November 10th, 2016 | Laura McDonagh
Lene and Jimmy’s big day at Northorpe Hall in Kirklees, was packed full of fun and personality, with thousands of origami flowers, space hoppers and an ice-cream van.
Lene rocked a pink tea-length dress and songs from old-time numbers to Blink 182, were provided by the bridal party’s talented friends.
But the feel-good factor goes beyond the pretty details, for Northorpe Hall was set up to support a children’s mental health charity, and so through their wedding Lene and Jimmy made a significant contribution to a very good cause.
So sit back for Lene’s uplifting account of a big day with big hearts, you’re going to love it…
Photography by Amber Marie Photography.
lene says: We got engaged three years ago whilst on holiday in Clearwater, Florida. We were enjoying the sunset whilst hanging out on the beach, and Jimmy put his arm round me and muttered “So, err, you fancy getting married then?” We’re not ones for big, romantic gestures, but it did feel a bit like he was trying to sell me a dodgy watch or something. That being said, it really was the perfect, most awkward, Jimmy-esque proposal.
We got married on the 30th July. With us having a seaside theme, me having a tea-length dress, and us being in a potentially chilly venue (barns aren’t known for their warmth and insulation), we knew we’d need it to be during the summer months.
From the outset, I knew I wanted a barn venue decked out in fairy lights; and we wanted it to be at a mid-way point for our families (James’ family are based in Doncaster, and mine in Clitheroe). When we found Northorpe Hall in Mirfield, it ticked all the boxes. And better still, it’s owned by a charity, so prices are very reasonable and you know that the money you spend is going towards a good cause.
We had a bit of a DIY seaside theme. A lot of our favourite memories are based around beaches so it was something that just slowly came together.
We didn’t have much of a colour scheme. We’d originally thought about having a light blue, but as my dress was pink we worried it might end up looking like a baby shower! As the bouquets were made from paper, we’d originally thought they should be white, but they looked really plain and a bit tacky – so we decided that each bridesmaid would have a different colour. That kind of threw any colour scheme out the window.
When looking for my dress, I found House of Mooshki online and fell in love. After trying on dresses, it quickly became apparent that I was much too clumsy to wear a floor-length dress (especially in heels) and they have an amazing selection of three-quarter-length dresses. The one I eventually chose was called Poppy, and while I could have gone for ivory, I really loved how different the pink dress was.
My hair and makeup artist on the day of the wedding was the super-talented Laali Botkoveli – she was absolutely brilliant!
James wore a charcoal grey woollen suit from Limehaus. He was very particular that he wanted a grey suit, but wanted to make sure it was matte as he wasn’t keen on the shiny alternatives. The groomsmen wore the same suit as James.
My bridesmaids wore grey/cream ombre dresses from Next. They matched the groomsmen perfectly, and I think they all looked gorgeous.
We travelled to the wedding venue in a cream VW Camper Van called Anne, provided by Bronte Camper Hire.
Our photographer was Amber Marie Photography and we can’t recommend her and her partner, Tom, enough. She originally came to our house to introduce herself and to conduct a very awkward engagement shoot. However, she was so easy to get on with that it made everything so much more relaxed on the day. We’re both very awkward people and knew that we’d be awful to photograph, so specified that it would probably be best to get a lot of candid shots. They took all of our requests into consideration and produced a set of stunning pictures which we feel reflect our day much better than a bunch of staged pictures of us staring at each other.
I love flowers but during the wedding planning we quickly realised that the blooms I wanted wouldn’t be accessible within our budget and so we decided to make them. Everyone chipped in to make origami flowers, and I think the bridesmaids alone must have folded more than 3,000 flowers over the period of our engagement. We then put them all together for all our bouquets, the card box and table decorations. In the end, I think they ended up looking better than the real flowers would have done anyway, and I get to keep my bouquet forever!
In terms of the decor and details, we had some real orchids in sand-filled fishbowls on the tables, which were flanked by origami flowers and some seashells. I also painted a few letters to represent our initials and our favourite beaches. James’ is the beach in Clearwater where we got married and mine is a dog-walking beach near St Ives.
For our favours and place settings, I collected a stash of pebbles while on a trip to Cornwall, and painted them with everyone’s names and tiny seashells.
We got our wedding cake from Bored to Tiers, in Morley. They were amazingly adaptable! I’m a big advocate of giving people free reign when I’m employing them; someone who makes cakes every day is going to have a better idea of what will look good than I will. We went in and told them we wanted something seaside related; mentioned some colour schemes and gave them the idea of using some coral and sugar to replicate sand. The rest was up to them and it was more perfect than I could have dreamed up myself – plus, as an added bonus, it tasted amazing!
Northorpe Hall have a brilliant menu selection, and the wedding organiser, Julia, helped us to piece together the perfect selection for our day. We knew we didn’t want a three-course meal because our families are full of fussy eaters, so it would have been more hassle than it was worth. We thought that by having an afternoon tea, we’d cut out most of the fuss and there’d be enough selection for everyone to find something they liked. We then had a buffet in the evening and finished off with ice cream from Royd’s Ices later on.
Entertainment-wise, we’re lucky enough to have lots of talented friends that we could call upon for our day. Our friend from Brighton, Songbird Sally, sang a selection of old-time covers for us during our meal. Then in the evening, Alun’s band The Hope Street Busking Band, performed a load of amazing songs ranging from Blink 182 to The Beatles. They even learnt “our song” (Night Drive by Jimmy Eat World) and did a beautiful cover for our first dance.
We would definitely recommend our choice of wedding venue to other brides and grooms, without a shadow of a doubt. Firstly, they’re very reasonably priced for the area. They also have a good selection of food, wine and beer; but are flexible to suit your needs if one of the options doesn’t appeal to you.
The venue also included a big green at the back and the children could go and play with the horses in the neighbouring field, which I think made the day for them. The hall also provided some outdoor lawn activities (including space hoppers), which made for some pretty amazing photos for us! Finally, it had a quiet area, which was perfect for my 95-year-old nan. When things got too loud for her, she was able to go upstairs and read the paper for a bit.
The staff were mega helpful too, and really couldn’t do enough to help us. Especially Julia, who helped steer everything in the right direction and kept everything and everyone under control to the very end.
Looking back, it’s difficult to choose a perfect moment from the day. As I’ve been writing this, it’s brought back so many happy memories for us both. I think for me, it would be having all of the people I care about most in one room. With our families being so spread out and our friends being based all over the country, it makes a gathering of that scale pretty much impossible, so it was amazing to get everyone together. James says the weather made the day for him, but really it’s impossible to choose one ‘perfect’ moment because there wasn’t a bad one!
We’re still haven’t managed to have a honeymoon yet! We were due to go away in October, but our cat was attacked and ended up with a broken leg, which dried up our honeymoon fund. Moral of the story: insure your pets!
My top wedding tip for other Brides Up North would be to invite more people to the evening do. We were very sparing with who we invited in the evening but a lot of people didn’t show in the end. Also, even if you’re incredibly awkward, try to get at least a couple of posed shots. It makes it a lot easier when choosing an image for your thank you cards!
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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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