December 15th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Wendy and Steve chose beautiful Bowcliffe Hall near Wetherby for their pretty green wedding that fused both traditional and travel inspired touches… even bringing in some faux snow for an impromptu snowball fight!
With images by Tom at Razzleberry Photography.
steve says: Wendy is a keen snowboarder and so I proposed in the snow. I’d designed her ring to include her birthstone which is in her favourite colour – green – and so I’d spent a little while in the jewellers getting it ready. Once that was sorted I just had to wait for the snow to fall!
I wanted a day that showed everyone who we are – something that was fun but didn’t take itself too seriously. We wanted an informal feel but had nods to the traditional elements.
wendy says: I wanted the wedding to be fun and to be personal to us. We wanted to be a little bit different and to reflect our personalities. We chose to have a map and travel theme as we love adventure.
When we were looking for a venue, we wanted something different and every place we visited seemed to have pre-set ideas and arrangements of what a wedding should look like. Bowcliffe Hall is totally unique – the Blackburn Wing instantly captured our imagination and the Hall, Drivers Club and Gardens created a perfect package.
As we left Bowcliffe the first time, we were stunned into silence – we knew we’d struggle to find anywhere comparable. The Blackburn Wing made a magical venue, being in amongst the trees and with a stunning view for the meal and then the lighting effects for the evening. Bowcliffe also had a gorgeous 12-seater chapel (with its own romantic back-story) that allowed us to have a blessing with immediate family after the service.
The staff at Bowcliffe were incredibly warm, friendly and encouraged us to have what we wanted and to make the most of the venue. We really did have the freedom to do whatever we wanted – even when we brought in some fresh snow for an impromptu snowball target practice- nothing was a problem. They were willing to accommodate any request or idea with enthusiasm and strove for perfection throughout.
Bowcliffe itself and particularly the Wing are so spectacular that we didn’t need to add anything really- we just included some touches to put our own stamp on it.
In the ceremony room, I arranged for a surprise message (“You are my greatest adventure” written over a map background) to greet Steve at the end of the aisle. Steve loved it!
My Mum has made a lot of wedding dresses over the years so it was an exciting prospect for us to design it and for her to make it. I drew a sketch of an idea and she recognised an element of the bodice in a dress she’d made in the 70’s and we had both worn in the past. From this we created a slim fitting dress in a vintage style.
I had four bridesmaids- two big and two little! The grown-up bridesmaids wore a vibrant green multi-way dress chosen so that they could wrap it in a way in which they felt comfortable and reflected their style. We had them made to measure at The Bridal Emporium in Leeds. My 6 and 3 year old nieces wore a simple white leotard with a lighter green floor length tulle skirt made by Auntie Valerie (who also designed matching outfits for the teddy bears we gave them later in the day).
We chose simple floral arrangements with a green, purple and cream theme informally placed in jars on a mirror draped with ivy on the tables. Clusters of flowers were added to the end of rows of chairs in the ceremony room.
The main feature flowers were green Spider chrysanthemums and cream roses, chosen because Steve had bought me these in a bouquet immediately after our engagement as he knew I’d love the colours.
Close family friends, Pat and Kathleen, arranged all of the flowers the day before the wedding, creating a personal and subtle look.
The bouquets were not in the slightest bit traditional. The adult bridesmaids posies and all of the buttonholes were created with map paper flower craft from Paper Petals & Pearls. Rather than flowers, the little bridesmaids carried wooden planes with a map banner saying “Here she comes…” which they flew and twirled down the aisle.
The bridal bouquet wasn’t traditional either- I made it from buttons, brooches and other jewellery – many were memorable pieces, both my own and donated by family and friends. They were all wired and placed in a vintage style holder. Many people helped to make parts of it in the run-up to the wedding making it particularly special and symbolic.
We wanted informal photos that documented our special day. We arranged to meet with Tom from Razzleberry Photography at Bowcliffe and walked around with him and talked about our ideas. We didn’t want traditional, formulaic shots but a natural capturing of the moments as the happened. We liked Tom’s style, he was professional and blended into the background but without being bossy he got photos of lots of natural smiling.
We used a smartphone app called Wedpics to get our friends and families take on the day. It was also really nice to see what our guests thought and get another perspective on our day. (The app is essentially a private ‘cloud’ where photos, videos and details can be uploaded and made available to us and others who’d downloaded it.)
We got married in the Bowcliffe Room at the Bowcliffe Hall, which looked out over the Blackburn Wing and gardens. We chose to have a celebrant – Georgina Pugh – conduct a laid-back service. Georgina had spent some time talking to us beforehand and created a very personal and beautiful ceremony that told our story and our hopes for the future.
I walked down the aisle with my father, Brian, to ‘Green Lights’ by Aloe Blacc because it captured the excitement of the day. We held hands rather than linking arms as that felt more appropriate. He loved his moment in the spotlight and placed my hands in Steve’s.
We wanted an intimate ceremony and so we had 50 guests for the ceremony with 30 guests arriving for the evening do.
We had two readings ‘The Art of Good Marriage’ by an unknown author and a short story ‘Love Monkey’ by Edward Monkton. Steve’s brothers’ shared the reading of the poem and my oldest friend Kahla read the story. We chose the story because it is a fun and lively take on the conventional love story and we thought it summed us up really well.
The most memorable bit for both of us was that we’d written our own vows together before the wedding and had learned them so that we could say them to each other on the day.
The food was phenomenal! We’d been for a taster menu and really struggled to pick as all the options were delicious. We had a fishcake starter followed by melt-in-the-mouth shoulder of lamb with a dessert of a chocolate delice that was so good it made me want to cry. John Topham is Bowcliffe Hall’s signature head chef, and a Michelin-starred one at that, so we expected the food to be great but it was even better than that
John is also head-chef at the General Tarlton which we’d been to with my mum and dad and the food is consistently good there so we were delighted he was working with Bowcliffe.
In the evening we had bacon sandwiches and shared out the traybakes and individual cakes that my aunt (Valerie) and Steve’s mum (Jean) had made and that had been in the suitcases forming our wedding cake.
Apart from the snowball fight and a scaletrix we’d set up in the Drivers Club the majority of our entertainment was in the evening, and arranged by WDC Entertainment. Once we’d moved back to the Blackburn Wing, our DJ, saxophonist and percussionist had set up and just after we’d cut the cake we had our first dance.
We chose ‘Falling in love with you again’ by Imelda May who I’m a really big fan of. From early in our relationship (even before we’d talked about marriage) we’d agreed that it would be our first dance.
We gave the DJ a mini set-list of Motown, swing and R&B songs and he used that as his inspiration for all the songs on the night. For most of the songs the saxophone player, Atholl, and percussionist, played along live and ‘ad-libbed’ some fantastic extras. We loved it and danced all night long, finishing the evening with a display from Ferrensby Fireworks.
We are really proud of and truly loved our day and aside from a repeat/ rewind button – we wouldn’t change a thing.
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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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