June 2nd, 2014 | Rachel Parry
I’m so excited to kick off the week and share Jess and Matt’s Real Wedding with you. Not only because it took place in my home city of Sheffield (and featured some fantastic suppliers I know *waves*) but also because it has all the right ingredients for one hell of a party.
In the run up to the wedding Jess and Matt built the excitement among their guests by tasking family and friends with helping to organise their special day, making them feel an important part of the proceedings whilst creating beautiful personal touches to set their wedding apart from others.
Then there’s the evening do – quirky outdoor location, amazing homemade food, locally brewed beer, live music and fire pits! What more could you want?
This is one wedding I wish I’d attended.
Jess said: We got engaged on Monday 29th October 2012. We were in Spain visiting the beautiful Andalusian town of Granada and had spent a lovely sunny day at the 1,000-year-old Moorish citadel The Alhambra. As the sun was beginning to set (and my feet were beginning to ache) Matt suggested we walk to a viewpoint. An hour later we reached the top after a pretty steep climb. As I sat down on a bench to regain my breath, Matt bent down to tie up his shoelaces and returned with a stunning antique ring! On our return from Spain late that Friday night, Matt surprised me a second time by driving me from Liverpool airport to a luxury spa resort in Cheshire, where we stayed for the weekend.
We decided to set the date for Saturday 10th August 2013. We wanted a summer wedding and, as we are both teachers, this date gave us enough time to prepare for the wedding but also to have a three-week honeymoon abroad.
We wanted a combination of a traditional church ceremony in the city alongside a more alternative reception venue in the countryside. So we chose our stunning parish church St John’s in Ranmoor, Sheffield, for the ceremony and Green Directions at Townfield Head Farm, Stannington, for our reception.
We wanted to have a very relaxed and informal wedding which was a bit different so we hired Papakata teepees.
I love blues of different shades so this was our theme. It is also a colour which suits all of the bridesmaids. Our brilliant florist Tracey from Campbell’s Flowers also showed us lots of gorgeous blue flowers which would be in bloom in August so this sealed our decision.
Initially I wanted a strapless lace wedding dress but the woman at the bridal shop I visited suggested I try on a scalloped neck lace dress called Ali by Augusta Jones which I fell in love with. It has a beautiful long chapel train and a stunning lace back with simple buttons. There’s a vintage belt which accentuates your waist and really sets off the lace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it so my sister (chief bridesmaid) helped me find a pre-loved dress, exactly the same and to my precise measurements, for half the price at www.preloved.co.uk. My shoes were simple alabaster sling-backs by Bertie which I found in the Christmas sale.
Matt wore a black French Connection suit which he’d recently bought and only worn once to an awards ceremony. He made it look more unusual by wearing a multi-coloured Ted Baker bow-tie and black shoes with an orange sole to complement his auburn hair!
My bridesmaids wore handmade baby blue 50s style dresses made-to-measure from Etsy with petticoats to boost the skirts. The ushers and best man all wore dark suits and blue ties (bow tie for the best man).
We hired a Yorkshire Heritage vintage double decker bus to transport me and my family to the church and then took most of us to the farm afterwards. It was fab!
As previously mentioned, our beautiful rustic bouquets were made by Campbell’s Flowers. They were absolutely stunning – lots of local blooms and even some eucalyptus from our own garden. My bridesmaids and I carried matching bouquets down the aisle. The groomsmen all had matching buttonholes. We also had a large, wild, ‘just-picked’ looking bouquet on each table at the reception.
Lots of friends and family (especially my mum) pitched in to help make lots of hand-made touches to decorate the teepees. These included guest names on luggage tags which we strung from a washing line around the teepee entrance which had table names on the back and served in place of a table plan. We also made candle holders from empty jars we’d collected and decorated with hessian and lace, baby blue gingham table runners and bows for chairs, hand-sewn material hearts for each table, table names which were each a place in Sheffield with a picture and a menu on the back, plus patchwork cushions and blankets for the benches.
My Dad is a keen allotmenteer so when it came to the favours he donated lots of seeds with appropriate names such as ‘love in the mist’ or ‘party girl’. My parents then put them in rustic brown seed-envelopes and labelled to double up as place-names.
Helen and Paul Haigh of PH Weddings did our photographs and we love them! They were very discrete and captured lots of hidden moments without being at all intrusive. We also had a great pre-wedding shoot in Endcliffe Park as part of their package.
Matt’s aunty makes the best desserts so she agreed to make enough cup-cakes for all of our guests. We bought a huge stand and another friend (with immaculate handwriting) wrote out guest names so that everyone could find their own cake.
On arrival at the farm, we ate scones (homemade by super-baker Matt’s mum) with clotted cream and jam (made with fruit from my Dad’s allotment). A complimentary drink of local ale or cider was also served. For our main evening meal, we used Coco Catering who provided a delicious and inexpensive barbecue of locally sourced meat such as sausages and lamb burgers alongside unusual salads such as butternut squash and cous cous. Later in the evening, they provided a snack-sized portion of fish and chips once our evening guests arrived.
Matt and I bought all of the alcohol ourselves and sold it at cost price to keep everything as cheap as possible for our guests. We drank lots of prosecco and also had kegs of local ale and cider from Bradfield Brewery who I would highly recommend for great tasting drinks and efficient, well-mannered staff at a good price.
To keep the children entertained during the day we had a section of the teepee devoted to kids’ things such as colouring books and games. The farmer Mark Woodward was really chilled and let the little kids all go for a farm tour during the speeches
We really wanted love music so we splashed out on an amazing live band The Cassettes from London who my brother had recommended. They played two one hour sets of motown and classics and were awesome!
In the middle of the teepees were fire pits which were great fun later at night. Once the band finished at midnight we all went into the ‘chill-out kungs’ and sat around the fire playing guitars, singing and carrying on the party until 4am.
I would most definitely recommend Green Directions as a venue. For us it was the perfect as it’s close to Sheffield city centre whilst still having stunning views out into the peaks. The cost was much cheaper than at other farms we visited as they have their own wind turbine which provides all the electricity and there are also toilets on site so you save money on portaloos and a generator. What really made it special though was how laid back, friendly and enthusiastic Mark and his wife were.
I loved the whole day start to finish but perhaps the evening, when the band was playing and all of my favourite people were together dancing or relaxing in our giant teepees, was the best part.
For our honeymoon we went to Sri Lanka on my parents’ recommendation as they’d be there when they were our age. Our favourite place was Casa Columbo where we stayed in the capital for our first two nights – we should have stayed much longer!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be if you’re organising the wedding yourself, rather than through a wedding planner at a hotel/venue, make sure you have a very patient, efficient and willing chief bridesmaid! Also, make sure there is someone on the day who knows exactly what needs to happen and ensure that contractors are not contacting you about logistics on the day. I would not have had such an amazing wedding without my sister and brother taking on these two taxing jobs!
Congratulations Jess & Matt!
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Regular guest blogger Rachel joined the Brides Up North editorial team as features writer in May 2014. Senior Reporter at The Sheffield Star (a serious journalist then!) Rachel draws on her background as features, bridal & lifestyle editor for previous regional titles and time spent working for Yorkshire’s most successful PR agencies. Yet to tie the knot herself, Rachel's own wedding looks set to be very, very pretty...