The Offbeat Bride: Gemma, receptionist

Her Offbeat Partner: Neil, asbestos surveyor

Date and location of wedding: Liversedge, England — October 6, 2012

Our Offbeat wedding at a glance: I am one of those girls who has been imagining their wedding since they were two. Neil and I always knew we wanted “the works” but in a different way somehow. We just wanted everyone to have the most amazeballs day possible! For me, the luckiest thing to happen was that I married someone whose brother has a degree in theatrical costume.


My husband's brother (and best man) actually made my wedding dress! There aren't many brides that can say that. Mark and I collaborated on the design and came up with the creation you can see in the photos.


I also wanted the wedding in autumn just when the leaves are turning and it is cooler as I am always too hot even in the middle of winter, and the tent in a field idea was just too fabulous to say no to. We totally embraced the season and had pumpkins and hay bales and tractors everywhere (the tractor met us at the end of the lane down to the farm and we climbed onto the trailer at the back while all our guests followed us in convoy in their cars — amazing!) There was even a fire pit inside the tent that everyone congregated around later in the evening. We couldn't decide on one theme, so in the end we just had a little of everything!


Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony was a very traditional church wedding, but my sister did a reading which was an adaptation of a Pam Ayres poem which she centered around our quirky natures, about how we go to garden centres — not to look at plants but to have cream teas and eat cake — and about Neil's very odd obsession with gaffa tape. We also sang a hymn called “We plough the fields and scatter” which was really fitting with our reception in a field on a farm and the harvest. We were very lucky that the harvest festival was the weekend we got married so the church was decked out for that too.


Our biggest challenge: I do tend to worry a lot about things, so when Neil asked me to marry him it actually took me three days to say yes! I finally came to my senses when I remembered my dad had previously said “you're both perfectly suited because you're both complete lunatics!” I realised that was actually very true and that I never wanted to be with anyone else. So we did it!

My favorite moment: I had actually bawled my eyes out at the rehearsal in the church a few days before the wedding and I was totally dreading doing that on the day. I know it wouldn't have been terrible if I had cried but I know I would've been stressed about it. On the day of the wedding, I didn't cry during the ceremony at all, and I was able to look Neil in the eye a few times as we were saying our vows. A good friend had said a little prayer for me not to cry during my wedding, and catching her eye to smile and say thank you when we were walking back down the aisle was a great moment.


Another meaningful moment was when my dad was giving his speech which was absolutely hilarious and then he had to pause near the end, because he was getting so emotional when he was telling everyone how proud he was of me. My dad is a proper broad Yorkshireman who never gets emotional, so that will stay with me for a long time. Also, my new sister-in-law came up to me and said, “Finally, I have a sister!”


My funniest moment: Picture this: I'm at at the end of the aisle about to walk down it towards Neil, all my friends and family are facing me. I have my walking down the aisle song on — Kate Bush's Under The Ivy — which is a really emotional song, I am drinking in the scene. I took a step forwards and realised I could go no further only to turn round and see my photographer accidentally standing on my train! After a quick “Kev, you're standing on my dress!!” and a giggle, it totally broke the tension and I walked down the aisle with a big grin on my face. I'm actually really glad that happened!


Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? In the months running up to the wedding the weather had been a complete nightmare — so much rain and really bad flooding on a scale never seen in Yorkshire before. Local shops had had to throw away merchandise and use sandbags to stop the water coming in after a nearby river had completely burst its banks. I was panicking a little bit (alright, a lot) that the field would wash away — us and everything else in it — and that it would be a giant mud fest and just be totally wet and miserable. The organisers had contingency plans, but I still worried. We had a lot of small kids at our wedding too, and they needed space to run about in and I was relying on the field to provide that space.


I kid you not, all my wedding day the sun was cracking flags! We hadn't seen the sun in months and there it was, bright as a button. The views from the field were absolutely breathtaking too — green fields as far as you could see with the sunlight dappled all over the horizons. Someone was definitely smiling on us that day.


My advice for Offbeat Brides: Seriously, don't stress too much about all the planning because you will eventually want it to be over and done with which is not the ideal attitude when you're trying to enjoy the whole thing. You will feel the pressure to have “the best day of your life” but just go with the flow. Yes, you may get stressed at times but just take a step back and re-evaluate what's important here. Delegate to bridesmaids, friends, best man if you can.


I personally wouldn't recommend going to wedding fayre type things — they make you believe you NEED all the things they are selling otherwise your wedding will FAIL. It's complete tripe. You do not need a teeth whitening service or sugar mice that are actually soap that smell like vomit when you leave them at room temperature (here speaks the voice of experience!) Talk to your partner about how you are feeling about everything, communication is always key. It's so easy to be snappy with the ones you love most when you're stressed to the eyeballs, but just have a chat, let it all out and I guarantee you will feel much better.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Without meaning to sound properly cheesy, I learned how absolutely lovely people can be. With all the stress of planning and thinking of nothing but weddings for months, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. I have never had so many friends tell me they loved me and all pull together to help me and surprise me with gorgeous personal presents that meant something just to me and them and wish us nothing but happiness… there's nothing more important than that. Never lose touch with your friends. You will always need them — even (or especially) once you are married.


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Comments on Gemma & Neil’s proper English harvest festival wedding

  1. so beautiful! I’m gobsmacked by all the beauteous things. That dress takes my breath away. The groom’s attire, fabulous. The flowers, wowowow! So much more. That tent and it’s amazing architectural roofline!

    Congratulations and thanks for sharing what had to have been an amazing event!

  2. This is totally gorgeous! I’m in love with your dress. It’s such an unusual colour, and I wish it wasn’t because it’s one of my favourites; need more of that green!

    Thank you for sharing your day with us.

  3. This is awesome! And so cool to see an Offbeat Bride here in West Yorkshire, was beginning to think they didn’t exist in these parts!
    Everything looks awesome, so glad the weather held out for you!

  4. Another plus size red head getting married in green named Gemma?! Have I looked into the future, or have I just found a twin sister on Offbeat Bride?! What an amazingly beautiful wedding and a beautiful bride. That dress and hairstyle are both just too perfect.

  5. Ok, this made me teary. You are SO beautiful, and that dress is magic. I have been staring at your picutres for a crazy amount of time! Gorgeous location… That is wonderful that you have memories THAT LOOK LIKE THIS for the rest of your life!! Best wishes and love to you.

  6. OMG I LOVE YOUR DRESS!!!!! Your outfits are simply amazing! Huge kudos to your BIL!

  7. Ohhh i am all teary now! Thank you for all your lovely comments, I’m so utterly chuffed to have our wedding on off-beat bride – im so proud i could burst!Mark, my bro-in law who made the dress actually realised that his talents are wasted in his current job so is moving back up here to start a business making gowns for voluptuous ladies! Can’t wait! He’s the one in the spongebob squarepants pants by the way lol. Thanks again for the sweet comments, I’ll be grinning like an idiot for weeks! Gemma xx

    • Congrats, Gemma! And let us know your bro-in-law’s business as I bet lots of UK brides would love to hear about him.

      • thank you Rachel, and i defo will! he’s coming up in the new year so at the mo we are just trying to buy domain names for a website etc! exciting! .xx

  8. I love your dress!! The photo of you going down the isle… *sigh* gorgeous!!

  9. There is nothing more beautiful than a groom who appreciates the practical nature and infinite possibilities inherent in gaff tape.

  10. I do love the going down the aisle pic too, it just shows how gorgeous the back of the dress was. The gaffa tape thing is a bit of a strange one, he always takes a roll of it with us wherever we go – even on honeymoon. Mind you, he also takes a digital bath thermometer. I did marry a quirky one lol x

  11. You both look gorgeous but your dress is STUNNING. That shade of green totally suits your colouring and hair. And much respect for having Kate Bush as part of your day.

  12. The bride’s dress is absolutely stunning, and the groom’s outfit reminds me (in a very good way!) of the Eighth Doctor from Doctor Who. I love the bride’s red shoes, the flowers in the hair, and the bright colourful bouquet. Really beautiful! You both look so happy in that photograph if you laughing in the car.

  13. That dress! <33333
    Green is my fav – my bridesmaids had dresses in almost that shade!

  14. This is just beautiful! The dress is absolutely stunning, the groom is dapper, and the photos are gorgeous! Congratulations!

  15. That head dress is beautiful!

    I’ve just been emailing Claire at weddings and wellies about prices and things for our wedding… she’s been ever so helpful (as is her website for other really great places for venues). We’re planning a wedding from Vietnam of all places so it was nice to see more pictures of the possibilities they can provide. Did you do it on their site or somewhere else?

    It looked like lots of fun which is my only aim for mine!

    Out of interest did you look at many other venues similar to this in the yorkshire area? Using other peoples eyes and experiences is a very useful tool being so far away! 🙂

    • Hi Julie, yes we did do it on their site as it was perfect for location and space and the amazing views! I did pretty much research every wedding venue in west Yorkshire but to be honest, nothing really compared to this. Before I found weddings and wellies, I found the teepees on the papakata website and decided I really wanted them, then set about finding a site.. There wasn’t really anywhere except a land rover racing track in Bradford – nope! But to be honest, hiring a teepee, furniture, finding your own caterers and dj, doing all the decorations yourself would work out a heck of a lot more expensive than going via weddings and wellies who do all that for u for a set price. We just didn’t want a hotel with chair covers, sashes and table cloths- as seems to be the norm, as we aren’t normal lol so this really was the only way we were gonna go. We are down to earth and wanted rustic and earthy and fun! This is exactly what we got.x

      • Oh my wows, this tent is what I have been searching for for my vow renewal in East Sussex, thank you so much for sharing this, you rocked it much love to you all xx

  16. I have been reading OBB for a few years now and love all the spirit and personality shown in these celebrations of love. But I have to admit I am quite partial to the non-white wedding dresses, having worn a multicolor one myself! This dress just BLEW ME AWAY, Gemma. Wow. The craftsmanship is superb and the fit is just brilliant. What color! And the fabric… ohmygosh. You look like the fairy/Ren queen over every queen there ever was. May your marriage be filled with as much beauty and love as was put into that gown. P.S. Your husband’s outfit is fab as well 😉

    • Thank you so much Maggie! By the way, this might sound ridiculous but what is this Ren Faire thing? Ive heard a lot about it but usually on American sites – is it an American thing or am i totally missing the point? My invitations were amazing too – i should really have put a pic of them up – they were all fairy woodlandy themed and designed by my bridesmaids boyfriend who designs cards for a living. Im so lucky knowing all these talented people!x

  17. I have some serious tent envy going on. Fabulous photos, it looks like an amazing day!

  18. Looks a whole lot of fun, and not a sugar mouse in sight!

    Excellent photography btw – love the shot in the trailer!

  19. Words can’t express how beautiful you look, the train and lace on this dress just blew my away with its fairytale from a bygone era-ness (this is ESP big for me as I’m not a fan of trains. But come on!!! It’s amazing!!); this dress shows off all your fabulous curves; your flowers are like a mad hayters bouquet from wonderland and I’m just generally in love and over the moon to see a gorgeous fellow red head showing the uk how its done 😉 congratulations on your autumnal fabulous extravaganza! Ps… I want some of those yummy happy looking cakes! And that pic of u and your dapper hubby on the trailer needs to put on a canvas, pic perfect 😉 xox

    • Not in York nope but i have been asked if it was in a minster – it is actually a small church in Lightcliffe, Halifax – its just the photography that makes it look massive lol. x

  20. I used to sing “we plough the fields and scatter” at school and at church. I can’t remember where I got it from (I suspect it was a kids book my Godfather, who is a priest, wrote), but my brother and I always sang the first two lines as “we plough the fields and scatter bananas on the ground/ and then next year when we come back there’ll be palm trees all around”

    You having that hymn at your (utterly fab looking!) wedding reminded me of it.

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