February 9th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s real wedding will really get you in the party mood, with bagpipes, live music, caricatures, Irish dancing, magic and more!
Lindsey and Rory had the perfect countryside church wedding and celebrated afterwards with a rustic-themed do at Heaton House Farm.
You have been warned, though: further reading may result in foot-tapping, seat-dancing and a sudden urge for a glass of stout. Maybe best to leave this one until you’re out of the office…
With images by Jonny Draper
lindsey says: We got engaged in Dublin at Clontarf Castle on 16th May 2014. The beginning of that week Rory asked me to get the Friday off work as he fancied going away for the weekend – then he surprised me and told me that we were going to Dublin. I assumed we would be staying in the centre of Dublin where we have stayed before; however, we carried on and arrived at Clontarf Castle. I still didn’t have an inclination! During the afternoon, Rory suggested we have a few drinks in the bar before getting ready to head out for our meal later on. I remember just wanting to relax but little did I know that Rory had arranged for the room to be made up with rose petals scattered round the room and a dress he had bought for me laid out on the bed, along with champagne and chocolates. As we left the room Rory said he ‘forgot his wallet’ but that was just so he could get the ring from his bag and leave it in the bathroom bin ready for the proposal! After a few drinks we came upstairs and I was surprised at the room all beautifully decorated…I turned around and there he was on one knee! It was perfect in every way and I was glad it was just the two of us sharing the special moment together.
We got married on Friday 11th September 2015. We originally wanted Saturday 12th September, as that was the anniversary of the day we met, but it wasn’t available. Looking back, we made the right decision as the weather was perfect whereas on the Saturday it was chucking it down!
We got married at Gawsworth Church, St James The Great near Macclesfield, and our reception was held at Heaton House Farm. I’d always wanted a church wedding and the church is set in the beautiful countryside – the perfect scene for a wedding. Heaton House Farm is only 20 minutes away from the church and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue for our reception.
Both Rory and I love all things rustic and so a rustic wedding theme was an easy decision. I went for a purple/pink colour for my three bridesmaids and Rory and his groomsmen wore blue suits. Once they were both chosen it was easier to think about a colour scheme for flowers and decorations. Purple was the main colour throughout, however we incorporated other colours that would complement this and even it all out.
I didn’t shop around much for wedding dresses as I found a designer that I loved so it was just a case of looking for bridal shops which stocked her dresses. I ended up going to Amelia’s Bridal Boutique in Clitheroe, Lancashire, where I found my Morilee dress designed by Madeline Gardner. Her collections were just what I was looking for – elegant, feminine and stylish – and my chosen dress was just gorgeous. It was a white, trumpet style gown with a sweetheart neckline with beading and gems to the top of my neck. I also wore a long veil decorated with a few gems so that it would catch the light and complement my dress.
As I’d had such a good experience at Amelia’s Bridal, we decided to get Rory’s suit from there too. It was blue with a white shirt, a blue tweed tie, a grey tweed waistcoat with blue and brown checks on it and brown shoes.
My bridesmaids wore purple/pink Maids to Measure dresses. They were full length with a sweetheart neckline with chiffon straps that had material around the waist and tied at the back. The groomsmen wore blue suits with a white shirt and a blue waistcoat and a fawn coloured tweed tie with brown shoes, and Rory’s two best men wore the same as Rory but with a blue tie.
I travelled to the church with my dad in a vintage Imperial car which hired from Rollers Wedding Cars in Manchester. Everything ran smoothly and I arrived at the church about ten minutes early, Chris our chauffeur was lovely and the car was beautiful. Rory travelled down in a midnight blue Land Rover Discovery which just happened to match his suit!
Our photographer was Jonny Draper. Rory has always enjoyed photography – not necessarily taking photographs (although he does seem to think he is the saviour of Instagram) but appreciating photography as an art. Finding Jonny was an absolute godsend – his work shouts for itself. We met him for a drink and a chat and just knew that the process was going to be effortless as we were all on the same page. We’d absolutely recommend him – he really is the best!
My florist was Jill Naughton from Special Days Venue Dressing and Floristry. I chose flowers in soft shades of purple and pink as well as white, and the stems were wrapped in a white ribbon. Jill designed the bouquet to tie in with the rustic theme and chose the flowers accordingly.
We worked with Jill and Emma from Special Days Venue Dressing and Floristry to decorate the venue. For the church, they provided two pedestals with contemporary flower arrangements and milk bottle vases to hang from every other pew. We also had flowers hanging from the lychgate with lace and hessian. All of our flowers were then transported from the church to Heaton House Farm, where we also had a selection of crates, watering cans, jars, jugs, candles, flowers and lanterns to create a really rustic/vintage feel. Bunting and jam jars also helped to continue the theme, as well as burlap sashes and gypsophila clusters for our chairs. Our tables were dressed with hessian and lace table runners, tea lights and jars, a wooden tree slice and a jug of flowers in the middle. For the top table we used the same theme but used my bouquet in the middle with a hessian swag at the front and a love heart with flowers attached.
All of our guests received a different bottle of miniature alcohol. We also had our invitation company make name tags so that we could hole punch these and add them to our favours. They also designed wristbands for us that read ‘Rory and Lindsey’s Wedding 11/09/2015’ with a cartoon of me and Rory taken from our invitations.
Our cake was made by Fern at The Hidden Kitchen in Manchester. Fern is self-taught and runs her business from her home and through social media. Our cake was four tiers and we chose carrot, chocolate orange, lemon and red velvet flavours. We wanted our cake to have the personal touch too, so on the bottom tier there was pale green icing and a silhouette of Clontarf Castle. On the second tier there was pale pink icing and a silhouette of Rory proposing to me with two shamrocks. On the third tier we had ‘Rory and Lindsey 11.09.2015’ written in black icing and on the last tier we had pale pink icing and a silhouette of Rory and me in our wedding outfits. All of our guests said how delicious it was (much to the annoyance of Rory, who is still reeling from the fact he didn’t manage to taste it!) Luckily for him, Fern made twelve cupcakes for us as a taster before the big day, four of each flavour – utterly delicious! Fern was great to work with and extremely professional – a true perfectionist!
For the wedding breakfast, we served canapes of Cumberland chipolata sausages, Peking duck pancakes with hoi sin sauce and Welsh rarebit with a red onion jam. For our main meal, we served artisan breads and a serving platter in the middle of the table to start so that guests could help themselves and get to know each other if they didn’t already. For the main course we served a braised shin of beef with new colcannon potatoes and roasted root and green seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we did ‘Build Your Own’ ice cream sundaes where guests could help themselves to a whole range of ice creams and delicious toppings. For our evening reception food we wanted a barbecue – Man Vs Food style – and so we went for pulled pork, Cumberland sausages, hand-made beef burgers, grilled chicken all served with salad, coleslaw, cheddar, jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, sweet chilli sauce, tortilla wraps and handmade baps. For our wines we chose a red, white and rose and we asked the staff at Heaton House Farm to go around and ask our guests what they would like instead of serving all three on the tables. We also served prosecco during the speeches. In the evening, we had a chocolate fountain and a full pick and mix station – bring back the childhood!
We were extremely lucky to book some great entertainment for the day. It started straight out of the church door where we were greeted by our fabulous bagpiper, Phil McConnell, who managed to beat us to the reception venue in order to welcome us there, too. During our entrance drinks we had arranged for an artist, Mike Bryson, to create caricatures of our guests. During our wedding breakfast we had Nick Rushton, magician extraordinaire, to entertain tables with his wizardry – to this day we’re baffled as to how he managed some of his tricks!
The evening followed with the one and only Andy Murphy, DJ, kicking things off with a playlist tailored to suit us perfectly. Over the course of the evening, Andy floated about with a selfie stick and a go pro camera and the following day he posted a video to his Facebook page of us and all of our guests absolutely rocking it. It was totally unexpected but amazing, especially as the backing track for his film was a beautiful version of our wedding dance song Lover of the Light.
During Andy’s set, we also welcomed The Rush to give our guests a proper party feel. We had the full band including a saxophone, which blew people away. Andy & The Rush flowed effortlessly between live and DJ tracks to give the evening that bit more of an edge. It was just amazing.
We were also lucky enough to book an Irish Dance Troupe, Sean Hester’s Reel Rhythms. Rory’s family has a strong background in Irish Dance, with his dad being All Ireland Champion and being pipped to post at the World Championships by none other than Michael Flatley many years ago. Reel Rhythms were absolutely brilliant and made a beeline for us and the wedding party when it came to an audience participation section. The crowd were absolutely roaring – people were standing on chairs, clapping and desperate to join in. Sean and his troupe have performed worldwide, so for us to even be able to find a slot in their diary was out of this world.
Instead of a guest book, we went for a wedding bench guest book; a solid wood rustic bench. We supplied marker pens and encouraged people to add their comments and well wishes. We’ll keep it forever and it now takes pride of place in the conservatory!
We added lots of extra little special touches to our day, including flip flops, selfie-sticks and toiletries for guests to use and a surprise slideshow of photographs which ran during our speech.
Would we recommend our venue? Absolutely! Rory and I went to see lots of venues in the Cheshire area and nothing came close to Heaton House Farm. The staff are wonderful and always go above and beyond – anything we wanted, they could accommodate. The venue itself is amazing; well-kept, large enough for big weddings and also perfect if you want a smaller do. The grounds are stunning as you’re surrounded by beautiful countryside and we got some gorgeous photographs in their private garden, too.
The standout moment of the day has to be actually getting married. For me, hearing the bells ringing outside, walking down that aisle and seeing Rory and then saying our vows was just everything. I think you can get carried away with planning your big day and forget the reason you’re doing it.
We went on our honeymoon two weeks after our big day. First, we went to Sri Lanka for a week. In Sri Lanka we had our own private driver and travelled to different areas for sightseeing and touristy activities. We climbed up Sigiriya Rock, visited temples, went to an elephant national park and climbed Dambulla Rock. Then we flew to the Maldives where we stayed in a water villa with our own jacuzzi – pure luxury! We snorkelled, went on a dolphin cruise, drank, ate and completely relaxed for a week; it was out of this world! On the way home we stopped in Dubai for three nights. We went shopping in The Dubai Mall, watched the fountains, went up the Burj Khalifa and went on a desert safari.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to keep organised and in touch with your suppliers, updating them regularly with any amendments big or small. Our day ran perfectly from start to finish, so just be as thorough as you can with organising each little detail. Most of all, though, enjoy 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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