Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Shows Spring 2017
Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Shows Spring 2017

downton decadence. an english country garden wedding at carlton towers – natasha & matthew

March 17th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (53)

Today’s real wedding couple might have got engaged amidst the bright lights of NYC, but chose a very different theme for their summer wedding: an English country garden x Downton Abbey inspired celebration. In fact, bride Natasha admits that her guiding mantra during planning was WWLMD? (What Would Lady Mary Do?)

Looking at these gorgeous blooms, floral confetti and the Gothic-style setting of their stunning Yorkshire venue, it’s a mantra that served them well. On with the pretty!

With photography by Brides Up North Sponsor Laura Calderwood.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (31)

natasha says: Matt proposed on Christmas Day in Central Park in New York. We’d spent Christmas morning exploring Times Square and decided to go for a walk. We were watching the skaters on the ice rink when he got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. Of course I said (or, should I say, screamed) “Yes”!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (49)

Our wedding date was 6th August 2016. We originally tried booking the ever-popular Bank Holiday weekend but this date was taken, so we went for the 6th. It probably sounds strange but I had a strange feeling then that we’d have really good weather that day. Luckily, I was right! The sun shone all day and it rained like crazy on the August bank holiday. It was a blessing in disguise that date was taken!

We got married at Carlton Towers in Yorkshire. I had actually provisionally booked another venue and decided on a whim to go visit Carlton Towers because my uncle recommended it. I completely fell in love with the Gothic-style turrets and opulent Venetian Drawing Room and knew it was the place for us. I’m so glad I took a chance on it!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (36)

The theme was ‘Downton Abbey’. I wanted something romantic and classic with a feel of English country garden to it. If I ever had to make a decision during the planning process, I’d ask myself, ‘Would Lady Mary like this?’ If the answer was yes, then I’d go with it!

We chose a blush palette with petal pinks and ivory as the main colours. We wanted something fresh and pretty that had a summer wedding feel.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (32)

I wore a Justin Alexander mermaid-style gown in ‘Sand and Silver’ from the Harrogate Wedding Lounge. It was actually the second dress I tried on and as soon as I stood in front of the mirror I knew it was the one. The mermaid-style complemented my curvy figure (and, most importantly, nipped me in all of the right places) and the detailing made it stand out from the others. I also absolutely loved the colour. It was much warmer than a traditional ivory, which complemented my slightly olive skin tone.

Matt and the groomsmen wore royal blue suits from Charles Tyrwhitt. The blush pink ties/pocket squares were from Swagger and Swoon.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (13)

I travelled to the venue in a classic pale grey Bentley. I hired it from Harrogate Wedding Cars. Matt loved it so much he insisted on having a drive around the venue in it after the wedding!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (18)

Our photographer was the wonderful Laura Calderwood. I chose Laura because I loved her fresh natural-style photography. None of her photos ever looked ‘staged’ and she captured some really special moments on the day.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (19)

My bouquet consisted of pale-pink sweet avalanche roses, memory lanes, stocks and eucalyptus.  The bouquets were created by Lilou Fleur in Harrogate.

We chose to have floral/candelabra centrepieces on each table. These were made by All Occasions Florist in Howden, and matched the flowers in the bouquets.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (21)

I hand made all of my own wedding stationery. I couldn’t find anything that matched my theme (that wasn’t extortionate) so I decided to make it all myself. I even made the doily cones for the confetti!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (23)

We used Shropshire Petals for our real petal confetti. I chose the ‘vintage mix’ to match the Downton Abbey theme. I’d highly recommend them. It was absolutely beautiful and looked fantastic in photos.

We gave out white chocolate truffle favours to the guests. It was difficult deciding on what to give, but I figured you can’t go wrong with truffles!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (29)

Our cake was made by Piece of Cake Harrogate. We chose a lemon sponge cake as we wanted something quite fresh and light after the heavy wedding breakfast.

We began with smoked chicken with pancetta for the starter and then moved on to roast barrel of beef with truffle mash potato for the main and sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream for dessert. We also provided creamy brandy mushrooms as a starter and vegetable paella for the main for our vegetarian guests. Neither of us know much about wine, so we let the venue pick that!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (33)

As entertainment, we had a great band called Easyband from Yorkshire. I’ve known Owen (the lead singer) for quite a few years, so it was nice having him there. Everyone seemed to love the song choices and the dance floor stayed full all night!

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (37)

Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our choice of venue to another couple. Not only is the venue spectacular to look it, the staff were absolutely fantastic and went out of their way to accommodate everyone.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (47)

My favourite part of the day was saying our vows. We’ve been together for seven years, so it was wonderful to be able to declare how much we love each other in front of family and friends.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (58)

For our honeymoon, we spent five days in Dubai and nine days in Mauritius. We chose Mauritius because we really wanted a white beach, turquoise seas-style honeymoon. However, we knew we’d get bored if we spent a full two weeks there, so we decided to spend a bit of time in Dubai because we’d never been before.  We enjoyed every single second of it and it was great to fully relax after the stress of planning the wedding.

A Garden Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Laura Calderwood Photography (54)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to plan everything well in advance and don’t leave anything until the last minute. It helps minimise the stress for you both before the big day, so you can just sit back and enjoy it!

Also, take it all in on the day. I know everyone says that but, trust me, it goes so quickly and before you know it you’ll be back at work trying to get catch up on all of your emails!

the big picture

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about the author

Laura McDonagh
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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