May 8th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
When it comes to wedding themes, today’s is certainly different and this we like very much. Newlyweds Esther and Jake peppered their special day with subtle – and not so subtle – nods to their unusual theme: War of the Roses.
We’re talking dainty rose cupcakes, red and white paper bouquets, Lancashire and Yorkshire flags and games galore for the guests (tug of war anyone?).
Throw in the mesmerising backdrop of Park House Barn in Milnthorpe, an alternative wedding breakfast and an oh-so-pretty sparkler send-off for the couple, and you’ve got the makings for a truly memorable, fun-filled day. Read on and let the battle commence…
With images by Ian Brookes Photography
esther says: We got engaged on 10th October 2015, at the top of Helvellyn, the highest of the Eastern Fells in the Lake District. Jake booked us a weekend away at the Kings Head on Thirlmere for our one-year anniversary. We walked up Helvellyn on the Saturday afternoon, but Jake took us the wrong way so the walk took six hours instead of four! I threw many tantrums on the way up to the top – Jake kept coaxing me on, saying that he had a gift for me. When I opened the box, it was an 18-carat white gold ring with a princess cut diamond. Needless to say, I skipped down the bottom merrily, where we were greeted with a bottle of champagne in our lovely room.
Our wedding date was 22nd October 2016. This was the closest date to our anniversary that was available in the church we both wanted, Wythburn Church on Lake Thirlmere.
The church is located at the bottom of Helvellyn and near to the Kings Head, where we got engaged, so it has sentimental value to us. The church has no electricity or heating, so the service had to be conducted by candlelight. Members of our family and friends played flute, violin, accordion and guitar to accompany the service.
The reception was then held 45 minutes away at Park House Barn in Milnthorpe. This is a functioning cow shed and hay barn, which is transformed into a beautiful venue for certain months of the year. When we first saw it, it had a tractor inside so we had to use our imagination! It was large enough to accommodate our guests and fit with the desired look that we wanted. Plus, it was a DIY barn so we could make it whatever we wanted it to be.
We stayed on the wedding night at Heversham Hall, a listed building, situated near to the barn. It really added to the experience, and Lesley was an amazing host.
Our theme was War of the Roses as I am from Lancashire and Jake is from Yorkshire, and we often joke about the rivalry. When looking at our venue, we realised that it would make an amazing theme for the wedding – we even hosted our own battle on the day!
To complement the theme, our colour scheme was red and white to reflect the respective roses of both regions.
Debbie Goldthorpe, from Paradise Grove in Horsforth, made my dress. My mother-in-law found her just as I was losing hope, as I had a very specific design in mind. The dress was in two parts – a duchess satin under layer in the shape of a body con dress with a long chiffon coat that buttoned at the front. It was medieval looking and exactly as I pictured it. Debbie even sewed a small blue ribbon into the inside hem.
My friend Charlotte, who works at Saks in Cheshire Oaks, did my hair. She threaded small red and white roses into some fine braids. She also styled my bridesmaids’ hair. The cut and colour was done by Zoe at Studio 29 in Bacup.
My nails, eyebrows and lashes were done by Kirstie at Studio 30 – a long-term friend who always does an immaculate job. My makeup was done by my friend, Bridie. We went for a natural look with a bold red lip, and it stayed put all day.
Jake wore charcoal grey trousers with a white, lightly patterned shirt from Marks & Spencer. His soft blue velvet jacket was from Smith and Jones. He wore a pair of black desert boots and his cravat was in a paisley fabric, made by a friend. He also wore cufflinks and a cravat pin in pewter, in the emblem of a hare.
The bridesmaids wore black dresses from River Island. They accessorised with red or white rose hair grips depending on their ‘side’ and matching shoes with rose decorations. The groomsmen, meanwhile, wore a suit and waistcoat from Boundary Mill.
Our wedding transport was a grey 1960’s original beetle called Gladys, hired from Lake District Vintage Wedding Cars. Paul had strapped vintage carry boxes to the top of the car and put a white ribbon on the front. A bottle of prosecco in a wicker hamper with two glasses was also provided. Paul was nothing but professional and friendly, and the car was absolutely stunning; it was a real feature in the pictures.
Our photographer was Ian Brookes, with Mike Willacy as additional support on the day. Ian was friendly, professional and creative in the way that he took the photographs and in selecting backdrops and angles for the images. Our photographs are truly beautiful, and we will treasure them for years to come. To top it all off, Ian was extremely affordable, too.
I carried paper flowers made by Rebecca at Paper Bouquets. She made me a red and white bouquet with crystal and yellow inners, and a hessian string tie around the stems. She also made red and white bouquets for my bridesmaids and also the buttonholes for the rest of the wedding party. She fashioned a J and an E out of paper flowers to display in the barn too. I am really pleased that I chose to go with paper flowers, as I think they’re really different.
We decorated the barn ourselves with some help from Emma Farrell at Emma Jane Events. Emma provided the lighting in the barn and a number of other props, including our bar, kilner jars for the Pimms, the stepladders for our table plan, and our signpost for guests.
For the table decorations, we collected beer bottles from Lancashire and Yorkshire and put wooden roses and dried lavender inside. Around the bottom we put fairy lights, either red or white, and then scattered some gems and chocolate love hearts.
Each person had a branded name card with our wedding logo on it that matched the invitations. We put red and white balloons and bunting around the barn, as well as some small jars of fresh flowers.
We also hung a Lancashire and Yorkshire flag above the top table and set up a projector in the corner of the room where we ran a slide show of images of us together, as well as our family and friends.
Emma ended up overseeing the whole day for a small fee – she was absolutely incredible and really took the worries away from the day.
We gave favours to all our guests. We bought red and silver chocolate hearts from The Chocolate Café in Ramsbottom, and placed them inside gold boxes, alongside hay and lavender. We tied them up with red and white ribbon and a small tag with our wedding logo on it, printed by Creative Design Print in Todmorden and designed by Chris Wrench.
We had two wedding cakes. The first was a set of 200 red and white cupcakes made by Frosting and Sprinkles. They were decorated as roses with small green icing leaves. Sophie also made us cakepops for the children to eat. They were absolutely delicious and went down a treat.
We also had a cheesecake, from The Courtyard Dairy in Settle. Each layer was a different type of cheese and we decorated the cake with grapes. It was beautiful and needed minimal decoration.
For the main wedding meal we booked The Lake District Fish and Chip Company and offered guests the choice of fish, sausage or breaded camembert. Guests were served their choice with chips, and a choice of curry sauce, gravy or peas, as well as buttered bread. Meals were served in newspaper. The pudding was sticky toffee pudding with cream.
In the evening, we served our cheese cake with crackers, olives, pork pies, hummus and crudités. Our guests seemed to really enjoy it.
We had various entertainment throughout the day. We had a ‘War of the Roses’ where our guests were signed up to a side and participated in four rounds of games to see who would be crowned the victor, including a balloon charge, twister, throwing the bouquet and tug of war. We presented a cup to the winning teams’ captains.
We booked Soul City Sounds for the evening reception and they also played acoustic sessions in the afternoon. The band played Northern Soul and Motown and were absolutely incredible. They even learned our first dance song – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – especially for the occasion.
At the end of the evening we had a sparkler send-off. Ian, our photographer, lined our guests up along the car park and then Jake and I walked down the middle while everyone played with their sparklers. It was brilliant, and looked amazing on the photographs.
As a special touch, we had a blessing at the reception, carried out by Jake’s pastor from his church. He spoke to our guests about sharing love; it was really lovely.
Following our wedding we would certainly recommend our choice of venue to other couples.The barn is a blank canvas that you can paint exactly as you wish. Nina and Abbie are great at answering all of your questions and putting your mind at ease. Our guests commented on how unique and beautiful the barn looked.
On reflection, my favourite part from the day was riding in the Beetle from the church to the barn, as Jake and I got some valuable time together to enjoy the fact that we had just got married. We both also really enjoyed watching the battles (Jake competed in some) as they were really entertaining.
For our honeymoon, we decided to tour the Yorkshire Dales but camp to save money. We started off by camping at Appletreewick for two nights on Mason’s campsite. Some of our guests had bought us vouchers for a meal at the Craven Arms so we went there one of the nights, and visited Masham and the Black Sheep Brewery on another. We then drove over to Richmond and had honeymoon tattoos at Twisted Arts, Skeeby then to York for one night in a hotel, before travelling on to Whitby and spending three nights camping at Broadings Farm. We spent our time in Whitby sightseeing. We enjoyed a boat trip and visited the Bram Stoker Illuminated Abbey at Whitby Abbey, and also made some pottery at Doodle Pots.
Our top tip for other Brides Up North would be, spend as much time together on the day as you possibly can, and delegate. Don’t do anything yourselves on the day, get others to do it for you. Try and be together as much as you can, because blink and you’ll miss it. Stay positive and maintain conviction about the choices that you make around your wedding, don’t worry about other people’s opinions. The only people who matter are the two of you.
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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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