October 22nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s real wedding comes with a spectacular surprise engagement that was so well thought out and executed that groom Dave deserves some sort of medal. I’ll let bride Helen explain all the details of the engagement and the wedding (which included another very sweet surprise) in her own words, but all I will say ladies is – prepare to be impressed!
With images by Suzy Wimbourne Photography.
helen says: We got engaged in August 2014 at home. Unbeknown to me Dave had risen at 6am to create something he’d been planning for a while. When I woke up he wasn’t in bed but I noticed a little note on his pillow, which asked me to get dressed, go outside the bedroom door and to follow whatever I saw out there.
As I went outside the room I could see the beginning of a photo timeline. It started right outside the door and went off downstairs. Right at the start of the line was a red rose with a note saying ‘take me with you’. From the very first photo of us together, to our first time at Glastonbury and our first year anniversary, the photos went on and on. When I reached the TV in the lounge there was a little note saying ‘turn me and the DVD player on and press play’, which I did, only to find Dave on the television with his ukulele in hand. He’d recorded a little message and himself playing a song he’d written for me and then told me to carry on along the string line!
When the timeline finished, I was directed into the conservatory. Inside Dave had set up a table ready for breakfast with flowers, candles, pancakes and a fresh fruit smoothie. As Dave came back from the kitchen he looked a bit nervous and then proceeded to get down onto one knee and asked me to marry him!
We set the date for 25th June 2015 as we’d always wanted a summer wedding when there was the best chance of it being sunny.
We got married at Colshaw Hall in Over Peover, near Knutsford. It’s such a beautiful venue in an equally beautiful setting. It’s in the middle of the countryside on a gorgeous estate. There’s also a wooden ‘mock chapel’ where we had the civil ceremony, which was exactly what we were looking for as we had decided that we didn’t want to get married in a church. It was great because you could hire both the hall itself and there were some cottages too where our closest family and friends could stay on site. They also served breakfast the next morning for everyone who stayed on site and it was delicious!
The theme of the wedding was shabby chic, natural, and I wanted to use hessian. The colour scheme I chose was purple/mauve.
My dress was from a local shop in Poynton, called Timeless Bride. It was simple and elegant. An A-line gown with a lace top, satin bow around the waist at the back and plain satin skirt. Buttons went all the way down the back of the dress. I also wore a single tier veil with a little bit of sparkle! I tried on all different styles of dress but in the end I always knew this shape would suit me best. I absolutely loved my dress!
With it being a summer wedding Dave went for a light grey morning suit. We both wanted Dave to have tails but not a top hat and as it turned out the day was really hot and so this was good choice.
He wore an ivory cravat with the suit, all of which we hired from Whitfield & Ward in Wilmslow. The groomsmen wore the same suit as Dave but had a mauve colour cravat.
The bridesmaids wore a mauve coloured dress from a shop called YS Dress in Stockport. The dresses were simple and classic. They were floor length, strapless designs with a sweetheart neckline in a lovely floaty chiffon material. I wanted something that would suit all my bridesmaids and that they would be comfortable in.
We chose Suzy Wimbourne Photography to capture our day. It was a joy to have Suzy and Alex there on the day and we would absolutely recommend them to everyone! Not only did they take fantastic photographs throughout the day but they are also two of the nicest people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, it pretty much felt like having two more friends with us on our wedding day!
We’ve nicknamed them ‘photography ninjas’ as we knew they were always there, poised to capture our day but we never felt that they were imposing at all and they just blended in perfectly. We didn’t worry about the photographs at all throughout the day as we trusted them completely and knew that they would capture it in exactly the style we wanted – natural and bright, and their photos really do depict the whole feeling of happiness throughout the day.
Everyone who has seen our photographs has commented on how fantastic they are and we totally agree. We really couldn’t be happier with the photos they took on the day and also in our pre wedding photoshoot a few months prior to the wedding.
My bridesmaids all carried a bundle of gypsophila. My bouquet was of similar size but contained memory lane roses, white lady spray roses, astrantia, dried lavender, ivory astilbe, ivory wax flower, a few clusters of gypsophila and a touch of grey stachys. The bouquets were all bound in hessian. Sian at The Didsbury Flower Lounge was the fantastic florist for our wedding. She was absolutely brilliant.
Floral decorations included a long, low arrangement on the registrar table, which was later moved to the top table for the reception. For our reception table centre pieces we had cylindrical glass vases with twigs inside, coming up through the design with delphiniums and gypsophila clusters sat within the twigs inside the vase and memory lane petals were in the base. Each vase had a loose collar of flowers to complement the bouquets. The bridesmaids’ gypsophila bouquets were also put into vases on the top table. The flowers in the wedding breakfast room looked absolutely fantastic, we were over the moon with how they turned out.
For our favours we decided to make a donation to a local hospice, St. Ann’s. One of my bridesmaids lost her dad to cancer a few years ago and he spent some time at St. Ann’s in his last few weeks, and so we wanted to spend the money on something that was close to our hearts.
We were very lucky to have our cake made as a wedding gift by my sister’s fiancé’s mum. It was absolutely spot on! It had four tiers – two of which were Madeira cakes, one was lemon and the top tier was a fruit cake, which we wanted to use in line with the age old tradition and save it for either our 1st year anniversary or to celebrate the birth of our first child. The cake tiers alternated between a smooth, white finish and ones with scattered flowers on. On top of the cake we had two little fabric ‘bride and groom’ birds which I had made with my own hands.
With having the wedding at Colshaw Hall we had to use their preferred caterer (Barretts Events Caterers), however, this was certainly not a bad thing as the food we had was quite simply the best wedding food we have ever had! We have to give a special mention of the service they provided too – it really was second to none.
When it came to entertainment, we had The Didsbury String Quartet to play during the drinks reception and a live band called The Live Wires, for the evening. Dave was quite adamant about having a string quartet, partly due to the fact that he loves stringed instruments and partly because he was planning on a little surprise involving them. He’d always wanted to play a song with a string quartet so when he finally convinced me to hire the string quartet he went about writing a song and asking them to accompany him on it.
So after we’d had all our photos taken Dave got his ushers to gather everyone around where the string quartet were playing and then he appeared with his guitar. He started playing on his own and then the strings came in and it was amazing! I couldn’t believe it! When they finished, all of our guests went crazy.
Our evening band, The Live Wires, were fantastic too. They got everyone involved and played such an amazing set of songs that got everyone going! We danced until we were allowed to!
Both Dave and I really wanted the day to be a memorable one for everyone (including ourselves) and so we each made the effort to do something special. I really wanted to put my own mark on the day and so really got stuck in and made quite a few little decorative bits and pieces, including decorative jam jars for the tables and walls outside, the table plan, little flags in buckets for the table numbers, luggage tags to save the ceremony chairs for the bride and groom’s family, and also the bride and groom birds for the cake.
We both also wanted to surprise everyone on the night and do a good first dance so we had a good few lessons with a dance teacher who choreographed a dance for us to my chosen song, Save the Last Dance by Michael Buble! It went down a storm and we were so pleased to get through it fairly unscathed.
We would 100 per cent recommend Colshaw Hall to other couples. There were just so many things about the venue that we fell in love with. From the fantastic wooden ceremony hall called ‘The Stables’, to the walled garden and the accommodation in the main hall and in the cottages. From the moment we first went round to look at Colshaw Hall the staff were absolutely fantastic. The attention to detail, the willingness to get involved and all carried out with such friendly professionalism. Shelly oversaw our day and she was an absolute star.
Dave and I loved the whole wedding day, but we’d have to say the happiest part of it was the ceremony. The suspense of seeing each other, feeling totally overwhelmed when we finally did and then making the promises to each other in front of everyone felt so amazing and, this might sound cheesy, but enlightening too. It was something we’ll never do or feel again.
We couldn’t have a hymn as the ceremony wasn’t taking place in a church so instead we had everyone sing a ‘congregational song’ – Frank Sinatra’s You Make Me Feel So Young. We’d printed the words out for everyone and downloaded the karaoke music track and everyone really got into it!
We also had my sister and a close friend sing a couple of songs whilst we were signing the register, as well as three readings by my grandma, Dave’s dad and my cousin.
Straight after the wedding we had a minimoon down in Cornwall in St Ives. We were blessed with great weather, just as we were on the day of the wedding, and we had a lovely relaxing few days reminiscing about the wedding day wishing we could go back and do it all again! We are planning on going to Africa for a safari next year for our main honeymoon in the Serengeti in Tanzania. Then hopefully onto an island in the Indian Ocean to get some relaxation time in (cash depending!)
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to relax on the day and just go with the flow. Don’t worry about the running of the day; you’ve got all the staff around to make sure it all goes to plan, so just enjoy it! Also, try and enjoy the food during the wedding breakfast! Dave and I didn’t eat much as we were so excited (and also because Dave was nervous about his speech), but afterwards we wish we’d savoured the gorgeous food more!
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Rachel joined the Brides Up North editorial team as Features Editor in February 2015. Rachel draws on her news reporting background, experience in features, bridal & lifestyle editing 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...
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