Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

dare to do it yourself. a family-focused diy wedding on ullswater, penrith – louise & david

November 28th, 2016 | Laura McDonagh

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Today’s real wedding is a testimony to the power of DIY. Louise and David did what so many of us dream of doing (if only we were brave enough!): they hired a village hall on Ullswater in Penrith, created a bright, white blank canvas and went to town with personal touches and pops of pastel colour.

Family is everything to this gorgeous couple and there’s plenty of inspiration here for family-focused wedding planning; from kids’ goody bags to their relaxed honeymoon in Pooley Bridge.

In need of some pretty on this Monday morning? Sit back and enjoy.

With images by Jenna Carpenter Photography.

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louise says: We got engaged while on holiday in Tenerife with our little girl Alice and our friends. I had been making several (fairly obvious!) hints to David but he seemed oblivious. One evening we went to a restaurant and everyone was just chatting away when David started talking to me, at first I didn’t realise what he was saying or what he was taking out of his pocket! It didn’t register until our table fell silent and I saw that everyone had massive smiles on their faces. It was so lovely and just the kind of proposal I’d dreamed of. He said some lovely things and I said yes, of course! I later found out that he’d gone to my parents and asked for their blessing and then asked my friend Sarah to take care of the ring for him as we went through the airport!

Our wedding date was Saturday 20th August 2016. We chose it as we thought a summer wedding would be lovely and the date just jumped out at us.

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We got married in Ullswater, Penrith at Watermillock Village Hall. We absolutely love the Lake District as a family and have lots of ties with the place so we knew it was meant to be.

The venue we chose was actually where my sister’s wedding reception had been held. We checked that she was ok with it first and thankfully she was. It’s a great little place: completely versatile, large rooms and a nice big field for a marquee for our ceremony.

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We used a celebrant on the day as the hall wasn’t licensed for weddings. We had such a personal ceremony conducted by Louise Burns from The Ceremony Company. There were several different ceremonies we could choose from and then personalise and Louise spent lots of time asking questions and finding out about us. We went for a traditional service with the vows included and it all came together in the most amazing service, full of tears and laughter. My sister read from A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton, which was lovely! Louise did an amazing job and we are so thankful for the care and attention she put into our ceremony.

The style of our wedding was laidback and relaxed. We just wanted everyone to have a good time, enjoy the day and let their hair down. I think the theme could perhaps be described as ‘love and fun’ in the end!

Our colour scheme was white with bright pastel colours. I knew straight away that I wanted a bright, white backdrop. Then the pastels could be integrated in different ways, from flowers to table decorations.

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Dress-wise, I went bright and white too. I knew from the start that I wanted the big white dress and my friends and family expected nothing less from me! I did try on lots of dresses with an open mind, though, and tried on several different styles with a bit of surprise as to what suited me. Finally, I chose an amazing Phil Collins wedding gown. It had straps (which were on my list) with a lace top, jewelled waist and a tulle skirt. When I first walked into the shop, I spotted it straight away and said “I love that one!” It was actually in a very dark dusky pink colour and when I tried it on I was very tempted to get it in that colour, but knew deep down I wanted the big white dress. If I could wear it every day, I would!

David loves suits and knew he wanted a really nice three-piece, and I also had blue in mind. We went to John Francis in Bolton and tried a few on and finally decided on a three-piece suit in royal blue with a white cravat. The groomsmen wore the same suits as David with a light pink cravat, also from John Francis.

Straight away I knew I wanted my bridesmaids in white to go with the day’s bright and light style. It was only by chance I was browsing through ASOS and saw a gorgeous floor-length white dress with an embellished top that I loved. It also had a pink line of embellishment running through it so I matched the cravats of the groomsmen to that. The bridesmaids loved the dresses and they suited them down to the ground, which was very lucky as it was the first one they all tried on!

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Zoe Sykes was my makeup artist and she made me feel absolutely amazing on the day. Zoe has amazing makeup skills and listened carefully to what each of us wanted. Our hair was done by Angie from The Cutting Room. I absolutely loved my hair on the day and Angie was so patient with me when I kept changing my mind. My bridesmaids went for similar styles and they were so pleased with theirs, too.

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In terms of transport, I found a company with vintage VWs for hire and I thought they’d be a great touch. On the day we had torrential rain; some roads around the lakes had even flooded. After the VW left with the first group of people my bridesmaids and I were left waiting for it to return, and waiting, and waiting – then our photographer came dashing through the door and announced that the VW had broken down! I couldn’t believe it and was worried about everyone in the VW getting soaked through. In the end, my photographer’s car became my wedding car – I managed to squeeze the dress in the front seat and the bridesmaids in the back. I will forever be grateful to Jenna – not just for her photography skills, but for her car as well!

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Our photographer was Jenna Carpenter Photography and I cannot recommend Jenna enough. Her style was exactly what we wanted and her portfolio was amazing. She made us feel so relaxed and, as a result, managed to take some stunning pictures. Weather-wise, the day was a total wash out – but luckily we had a break in the weather just after the ceremony, so she got us down by the lake to take some great shots.

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Our flowers were by Laura from Greenwheat Florist & Fika, in Penrith. I’m not really big on flowers so wasn’t sure what types I wanted but knew I wanted pastels. I explained this to Laura and my bouquet was gorgeous and smelt amazing. The bridesmaids carried a gypsophila bouquet and the buttonholes were gyp as well to continue the white and pastel colour scheme. Our two little girls Alice and Rosie had flower crowns, which were so lovely (they kept them on for longer than five minutes…bonus!).

Special Event Tipis provided our tables and Tebbey & Co provided our chairs; their service was faultless, from setting everything up to taking it all down.

Our table flowers were created by a family friend, Wendy; we actually bought the flowers from Morrisons and Wendy put them together for us on the Friday before the wedding. We sourced and made other decorations ourselves after lots of research on Pinterest (a bride’s best friend!) I found some pastel coloured paper lanterns on eBay and used them to create the most amazing feature. There was also a stage area with brown curtains that we wanted to cover, so we bought some white material and my brilliant mum created some curtains and swags. We spent the Wednesday to the Friday decorating the venue: my mum pinned every single lantern to the ceiling by herself! We also had “love” letters on the stage with a starlit backdrop from Northwest Letter Lights & Event Supplies; it added so much to the room, they were just great.

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I wanted to create a bit of colour with the favours on the table so decided on some pink spotty bags and personalised labels with sweets inside. Simple, but enjoyed by everyone!

We personalised a lot of things for our special touches. Our table numbers were pictures of me and David as babies. I also found some old ladders on eBay, stripped them down, painted them white and decorated them with flowers, jars and photographs. We also had pictures of loved ones no longer with us on a table with our guestbook. The celebrant added into the ceremony a memory box, which consisted of personal vows, a mini bottle of Malibu and gin (our favourite tipples!), and our guests wrote date night ideas, well wishes and marriage advice for us to open on our first anniversary. As our family has a lot of children we had a children’s table, complete with goody bags for each of them. They included colouring booklets, sweets and fancy dress bits and bobs and the kids loved them.

We chose a three-tier chocolate wedding cake with white chocolate hoops with hints of pink running through from Marks & Spencer. All I had to do was add our topper and some flowers. It tasted amazing!

Our food was provided by a local company called Humes Catering, in Penrith. We opted for a hog roast with seasonal vegetables and a choice of salads and our evening meal was fish and chips. Brian had a fish and chip van that we just loved the idea of, and it went down really well with our guests.

Drink-wise, we bought our table wine and prosecco from Aldi as we knew it would taste great and be great value; plus David is a deputy manager there! My dad also put on two barrels of beer for everyone to help themselves to. There was no bar at the venue and everyone brought their own; guests really enjoyed the idea and we certainly didn’t run out!

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For the evening entertainment, we chose a local DJ called Andy Neen. We just wanted a real party feel at night and the dancefloor was always full.

Finally, with such a DIY affair, we really needed some help keeping things running smoothly on the day, and for that we used Weddings by Annabel & Rebecca Williams. They were our hands on the day – everyone needs an Annabel & Rebecca! I can’t recommend them enough.

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Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our venue to other couples that are looking for a blank canvas to really make their wedding your own, which we were. It’s in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and certainly helped us to create some special memories.

On reflection, it’s difficult to choose a favourite part of the wedding day because, despite torrential rain, a wedding car breakdown and a fire alarm going off, it was the most amazing day I could have ever imagined. All the time spent planning and thinking about it was worth it on the day – I was just blown away by it all. One thing that will stick with me forever, though, is the sight of my bridesmaids racing across the field to the marquee holding umbrellas and bouquets. They were met by a roar of applause and my dad turned to me and said, “It’s going to be a good do, this, Louise.” And do you know what? It was!

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Our honeymoon was a family holiday in Pooley Bridge for a week. It was a great chance to relax with everyone talking and enjoying the memories of our wedding day.

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to just do what you want (within budget!) It’s your day and you don’t need to do things for other people. Enjoy it all. And definitely don’t be afraid to DIY!

the big picture

 

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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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