Real Weddings: DIY decorations & stationery

My husband and I met on-line about two years ago over a love of science fiction and board games. Owen proposed (after we’d bought a ring together) almost exactly one year after we’d got together. We decided very quickly that a formal wedding wouldn’t suit either of us and that we wanted an extremely relaxed and informal occasion with fewer ‘set pieces’ and much more of a party feel.

We really wanted to get married somewhere that made the most of where we live (Peak District) and we set our sights on May or June to benefit from the long evenings. As we got engaged in September, we didn’t have very long to plan. I don’t regret this though, as towards the end I was sick of waiting for the big day and just wanted it to happen.


Decorations and stationery

As I am a professional graphic designer, the look of the event was very important to me. After a visit to Scotland’s book town (Wigtown) late last year, I decided on an antique book theme. 

I wanted the tables to be piled up with old books and the decorations to be made of old book pages. I designed all of the wedding stationery to resemble old book covers and content pages. Because of our shared love of games we also wanted there to be some sort of gaming element to the day. I designed order of service cards which included a little puzzle and we gave everyone souvenir name tags (to match the theme) that included a little game. I designed all these bits myself, and along with a themed menu card had all the stationery printed by I chose a heavyweight Gesso stock which really worked well; it made the ‘book covers’ look like textured leather.

I think the fact that the matching designs on the invitations, RSVP cards, order of service cards, menus etc. had quite a big impact on the look and feel of the wedding. Having beautiful or exciting invitations and RSVP cards builds excitement and expectations. They get people talking and speculating about what the actual day will be like.

The guests were delighted that their invitations looked a bit different and were pleased to see the same theme running through the decorations and order of service card. The games also went down well; they allowed the different groups of guests to introduce themselves to one another and helped break the ice.

I made nearly all of the decorations myself. Some were second-hand or borrowed from friends (bunting, an old suitcase). The rest were made from old books that I’d rescued from being recycled or from scrapbooking paper. I made heart garlands to hang in the windows, hanging hearts to decorate the doorway and I covered approximately 50 jam jars in old yellowing book pages. I covered lots of old books in scrapbooking paper and tied them together for table decorations and I made favours (containing chocolates) by sewing little pockets from more old books!

I really enjoyed making the decorations myself and I think I appreciated them more on the day because I knew how many hours I’d put in! One of the best parts of the whole experience was doing the flowers the night before. 

My Chief Bridesmaid, Amy, and I had been collecting reduced flowers from supermarkets all week. We came together the night before the wedding and created all the bouquets, buttonholes and around 50 jars of flowers to hang on chairs and go on tables. It was tremendous fun; we drank cava and made a huge mess of the kitchen. It was exactly the right thing for me to do the night before. It stopped me getting nervous and it really helped build my excitement. 

The flowers did look home-made (they included things like wild Rosemary that we’d found and cow parsley from the middle of a field) but they looked very appropriate amongst the other homemade decorations and as lots of guests commented that they were very me.

The wedding

We got married on the 31st of May at Windy Harbour Farm House Hotel in Glossop, Derbyshire. The venue was beautiful; it was cosy and welcoming inside and had a beautiful garden with views of the moors and of the various horses and alpacas!


Our ceremony was short and sweet and the only formal bit of the day. Because of the layout of the room it felt very intimate; I could see nearly every guest very close up. It felt wonderful to be surrounded by our friends and family. The people who run the venue had done an amazing job with the flowers we’d given them; they were all over the place so the room looked extremely colourful and pretty. I just kept looking around thinking ‘wow’!


The photography

We asked Tanya Lloyd of Tanya Lloyd Photography to take the pictures of our big day. We liked her style of photography because it was relaxed and suitable for an informal country wedding setting. She was used to photographing weddings at Windy Harbour; she took the full group shot hanging out of one of the upstairs bedroom windows which gave the guests a shock! I love the pictures she took of us in the field with the beautiful scenery behind us. She was good at capturing people in action, which I liked. There were only a few posed shots and lots of the guests having a good time.

 Owen & Jacqueline tied the knot on 31st May, in Windy Harbour, Derbyshire. Jacqueline is the founder of design and wedding stationery company, Paper Willow.


Alex Wilkie
30 Jul 2014 12:14
It's always good to get anothers perspective on design
30 Jul 2014 13:47
If anyone is interested, please note Jacqueline's wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses were all from Lytton & Rose.
David Brookes
31 Jul 2014 15:45
Lovely pictures :-)
01 Aug 2014 17:22
lovely ideas!
08 Aug 2014 14:07
Really lovely ideas and some really helpful tips! :-)
08 Dec 2014 16:19
can't wait for our wedding!
05 Nov 2015 19:42
Great ideas ~ thanks

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