January 12th, 2017 | Julia Braime
Today’s real wedding takes place at one of stunning Sponsor venues, Le Petit Chateau in rural Northumberland.
Creative bride Katie, instantly fell head over heels for venue’s unique French charm and set about planning a stylish big day that represented both her and her beau David down to the ground.
Cue gorgeous art nouveaux and art deco styling, botanical designs, jam-jar florals, jewel tones and an abundance of pretty and personal touches – ladies, this one is a beauty!
And if you like the look of the setting of Katie and David’s big day, why not pop along and see the splendid Le Petit Chateau for yourself on Sunday 29th January, when the venue will be hosting a Wedding Open Day. Between 2pm and 5pm, brides and grooms-to-be will be able to explore the venue and its grounds, chat to the wedding team and meet some of the North East’s top wedding suppliers.
With images by Gavin Forster Photography
katie says: David and I had been together for 14 years when we got engaged, and just about all our friends were married. Then I was appointed chief bridesmaid for my best friend in September 2015 and unbeknown to me it was decided by the bride et al that I was to catch the bouquet – I did and from that point on a secret plan was hatched between David, my friends and my family to find me a ring.
He proposed on one knee on 7th November, my birthday, during a rainy dog walk in a bleak country park in Northumberland. I was elated, there were lots of tears! He knew I would like an emerald and something a bit different and probably vintage, so had chosen a stunning art deco style white gold, diamond and emerald ring from a jeweller on the Etsy website.
Having been together so long we didn’t want to hang around and with me being a teacher we really needed to find a date during the holidays. We had lots of family travelling from all over and ideally wanted to make a long weekend of it so were really keen to get a Thursday or a Friday. We quickly chose 4th August 2016 as, safely in the summer holidays, there would be a bit of time to plan and I would have a week or so after finishing school. Also, it would be exactly a month before our 15th anniversary on the 4th September so it seemed like a good choice.
I was really concerned from the outset that I didn’t want the venue to be too ‘weddingy’. I was worried it would look like we were playing dress-up and we would be swamped in a one-size-fits-all approach. By luck, whilst searching for venues, I stumbled across information about a new French shabby chic themed project from The Apartment Group. When I was little we used to go to France every year, I then introduced David to France and now we both dream of having a house there some day so this seemed a perfect place for us to get married. My best friend Fiona’s wedding had been at As You Like It (also ran by The Apartment Group) and had been beautiful and very professionally managed by their wedding team. So, when I found Le Petit Chateau, despite it not even being fully built I felt really happy that knowing the quality of The Apartment Group’s other venues that they were definitely the right choice. What we ended up with was gorgeous; it was even better of course that being nearly the last of our group to marry that nobody had ever been to the venue before!
I used to work in the arts and had a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve visually for the wedding. There was no theme, but, much like the scrap booking approach I had taken to collecting ideas, we did have several common threads running through.
Art nouveaux and art deco style botanical designs, jewel colours, our home, places we love like France and Italy, and friends and family also featured heavily in all our plans. Everything had to have a reason for being there. More than anything I wanted it to just be really representative of us, so this along with the magic of twinkly lights and lovely vintage style cut glassware all of fed into the wedding ‘collage’.
I love rich colours and when he is not in navy blue David really likes purple tones so this became the basis of ideas for the colour scheme. I knew I didn’t want one colour, that definitely wasn’t ‘us’. So instead we chose a pallet of jewel and berry tones: ruby, magenta, plum, raspberry cut through with emerald and sapphire tones with flashes of gold and silver.
Being a lady of giantess stature, I am 6ft 1 ½ inch, I knew I would look insane in anything puffy. I loved the classic beauty of 1930s style gowns and had an idea that that sort of style would suit me. So my best friend (and chief bridesmaid), who knew about the proposal, found a vintage shop to visit as a surprise during my pre-planned birthday trip to York. This turned out to be an amazing find. Hayley, at Glory Days Bridal, was fantastic. I tried on some stunning pieces, many of which were her designs based on 1930s styles and we agreed this was probably the way forward. To be sure, and for the fun of it, I tried on dresses elsewhere but nothing I had seen caught my imagination as much as the dresses in Glory Days. I later drew out one of Hayley’s designs that I had tried, made a couple tweaks and emailed her to see if she would agree to make it. She agreed and so my stunning dress was born.
David had been an usher for his friend a couple years previously and had really thought highly of their suit hire company because as he said “the lady was lovely and really helpful”. I had Pinterested lots of suit ideas for him and off he went to Blades Suit Hire in Blagdon, and he chose a very smart navy lounge suit with a fitted shirt and navy waistcoat. He matched this with brown brogues from and a magenta tie. He looked gorgeous.
I didn’t want the bridesmaids (my younger sisters Liz and Jen and my best friend Fiona) to wear the same dress or the same colour which turned out to be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Thankfully after a few near disasters we ended up at Mia Sposa, who were brilliant in showing the huge array of colours and designs offered by Dessy. The girls each chose a dress they liked with in a tone that complemented their colouring and everyone was happy. The flower girls all had different dresses too from Accessorize.
The groomsmen all got the same suit as David from Blades but with plain navy ties; we bought David’s dad a patterned navy tie, my dad chose to wear his own tie decorated with dogs and we bought the best man Phil a purple tie to complement David’s. The page boy wore navy pants with a white shirt, navy waistcoat and a patterned navy bow tie.
I am not really a one for posh cars, but didn’t want to all be heading up to the venue in the family car so we booked a 1930s style Beauford for myself and my dad and another for my mum and the bridesmaid from AB Wedding Cars in Newcastle. They were fantastic and the fact they stuck around after the ceremony meant we could get some lovely shots with them in the background.
Gavin Forster Photography captured our day. Having a background in the visual arts I really wanted something that was beautiful and artistic as the professionally recorded memento of the day. I knew that loads of people would get brilliant shots on their smartphones and that we would get them from WhatsApp and Facebook, but I was very clear that if we were paying for a photographer I wanted something different. I was after journalistic photos of the day but beautiful bridal photography.
After seeing Gavin’s work online I knew that was the right sort of feel so we met up with him, looked at his portfolio, felt really at ease with him and got him booked. He suggested we arrange our E-shoot to get the ball rolling. I hadn’t been massively convinced because for me this fell into the ‘weddingy-dress-up’ category but actually it was a really good laugh and gave us a much better idea of what we were and weren’t comfy with. We took the pooch and went to St May’s Lighthouse where we have gone for years, both together and as kids with our family. The shots were honest. They showed us as individuals and captured how we are together so they became the blueprint for the wedding photography.
The flowers came next and having visited a few florists we settled on Secret Garden in Newcastle. I trotted along with my scrap book of collated images and hand drawn designs and Nicola just got it straight away. She oozed enthusiasm and we came away buzzing that we had finally found someone who fully understood the big bold colours and shapes I wanted. She agreed that being tall a big bouquet with a trail would pack impact and she agreed if everything else was mix and match that would work for all the buttonholes.
The bridesmaids had bouquets inspired my mine and the flowergirls had the cutest little wands with ribbons and flowerheads on them. Nicola even said we should pop in the day before to check we were happy as there would still be time to tweak them if needs be – if I am honest the flowers became the thing I was most excited about and when they arrived on the day I was delighted with the results.
In terms of the venue styling, I wanted each table to be different and had a very clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. People got used to hearing “that’s just not what I envisaged” thankfully therefore there weren’t too many wildly off-piste moments in the creative team made up of my mum, David’s mum, my aunt, my sisters and my best friend.
We sourced all sorts of glassware: cut glass decanters from Oxfam, big turquoise and purple outdoor lanterns from Matalan, gorgeous sparkly jewel tone tea light holders from Y&L on Brentwood Avenue in Jesmond, French jam jars and old French wine boxes that our family friends brought back from France with them and Tunisian and vintage style blue and green patterned tiles for everything to sit on to remind us of various trips. We filled everything with flowers and fairy lights. The wooden wine boxes were nostalgically filled with herbs from France and Italy – lavender and basil, with red geraniums and dark purple petunias to remind us of our first home together and the huge hanging baskets and pots we used to fill the yard with. Also, David’s mum and my aunt scavenged lots of greenery and indeed neighbour’s hydrangeas and sweet peas to fill all the jam jars with for the top table and to decorate tables and all empty surfaces with.
For the table numbers I colour printed and laminated floral and botanical pictures with words to our wedding songs and readings on the back. Using ribbon and mini bulldog clips which we had used to put all the separate postcard style pieces of the invites together, I attached the table number in sparkly silver and another smaller contrasting image of something that related to us, friends or family.
I’m not fussed about sponge cake but David loves it so he chose a three-tier wedding cake made up of Victoria sponge and fruit cake. It almost drove her mad getting the icing on neatly but my mum did all the cake baking and decorating beautifully. I then made the cake topper in the style of the flowers we had chosen.
For the wedding breakfast, we gave the guests a choice of starters, mains (lamb, chicken, fish or veggie) and puds and did a separate children’s menu. The venue were amazing allowing all this choice because I think normally they only do two mains! Oops!
Entertainment-wise, we always knew that when we finally tied the knot we would want our old friend ‘Andy-Kravitz’ to do the music. David originally worked in a pub with him when they were in their early 20s and at that point he was at uni and gigging. He has since gone on to be a director of a very successful music company, AMV Live Music. We met in the pub, he immediately agreed and booked his own ‘Livewire’ band in to play – Andy and Faye (the lead singer of the band) were guests at the wedding and then entertained us all that evening, they were absolutely amazing and really made the night!
A special touch of the day was walking down the aisle to Louis Armstrong’s La Vie en Rose with my dad. I made everyone wait and came in at the crescendo as we as a family wanted the whole song to play. Having danced round their house with all sorts of music but jazz in particular, Armstrong was a tribute to my late paternal grandparents who had played such a huge part in our lives. This song had to play out as a way of doffing our caps to them as well as knowing they were there with all the rest of our beloved clan.
We would have no hesitation in recommending Le Petit Chateau to other couples because the team there are exceptional. Katherine, our wedding planner was seriously efficient and highly professional but really personable and an excellent guide through the wedding maze. Anna, the event manager on the day, was a brilliant host. She let us in the day before so we could set the room up how we wanted it and she was hand throughout to make sure we were happy (and calm!) On the day she really looked after the boys, who all got ready up there and is on lots of the photos sorting out all their button holes etc. which was really sweet of her. The venue itself is stunning, it is a gorgeous mix of boho splendour and country pub. It provided a gorgeous backdrop but most importantly felt very homely and created the exact feel that we wanted: that this was in fact a big family house party.
One element that was really important to us was that we had our dog Merlin at the wedding, and the venue agreed that that would be absolutely fine so he was there for the ceremony.
Looking back at the wedding day I’d say my favourite part was seeing David when I got to the top of the aisle, we were finally going to do this! Later I loved our first dance, we had a couple secret dance lessons and had prepared something to The Ronettes Be My Baby because we love Dirty Dancing and the lyrics of this particular song really rang true for us.
There were also a couple other moments that will stick with me: watching my dad out the window on the morning cutting the lawn as he has done prior to all important family events, watching my mum get her makeup done, my best friend doing up the buttons to my wedding dress in my old bedroom just as we had gotten ready so many times before when we were younger, my sisters’ faces when they saw me in my dress, seeing everybody smiling as I came down the aisle. Oh, and the speeches, the food and the party!
Our honeymoon was to Italy. We had a few nights in Rome at a hotel on a street that had the same name as our primary school; we stayed in Umbria in a converted medieval chapel and we went to the Palio horse race in Siena before returning to Rome the day before we flew home to go to a spa resort we got a last minute deal on through booking.com the day before!
I have several top tips for other Brides Up North. Firstly, find your bridesmaid dresses early! We planned and delivered our wedding in nine months flat and the fact that I wanted different dresses and colours but couldn’t get them on the high street as I had hoped made it more complicated. Next, stick to your guns/gut. I’m not saying be a birdezilla but be really clear about what you want, this is too special and over too fast to not be the way you want it. Also, make lists of the photos that you want and try to ensure that they are taken, and perhaps have the day videoed. I didn’t think I was bothered about that but then there’s so much you just don’t remember when you look back on it because it is such a blur or emotion and adrenaline. Finally, chill and enjoy it.
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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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