A ‘First Look’ And HandFasting Ceremony For A Bride Who Made Her Own Wedding Dress…. was last modified: July 12th, 2015 by Annabel

Good morning lovely people, how has your weekend been? I'll be on a train travelling from The Big Smoke back up North by the time you read this, after a jam-packed five days in London, which ended with a visit to The White Gallery yesterday – the UK's biggest bridal fashion trade show, which I attended with Franky and photographer Naomi Kenton.  What a show – watch out soon for a feature on Love My Dress with lots of gorgeous photographs to accompany it.

Now, last month I featured this gorgeous mini blog post, and it went down a storm.  The couple in that little animated gif file were Kate and James, and this morning, I'm so very privileged to be sharing their wedding in full with you, thanks to the rather fabulous S6 Photography.

Kate and James tied the knot on Friday 13th April 2012 at The Maynard, Grindleford {Peak District} and Kate looked the epitome of elegance and chic in a dress she designed and crafted with her own hands. Kate is in fact setting up business right now as a wedding dress designer, specialising in bespoke designs inspired by vintage wedding dresses. Telling you, this wedding fills my heart on so many levels…
"I love the glamour and elegance of thirties style dresses and was extremely relieved to find that that slinky style of dress suited me when I tried a few wedding dresses on for research.

I actually came very close to falling for a few of the 'research dresses' – but I'm so glad I managed to resist and stuck to the original plan of making my own…"

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, S6 Photography


"My dress was based on a few different bits from examples of dresses that I'd seen in books and online. Once I'd decided what I was going to make I stuck with it – which is most unlike indecisive me – and only fiddled a little bit with the details as the dress progressed. 

I was really keen to use antique lace, and sourced the gorgeous trim from a dealer at Portobello Road. The silk I used for the dress was in a colour called 'Oyster', which wasn't the colour I'd originally had in mind but I totally fell for it once I'd seen it – it really worked with my skin tone and dark hair…."

lace collar detail, wedding dress

Kate and James hired Florist Anna Potter at Swallows and Damsons

"I went to see Anna with a memory stick full of random photos of flowers I liked, and a book by Scarlet & Violet owner Vic Brotherson, with about 50 pages marked! Luckily Anna thought this was a good thing and not the work of a crazy person.

We went for a host of different flowers, peonies, ranunculus, dephiniums, roses and loads more that I can't remember the names of, which Anna managed to make look 'not too done, not too wedding-y' – exactly as I'd asked for. She totally got what I was after straightaway and was really excited about my ideas, which was lovely…" 


"When I popped into the Swallows and Damsons shop the day before to drop some ribbon off I saw the bouquets and I was so happy I gave here a big bear hug! The flowers were all absolutely beautiful and I was really sad to leave them to go on honeymoon (must have told James that about ten times while we were away – what a rubbish honeymooner I am!)…"


Kate also wore a beautiful little birdcage veil, also made by Debbie Carlisle of DC Bouquets to sit underneath my hair clip…


Kate's Bridesmaid wore a Whistles dress, and her flowergirl was dressed pretty in an I Love Gorgeous design…


James' suit and shoes were from Topman.  James also wore a lovely Stratton mahogony and pearl tie pin bought on eBay that he was apparently very proud of!



"The humanist ceremony {by Kate Gee} we had was very moving – a real and honest reflection of us and our relationship which gave a nod to some of the good and bad stuff that's happened through our lives, and the people who are most important to us.

Our vows were very personal, and a bit silly in places – like us. We involved our guests in the ceremony – by passing the rings around the first 2 rows for people to hold them and think something nice {hopefully} for our future together, and by tying ribbons on 20 chairs at random for people to come and bind us together during the handfasting…."


"The ceremony was perfect for us – very emotional but not slushy, sad in places and happy in others, honest, optimistic, inclusive and a little bit silly…."


I absolutely adore the floral and vintage china table decor at Kate and James' wedding. See much more of this later into this feature…

"When it came to decor, we used a heck of a lot of random vases, jugs, teapots and other vessels, grouped together to make the table centrepieces. Each table had a different group of objects, which I worked with Jennie of Hansley Beard to put together. 

Jennie was fabulous – she helped me to refine my ideas and supplemented my collection of objects which some from her amazing hoard. I knew I wanted each table to be different, but I was concerned it might all end up looking like I'd just gone mad in a charity shop, but Jennie helped to pull it all together by arranging the groups by colour and suggesting the right colours of flowers to suit…"


"Our friends baked cakes for us and we displayed them on lots of different glassware and crockery cake stands, arranged by the wonderful Jennie Beard of Hansley Beard Events.

We had the cakes with Pimms straight after the ceremony, which worked really well"






"We had a host of amazing photos of patterns that we'd taken while travelling, so decided to add in lots of mismatched colours and patterns on the stationery.

We both love antique-ing and random vintage bits and bobs, and wanted that to be a part of our wedding – so that nothing looked too perfect or too planned…"




Kate's bridesmaids wore dresses from Whistles & I Love Gorgeous.  She also sourced a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings and two brooches which were used as hair accessories via a charity & antique shop…









"I said to James from the start that I wanted the day to be all about how much we love each other, as thats really what every wedding should be about and is the whole point after all! Sometimes I think that can get a bit lost along the way, and I was adamant I didn't want that to happen with us.

We had a first look before the ceremony as I wanted James to see me before anyone else did. I knew it would be emotional as he'd seen how much effort I'd put into making my dress and keeping it hidden at home, and he was so proud of me when he saw how it had turned out. He also said that he'd been really stressed greeting guests downstairs without me, and that he was so relieved to have me back and felt like his power was restored.

The first look was a really emotional thing to do, and I'd recommend it to everyone! Jon, our photogapher said we almost had him crying too!"










"We walked down the aisle together as I didn't want to be given away. We've lived together for the past 7 years so it seemed a bit false for me to be 'given' to him – I was very much already his…."


Kate and James walked down the aisle to 'To Be Loved' by Joan as Policewoman…"We also walked down the other way (ie out) to 'Darlin' Companion' by Johnny Cash & June Carter…"     


"We chose The Maynard in Grindleford, because its a lovely little place that combines the grand and the intimate unlike anywhere else we saw.The location is amazing – only 20 minutes drive from our house in Sheffield and views to die for. Plus they have the most lovely wedding planner you could ever wish for {Kate Lloyd}. And their food is incredible…"








"We had a heap of photos of patterns and textures that we'd taken while travelling that we'd already used some of for our invites. When I showed the invites to our stylist Jennie and said I'd thought about making the place names in the same fashion she was really inspired, and went away and grouped the photos into colours and used them as inspiration for the colour groupings on the tables…"


The combination of the vintage crockery and the bright, random-ness of the patterned place names looked great, and we were both so happy with the end result.  Jennie also arranged the mantelpieces with a collection of antique glass bottles with single stems in, and lace trimmed jar jars to hold tealights.

The windowsills at either side of the room had more flowers in random vessels – striking arrangements by Anna in Dartmouth pottery and ceramic pottys amongst other things!  James also made us a rough love heart shape from rope lights, which he hung at the end of the aisle – it caused him a few swearwords pre-ceremony I think, but it looked gorgeous!"

peak-district-wedding097.jpg peak-district-wedding098.jpg


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"After the meal we had lots of heartfelt speeches – from my mum, James's dad, James and I together, and Rolande – James's best man. All managed to combine laughter with tear-inducing sentiment!"







"Our first dance track was ''Home' by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.  Its such a gorgeous song…really sentimental but really jolly too. And we've travelled together a lot so we especially love the sentiment…"


Words of Wedded Wisdom…

"Relax and enjoy it!   I loved the planning, I thought it was great fun right until the last couple of weeks then I was one very stressed bunny. The whole thing flies by so quickly so try not to wish away the planning stages – they're a big part of the fun and a great chance for you and your partner to explore your inner crafty-ness together!

It really was a great day {I know everyone thinks their own wedding is great…but really it was!}. If we'd have been getting paid for the amount of happy tears we made people shed we'd have been very wealthy by the end of it…"


Breathtakingly fabulous, isn't it? I adore this wedding from top to bottom – full stop and would like to thank Kate and James for sharing their details with us all.

Huge thanks too, as always, to the mighty Jon from S6 Photography, for sharing these beautiful photographs…

"Getting the photos back from Jon from S6 Photography and re-living it all this weekend has just been amazing. They're so beautiful, and capture the day – and us – perfectly {while making us look a lot better than we do in real life – cheers Jon!}.

Jon was brilliant to have around, he made us feel totally at ease and I often forgot he was there at all. He's a really lovely bloke and takes a mean picture too! Can't recommend him highly enough."

By the way, Kate is currently working on establishing herself as a bridal wear designer and supplier, with a focus on bespoke, vintage inspired dresses and original vintage dresses too.  If you are interested in speaking with Kate about this, you can email her here.

So tell me, who fancies a ' first look', or who might be brave {and super talented} enough to be making their own wedding dress? I'd love your thoughts on our first beautiful wedding of the week.

Have a good morning all.

Much love,


Photographer – S6 Photography
Venue – The Maynard, Grindleford
Brides dress – A Vintage Bride {This is the bride's business & she made her dress hersef}
Brides Hair Accessories – Olivia, by DC Bouquets + charity shop purchased earrings
Brides Shoes – Kurt Geiger
Grooms Suit and shoes – TopMan
Bridesmaids – Whistles & I Love Gorgeous
Florist – Anna Potter at Swallows and Damsons
Cake – Friends
Hair and make-up Artist – Polly Jensen
Stylist – Hansley Beard
Celebrant –
Kate Gee

Leave a Comment!

30 thoughts on A ‘First Look’ And HandFasting Ceremony For A Bride Who Made Her Own Wedding Dress….

  1. Oh my. Everything, absolutely everything with this wedding is beautiful. The photo of the first look… wow, what a heart-breaker!
    And the rope lights formed into a heart shape? Yup. Stealing that!

  2. Massive congratulations to Kate and James on a truly beautiful wedding which celebrated the most important thing of all – them and their unique bond.
    I loved working with Kate to come up with the right headpiece for her gorgeous gown – she fell in love with the Olivia headpiece and then we worked together to find the right vintage brooch to place at its centre, giving her a headpiece as unique as her handmade dress.
    I’m so excited to see how Kate develops her new venture as a bridal gown designer – I am sure lots of brides will be queuing up with orders for dresses as stunning and elegant as hers!

  3. Wow. Well done Kate on your dress, it’s incredible!
    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing mine, but feela bit intimidated, but I must say, you’ve made a totally awesome dress befittingly put on lovemydress, so thanks for inspiring a little confidence!
    Congrats congrats congrats – I hope you live and long and happy life together!

  4. What an amazing dress! Clearly a very talented lady – good luck with your dress making adventures of the future.
    Love the ‘first look’ idea – a really special moment to treasure and the photographs really capture the emotion of the moment. I also love how they walked down the aisle together. I have been ummming and ahhhing about the whole aisle walking thing (I was going to ask my mum and my stepdad as they are equally responsible for making me who I am!) but this has given me food for thought. Lovely start to the week.

  5. Stunning dress! If I didn’t already have mine, I would have loved Kate to design and make one for me. What a wonderful personal, handmade labour of love!

  6. Gorgeous dress – I’m sure she’ll do really well in business. Also love the green dress featured part the way through the pics.

  7. Hi Debbie!
    Thanks so much for leaving a lovely comment.
    I think you might well be accessorising some of Kate’s brides in the future!! Let’s wish Kate lots of love and luck for her wonderful new business venture.
    Your designs are always so beautiful Debbie – thanks so much for taking the time to leave kind words :)

  8. Oh Luisa, how fabulous that you are so inspired by this feature! I think you must absolutely create your own dress, let me know how it goes too!
    Lots of love and luck,
    Annabel xXx

  9. It is indeed, I never really understood why couples would want to do it, but I totally get it now after having featured several on Love My Dress. Such an intimate, poignant, super special moment xXx

  10. Thank you for such a wonderful inspiration. We got engaged in March this year and making progress with plans on our venue., catering etc, but my first intention has always been to make my dress myself. As we’re having an alternative style wedding, more boho, festival feel in the woods, parents of both myself and my partner have struggled with some of our ideas and made things a little stressful. I had been talked out of making my dress, but after seeing this I’m going to stick to my original idea to make it, to in the end create something unique to me for the one day that will mean so much. I did want to ask how Katie went about planning making her dress, did you try lots on to get an idea of shape that suited you? Did you make a mock up one beforehand? I’ve only made clothes for myself at home and never anything so detailed as this, so I’m worried the finish might not be 100% as I’ve not had any sewing training.
    Thanks again! Kristy.

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