Mr and Mrs Ward

The offbeat bride: Helen Ward, Graphic Designer

My offbeat groom: Tim Ward, Graphic Designer

Location & date of wedding: The Paintworks gallery space, Bristol, UK

What made our wedding offbeat: The first thing I knew was that I WAS NOT going to be wearing a white dress and that I WAS going to be wearing red shoes!! Everything else went from there really.

We looked round about 15 wedding venues in the end and didn't like any of them. We ended up just looking for a large space that we could hire for our wedding instead and we found this old redeveloped paint factory near where we live which is now used as an exhibition space.


It seemed like the perfect venue for us as we are both creative types and the mouldy ceilings and large concrete girders were suitably unweddingy enough for our tastes!

Waiting for the bride

After the “no white dress” bombshell had hit my mother who is very traditional at heart, the news of the chosen wedding venue was not met with great applause!

The vows

We were over the moon with having found such a great place, but our parents had now branded the venue as an “urban rectangle”.


We tried to stick to the smallest budget possible. We had professional caterers in to sort out all the food and drinks, but we pretty much managed to sort out all the decorations and entertainment between our friends and family.


We wrote the ceremony ourselves and roped in an old skateboarding friend of Tim's to do the talking for us.

It was the most awesome day!! In a lot of ways it was quite traditional. We had a ceremony and a buffet dinner and speeches followed by a party — but we were really conscious of making every last detail personal to us which made such a difference! All the family loved it in the end too — hurrah!!

Our biggest challenge: The venue we chose for the wedding is an old paint factory down the road from where we live in Bristol. The building has recently been redeveloped and is now used as an event space and gallery. It is absolutely massive and still has a really industrial feel about it with bare brick walls, mouldy concrete and steel girders — which we loved.

Walking down the aisle

Our biggest challenge was to soften the space and to give it more of a party atmosphere in the cheapest way possible. We did this by using old christmas decorations which we had blagged from Marks and Spencers (huge UK chain store) after they had taken all their decorations down last January.

The first dance

They worked brilliantly and when used in this change of context, they didn't appear christmassy at all! [Ed: This is a brilliant scheme for y'all to keep in mind as we head into holiday shopping season. I highly recommend that you all steal Helen's clever idea.]

The Irish blessing

My favorite moment: Such a tough question as I honestly loved every minute of it!! There was this one moment during the ceremony when my Mum was just starting doing her reading… My Mum is a very confident person who has always kept her emotions to herself. I knew that I would be crying tears of joy all day, but that's not really my Mum's style!


Just as she stood up and started her reading, there was this slight waiver in her voice when she said the first word. It was such a tiny thing that I am sure hardly anyone else there would have even noticed, but it really meant a lot to me that there was this little sign of nerves in her tone. Sounds ridiculous — but it made me cry even more!!

Lots of tears of happiness!

My offbeat advice: I had a proper stress about my wedding for about three months leading up to it. I found it was so difficult trying to do things that were perhaps a little bit different whilst trying to keep everyone happy.

The vows

I was absolutely adamant that I wanted to do as much as possible myself and to fit in as many personal and handmade details as I could.

Walking down the aisle

All of this meant that I was sooo busy trying to get everything sorted out. My greatest fear was that if I hadn't have tried as hard as I could before hand, I would have regretted not doing more after it was all over.

Lots of tears of happiness!

I never would have believed it, but after all that hard work, I can safely say that every single second of stress and every tear was entirely worth while in the end.

Mr and Mrs Ward

Everything came together beautifully and I can honestly say that it was the happiest day of my life and I wouldn't have changed a thing!! 🙂

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: I'm having a proper freak out over how much I love all these hundreds of wedding photos!

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Comments on Tim & Helen’s colorful, DIY wedding in Bristol

  1. Oh Helen! Why didn’t I read about your wedding before I planned my wedding?! I’m just down the road in Swindon and it didn’t even cross our minds to pick a venue such as yours…. it’s SO cool! (We ended up going for an old barn, so I can still pinch your ideas for decoration!)

    I just have to say again how delicious you guys look. Seriously, I could eat you. I actually took a picture of you in your dress in to a dress shop last week and said, “I don’t want to be a meringue bride, I want to be a bride like that!”.

    You rock.

  2. We don’t remember calling The Paintworks an ‘urban rectangle’ but we do remember being rather dazed at the prospect of making it into a suitable wedding venue. We had to rely on Helen and Tim’s vision and could not have been happier with the result. Hanging the decorations involved buying a reel of electric fencing wire, but it was down to the dads to work that one out – shocking.

  3. thanks for your lovely comments 🙂

    my dress was made by a bristol based designer called daniella benson – it was just perfect!!

    jennifer – we do have a few of the decorations left over from the wedding – you are welcome to have them if you want to come over to bristol to pick them up?

  4. So far, this is my favorite “Offbeat” wedding. I love the colors, I love that it was all DIY, and I am jealous how you stumbled onto those fabulous tissue balls on that cieling for free! This is awesome.

  5. Wow! The decorations, the bride, the groom, your family – all just gorgeous! What a beautiful wedding….You’ve given me the confidence to ask Topshop for their old wondow decorations that i loved recently…..

  6. your wedding looked absolutely amazing!
    my fiance really liked the grooms suit…where is it from?


  7. Hey, thanks guys!

    Erica, Tim’s suit was from an amazing tailor in Brighton called Gresham Blake – they did a fantastic job! There’s a few more details about our outfits on my blog.

  8. Mrs. Ward,

    You and your Mr. are lovely. Could you please point me toward your blog, so that I may find the ‘more details’ about Mr. Ward’s suit promised in your last comment?

    Thank you!

  9. Just found this site now and I think it’s great that people are starting to really accept the ‘unusual’ alongside the traditonal wedding.

    It’s something I’m trying to get across in my photography and it’s slowly starting to gain acceptance.

    One day I’ll shoot a whole wedding with my holga! 😀

    Those round lights in the roof look really rocking!

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