November 10th, 2015 | Julia Braime
This afternoon we’re leaving the UK behind to relive Ashton and Mark’s dreamy wedding in Siena, Italy.
Brimming with romance, we can see why this bride and groom chose to leave their Yorkshire roots behind in favour of sunnier climes with stunning backdrops galore! Following their traditional church ceremony, Ashton and Mark then enjoyed a stunning outdoor reception complete with Italian food and drink. Sounds favoloso to us!
Ciao for now.
With images by Black Mill Photography.
ashton says: Mark popped the question on the 9th July 2013, while we were on a brilliant holiday Croatia. Mark had initially planned to ask me to marry him on a walk up a ‘hill’ with a lovely view as a back drop. The ‘hill’ was actually a mountain, and I got a little bit grumpy so he decided it wasn’t the right time or place! That evening, after a lovely dinner, he got down on one knee in a secluded area of the old town in Split and I obviously said yes, whilst tears of happiness were streaming down my face. The ring was amazing, an art deco halo style, which Mark had got custom made for me in Hattton Garden, London. I was so excited to tell all my family and friends I rang up a £120 phone bill! Oops!
Our wedding date was the 31st July 2015, there was no real relevance of the date other than it was between both our birthdays and a date that Mark was likely to remember! The last day of July!
We are from Bradford in West Yorkshire but got married in Siena, Italy. We married in a Roman Catholic church, Certosa Di Pontignano, and then had our reception back at Villa Catignano where family and friends stayed for the wedding week. We both love travelling and always wanted to marry abroad. Italy was perfect; great food, wine, scenery and affordable so that friends and family could join us on our special day.
There was no theme as such; we wanted the setting, the food and the wine to be what people remembered. There was a hint of vintage style with my dress and headpiece but not a strong theme.
Our colour scheme was navy blue and white, very classic. Against the Tuscan sun we thought the navy blue would really stand out.
I wore a vintage looking Essense of Australia white lace wedding dress with oyster under slip. It really suited the venue and was a very romantic style. It was also really light so could easily be worn in the heat! My dress was from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden.
I work for a very creative company and a good friend Emma Issac, of Emma Isaac’s Bespoke Hair Accessories, designed and made me the most exquisite hair piece for me. It was very vintage looking and was made up of broaches and jewellery, which included pieces which belonged to my late nana. It felt amazing to have a piece of her with me on our special day.
Mark wore grey trousers and waistcoat with a navy blue tie. His shoes and belt were a contrasting tan. The groom and groomsmen had quirky superhero socks and cufflinks in a nod to Mark’s geeky side! We bought the suits from Suit Direct.
I had the two most beautiful bridesmaids, my sister Georgina and cousin Sarah. I wanted them to be comfortable in the heat and knew they would look great in everything. Their dresses were a bargain from TK Maxx, navy blue maxi dresses. There is a funny story here though! On the morning of the wedding, my sister, whilst devastated, had to break the news to me that she had in fact picked up the wrong dress and hadn’t brought her bridesmaid dress to Italy! She had picked up another blue maxi. I managed to console her and we decided we were ‘meant’ to have our bridesmaids in different shades of blue. The flower girls wore cute white lace dresses with navy blue bow dresses from Etsy. The groomsmen and dads wore the same as Mark and all looked very smart. Our page boy wore trousers and waistcoat from Monsoon and wore matching tan brogues to match the groom.
Wanting to be typically Italian, our wedding car was a classic white Fiat 500! Only after making the booking we realised that my dad wouldn’t fit in the car! So my sister and maid of honour Georgina, drove me to the church. Having never driven abroad before, it was certainly an experience!
I’m very privileged to have Jonathan Paine, from Black Mill Photography, as my brother-in-law and so he captured our wedding day for us. I couldn’t recommend him enough! He has a fantastic documentary style and makes you feel so comfortable throughout the whole day. He is so inconspicuous; you wouldn’t even know he was there! When Jonny showed us our final edit, we were both in tears. He really captured the emotion of the day and the beautiful setting.
We also had videographers from Gattotigre, who offer Italian and destination wedding videography.
I carried a loose bouquet of white flowers laced with Tuscan greens, which included rosemary and sage, which gave off a lovely scent throughout the day. The flowers were provided by Nadia at Stiatti Fiori. Having never met Nadia, she instantly put me at ease and sent lots of inspiration via email. I was blown away by the final result.
Nadia also supplied the table flowers. These were blue and white flowers with Tuscan greens, arranged in wooden wine boxes. Everyone complimented the centre pieces!
Again, keeping with Italian tradition, our favours were Italian confetti (sugar coated almonds). We printed little tags for the bags which read: “Five sugared almonds for each guest to eat, to remind us that life is both bitter and sweet. Five wishes for the new husband and wife: health, wealth, happiness, children and long life.”
My sister Georgina is a fantastic cake decorator and so I wouldn’t have wanted an iced wedding cake supplied by anyone else! Unfortunately due to the logistics of travelling to Italy and the heat, Georgina couldn’t make our cake so instead we went with a traditional Italian wedding cake, Millefoglie style, made fresh by our caterer.
Our caterer was the amazing Katia, from Terra di Siena. She provided a welcome barbecue and pizza party the night before the wedding. On the wedding day itself we had an aperitif in the Italian garden of the villa; the Prosecco was flowing and our guests tucked in to charcuterie, cheese, fried zucchini and Italian canapés. Our wedding breakfast comprised of ‘antipasti’ of pear and walnut salad, ‘primo’ of a sage butter ravioli and ‘secondi’ was Tuscan fillet steak. We had a dessert table with crepes in the evening. Being in Tuscany and being wine lovers the wine on our wedding day was very important to us! We had a beautiful red Chianti Classico and a white Vernaccia di san Gimignano.
To provide entertainment during our religious ceremony, we had a harpist and violinist to play and a Tenor sang hymn and traditional Italian songs. One of my best friends Amy Greenwood, accompanied the Tenor singing ‘The Prayer’ during the signing of the register; this was a very special moment! Everyone had a tear in their eye.
Later on, we then had a seven piece band to play jazz though the aperitif and for the reception; Motown, classics and modern songs, it was a great mix.
Following our wedding we cannot recommend Villa Catignano enough! It was the most magical wedding week imaginable. Villa Catignano is located in the Tuscan hills a short drive from Siena. Irene and Sofia, who work at the Villa, are so kind and helpful; they assisted before the wedding, replying to emails really quickly and they were really personable, kind and friendly throughout our whole stay.
We had 94 guests stay over the course of one week all arriving at different times and days. Even when things got a little fraught when large numbers of guests arrived at once, Irene and Sofia continued to smile and be more than helpful. The villa is self-catering. This was perfect for us and our guests as you can buy in all your breakfasts and lunches and alcohol, and don’t have to pay restaurant prices. The wedding suite is amazing; high ceilings, three huge rooms and the most beautiful ornate wall paintings. All of our guest were more than satisfied with their accommodation, and even in the July heat, managed to remain relatively cool. The grounds of the villa are breath-taking and very well kept. There are so many different areas in the grounds where you can host dinners and barbecues.
Looking back I’d say I have three favourite moments from the wedding day. Firstly, the emotion Mark expressed in his speech. He spoke such beautiful words. Then Amy singing The Prayer in church, we sat back and listened, taking in the moment, it was very special. Finally, during dinner outside, the sun was setting and swallow birds were flying around above! We were on the top table and we sat back and watched all our guests having a great time. It was surreal, something from a movie!
We haven’t been on our honeymoon yet! We travel to Australia in December for Christmas and New Year. We are stopping in Singapore on the way back for four nights to end the trip of a lifetime.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – don’t stress yourself out about the small details – no one cares if all your stationary has rounded edges even if it took you hours to do! Also, make sure you take time out of your day to sit back and take it all in; we loved seeing everyone’s smiling faces!
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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…
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