Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

wreaths & roses. lusan mandongus for a pretty christmas wedding in cheshire – rachel & james

December 20th, 2016 | Julia Braime

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With just a matter of days to go until it’s fizz, presents and turkey all the way, we’re getting into the spirit of things with this gorgeous Christmas wedding.

Rachel and James opted for a traditional church ceremony, made personal with input from family and friends, followed by a gorgeous rustic reception at Owen House Wedding Barn.

We love the subtle seasonal touches such as berries, wreathes and fairy lights, plus the bridesmaids’ sparkling dresses, which give just a nod to the (most wonderful) time of the year!

With images by Jonny Draper Photography.

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rachel says: We got engaged in Mozambique on New Year ’s Eve in 2014, just before midnight. At that time we were living and working in Malawi as volunteers and were taking a Christmas break. We had arrived in the beautiful coastal town of Vilanculos that evening and had a lovely dinner on the beach before going to see the New Year in with fireworks on the beach front.

We returned from travelling in late July 2015, and had our date set within a few weeks. We decided on 29th December 2015, as we both love that time of year and knew a lot of our friends and family would be home and able to attend.

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The wedding ceremony was held in St Chads Catholic Church, in Cheadle, as this is my home parish church and the church my family have always attended. We have a lot of connections with the church and were able to include friends and family throughout the service to give the wedding a more personal touch. We also used the adjoining church hall for tea, coffee, canapés and prosecco after the service which was provided by a local coffee shop (Rustic Coffee Co) and childhood friend.

The wedding reception was held at Owen House Wedding Barn, in Mobberley. The venue was perfect in every way and everything we both wanted. We had looked through hundreds of venues online and as soon as we walked in, I knew it was the right place.

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We didn’t pick any particular theme for the wedding. We just wanted a relaxed atmosphere with as little fuss as possible so everyone could enjoy themselves.

We didn’t really pick a colour scheme either, but everything came together really well. I had picked the bridesmaids dresses first as I had fallen in love with them at first sight and fitted everything around them. They were perfect for Christmas and matched in the boy’s ties and the flowers.

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Wedding dress shopping was a little rushed as I only had five months to pick and order the dress. I looked in three local boutiques and chose a dress by Lusan Mandongus. I wanted a simple but elegant dress and wanted it to be comfortable and to be able to dance all night.

James chose the suits from Next and we had them tailored to fit each individual groomsman. They were a lovely colour and suited everyone really well. James’ tie was from Liberty and somehow linked all the colours of the wedding together.

The best man, groomsmen and fathers all wore three-piece suits from Next.

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My bridesmaids were my three closest friends; my sister Helen, my cousin Carrie and my best friend Sue. The bridesmaid’s dresses were from Jenny Packham. I saw them online and knew they were the ones. I ordered them immediately and they were perfect, so the poor girls didn’t even get a day out shopping for their dresses. We did manage to squeeze in a full day shopping for shoes and accessories so hopefully that made up for it.

The flower girls, Liberty and Hattie, are close family friends and looked super cute in there dresses from Debenhams.

On the day of the wedding my mum, bridesmaids and I, all had our makeup done by the wonderful Emmalene Sophia Makeup Artist. She was brilliant and the makeup stayed perfect all day. Our hair dos were created by the fantastic Harriet from HbyH Studios, Sale.

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My father and I travelled to the church in a white taxi from I Do Taxi. This then transported James and I to the wedding venue following the service. The driver was excellent and kept us entertained.

A vintage red London bus was used to transport all our guests on the day between hotels, church, the barn and back to the overnight accommodation. Bus Company was Routemaster Buses, Nantwich.

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Our photographer was Jonny Draper. We met two photographers whose work we loved. As soon as we met Jonny we knew it had to be him. He was extremely professional and the photographs were exactly what we wanted. What made it so special was his ability to get on with everyone and put everyone at ease. Everyone at the wedding assumed he was a family friend and had known us all for years. He even managed to convince the priest to let him onto the altar during the service, something never allowed before!

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The wedding flowers came from Maggie Earl. I had seen her work in a magazine and loved them immediately. Maggie was fantastic and understood perfectly what we wanted. I gave her a swatch of my dress material, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the suits and James’ tie and she did the rest. My bouquet was exactly what I wanted and had a mixture of roses, poppy heads and wild flowers.

Maggie Earl also provided the flowers for the reception. We had wooden table plinths with jam jars and flowers as well as two large hoola hoops hanging from the ceiling, a large Christmas wreath and a mistletoe ball for over the door way.

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I made the wedding favours with the help of my mum and friend Louise. I wanted a personal touch and something that would be useful. We had sweet chilli jam and apple and cranberry chutney. I thought they would come in handy for the post-Christmas cheese and crackers. I used African fabrics I had collected during our six months in Malawi for the tops.

Our three-tier naked wedding cake was made by my good friend Charlie Simpson, from Rustic Coffee Co, Macclesfield. Each layer was different and decorated with fruits. She also made an extra-large Guinness and Bailey’s cake which went down a storm. I love her cakes and wouldn’t have had anyone else.

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The catering was provided by Vanilla in All Seasons and was very tasty. We chose two options for the starters and mains and a trio of desserts. The starter options were leek and potato soup or butternut squash and blue cheese with maple roasted pecan tartlet. The main courses were pan-fried lamp rump in garlic, thyme and rosemary with roast root vegetables, rioja jus and crushed new potatoes, or chicken and leek pie with truffle oil, crushed new potatoes and green vegetables. The trio of desserts included white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, Eaton mess shot and chocolate brownie with clotted cream.

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Entertainment-wise we chose a fantastic Liverpool band called Madison. They had been recommended by friends and Jonny Draper, and we were definitely not disappointed. They play a regular slot in The Cavern Club in Liverpool, so we were able to go down and watch them perform a few times before the wedding. They performed two live sets and provided a DJ set in between. The dance floor was full the whole night.

The venue lighting was provided by Hipswing. The process was seamless and the lights made the venue even more pretty.

For the evening reception, we also hired a photo booth, which went down a storm and was full all night. This was provided by Boothique and ran smoothly all night. They even managed to get everyone to write in the guest book.

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One of my favourite touches to the wedding was the music we had in the church. This was provided by my bridesmaid Sue’s brother, Patrick Smyth, and sisters, Mary Jane and Sarah Anne. We also had my sisters’ friend, Ged on the piano and vocals. We chose a selection of traditional, Christmas and Irish hymns.

We also had my cousin, Michael as the toastmaster/ MC for the wedding reception. He was brilliant and provided a more personal touch.

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Following our wedding I could not recommend Owen House Wedding Barn enough. Everything ran smoothly from start to finish, they were both professional and friendly whilst also having that personal touch.

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Looking back, I enjoyed so many parts of the wedding day. I loved the morning with my parents and bridesmaids at home getting ready and chatting. Despite being the 29th December the weather was great, clear skies with plenty of sunshine. Walking down the aisle with beaming sunshine just seemed to make the day much more than we could have ever expected.

I really enjoyed the wedding service too, getting to see everyone’s smiling faces as I came down the aisle and listening to the beautiful music. I loved sitting with James at the top table and chatting and catching up. Probably the absolute highlight of the day was the night-time when we didn’t leave the dance floor and were surrounded by all our friends and family. It was lovely to look around and see everyone smiling, laughing and having a great time.

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After the wedding we went to Cuba for our honeymoon. We were lucky enough to spend the year prior to the wedding working and travelling abroad and managed to visit so many amazing countries. We wanted a honeymoon that delivered both adventure and relaxation G Adventures and Cuba was a great option. We spent seven days on a cycling tour around Cuba with and the following week relaxing in a beach resort. This was a brilliant way to start the New Year.

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My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to be organised. Make plenty of lists and don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate. It is impossible to take it on all yourself. On the wedding day just sit back and relax, enjoy every moment and don’t worry about all those small things. The aim is to get married, everything else is a bonus.

the big picture

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

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