February 8th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
I have a confession to make, readers: today’s real wedding has brought on a girl crush. Bride Chloe mixed Maggie Sottero with Topshop and threw in a leather jacket for good measure. She’s like Kate Moss, but Northern (i.e. an even better version of Kate Moss).
Also, we need more thumbs-up photographs in wedding albums. And brides swigging from beer bottles. And haystacks. Just putting it out there.
Actually, forget the girl crush – I have a full-on wedding crush. Do you think Chloe and Tom would notice if I conned them into being friends with me and invented a time machine so I could actually be at this wedding?
I challenge you to look at these stunning photographs and not feel the same way.
With images by Erin Photography.
chloe says: We got engaged on 4th September 2014, at Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland. It was the day after my birthday and Tom suggested that we take a day trip to Craster and Dunstanburgh. He completely surprised me by proposing while we were standing on the cliffs behind the castle; the only people around were a couple of fishermen! He’d managed to sneak a picnic into the car and after he’d proposed we enjoyed some food and drinks while sitting on the harbour in Craster.
We were married on 28th July 2016. We wanted a summer wedding to make the most of our venue (though the weather didn’t quite turn out as planned on the day!) Originally, we’d planned an August wedding to fit in with school holidays as I’m a teacher. We needed to move it forward slightly in the end to also fit in with Tom’s work schedule. This meant we had a week or so afterwards to enjoy a short honeymoon, too.
Our venue was High House Farm Brewery, Matfen, Northumberland. We wanted a laid-back venue where people could completely relax and enjoy the day – the open barn and the surrounding countryside was the perfect fit. We also wanted somewhere that we could add a personal touch with decorations etc. – our venue was great for this. They were very flexible with food and did their best to cater for every request. There was no hire charge for the venue providing that we used their caterers, so it saved us a bit of money that we were able to spend elsewhere.
We didn’t have a wedding theme and were very laid-back with decoration, table dressing and what we/our guests wore on the day. We wanted a laid-back atmosphere, and our guests commented that they really liked this about the day.
I chose a Maggie Sottero gown called Patience from Y.A.P. Bridal Boutique in Newcastle. The dress wasn’t too over-the-top, but was still really special. I also wore a full-length plain tulle veil from Y.A.P, which blended in with the train of my dress. I wore gold peep-toe sandals from Topshop during the ceremony, and changed into some cream lacy Toms for dancing later on. My leather jacket kept me warm when the temperature dropped!
My earrings were worn by my mam when she was married, and were my something ‘old’, ‘borrowed’ and ‘blue’. My something ‘new’ was a wedding present from Tom; a beautiful gold locket
Tom wore a Ted Baker three-piece suit – which he loved – a shirt and tie from Ted Baker, and brown leather double-buckled monk shoes from Dune. He almost bought a similar, cheaper suit, but definitely didn’t regret his choice in the end. He customised his button hole with a colourful feather from the bird aviary at our local park!
We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, just a best man who we were pleased to see decided to wear a suit and tie! We had a flower-girl who broke her arm the week before, so was sporting a bright pink cast, and in the end refused to walk down the aisle. Typical three-year-old!
I travelled to the venue in a vintage VW convertible Beetle from Canny Campers Wedding Hire. The owner of the car drove my mam, dad and I to the wedding and was really great, providing us with champagne and personalised champagne flutes as a memento. The ride to the venue was brilliant fun and we got lots of waves!
Tom travelled with his uncle John, best man Michael and brother Josh, for the simple reason that John has the nicest car in the family!
Our photographer was Erin Photography. Erin was super and we would highly recommend her. She blended in brilliantly, which was exactly what we’d asked for, and took some beautiful ‘natural’ shots. We wanted to avoid too many posed, awkward photos, and couldn’t have been happier with the images in the end.
Some of our guests commented on how approachable and amiable Erin was, and I think that this helped her capture the atmosphere of the day. We loved looking back at the photos and experiencing completely new parts of the day – moments that we missed at the time. You can’t be everywhere at once!
We bought all of our flowers the day before the wedding from a wholesale flower market in Gateshead. We spent hours arranging flowers in jars, making buttonholes, and creating my bouquet. We wanted to have a feel of wildflowers, with plenty of colours. We had a practice run a few months beforehand to make sure our flower arranging skills were up to scratch! We‘d spent months slowly collecting jars and vases for all of the flowers and we were so pleased with the end result.
I found NorthStar Audio Visual online and they provided our festoon lighting for the barn. The service was brilliant and totally hassle free. There were a few other small personal touches, such as our hand-written place cards, and a ‘welcome to our wedding’ sign at the barn entrance, but we didn’t need a lot of decoration as the venue really speaks for itself!
Everyone received a British Heart Foundation pin badge as a favour, as it is a charity close to our hearts. Tom wore his pin in his button hole, and I had mine in my bouquet during our ceremony.
Our cake was amazing! Pinterest played a big role in hunting for the perfect cake and I eventually found it. It wasn’t particularly ‘weddingy’, which I felt suited our day perfectly. We were lucky enough that a friend’s mam, Sarah Dinning, makes cakes for a living, and agreed to make it. It turned out to be as amazing as I’d hoped. We opted for all fruit (at least the cake was traditional!) and boxed it up for our guests to take home. We’ll be defrosting the layer we kept to use as our Christmas cake this year!
The venue provided our barbeque and drinks. We decided on prosecco for both our welcome drink and toast to keep things simple and we liked the idea of a barbeque as it meant that people still had a sit-down meal, but it was much more relaxed than a formal three course affair. For dessert, we had a ‘Great Wedding Bake Off’ and asked guests to bring their signature bake. We even judged, and awarded prizes for the three best! We were so grateful to everyone who baked for us, and all of the desserts went down brilliantly with the guests.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted live music at the wedding, but we found it difficult to find a band that we really loved. We went to see a number of different wedding bands but then we ended up booking a group we’d never seen before. We found Farewell Fairground online, thought they sounded great, and decided to take the risk. We were so glad we took the gamble because they were fantastic. They played great covers that got everyone on the dance floor and we had so many comments about how brilliant they were.
We wanted our wedding day to just be about the things we liked, and so doing all of the decorating ourselves, made everything feel very personal. We had spent the year up to the wedding adding our favourite songs to a wedding playlist, which we played after the ceremony until the band came on. We had lots of lovely comments about the music we’d chosen and it made the day feel very special to us.
After our wedding, we would absolutely recommend our choice of venue to another couple. Heather and her team made us feel relaxed about planning and allowed us to put our own mark on the venue in lots of different ways. The setting of the venue is beautiful, even on a grey July day! Getting married outside in the barn feels very special – we could hear the swallows overhead and the animals in the nearby fields. We did have to contend with a bee or two on the bouquet, mind!
The favourite part of the day for both of us was the ceremony. After all of the planning and organising and the endless lists of to-dos, actually getting married, exchanging vows and becoming husband and wife is the most important and exciting part of the whole day. We loved every minute of our wedding day, but walking down the aisle together as Mr and Mrs Young to The Beatles’ Eight Days a Week couldn’t be beaten!
We decided on Barcelona for our honeymoon. We combined some sight-seeing with some relaxation on the beach, and had a fantastic few days. We stayed at a beautiful AirBnB apartment in Gracia, which is a residential area, and not touristy in the least. We got the chance to eat at lots of cool tapas bars, restaurants and cafes, with the locals, and spent time in the plazas people-watching on an evening.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – think about what you want and try not to get sucked into the ‘wedding must-haves’. Lots of people asked why we weren’t ‘having this’ or ‘doing that’, but we stuck with what we wanted our wedding to be and we were so glad we did! Use Pinterest to collect lots of ideas, but don’t feel too disheartened when you can’t use them all.
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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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