Charlotte Balbier

soulmates. a laidback lake district wedding at the mortal man – louise & pete

May 30th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

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You’re in for a treat – today’s real wedding is a corker. Louise and Pete broke with convention by having a poignant humanist ceremony, giving them the opportunity to find traditions that made sense and meaning for them. So they wrote their own vows, made wishes for a happy future together and their rings were passed around and warmed in their family and friends’ hands.

Louise and Pete’s big day wasn’t actually big in numbers – nineteen guests, pub grub and then back to a cosy cottage for cake and cocktails – but the detailing is just perfect. Their customised denim jackets are fiercely cool and their record invites, inspired by their love of all things American country, blues and jazz, earn them muso points galore.

There’s something just a bit special about this one – in a world of Pinterest clones, these photographs feel honest and authentic. I mean, at the end of the night they donned Bride and Groom T-shirts, played beer pong and ate Tunnocks tea cakes. Zero contrivance, yet massive impact – we love it!

With photography by Weddings Vintage.

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louise says: We got engaged in October 2015 while doing a road trip in Southern USA taking in all our favourite music stops – Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. We were in the Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge in Nashville one night having a few beers and listening to live music when Pete popped the question.

Our wedding day was 17th March 2017 – St. Patrick’s Day (unintentionally!) We’d decided we wanted to turn our wedding into a bit of a getaway/trip for everyone and make it as relaxed as possible with the aim of generating plenty of memories. So we were trying to tie in finding a wedding venue with booking a cottage for us all to stay in and these dates seemed to work before everything got too pricey at Easter time!

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We chose to get married in the Lakes as Pete is from the South Lakes, Ulverston. It’s a beautiful part of the world we visit regularly from our home in Manchester.

We wanted a very informal ceremony and reception so decided to find a pub with a function room; we’d always really liked the idea of having some pub grub in a relaxed setting. When we came across The Mortal Man in Troutbeck, we instantly knew it was perfect. They have a garden room with fantastic views over a valley, rave reviews for their food plus lovely traditional touches such as log fires and their own homebrewed ciders. The Mortal Man were happy for us to have our ceremony in the garden room as well. We’d decided on a humanist wedding which can be made very personal and unique. The Mortal Man isn’t licensed for weddings so we’d already taken care of the legal part on the Monday before the wedding at Manchester Registry Office before we set off to our cottage – The Terrace in Windermere. It was such an amazing house for a party/gathering – really well equipped and the décor was amazing.

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Debra of Inspirational Ceremonies who conducted our humanist ceremony gave us lots of options and guidance on writing our vows and selecting readings. We really loved the idea of warming the rings, where during the start of the ceremony your rings are passed around the guests so they can place their hands over them and make good wishes for your marriage. As we only had 19 guests this worked really well – I’m sure it could take a long time if you had quite a lot more guests.

Although there was no strict theme, we were keen to incorporate our joint love of music throughout the wedding and tie in little hints relating to our American music road trip when we got engaged. Our playlists and the songs we started and ended the ceremony were all by musicians from the South of America covering Country, Soul, Blues and Jazz.

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We customised denim jackets with patches and pin badges, mostly relating to music and our American road trip and wore double denim on the Monday for our legal vows in Manchester. The jackets appeared again at the ceremony on the Friday where we wore them over our dress and suit to keep the rain off!

Our wedding invites also followed the American music theme. We went to Weddings Vintage with inspiration from Hatch Show Print, an old print house we visited in Nashville famous for its iconic printed gig posters. Hayley at Weddings Vintage translated our idea perfectly and the finished invite was a 7” inch vinyl cover, each with a record inside that Pete and I had picked up from a local charity shop. We liked the idea that our guests wouldn’t know what songs were on the records until they played them.

I suppose, more than anything, we tried to approach everything with a very DIY theme. We decorated the cottage ourselves with fairy lights and daffodils everywhere, and tried to add cheap and cheerful touches where we could. All cakes were made by friends, plus our friend and guest Lynn did my hair on the day.

We didn’t have a colour scheme – apart from the bouquet which tied in with buttonholes and the flowers on tables. These were dusky pink, lavender, white and natural greens.

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My dress was from Pretty Eccentric, a shop in Brighton, but I discovered it while browsing wedding dresses online. I bought it before the venue and cottage were even booked. It wasn’t intentional as I’d just been browsing to get ideas of the styles I liked and how much I could expect to pay when I stumbled across this elegant, detailed gown with silver beading and sequins. It was only £200 and there was a two week return period so I threw caution to the wind and ordered it online. When it turned up and I tried it on alone in my bedroom at home, I really loved it and, although it needed some taking in, I felt comfortable in it and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was for the price. So I sent photos to my mum for her reaction and just went with my gut feeling. I’m not sure if it’s wise to go for the first and only dress you try on, but I did and was so happy with the dress and that it ended up being such a straightforward part of the wedding planning process.

The girls at Boutique Alterations were lovely and knew exactly what they were doing in making my dress fit perfectly. As my dress had a lot of detail it was imperative that they did a good job. They absolutely did and I felt safe leaving the dress in their hands.

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I accessorised my look with a hair vine from Amberspice Bridal. This was a handmade hair vine and so beautiful, plus much more reasonably priced than many others I found online.

Jaye Adams did my makeup, as well as my mum and one of my aunts, and we were all really pleased. She made us all look very natural with a glamorous edge. I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the day!

Pete wore a grey three-piece suit – a bargain in the Debenhams January sale.

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The photography was by Weddings Vintage and I can’t express how pleased I am with the end results. It rained all day long, so I knew we wouldn’t get the group shots we wanted outdoors with the gorgeous views from The Mortal Man in the background. But there wasn’t much any of us could do so I went with Harriet’s judgement. The group shots taken in the pub look fantastic and Harriet did drag me and Pete outside after the meal, umbrellas and all, to try and capture some outdoors shots. They far exceeded my expectations and I think I love them more than if we’d had a sunny day! Harriet captured every aspect of the day perfectly. She did a great job of directing us when needed but most of the time she was almost invisible, capturing natural moments I didn’t even realise were happening. Looking back through the photos brings back such wonderful memories; I cannot recommend her enough! As we didn’t do the whole ‘first dance’ thing and traditional night do, Harriet was good enough to stay with us into the early evening and capture some of our celebrations back at the cottage.

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Flower-wise, I carried a bouquet of dusky pink roses, lavender, a splash of white flowers and berries and a lot of greenery as I wanted it to have a more ‘wild flower’ feel than a neat posy. The flowers were provided by Valerie Ann’s in Windermere.

As our guest list was so small, we only had four tables at the reception so we kept the decor simple and had a lovely, smaller arrangement of flowers on each table to match my bouquet. Guests who stayed over in the cottage with us had a little succulent plant to take home with them as a favour.

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We went back to the cottage later in the day to continue partying so we’d laid out the dining room with a selection of homemade cakes made my family and friends. My Aunty Joan made her famous sticky ginger cake, my godmother made a fruit cake, as did the groom Pete. And a family friend Helen made us a huge coffee and walnut cake and a lemon drizzle.

For the wedding meal, The Mortal Man served up good ol’ pub grub but with a fine dining twist. The food was delicious and the sticky toffee pudding was very popular with our guests!

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After we’d retreated back to the cottage in Windermere with our guests we made our own entertainment which included a few drinking games – beer pong gave us lots of laughs! We had set up an area of the kitchen for guests to make up their own Hurricane cocktails (a New Orleans classic). We had all the ingredients and recipe ready with cocktail shakers and decorations and we thought encouraging people to make their own versions of the cocktail would result in drunken fun – and it did!

Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend The Mortal Man for a couple looking for the same kind of relaxed and intimate feel to their day. The garden room is only suitable for smaller wedding parties but it is light and airy, the views are stunning, plus the staff and food were all fantastic.

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Our honeymoon is in the planning. We’ve saved all money generously given to us as gifts and plan to put this towards another music-based trip to New York and then onto New Orleans next year.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North? Well, we really tried to keep our wedding a small and simple affair, but it’s easy to get carried away and drift off in different directions when browsing all the other beautiful weddings online. So I regularly ‘checked in’ with myself and gave myself time to consider certain purchases/aspects of the day to make sure it was definitely what we wanted and felt true to us.

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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