March 28th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
When mathematicians Aaron and Katie decided to get hitched, their love of all things numeric found their way into their planning; from the Venn diagrams on their Save the Dates, to infinity symbols on their stationery.
And what a day it was, with nods to Katie’s Scottish heritage in the gorgeous blooms, Jimmy Choo heels and a menu that’s guaranteed to make you drool rather inelegantly over your keyboard. We’re sorry (not sorry).
With photography by Brides Up North Sponsor Bethany Clarke Wedding Photography
katie says: Aaron and I got engaged in May 2014. Aaron and I had planned a long weekend away in Northumberland as a treat, and we spent one day in a beautiful fishing village called Craster. We were walking around a totally deserted castle, taking in the beautiful views when he dropped to one knee and said “I have something else I want to ask you”. In all honesty, it was a complete shock. He spent a good minute getting a wet knee, assuring me he was serious, he‘d asked my dad, and that he was taking me to buy a ring the following weekend. Of course, I said yes!
We got married on 10th September 2016 at Rise Hall in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Rise Hall was suggested to us by a friend, and it got pushed down the list due to the distance from Leeds. However, the minute (and I mean the actual minute) we walked into Rise Hall and were greeted by Helen (the lady of the house) we just knew it was everything we wanted.
We were able to have exactly the type of wedding we wanted at Rise Hall – you have the venue from Friday until Sunday. We had our family and wedding party join us for an informal meal on the Friday night, which was wonderful.
Our blessing took place at All Saints Church, about half-a-mile down the lane from the Hall and was overseen by Rev Andy Simpson, the vespa-driving, guitar-playing vicar. We had countless compliments about Andy; he really and truly made our blessing one of the best parts of the day.
We didn’t have a theme for our wedding – instead, we had lots of things that mean a lot to us. The flowers in the bouquets, the boys’ buttonholes and the ladies’ corsages had thistles in them and they were tied together with tartan ribbon to reflect the fact that I was born and grew up in Scotland. Aaron has supported Middlesbrough Football Club since he was tiny, so our table names were a selection of his favourite Middlesbrough players. We also both studied Maths at university, so our save the dates were Venn-diagrams, and our invites and other stationery were embossed with an infinity symbol.
I chose a Jenny Packham gown called Lilya, which I bought from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden. As soon as we got engaged, so many people said “Oh, I can just see you in a Jenny Packham gown!” However, I refused to try them on as they were way out of my price range. I tried on quite a few gowns, and there were definitely a few that I could have happily got married in. As luck would have it, though, Ava Rose were having a sample sale on their Jenny Packham dresses, so I went along (first in the queue with two of my friends). Lilya was the first one I tried on and I loved it so much. However, I definitely didn’t have that ‘this is the one’ moment that everyone talks about – I spent a good hour taking it off and on again while deciding. Eventually I bought it, and also went for a long cream veil. My shoes were Jimmy Choo Langs, in steel grey glitter. My dress had a slit up the front, so I knew they’d also be on show!
On the morning of the wedding, Aaron sent a beautiful bottle of champagne to my room, along with a Tiffany infinity bracelet he’d bought as a wedding present.
I gave Aaron a wedding box the night before the wedding – this had a few bits like tequila miniatures, smints, the special socks, a jar full of notes of all the reasons I love him, some old pictures of us, a daft t-shirt, a bottle of Irn Bru (his “go-to” hangover beverage) things like that. We’d got our ushers a monogrammed Aspinal card wallet as their gifts from us to say thank you, so I got one made for him too and put this in the box.
Aaron wore a bespoke three-piece suit from a tailor in Leeds called Michelsberg. He wears a suit for work and so having something really special and tailor-made was a lovely treat for him. It also means he has a really beautiful suit to wear in the future for special occasions. A few of our friends had used the same tailor for their weddings and so we were confident he could get something he loved. Aaron also wore black Oxford shoes, bought from Joseph Cheaney & Sons, a white fitted shirt and a wine red knitted tie, both from TM Lewin. He also had a unique pair of socks which were designed by a friend of ours, which I surprised him with the night before!
We hired navy blue suits from Debenhams for the groomsmen and our dads. They looked so good; the boys were able to get measured up properly in advance so they all had a really well-fitting suit. We asked them to wear a white shirt and black shoes, and as part of their gifts from us, bought them silk ties to match Aaron’s.
My bridesmaid dresses were a bargain, from ASOS in the sale! My bridesmaids were all quite different heights and builds and so I wanted something that they’d all be comfortable in. They were navy blue (verging on black) with a small train and a keyhole back. I absolutely loved them and they looked absolutely fantastic in them. They wore their own shoes and jewellery, no restrictions.
Our photographer was Bethany Clarke, who we knew through a mutual friend. I’d always admired the pictures Beth took; they’re so relaxed and she has a real knack for catching really special moments that you might otherwise miss. She’d photographed a number of our friends’ weddings, and so we knew we were in safe hands. On the day, Beth was just brilliant – I don’t know whether it’s the wrong thing to say but we barely noticed her taking the photos! There’s nothing worse than being aware of the photographer taking pictures, and it can be really distracting for the guests. We have had nothing but compliments on our pictures since we’ve had them back, and the more I look at them the more I find to love about them!
I asked a friend of ours, Julia Mitchinson, to create our bouquets. She has worked at a local florist nearby and now does freelance work – she was brilliant to work with, giving me (a bridal flower novice) loads of guidance, but didn’t make everything too prescriptive. My bouquet was white, green and blue-y purple blooms, including roses, thistles and eucalyptus. My bridesmaids carried the same bouquets but smaller. I wanted quite a large bouquet with a full shape, and it was one of my favourite things about the day.
The Hall is quite stunning on its own, so we didn’t want to overdo it too much when it came to decor. Julia did our beautiful table top flower arrangements – on every other table, we had a large green and cream floral centrepieces in tall glass vases. We needed reasonably large arrangements given the size of the Hall, and they looked absolutely stunning on the day. We also had a variety of tea lights, gold and silver mercury votive jars, and miniature hurricane vases. On the other tables we hired tall silver candelabras from a supplier recommended by Rise Hall, Cherry Williams, which burned through the entire night and looked wonderful once night fell. On these tables we also had small clusters of blooms in jam jars, which I’d decorated with copper glitter.
I also hired seat pad covers (I have an aversion to full-blown chair covers), which were cream and neutralised the actual colour of the upholstery. Again, these were hired from Cherry Williams.
We framed a number of pictures of us over the years, and displayed these in the hall for everyone to have a giggle at, plus placed large hurricane vases and other large church candles in various spots around the venue. The venue also happened to have a number of floral displays as standard in cream and green that went really well with our flowers, so we displayed these too!
We gave lottery tickets to our guests as favours, alongside a tag with a penny stuck to it reading “For richer, for poorer”. I got engraved Jo Malone candles for my bridesmaids as their presents from us, in the scent of the perfume I wore on the day. They smelt divine and looked so beautiful – I was really happy with them.
We chose Saunts, a catering company recommended by Rise Hall, to provide the food. For our canapés, we had haggis balls, mini Yorkshire puddings with rare steak fillet chunks, blue cheese rarebit bits and chicken bites. For our meal, we chose smoked salmon with crushed new potatoes and horseradish, a beautiful slow cooked lamb shank with mustard mash and veggies, and a huge wedge of sticky toffee pudding. The food was to die for, especially as speeches (which we had before the meal) ran over by an hour, and they were catering for 118 people. We had a lovely sauvignon blanc white wine, and a merlot to accompany the dinner.
Entertainment-wise, had a wonderful singer during our drinks reception called Georgia Thursting. She had played at our friend’s wedding, and we booked her straight away after we’d heard her. We chose some of our favourite songs, and as a surprise I asked her to play Aaron’s favourite song, Whatever by Oasis, which she managed to coordinate when we were both having a moment together.
I had always thought I’d have a ceilidh band at my wedding, but obviously having the wedding in England meant it was slightly less common. We were a bit worried people wouldn’t get fully involved in it, so we chose a live band instead. Our band were called Lights – we spent a really long time scouring the internet and listening to samples of bands, but the female singer of this band really stuck in our memory. They had a full band, including brass section, and kept everyone dancing all night. They learned our first dance song, Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware and also did some DJing at the end of the evening for an hour.
We didn’t really want to fill the day with things that would distract from people enjoying themselves, dancing and mingling, so the only extra thing we put on was a pick and mix table. I loved sorting that out, and doing it ourselves was so much cheaper than outsourcing it. I bought catering size packs of loads of different sweets and treats from Macro, and splurged on some personalised packs of mini love hearts, which had our names and the date on the label. For later on in the evening in the Library, we put on a huge cheese board, along with a giant Colin the Caterpillar cake!
We had a company called Kerb Edge come the following morning to provide breakfast for the guests who had stayed at Rise Hall. They have a restored VW camper van, park up outside the dining room and prepare delicious breakfast baps. They were absolutely delicious, and come highly recommended!
Other suppliers, not yet mentioned, that I’d recommend include, Leeds-based jeweller Form Bespoke Jeweller. I’d been unable to find a wedding band that I loved, so I contacted Form and they were brilliant. Apart from being much better price-wise than your high-street jeweller, I was able to get what I absolutely wanted, and making small tweaks and adjustments was all part of the service. I can’t stop looking at it all the time: it’s perfect.
My makeup artist was also absolutely incredible. Her name was Sarah Plews and I came across her at the Charlotte Tilbury counter in Harvey Nichols in Leeds. She was able to interpret my loose instructions into exactly what I wanted (quite a dramatic eye look, nude lips) so well.
Finally, Hollie Hart Creative, who designed our invites. She was recommended to us by a friend and she was really good, our invites looked beautiful and were exactly what we wanted: very simple and elegant.
I’d also recommend our venue to other couples. It is just such a special place, so secluded and peaceful, the bedrooms are all individually-styled and decorated, meaning all the guests have something special in their room, be it a free-standing copper bath or a seven-foot bed. The staff make planning so easy, especially for someone like me who wasn’t really that into the planning process. You can absolutely make Rise Hall exactly the place you want it to be – they have so many contacts and suggestions and absolutely nothing is too much trouble or off-limits.
In terms of a favorite moment, it was all just so wonderful! I really enjoyed our actual ceremony as Andy the vicar was just fantastic. The speeches were also absolutely fantastic. My dad got so many compliments, and watching and listening to Aaron really made my heart swell.
We went to Sri Lanka and the Maldives for our honeymoon, straight after our wedding. Neither of us had ever been, so we were so excited about it. We booked the whole thing through Trailfinders, who were so great at organising everything. It was nice to have someone just sorting it all out for us! We did a 12-day tour of some of Sri Lanka’s most popular and beautiful spots, from safaris to city trips.We then flew from Sri Lanka to the Maldives and had four nights at the Lux* South Ari Atoll resort. Honestly, the whole experience was like living a dream. I’ve never been anywhere like it in my life: the sand, the sea, the sun, the seclusion, the stars at night, it was the perfect way to end our honeymoon.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – try to enjoy the planning if you can. Don’t feel like you have to please all your guests all the time. Yes, some people won’t like what you choose to eat, yes someone will probably be sitting there thinking “Well, I wouldn’t have done that!” but don’t worry. Have your wedding day how you and your husband/wife it, and that will shine through to your guests on the day.
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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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