor was covered in confetti and we spent the rest of our evening enjoying life as newlyweds.
The Best Budget Wedding
Our wedding day had been more like a big family gathering, it wasn't formal or traditional but it was important to us and we thoroughly enjoyed celebrating in our own way, with the people who loved us the most around us.
Neither of us have ever smiled so much, nor could we dream of having done it any different.
If you are planning your own wedding day my best piece of advice is to focus entirely on what as a couple YOU want. Don't be swayed into making endless choices to suit other people, be practical by all means but don't let how you envisage your day to be completely influenced by tradition or other peoples opinions.
Every wedding day is special, so make your wedding day memorable for all the right reasons.
Thank you to everyone who made our day fantastic, you can read about our Minimoon below if you wish, or check out our planning blog if you haven't already.
Minimoon at The Cave Hotel, Canterbury
Our first morning as a married couple was very us - after a nice lay in, we spent it editing! Before he had left, our photographer Geraint had handed over the memory cards used to photograph our wedding so we were very keen to get cracking on editing our photographs. This was such a lovely experience to do together and certainly not the norm but was really important to us. I selected all my favourites and then we went through them together, choosing how we wanted them to be finished. Luke worked his magic and we created a sneak peek gallery of photographs we loved, setting aside the rest to work on another time. After all, we had a Minimoon to get to!
Having worked regularly with The Cave Hotel in Canterbury, we had been gifted a two night stay and were looking forward to having a few days to relax together. Given that we work and live together, we are lucky to spend so much time in each others company, however despite our efforts work and general life can easily create distractions and interrupt our quality couple time together.
A short drive from home, we checked in at around 6pm with a warm welcome by the Cave Hotel team. Allocated a lovely Cave Room on the 1st floor, we settled in and soon made our way straight down to dinner in the Korean Cowgirl restaurant.
Luke ordered himself a cocktail (where he was dubious about eating the edible flowers) whilst I opted for an Orange Juice and a jug of water. Then I was soon tucking into my favourite - a Cowgirl Burger with fries and Luke chose a double portion of honey butter chicken wings with fries. Service in the Cowgirl is always fantastic but also very quick. The food is fantastic quality and the flavours are amazing, the Cowgirl burger is probably my favourite meal from any restaurant ever!
By 7:30pm we were tucked up in our super comfy Kingsize bed, watching TV which is one of our favourite past times. We are big Netflix fans and love to binge watch tv of an evening so after a busy few days this was a much needed rest.
The following morning we enjoyed another lay in and after a rainfall shower, headed to the Firepit Restaurant for breakfast. On recommendation from Josie (Cave Hotel Bride who we are now friends with) I chose the breakfast quesadilla which went down a treat. Cheesy, a little spice and absolutely huge, I am not ashamed to say I ate every last bite. Luke selected Nutella & Biscoff French toast on recommendation from Dan (Cave Hotel Groom and friend, Josie's Husband) and I think Luke even sent him a photo to rub it in.
After breakfast we took a stroll outside and chose to have a go on the driving range. Luke had bought his clubs as we had hoped the weather would be good so he could attempt to teach me how to hit a ball in a straight line. I'm sure you can guess, It wasn't a skill I managed to master, I did enjoy trying to watch where his golf balls landed though.
Once we had shot around 50 balls between us, we ventured back into the warm and enjoyed some snacks in our room for lunch before heading for a dip in the pool.
On a Tuesday afternoon, the hotel was quiet so there was just a couple of other guests; we were able to paddle and splash for ages and people watch out the one way windows. We chatted between us and Luke stuck with tradition, dunking me under, he wasn't going to stop winding me up just because we were now married.
All swam out, we retired to our room to relax a little before meeting up with Josh. Josh, had recently joined The Cave to manage their social media and was keen to meet with us to talk about creating some more content for them. We chatted about weddings and different plans for The Cave over a drink and Luke agreed to get some new shots for them the following morning.
Luke flew his drone for a little and then later on we headed to The Korean Cowgirl again for dinner. We have eaten an evening meal at The Firepit before but the Cowgirl was now our preferred option. After a recommendation from Josh, we had chosen to share a platter this evening so we were soon tucking into a mix brisket, pull pork, boneless chicken wings. Each element was perfectly cooked and the flavours tasted great but for me it didn't beat my signature cowgirl burger. Luke enjoyed a lemon based cocktail and I stuck this evening with water.
Another evening in our comfy bed watching tv, I woke up the next morning and enjoyed some fresh air on the balcony whilst Luke had a lay in. I wasn't feeling fantastic as my chest infection had returned but I was still a very happy wife.
When Luke woke up, we packed our bags and headed down to breakfast. I chose a simple breakfast of toast this morning, which came with an assortment of jams and spreads, whilst Luke stuck to his choice of French toast.
Our minimoon was over but we felt really relaxed and were ready to return to reality, which was good as we had some work to do before we left. At this time of the morning the Cowgirl was empty so Luke was able to get some great shots of both the lounge and restaurant as discussed with Josh. Combining business and pleasure certainly isn't bad when you visit fantastic places like this.
How We Planned Our Wedding On A Budget
Some costs have been rounded up/down but as a general ballpark these are the costs spent on our wedding day and the suppliers we used.
Total Cost - £3510.50
Registry Office - Danson House £915.00
Reception Venue & Catering - Danson Stables £798.00
Photographer - Geraint Roberts and Alex Kitchener working for Luke Granger Photography £400.00
Wedding Dress - Justin Alexander Purchased Via StillWhite £350.00
Alterations - Bridal Alterations Maidstone £250.00
Jessica's Dress - Chictry Via Amazon £18.00
Isla's Dress - Ebay £8.00
Jack's Waistcoat & Tie - Charity Shop £2.00
Hair (Beth & Jessica) - Becky's Unique Creations £75.00
Bridal Make Up - Rosanne Make Up Artist £40.00
Underskirt - Ebay £12.00
Rings - H Samuels £300
Flowers - Design Gifted by The Kentish Wreath Company Materials only £75.00
Invitations & Stationary - Handmade £30.00
Table Decorations - Amazon & Facebay £55.00
Cake - Sainsburys £24.00
Cake Topper - Ebay £1.50
Children Goody Bags - £6
Father of The Bride Tie - Amazon £6
Accommodation - Premier Inn Bexleyheath (2 Rooms) £115
Bridal Transport - Richard Ashley £30
Spotify Playlist - Homemade
Venue Set Up - Gifted By Silk & Confetti Events
Minimoon - Gifted by The Cave Hotel Canterbury