July 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime
PJ and James’ Real Wedding is all about location, location, location. Engaged at the Tynemouth Lighthouse, what better place to return to tie the knot… along with their friends (of the four legged variety too!) and family?
One slap up Italian meal later and everyone’s happy!
With images by Little Miss Boyco.
PJ says: I had just about given up hope of James ever proposing to me when it happened very unexpectedly.
Being from Tynemouth, I moved to the Midlands when I was 6 years old and went to St Mary’s Lighthouse very often. It has always been my favourite place in the world. I have lots of fond memories of walking from Tynemouth to St Mary’s with my Poppa and going around the rocks with my brother Jonny.
James had heard a lot about the north east and had never been so I booked a little cottage in the village for a long weekend. I really wanted to show him all of the great places and things around Tynemouth that I remember and see them with adult eyes.
Before getting engaged we quite rarely went back up north and enjoyed the coast. We only really went for family gatherings so I wanted to spend time up there doing things I used to love.
Anyway, the top thing on my list of things to do was walk on the beaches from Tynemouth up Longsands all the way to the lighthouse like I used to with Pop’s. We had a fantastic walk and finally got to the lighthouse and I started retracing my childhood steps around those rocks.
James veered off towards the sea and we saw a seal, then James knelt down… I thought he was just trying to stop our dog Tinker from bothering the seal. But then he got on one knee and said ‘Me and Tinker have brought you here today to ask if you will be my wife?’. I was in shock. Then he produced a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring which I immediately recognised as being my Granny’s.
We had a cup of tea and got the bus back to Tynemouth. That night we took the metro to Newcastle where James had booked a nice restaurant… I’ve still got the metro ticket in my purse from 27th April 2013.
When we left the lighthouse having just had the proposal I asked a chap to take our photo together. He said yes but I’ll have to be quick as I’m getting married in a minute!
The seed was sown! James really wanted to get married in the lighthouse and kept on about it. I was reluctant because I worried about how difficult it would be to plan from 200 miles away but it didn’t turn out to be that hard.
We ended up having 3 venues for the day which was quite ambitious! But later the day of the proposal we saw a small wedding in the old Italian restaurant at Tynemouth Station and another seed was sown. After that we made contact with the station and found that Davanti (a popular restaurant in Tynemouth) were taking over the station restaurant. I got in touch with them and we originally wanted to have the reception out on the platform but decided against in case of bad weather.
We had to wait for the restaurant to be completely refurbished but were blown away with the results and booked the reception straight away. The Manageress Helen was absolutely brilliant, she had so many good ideas and spoiled us rotten on the day. The restaurant is called Davanti Classico.
The evening reception was an easy choice at The Grand Hotel in Tynemouth, which was where most of the guests stayed too. My parents had their wedding reception there in the 70’s so it was another sentimental choice.
Because the wedding was away from home we turned it into a bit of a wedding week. We travelled up on Tuesday and were joined by a host of our guests on that day and the other days leading up to the day. The idea stemmed from James wanting to play golf at Tynemouth Golf Club, where my dad played for most of his life and was Captain. James wanted to beat my dad on his home turf. How rude!
The day after the wedding we all went to the beach with the dogs and the lads played boules and drank beer and the girls drank champagne. We went out for another meal that night and stayed up for the first World Cup match, England v Italy. On Sunday it was Fathers Day so we had breakfast together then played crazy golf before we headed off to our ferry.
I arranged afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel for all my girlfriends the day before the wedding, there were about 30 of us in total!
James has blue eyes so we went with blue for our colour scheme. No particular shade as we wanted everything to be really relaxed and informal. The stationery was blue with a bit of a nautical, travel style.
I had a make up artist Laura Gemmell come to do my make up, the bridesmaids and Mum’s. She was absolutely brilliant, everyone loved their make up… one of my friends said I should do my make up like that everyday, if only she knew how long it took to put on! It was a nice treat for everyone though.
We all had our hair done at Headlines Hairdressers in Tynemouth. They were brilliant too, managing to squeeze everyone in.
James bought me a very unexpected but beautiful wedding present which I received on the morning of the wedding, it was a sapphire and diamond necklace to match my ring. I wore it round my wrist on the day but have worn it around my neck ever since.
I bought James a stainless steel shovel which according to him was the only thing he could have wanted.
I tried on hundreds of dresses before I found ‘the one’. I knew from the start that I didn’t want anything too big, so I was looking for a sleek dress.
I found a new designer called Lillian West and one of her dresses looked exactly what I was looking for. I tracked down a stockist near Kidderminster (not exactly close to home either) La Couture Bridal Boutique. They had a designer weekend so I went to try it on but my eye caught another gown in the window and that was the one. Karen and Millie at the shop were so helpful. I wish I could do it all again.
James is a builder so doesn’t dress up often. In fact is scruffiness is part of the attraction. You can’t beat a buff guy in shorts and a tool belt!
Anyway, he wore his own navy M&S suit, bought for a friends wedding last year… so you could say it was vintage! He wore his own shoes and shirt but forgot his tie… fortunately his mum knows him so well that she brought a spare with her so he wore that!
The bridesmaids were tricky because we found that one of them, James’ little sister Vicky was pregnant and that the baby would be about two weeks old for the wedding. We had to choose something which she could wear and was flexible to her size.
We chose some slinky multi-way dresses from Marks & Spencer which were really good value (£55) and looked fantastic. We found some matching shoes by Debut at Debenhams in the sale. I had to go to about five stores to track stock down in the right sizes!
The groomsmen all wore their own suits but were asked to wear a blue tie and they all had matching button holes.
Our dog Tinker was ring bearer in the ceremony. Tink goes to work with James every day so they are best buddies, as soon as we realised we could have Tink with us all day (until the evening reception) we didn’t think twice. When we were at Davanti he just sat on the terrace outside the door and got lots of scraps of pork and crackling!
The flowers were from Cornflower Blue in Whitley Bay. I just wanted blue ones.
The bridesmaids had Gypsophila bouquets and the groomsmen all had Sea Holly button holes (James thought they were thistles and therefore a more masculine choice!).
For our reception, Cornflower Blue provided a load of different flowers and my friends and my Auntie Gill arranged them into glass bottles from a collection which James’ father Gary had dug up during his building career.
The flowers at the Lighthouse were all done by my godmother Christine Hedley. They were stunning.
We hired a double decker bus from Henry Cooper Coaches in Annitsford. It took guests from The Grand Hotel to the Lighthouse, then to Davanti then came back in the afternoon to take people from Davanti back to the Grand Hotel.
I asked my boss Sean to drive me to the Lighthouse in his white Porsche Panamera. Sean took James and I back to Davanti in it but we got the bus back to the hotel in the afternoon.
Our photographer was LIttle Miss Boyco… Wiesia Bojko.
She was brilliant and really went to great lengths to make sure that the wedding was covered. She even got one of her friends Laura Eddolls to come and photograph the boys getting ready in the morning and go on the bus so that she could stay with me and the girls.
We found her by contacting Newcastle University to find out if there were any student photographers who could cover it. They made some suggestions including Wiesia and we met them all but Wiesia stood out as being a really talented and creative business.
I had a really clear idea of what I wanted for our stationery so employed a graphic designer, Amanda Wishart to bring my ideas to life. She was brilliant and created some really unique things for us, including our table plan and programmes.
Our table names were all our favourite pubs, including the Chequers Arms where we went on our first date on James’ motorbike.
Helen at Davanti blew us away with her planning and ideas. Nothing was too much effort and she made it look really easy. She even brought us a bottle of Moet for the speeches because she remembered me saying that my mum wanted us to have champagne (but we chose Prosecco just for the good value of it).
The Grand Hotel were really really good too, they set up the cheesecake perfectly and remembered all of the oil lamps for the tables.
Our cake was layers of sponge and chocolate cake from C&G Cakes in Whitley Bay. Simple icing with swiss dots and Sea Holly on the top tier.
We also had a cheese cake at the evening reception which was from The Cheese Shop, Morpeth and was mostly local cheeses. It was delicious! We bought a pair of mice from Etsy dressed as bride and groom, I will keep them forever they are adorable.
We used luggage tags stood up in corks for our place names and asked guests to write on the tags and hang them on the olive tree in the restaurant, it worked really really well.
I thought about doing a speech but James talked me out of it. As such I made a programme of events and had a few ‘words from the Bride’ so that I could say a special thank you to my Hens, my mum and dad and of course my brother and all of our guests who had travelled so far to be with us.
One of our guests Ian Beckett shared his 60th Birthday with us on the day so I got a helium balloon and tied it to his chair and left a card on the table for him.
We bought all of the groomsmen and helpers cigars as a present, including a special one for my brother Jonny who was also our best man.
We did think about getting buskers and a band but opted just to go with the resident DJ from the Grand Hotel. We sent a list of songs we would like played but pretty much left it to him and the music was good. I danced all night!
Our first dance was chosen by James. Al Green – Lets stay together.
Its really hard to say what the best bit of the day was but for me it was probably the build up and getting ready in the morning with my chief bridesmaid Sarah (my best friend who shared the bridal suite with me the night before) and with James’ sisters and of course my mum. I thought I would be really nervous but in the end I was much more cool about it than anyone else, including James who is usually Mr Cool.
It all went by so fast I just can’t believe it. I wish I could do it again and take it all in.
We had a mini-moon straight after the wedding and caught a ferry from Newcastle overnight to Amsterdam then drove across Holland and Belgium to spend the first night in Paris in an exquisite apartment near the Sacre Coeur with views of the Eiffel Tower. There was Champagne on arrival organised by my brother. The following day we drove to the Correze region of southern France where we spent a week eating and drinking far too much and visiting some beautiful places.
We are planning to have a trip to Whistler this New Year to go snowboarding.
My top tips for other Brides Up North would be that I wish we had recorded the speeches, I can only remember a tiny bit of my dad’s and I wish I could hear them again.
Make the most of it all but make sure you set some parameters for the men. James and my brother and most of the rest of them had way too much to drink the night before. I wish I had organised them better but stupidly thought I could trust them not to be silly. Oh well, still a great wedding!
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Congratulations PJ & James!
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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…