February 13th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Rebecca & David’s relaxed wedding at the Priory Cottages was a family-friendly affair complete with bouncy castle, sharing dishes and stacks of sugary sweeties.
This laidback bride left some of her big decisions to the last minute and to fate – well, to trusted friends and suppliers. The result? Simply stunning.
The gorgeous Rebecca also has an eye for style – check out that dreamy Caroline Castigliano dress and jaw-dropping engagement ring. What can we say? Girl’s got style!
With images by Arabella Smith.
rebecca says: David proposed in 2008 when I was heavily pregnant with our first child, we went for a ‘baby moon’ at Hotel du Vin in Harrogate. He presented me with a box full of Love Heart sweeties (my favourites!) and which all said ‘Marry Me’! Cheesy, cheesy, cheesy – but the engagement ring made up for it! David had a ring made that was just like one we’d seen in Cartier that was way out of budget! I loved it, I still love it – in fact, I still find myself staring at it sometimes!
We joke it was the world’s shortest engagement as the next day my fingers swelled so much I couldn’t wear the ring again until after I’d given birth.
We picked 22nd October 2016 as our wedding date. Three children later, we decided we were ready to commit to organising a wedding. The date wasn’t significant; we were restricted on dates but we were really pleased with the idea of an autumn wedding. We didn’t want a summer wedding with any unrealistic expectations of nice weather and this was the week before schools broke up so we were all set to jet straight off on honeymoon.
Our ceremony was at All Saints Church, Wighill and our reception at Priory Cottages. We knew we wanted something relaxed and informal with lots of kids attending. I didn’t want to have to tell them to be quiet all the time and stop running around. I loved the idea of a barn, so we shortlisted a few within driving distance. The priory was the first David and I visited and, honestly, we knew when we pulled onto the gravel courtyard that this was the place for us. Needless to say, we didn’t even look at any other venues: the place is stunning. The staff are fantastic – I’m not the most organised of brides and they were really relaxed with me and so helpful when I needed it.
We both knew we wanted to get married in a church so the priory put us in contact with All Saints Church in Wighill. What a lovely bunch of people! We were treated like one of the congregation instantly and we definitely feel like we have a church we can call our own from now on.
Theme-wise, we didn’t really have one – other than ‘family friendly’ and ‘fun’. With colours, we opted for navy and blush pinks – and then the groom threw a wild card in the week before the wedding when he turned up with a burgundy tie from Paul Smith. I had to ring the florist to tell her but she was thrilled: dark reds are her favourite coloured flowers!
I bought my dress from Abbey Bridal Warehouse. I left it too late to go chose a dress from a luxury bridal shop and a few people had recommended Abbey Bridal. I picked about 15 and tried them all on but I knew there was only one contender for me. My criteria was ‘plain and simple’. No lace, no beads, no sequins and definitely no glitter. Actually, quite a difficult brief for a wedding dress. I saved the best till last: a Caroline Castigliano dress called Charm School. It had a sweetheart neckline and was floaty with a long train. So simple but it just felt amazing as soon as I put it on. I also wore a back necklace from Liberty in Love.
My makeup was done by the talented Megan Bulmer. She was awesome; I can’t recommend her enough. Such a lovely person to have around on the morning of the wedding. I wanted a natural look as I don’t wear much make up and I’m pretty sure that’s harder to achieve than a heavy look, but it was perfect. My bridesmaid and family had theirs done too and they were thrilled!
My hair was by Donna McMahon. She has such a natural talent for putting hair up. I loved my hair, it’s the thing I got the most comments on and it honestly took her five minutes to do.
The groom wore a navy two-piece suit from DKNY, a grey tweed waistcoat and the burgundy Paul Smith Tie.
My bridesmaids wore navy multi-way wrap dresses from Debenhams and our dads and usher sported navy suits. Our flower girl wore a dress from Monsoon and heeled shoes (she begged and begged for heels!) and the boys had navy John Lewis linen suits and desert boots.
We weren’t too bothered for fancy transport but, very kindly, a friend’s executive driver (Richard from Galaxy Exec Travel) took me in his nice car and provided us with a couple of posh people carriers to transport guests to and from church.
Our photographer was Arabella Smith of Fine Art Weddings. We didn’t really want a formal wedding photographer, but stumbled across Arabella on Facebook. I’d already looked at a few wedding photographers online and none of them seemed very ‘us’. Arabella had done some shots of a friend’s children that were beautiful and I looked into her further and found she’d also done some beautiful wedding photography. I knew she was perfect before I even met her – I think I even told her unless she had two heads when I met her I was definitely booking her!
She was probably the best decision I made in the run-up to the wedding. She was just amazing. Someone told me once that your wedding photos are the most important thing about your wedding as they are the physical memories you’ll look at and cherish forever – and they were so right!
From our initial consultation to the end pictures, everything about Arabella was exceptional. She understood our personalities perfectly and worked with us on everything. She captured some beautiful posed pictures of all of us and also some really brilliant action shots which I will cherish forever – I needed the pictures of my son doing the crab in his Star Wars boxer shorts just as much as I needed photos of me in my wedding dress! I’d recommend her to anyone and everyone.
For flowers, we went to Ivy Florist in Pudsey, Leeds. I went to school with Sofia so it was a no brainer that I would use her as my florist. I’ve seen all her work over the years and every bit of it has been beautiful. I had total confidence in her, so when she asked me what flowers I’d like I told her ‘surprise me’. I think she was more worried than I was – I just told her the colour scheme and left her to it! And I wasn’t disappointed; when my flowers arrived the morning of the wedding I was so happy. They were truly amazing and beautiful, better than anything I could have imagined myself. She’d even popped a few leftover flowers in the box which my hairdresser added into my hairstyle at the last minute!
For venue dressing, we used Julie from Beautifully Yours. One word: eucalyptus. I love it! Sofia from Ivy Florists provided me with a big bunch of it and my friend Julie from Beautifully Yours dressed the venue with lots of glass vases, candles, tea lights and eucalyptus with a few white snow berries thrown in.
Our stationery came from Papier, and we went with their winterberries range. I had menus printed and place cards and used blank ones for table numbers and seating plans.
For the children’s tables, I got individual chalkboards with their names, a little bunch of chalks wrapped with twine and a sweetie bracelet. They loved them and it kept them entertained during dinner.
As for favours, I decided to put the favour budget towards more wine…!
My best friend and bridesmaid Charlotte made the cake. She’s not a professional as such but she’s an excellent cake baker! She was up for the challenge and did such a fantastic job. She made a Victoria sponge with white chocolate buttercream filling, covered it in berries and dusted it with icing sugar. It tasted as amazing as it looked!
For food, we used Taste Cuisine. Again, I left it up them really – I didn’t choose my menus until there were only two weeks to go! Again, I’m so last minute!
We didn’t want a formal, plated sit-down meal but also didn’t want a buffet with sausage rolls and crisps so we decided on a family-style sharing option where a variety of dishes were brought to the tables and guests could serve themselves. It worked perfectly and there was no compromise on food quality: it was absolutely delicious. Our food options included roast beef and yorkshire pudding, salmon wellington and chicken in a mushroom and sage sauce. Afterwards we had an assiette of desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth: sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie and Yorkshire mess.
For our evening entertainment, we used Carl Whitehead at CAA Mobile Discos. I just wanted a nice guy to come and play some music that everyone could have a good dance to. Carl was perfect. We also had a disco dome bouncy castle for the kids. It was awesome: I loaded up an iPod full of party tunes, connected it to the speaker and they were of. I don’t think anyone saw them for hours! It got to 7pm and I thought, ’I must go and see this bouncy castle before it gets picked up at 7.30pm.’ So me and my bridesmaids clambered on in our dresses only to find no iPod; the only thing we had was my bridesmaid’s iPhone and the only music she had on it was the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack! We had the best half hour of our lives bouncing away to Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do. My one regret was that I didn’t keep the bouncy castle all night!
We had a few extra little touches to make the day even more personal to us. We had some sparklers at night which proved pretty cool and were a really nice touch for the extra evening guests.
Dave loves tattoos so we got tonnes of temporary tattoos for the kids. They loved them: even my nephew who’s not allowed temporary tattoos had a huge one on his arm! It was brilliant.
I’ve got a real love of sweeties so we did a sweetie table for the kids (and me). I’m pretty sure all that sugar kept them going on the dance floor till midnight!
We would absolutely recommend our venue to other couples. It’s such a beautiful place. You have complete exclusivity and freedom which is such a bonus. It’s also great to have the cottages where guests can stay on site. The staff are so friendly and helpful. In short, it was just perfect!
We both felt filled with such joy all day. Despite the cliché, it honestly was the best day of our lives. We’ve been together for such a long time and the fact we had our children there, our friends and family (including some who travelled thousands of miles just for the weekend) made it all so special. My highlights included smiling all day, the bouncy castle, Proud Mary on the dance floor at the end of the night – oh, and my long pause in the church, at the ‘I do’s’. I just couldn’t resist; we’d joked about it in the rehearsal and it was all getting a bit serious. Everyone laughed including the priest – oh, and Dave! Phew…
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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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