January 18th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Sarah and Matt’s relaxed, family-focused wedding combines two of our favourite themes at Brides Up North: plenty of organic woodland elements with a gorgeous blush, gold, mocha and burgundy colour scheme.
However, as these photographs show, you don’t have to compromise on style to have the informal, child-friendly wedding of your dreams. Sarah’s Jenny Packham gown and breathtaking oversized bouquet are just two super-stylish details from this stunning day.
With images by Jess Yarwood.
sarah says: We got engaged on Christmas Day almost seven years before the wedding. We’d been together five years and I was pregnant with our eldest daughter. Matt proposed with a big flower ring (not the real ring!) in bed on Christmas morning.
We were married on 7th October 2016. There was no special reason behind the date – in fact, getting married in 2016 was only an idea at the start of the year. We went to a family party (my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary) in April 2016, and loved the family being together so much that we decided we should get married the same year. So, we had to crack on and find a venue/date! I knew I wanted it to be in autumn but as early as possible so that it might still be warm enough.
We got married at Trafford Hall near Chester. A couple of people had recommended it as they’d been to weddings there but we had never been. We went to a wedding fair there and fell in love with it. We didn’t look at any other venues – we just knew straight away that it was the right venue for us.
Because of the nature of the venue we decided on a loose nature/woodland/botanical theme for the wedding. I love trees and plants and flowers and wanted to incorporate some greenery into the day.
The main colour scheme was mocha and burgundy with dusky pink, gold and lots of green! Originally the bridesmaids dressed were dusky pink but we had a few issues with the dresses and ended up having to change everything mid-August!
I chose a Jenny Packham dress called Betty, which I bought from Lillya Grace Bridal Boutique in Nantwich. I actually bought another dress in Chester first and realised quickly that it wasn’t what I wanted; it wasn’t in keeping with the style of the rest of the wedding and I had to find something else instead. When I saw the Jenny Packham I knew straight away that this was the perfect dress for me. I wanted something that was natural and elegant and not too structured. A little bit vintage with some detail but not over the top. It was amazing – it fell perfectly and looked fabulous in the pictures.
Holly Lander did my makeup – she was fantastic and helped out with other things too – she even went to the bar to get a bottle of pre-wedding bubbly! Emily Banks did the hair for me and the bridesmaids and Amy Lofthouse did the flower girls’.
Matt and the groomsmen wore blue suits from Next. The groom wore a mocha tie while the groomsmen wore burgundy ties.
Our wedding photographer was Jess Yarwood. I don’t know how I found her but I’m very glad I did! I would highly recommend her. Her shots are so natural and fun. She really captured our personalities – especially my crazy children!
For my flowers, I had a big (and quite heavy) loose, natural hand-tied shower bouquet. Lots of greenery – eucalyptus, fern, ivy, mint and rosemary, beautiful amnesia mocha roses, pale pink astilbe, dahlias, jasmine, peach hypericum and berries. The bridesmaids had smaller versions and the table centrepieces were the same flowers too. We also had 20 bottles with individual stems dotted around the venue.
The flowers were by Wild in Chester; they were so beautiful that I cried when they arrived on the morning of the wedding. Wild also provided old fruit crates to put the centrepieces on during the ceremony and after the meal. I bought lots of ivy and fern plants and succulents that we placed around the venue in various pots that I’d collected over the summer. I bought lots of small votives and arranged leaves and ferns around them to add to the botanical theme. We hired Sweetpea and Ivy to add gold, mocha and cream lanterns to the ceiling which really brought the room together. I also bought extra flowers and foliage to use on the napkins with twine and hessian ribbon round them.
We hired the chairs for the venue from Wirral Chair Hire. They were great: fab prices and really easy to deal with.
As favours, we gave Hotel Chocolat chocolates. I made up lots of small brown boxes with lids and tied them with twine. They doubled up as place settings as I added a name tag made of natural paper and stamped with each name.
Our wedding cake was a beautiful five-tier sponge cake made by Mrs B Queen of Cakes. I met Sam a few months before the wedding and she took lots of colours and themes and came back to me with hand drawn designs. The cake was perfect – absolutely stunning and tasted amazing. We had chocolate, lemon, white chocolate and raspberry, Victoria and ginger layers!
Before the main wedding meal, we had canapes of asparagus tips wrapped in smoked salmon, caramelised fig and blue cheese crostini, chorizo, feta cheese and black olive tartlets, spicy chicken fillet and roasted pepper skewers. We then had a three-course wedding breakfast consisting of goats’ cheese tartlet to start, pork with seasonal vegetables for the main and sticky toffee pudding and cheese for dessert. We also had wine and lots of prosecco!
In terms of entertainment, we had a magician (Ian’s Close Up Magic) after the ceremony who performed magic to groups of people. He was fantastic; there were so many wows, squeals and lots of laughs! In the evening we had a disco from Red Rooster Discos.
Prior to the wedding, Matt spent weeks creating a seven-hour playlist which started as I walked down the aisle. The music he chose was amazing; all the songs we both love, and we play it all the time at home. We missed most of it on the wedding day as we were lucky to have great weather and spent a lot of the time outside.
Would we recommend our venue? Absolutely. The staff were great, the place is beautiful and the setting is perfect. The main ballroom where we had our ceremony, meal and disco is a beautiful space and can be dressed to suit any taste. It’s a blank canvas. It had everything we needed for all our guests, rooms for everyone to stay and very reasonably priced. We had nine children at the wedding and the open space was perfect and safe for them to play, meaning parents could relax.
Looking back there were so many highlights to the day. I loved walking into the room with my dad and seeing all of my friends and family. I loved seeing the tears in their eyes when we all walked in – it was a very emotional and very happy moment. I loved the ceremony; when you’ve been together for 11 years and have three children you rarely have such special moments. The speeches were also fabulous – my mum gave a speech which was beautiful and Matt and the best man were hilarious!
We didn’t really have a honeymoon, but we did go to Cuba in July so we can’t complain! We spent the wedding night at Trafford Hall and the following day we went for a lovely meal in Chester and spent the night in the Chester Grosvenor Hotel.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be visit your venue lots and take photos; I found the hardest thing was dressing the venue. Also, buy what you can and do some yourself; it’s very satisfying seeing it all on the big day and knowing you did it.
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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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