February 3rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
This wedding differs from a lot of the submissions we usually receive here at Brides Up North – because this time its the groom in the driving seat. In fact, he loved the whole process so much that he’s considering a career in the wedding industry. Watch this space.
Rob writes: Out of the two of us, I have loads of artistic flare, and Michelle really isn’t fussed on anything creative! When it came to organizing the wedding, Michelle really hadn’t a clue where to start, and so basically left it up to me. Not to say she wasn’t interested – we made a deal – she would concentrate on the dress and I would sort the venue! We did all main bits together but the actual decorating of the venue was all down to me. She was banned until the big day!
I loved every minute of the build up. I knew what I wanted and made most of the stuff myself. In fact I enjoyed it that much I am hoping to start up in the industry this year.
I think the man’s a natural. So, let’s hear all about his vision… over to you Rob.
Images by Helen Hates Peas Photography.
Rob says: I asked Michelle to marry me at home on Christmas day in 2010 next to the Christmas tree. I hid the ring box at the back of the tree. After we had finished getting ready to go to her parents’ house, I said I had forgotten one last gift. When she opened her eyes I was on one knee!
We were married on 18th August 2013 at Trafford Hall, Mickle Traford, Chester. We wanted somewhere pretty and not overbearing that none of our friends or family had been to before. Somewhere all our guests could stay, somewhere we could have free reign over suppliers and not be dictated to by the venue’s preferred suppliers, and above all, somewhere reasonably priced. We loved the old Georgian house and that the venue is run by a charity who promotes eco values. The guests’ rooms were outdoor stables with wild flower turf roofs which were a brilliant talking point as guests arrived and went into their little hideaways. They try and source most of their food locally and try and grow all the veg onsite.
Our theme was country floral. I have had a passion for flowers since a young boy and eventually studied garden design at Uni. I had an idea of the way I wanted the venue to look, and it involved lots of flowers and greenery. The venue and location were perfect for a country fayre style wedding, which I think is what we achieved.
We didn’t really have a colour scheme, just lots of floral prints. It could have gone horribly wrong, but it worked superbly!
Michelle wore a crystal and sash White One Bridal sweetheart ball gown from the 2012 collection which she bought from Boda Bridal in Chester. Hannah (bridesmaid) made Michelle’s veil as a personal gift. Her shoes were diamanté flip flops from Oasis.
I wanted to stand out from the best men and ushers, so chose a two piece 0suit from Zara in French Navy. I had a bespoke lilac tweed waistcoat made for me by Crichton of Chester. They also made my shirt and sewed in a contrasting floral pattern to the cuffs and collar for when I took my tie off at night. I wore a silk floral hydrangea tie that I bought from G Room in Hoole, Chester.
We both have a favourite jeweller in Chester called Chique based in St Michael’s Precinct. Michelle’s engagement ring is from there as our wedding rings. As a surprise, I met with Adam, the owner, and selected a pair of pearl earrings for Michelle to wear on the day. I asked Hannah to give them to her on the wedding morning. Little did I know that Michelle had also gone in and spoke to Adam and selected a pair of pearl cufflinks as a surprise for me! Without even knowing we had matching earrings and cufflinks!
Michelle carried a mixture of garden flowers including dahlias, anthirrinun, scabious, everlasting sweet peas, daiseys, astrantia, cornflower, amongst others. I didn’t want to be an understated groom, so my button hole was equally as flamboyant. I had the same flowers as Michelle, but with the addition of a sprig of thalictrum – a delicate purple flower.
Michelle walked down the isle to Etta James ‘At last’ and we both walked out to Jackie Wilson ‘I get the Sweetest Feeling’.
The bridesmaids wore bespoke dresses made by Hannah’s mum Heather. The material was from a haberdashery called Aberkhan in North Wales. It is upholstery material used for chairs and curtains, but we loved the pattern and soft gold tones. Heather also made the page boy’s waistcoats out of the material. The best men, ushers and fathers wore navy suits and a gold tie from Groom in Chester.
I made all the floral table displays with the help of a dear friend Angela Edwards. We were up at 4am the day before the wedding to select flowers at Liverpool Flower Market.
We had an idea of what we wanted, and pre-ordered stocks, antirrhinums, monkshood, but the rest would be pot luck. But the best surprise was the delphiniums being sold off for £2 a box. We hadn’t planned on using delphiniums, but took the lot!
I ordered in birch trees to set as a back drop for the ceremony as the ceilings in Ballroom at Trafford were so high, The room needed something to ‘fill the space’. They looked great in rustic barrels and filled with gypsophila. Birch has been used in marriage ceremonies in different cultures for thousands of years and is symbolic of a long and happy marriage. So I liked the idea of having it in the room -and it’s one of my favourite trees. We also had two alter candelabras that I dressed with birch, delphiniums and gypsophila to match the smaller table candelabras. We filled jam jars covered in lace with flowers to line the aisle.
We opted for wooden folding picnic chairs for the guests to sit on throughout the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. We bought reams of lace and gathered different patterns in bundles to hang on each chair. They looked great!
I bought hornbeam trees to stand in groups in the centre of the marquee. They really brought the outside in. Which is what we wanted. And one of the best talking points was the gypsophila disco ball I made and hung above the dance floor! It was like an explosion of white!
I knew I wouldn’t have time to do the bouquets and button holes. So I used the amazing Juliet Glaves of Thoughtful Flowers in Shropshire. I met Juliet at the Tatton Park Wedding Show the previous year and we instantly hit it off. Juliet and her husband grow all the flowers on their land. Her displays are stunningly beautiful.
I really detest the generic sugared almond bag as a keep sake, so we bought 80 old Victorian terracotta long pots from an original glasshouse that was being demolished. We filled them with lavender plants and a copper name tag. These were placed on the table and used as the place name. The guests also had a note in their menu to say they were to take them home and grow them with love.
I hand made the bunting for the marquee with Michelle’s Nan. We spent so many weekends picking up scraps of floral material and sewing them together. We are now keeping it as a family heirloom for our children and grandchildren to use in years to come – hopefully at their weddings. We cut out mini bunting from the left over bunting material and wrapped it around the menus with pretty string. We noticed all the guests wore them as bracelets throughout the day which was never the intention – but it looked great!
Michelle’s Dad is a brilliant craftsman and joiner by trade. I asked him to make us a special present that we could keep and remind us of our day in years to come. I designed a bench and Andy skilfully crafted it out of oak. This is what we sat on for the wedding breakfast. We now have it in our garden and every time we sit on it the memories come flooding back-a truly amazing part of the day that we will have forever!
We are lucky that my Mum has made the most amazing cakes for friends and family for years. I always new that when the day came, she would make us the most amazing masterpiece. Michelle and I wanted something grand, but understated, so we settled on a 4 tier cake with individual layers of Victoria sponge, chocolate fudge, fruit and gluten free carrot as a few guests had dietary requirements. Each layer was decorated in a different way: dots, lace, ribbon. The top tier was my favourite – it was covered in cream hydrangea flowers made of icing. We packed real hydrangea flowers in between each tier to tie the cake in with the décor.
Thank you to our amazing photographer Helen for capturing the day beautifully – always with a patient smile on her face.
When the canapés were being served and we were having photos taken, Michelle’s Uncle sang to entertain the guests. It wasn’t until a lot of the guests were seated for dinner that they realised it wasn’t a CD playing! We entered the marquee to Michelle’s Uncle and the whole wedding party serenading us with a rendition of Elton John’s ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’ which is one of Michelle’s favourite songs. For the evening, we had an ABBA tribute band. They were incredible. They got everyone up and dancing. We also had a DJ that played until 1am. Even after the music and lights were turned off, guests chatted and finished drinking in the candlelit marquee for hours!
When it comes to choosing a favourite part of the day, I loved the buzz of the morning. I still hadn’t finished the flowers in the marquee. Michelle had no idea of what the venue looked like as she was banned from seeing it on the run up. I wanted it to be perfect. Guests were arriving with suitcases and scurrying past, my best men were helping sweep down tables and weather was getting better by the minute. I loved seeing Michelle’s expression as she walked down the aisle. Not only were we about to get married, she was seeing the venue dressed for the first time. Also, we both loved how laid back the wedding felt. After the meal, people wandered out of the marquee and sat in the afternoon sun to have a snooze on the old fashioned deck chairs while the evening guests arrived.
We had three honeymoons in all. Oneweek after our wedding, my friend was getting married in Devon, so we travelled down there and port hopped in B & B’s in Cornwall for a week. Then we stayed in a log cabin in York before finally flying off to Egypt.
My top tip for Brides Up North would be: don’t panic! Sometimes you need to step back and take a deep breath. You can’t do everything you see in magazines. Don’t be shy about calling in favours. We asked friends and family at every opportunity. I loved every minute of sourcing materials and making things for the big day. We have so many items left over from our wedding that we are going to start hiring our items out and hopefully turn it into a full time business so I can help other brides and grooms set up their big days – watch this space!
Congratulations Michelle and Rob!
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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…
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