Charlotte Balbier

understated elegance. sophia tolli for a vintage wedding at whitworth hall – paul & marie

October 13th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Natural Wedding in the North East (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (34)

We just love the simplicity of today’s real wedding.

It’s not always about the most extravagant decor, the biggest cake or the most flamboyant flowers (though we do adore details) but simply about the love the bride and groom have for one another.

Paul and Marie’s big day was brimming with elegance but without being OTT thanks to a stunning choice of venue, attractive attire and a pretty colour palette.

We are also totally crushing on all the natural outdoor shots, especially the ones with the deer! Super classy!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Paul Liddement Wedding Stories.

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paul says: I proposed to Marie on her birthday while we were staying in a cottage in the Lake District. I gave her a bunch of silly presents and a wax jacket that she really wanted and I’d put an envelope inside the pocket containing a card asking her to marry me. When she opened it the envelope fell out and she didn’t notice it so I had to grab the card quickly and hand it to her once she’d sat down again. She opened the card and I got on one knee.

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Our wedding was on 20th June, 2015. We booked this date as it seemed far enough away at time of booking to be able to get everything done and we thought the weather should be ok at this time of year.

Both our ceremony and reception were held at Whitworth Hall, Spennymoor. We chose the venue for its location, grounds and layout. Also due to the feeling we got when we visited it.

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We didn’t have a cast iron ‘theme’ but we were working from the vintage end of things, not in a way which restricted us, but that merely gave the appearance of wedding continuity. Examples of this could be seen in our table names and seating plan as they used the same text fonts and floral illustrations as on all of our other stationery, but to add a little personal touch we named the tables after locations from the Lord of the Ring books, which we love. We also went for a vintage mute colour scheme. So overall, vintage meets middle earth subtly.

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Marie wore the Leigh dress designed by Sophia Tolli, which she bought from Elizabeth George in Middlesbrough. On the wedding day her hair was done by her sister Stacy and her makeup was done by her sister Dawn. Marie looked beautiful so I think it would be fair to say we would recommend her sisters.

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I wore a conventionally cut grey suit with a white shirt and silver tie. These were hired from Troughear Suit Hire, Durham. The night before the wedding I had a hot towel shave at Guappo Hair Design in Shotton. It was fantastic and helped to relax me – I’d definitely recommend this to other grooms.

The bridesmaids’ dresses were all from Debenhams.

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As a photographer myself, I was very picky as to who I would pick to capture our day. After some time researching, we chose Paul Liddement because of his style and the obvious quality of his work but mostly because of his approach and the fact that we felt comfortable with him.

On the wedding day Paul was relaxed, focused and very well prepared. He managed to take lots of photographs that we were completely unaware of and seemed very good at catching that moment when you are more yourself. He also fitted in with the guests and spent time getting them at ease with him. We were blown away by our wedding images when we received them. We had high expectations based on the quality of our engagement shoot but the wedding photos far exceeded our expectations and managed to put an extra shine on an already magical day.

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Marie arrived at Whitworth Hall buy classic car, along with her maid of honour and bridesmaids who travelled in a separate car, both of which were hired form Classic Wedding Cars, Durham.

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We designed and made all of the wedding stationery ourselves. A time consuming process as we wanted to get it just right and put a lot of thought into it, but it was the right thing to do as we ended up with exactly what we wanted and it made the wedding more personal. We are immensely proud of the results.

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In terms of flowers, Marie and her bridesmaids had vintage style bouquets and we had corsages for the mothers, female grandparents and the guests who did readings. The groom, best man, ushers, fathers, grandfather and all the male partners of the bridal party then had matching button holes. All were supplied by Elvet Flowers, Durham.

For decoration, we had another small arrangement of flowers on the top table also supplied by Elvet Flowers, Durham. We also had a miniature handmade birdcage made from pages of a book, which was positioned in the middle of the top table. This was made by a friend of ours, Gillian.

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All the other tables at the reception had a vintage bird cage on them, which were put together by Marie and her sister Dawn (although myself and my brother-in-law Jona did put one together each and I think these were the best!) We purchased the materials from a variety of sources including Country Baskets, Home Bargains and eBay.

We handmade all of our favours; historically accurate 13th Century medieval coins for the men and angel charms for the ladies.

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Our wedding cake was a three tiered spice cake. It had a very subtle vintage rose colour icing, with a lace like pattern piped down one side (as if a doily had been draped down on side). There was also an arrangement of icing sugar flowers on the third tier. The cake was made locally by a lady called Vicky who makes them more as a hobby than a business.

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As a special treat we also had a sweetie table, which we put together ourselves. The sweets were bought at B&M and Home Bargains, which is where we also got the giant martini/wine glasses and other glass bowls from that held the sweets.

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To fill the lull period after the meal (while the venue staff rearranged the room for the evening do) we arranged for the medieval re-enactment group The Dawn of Chivalry, of which I’m a member, to put on a combat display for our guests in the venue’s grounds. We chose this as it was something a bit different & again made the wedding more personal to us. For the evening do we had the venue supplied disco, during which my brother-in-law managed to take on a guest DJ spot much to everyone’s (apart from the actual DJ’s) amusement.

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Following our wedding we would definitely recommend Whitworth Hall to others. The venue was brilliant, they were very accommodating and great on the day! The venue has plenty of space for people to mill around and relax and it is possible to find a quiet corner if you need some space providing you are not either the bride or groom, in which case you won’t have time to catch your thoughts! It lends itself very well to weddings as the ceremony room is very tasteful and has plenty of scope for some lovely photo locations without ever having to go too far from your guests.

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Looking back, my favourite part of the day was the moment I first saw my wife-to-be in her dress. I fell in love all over again and then couldn’t see anyone but her.

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We have not yet been on our honeymoon yet as we are planning to go to New Zealand (see Lord of the Rings sneaking in again) and it is currently winter there.

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Our top tip for other Brides (and grooms) Up North would be to set a realistic budget then be honest with yourself and really set an actually realistic budget. Look at what you can actually afford and what you really feel is absolutely important. This will help you strip away a lot of the gimmicky, frivolous I wants.

We paid for the majority of the wedding ourselves by saving up and doing over time at work, but we also had some very generous gifts from family members. All in all it’s a party, so look at it as such – people are there for you and not what is on the tables or festooned around the room.

the big picture

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about the author

Julia Braime
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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