Charlotte Balbier

captain’s table. justin alexander for an urban wedding at the merseyside maritime museum – beth & will

November 14th, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth

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Today on the blog, we’re all at sea as we head to Liverpool for our latest real wedding.

Engaged for just over a year, Beth and beau Will – who is in the Navy – tied the knot at Bridge Chapel in Garston. Despite their best attempts to avoid an obvious naval theme, the couple were won over by the Maritime Museum and its picture-perfect views of the city’s skyline, and ended up hosting their celebrations in this iconic landmark, complete with a swing and jazz band.

With some of the couple’s guests contributing to their special day – we’re talking a handmade wedding cake and specially written music for them to walk down the aisle to – this is a wedding brimming with unforgettable and sentimental touches.

With images by Ian MacMichael Photography.

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Beth says: Will and I got engaged in May 2015 in Sefton Park in Liverpool. Will is from Liverpool and loved taking me to visit where he grew up. I quickly fell in love with the place and Sefton Park was one of my favourite spots.

Will is in the Navy, and whilst abroad in Gibraltar he was window shopping and found my engagement ring. As he didn’t have a permanent space to leave his belongings, he hid it in one of his bags in my house, waiting for the opportunity to ask.

We visited his family one sunny day in May and had lounged around all morning so decided to go for a long walk. After settling down by the lake and reading together in Sefton Park, he pulled a big black box out of his rucksack and it was filled with sentimental items that told the story of our relationship, like a wooden postcard I carved for him one Valentine’s Day when he was away on a ship, and the train tickets from when he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was touched that he had kept all of these things and the next thing I knew, Will told me to close my eyes. When I opened them, there he was with the ring. He had to ask twice as I was so surprised I didn’t answer the first time!

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We were married on Saturday 6th August 2016. I didn’t want a long engagement but I have family who were living abroad at the time that we both wanted there. It also meant that Will could give plenty of notice to his boss so that he could request leave.

We were married at Bridge Chapel in Garston – the church that Will and his family have attended since Will was small. We are both committed Christians and wanted God to be a big focus of our day. The service was beautiful.

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We held our reception at Merseyside Maritime Museum. I’m a bit of a self-confessed hipster, so I love anything red brick and museum related. Will had asked that we avoided a naval theme, but when we stepped inside the venue and saw the gorgeous Liverpool skyline out of the window, we simply couldn’t resist!

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We didn’t have a set theme other than our chosen colours. Instead, we tried to incorporate our personalities into the day as much as possible. Will wore his uniform and we cut the cake with his sword. I am an English teacher and a real bookworm so my stepmother rebound some old book covers and turned them into table numbers that our guests could also write in, so we can read the messages on each anniversary.

For the colour scheme, I chose lavender and gold for the bridesmaids and also the flowers. Having looked on Pinterest and found that I knew absolutely nothing about flowers, we wanted to go for something simple. Will loves the smell of lavender, and it meant that we could have a range of shades for our bridesmaids so everyone could find something they were comfortable wearing.

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As for my wedding dress – I wanted something simple that didn’t cost more than £700. I wanted to walk in it without any issues and was looking for something that would be timeless when we looked back at the photos in the years to come. I wore a Justin Alexander wedding dress (style 8727) which I had spotted online with a friend. I looked up the price but there was simply no way I could afford it, being a trainee teacher! However, I went to Creatiques Bridal Boutique in Portsmouth, with my bridesmaid Lilou, and we met the lovely Kayleigh who helped me find the dress and try it on. It was the last one they had and it was a sample, so she sold it to me at almost half the price. It was too big so I asked a family friend to alter it, and she did a beautiful job! I’m very grateful for everyone who helped with that dress!

Will wore his ‘No 1’ (Navy uniform) for the service and photos, and changed into his ‘No 2’ (dinner dress) for the evening. He looked so handsome.

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Our bridesmaids wore a mixture of dresses which came from Monsoon, Little Mistress and one was even handmade by the mother of one of my bridesmaids (she did a sterling job!).

The groomsmen hired suits from Debenhams – we picked grey to complement the lavender theme.

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On the day of the wedding, I travelled in a vintage car owned by one of Will’s relatives, who collects old cars. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and Will travelled via taxis throughout the day.

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Ian and Hazel MacMichael, who we know from Bridge Chapel, were our photographers for the day. We cannot recommend them highly enough. The photos are absolutely stunning and really capture the story of our day. I loved that they didn’t buy in to cheesy photos or make us stand awkwardly in positions, but told us where they wanted us to be to get the best light and let us do our own thing! Highly unobtrusive and so friendly was the feedback I had from guests, and I couldn’t agree more.

As a special touch Ian MacMichael also arranged for guests to sign one of our favourite engagement photos at the reception, which was great because it meant that we could frame it and display it in our house rather than wrap up a guest book and leave it to go dusty.

Ste Park filmed our day under his brand name ‘Reminisce’. His work is breathtakingly beautiful and we cannot recommend him enough. His rates are very reasonable considering the quality of the video you receive (a ten minute summary video on Facebook of the day and then a 45 minute video on a USB, with the opportunity to request raw footage too). He was very unobtrusive – we barely saw him at all, yet he captured some of the most beautiful moments of the day.

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Booker Flowers, on Booker Avenue, created my bouquet. Florist Gemma helped us to choose the best combinations and they were gorgeous. My bouquet was made up of pink roses, lavender and gypsophila, whilst the bridesmaids all carried simple hand-tied bouquets of gypsophila.

We kept the decorations as simple as possible because the reception venue was so lovely. For the church, we borrowed some tulle bows from a friend, to tie around the chairs, and I bought dried lavender from notonthehighstreet.com to stick between the bows. I also bought some bunting from Amazon in lilacs and neutral colours, and the church provided a lace backdrop for the front.

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For the reception decor, my stepmother coordinated most of this, and she did a fantastic job. She arranged the flowers and bought the vases and willow sticks for the centre pieces; created the seating plan and made all the books by hand and brought them over from the USA!

We laboriously made all our own wedding stationery, which took a lot of time, but turned out beautifully – and cost much less too.

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We hadn’t arranged for favours to be given out, but when we turned up on the day there were small foil-wrapped love heart chocolates which was a lovely surprise!

Our cake was incredibly special as it was made by my good friend Madeleine Blejean, who is in the process of setting up her own patisserie. She is incredibly talented and trained in one of the top French culinary schools, so it was wonderful to have her make our cake as a gift! It tasted fantastic so I think she may be an up and coming star in the cake business!

For the wedding meal, the museum provided a wonderful hot buffet, which included a selection of fishcakes, vegetarian chilli, pork and cider cobbler, and apple crumble for dessert. There was a great range that suited everyone, so we were happy with the quality service they provided.

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In terms of music for the day, my previous housemate, Emily wrote the music for the processional up the aisle and had it recorded by our friend Ed, It was incredibly special to me that people were using their gifts and talents for such lovely things!

As Will and I both love swing and jazz music we asked The Modern Vintage Swing Band to play at the reception, and they were absolutely amazing! There were not many people sat down for the rest of the night once they were playing! Band member, Craig said to us afterwards that he hadn’t played half of what they had planned because people had been requesting so many songs for them to try out. I didn’t even notice that they were improvising because their performance was seamless. I think this was one of the things guests commented on most, and I will never forget how much I enjoyed dancing along. They were such friendly and professional guys to work with.

More of an improvised touch that we hadn’t considered was the dancing. I hate being the absolute centre of attention, so Will and I both suddenly stood up to dance and realised that we didn’t know how to dance together! I tried to teach Will to waltz but in the end I kicked off my animal flip flops (tip: always have a fantastic mother on hand with a pair of your favourite flippies to hand – no-one notices!) and stood on Will’s feet. It was so funny because it was clumsy and typical us.

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I would absolutely recommend both the Merseyside Maritime Museum and Bridge Chapel to other couples following our wedding. The staff at both sites were friendly, professional and so welcoming. A special thanks goes to Chris at the museum, who even gave us his mobile number to contact him in the final few days running up to our wedding.

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Our favourite part of the day was sitting down at the museum and chatting to everyone we know and love whilst eating together. It was a great opportunity to catch up with people we both don’t get to see as often, and everyone who attended means such a great amount to us both. We are incredibly blessed to have so many supportive and wonderful people to love and receive encouragement from.

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For our honeymoon, we went to Tulum in Mexico for ten days, which we booked through Thomas Cook. Will is a real adventure bug (and I am in training!) so we had a very action packed holiday swimming with whale sharks, zip wiring over the jungle in Xplor, visiting Chichen Itza, hiking up the ruins in Coba, meeting a Mayan tribe and learning how to make proper guacamole amongst many other things. The scenery was beautiful, and it was a wonderful escape from reality. We loved every second of it.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – don’t worry or fuss over the small details. We are so glad we didn’t. Keep your focus on what you are really there to do: to marry the person you have the privilege to love and be loved by in return. The confetti blows away and the cake is gobbled up, but seeing your best friend the next day and knowing you are continuing on a whole new adventure together is an extraordinary feeling. And what’s better, it’s more than a feeling because it’s a commitment. Take time to remember and enjoy.

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about the author

Alexis Forsyth
Originally from north of the border, Alexis has lived in the North East for the past 15 years and considers herself officially an adopted Geordie. A qualified journalist - Alexis took up the position of editor at the region’s longest running business publication in 2015 before moving into a marketing role for one of the UK’s largest independent arts and craft galleries. Alexis currently edits her own lifestyle blog, where you can find her latest musings on all things Newcastle-related, together with a smattering of her Instagram-worthy cocktail and foodie pics. Yet to find Mr Right herself, Alexis sees this as a mere formality when it comes to tying the knot, as she’s already picked out her dream wedding dress, theme and venue...

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