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Lucky Seven! A Real Wedding In The North East – Anna & James

Posted on: 08/11/2012

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Close House Wedding by Pacific Studios

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Today’s Real Wedding is a bit of a special one as it’s the wedding of Anna, the sister of one of my lovely friends Charlotte.  I heard so much about Anna’s wedding in the run up to her and James’ big day from an excited Charlotte that I’m thrilled to be able to share their images with you today.  Knowing Anna’s little sister like I do, I just knew that it would be the perfectly classy affair, with lots of personal touches too. 

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With images by Pacific Studios

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Wedding In The North East by Pacific Studios

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Anna says:  On Valentine’s day in February 2011 James took me completely by surprise and treated me to a night in The Savoy in London. We normally go out for dinner but as James had been working abroad for five weeks he assured me he just wanted to treat me to something extra special. We went out for dinner and came back to the hotel for cocktails. We were led past the long queue to the gorgeous art-deco American Bar to our own bar stools and enjoyed a couple of delicious cocktails, until it was time to go. I thought it was still pretty early and wanted to stay for another, but when we got to our suite I found a huge bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us!

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The room had huge floor to ceiling windows with amazing views over the Thames; the lights of The London Eye and the rest of the South Bank twinkling at us. We could see and hear Big Ben chiming midnight and then James told me I had one more little pressie and to close my eyes… he got down on one knee, offered a sparkling diamond and asked me to marry him.

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We were married on 07.07.2012. I’d always wanted a summer wedding and as 7 is my lucky number this date was perfect! There weren’t many Saturday dates available at all at the venue so we were very happy.

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My parents live in Wylam in Northumberland and as I was brought up there we chose to have the service in the village at St Oswin’s Church. My sister got married there and her daughter was christened there so it already held lovely memories. It meant so much to get married at a church we knew, but logistically it was also very handy for my family as we all got ready at my parents house.

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After the service we held a reception at Close House Hotel in Wylam. We were very fortunate to have such a fantastic wedding venue so close to the church. We looked at a few other venues in the North East as we didn’t want a venue simply due to its proximity but we both knew it was the best venue for us regardless. The gorgeous grounds, beautiful views, delicious food and the fabulous newly renovated interior confirmed to us that it was the place we wanted to be with all our friends and family.

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The bridesmaids and groomsmen were co-ordinated in a gorgeous Persian plum colour but I kept everything else classic and romantic – white flowers for the bridal party and the church with contrasting bright flowers for the table centrepieces.

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James wanted to organise the car himself, keeping it a secret from me. It was an absolute delight to walk down the drive with my father to see a beautiful white 1948 Rolls Royce Tourer. It was better than my suggestion of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! The bridesmaids travelled in a gorgeous vintage red Austin Taxi. My parents also arranged a vintage ‘Leyland Tiger’ bus from the church to Close House for all the wedding guests, and thanks to one of the groomsmen who donned the conductor’s cap and ticket machine, they each received a bus ticket personalised with our wedding date on it to keep as a memento.

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I had no idea what would be my perfect dress until I found it. It was a beautiful Ian Stuart design that we discovered in Rosina Brown‘s lovely bridal boutique in Stocksfield. I knew when I tried it on that it would be pretty hard to beat. An ivory, strapless bodice that was ornately detailed from the waistline with metallic lace, scattered sparkly beading and decorative tulle and lace train with a matching wrap. It was romantic, elegant and (eventually) fitted like a glove. However, as I live in London we thought it would be rude not to try others on so my mother and I had a wonderful time in lots of pretty wedding dress shops, but I always knew in my heart I’d found the dress for me and returned to Rosina Brown to try it on again. This time our eyes welled up and we knew it was the one!

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I carried a gorgeous bouquet of large white blooming peonies and roses to add softness and romance. The groomsmen had single white rose boutonnieres. All the flowers on the day were done by J.A. Stobo & Son Florists in Wylam, and they looked perfect.

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I had originally wanted light floaty bridesmaid dresses to compliment the romantic tone of the day but this was the tricky bit – two of my bridesmaids were pregnant and growing! What actually suited them the most were more structured styles so it wasn’t long before we chose the gorgeous long dresses from Dessy in a Persian Plum colour. I knew this colour was exactly what I wanted – not too dark, not too pink but still feminine and fun. The groomsmen and both our father’s wore suits from Jo McLaren with matching coloured accessories from Dessy to co-ordinate with the Bridesmaids.

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As soon as I woke up and saw the sun, which had previously been hiding behind storm clouds all week, I knew it was going to be a magical day. There were so many special moments but my favourite part was finally saying the vows to each other and walking down the aisle with my new hubby!

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I had no set ‘themes’ in mind but over the course of the planning a natural one of ‘travelling’ emerged. James and I have been fortunate enough to travel to many lovely places so we decided each table should be given the name of a hotel which had a special meaning for us, for example ‘The Savoy’ where we got engaged or ‘Gleneagles’ where we spent New Years Eve and where James asked my father’s permission if he could marry me. Rather than having a traditional table plan, we continued the ‘hotel’ idea and made individual room keys for everyone and hung these from a board with a vintage map background.

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The wedding favours were miniature bottles of drinks relating to the country of the hotel on the table name, for example Scottish Whisky for ‘Gleneagles’ and Portuguese Port for ‘Pine Cliffs’. Instead of a Guest Book each table had retro postcards specific to their country and my friend organised a vintage white royal mail letterbox to post them in!

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We are so fortunate that James’s mother is an exceptional cake-maker! It was only natural that we her asked if she would like to make it and luckily she said yes. A 4-tier tower of alternating fruit and chocolate-sponge layers covered in cream icing and decorated with edible lace, sugar peonies and roses; it was a work of art. We didn’t want to cut into it! We know how much time, effort and practice cakes she had to make (and therefore let us eat!) before it was perfect and then to carefully transport it all the way from Somerset was a massive undertaking and one which we will always appreciate.

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My parents surprised us (and the guests) by organising a magician and a caricaturist for the day! This was amazing – I had always wanted to be a magician and loved them at my birthday parties as a little girl. Plus the drawings were hilarious and gave the guests a memento of the day to take away. We also arranged a cocktail hour for the guests after dinner, which was in the greenhouse at Close House and helped everyone to have a good time. Having been to lots of weddings we know it’s so important that guests enjoy themselves and are entertained!

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During the ceremony my great friend from university Seb Thomson played the organ and accompanied the choir. We found a great jazz trio, ‘Contrajazz‘, to play outside Close House during the drinks reception to set the fun relaxed tone of the day. We also had my favourite 5-piece band, ‘Hip Operation’, playing and dj-ing throughout the evening. My family and our friends love a bit of a boogie and we chose a 100-song playlist for the DJ with songs ranging from The Beach Boys, to The Rolling Stones, to The Wurzels (James is from Bristol!). It was brilliant and the fairy-lit dance floor was packed all night.

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Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. It always seemed like the most exotic, far-away paradise, and I was thrilled when James said we should go there on our honeymoon! We stopped off in San Francisco on the way for a couple of days, enjoying a helicopter ride over the city, before a fabulous two weeks in Hawaii. A week on Maui and another week on the Big Island was a dream come true.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to work together to make it the day you both want. James and I always asked each other’s opinion before deciding anything; choosing the hymns and readings, the menu and the music all seem like small details but we know we both put our hearts and souls into making it the best day of both our lives. I also found family and friends loved being a part of the big day and making it special, so appreciate all their help and enjoy every minute!

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Congratulations Anna & James!

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Get in touch to see your own Real Wedding featured on these pages.

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  – Images © 2012 Pacific Studios

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3 Comments

  • Charlotte
    November 8, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Awwww I loved reading this!! it has made me so happy! Such a wonderful day, everything was so perfect and everyone was so happy! Loved loved loved it xx

  • Kate Smith
    November 8, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    What a gorgeous wedding … loved it, the colours … everthing … happiness shone out of these photographs LOVELY

  • Anna
    November 17, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you so much for this Julia! It looks beautiful! Funny how I spent hours trawling through your pretty website and looking at other real bride’s photos for inspiration, and now I’m looking at my own! Hopefully it will spark some ideas for another bride-up-north bride-to-be! And if you ever need a London accomplice to help you out, please get in touch. Thanks again for reminding us of the happiest day of our lives xx

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