Brides Up North

Summer of Love, A Real Wedding – Paul & Francesca

December 21st, 2010 | Julia Braime

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This morning, I have a very special Real Wedding to share with you.  Firstly, because I went to school with this lovely lovely man and secondly, because this is an account of a Real Wedding from the groom’s point of view.

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Aren’t they a beautiful couple?

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Take it away Paul: First of all we both knew we wanted something a little bit different. Nothing wild, crazy or so far out of the ordinary that people may not enjoy it, but something that was personal to us. Something that we wouldn’t see replicated and that meant finding a venue that we knew others wouldn’t have used. If we did this we would be sure that our memories would be unique and not clouded by revisiting the same venue in the future for other people’s weddings.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Finding the perfect (unique) venue is not as easy as it sounds. There are lots of wonderful wedding venues such as castles, hotels and grand halls all over The North East, but nothing ticked all of the boxes for us. They would be either too small, too bland, too large, or awkward for people to get to from Durham & London, where the large proportion of our guests would be coming from.

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Paul Curry

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We decided that we would start with the church and take things from there. We are fortunate to live near a wonderful little church in Brancepeth called St Brandons, right next to Brancepeth Castle. A truly stunning location, and I will never forget the first time we walked through the doors together to have a look around, turning to look at each other and not being able to speak as we were overcome with emotion. We knew this was the place for us. The church had suffered a major fire in the early nineties, and was left in ruins. The local community spent hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring it to what can only be described as “an incredible level”. Although the seating and decor is not that of a normal church, it has been designed in such a way that you immediately fall in love with the place as soon as you set foot in it. We knew our guests would too.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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That same week we took a walk into Houghall woods to clear our heads and talked long and hard about our next move. Then it suddenly dawned on us. We had a beautiful piece of land at Poplar Tree Garden Centre. The Garden Centre is in 12 acres of land, and only 6 acres is taken up by the Centre itself, leaving a wonderful huge green field, right next to the River Wear, and with stunning scenery such as Houghall woods and Durham City. A venue that had never been used before, and in such a magical setting suddenly became appealing.

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Paul Curry

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 Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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To make the event work though we knew we needed a good marquee company, and the rest would fit into place. And it did. We contacted a local marquee company and decided on the size of the marquee we would need for up to 250 guests and then once that was agreed we were able to contact caterers, entertainment companies and everything else we could think of and designed a wonderful layout, ready for the perfect day.

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Paul Curry

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Francesca decided to go for a black and Ivory theme, which she could picture in her head from day one. The decor in the marquee would reflect that of the wedding attire, which meant stunning silver bridesmaid dresses, grey and silver groomsmen suits, and a gorgeous long Ivory wedding dress for the bride.

 

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Francesca wanted to arrive at the church in style, and that she did, with a horse and carriage that picked her up from her house, and took her the short distance to the church, where everyone was stunned with amazement at how beautiful she looked climbing down from the carriage. The wedding cars followed carrying the bridesmaids. All 8 of them, and our little flower girl Katelyn, who did a magnificent job, and looked like a little angel.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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The Ushers were already at the Church doing a wonderful job and everyone had been seated. Poplar Tree Florist had put together some huge floral arrangements, and placed them around the church. They looked fantastic, but the main focal points were the floral archways, also made by Poplar Tree. As you can see, they were a uniquely magical feature – spread down the aisle for the bridal party to walk through, creating some wonderful shots for our photographer and videographer.

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Paul Curry

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After the tear-jerking wedding was over, the string quartet kept everyone smiling with some lovely music, as guests stood outside drinking Pimms and Champagne. The time flew by and all of a sudden we realised we had to make a move to the second venue.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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No one knew how they would be getting to Poplar Tree Garden Centre, a 5 mile drive across to the other side of Durham. Guests had been told that transport had been organised but nothing else. It was a surprise. When a London bus arrived at Brancepeth Castle, jaws hit the ground, cameras came flying out, and the excitement grew. The ushers made sure everyone got a place on the bus, and set off ahead so that they could welcome everyone to the marquee when it got there.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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The marquee had taken 4 days to erect, and 2 days to decorate. The decorating was done by the Bride, Groom, mothers of the bride and groom, the best man, bridesmaids, family, and anyone else who had time on their hands. It really was a team effort. Without those people we would have been stranded as 25 large heavy tables, 150 chairs, a stage, toilets, generators, cabling and all the decorations had to be done by ourselves. We knew this would be the difficult part of not having a venue such as a hotel or hall, where these jobs would have been taken care of by the wedding planner, but we enjoyed creating our fairytale by ourselves. We had full control over how everything would look. And this was exactly what we wanted.

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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Paul Curry

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The guests arrived to more Pimms, champagne, and a pianist playing lovely music. Guests were able to stand out in the warm sunshine as we went through group photos down by the river and in between the trees. By 3pm, guests had been greeted individually & ushered into the venue, and again were taken back by the beautiful decor. All the hard work had paid off. Now it was time to relax. Everything from then on went to plan.

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Paul Curry

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The speeches were fantastic, and Ramside Event Catering did a magnificent job of making sure everyone had the tastiest food and drink imaginable. Their service, food and conduct was magnificent throughout. They were a pleasure to have around and their staff were very highly trained, polite and hard working.

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The huge floral decorations that Francesca had created for centrepieces, and Poplar Tree Florist had put together, were placed in giant black champagne glasses and consisted of black, ivory and silver feathers and flowers. They looked magnificent. The bride had chosen well. They were accompanied by sprinklings of little diamonds, large mirrors, rose petals and lovely cutlery on the tables which had been covered with brand new white Table cloths. Artificial trees spread around the marquee broke up the blandness of the white draping, and 15 metres of “starlit sky draping” lit up the dancefloor & stage area beautifully as the music began, and evening guests arrived.

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Paul Curry.

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Music was a key theme for us and we wanted a band who were flexible and able to adapt to various stages of the day, and be in different places as the party moved around the two locations. The band we chose were Boogie Down from Newcastle. Being an 8 piece jazz band, different members were able to be in different places around the venue during the day, playing various instruments and entertaining guests tremendously well. They even wrote our processional song “Angel” by Sarah Mclaughlin which brought tears to our eyes in the church. Having a band that were so talented and adaptable was a dream come true, and when they all played together on the evening, people were on the dance floor in a flash

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Paul Curry

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The evening went particularly well, with cartoonists, magicians, caricaturists and other acts keeping guests entertained throughout. In the build up to the wedding, we decided to partition a quarter of the 30 metre marquee off and put in leather sofas, so that people could relax in a quieter area near the bar if they wanted to. We aso put in a sweety area for the children, which actually went down just as well with the adults. Another great idea from Francesca. This area was decorated with a Chinese theme in mind. The bride being half Chinese, many of her family members had come all the way from Hong Kong, Australia, and even Canada just for the wedding, and Francesca was desperate to incorporate her Chinese culture into the wedding somehow. It worked wonderfully, and everyone signed a giant red cloth which is a historic Chinese tradition to bring us good luck throughout our marriage. There were other Chinese elements to the wedding such as chop sticks and a Chinese dish for starter, as well as Chinese lanterns and fans as wedding favours. The mix of English and Chinese culture was fabulous.

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Paul Curry

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Unfortunately the evening had to end, and most of the bridal party headed back to the Radisson Hotel in Durham. Many guests were from London. This is where Francesca grew up, and still has many friends. It was great to have them staying in our hotel as the party was able to carry on throughout the night, and memories were created that will live with us forever.

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Next its off to Hong Kong in a year or two for our Chinese blessing. We are lucky enough to have two weddings. If the second is half as enjoyable as the first then we will be the luckiest people in the world.

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Little black book:

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Wedding cake: Celebration Cakes Peterlee
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Marquee Company: Dobsons Marquees - they also arranged for all the tables, chairs, executive toilet hire, generator, chandeliers, starlit roof, carpets, heating, lighting, stage etc. and provided a man on site all day in case the generator went down.
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Caterers: Ramside Event Catering -Daryl was our MC for the day and was absolutely magnificent

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 String Quartet: Jean Hotton, Pavillion Music

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Band: Boogie Down – Processional song, daytime music, arrival music, evening music and full band and disco

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 Wedding Car: Exclusive Wedding Cars, Wingate, County Durham

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Videographer: Capture the Moment, Consett

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Magician: Magical Memories

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Flowers: Poplar Tree Florist - decorations in marquee and church, and bridal bouquets

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Photographers and Brides – Contact Brides Up North today to see your Real Wedding featured here!

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

learn more about Julia Braime