Charlotte Balbier

cool britannia. a red, white and blue, fifties inspired wedding at east riddlesden hall – fiona & james

November 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

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Today’s couple took the ‘my way’ approach to their wedding by picking a theme and colour scheme that reflected their passions and interests.

Without a hint of pink to be seen, James and Fiona opted for a cool Britannia style wedding with a red, white and blue colour scheme and attire inspired by fashions of the 50’s and 60’s.

Bride Fiona, pulls off the look perfectly in a sweet tea-length dress, faux fur shrug and vintage birdcage veil, while her bridesmaids remain on form in striking red Vivian of Holloway dresses. We must also give a mention to the cute flower girls who look super-angelic in their twirly dresses!

With images by Eye of the Tyne Photography

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fiona says: We got engaged on holiday in Northumberland. James grandparents were from there and after they passed away his mum bought a caravan so we would go a couple of times a year. One of our favourite places to go was Druridge Bay, which is a very pretty with lots of sand dunes, so on Easter weekend last year James and I decided on a little trip there, although the weather forecast was a bit ominous James insisted we go and made me walk up the biggest sand dune, even though I was wearing slippery boots and at one point I wanted to turn back but he pulled me up to the top. We then took some pictures and as I turned around he was on one knee.

Our wedding was on the 19th June 2016. We thought about June or September and our venue had a Sunday free in June which would be easier for my family to travel up from London the day before. When we booked it we didn’t actually realise it was Father’s Day until we sent out our invitations, but maybe this day had chosen us, as both myself and James’ father were not present at the wedding, James due his father passing away when he was a child and mine due to ill health, so it was a fitting tribute!

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We got married at East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Their barn is a beautiful Grade II listed building. Our original idea was that we wanted to get married in the Yorkshire dales where we camp every year and looked into hiring a yurt, but the logistics were too complicated and as I had family and friends coming from London we decided on somewhere a bit closer to home. The barn was ideal as we could decorate it ourselves, and the backdrop was stunning for photographs.

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We had a 50’s/ 60’s cool Britannia theme for the wedding. Both myself and James love 60’s music and I also love the fashion of the 50’s and 60’s so it was pretty much a given we would have some element in our wedding. We decided on a cover of Love is All Around, for the wedding march and played the Beatles and the Kinks during the register signing. My dress and bridesmaids were 50’s inspired and James’ shirt and suit was 60’s inspired.

Our wedding colour scheme was red, white and blue, so a bit different to the usual pinks. We wanted colours that reflect our own tastes and we also wanted vibrant colours that would stand out.

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As soon as I started planning the wedding I knew I wanted a tea length dress. I have always liked vintage styles and had a couple of 50’s style dresses so knew that it suits my body shape and height. I did search several local bridal shops and looked at specific designers who did tea length dresses and ended up going to four or five different shops but each dress I tried I found either I didn’t like part of the dress or the material wasn’t right. Eventually I found a lovely shop called Wedding Belles of Otley. They had already selected a few dresses for me to try on, including one that and been designed as a bridesmaid dress but I was assured that lots of brides had chosen it as their wedding dress, although the colour was pink they also did it in ivory. As soon as I tried it on it was exactly what I wanted; lace bodice and satin skirt with buttons down the back, perfect!

I also like to accessorize and found the perfect  accompaniment  with  a feather  shrug  and  vintage style shoes from BHS. I didn’t think a long veil would suit the style of my dress so bought a plain birdcage veil and a lovely feathered clip from Debenhams, which matched very well with my shrug.

For my bridal hair and makeup, I used Le Keux Vintage Styling, who were great!

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As we decided on a red, white and blue colour scheme, James wanted the groom’s party to be in blue and the bridesmaids in red. The first shop we went to for suits was Slaters in Leeds city centre. James saw a lovely slim fitting suit, which was the exact colour we wanted, so bought the first suit he tried on!

My bridesmaids wore red 50’s style, halter neck dresses from Vivien of Holloway. I already knew about her shop as I had looked online previously and luck would have it there was a competition to win vouchers for their shop and we won! So we did a trip to London and chose some lovely dresses there. My flower girls’ dresses were from BHS.

As for the groomsmen, James’ groom’s party was made up of one man and two girls so their outfits were going to be different. We got Tom’s suit from Burton and Carla got her suit from Next and Beth had a lovely New Look dress.

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As our wedding transport, we hired a VW camper van from Liberty Campers, in Otley. We had been to a wedding fair at our venue and as soon as I saw “Dylan” I knew that’s what I wanted for the wedding and fitted in with our theme. It was also large enough for myself and all my bridesmaids. And our driver Tracey was lovely, she arrived early and was very patient as we were quite late!

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Our photographer was Peter Robinson of Eye of the Tyne Photography, and I would definitely recommend him as our pictures were amazing. He was originally recommended by my bridesmaid Jayne, as he is her cousin’s husband, so I checked out his pictures on his website first and his style was exactly what we wanted. We met up with him beforehand to discuss the type of pictures we wanted and he was so enthusiastic to be our photographer and we felt very privileged as he has recently won a photography award and had one of his pictures displayed as part of a national exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery!

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Our flowers were done by a lady called Cathryn, who works from home and lives near to James’ parents so was easy to see her beforehand to go through what exactly we wanted. We looked at different flowers that would be in season in June and decided on Red Naomi, White Avalanche, Blue Roses, Bouvardia and Freesia.

I did the decorations for reception myself and used feathers and gypsophila. I also decorated the barn with bunting and pom poms. I made a display for the cake and sweets by buying some letters from hobby craft which I then decorated with buttons, paper and felt flowers. I also bought two faux rose trees, which I painted red, white and blue, and bought two wooden letters for our initials which I again decorated, and were hung on each tree.

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I made all the favours as well. I made red, white and blue felt rose brooches for everyone to wear, which was a little time consuming as I had to make 100 of them. I also made heart-shaped ginger biscuits and bought small packets of love hearts which had our names and date of the wedding on and personalised red and blue sweet bags for everything to go into with our names and date of the wedding on.

Our cake was made by James’ sister Kirsti. We knew she would be our first choice, not only because she is family but more to do with the fact her cakes are amazing! For the toppers she made a miniature Fiona and James and the attention to detail was so precise even down to the pattern on my dress and James’ shirt! She created a three-tier cake with three different flavours; ginger for the top (James’ favourite), carrot for the middle (my favourite) and a red, white and blue stripy bottom tier.

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At our drinks reception we had Pimms and Lemonade served in mason jars from drinks dispenses, which I’d bought. The mason jars were also decorated with a blue or red ribbons with a thank you tag, which they could also take home.

For the wedding breakfast our venue had a list of recommend suppliers and we decided on James Brown Catering as they met our needs and budget the most. We decided we just wanted a nice barbecue, which they did and as our wedding was a bit later in the day we had that as our main wedding breakfast and chip butties in the evening as most of our guests were coming for the whole day. James did a great job and everyone loved the quality of the food. Dessert was cakes baked by myself and some of my friends and I also supplied jars of sweets and popcorn.

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For our reception music we didn’t have to look far as James is a musician and he and his friend Simon have a folk duo Pennington Grass Roll, so this was the obvious choice. Simon was happy to do a set on his own while our guests were eating and then later in the evening they both played together, which a lovely treat.

For our first dance we had struggled to decide on a song and had whittled it down to three which we were going to pick from a hat but unbeknown to us Simon had dedicated a lovely Beatles song Here, There and Everywhere to us, so James quickly pulled me onto the dance floor and this became our first dance!

We also had light up ‘love’ letters at the reception, which were provided by Elegant Covers and Bows. I had seen them at a wedding fair in Leeds and compared to other companies not only were their prices excellent, but they also did coloured letters, which I had completely forgot to ask about when booking so with only a couple days before the wedding I remembered and they managed to supply them at short notice – the letters looked fantastic!

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After our wedding, I would most definitely recommend East Riddlesden Hall to other couples! The wedding team were fantastic and very helpful. Chloe and Evelyn were great at answering all my questions and requests and Lucy was great as my planner on the day. The venue itself is beautiful and the gardens at the back of the house are fantastic for pictures as well as the pond in front.

On reflection, I’d say that the ceremony was my favourite part of the day. Admittedly I was very late (hair styling took a lot longer than predicted) but luckily James wasn’t worried – he knows what I’m like! So when I arrived and saw everyone there it was a lovely moment, I didn’t feel nervous just excited to be marrying James! My mum didn’t stop crying throughout the whole ceremony – it was an emotional day for her as I am the first of her four daughters to be married! I think for James the best part of the day was probably the speeches as his sister Beth gave a lovely speech for him as well as my bridesmaid Jayne for me and James was very happy to give his own entertaining speech!

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After the wedding we decided to do a minimoon in Cornwall and luckily after a couple of days of rain in Newquay, we went on to St Ives where the weather was beautiful and booked a lovely bed and breakfast with a wonderful view of the sea. We also intend to do a proper honeymoon in New York next year.

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – don’t be afraid to ask for help! I spent a lot of time making the decorations and favours and didn’t want to bother my friends so ended up trying to finish everything the night before instead of relaxing. Also, enjoy your day and don’t sweat the small stuff!  I was nearly an hour late for the ceremony, the weather on the day wasn’t on our side, and I also forgot to throw my bouquet and we had no confetti thrown but it didn’t spoil our day!

the big picture

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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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