Shona and Ollie: A blue and yellow urban wedding in an old industrial mill

Shona and Ollie’s colourful urban wedding was brimming with sweet ideas

This Grade I Listed former industrial mill dating back to the early 1800s made for the perfect setting for Shona and Ollie’s urban wedding. Both the bride and the groom tell their story to Bouquet Catch.

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She says…

We both went to the same secondary school, but it was only in Sixth Form when we really started to know each other. Ollie was very hard to read and I didn’t think he liked me to begin with, so I gave up trying to be friends. I think everyone else knew we were more than friends before either of us did.

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We moved in together in September 2014. I had always told Ollie I wouldn’t move in with him unless we were engaged, so in October Ollie proposed on my birthday. It was nothing fancy, but he did get down on one knee. I should have realised something was going on because my earlier in the day my Mum had asked me loads of questions about my relationship and told me to wear something nice! Ollie had asked my Dad for permission not long after we’d moved in, so both my Mum and Dad knew. When Ollie asked me the first thing I did was asked if he’d asked my Dad. My Dad is very traditional and I know it would have meant a lot to him and it did to me too.

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Our venue was The West Mill, Darley Abbey. Originally, we were looking at getting married in Northamptonshire where our families are. We saw some very nice places but hadn’t done anything more about them. I came across The West Mill website and was very intrigued. I emailed them as there weren’t many pictures. All I could see was that it was opening in Summer 2015 and it was a converted cotton mill.

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We went to view it and it was a building site! It was over four floors, where you get married on the top and work your way down for wedding breakfast and reception.

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Even with work going on it had captured us; it was so different. Ollie saw an old drawing board in one of the rooms and got very excited as he had used one at uni while studying. I wanted the wedding to be about both of us and it felt very right. There was an open day in June when it was finished and it looked amazing – we knew we had made a really good decision.

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I made a date for wedding dress shopping with my Mum, one of my bridesmaids and a very good friend to just go and see what styles I liked and suited me. I had no idea what I wanted. We had been to one shop that morning and the dresses were lovely but they just weren’t very me. After lunch, we went to Sylvan Angel in Derby, where the lady in the shop picked a House of Nicholas wedding dress out for me, and that was it.

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I thought I would know which one I would chose when my Mum cried but my Mum only really shed a tear when I was really happy in it. I didn’t think I would have a veil but it made me feel like a bride.

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I fell in love with my shoes, which were Jenny Packham. I had a gold coloured ribbon on my dress and the gold shoes just went perfectly.

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The getting ready was more stressful than I imagined it would be! It was a nice experience still…there were just a lot of people.

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The bridal party were fantastic throughout the whole process. My bridesmaid organised a perfect hen do and just made the experience of being a bride one I will always remember and be grateful for. The groomsmen were brilliant; anything Ollie needed or asked they just got it done.

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The ceremony was a bit of a blur to be honest. I remember being in the room with my Dad before walking down the aisle and trying not to cry. My Dad also looked like he was welling up.

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I remember feeling really nervous in the morning, but as soon as I saw Ollie everything changed. I felt calm and excited and really happy. I think that fact we wrote out own vows made it very special. I really didn’t want to at first but then after thinking about it, it made sense to and I am so glad we did. We didn’t tell each other our vows until we were standing at the alter saying them to each other. Ollie isn’t really one for sharing his emotions so his vows were a lovely surprise.

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We wanted a colourful day, so the main colours were yellow and blue. We wanted things to be bright. We had a pinwheel theme to the wedding; the amount of pinwheels made was unreal. It started with the save the dates which we sent out with a split pin and a straw so people could make them.

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Other than the pinwheels, There were some lovely homemade touches. My Dad did all the place settings. He wrote on a large wooden heart for my nephew to carry down the aisle which said they wouldn’t trust me with the rings and on the reverse: ‘And they lived happily ever after’. Ollie and I made cider for the favours, which was actually quite nice. One of the bridesmaids also made cookie favours.

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The food by our caterer Jenkinsons was incredible: the starter was a beef bourguignon tart which I think I could have eaten over and over again. The main was chicken breast stuffed with mushroom, served with roasted root veg and a heart shaped dauphinoise potatoes. For desert we had a trio of desserts, including a chocolate tart, rhubarb crumble and strawberry cheesecake. The West Mill is a no corkage venue so we made sure there was plenty to drink. Our reception drinks were Prosecco, a homemade thyme lemonade (one was going to be a vodka thyme lemonade but I forgot to give them the vodka!) and they also served Hobgoblin (which was a bit of a mistake). People mistook it for Pimm’s so I think they had a shock!

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The speeches were all really good. My Dad didn’t embarrass me at all which was very unexpected. Ollie did a lovely speech but I think the best man’s (Jordan’s) was incredible – I did not expect him to memorise it! It was very personal.

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The party and DJ, supplied by Double Disc, was great; it was a real chance to have loads of fun with the guests and Ollie had really calmed down. We also had a photo booth by Instant Image and popcorn and candyfloss cart from Sweet-a-Fayre.

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We went back to where we were staying afterwards and some of the bridal party came back so we ended up carrying on the party which was a lot of fun! We then left for Thailand on the Monday which was an incredible experience.

All the little things don’t matter in the end. The main thing was that I wanted to marry my best friend, and I kept that in mind throughout the whole planning process. That was what it was all about! Our photographer Martin Cheung made us a video of the best bits of the day too which was an amazing surprise and one we absolutely loved! It was so nice to watch it back.

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My advice to other brides would be to just remember what they day is actually about. Make it about the two of you. Being organised is always good, and delegate tasks as well I don’t think I did enough of that. People who offer want to help so make sure you use them.

He says…

We met at school when we were teenagers. We both went through a tough time, but I think that kind of brought us closer together, and before long we were pretty much inseparable. I proposed to Shona on her birthday (ever the cheap skate I saw the opportunity to roll two gifts into one!).

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I’ve always had a little bit of an issue with people who get engaged and then don’t do anything about getting married (it feels as if they have sort of missed the point to me) but after going through the whole wedding prep, I can see why it takes people so long. We were engaged for about 18 months before we were married, and I think it would have been hard for us to do it much less time. Neither of us is very good at making quick decisions, so I’m glad we took a little bit of time and got things right.

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It’s hard to explain why we chose a venue that was just a construction site when we put a deposit down. I think we just bought into the vision that they had for the place. One of the main things for us was to get a venue that could work in April if it was a nice day or if it rained. The West Mill was great for this, as even though you could stay inside if the weather turned, each floor had a really different feel – almost like a completely different venue on each floor.

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Our other suppliers were incredible and we discovered them via the internet and wedding fairs. Our photographer Martin had some really amazing photos on his website, and when we met him he was so easy to get along with. All our suppliers were so friendly and very very good. I would recommend them all in a heartbeat!

We did a lot of homemade finishing touches – it was nice to add a slightly more personal angle to the wedding. Shona’s parents helped a lot with this, and did the table place settings, helped us to make the centre pieces, put together a pinwheel hanging over our ceremony table and personalised the hanger for the bridesmaid’s dresses. I think all of those things just helped to make the wedding a little bit more bespoke to us.

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I originally wanted a black and silver colour scheme, but I think Shona thought it would be a little too masculine. We saw a wedding venue that was decorated like this and I think after that even I thought maybe it wasn’t right and had potential to be a little dark. I think it can definitely look very striking and dramatic, but I’m glad we went for a more vibrant scheme in the end. I think that the scheme you chose can have a surprising effect on the type of day that you have and I’m glad that we went for the one we did in the end – even if I was sick to the sight of bloody pinwheels by the end of it!

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The thing that surprised me most was how nervous I was beforehand. I never thought that I would get too fazed, but I felt really underprepared. I was frantically trying to go through my vows in the minutes before we were married, and my hands were shaking as I was greeting all our guests.

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I remember the speeches the most. I was in absolute stitches for my best man’s speech especially. I do regret leaving my vows and speeches way too late, and I would have liked to have had them both a little more polished. I think that they both went down OK, but I think there was just things I wanted to say in each that I couldn’t get the words right for. I think that my favourite bit was when I’d done my speeches and vows. I felt as if once I’d done that I could relax a little more; it felt like a massive relief.

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The whole thing was so surreal from my perspective. It’s so strange to be the centre of attention of everyone, but at the same time really nice that they all came to see get married and wish us well. The ceremony was nerve wracking, the food was delicious, the drinks were great (albeit a little different to what we expected to serve!), the party was a lot of fun, and the honeymoon was just amazing and so different to anything I’ve ever done before.

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My advice to other grooms would be to try and roll with the punches. The chances are that something probably won’t go exactly as you plan, but you’re probably the only ones that will remember the things that don’t go perfectly, so just try to enjoy it.

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All images by Martin Cheung Photography and published with the couple’s and photographers’ permission.

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