Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

roses are red. a romantic wedding in manchester – rebecca & jonathan

June 3rd, 2016 | Rachel Parry

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (47)

Where do we start with today’s real wedding? Bride and groom Rebecca and Jonathan worked together on all aspects of their big day to make it as personal and ‘local’ as possible; an aim that was most certainly achieved.

We love all the little details – from the sweet stationery, to the homemade favours and ice cream dessert, not to mention the wedding party’s sophisticated get-up. Looking good guys!

With images by Hayley Baxter Photography.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (7)

rebecca says: We got engaged in my mum’s kitchen on our four year anniversary. To put it into context, we were saving for our first house so we both moved back in with our parents to save money for a mortgage. As a result we thought we’d just have a meal in for our anniversary but it ended up being much more than just a meal.

Jon got the jewellery store, which was Geralds based in Knutsford, to wrap the ring up in a big box with a box of chocolates so that I wouldn’t suspect anything, which worked! I even shook the box trying to guess what it was. After washing up Jon said it was time for presents so I opened up the big box to find a box of chocolates and a small jewellery box, which I thought were earrings. I was so surprised that I couldn’t stop laughing, all whilst Jon was on one knee waiting for a response. I obviously said yes and we cracked open some champagne whilst I called all our friends and family to tell them the good news. It was the perfect proposal as it was a complete surprise, and just proved how well Jon knew me.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (11)

We set the date for 5th September 2015 because we bought our house in 2013 so we needed plenty of time to save for the wedding. I also love the number 5 and wanted it to be in September as the weather is usually good (which it was).

We got married at St Vincent de Paul Church in Altrincham, where I had my first holy communion and my confirmation so it is filled with lots of happy memories. As a couple we go there every year on Christmas Eve so it was great to get the opportunity to marry there. Our reception was held at Manchester Town Hall.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (25) - Copy

We didn’t really have a theme but we are both very Manchester proud and wanted our wedding to be really personal so we picked everything for the wedding together that we love. The two wedding buses chosen to take guests from the church to the reception, used to do routes in Kent and a route in Yorkshire where our parents are from. The cocktails on arrival were ‘his’ and ‘hers’ made from Bermudian rum that my dad and his wife brought over for us as I was born in Bermuda and my dad currently lives there. We also gave miniature versions of the rum as a keepsake to our guests. All of the food at the wedding was locally sourced including the dessert, which was provided by a local ice cream maker.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (2)

Our colour scheme was red and grey. Jon supports Manchester United so red was a must and I love red nails, lipstick and roses so it worked well. That said, I thought red might be a bit too bright for the bridesmaid dresses so we chose a grey that complemented all the bridesmaids – they looked stunning!

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (4)

I wore a dress from Agape Bridal Boutique, an amazing store in Altrincham. As soon as I put it on I knew it was the one. I just couldn’t get the dress out of my head. My mum kindly got her wedding dress valued and gave me the same amount to contribute towards my dress. We even had a piece of her lace stitched inside mine with a blue ribbon so my dress was my something old, new and blue. My something borrowed was a bracelet from one of my bridesmaids.

Jon wore an incredible suit made for him by Whitfield & Ward, who are based in Wilmslow. It had a Prince of Wales check with a subtle red stripe. The groomsmen had the same waistcoat with a navy suit and the same pocket square and handkerchief but in reverse colours. They all looked very handsome.

The bridesmaid dresses were from House of Fraser, which I spotted online.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (10)

I would recommend all the lovely professionals who helped to make me, my mum an bridesmaids look beautiful for the big day. These included District Hair & Beauty, who painted all of our nails in matching ‘wild fire’ red the day before the wedding. At 7am the following morning Gemma Sheldon, a local hair dresser, came over to start our hair as she had eight of us to do in total. She did a fantastic job and really got involved in the excitement. Finally Jo Moore Makeup and her assistant helped to do all of our makeup which made the morning really relaxing. At midday, before we headed off to the church, we had stone baked pizzas delivered by Pix Pizza, who opened up early to make us the pizzas, and meant that we could feed our hair and makeup team, as well as Hayley our photographer.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (12)

For our wedding transport we hired a vintage pearl white Bentley Mark VI (early 1950s) from Tony at Broadoak of Manchester. The car took me and my dad to the church, and then Jon and I from church to Manchester Town Hall. We hired the two vintage black and ivory double deckers from The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company to transport our guests. After the ceremony the groomsmen ran off to the vintage buses to pour prosecco ready for the guests to drink on the journey.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (13)

Our photographer was Hayley Baxter who was, and is, amazing! We’d love to use her again for future family shots so we can capture moments as that is exactly what Hayley does, she captures moments in time. Everyone we have shown the images to have been amazed and even referred to her as a ninja as they barely saw her! We would definitely recommend her.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (15)

As we were trying to keep the wedding local we went to a florist near where we live called Fletcher and Foley, and worked closely with them to select the right flowers for our wedding. We wanted the roses to be quite similar to my nails, which were shellac so we gave the colour to the florist and asked to see examples of roses that would be similar. I initially found an image of quite a rugged bouquet of roses of all different sizes tied with twine. I think roses are perfect already so I didn’t want a symmetrical bouquet where they all looked the same; I wanted a bouquet that looked like it had been freshly picked by hand. As the bridesmaid dresses were grey, we also wanted to incorporate some foliage so we added brunia to the Naomi roses. The bridesmaids had a posy of dusty miller, olive, brunia bobbles and red spray roses, while the boys’ buttonholes were olive foliage, brunia and red spray roses finished with a grey ribbon.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (17)

The day before the wedding most of the wedding party went to the venue to help set it all up. For all the stationery on the day, which was supplied by Rodo Creative, we had ‘Brenchleys established 2015’ as we had ‘Rebecca & Jonathan established 2012’ on the pre-wedding stationary. This logo was carried across the table numbers, room signage, table plan, place picture cards, etc.

We also had little agendas created that were put onto each table so everyone knew the reception timings on arrival and it gave a thank you to each of the wedding party. The agendas were decorated with illustrations of the wedding party who received an original of the illustration as well as a drinks mat and a thank you card with it on. I work with an illustrator and I supplied her with a close up shot of each of the wedding party along with images of what they would be wearing on the day so that they were as accurate as possible – everyone loved them.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (44)

That day we also had 120 Chiavari chairs and six large candelabra delivered and we set up all of the décor. The boys concentrated on the bar branding and branded directional signage whilst the ladies set the tables. The table plan was made of photos of the guests instead of names so it was more personal and a bit more fun to spot yourself. The same pictures were then attached to a glass on each table place with a red heart clip. Every other table centre was either a vintage vase on a mirrored plate with tea lights waiting for the bridesmaids’ bouquet or giant silver candelabra. We filled the candelabra with candles and sprinkled the tables with ‘The Brenchleys est. 215’ confetti.

On each place mat we laid a miniature favour bottle of rum for adults and for children we put out gift boxes for entertainment.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (20)

We also assigned a room for guests to be able to ‘freshen up’ which had a basket filled with deodorant, hairspray, grips, chewing gum etc. One of the bridesmaids decorated this room with bunting from my hen do which she had sewn with Mr & Mrs Brenchley and the venue organised two full length vintage silver mirrors that matched the wedding theme. Under the table in the ‘freshen up’ room we left mini silver heart sparklers and giant silver sparklers in white heart decorated containers along with a couple of the same containers filled with lighters for the sparklers shot when the evening guests turned up.

On the top table we had individual vases for singular red roses along the table and my bouquet in the middle. We also hung a ceramic Mr & Mrs in the centre of the table and sprinkled the table with red felt hearts.

We decorated a table for the guest book and gifts, which was positioned near where the photo booth was to be set up. The same red felt hearts were sprinkled on the table along with the personalised confetti. My sister bought us a box from America (where she lived) for guests to put their cards in, as I fell in love with it online. On the outside it showed four images around the edges and one on the top, which were all taken from our engagement shoot that was shot at Manchester Town Hall.

On arrival guests walked up a huge staircase which the wedding party decorated with more bunting from the hen do and red pompoms. On the wedding day itself, a couple of my colleagues went in to complete the final touches. They put fresh rose petals that matched our bouquets down the stairs and lit the candles that lined the stairs in hurricane vases.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (21)

The wedding cake was not a big priority for us with regards to budget and we were lucky that when we got engaged, one of our friends made and decorated an engagement cake that looked as good as a wedding cake. So when it came to the wedding she kindly offered to help us out. We supplied her with three tiers from Marks & Spencer and she decorated it beautifully in keeping with the theme.

Jon and I are big foodies (and drinkies) so this was an important element of the wedding to us. The canapés, wedding breakfast main course and evening buffet were supplied by Manchester Town Hall, which was amazing and exactly what we asked for. I just said to the venue that my biggest frustration at weddings and large scale events is when the food is not up to scratch. Especially as it is a large chunk of the budget – I want to love it. Not only did we love the food but our guests loved it too.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (37)

Canapés were supplied during the drinks reception: five each in total to help soak up the alcohol. Mini fish and chips, Lancashire beef hamburger sliders (double portion), bite-sized Yorkshire pudding with pulled beef and for vegetarians, Glamorgan sausage topped with pea purée. For the main, we had braised daub of beef for the majority of guests, and pan-fried fillet of sea bass or roasted butternut squash risotto for vegetarians.

For dessert we hired a local ice cream supplier Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, who served gin and plum sorbet, blackberry, rosemary & sage sorbet, Chorlton Crack (a.k.a. salted caramel and peanut butter), pure origins chocolate and Ndali vanilla ice cream. They served it all from a bike in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour while our band set up in the Great Hall.

For the evening buffet, the venue supplied us with a bespoke menu, which was inspired by a mezze selection of cheese and meats, as they are our favourite.

The drinks reception cocktails were probably the most fun as we made them with my dad and his wife the Monday before the wedding so they had enough time to brew. My dad and his wife live in Bermuda and Jon and I have been over there a couple of times together and he loves the rum just as much as I do so it seemed like the perfect drink. Jon loves a ‘Dark & Stormy’ (rum and ginger beer) whereas I love a ‘Swizzle’ (rum punch that tastes of sunshine) so that’s what we served!

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (23)

For the wedding entertainment, we chose Rockaoke, as Jon loves karaoke. They are a great performance band who I’ve worked a lot with over the years at work and knew when I first saw them in 2013 that they were perfect for our day. We wanted a fun band and everyone loves to sing so we thought it would be a perfect fit and they were. On our invites we asked guests to tell us what their chosen song would be to sing which gave them a little hint for the day and allowed us to check that the songs were on the play list. We were really lucky that the band agreed to learn Jon’s personal favourite ‘War’ as it wasn’t part of their usual repertoire, but they learnt it especially and it was amazing. Guests of all ages had a fabulous time watching; singing and dancing – it was spot on for our day.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (35)

Instead of a traditional guest book which usually gets lost in a corner, we really wanted to get pictures of every guest so we hired a photo booth (run by one of Jon’s colleagues) for the reception too. Two people manned the booth so that one person helped guests get in the booth and use the machine whilst the other stuck one copy of the picture into our book and got our guests to sign it. It was great because all of our guests got a copy of their pic and so did we as a lasting memory.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (38)

Following our wedding we would certainly recommend Manchester Town Hall as a venue as it is a beautiful location, but there are some restrictions, as the council owns it, not the company running the event space. It’s a working town hall so as long as you are prepared for some stakeholder politics then go for it!

Looking back I genuinely think it was the best day of our lives. We loved every minute, even getting up at 4.30am because I was so excited. The service on the day was fabulous and all our guests remarked at how personal and genuine they felt the staff were. I couldn’t have asked for more and I am so glad that we planned the best day of our life together. It felt like a real partnership as there wasn’t one part of the day that we didn’t create together. It was our perfect day and we are so lucky we got to spend it with all of the people we love.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (43)

The day after the wedding, Oxford Road Café was our fantastic wedding brunch. They sorted out the venue and made their usual amazing full English breakfast for all of our guests to enjoy and reminisce about the night before. It was great to have the opportunity to see everyone one last time before we headed off for our honeymoon to Italy.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (46)

We love Italy so much that we couldn’t convince ourselves to go anywhere else. To wind down after the wedding we spent the first week in a spa in Sardinia at Hotel Capo D’orso, and it really did feel like five stars! We then flew to Milan and spent the next couple of weeks staying in Milan, Parma, Bologna, Florence, Sienna and finally Pisa, before heading straight home, thoroughly relaxed and half-a-stone heavier.

A Romantic Wedding at Manchester Town Hall (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (45)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to have a budget from the beginning and decide what your priorities are for that budget to make sure you’re both on the same page. Oh and be prepared to negotiate. Most of all just remember that it is your day as a couple and that all the people attending are there to share it with you so make sure it is the best day of your life! The day really does fly by and a good bit of advice from a few other married friends was to make sure you find time to sit back and take it all in and enjoy what’s happening around you.

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about the author

Rachel Parry
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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