February 16th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Emma and Ben’s wonderful woodland wedding at Healey Barn combined an autumnal colour scheme with gorgeous grey neutrals. Their big day was alive with berry purples, burnt oranges and zingy reds and the resulting photographs are phenomenal.
This beautiful couple wanted trees, woodland and fields as far as the eye could see, and so Healey Barn in Northumberland was the perfect venue. Warmth, cosiness and a whole lotta love – this wedding really has it all.
With images by Willow and Hare.
emma says: My engagement ring was bought by Ben’s father as a gift to his mother when Ben was born. She‘d worn it since the day Ben was born until the day he asked her for it in 2014. On a sunny Saturday in September we decided to go for a drive into the countryside, as we often do. I still had no idea anything was going on. Pulling over near a secluded footpath with beautiful views over the Derwent Reservoir at Edmundbyers, Ben suggested we stretch our legs. We headed up into the hills, taking silly photographs and enjoying the sunshine. As we were standing at the top of a hill a Red Kite flew overhead. As a bird-lover, I got very excited and said, “This day couldn’t get any better.” Ben replied, “I can think of a way to make it better,” put his hand into his pocket and pulled out the ring.
We were married on 15th October 2016. I’d always dreamed of an autumn wedding as it’s my favourite season with all the colours and leaves. Both my parents and grandparents had been married in the autumn and had beautiful weather so we took a chance and it definitely paid off.
Our venue was Healey Barn, Riding Mill. We knew we wanted a relaxed, natural wedding and after seeing a few photos of the recently-opened venue we knew we had to go visit it. As we drove to the venue we were stunned at the surrounding area. Our one condition was that we wanted plenty of trees for our photographs and to guarantee the autumnal theme and Healey was surrounded by woodland and beautiful fields. We knew it was the place; the whole layout felt right and we could imagine immediately our wedding taking place there. We put the deposit down on the spot.
Everything about the wedding was inspired by autumn. For the suits and bridesmaids we chose grey with burgundy accents. We really wanted the flowers and foliage to be the main feature.
My dress was a Mori Lee 6788 from Elizabeth George Bridal in Middlesbrough. It was a beautiful ivory ball gown with a dropped waist. I’d originally been looking at lace fitted dresses but not found anything that really felt right until my aunty suggested I try something totally different on and pulled this one out. The second I came out of the changing room my mother, sister and aunty all burst into tears which, of course, set me off too. The girls at Elizabeth George were amazing – they made the whole experience truly special.
Ben and his groomsmen wore grey suits from Occasions at Debenhams. As everyone was so scattered across the world (two groomsmen in Devon, his brother in Australia, father in Thailand) we needed to find a suit that we could quickly change if they didn’t fit.
Ben teamed his suit with a burgundy paisley tie and tan brogues from Schuh.
My bridesmaids wore dresses from For Her and For Him. I was initially dubious about ordering dresses online but again, as my bridesmaids were scattered across the globe, I needed to get them made to their measurements and not off the peg. I chose three shades of grey to complement the suits and to act as a neutral against the flowers. I was so impressed with the quality of the dresses: they fit each of my bridesmaids perfectly and were great value.
The guests were taken to the venue by coach. My little brother played chauffeur for the bridesmaids and my dad drove me in his car, which was really nice as we were able to talk and keep each other calm.
Our photographer was the lovely Laura at Willow & Hare. Laura was the first vendor we booked after the venue: having photographs to treasure was a real priority. We loved the candid, natural style of Laura’s work and she didn’t disappoint. Throughout the whole day Laura and her father blended in with our guests and really captured every little detail of the day. Not once did we feel any pressure or camera shyness – she made us feel so at ease. The end results are absolutely stunning. We simply couldn’t recommend her more.
Harriet at Flowers Unlimited provided the bouquets, buttonholes and the decorations for the venue. My bouquet was trailing autumn foliage with large white and burgundy dahlias and berries. I’ve preserved and framed the bouquet – it was just so beautiful.
For the venue, we chose to decorate the tables with dahlias and berries in autumnal colours in jam jars. One of the amazing features of Healey is the fireplace and chandeliers in the main hall which allowed us to hang giant balls of foliage and flowers from the ceiling. Harriet went above and beyond and the colours were simply stunning.
We doubled up place names with favours by giving little gift boxes filled with homemade fudge. Days before the wedding we had a production line with the whole family building boxes and packaging the fudge.
The cake was quite a saga – now known in the family as “CakeGate”. It was made by my mum with carrot cake for the bottom layer and lemon drizzle for the top. We left decorating the cake until the last minute, however, and it turned into a real mission. One of my wonderful bridesmaids stepped in to pipe the icing (hand-whipped by Ben after our electric mixer died) and spent the whole day before the wedding getting it just right. Unfortunately, as we needed to transport it from Newcastle to Hexham, we couldn’t assemble the cake until the morning of the wedding. Between the ceremony and the meal my bridesmaid was an absolute hero and sneaked off to finish the cake (we won’t mention the icing on the bridesmaid dress incident…!)
Everyone at the wedding has raved about the food at Healey Barn – it was incredible. The butternut squash and red lentil soup to start was a huge hit, which many of our guests have tried to replicate since. For main we had chicken with cream of tarragon sauce and vegetables, also wonderful. Dessert was my ultimate favourite (no other dessert would do!): sticky toffee pudding – it was incredible.
We used Andy at AMDJ Services for the evening disco. We both love to dance and, from start to finish, the dance floor was full. Our grandparents had never seen us dance before so it was special that they were able to share that with us.
We also had a photo booth from The Picture Book Studio. We have so many hilarious photos and it doubled as a guestbook. We were left so many lovely messages!
I also have to mention the amazing service of Northumberland Registrars; everyone commented on how beautiful and personal the ceremony was.
My hair was taken care of by Trish at Studio-19 in Hexham. It was amazing and stayed fixed all day, despite my crazy dancing and the photobooth props!
My makeup was by Tara Shenton MUA. Tara was amazing; so lovely and friendly and our makeup stayed flawless through the tears and dancing past midnight.
Healey Barn and its staff were absolutely incredible. Throughout the whole process Leanne and the team made everything very simple. Nothing was too much trouble, from calming us both down before the ceremony to running around helping us assemble the cake and the waiting staff leaping over my enormous dress with trays laden with soup. Everyone was so kind and professional and all of our guests felt completely at ease. It was such a relief after all the planning to not worry about anything on the day about anything.
Our favourite part of the day? What an impossible question! Apart from saying “I do”, of course, the last ten minutes of the night were really special. Everyone had cleared the venue to get on the coach and the staff had begun to clear up. We both went into the courtyard and toasted a final few marshmallows on the fire and a waiter brought us a glass of prosecco each. We just stood by the fire laughing and taking it all in. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.
For our honeymoon, we drove into the highlands of Scotland for five days. We had no plan, we just drove from place to place, B&B to B&B, finding waterfalls and viewpoints, enjoying the peace and quiet after the chaos of the weeks leading up to the wedding. It was bliss.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to take every moment you can during the day to check in with your other half. Most of all, take the last minutes of the night to wander around your venue and take it all in. The day will be a blur, so use those few moments to slow down and spend it just with each other as new husband and wife.
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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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