March 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only the most gorgeous weddings grace the pages of Brides Up North. What’s with the Jane Austen? Well, there’s something a little bit Regency-era about today’s real wedding. Perhaps it’s the understated elegance of the bride’s Phase Eight Hermione dress (that cape!), or maybe it’s Pendrell Hall’s stunning architecture and sculpted gardens.
Jennifer and her dashing Mr Darcy (aka David) left Pride and Prejudice behind, however, when they also opted for vibrant colours, confetti balloons, pom poms, giant Jenga and an industrial-sized bubble machine (yes, really) to ensure a fun-filled day for young and old alike.
Period venue, classic gown, children’s games and wacky photo booth? Trust us. It really works.
With photography by Juliet Lemon.
jennifer says: We got engaged during a trip away for my birthday in 2013 to Snowdonia, Wales. It was organised by David. We stayed in a beautiful B&B with views of sheep and mountains, and the day after my birthday we climbed Snowdon. The heavy snow and weather meant we could only get as far as Glas Lyn (the lake beneath the summit), where we stopped for a lunch break practically up to our knees in snow. He then surprised me by getting down on one knee with a totally perfect aquamarine and diamond ring. Of course, I said yes!
We got married on 15th May 2015. The date had a nice symmetry to it and meant we had a shot at a sunny wedding. Luckily, we got it!
Our venue was Pendrell Hall, Codsall Wood (near Wolverhampton). It is close to both our parents’ homes and lots of friends and family so we went along to view the venue not long after we got engaged. We fell in love with the grounds, and the beautiful interior (even though it was still being renovated and wasn’t finished!) We knew we could trust the team at Pendrell to finish the works to the high standard of the rest of the venue, so we booked. They also work with Jenkinsons Caterers.
The overall idea for a theme was ‘relaxed’ – we didn’t want anything too formal. We fancied some wild flowers dotted around and some loosely arranged floral arrangements, and then tea lights, fairy lights, confetti balloons and garden games were quickly decided on. We just really wanted people to have fun and get to know each other.
Our colours were mainly ivory and lilac, forget-me-not blue (bridesmaids’ dresses) and pale pink (e.g. pompoms) dotted around – the colours complemented the venue and are our favourites!
I chose a Phase Eight dress called Hermione, from a couple of seasons ago. I fell in love with the Phase Eight range last year when I was looking and the Hermione dress just felt wonderful to wear. It’s quite heavy (all the beading!) but almost slinky too, and I loved the cape (I’m quite conscious of my arms!) It wasn’t too expensive either, and spending less meant I could spend more on shoes and my hair! My hairband was from June Ellen, shoes from Rainbow, my hairdo was by Cute Hair (Wolverhampton), nails by my mother (a nail artist, handily) and I did my own makeup. My mini-birdcage veil was from LilyBella.
David wore a dark grey morning suit with cornflower blue rouche, ivory/silver waistcoat and bright cornflower blue socks. The buttonholes were avalanche roses. We got the suits from Hinxworth Bridal in Hertfordshire.
Our photographer was Juliet Lemon, who we would 100% recommend. She is such a lovely, bubbly person and very personable and enthusiastic. She got everyone excited for photos and had some great ideas for shots. She absolutely nailed it!
Our flowers were by Gill Lumley Florists in Finchfield, Wolverhampton. I carried a beautiful bouquet of purple and lilac busy lizzies, avalanche roses, lilac and white freesia, gyp and eucalyptus with a slight trail. Each bridesmaid had a smaller version of the bouquet and the flower girls each had a posy.
Gill provided jugs of arranged wild flowers (tanacetum, gyp, lizzie, iris, freesia) for each table and the ceremony room. She also provided the buttonholes and corsages. We gathered jam jars of forget-me-nots and cream rhododendron from my parents’ garden with ribbons and dotted them around the venue.
I designed the invitations, place cards and table plan and menu cards. I’m an illustrator (I sell online at www.sweetoxen.co.uk and on notonthehighstreet), and wanted something pretty but simple. I decided on a pink and purple watercolour card mounted on black, in a handwritten type to fit in with our theme.
We gave out little kraft boxes (with a handwritten thank you message on the inside) with four heart shaped champagne and caramel truffles inside wrapped with stripy twine.
My mum, Beverley, created our wedding cake after lots of practice and hard work. It was a fruitcake, with lilac and ivory icing, vanilla flavoured lace icing and handmade icing roses and flowers. She also did a gluten free orange and lemon cake to match. She surprised us with a lovely cake topper of a model of us and our cat that she had made by ShugaBudz.
For the wedding breakfast, we chose a Spanish and Italian-inspired tapas style dinner with lots of dishes for everyone to choose from and try. We didn’t want anything too heavy and it also meant we catered for lots of different tastes and requirements. To drink, we chose elderflower sparkling water, prosecco, a fruity Tierra Del Rey sauvignon blanc and a Monte Haro rioja.
Entertainment-wise, we met the Nero String Quartet at a Pendrell Hall Open Day and immediately knew that we wanted them at our wedding. For the evening, we chose The Abductors who we found through the Alive Network (a fantastic website, and our contact Graham was great); we really liked their style and knew that they would entertain family and friends alike. They really set the atmosphere in the evening and it wouldn’t have been the same without them. There was some seriously impressive dancing that night, from everyone!
We also had giant Jenga, boules and croquet in the garden for everyone to enjoy as well as an industrial size bubble machine. Juliet set up her awesome photo booth in the evening which was so much fun; we’ve got some great shots of people and it really helped everyone get talking and laughing with each other!
We also arranged for one of our close relatives to watch the ceremony via Skype – he was unable to make it and we really wanted him to be able to see us get married. We sent an iPad to him in the post and after a crash tutorial in Skype, shared our ceremony with him on the day. Thankfully the wifi held out and he saw the whole thing from start to finish. It was so special that he could witness it.
Following our wedding, we would recommend Pendrell Hall 100%. The venue itself is just stunning, but the staff are also incredibly nice and helpful. Francesca (our events manager) was a total star and really helped take the stress off us, especially on the day. We could trust her 100% to get everything done, and there was a lot!
Other suppliers, not yet mentioned, who we would recommend are Kinver Jewellers who were fantastic and offered a personalised service when selecting our rings. We went to Total Gardens for the garden games (so we get to keep them!) and used Confetti Cones for our petal confetti. Our balloons were from balloons.co.uk, and our paper confetti for inside the balloons from Peach Blossom.
On reflection, it’s hard to pick out one moment as our favourite, but the ceremony itself really was special. I thought I’d be so terribly nervous that I would want it to go quickly, but I felt completely relaxed. Everyone was so happy and it really felt like we were starting a new chapter together.
For our honeymoon we went to Italy (Ravello, Sorrento, Florence and Venice) for a 12 day trip. We had a wonderful time, ate lots, drank lots and explored what felt like every street in each place. It was the perfect balance of relaxing and sightseeing and we can’t wait to go back.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – plan, plan, plan. Do as much in advance as possible and recruit as many people to help you, especially on the day. We became super-organised (spreadsheets, the whole works!) and this really paid off, especially in the days immediately preceding. The main thing though, is to enjoy it and try not to get too stressed. At the end of the day, the important thing is to get married and have a memorable day. If there are little things that you don’t manage to do, it won’t ruin it!
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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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