March 21st, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Tying the knot in the Lunedale Valley in Teesdale last August, our couple Natalie and Will went to great lengths to involve their guests in their summer wedding – including the family sheep and chickens – in every element of preparing for their day.
Throw in a beautiful colour scheme inspired by the heather and wildflowers in the surrounding terrain, together with the family tartan, a spot of paddling and the most stunning tree chandelier we’ve ever seen, and you’ve got yourself a wedding that’s like no other.
Natalie, who would like to dedicate this blog post to her Uncle Iain Macintyre, who sadly died shortly after the wedding, shares all the special details.
With images from Bloom Weddings.
natalie says: We had known each other for years. After our paths crossing when we both worked for a local wedding venue, and with me finally moving into my first home – which happened to be in Will’s local village – he finally plucked up the courage to ask me out. On our one-year anniversary whilst we were holidaying in Iceland chasing the Northern Lights, he got down on one knee on a glacier and presented me with a gorgeous vintage ring. Of course, I said yes!
We decided that as we both love the outdoors, we wanted to be married in our parent’s bottom field and that the start of August would be ideal. It meant we could spend lots of time outdoors enjoying the stunning scenery the venue had to offer.
The wedding was very much focused in the Lunedale Valley in Teesdale. The morning began with the bridal party assembled in my mum and dad’s house with batches of bacon sarnies and glasses of Prosecco. Hair and make-up was provided by Vikki and Jordon from the Zhoo in Barnard Castle, who were fantastic and even helped us with last minute tweaks in the marquee. My beautiful bridesmaids did their own hair and make-up and we added flowers into their plaits to tie their hair with my hairstyle.
We chose a gorgeous small church known affectionately as the ‘holy barn’ because of its rustic and humble beginnings and its stunning view over the valley. It’s a really small church, which was perfect for us, as it meant we could have a lovely intimate wedding that we craved. We spent a lot of time going to services in the run up to our wedding and really got to know the Reverend and all the people of the church. This made the service itself really special as everyone went really above and beyond to make it so personal. The ladies of the church were kind in helping with our flowers, and giving us access to the church to make sure we could add our little details to make it so ‘us’.
We then moved to the bottom field of my parent’s farmhouse where we had two marquees. One acted as an outdoor ‘hub’ where we served the canapés and arrival drinks from, and the other acted as the main venue where the eating and dancing took place.
We began the reception by eating canapés and drinking fizz whilst listening to a traditional piper and enjoying the view. The guests loved the inclusion of the family’s animals in the day. Our Herdwick Sheep were a big hit along with the cheeky family chickens!
The wedding theme was handmade and rustic. We made everything we could as a close unit of family and friends, calling on each of our nearest and dearest’s skills to make sure the day was as unique and personal as possible. We wanted everyone to have a sense of ownership on the day and feel truly invested in it. For us, it was a case of bringing everyone together, which is what, we think, a wedding should be!
We chose a purple and pink colour scheme, inspired by the nature and natural colours around us. These are such common wild flower colours that can be found in our local area, especially with Will and I living so close to moorland where heather is rife in the summer season.
I wore an Intuzuri dress bought from Bridal Factory Outlet in Northallerton. I wanted a dress that would suit the venue and one which would make me feel relaxed and comfortable whist also showing femininity. I loved the beautiful detailing on it and how sympathetic it was to the ways I changed the look throughout the day. I incorporated my mum’s veil into my dress by making straps to wear in the church. I loved how even as my dad walked me down the aisle it felt like my mum was too. She had to help sew them onto the dress the morning of the wedding to make sure they stay put and I loved the extra personal touch it added.
The groom and groomsmen wore suits in slate grey from Greenwoods, with ties to correspond with the bridesmaids, and Will wore an ivory one to compliment my outfit. The bridesmaids all wore infinity dresses from Thedaintyard in various shades of pink and purple. This style of dress worked really well as it fitted everyone from an 11-year-old to a very tall 6” 4 bridesmaid. It was so floaty and comfortable for them to move in and – with so many options on how to wear it – everyone was happy.
We used Bloom Weddings for our photography and couldn’t recommend them enough. They really listened to what we wanted. Both Anni and Chris joined us for the day, which meant we had so many photographs taken! They are very good at reading their bride and groom and knew we would be up for their suggestion of some paddling in the local reservoir!
I had a bouquet of thistle, wax flowers, veronica in various shades, cow parsley, peonies, poppy heads and wheat heads. I loved the fact that they were all local and all in season. The bees even loved them and one even visited the bouquet as I was being photographed! The men wore button holes consisting of lavender, rosemary and thistle, and the bridesmaids wore corsages of the same. They were all provided by Floral Charm in Barnard Castle.
Our guest’s tables were decorated with a combination of wild and garden flowers and tea lights held in hand decorated jars made by my bridesmaids and myself.
The table numbers were made by my grandfather, the log slices cut by Will, and the favours were made by another close friend. All of the bunting was provided by my aunt and Will’s mum, who spent many hours slaving away to make metres and metres of it!
We used vintage family tablecloths to decorate side tables, many of which came from my nan’s house, and a large vintage tablecloth to embellish the top table which I remember buying as a small child with my brother and parents. We also collected big branches fallen from trees and painted them white before binding them together, adding flowers and fairly lights and hoisting it above the top table. This gave us a beautiful tree chandelier and it was such a lovely centre piece. We also used paper lanterns and paper decorations to make a ‘washing line’ between the two marquee stands to make the marquee feel smaller and more intimate.
Outdoors, our guests sat at tables made out of pallets that were made by Will and my dad. My brother and his girlfriend spent a day collecting heather from the local moor, which originally inspired our colour scheme. They attached the heather to old fruit crates I had found and which Will’s niece and nephew had painted. They provided such a gorgeous and robust table piece for everyone to enjoy whilst sat on bales enjoying the Prosecco and the sun!
The family crew spent hours filling jars with candles and adding fairy lights to hang them off stakes to signpost the path to the different areas of the wedding. These looked great in the day but even better as it got dark and they all lit up.
As a wedding gift, our friend offered to make us envelopes of local wild flowers. It was lovely as a gift and was so very us, as again, it was home made. We both also took the time to write a handwritten note to each guest that we tied to their glasses telling them how much we appreciated them making the effort for our big day.
Our neighbours offered to make our wedding cake as a gift. We had a traditional spiced cake laced with brandy and I iced the cake myself. My cousin kindly put it all together for us on the morning of the wedding.
We also had a cheese cake, made entirely of cheeses! Many of these were local and it was a lovely alternative to the classic wedding cake.
After Will and I were piped into the reception to our favourite Scottish pipes song, The Sky Boat Song, we all sat down to a wonderful meal provided by CCS Catering. I spent many holidays as a youngster visiting my grandparents in France, so we went for a French infused ‘tapas’ style menu where our guests could mix and match to create to suit their tastes. We wanted to keep the food relaxed and casual. We didn’t see the point in making it fancy when we were sat on wonky flooring in the middle of a field and relaxed eating is much more our style! The wine, both red and white, was made by our wonderful neighbours and the labels were designed by Will and I, with the help of his colleague
In terms of entertainment, the piper who piped us into our reception had also played while our guests and I arrived into the church. He was wonderful and he was a real taking point.
As the wedding breakfast ended and the evening guests were arriving, a local band we pulled out of retirement provided acoustic and folk music whilst Will and I slipped away for some more photographs down at the reservoir.
We also used Premier Wedding DJ and he was amazing. He really took the time to understand us as a couple and played an amazing Mr and Mrs game with us which everybody loved!
As a special touch, I had my nan’s wedding ring blessed and included this in the ceremony. As such, there were three rings instead of two in the ceremony.
A Scottish tradition is for the groom to give his bride his family tartan to welcome her to the clan. Will honoured this and gave me the McNab tartan in his speech.
There were so many wonderful parts to the day. I think that besides the obvious points of us both being married and that first married kiss – we truly loved seeing how everyone was so together, happy and full of love. It made the whole day feel so special with how relaxed and happy everyone was, because the various groups of friends and family mixed and enjoyed the day so much more.
For our honeymoon, we went on our first beach holiday to Croatia. We spent two weeks enjoying the local traditions and travelled a lot using our hotel as a base.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be: include everyone you can. Give them your vision and trust them enough to help you make it happen. You can’t do it all by yourself and the people around you will have so many skills you may not even be aware of that could really help you save lots of time, money and stress! It will all come together wonderfully and helps people feel really invested in your day.
We have a fantastic video that was made by one of our guests to commemorate the day as a gift. It was such a surprise and is so beautifully done. It really gives you a fantastic sense of the day and is well worth the five minutes it takes to watch.
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Originally from north of the border, Alexis has lived in the North East for the past 15 years and considers herself officially an adopted Geordie. A qualified journalist - Alexis took up the position of editor at the region’s longest running business publication in 2015 before moving into a marketing role for one of the UK’s largest independent arts and craft galleries. Alexis currently edits her own lifestyle blog, where you can find her latest musings on all things Newcastle-related, together with a smattering of her Instagram-worthy cocktail and foodie pics. Yet to find Mr Right herself, Alexis sees this as a mere formality when it comes to tying the knot, as she’s already picked out her dream wedding dress, theme and venue...
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