April 26th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s real wedding is a stunner, with plenty of personal details in the planning. The beautiful bride tried on her dress for the first time in her mum’s bedroom, ordered her bouquet from the florist where she had a Saturday job as a teenager and incorporated lots of wood as a nod to Jay’s work as a carpenter.
Aiming for modern timelessness? Look no further than Rachael’s chiffon beaded Monsoon gown. Love neutrals? This subtle grey and lilac colour scheme is elegant, modern and fresh. Rachael gives us all the pretty details…
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Sally Eaves Weddings.
rachael says: We got engaged on 21st June 2012 – I was visiting Jay in London where he was working for the weekend. He’d booked a sunset champagne ride on the London Eye where he planned to pop the question, but somebody else in the pod proposed to his partner and stole Jay’s thunder! He ended up proposing at the Oxo Tower restaurant where we ate later.
We were married on 2nd October 2016. We booked the wedding almost a year to the day beforehand – we sat outside with a glass of wine on an unusually warm day in October 2015, and hoped the weather would repeat itself a year later. It did!
We had our civil ceremony and reception at Peak Edge Hotel at The Red Lion in Derbyshire. I had seen the venue’s lovely website and brochure when we first got engaged, but didn’t go to see it until we got around to planning in 2015. The venue is gorgeous – a country pub meets luxury hotel. It’s modern and fresh, the wedding team and all the staff were lovely and it just felt perfect for us. We were really keen to have the whole day in one place and the venue allowed us to do exactly that.
We didn’t really plan to have a theme, however lots of wood crept into the day. I made our invitations and they featured a woodgrain design and our centrepieces were decorated logs. Jay is a carpenter so that was quite nice, really! We decided to name our tables after superheroes – Jay is a big kid at heart (and my hero!), and I spray-painted little superhero figures to sit on each centrepiece. Jay’s mum, Tina, helped us to turn them into gorgeous features with her creative flair.
The colour-scheme was all a bit grey! Our home is decorated very neutrally and neither of us are fans of bold colours. We chose lavender and lilac as accompanying colours for ties, flowers etc.
I loved my dress! It was a long, chiffon beaded dress and was from the high street – Monsoon, in fact. I went to lots of local boutiques and loved the experience but didn’t find any dresses I really loved. I wanted something that was definitely a wedding dress, but a simple shape, without much of a train. I saw this one online, ordered it and took it round to my mum’s to try on in her bedroom! The shopping experience was a little different (no bucks fizz!), but when I tried it on, I absolutely loved it.
Jay and his brother wore grey hired suits.
My bridesmaids all wore dresses from ASOS – another high street win! They were all in the same colour, lavender fog (grey!), but different styles to suit them.
One of the things I loved about Peak Edge Hotel was staying over the night before with the girls, and catching up with family and some of our guests. Jay travelled to the venue in the morning – his brother Leigh was chauffeur.
Sally Eaves did our photos – one of the best decisions we made! Sally was perfect, so professional, friendly and helpful and such a nice lady! We’ll treasure our gorgeous photos for ever.
Me and the girls carried beautiful flowers from Fosters of Chapel – I used to work for them as a Saturday girl years ago! I had antique roses, steel berries, eucalyptus, lisianthus and twisted willow, and the bridesmaids all had their own versions in a relaxed “same but different” style.
Tina, Jay’s mum, was brilliant and made all of our favours. She painted little plant pots in a marble effect, we filled them with personalised love hearts and wrapped in tulle and ribbon. Simple and pretty.
We had a three-tiered wedding cake made by my gran – layers of fruit, chocolate and lemon. It went down a treat! Gran has made the wedding cake for all of her granddaughters’ weddings to date.
Our wedding breakfast was quite traditional – we had broccoli and stilton soup to start, chicken for main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert – it was all lovely.
During the drinks reception and photographs we hired magician, Danny Jewell, to entertain our guests. We’d seen him at a friend’s wedding a few years earlier and Jay was so impressed he wanted him for our own day! In the evening we provided our own entertainment.
Following our wedding, we would absolutely recommend our choice of venue to other couples – the team couldn’t do enough to help us. We didn’t have to think about anything on the day other than enjoying ourselves and spending time with each other.
Looking back, our favourite part of the day was saying our vows – it was so emotional. We expected it to be meaningful; however, until you’re standing there in your nice clothes, making the promises, you don’t realise how powerful the moment is.
There were a couple of other moments that really stand out to us as being special, such as Jay’s mum Tina doing a reading of her choosing during the ceremony. We didn’t know what she had prepared until she did it: she’d written a very personal poem which was fantastic. It had us, and all of our guests, in both laughter and tears and was a moment to remember.
For our honeymoon we went to New York! Neither of us had been before, we both absolutely loved it and had the time of our lives. Jay can’t sit still for long, so a beach holiday was (unfortunately for me!) out of the question. New York was fab though, and lots of romance to be found in the city that never sleeps.
In the run up to the wedding, lots of people told us that the day would fly by and that we wouldn’t see much of each other. We took their advice on board and really made the most of the day, making sure we had lots of opportunities to take it in together. As such, my top tip for other Brides Up North would be to pick a great photographer that takes you away from the crowd regularly so that you can have those moments. And take it all in – you won’t want to forget any details.
As a final word, I’d just like to say that I loved the real weddings section of Brides Up North – even post-wedding I still have the odd look! I just wish I could go back and do it all again!
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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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