February 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s bride and groom visited Peckforton Castle and fell hard for the venue’s vintage, other-worldly charm – so much so that they introduced a subtle fairy-tale theme as they planned their wedding. Everything from the ornate script of their stationery, to the blossom trees lining the aisle, is a nod to the romance of a perfect storybook.
Charlotte looked every inch the perfect princess bride in her Diane Legrand gown and blue Manolo Blahniks, and she’s a girl after our own hearts – her advice to brides-to-be touring venues and bridal boutiques is, “Enjoy all of the free champagne”. We totally agree.
With photography by Adam Riley Photography
charlotte says: We got engaged on 18th June 2015 on a quiet beach in Portugal exactly nine years after we officially became a couple. Tom had set up his camera to record the whole proposal but told me that he wanted get some nice shots of us together using the self-timer on the camera. I had no idea that he would propose and instantly burst into tears (after saying yes, of course)!
We originally wanted the wedding to take place on 18th June 2016 (exactly one year after the proposal and ten years of being together) – however, when we found our dream venue they had no availability for that date. We tried to get it as close as we could and chose 7th July 2016.
We got married at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. It was the first venue we looked at and before we had even walked into the main grounds I was in tears – so were our mums! It just felt so magical and enchanting. When we walked into the Great Hall there were even more tears and we all knew that was the place where we wanted to make our promises to each other. We made a provisional booking there and then!
When we first started planning our day we didn’t have a theme in mind. We were getting married in a castle and thought vaguely about having a subtle fairy-tale theme. It wasn’t until we started thinking about our stationery and flowers that we really started to entertain the idea. Our invites were in the style of a vintage fairy-tale book complete with a drawing of the castle and a poem that we wrote ourselves which wouldn’t be out of place in a Dr Seuss book. Instead of table numbers we chose to write chapters of a book with each table having a chapter number and a short story of our relationship at that time. We called our top table ‘The Next Chapter…’
Colour-wise, we wanted to keep everything neutral and all our flowers were white with green accents. The bridesmaid’s dresses were a very soft pink and the boys’ morning suits were navy which provided a nice contrast.
My dress was by German designer Diane Legrand and purchased at Society Brides in Liverpool. When I originally set out to find the perfect dress I thought I wanted a simple fishtail – how wrong I was. After trying on a few dresses in this style I wasn’t really feeling like a ‘bride’ and decided to try on a princess style gown. I instantly fell in love with the style and quickly narrowed down my specifications: namely, lace bodice, detailing at the waist and a huge train! I then decided to go for a long double layer veil with lace detailing. I then finished my look with blue Manolo Blanhik shoes: my ‘something blue’.
Tom wore a traditional navy blue morning suit with dark grey pinstripe trousers, grey waistcoat, pocket watch and a navy polka dot tie and handkerchief hired from Cheshire-based Whitfield and Ward. He finished his look with matching Ralph Lauren polka dot socks and black patent leather shoes. He also wore a rose gold Daniel Wellington watch which I gifted him on the morning of the wedding.
The best man and father-of-the-groom wore the same morning suits as Tom and matched their ties to the soft pink tone of the bridesmaids’ dresses. The bridesmaids’ dresses were by True Bride and were purchased from Emma Bridal in Liverpool.
I stayed at a lodge in the castle grounds and travelled up to the castle in a white Bentley, which was a gift from the venue.
Tom travelled to the castle with his dad and best man in a Mercedes E Class that his dad hired for a couple of days so that we could head off on our honeymoon in style!
One of the first things we booked after booking our venue was our photographer, Adam Riley. After searching through his blog and then meeting him in person we both knew we wanted him to be a part of our day and capture everything for us.
In keeping with the style of our wedding, we wanted our photographs to be as natural as possible. We had heard some horror stories from other couples who felt that their entire day was taken up by posing for photographs. We wanted our wedding album to be documentary style and tell the story of our day.
Adam’s background in street photography really appealed to us. We wanted someone who could take photographs which were a real representation of the day. We also wanted to capture some of the more subtle, understated moments in the hope that they would take us back to the wedding every time we looked at them. Adam’s editing style was also exactly what we wanted with the right mix between colour and black and white shots. We also liked the package he offered which allowed us to have access to all the shots without being pressured into choosing albums straightaway.
My wedding bouquet was designed by Joseph Massie. It was a handtied bouquet made up of white summer blooms including, peonies, roses, hydrangea, freesia and sweet peas. The bridesmaids carried smaller bouquets of freesia which smelt divine and contrasted well with my full bouquet.
The amazingly talented Joseph Massie provided the flowers for the entire day. For the ceremony, the aisle was lined with fresh rose petals and floating candles. We had six blossom trees with floating tea lights on wooden plinths which lined the aisle. The windowsills and fireplace in the Great Hall were covered in candles and glass vases with the same flowers as my bouquet. We also had a flower arch which provided the perfect backdrop as I walked down the aisle.
For the wedding breakfast a blossom tree was placed in the centre of each table and was surrounded by tea lights, moss and ivory. The top table was lined with candles, vases, moss and sweeping ivory. We also decorated the windowsills and fireplace with candles and flowers in the same style as the tables.
Prior to the wedding, we discussed buying a sign to have at the entrance to the castle. In keeping with our fairy-tale theme, we decided to make our own wooden sign with references to our favourite places (both real and fictitious!) Tom took the lead and, with some help from his dad, managed to craft something special which we still have in our back garden today.
For our favours we wanted something quite classic and chose Charbonel et Walker Pink Champagne truffles. They looked so perfect on our tables and our guests loved them. We also liked the fact that they are so readily available – we can buy them at any time and be reminded of our big day.
Our cake was made by a lovely friend named Emma, who owns The Buttercup Bakery. We wanted to keep the cake quite traditional and nothing too ‘mad’. We decided to go for a five-tier cake in the same pale pink as the bridesmaids’ dresses. Neither of us like fruitcake so we decided on one tier of chocolate, one tier of red velvet and one tier of Victoria sponge. The castle actually provided a sword for cutting the cake which was a bit terrifying after a few champagnes but also quite fun!
Straight after our ceremony we had a champagne reception in the long bar at the castle. This was accompanied with canapés of mini hamburgers, sushi and black pudding parcels.
We sampled the wedding breakfast menu at the castle a few months before the big day. It is really quite overwhelming having to choose one dish for a large number of people so we took our parents and best man along for some help. After trying everything, we eventually decided on a smoked salmon starter, lamb main and crème brulee pudding. For the evening, we had a hog roast, which not only looked amazing but tasted delicious too. We also served our wedding cake for pudding to make sure everyone got a slice!
When we first started planning the wedding we decided on music straight away. Music has played a big part of our relationship (we actually became friends while playing in the school band together) and we knew that we wanted to fill the day with as much music as possible.
For the ceremony we booked Benjamin Clarke who is a wedding pianist based in Cheshire. He played You Do Something To Me by Paul Weller as I walked down the aisle and then All you Need is Love by the Beatles as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife.
During the champagne reception, we had singer/guitarist Ste Scully from Liverpool play an acoustic set. We were actually at a launch night for a café in Liverpool a few months before the big day when we first heard him play a small set. We instantly asked him for his Twitter and Soundcloud and DM’d him a couple of weeks later to see if he did weddings. Thankfully he agreed and was very well-received on the day.
For our evening reception, we hired Soul Revolver; an indie/pop band based in the North West. For our first dance they played Better Together by Jack Johnson before going into Slow Jamz by Twista, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx. During the evening there was a power cut and the drummer continued to play. Everyone carried on dancing and thought that it was part of their act. It has since become such a huge memory for the two of us and the photographs and video are absolutely hilarious!
During the evening we had a magic mirror, which was provided by Ozzy James Events based in Aintree in Liverpool. The opulence of the mirror fitted in nicely with the castle rather than a modern photo booth.
We also had a GOBO spot light from HipSwing Entertainments which we designed together using Photoshop. During the evening we had a ‘Date Jar’ and asked our guests, again using a poem, to provide some ideas for dates nights as newlyweds. We had some very funny suggestions and have since tried a few!
One other supplier, not yet mentioned, that we would 100% recommend is Amy from Gorgeous Invites. She is truly one of the nicest people you could meet and her work is second to none. She created all of our stationery and came to our rescue three days before the wedding by creating our seating plan after a failed attempt at making our own.
Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend Peckforton Castle to any newly engaged couple who are on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue. The place is magical and never fails to give us goosebumps. Every wedding really is as important as the next; the castle proved this to us by ensuring that our wedding was not affected by a high-profile celebrity wedding that took place the day before. The wedding coordinators were incredibly helpful and ensured that we had the best day of our lives.
Our favourite part of the day was reading our vows to each other. We decided to write our own promises and it was so special being able to share these with our closest friends and family. We also loved walking back down the aisle together as husband and wife and being covered in confetti as we went.
We were lucky enough to go straight to the airport from the castle the day after the wedding. We stayed at the Radison Hotel at Manchester Airport before flying to Dubai for four nights. We booked the honeymoon via Kuoni straight after we booked our venue. We always had our heart set on going to the Maldives but wanted something a little bit extra too.
We stayed at the Madinat Jumeirah which was absolutely incredible. The attention to service that the staff provided was like nothing we have ever experienced. We were even given our own butler! The restaurants were great and each night we experienced so many different cuisines from Thai to Mexican to German.
We then flew from Dubai to the Maldives. We then got a seaplane to Kuramathi Island Resort for 14 days of pure relaxation. We had a water villa with jacuzzi and for our last few nights we upgraded to the newly-opened water villas with an infinity pool. There are no words to describe how perfect the whole thing was. We spent the whole fortnight in our bare feet drinking cocktails not knowing what day it was. It was pure bliss!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be don’t be scared to go a bit crazy and have everything you want. You will (hopefully) only get married once. It will be one of the most important days of your life and you shouldn’t hold back. A little bit of extra saving and making small sacrifices is totally worth it so that you can have no regrets.
Also, don’t get too stressed out about anything. Take each stage in your stride and treat each bit of the planning like a mini-experience in itself – make sure you enjoy the free champagne everywhere you go!
Coming back from our honeymoon was tough but the blow was softened quite considerably when I finally received my wedding gift from Tom and collected Rodney – a black pug puppy to welcome into the newly established Cullinane family!
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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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