April 7th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
We’re committed to upping your daily dose of pretty here at Brides Up North (I know, I know, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!) and this morning’s offering is no different.
Prepare thyself for Bethan and Jacob’s afternoon tea extravaganza of gorgeousness. After Jacob proposed at an ice cream farm (is there a more perfect engagement location out there? Methinks not) this super-sweet couple opted for a relaxed big day at The Ashes in Leek. There were wildflowers everywhere, jams and chutneys, floral prints, origami, sweetie jars and a surprise rendition of Summer Lovin’ from Grease.
In fact, today’s real wedding is so sweet that these photos from Corneli Fleur may well leave you on a sugar high. Enjoy…
bethan says: We got engaged at Snugbury’s Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire. Back when we were 17 and had been best friends for a number of years, we went on a friend-date to Snugburys, got some ice cream and walked through the fields nearby. It was here that we realised we had feelings for each other, so Jacob brought me back to the same spot to propose. We had a picnic underneath a tree he climbed that day and he put the ring box in a muffin tray. I turned around and he was on one knee holding out the tray with the ring box in it. He smiled and said “I was wondering if you’d like to be Mrs Taylor”. Our engagement wasn’t necessarily one of those super-glamorous stories you read about in bridal magazines; it was awkward and fumbly and neither of us really knew what to do afterwards (except run away from the rain that was fast approaching), but it was us and I wouldn’t change it.
We got married on 30th July. We fell in love with our venue as soon as we saw it, so had to find an available date. One of my bridesmaids was also getting married that summer, so that restricted us too. We could have gone slightly earlier in July but it was really important for us to be able to have children there.
The ceremony happened at our church in Crewe, West Street Christian Fellowship. We didn’t even really discuss that as it was kind of a given. As Christians, it was important to us to get married in church, and West Street is our home where our church family are based. It wouldn’t have felt right doing it anywhere else.
The reception venue was The Ashes in Leek. We knew we wanted a barn and completely fell in love with The Ashes as soon as we saw it. The venue itself is amazing and the grounds are beautiful. Jane was the staff member who showed us round and she was so nice and not at all funny about us being 21 at the time (some people had been!) She got to be with us on the day too, which was lovely.
We didn’t really have a theme, although my dress and Jacob’s suit had a kind of accidental 1920s vibe about them. We didn’t have a colour-scheme either – neither of us were really fans of the whole colour scheme ‘thing’ so we went with vintage-y shades (no reds or strong colours).
My dress was kind of 1920s in style, a mix of satin/silk and silk chiffon with some sparkly details. I didn’t give myself a massive dress budget – only £500 – so I didn’t go to any boutique shops for fear of falling in love with a dress way over budget. I went to a wedding dress outlet with my mum, sister and mother-in-law-to-be and was in a bit of a state when we arrived. I was so scared of not liking anything that I just couldn’t look. My mother-in-law asked me to pick out any dresses that had something I liked (sleeves, shape etc) and just try them on, even if it was just to rule out certain styles.
I picked my dress because I loved that the straps were made of gemstones. When I tried it on I honestly felt amazing – like a 1920s movie star, or a passenger on the Titanic. I knew I was a young bride and wanted something that was individual; something I hadn’t seen before. It had to be my ‘Titantic’ dress.
Jacob wore a suit from Next, with a shirt and bow tie from Topman. His brown shoes were from Next as well. We went together to choose his suit and he loved the vibrant blue of the one he chose, the contrasting lapels and the 1920s vibe.
Jacob had six official ushers who all wore matching suits from Burton; they were like navy versions of Jacob’s blue suit, and also had darker lapels. Our dads also wore the same suits. Jacob’s little brother (six at the time) wore a similar suit but a mini version, obviously!
I had six bridesmaids who wore dove-grey, floor-length dresses. Four of the dresses came from Coast and were originally strapless so my uber-talented mum added delicate grey lace straps. The other two came from an online store and were kind of a last-minute thing because one of my bridesmaids was eight months pregnant – she couldn’t get into the original dress, and we didn’t think it would look right with just one in a different dress.
We hired a retro white VW beetle for the wedding transport – very cool!
We had Corneli Fleur as our photographer and she was fantastic. She’d photographed other weddings we’d been to and we loved how natural and fun the photos were; nothing like the stuffy, static-looking ones you often get with wedding photographers. She put us completely at ease on the day and I still adore our photos.
I carried a bouquet of mixed flowers including peonies (my favourite) made by our florist Rachel from Ruby Doodles in Crewe. The flowers she provided were so beautiful and I would recommend her without reservation.
One of our friends from church made wooden window boxes for all of the deep windowsills in the main barn at our venue. Another friend, Paul, who is trained in floristry put together the arrangements for these and all the centrepieces for the tables. Each table had a mason jar filled with flowers, a milk bottle and a vintage green bottle wrapped with a hessian and lace bow sewed by my mum.
There were a number of people who were no longer with us that Jacob and I really wanted to honour in the wedding and so we created a feature on the stage made of wooden crates, in which we placed items belonging to these people. We had a leather rucksack that belonged to my uncle Jeremy, a locket that belonged to Jacob’s gran etc. Rachel the florist also put together a beautiful floral arrangement which sat on top of one of the crates.
For place names, my mother-in-law and I spent a long time folding origami shapes. Each of the women received a flower with their name on, each of the men got a bow-tie, the bridesmaids got little dresses, the ushers got shirts and ties and Jacob and I got a little suit and a little wedding dress complete with tiny plastic pearls.
My incredible mum, gran and grandma also spent hours making jams, chutneys and pickles for our favours that we put in little jam jars, each with a personalised label. Every guest went home with one, except the children who got a little jam jar of sweets. My mum (she’s amazing) also put together goody bags which were personalised for each child – she actually made the bags herself!
One of my bridesmaids, Emily, baked our three-tier cake. We had lemon-drizzle, Victoria sponge and red velvet layers which she managed to bake to perfection even at eight months pregnant! My super-hero mum then decorated the cake with simple rustic white icing and made some icing flowers, which cascaded down one side.
We went for afternoon tea as our main meal of the day. Partly this was due to it being the most affordable option, but we also really liked the idea of the meal being fun and a little rustic. There was no shortage of food and everyone said how delicious it was.
My gran got all the wine on offer from a supermarket (she’s a ninja like that). We had three bottles per table, which turned out to be rather a lot and meant some people really, really enjoyed the day…
In terms of entertainment, we had a string quartet playing some of our favourite songs during the wedding breakfast organised by two of our friends, I would really recommend this; it really added to the atmosphere and we absolutely loved it.
Following the speeches, one of my bridesmaids led some games. She had ‘heads up’ style cards on the tables with wedding-themed words and phrases on. After that she got me and Jacob, both sets of parents and another couple from the wedding up and we all played a Mr and Mrs-style game with shoes. Unfortunately, we were beaten by my mum and dad who were rather smug!
Some unexpected entertainment came in the form of our bridal party, who serenaded us at the reception with ‘Taylor Wedding’; our very own version of Summer Lovin’ from Grease. Jacob had recently won the role of Danny in a local production of Grease and this was their awesome tribute.
In the evening we had a wedding DJ from Hipswing DJs. He was great and refrained from the cheesy wedding DJ banter reminiscent of Love Actually. After lots of smiling and chatting it was great to just let our hair down and jump around on the dancefloor. I ended up throwing my dress over my arm and pogo-ing around with my friends and family.
In the second barn at our venue we wanted a space for people to have some fun, so we had a photo booth space with props and a giant frame made by my bridesmaid, Rachel. One of our friends covered a table in the barn with large squares of brown paper and white pens and a sign asking guests to draw pictures of themselves with their names. We’ve kept all the pictures and at some point, we’re going to put them all in a large frame.
We completely loved The Ashes as a wedding venue and are totally gutted we won’t get to go back and do the whole day again. Everything about the venue is beautiful (even the toilets) and the staff are amazing. It’s all accessible which was great for us with elderly family members and those in wheelchairs. It was perfect for a summer wedding, but I’ve also seen photos of it in the snow and it looks just as stunning.
We’re agreed on our favourite moment from the day: we both loved sitting at the reception, looking up at the string quartet playing on the balcony and then looking round to see all the people we love in one room together.
We also both loved getting stuck in traffic on the way to the reception! Weird I know, but it was so lovely to get some time together just after saying our vows to say a proper hello to each other after being with other people all day.
We went to Florence for a week for our honeymoon and it was beautiful. We stayed in a top floor apartment right near the Duomo which had a roof terrace with an incredible view for the first three nights. We then stayed in a small hotel called Eden Rock on the outskirts of Florence for the last four. I’ve never eaten so well, or spent so much money on food! It was so worth it though: we had the best time relaxing together and exploring the city and Florence will always be ‘our’ place.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – don’t worry about making sure your guests are enjoying themselves – they are! I spent the first half of the reception stressed about ensuring people had a good time, and it wasn’t until the meal that I looked around and realised I was the only one who wasn’t just relaxing and enjoying the day. As soon as I let it go, I instantly chilled out and had the best time. People are right when they say it’s one of the best days of your life: do it exactly how you want and enjoy every second!
And the final word from me: getting married young does not mean ‘settling’. For us it means getting to do the rest of your life with your best friend. Whilst two different people doing life stuff together can be hard at times, marriage is pretty wonderful on the whole, and my life is far fuller for sharing it with Jacob.
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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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