Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

vintage vibes. a relaxed, family-focused wedding at the great john street hotel – elisa & mick

January 31st, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (48)

Today’s real wedding is brimming with gorgeousness. Elisa and Mick didn’t worry about a theme and put all of their energy instead into planning a big day that was light on formality but big on love, laidback vibes and, err, Minions. Yes, that’s right – Minions.

Bride Elisa also gets the award for one of the most beautiful statements about weddings on this blog ever: “I thought I’d cry on my wedding day, but I smiled all day long.” Sob. Get the tissues at the ready, readers…

With images by Toni Darcy.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (4)

elisa says: We got engaged on 4th April 2015 in the Lake District. We spent a long weekend staying at the luxury Lake House hotel. After a private spa trail in the afternoon, Mick proposed in traditional romantic style on a rowing boat on the lake. I’m not a huge fan of boats but it was very romantic regardless!

We got married on Saturday 12th September. We chose the date around the availability of the venue and because we wanted to get married quite quickly. My mum was very ill, and passed away a few months after the wedding.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (58)

We got married at the Great John Street Hotel. We chose it because we wanted something a little different, we love the centre of Manchester and we thought the terrace would be fantastic if we managed to get a sunny day – which, amazingly, we did! Overall, we liked the chilled out atmosphere of the hotel, the décor, the fact our family and friends could stay at the hotel, and the fact that we could make the day our own.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (31)

I remember being quite scared by the ‘so what’s your theme?’ question. We really wanted our wedding to be relaxed and fun, particularly because so many children were attending, so we threw in the odd Minion along with floral dresses for the bridesmaids!

We didn’t have a particular colour scheme – a decision made because of the relaxed feel we wanted to create. I wanted the bridesmaid dresses to be a bit different and not just one colour, so picked out a beautiful floral fabric and had them made.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (47)

With my own dress, I chose the first one that the lady in the shop suggested I try on. No other dress could live up to it, even though I tried more on. I remember feeling shocked at how amazing I felt I looked in a wedding dress – she clearly knew how her to do her job well! I loved the fact that it wasn’t ‘big’, I loved the beautiful lace and the small train which had a slightly vintage feel to it.

The bridal shop I visited was Blush in Uppermill, Saddleworth where we live; it was important to me that we supported our local businesses even though we’d chosen the centre of Manchester for the venue.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (3)

Mick wore a suit which he bought from Armani (I still tease him about the fact that it cost the same as my wedding dress!) with a white shirt and no tie. He hates having to wear a tie to work and so it didn’t feel right to wear something formal to our own relaxed wedding.

The best man wore his own suit, again with no tie; we just didn’t want formal groomsmen attire. The bridesmaids wore dresses made by a lady in Saddleworth. She pointed me in the direction of fabric shops in Manchester to source the material and then drew up a design which the girls decided on. I absolutely loved them; the style suited everyone from my lifelong best friend down to our three-year-old flower girl.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (15)

I got ready at our house in Saddleworth with all the girls, and we then travelled into Manchester in a white Range Rover. I don’t know; I fancied a bit of bling!

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (25)

Toni Darcy was our photographer. She was fantastic; people asked us if she was a friend of ours because she integrated so well on the day. In particular, she was fantastic with our little boy Ben (aged five!) and got some fantastic shots of him both on the wedding day and at the pre-shoot at our house. Her knack of capturing the day naturally rather than lots of poses was exactly what we wanted and I’d recommend her to anyone.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (34)

I carried a small bouquet of flowers which included memory lane roses, a white hydrangea, clematis, and wax flower. They were provided by the Flower Shop in Uppermill. They also created a beautiful comb of fresh flowers to go in my hair which I loved.

For the venue, we chose simple relaxed flowers in jam jars which my mum decorated to go on the tables on the terrace at the hotel. They included all the same flowers as in the bouquets and were provided by the Flower Shop.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (43)

We didn’t have a sit-down meal as we wanted to avoid some of the wedding traditions as well, such as favours. We had a dessert table rather than a traditional wedding cake, although it did include a cake. This was part of our theme to create some fun for the kids and help make things a little different and relaxed. It was created by Suzanne Thorp at The Frostery in Uppermill, who is just incredibly talented and was the brains behind the full idea and making it come to life. I just loved it!

We chose to have afternoon tea after the ceremony in the library at the hotel with relaxed seating and champagne. In the evening we chose to have a barbeque on the terrace. We loved this more relaxed option which suited us and all the children at the wedding. We also supplied lots of good New Zealand sauvignon blanc and Italian Montepulciano to wash it down with because these are wines we love to drink at home.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (46)

In the afternoon we had a children’s entertainer to help keep the kids amused while the adults took their time over the food.

In the evening we had singer Wayne Allen who helped to get the party started, and a magician to keep both the kids and adults amused. We then continued the party with a DJ.

We also added a few little personal touches to the day. My mum made beautiful bunting with our names and our little boy’s Ben’s name on. We also hired babysitters so that the parents could enjoy the evening and the kids could crash out after a long day.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (52)

We would recommend our venue to other couples without a doubt. They tailor your day to you and your preferences – and, if you get the weather, the terrace can’t be beaten!

A standout memory from the day is when I arrived at the venue. My little boy Ben was waiting with Mick at the front of the aisle and when he saw me he screamed, ran to me and gave me the biggest hug, telling me how beautiful I looked. I’ll never forget that moment, hugging him and looking up smiling at Mick and feeling just so incredibly happy. I thought I’d cry on my wedding day, but I just smiled all day long.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (50)

For our honeymoon we went to Sicily and stayed at a fantastic hotel which looked out into the bay of Taormina. It was the most luxurious and romantic place I’ve ever been to – it even pipped the place we got engaged at in the Lake District.

A Vintage Wedding at The Great John Street Hotel (c) Toni Darcy (62)

And finally, my top tip for other Brides Up North would be – do what you want to do, not what is expected of you to do at a wedding. Nobody missed the favours, or sit down meal, or not cutting the cake!

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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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