February 21st, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s glamorous bride describes her agonising decision as to whether to go ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Kim Kardashian’ on the wedding dress front. In the end, her elegant gown was more grown-up princess than KK but every bit a showstopper.
This gorgeous duo really knows how to organise a party: their big day features a ten-piece band, a photo booth and gallons of Champagne. Plus, the photographs of Katherine with her seven gorgeous bridesmaids? Real #SquadGoals material.
With photography by Brides Up North Sponsor Bethany Clarke.
katherine says: I had already picked my ring out at ROX jewellers in Leeds, with Oliver when we got engaged as we’d regularly talked about getting married. I had a very specific style in mind and we both agreed it would be better to pick a ring I loved instead of one I only liked! It was an amazing experience we both enjoyed and will cherish forever. We were greeted with a glass of champagne and chocolate truffles as the glass doors behind us were locked by the security guard. We were the only customers in the store – absolute bliss!
Given that I knew the ring was coming (although I didn’t know when and where!) I told Oliver if he wanted to surprise me he’d have to catch me off guard. He did just that: he asked me to pop downstairs to help him carry something inside the house and as I reached the bottom step he was on one knee – with my ring! Of course, I said yes.
We both wanted to be married fairly quickly and were lucky enough to be financially able to do so. We were engaged August 2015 and were married September 2016. Oliver’s parents were married on the 28th September and my parents were married on the 29th September, so we decided to follow the trend with 30thSeptember. To get married on a Friday was significantly cheaper at most venues than a weekend and that encouraged us to go for a week day.
We visited dozens of venues, but fell in love with Monk Fryston Hall in Yorkshire, immediately. We wanted to find a venue that wasn’t too big (more than one wedding per day at some places), not too small (we both have big families) and that could provide overnight accommodation overnight. We both wanted a church wedding but were willing to organise and pay for the transportation of the guests from the church to the venue. However, this wasn’t necessary as there was a beautiful church, St. Wilfrid’s, just over the road. This sealed the deal for us and we organised a meeting with the wedding co-ordinator.
There was no real theme to the wedding other than the colour scheme, which was lilac – only because I had seven bridesmaids to cater for and found a lilac dress that everyone was happy with at the bargain price of £49 each in the January sales!
Everything was very simple. I wore a white gown with no bling, our cake was white with flowers, we used simple tea lights and hydrangea buds for decoration. It was such a beautiful venue it didn’t need much styling!
Style-wise, I batted between ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Kim Kardashian’ for months! Did I fulfil my lifelong dream of wearing a wearing a poofy ball gown or did I go fashion forward and wear a skin tight fishtail gown? I went to several dress shops until I found Precious Bridal in Garforth – no pushy sales pitch, just a general introduction and then I was let loose in a shop full of gowns. Every bride’s dream! As my mum flicked through a catalogue she pointed out a dress she thought was lovely. I immediately recognised it – I actually had it saved on Pinterest. Donna suddenly revealed that she had it in stock! I had to try it on. Donna names each of her dresses so she can remember them easily, and so out of curiosity I asked what this dress was called. She replied ‘Katherine.’ I hadn’t even seen the dress and I knew it was the one. It was the perfect combination of elegance and a little bit of Cinderella.
Oliver bought his wedding shirt the day before the wedding – typical man! He found his suit at Jeff Banks and he looked so handsome. He wore a pale brownish-grey suit with a waistcoat and a lilac tie. The groomsmen all wore the same but has a slightly different buttonhole.
We had an awful experience with our original photographer who let us down several times before the wedding. In a panic I put the feelers out for a photographer who could cater for our wedding at the last minute. I had tonnes of recommendations but none were available. I received a message from an old friend recommending her photographer, Bethany Clarke. I looked at her photos and was impressed so went to Bethany’s website and was even more pleased. I’d never seen photos like them and desperately hoped she was available. She replied straightaway and said she could do it! Yay! Oliver and I met with Bethany to go through final details and felt so confident – I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to feel confident in your suppliers! Safe to say, our wedding photos brought me (and Oliver!) to tears. She’s incredibly talented and I would highly recommend her!
I had a simple bouquet of white hydrangeas and the bridesmaids had the same arrangement with lilac roses. Sasha Chappell at Fleur Chappelle created my bouquet and the other flowers. We had candelabras on each table surrounded by white hydrangea arrangements and large fishbowls with white hydrangea arrangements placed around the hotel. Sasha did everything: the flowers, the candles and the glassware. I had nothing to buy and, most importantly, nothing to pack up, take home and sell on when I got home. Sasha was very, very understanding and, even though I changed my mind a million times about what I wanted, she always said ‘not a problem’. She replied to each of my thousands of emails within hours. To save on money, I originally wanted to do the flowers myself, so when Sasha quoted I asked for a penny-by-penny breakdown for everything. As a business owner myself, I know how stressful, time consuming and redundant this task can be. Not for Sasha, though. She allowed me to rent the glassware from her, which not only saved me a lot of money, it saved time and effort the day before and after my wedding day. She even sent me a text message the night before my wedding wishing me luck for the following day and letting me know everything was ready to go. She really went above and beyond and I will be forever grateful.
A favours, we had a single Charbonel et Walker truffle for each guest. It was the actually the cheapest option we could find at £1.20 per box. It came boxed and tied with a ribbon of choice (lilac) so it was perfect!
Pretty Sugar Cake Company did our cake – they did an amazing job and it went down an absolute treat with our guests.
For the wedding breakfast, we got a meal package with our hotel and the food was amazing: lots of choice and utterly delicious. We provided the house wine to accompany the food.
We went ‘all out’ with our entertainment and hired a ten-piece band. It was the best money we’ve ever spent. The band were out of this world: the quality and variety of the music was spot on and the lead singer interacted so well with the crowd and with the kids. We also had a photo booth.
Looking back, I have to say the best part of the wedding day for me was getting ready with my girls in the morning. It was exactly how I wanted it to be: hair and makeup, champagne and giddy bridesmaids running in and out of the room! It was my last few hours as a Miss and I got to spend it with the people who meant the most to me. The anticipation and excitement of meeting Oliver at the end of the aisle will stay with me forever. The second half of the day I spent by my husband’s side as his wife and it was such a wonderful transition!
Our honeymoon: where do I start? Two days after the wedding we headed to Gatwick where we left for Cancun, Mexico. We stayed at Secrets, The Vine and were greeted to the hotel with a glass of champagne and a cold towel and it only got better from there. Our honeymoon was our biggest single cost but, as a once in a lifetime experience, it was worth every penny! I would highly recommend Cancun and the hotel; we went first two weeks in October and the weather was amazing.
If I could pass on any advice to other Brides Up North, it would be ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. I had recurring nightmares about my flowers not being the right shade of white and what would happen if it rained (every bride’s nightmare!) But on the day I didn’t even notice flowers, candles and all of the finishing touches – I just had such a wonderful day!
Also, organisation is your best friend: set up budgets and payment schedules so you’re not overwhelmed financially and schedule catch-ups nine/six/three months and then weeks four to one, before the big day to double check everything is still set to go. If you shop around you can save yourself money in areas you didn’t think you could. Always try haggle – if you manage to save £100 here and there you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up. I would strongly recommend wedding insurance as well!
Finally, try to enjoy planning your wedding. It may seem hard at times and you might find yourself wishing the days away, but the build-up is the best part and you never get it back! Cherish every day of planning and waiting.
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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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