Charlotte Balbier

down to the woods. a romantic rural wedding at priory cottages – kayleigh & paul

April 4th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

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Today’s Bonfire Night wedding is full to the brim with woodland gorgeousness. Kayleigh and Paul opted for a rural wedding venue, daisies and natural grasses in the bridal bouquet and a dramatic ivy arch as the focal point for their ceremony. The result? Fan-flipping-tastic.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also some cool retro styling, sparklers a-go-go and the most glorious confetti shots. Look no further: this is autumn wedding inspo at its best.

With photography by Lumiere Photographic.

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kayleigh says: We got engaged in 2015 after 12 years of being together (we‘re high school sweethearts!) Paul took me down to a log cabin in the Cotswolds where we’d stayed before. While I unpacked the bags, he hung up fairy lights on the terrace and lit candles. The sun was setting and it was so beautiful when I walked out and saw it all.

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We got married on Bonfire Night 2016. We didn’t want a summer wedding because we both prefer the cold and the colours associated with this time of year. It was also the perfect excuse to have hot dogs and chilli at night and celebrate with fireworks and sparklers!

We got married at Priory Cottages near Wetherby, Yorkshire. We loved this venue because it was kind of an ‘all-in-one’. We got married in the beautiful barn, moved into the marquee for our reception and our guests could stay overnight in the cottages. The drive up to the barn was beautiful and the surrounding fields were a gorgeous backdrop for our pictures.

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Our theme was autumn, using warm dark colours and earthy tones throughout. We used a lot of hessian, wood and fairy lights to create an almost woodland theme. As lovers of vintage and retro styling, we also used some old suitcases and house blankets for the inevitable chill.

Our colour scheme was dark blue and forest green. We had the bridesmaids in blue and the groomsmen too with hints of green in their ties, shoes and scarves.

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I chose a Justin Alexander dress from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden. It was strapless which I didn’t initially like, but the staff added a gorgeous attached lace top and it had a V-shaped back which gave it an extra special touch, too.

Getting ready, we used Luxe Beauty Lounge in Yeadon for our makeup. Emily was fantastic and made all the girls feel confident. Courtney Wilson from Hair by Courtney is my usual hairdresser and was absolutely brilliant.

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Paul wore a dark blue tweed suit from Joshua Adams in Cleckheaton. Although the suit was off the rail, it was tailored to him and we ended up buying it because it was cheaper than rental!. He loved it and got a knitted green tie from Marks and Spencer. He also wore cufflinks given to him by his late Gran.

The groomsmen wore the same as Paul but with silk ties rather than knitted and minus the waistcoat.

The bridesmaids wore dresses from ASOS. I looked at bridal shops but the prices were crazy for a dress that, lets face it, they won’t ever wear again! Their shoes were the same dark green as the ties and we got them from New Look. One of the bridesmaids told me afterwards that she was wearing the wrong size – oops! I also got them necklaces as gifts with the coordinates of the places I met each of them and asked that they wear them on the day.

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Our photographers were Lumiere Photographic and we loved them! As we had two, Laura spent time with the girls and Doug with the guys. It meant we could got loads of before pictures of each group. Laura was even on hand to make lots of teas!

When we were having pictures taken after the ceremony they made us relax and laugh which helped give us the style of pictures we wanted. For the rest of the time we didn’t even notice they were there – the sign of great wedding photographers! Sadly, my sister couldn’t make it to the day due to her US visa, but they managed to get a picture of her via Skype. So she was there in the end (sort of!)

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We got our flowers from Paper White Flowers and they were beautiful. I had no idea what I wanted – I just knew I didn’t want roses. Wendy came up with ideas and showed me flowers and by the time I left I knew they would be gorgeous! When they arrived on the day I couldn’t have been happier.

We had loads of flowers – especially considering I didn’t want any at the start of planning! We had Wendy create an ivy laced arch to get married in front of and a large wagon wheel to hang from the ceiling of the marquee to break up the room. They pushed us over our budget but they were worth it.

The rest of our flower arrangements were created by our bridal party, who spent about three hours trimming flowers and arranging them in the venue. We also used crates, suitcases, jars, wooden logs and glass as decorations.

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Our order of the day was created using an old window we picked up on Gumtree for £5, sanded, then painted and written on in chalk pen.

For our table plan, I picked up an old vintage mirror at the skip and upcycled it. We then used a map and pinpointed all the places we’ve lived together as our table names.

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Our favours were coasters made from wood from one of our favourite places – Fountains Abbey in Ripon. Each one was engraved with the guest’s names and then used as place settings. I keep getting pictures of them in use at people’s houses!

We didn’t want to spend a lot on a cake so we asked Paul’s dad to make it for us. He’s not a baker but, after a bit of practice, he made an incredible carrot cake that everyone loved.

We used Taste Cuisine as our caterers and couldn’t have been happier. We had canapés and mulled wine at the drinks reception which were delicious. Our main meal was steak and ale pie and they created a special veggie one for me. The evening food was chilli and hot dogs – they remind Paul of his childhood Bonfire Nights and his grandma’s house. We also had wine and prosecco flowing throughout the day and night.

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Entertainment-wise, we hired a band that we fell in love with after seeing them at a friend’s wedding. The Mini Big Band got everyone on the dance floor and even learnt three songs specifically for us after we asked them. We loved them so much we’re going to see them at another event in Leeds soon!

Having the wedding on Bonfire Night meant we just had to have fireworks, of course. We left it quite late but we managed to get a display which blew our guests away and we were really happy to have splurged on it. We also had sparklers for guests and marshmallows for toasting on the log burners in the courtyard – mmm!

As a special touch, we had a guestbook with polaroid camera so we could look back on our guests having fun. I also created some mini questionnaires for each guest on the table as a talking point and we got some great responses!

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Would we recommend our venue? Yes, yes and yes! Priory Cottages is incredible. Serena, the personal wedding planner, is fantastic and always on hand. She can recommend suppliers at the drop of a hat and really got stuck in helping us get everything ready the day before. She was even there to help when I cut my hand on the day! The venue itself has everything – gorgeous accommodation, a rustic barn and a beautiful marquee. It can be left plain and simple or you can really make it your own. The surroundings are so picturesque and I really couldn’t recommend it more!

My favourite moment of the day was actually getting married – we were so relaxed and at ease that it didn’t even faze me that 60 people were sitting looking at us! We got completely lost in the moment and just enjoyed ourselves. Later on in the evening we sat on the terrace of our cottage and the stars were all out. Just sitting together and talking about the day with a sky full of stars was the perfect ending to the perfect wedding.

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We’re still to book our actual honeymoon to Japan but in the meantime we nipped away to the Cotswolds and had two nights at No.38 The Park before splurging and staying at The Limewood Spa and Hotel in the New Forest. It was pure indulgence and just what we needed after planning a wedding.

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It’s so clichéd but my top tip to other Brides Up North would be to try to step back and enjoy the day together, even for five minutes. We managed to do it and standing together watching our friends and family have fun and enjoy themselves made us both so happy. The day flies by!

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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