Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

vintage vows. a picturesque wedding in the lake district – sabine & steven

October 18th, 2016 | Laura McDonagh

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The vintage-themed real wedding that we’re sharing today features spectacular views, a relaxed and rustic vibe and a big ol’ slice of pretty.

As well as being mesmerised by the beauty of this wedding it’s also given me a new life goal: to taste a big ol’ slice of pink lemonade cake. Yes, you read that right – pink lemonade cake! What could be more wonderful on an autumnal Tuesday morning?

Photographs by Jenny Winstone Photography.

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sabine says: We got engaged at home on Christmas Eve, 2014. Steven cooked us a three course meal and told me that I could open one of my Christmas gifts a day early. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait until we’d finished so he let me open it after the first course. As I tore off the wrapping paper I saw a ring box. He projected a picture of our little boy onto our television screen with the words “Say yes, Mummy” above it, then he got down onto one knee.

Steven has always been one for grand romantic gestures but, as this was our first family Christmas with our six-month-old son Thomas, it really was just perfect. I was quite unwell following complications after childbirth so the fact he wanted to marry me at such a difficult time really meant the world to me; I knew he would be there for us, for better and for worse.

Our wedding date was Sunday 14th August 2016. We chose this date because we love summer, we wanted a weekend and all the Saturdays that month were booked up so we decided a Sunday would work really well.

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We got married at The Inn on the Lake: a beautiful hotel with the most spectacular views overlooking Lake Ullswater, in Glenridding, in the Lake District. We love the Lake District, it’s a very special place for us and we love how we can drive an hour-and-a-half from our hectic city life in Manchester and feel a world away with breath-taking views and a more relaxed pace of life.

We were lucky that the weather allowed us to get married outside under the gazebo overlooking the lake. There was also a separate building for the evening reception with a recent and very impressive extension called The Ramblers Bar and Candleroom. We loved the fact that, although our wedding took place at one venue, there were different buildings, sections and huge, stunning grounds.

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Theme-wise, our wedding theme was a romantic summer wedding with a vintage vibe. We knew that the surroundings of our wedding venue would provide a romantic feel, plus I love anything and everything vintage and I’m incredibly girly.

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There were also touches that added a rustic, country feel, such as the flower choices incorporating gypsophila and David Austin roses, as well as jam jars filled with flowers and a chalkboard table plan and stationery.

Our wedding colour scheme was a beautiful, soft blush pink. I chose it because it is one of my very favourite colours, appeals to my feminine nature and works well with a vintage and rustic theme. It also worked beautifully with the navy blue wedding suits.

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I chose a beautiful ivory lace column dress from independent boutique Isabella Bridal, Stockport. It was only the second wedding dress shop I visited and my dress was the second gown I tried on. I just knew it was the one for me. Every dress I tried on afterwards I compared to it, so I made up my mind and sealed the deal. It was elegant and simple and I felt it had a lovely vintage feel. Frankly, I didn’t feel that something fancier or ballgown-esque was the right fit for me, or for the venue. I really loved the back, too, which was cut into a low V shape and showed off some skin, with a beautiful jewelled sash around the waist. I also loved the fact that it would be made to my exact measurements.

I also purchased a bespoke vintage headpiece and birdcage veil from Nicola who runs Silver Sixpence in her Shoe. I did change my mind and decided to opt for a traditional veil and Nicola converted the headpiece into a hair comb which I absolutely loved and felt gave me a really vintage look on the day. I loved that there was history behind the brooch too and it counted as my ‘something old.’ Nicola was lovely and really accommodating and she produces some beautiful hand-made creations.

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Steven wore a navy blue Ted Baker suit, including a Ted Baker shirt and shoes from the flagship store on New Cathedral Street in Manchester.

Our bridesmaids wore blush pink maxi dresses by designer Elise Ryan which I purchased from ASOS and the groomsmen wore navy blue three-piece suits from Slaters in Manchester. Our page boy Thomas wore a navy blue two-piece suit, white shirt and pink cravat from an online store, Roco clothing; who provided the most fabulous customer service.

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Our photography was by the talented Jenny at Jenny Winstone Photography. I would recommend her highly – she’s so down to earth and has a sparkling personality. She made everyone feel at ease, got people to be where they needed to be, partied away and then presented us with nearly 500 amazing images of the day. I actually found Jenny through a post on Brides Up North; we loved how natural her pictures were and their vintage feel.

Tie the Knot films videoed our wedding day and were fabulous; very friendly and professional and we barely realised they were there. We should receive our wedding video in the next couple of weeks and are excited to re-live so many special moments. The feature films on their website are gorgeous so I’m sure they won’t disappoint!

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My bouquet included hydrangea, roses and old English roses with a mix of textured flowers and gypsophila. They were a soft delicate mix of blush pink and creams to give a vintage look which I absolutely adored. The flowers were provided by the lovely Kerry at The Floristry in Cumbria, who I would highly recommend.

The Floristry also provided a beautiful mix of flowers and decorated the venue for our ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception. Kerry used a soft mix of cream and blush pink flowers similar to those in my bouquet and presented them in jam jars, vintage birdcages and wrapped around candelabras.

We also purchased a beautiful bespoke ‘Mr & Mrs Skarratt’ wooden sign for the top table from an online personalised gift store called Whoopsy Daizy, along with a ‘Daddy, here comes Mummy’ wooden heart for Thomas when he walked down the aisle. They were fantastic!

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For favours, we gave out retro sweets, including Drumstick lollies and Love Heart candies in personalised brown rustic favour bags – we thought sweets would always be a hit with both adults and children and the retro element reminded us of our youth!

We also created children’s activity bags for the little ones, which were age and gender appropriate and laid them out at the wedding breakfast to keep little ones entertained. Many of the parents commented that they were a godsend and thanked us!

Our four-tier birdcage wedding cake was decorated with beautiful sugar flowers to replicate those in my bouquet and for decorations. Each tier was a different flavour and included Baileys chocolate orange, Jaffa cake, classic vanilla and pink lemonade. They tasted even better than they sound! It was honestly one of the best cakes I’ve come across and several of our guests commented on it. It was made by the lovely Donna, owner of Corrs Cakes which is based in Barrow-in-Furness. Donna was a pleasure to deal with and I would highly recommend her service and supreme cake baking skills!

We chose the summer seasonal set menu for the wedding breakfast, which was a tomato and mozzarella salad to start, a raspberry sorbet as a palette cleanser, and baked breast of chicken in parma ham, rosemary roast potatoes and a selection of seasonal vegetables and potatoes as a main. We finished off with strawberry Pavlova, Chantilly cream and vanilla sauce as dessert. We thought it sounded delicious, would accommodate most tastes and was a light option for a summer wedding.

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To keep our guests entertained we went with a band based in the North West called Hipshaker. A colleague recommended them as they had played at her wedding the year before and she really rated them. They played two sets, DJ’d in between for us and played our first dance (Grow Old With You from the film The Wedding Singer) live. They even played Saturday Night by Whigfield despite it being the first time they’d ever performed it; we’d requested it as a throwback to my hen do and it filled the dance floor! I took my opportunity between sets to grab the band’s microphone and sang my heart out to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. All of our guests flocked onto the dancefloor and it really got the party going. It’s certainly a fantastic memory: getting caught in the moment and completely letting go!

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As a special touch for the wedding we wrote our own vows which added a personalised touch to the ceremony and ensured our promises to each other were from the heart. Steven’s sister and our bridesmaid Natalie also did a reading of a caption I had found on Pinterest, which summed up how much Steven had supported me and what a marriage is really all about.

We also dotted a few frames around the place with personalised prints with thank you notes to our friends and family and details of our love story, as well as having personalised marriage advice cards made by MODO Creative. In addition we had a frame with a picture of myself and my dad, who sadly passed away when I was 15, with a verse that read: “Today a bride, tomorrow a wife, forever your little girl. I know you would be here today, if heaven weren’t so far away”. His presence was very much a part of the day: he was mentioned in the speeches and everyone toasted him.

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All in all, the team at The Inn on the Lake exceeded our expectations. With unrivalled views and stunning scenery, the setting lends itself to the most incredible day. However, the staff also go to great lengths to ensure the whole day is seamless and runs like clockwork with minimal stress for the bride and groom. Our wedding coordinator George was fantastic and took charge: injecting humour into the day, handling suppliers, ensuring that the day ran as it should and that everyone had a fabulous time. It really was perfect and all of our guests fell as in love with the venue and setting too!

It’s really difficult to pick a favourite part of the day: it was all just a magical whirlwind from start to finish. However, I’d say I really began to relax and enjoy myself after the ceremony. The pressure to look perfect, get through the vows and get the legalities out of the way was over and I felt like it was time to really celebrate!

We had more than an hour with our photographer and videographer taking pictures around the jetty and the lake, away from all our guests. It was a lovely time just to take in the fact we were newly married, do lots of posing and kissing for pictures and enjoy the serenity and spectacular views. I also loved the speeches at the wedding breakfast, they were incredibly emotional, heart-warming and funny. Lovely sentiments were expressed that I will never forget. But then there was our first dance and our two-year-old son stealing our thunder; my karaoke queen moment; being on the dancefloor all night – there are just too many magical bits to choose from!

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For our honeymoon we spent a week at the most amazing, luxury five-star, adults-only resort in Cancun, Mexico called Secrets the Vine. It was recommended by my maid of honour who had honeymooned there two years before and it really was heaven on earth. We upgraded to a junior suite and joined the preferred club which allowed us access to a private rooftop pool and added luxuries such as butler service and spa access. Highlights for me were a champagne breakfast, a romantic sunset dinner overlooking the ocean under the stars and a visit to the famous Coco Bongo nightclub which was a hilarious experience. We left our little boy with his grandparents at home for a week and indulged in some very rare adult time – a real luxury for us! I spent most of the week looking at the diamonds in my wedding ring sparkle in the sunshine and enjoying referring to Steven as my ‘husband’.

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My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t let any perfectionist traits go into overdrive! Trust your choices and what feels right for you rather than sticking with ‘traditions’ or trying to please other people. It’s your day so do what’s right for both of you. Never lose sight of what the day is all about.

There is an overwhelming array of wedding choices out there so don’t overthink it and trust your decisions. Be as organised as possible so that you can enjoy the build-up – but try not to rush into booking everything at once. I was in such a hurry to get everything sorted once we were engaged and I then had a long twenty months to wait until the wedding day!

Finally, believe the dozens of married people who tell you that it goes by so fast, as that is one nugget of wisdom that really is true. Take a deep breath in, smile and enjoy every amazing moment because it will be one of the most incredible and exhilarating days of your life. And it will all be worth it, I promise you that!

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about the author

Laura McDonagh
Laura is a true Northophile: she married Adam in Durham in 2011 accompanied by 200 Northumbrian lamb shanks and a Mackem 1950s tribute band who did a rockabilly cover version of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. They honeymooned in Northumberland in a 1972 MG convertible, went surfing in Alnmouth and made it to the Edinburgh Fringe (let's ignore the fact that it rained all week). Her big mantra is 'no regrets'...but if she could travel back in time and wear a wedding dress with a Peter Pan collar and pockets, she'd pretty much die happy.

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