Real Weddings

Steam trains and superheroes – Laura & Ed

Ed, a Hospital Consultant and Laura, an NHS manager got married in May at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Their day was full of quirky personal touches and DIY wedding details including paper flowers and superhero buttonholes. Read on for wedding decoration ideas and tips for those looking to save money and create an incredibly fun, beautiful big day.

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How did you guys meet?

We met at Laura’s sister and brother-in-law’s seven year wedding anniversary BBQ party but it’s funny because we actually had lots of missed connections before we properly met. Ed went to school with Laura’s brother-in-law and we also both went to the same University and our time there overlapped, but we never met. In fact, there are photos from Joanne & Russel’s wedding (sister and brother-in-law) where we are both in the same frame, but we never spoke or met!

But on that fateful day, at the BBQ in September 2015 it was love at first sight for Laura, and she had already asked Ed out before he got home!

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Tell us about the proposal…

We quickly moved in together, Laura moving from London to Bristol to live with Ed. After a lovely stint in Bristol, we decided to move up to the Lake District. As part of the move, Laura had to go up 3 months before Ed. The weekend before Laura was due to go up without Ed, when they were getting ready for bed, Ed proposed. It was simple and wonderful and of course Laura said yes.

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Where did you get married and why did you choose your venue?

The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. We were looking for an alternative venue that would let us put our personality stamp on the day. Bucks Railway Centre is a beautiful and quirky venue – it is huge, filled with light and has so much going for it – plus as you are only provided with the building, tables and chairs, everything else was up to us to organise, so it really enabled us to shape our day. I had loads of wedding decoration ideas! We were able to organise everything from tablecloths to food to decoration, it was prefect for us.

Also, we both grew up in Buckinghamshire (although we met when we had both moved away from the area) and Ed used to visit the museum as a child, so it was quite close to our hearts anyway.

How did you Keep it Real and put your own stamp on your wedding?

Firstly, a few traditional wedding rules that we broke:

We both entered the ceremony and walked up the aisle together, we didn’t have any speeches (Ed just gave a quick toast to say thank you for coming to everyone), there was no bouquet toss, and we had no formal bridal party. It just wasn’t us, all we wanted was a big party with our friends, so we really wanted to lose the formalities where they didn’t fit for us.

Something that was really special is that the venue let you hire use of the steam train for a couple of hours – so immediately after the ceremony we were all riding up and down on the steam train with our prosecco and canapés having a grand old time!

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In terms of styling the venue, we had loads of wedding decoration ideas, including hand-making 200m of bunting to be hung up around the venue and making my own bouquet. These were all in our colour theme of blue, white and purple. The bouquet was made up of paper roses, gerberas and hydrangea, and some of the roses were made from book pages from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which was the first thing that Ed ever bought for me (although it was a copy of the book! I still have the original book that Ed got for me).

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Finally, whilst Ed and I don’t have any children, most of our friends do, and we adore them just as much as we adore our friends. So we didn’t want to make them have to sit through a formal day and tried to make things as fun for them as we could. They were all given activity books and were able to go on the train, plus there were garden games for them out front. Lovely Bubbly Co had little pretend prosecco drinks for the kids to enjoy… to be honest, the venue itself was fun for the kids, there was so much for them to see and do. For later in the evening we hired Tinies to put on a creche in one of the side rooms to keep the kids happy and occupied. They made badges, drew pictures and finished with popcorn and a movie night.

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Who was your photographer and how did you choose them?

We adore Steph Kiely Photography she is absolutely one of the nicest people we have ever met, so friendly and kind and beautiful. We had a very chilly engagement shoot and she made us feel so comfortable. I think it’s fair to say that Ed and I are not usually self-publicists… but Steph was just so great at talking us through everything and keeping us entertained, it all felt like a rather nice outing with a good friend more than anything else. And we had all these gorgeous photos at the end to enjoy!

For the wedding day itself, Steph was true to her style, as a truly awesome professional photographer, and captured all the natural moments throughout the day. It wasn’t about formal pictures (although we do have a few to keep and treasure) but about capturing the atmosphere of the day. It’s exactly what we wanted. We wanted to be able to relive the day and get to see the moments that we missed out on.

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Since the wedding, absolutely everyone has been raving about Steph and Jessica (who helped Steph out on the day). They put everyone at ease, even the children behaved for photos, and captured all these wonderful moments… they just seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.

The final product – the photos! – AMAZING! There was a lot of laughter on our wedding day, and that shines through in the photos. Instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I sit there with a big grin on my face going through all the photos over and over. We are very lucky to have had Steph and Jessica capture our wedding day indeed.

Tell me about your DIY wedding decoration ideas?

Ed designed our table plan, based on the theme of superheroes. We got it printed with Vistaprint as a poster, and then glued it to an A1 piece of mounting card. We printed retro polaroid prints with pictures of the superheroes for the table names. They all had their character quotes included at the bottom of the polaroid and were stood on mini wooden easels (10 for £5 from ebay!).

Ed also designed the order of the day, which was train themed (with all the same pictures that train stations use) and also printed from Vistaprint and mounted on A1 card.

There were a couple of posters that we put up to welcome guests to the day and also to remind them that Ed’s parents were hosting a lunch the next day – The venue let us put these up in poster holders secured to the wall, on top of posters they already had on display.

Our guest book was a personalised jigsaw from Stag Design – we love this, because all of our guests have signed it and now we can get it mounted and framed to put on our wall at home.

Did you give out wedding favours?

The favours doubled up as place cards. We had purchased fudge from Roly’s Fudge and we bought little jars from Hobbycraft and filled them with the fudge. They were tied with ribbon with names written on mini luggage tags and finished with little train and ceramic beads.

We had different favours for children – little suitcases made out of card that were filled with smarties, alongside bubbles, crayons and superhero stickers, plus an activity book.

Everyone also got to take home a little Paddington Bear as a keepsake of the day. Our friends have been so lovely to us and have been making little Paddington stories so that we can keep track of them still – these were purchased from Amazon.

Your cake looked delicious! Tell us more…

Our cake was from the Hummingbird Bakery. We chose this because when we first started dating, as I was in London, we would often be in Soho and grab a late night piece of cake from the Hummingbird Bakery. Whenever we go back to London we still go there… in fact we never get to eat anywhere else! So it made total sense for us to get our wedding cake from The Hummingbird Bakery. We had a single tier of Rainbow cake on display for the cake cutting (with two dalek cake toppers), plus we also had Red Velvet and Vanilla sponge Humming Bird Bakery cake which was serve with the ice cream later.

How did you decorate your venue?

We were so lucky that we were allowed to decorate however we wanted, pretty much. There was no specific theme – other than ‘Ed and Laura in blue, purple and white’.

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I had made my own paper flower bouquet. So, I also made around 50 paper additional paper roses that were dotted into floral arrangements at the wedding. The paper used was a mixture of books that held sentimental value to Ed and I, as well as comic books that were close to our hearts.

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We wholesale purchased flowers from Triangle Nursery and transported these up the venue on the Friday. With a gang of support, we put these flowers into wooden boxes (cute little Moet and Chandon boxes I had got from ebay, and some strawberry wooden boxes, also from ebay) which would serve as the centrepieces for the wedding breakfast tables. My mother-in-law had wedding decoration ideas too and hand-painted flower patterns onto around 30 jars. We filled these with fresh flowers and placed them around the flower boxes, to help bulk the area out.

Wedding DIY centrepieces

The best flower arrangement by far was the bicycle basket – again a combination of real flowers and paper flowers – that Ed’s mum put together; it was beautiful. Anyone looking for wedding decoration ideas check this out! To help bring some colour to the tables, we had made some table runners out of blue and purple hessian sack that we had bought from ebay. They are super easy to make, if you have the patience, and looked really good on the tables.

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The finishing touch on the table was origami heart table scatter that was handmade in the run up to the wedding, from blue, ivory and purple paper.

The aisle was also decorated with paper flowers, a collection of two roses and a gerbera, in keeping with our colour theme. We had really lovely feedback on this detail, and our guests actually stole away with most of them on the day! Since the wedding I have set up a paper flower company, Paper Petals Ltd as I had such good fun making all of these flowers and want to continue to share the paper love. I really enjoyed coming up with wedding decoration ideas.

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We bought a cheap garden arch from Wayfair and decorated it with fake flower garlands for the ceremony (again, procured from ebay). I was a bit worried it would like a little naff, but it actually looked perfect on the day, at the top of the aisle, and I’m so glad we did it.

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The cake table was decorated with Daleks (Ed was the White Supreme Dalek and I was the Blue Strategist Dalek), origami heart scatter and a toy train which read ‘The Bartons’ from the Letteroom, a wedding decoration idea in keeping with our theme.

We had bought chair sashes in cream and navy blue (I am the ebay queen, I think) and tied them on ourselves the day before. These were all tied to the side in a waterfall drop style. To differentiate the bride and groom chairs for the ceremony had vertical chiffon drop chair covers, in lilac and ivory, and these were tied with ribbon and two brooch from my mother-in-law’s collection.

On the bar, we had hand made a BAR sign from corks. Ed’s mum had painted them, and we glued them all into position. It looked pretty epic on top of Lovely Bubbly Co’s bar!

For outside, we got hold of a few garden games, such as quoits and croquet, and in case it got cold we got some throws from Dunelm and tied these with ribbon.

The confetti cones were made out of comic books again, and filled with confetti that Ed’s mum had made for us – she is very craft-minded, full of wedding decoration ideas and kind to us!

Tell me about your hair and makeup

Lucy Beesley Hair and Make Up Artist – Lucy has won quite a few awards for her work in the wedding industry and certainly deserves them. She really listened to what I wanted and really knew her stuff. Lucy enlisted the help of a colleague and did hair and make up for myself plus 6 of my friends and family in the morning. They were an ace and very professional team.

How did you get to the venue?

Ed and I arrived at the venue in a lovely Mercedes driven by a chauffeur from Bees Knees Executive.

The biggest highlight was the steam train. Straight after the ceremony, Ed and I walked down the aisle, grabbed a glass of prosecco and jumped on the steam train. We had planned on doing this and were so glad we did as it gave us a few moments to ourselves, to reflect on what a great time we were having and how awesome it was that we were married. When we alighted back at the museum, our guests were waiting for us with a confetti gauntlet, and then they all got on the train, it was awesome.

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Tell me about your catering. Was it done in-house or did you bring outside caterers in?

For food and drink, I’ll just try to describe this moving chronologically through the day.

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Firstly, we had ‘prosecco hours’ straight after the ceremony. Lovely Bubbly Co were out front with their prosecco van – guests could grab a glass before jumping on the steam train for a ride.  Guests could ‘pimp up’ their drink at the prossini bar at the back of the van, and the children were also able to enjoy fake prosecco and use of the prossini bar, it was fab. Lovely Bubbly Co provided our table wine and toasting prosecco, it was delicious. And the bar service was provided by them also – this was set up inside the venue, with a lovely big rustic wooden bar. They had set up well in advance of the guests arriving, so it was all seamless on the day. We asked if we could have ‘signature cocktails’ (Dark ‘n’ Stormy and Mojitos) and they were totally on board with this and made sure they had all the right ingredients with them – the guests loved it.

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For canapes, we just ordered some party food from M&S and picked it up the day before. I didn’t get to see any of this, as I was too busy socialising but I understand this went down quite well!

Then for our wedding breakfast, we went against the grain and had freshly cooked pizza from Pizza Project. They set up out front of the venue with their wood fire stove and cooked all the pizza from fresh – it was delicious! We had an option of 4 different types of pizza, which Ed and I chose in advance. Guests were seated at their tables and the food was brought out to them and put on the table for sharing. There was lots of additional food from Pizza Project on the table, such as antipasti and salads, etc – so guests were all talking and sharing between themselves, it worked really well. Pizza just kept coming until the guests had all had enough.

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After the main meal, guests were invited to head down to the concourse (inside, at the front of the venue) for an ice cream ‘tricycle service’ from Plum Honeychurch. There was a selection of ice cream available, and guests could choose from a plain cup, a waffle cone or wedding cake to accompany. The five flavours available that day had been chosen by Ed and I – we had met up with Plum a few weeks previously for a tasting, as part of the service Plum provides. It was so much fun and felt totally decadent, it really added to the excitement in the run up to the wedding.

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As we had hired all the crockery for the day, from Festival Hire we were also able to hire some Airpots from them – this enabled us to serve a DIY tea and coffee service. We put out hot water in the Airpots along with a Teapigs selection and coffee bags (these coffee bags were just spot on for this job), along with Oreos and chocolate sandwich biscuits (our favourites!), sugar cubes, sweeteners and milk.

Meanwhile, Pizza Project were still hard at work and served pulled pork buns and roasted aubergine buns for our guests later in the evening. We had bought a few sweet treats from Costco to complement this for the evening buffet.

We can say with confidence that no one went hungry at our wedding!

How did you get everyone up on the dancefloor?

The evening’s entertainment was quite a DIY affair – but the dance floor was buzzing, so we think it worked out well.

Jukebox 45s provided us with a Jukebox for the day, loaded with all the hits from the 1960’s to the present day. Our guests could go and choose what they wanted, and that way everyone took a turn on the dance floor, which was great. They also provided us with disco lights, a bubble machine and a smoke machine, so we could get the atmosphere for the disco spot on.

Also, Trigger Happy came for the evening to provide a Photo Booth service. They were really professional and really great with all of our guests. Everyone was running around with their props, so I truly hope they were able to get everything back!

The Rock (cardboard cut-out) went down particularly well, and we have tonnes of photos of our guests clamouring around him. I think he got a few kisses and made a few spouses jealous! But there was a happy ending for him as he got adopted and his Forever Home is with one of our guests, haha!

Did you have any readings?

We had three readings:

  • Wedding Thoughts: All I Know About Love by Neil Gaiman – read by one of Ed’s best friends, Rich
  • Extract from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman – read by Laura’s Maid of Honour, Lacey
  • Extract from Plato’s Symposium, The Origin of Love – read by Laura’s Man of Honour, Foeke

Neil Gaiman and Phlilp Pulman are favourite authors of ours, and we really loved these pieces. The piece from Plato particularly resonated with us and it has found a special place in our hearts, so we wanted it to be included.

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What was your first dance song?

Everywhere by Fleetwod Mac. It’s ‘our song’ – it just became our song one day. I think I just sang it at Ed a lot so it became our song…

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What made your wedding extra special?

I don’t have my ears pierced – Ed’s mother had a family heirloom of clip on pearl earrings. Such a lovely coincidence, and I was honoured to wear them on the day!

Ed made buttonholes for himself and family / friends. Whilst there was no formal bridal party, a few people played key roles, like helping to gather people for photos, etc, so Ed made buttonholes made from foam and superhero lego men and gave these out to the guys. He had an Iron Man button hole, as that’s his favourite!

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Absolutely everybody was amazing to us in the run up to the wedding. Particularly, Ed’s mum helped us to make quite a lot of the decorations.

And then on the day before, it was such hard work to prepare the venue, but my mum, Ed’s mum, my best friend and Maid of Honour, Lacey, plus Ed’s dad and Sandra, a family friend, pulled out all the stops to help us that day. We would never have been able to do it without them, they helped us to make sure our day was perfect and we are very grateful.

Who walked you down the aisle and which song did you have playing?

We walked down the aisle together, Ed and Laura, so we could both enjoy it and because we are equal.

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Guille’s Theme from Streetfighter, Player Piano acoustic version. This was an inside joke – this song is renowned for being a soundtrack suitable for absolutely any scenario, so we thought it would be funny to have it as the soundtrack to our wedding. I think apart from Ed and I about one other person understood the joke!

Any tips for saving money?

We spent below the national average on our wedding. There were some parts of the wedding where we were quite extravagant, like giving everyone a Paddington Bear, but because we coupled this with looking for bargains, handmaking a lot of the wedding and being quite mindful of what we were buying we ended up not spending too much. This way we got to splurge on things we really cared about, so it was a perfect approach for us.

We avoided hiring a lot of things – such as table cloths – and waited for these to come up from ebay from other previous weddings. We did the same with our chair sashes. If you don’t mind spending a bit of time cleaning things up, then this can really save you a lot of money. It’s just a little gruelling scouring ebay on a daily basis looking for a bargain.

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Otherwise, because we hand made things like table runners and table plans, etc, we were also able to save quite a lot of money. The detail is above, so I won’t repeat it for you here.

The DIY tea and coffee service was really cost-effective, and we knew our friends would like the DIY disco approach, as it was all really relaxed, so we were able to save a lot of money there.

Would you do anything differently?

It was all amazing! The only thing I would change would be to have also had a videographer on the day. The photos are beautiful, and we just want more memories to cherish from the day.

REAL moments

  1. When Ed came to pick me up from my mum’s house, en route to the venue, he came to the door and I just totally started uncontrollably crying my eyes out.I was so overwhelmed with emotion and excitement, and Ed looked so handsome. He was quite emotional too, and we just stood there for a while holding each other. It was a really nice moment for us.
  • Straight after the ceremony, when just the two of us got on the steam train, it was so fantastic to sit there and just talk about how we had just got married and how we felt. We were so glad we took that time out to do that.
  • When we sat down for the wedding breakfast, I was starving and just started munching away, Ed was laughing at me because he didn’t get to eat any of the nuts because I ate them.
  • After our first dance, the jukebox automatically shuffled and landed on Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady. Although a great tune, we probably wouldn’t have chosen it as the next track, particularly as most of our smaller guests were on the dance floor with us. It was quite surreal, but hilarious, to be dancing in a circle with all the gorgeous and cute little girls to that song… we will definitely remember it….
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Final thoughts…

All we wanted was a big celebration party with our friends, and that is exactly what we got. Every moment we spent with our family and friends on that day, we will treasure forever.

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Photographer: Steph Kiely Photography | Bride’s dress: Justin Alexander | Boutique: Anna McDonald Bridal Gallery Shoes: Moda in Pelle | Hair accessories: Richard Designs | Jewellery: H Samuel|Florist: None, bought flowers wholesale from Triangle Nursery|Hair & Makeup: Lucy Beesley | Grooms suit: The English Cut | Cake: Hummingbird Bakery| Catering: Pizza Project | Icecream cart: Plum Honeychurch| Mobile bar: Lovely Bubbly Co | Jukebox: Jukebox 45s | Photobooth: Trigger Happy | Transport: Bees Knees Executive

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Gaia Hudson

Written by gaia_bkir

Founder of Brides Keeping it Real and mum of two little ones, Leon & Ada. Passionate about providing a supportive online community for brides and grooms who want an achievable, uncomplicated wedding planning experience.