Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

tale as old as time. lillian west for a wedding at the great john street hotel – sarah & stevie

April 13th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Today’s real wedding is all about the magic of Disney – the enchanting Beauty and the Beast to be more precise.

Our couple, Sarah and Stevie, decided on a nod or three to their favourite family movie, with the film’s much-coveted teapot, clock and candlestick all making an appearance on their special day. Combine this with a few unconventional twists – such as serving popcorn and swapping a traditional wedding breakfast for a rooftop barbecue – and we think this is an informal take on wedded bliss at its best.

With images by Claire Basiuk.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

sarah says: We got engaged on 15th September 2015, while in Tenerife. We were on the second night of a family holiday, staying in a lovely hotel at the top a hill. Stevie was calling our daughter Sophia over to the terrace to have a picture taken against the sunset. Sophia, however, was more interested in going dancing, so was reluctant. I eventually talked her over where Stevie then picked her up, got down on one knee and asked to marry me. My reaction was “are you being serious?” – anyone that knows us will know why; we had been together nearly 11 years, already had a beautiful two-year-old little girl and marriage had never been on the table. I’d even been discussing how I would never get married on a hen do only two days before! My answer was, of course, yes and I will never forget that beaming smile on Sophia’s face, it was as if she knew what it all meant. The evening was then spent dancing!

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Our wedding date was 18th September 2016. I loved the idea of having a September wedding (maybe as my mum and dad got married then) and 18 is actually my lucky number so this worked out perfectly. We weren’t bothered about whether we did it one or two years after we got engaged but looking back now, it was lovely that it was almost a year to the day.

We wanted a venue that could accommodate both the ceremony and reception and chose Great John Street Hotel in Manchester. We had always wanted a venue that had something a bit different and had loved the idea of a barn style venue. I realised though that my main concern was guests being able to easily get to the venue, and barn style venues don’t really offer that.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

We were looking for a relaxed and informal feel to our wedding day and Great John Street offered this. It was different to any other wedding venue we had visited, and we just loved the quirkiness, the décor, all the separate areas that guests could relax in and, of course, the roof terrace with city centre views.

From the outset, we both agreed that we wanted to do our wedding a little differently, as neither of us like being the centre of attention. For us, it was all about celebrating with our friends and family, so we exchanged our vows later in the day, and decided not to have a formal wedding breakfast with speeches. Instead we opted for a barbecue on the rooftop where the guests could choose what food they ate and where they sat. This allowed us to mix with everybody. There was no pressure on Stevie, my dad or the best man to give a speech, this was entirely their choice, and they did this in the early evening with everyone on the roof terrace.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

I wanted to be a bit creative with the decoration aspect of the wedding, as opposed to having just a colour scheme. We have a love for Disney and chose a Beauty and the Beast theme. This is my favourite Disney movie; it was the first film song Sophia sang and danced to and it has become Stevie’s favourite, too. We also thought that Tale as Old as Time had quite a good meaning for us, having been together so long. We realised this could easily become cheesy but I wanted to incorporate classy and elegant details from the film. A lot of the decorations and flowers featured those classic Beauty and the Beast colours of blue, gold and red.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

I wore a Lillian West dress that I bought from Dream Dress Bridal in Woodley. This shop had come highly recommended from friends and it didn’t disappoint, the ladies there were amazing, I felt special even before the big day itself.

I always knew that I wanted my dress to be all about the back, whether this was a low cut or just the detailing on it. I had tried lots of styles that were beautiful (nearly buying the princess dress) but none seemed to quite tick the boxes for the back. The Lillian West gown was the last dress I tried on and I instantly knew it was the one. It had a lovely sheer back with beautiful lace detailing and the rest of the dress was a Chantilly lace, which was lovely and light – perfect for the dance floor!

My hair and make-up, along with my mum and closest friends, was done my Make Up Mobile to You based in Stockport. The girls there are absolutely amazing at what they do, my hair and make-up was exactly what I wanted and lasted the whole day.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Stevie wore a navy blue three-piece suit from Moss Bros with a pale blue shirt and an ivory tie, also from Moss Bros. He wore brown shoes from Next. The best man also wore a navy blue suit.

I only had Sophia as my bridesmaid and she wore an ivory dress from Debenhams that had lace detail almost identical to my dress, socks from Monsoon and shoes from Marks and Spencer.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Claire Basiuk was our wedding photographer. Claire was absolutely fantastic before, during and after the wedding. Her style was perfect for what we wanted, capturing those moments as they were happening. There is so much going on throughout the day that it’s hard to process everything, but Claire’s pictures have captured those moments perfectly. The collection of pictures is absolutely stunning.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

The bouquets were all made from paper. I am fortunate enough to have an extremely talented friend who runs Cassie’s Creations and she made my bouquet, Sophia’s bouquet and the buttonholes. Every flower on the bouquets were individually handmade from cream and red paper. The buttonholes were the same colour, finished with twine and a red rose in the middle. They received so many comments and I have them as a special keepsake from the day.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Our decorations captured the Beauty and the Beast theme. We created an entrance sign titled Be Our Guest in a lovely gold French style picture frame, placed alongside an antique clock, candlestick, mirror, and teapot and teacup that I had painted myself. These then later provided the table decorations alongside some of the classic quotes from the film. The registrar table for the ceremony included the rose encased by a glass dome (sourced from Etsy) on top of some old books alongside the quote ‘here’s where she meets Prince Charming’. I decorated the card box with some bunting too and we managed to find a Be Our Guest guestbook.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

We wanted the favours to reflect the theme, so decorated yellow and blue popcorn boxes as Beauty and the Beast, filled them with sweet and salty popcorn and attached a wooden heart token that could be exchanged for a drink of the guest’s choice. These were served after the ceremony and kept rumbling tums at bay before the barbecue was served.

We were very fortunate that a family friend offered to make our wedding cake as a wedding gift. We chose a four-tiered cake with chocolate, lemon and classic sponge fillings, with the Beauty and the Beast glass dome on the top and pink petals cascading down the tiers. We also had additional bite-sized cakes with rose detailing.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Our desire for an informal wedding meant we chose to have a barbecue as the wedding breakfast. We selected a variety of meats, salads and sides and this was cooked and served on the rooftop terrace. We then had sausage and bacon sandwiches as midnight munchies.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Stevie gave me the most perfect wedding gift, which I couldn’t open before Claire had her camera on me – a pair of personalised hand painted Beauty and the Beast Converse. I even put these on later in the evening to hit the dancefloor and seemed to start a chain reaction with the other guests!

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

We had Andy Murphy DJ as the evening entertainment who took us into the early hours. We’d seen Andy at another wedding and booked him without hesitation. Andy really is the best at what he does, he knew exactly what songs to play to keep the dancefloor alive and received fantastic comments from the guests.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

We both loved Great John Street as a venue. Whilst a lot of venues only cater for the traditional wedding format we found that they are very flexible and can offer a range of options. Sophie, the coordinator, was also lovely, willing to answer any questions and even took the time to chat with us the next day.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite part of the day. We both agree that the whole day totally exceeded our expectations. If I had to choose something though, it would be walking down the aisle and realising at that moment we had all our favourite people in one room and they were there for us.

Great John Street Manchester Wedding Photographer

Where else could we have chosen for our honeymoon, but Florida? Stevie and I had been before but were eager to experience it with Sophia. We spent a fantastic two weeks as a family at a Disneyworld property, one we had picked out on our previous trip, creating some magical memories in the parks whilst also enjoying some of the fantastic shopping. I also got to rock my Converse!

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, do what you want to do – this is your day so create the day that you want.

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about the author

Alexis Forsyth
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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