July 7th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Our summer break’s over and it’s back in the saddle here at Brides Up North HQ. In fact, we never actually stopped – at all! – using our editorial down time to complete work on our brand new website (which debuts on these pages very, very soon now – it’s been emotional!), put together a really inspirational and exciting new features schedule and work hard on some lovely new events to add to our autumn schedule. I can’t wait to share the fruits of our labour with you, but for now it’s time to do what we do best here at Brides Up North: enjoy some stupendous Real Wedding pretty.
Kicking off the week and keeping things simple (but lovely) with Lizzie & Ben’s sweet and intimate Real Wedding in North Wales, it feels great to be back.
With images by Gill Jones Photography.
Lizzie says: We got engaged in our new home on the day we completed on the purchase – 30 April 2013. We’ve been together for years but we’d been through some pretty difficult times as Ben had been seriously ill with anorexia. We’d moved a couple of times during his illness but our last rented houses had all ended up being “tainted” by him being ill and grumpy. We picked up the keys and went to look around our empty new house. We were stood looking out of the window of our bedroom talking about making a fresh start, and then Ben said that we should do it properly. I turned around and he was holding out a ring box. He’d spent ages telling me that he wasn’t fussed about us getting married, so I didn’t believe him – in fact my response was “are you serious?” which isn’t really what you’re supposed to say!
We were married on 10 May 2014 – no significance to the date, simply that we wanted a spring wedding and it was the first weekend that our chosen venue, registrar and photographer were all free.
We chose The Outbuildings on Anglesey, North Wales. Although we live in Norwich now, we’re both originally from North Wales and our families still live there. It was really important to us that my granddad (who’s 91, and too frail to travel) would be able to come, so we knew it would be a Welsh wedding.
We made a shortlist of possible venues where we could have both the wedding and the reception. We looked at a hotel first, but it didn’t feel “us”. By contrast, The Outbuildings is such a beautiful, less formal venue and the staff made us feel really at home. We were so confident it was for us that we cancelled all our other appointments and booked it!
On the day they were great – everything was managed brilliantly, the staff were attentive without being obtrusive, and the food was amazing. They had even pre-ordered in a special gin for the bar on our request.
We wanted a relaxed day with all our close friends and family, good food and drink, and great photos to look back on. The venue is a converted barn so we picked flower styles and decorations that tied in with this.
As we were getting married in North Wales, we thought it would be nice to have slate colours, hence the colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses and flowers. I decided to introduce a dusky pink to lift the colours and tie them together after I saw a lovely bouquet in similar colours in a florist’s catalogue.
My dress was “Danbury D” by Blue by Enzoani. I knew I wanted a tea length dress all along – I tried on longer ones but I felt a bit silly in them, like I was dressing up. I knew as soon as I saw mine that it was the one – it was such fun, and made me smile every time I put it on. My brilliant dressmaker Kate added the straps for me using some tulle and extra lace I ordered with the dress.
My shoes were by Pink by Paradox and were really comfy – I’m known for my shoe addiction and the tea length dress was perfect to show them off.
My hair was by Julia Nicholls and make up by Rhiannon Pritchard. I’d highly recommend both – they’re totally very professional and both experts in their areas, but also nice people to spend the morning of your wedding day with. To be honest I’m useless with hair and make up so what they managed to produce from my vague ideas of what I wanted to look like, was really impressive!
Ben wore a grey three piece bespoke suit from Austin Reed – he’s very tall with very long limbs so struggles to buy any clothes off the peg. I made Ben’s tie, and he wore odd socks because he always does – he hates it when everything matches!
Ben’s cufflinks were actually mine – Ben’s brother Christy used to be a silversmith and he made them for me a while ago, to wear when I have to look smart at work.
I and one of my bridesmaids made the bridesmaids’ dresses based on a Vogue dress pattern which I adapted. I wanted a classic Audrey Hepburn look, and I also wanted them to have a dress that wasn’t so obviously “bridesmaidy” that they would never wear it again. The fabric was James Hare dupion silk in a beautiful slatey blue-grey, we used petticoats to make the skirts fuller and finished off the look with lace and ribbon sashes I found on Etsy. Their shoes were a Debenhams bargain.
Christy, as best man, wore a three piece suit which he found in a London charity shop, and blue brogues. I made his tie and he made his cufflinks.
All our flowers were by Helen at Bluebells in Llanfairpwll. When I made my booking it was actually with a different florist, but Helen took over the business and I’m so glad she did.
She suggested putting together a Pinterest board to show her the type of flowers and arrangements we like, and she knew the venue so was able to suggest what would look good on the tables. We used different sized jam jars filled with a range of country flowers – stocks, gyp, roses, sea holly – and guests took individual jars home with them at the end of the night.
I wanted a tidier, vintage look for the bouquets, and all five buttonholes were slightly different, but all the flowers worked together.
We originally weren’t interested in favours, but then we realised we would need place names for the tables anyway, so we decided to use wildflower seed packets by wildflower-favours.co.uk after I saw them in a wedding magazine. We personalised them with our names and date, and tied little luggage labels on with guests’ names
We’re fairly crafty and included quite a few homemade touches – Christy made Ben’s wedding ring; and my Dad made a sign to go outside, using an old roof slate which my mum painted and placed with pots of flowers. I made framed love quotes for the table, little “bride and groom” birds, and our table layout display (out of leftover bridesmaids’ silk and an old lace pillowcase of my gran’s).
My gran passed away a couple of years ago and we all felt her absence on the day. After the ceremony my mum surprised me by giving me the lace-wrapped horseshoe which my gran had given her on her wedding day, for luck.
Our friend Alistair sang “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding whilst we signed the register. In keeping with our informal approach, we had readings from Winnie the Pooh and another children’s book during our ceremony.
Gill Jones was our photographer and we would recommend her without a moment’s hesitation. We looked at quite a few possible wedding photographers online but the quality of Gill’s shots was in another league. When we met her, she inspired such confidence and we had absolute trust that she would capture our day – and she was so lovely that we wanted her to be part of it all.
We have some friends who didn’t love their wedding shots and who wish they’d spent more on their photos – plus we both like photography and would have been distraught with anything that wasn’t perfect – so the photographer was always high up on our priority list.
Gill is very experienced and really helped us work out the probable timings for our day. She put a lot of prep work in and came knowing what the type of shots she wanted to capture, which was impressive.
We’re absolutely delighted with our pictures, we’ll treasure them forever.
The Outbuildings has a wonderful chef, Francois, who did all the catering. Most of our guests weren’t local so we wanted to include Welsh touches – we had leek and perl las (a welsh cheese) tart, lamb for our main, and an amazing chocolate slice with Welsh whisky cream for dessert. In the evening we had a local cheeseboard with crackers and grapes, and our cake.
The cake was low down on our list of priorities (and budget!) so we just got three plain cakes from Marks & Spencer – one fruit, two sponge – and decorated it ourselves. It was less work than making it ourselves, but it was the only thing we got stressed and argued about! We didn’t even cut the cake in the end, we just let the venue cut it up to serve to the guests.
The whole day was perfect so it’s hard to choose just one favourite moment. Walking down the stairs and seeing Ben waiting for me, and all our friends and family together for our day, was so special. The speeches were also really heartfelt and touching.
After the wedding we had a “Mini Moon” in a little cottage in Derbyshire – we wanted to save up rather than heading off on a big holiday immediately. As it turned out we both felt pretty tired after the wedding, so a few days to chill out and spend just with each other was perfect.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is to work out what is important to you and to allocate your budget accordingly, and not to stress over the details – our music didn’t play whilst we were walking out, we forgot to bring the bridesmaids’ and best man’s presents to give to them during Ben’s speech, my sister forgot to wear the jewellery that was made for her, and it rained – but none of that actually mattered on the day.
Congratulations Lizzie & Ben!
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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…