June 5th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Quirky and fun was the order of the day for teacher couple Andy and Sammi’s winter wedding. After an early morning visit to the registry office decked out in Christmas jumpers, this unconventional pair headed to 18th century corn mill, Fishlake Mill, for their stunning outdoor ceremony lit by candles and fairy lights.
Guests enjoyed a hog roast, a shot cake, hot chocolate and mulled wine and the entertainment just kept coming with a live band, a magician, photobooth and a string quartet. Phew – sounds exhausting!
No wonder bride Sammi says it was all a “bit of a blur’”. Here, she tells us more…
With images by Lara Frost Photography.
sammi says: We got engaged in the Lake District. We’ve been visiting the Lake District during October half-term with family every year since we met, and hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.
On this particular visit, we had a week with family and then a week on our own. On one of the days it was particularly sunny, so we went on a long walk around Elterwater. Looking back, the day was filled with many opportunities for a beautiful proposal up on the moors with stunning views. After sitting on a rocky ledge admiring the countryside with the sun setting for an abnormally long amount of time and a very tense Andy… we went home.
Following this, we then went to an incredible Michelin starred restaurant (which was amazing despite feeling slightly out of place with our strong Yorkshire accents – barely understood by the poor waiter – and complete cluelessness about half of the items on the menu which led to a lot of nodding and smiling). Not that we were too concerned though, as a few drinks helped us blend into our swanky surroundings rather quickly – in our eyes. It was a fantastic evening and has left us with lots of memories. Still no ring though…
Finally, on the journey home, I was really cold and asked to borrow Andy’s coat. He refused, because of the ring in his pocket. As we got to the edge of the lake where our lodge was, he got down on one knee and proposed. Although it wasn’t quite what he’d originally planned, it was still perfect.
Our wedding date was 21st December 2016. We chose the date partly because it fitted with the school holidays – we’re both teachers – and partly because we liked the idea of a winter wedding but mostly because we loved the idea of getting married as the sun was setting with lots of fairy lights and candles (and a more flattering light for photos).
We got married at Fishlake Mill in South Yorkshire, as they had a beautiful pagoda and would let us have our ceremony outside in mid-December – no matter what the weather (we were hoping for the best). We did the legal bit at the registry office early that morning with two witnesses, all dressed in Christmas jumpers. We didn’t consider this as our ‘official’ ceremony, although it technically was.
To us, our ‘actual’ ceremony was led by a close family friend, Andrea Bonser, a celebrant who made our ceremony quirky and humorous – perfect, we thought, to reflect us. Also, she too was willing to marry us at 3.45pm, outside, mid-December no matter the weather.
The theme? As I said, we were going for quirky and fun. Hopefully it came across like that, anyway. We aimed for a less formal affair than normal, starting our wedding at 3.45pm and, rather than a sit down meal, we had a hog roast. We changed quite a lot of the traditional elements; instead of a fruit cake, for example, we had a ‘shot’ cake, which seemed to go down well and certainly settled our nerves.
I wore an ivory drop-waist dress from It’s Bliss Bridalwear. I chose it as I thought it was wintery in style and matched our loose theme quite well. For shoes, I wore black sparkly wellies and warm, fluffy socks when outside and some little sparkly heels for inside.
Andy wore a tweed three-piece suit and a bow tie from Moss Bros.
The bridesmaids were given the option of any dress as long as it was grey and long accompanied by black, sparkly wellies. Luckily, all of the greys that they chose went together really well. They all looked amazing!
Our transport was provided by Mr Waite’s Travel (aka. my dad!) It was better than any hire company as it was personal to us and so calm and relaxed – even though he did put in the wrong postcode.
Photographer Lara Frost captured our day. I would absolutely recommend her. She was incredible!
We simply cannot express just how amazing Lara is. Our experience of working with her was extremely positive and we cannot recommend her highly enough to anyone. From two people who are incredibly awkward around a camera and don’t particularly enjoy being photographed, Lara put us as ease instantly and made us feel comfortable – and had a good laugh with us at the same time. Her passion and talent for her work is incredible and we feel very lucky to have found her!
Flower-wise, we had some beautiful blooms with a wintery feel supplied by Signature Flowers by Julie. She was absolutely fantastic to work with from start to finish and designed stunning bouquets, managing to interpret our basic descriptions with ease – she really knows her stuff. She was recommended to us by a friend and we were so pleased to have chosen her.
We also added lots of (we thought) humorous jokes and puns which we dotted around the venue, such as a ‘Game of Throws, after all, tis The North’ sign on a pile of blankets to keep the guests warm during the ceremony.
Neither of us particularly like cake and decided that most of the time it doesn’t get eaten so we toyed with lots of different ideas from lemon meringue to crisps to beer. We finally settled on a cake made out of shots to share with our guests for a toast. We chose green alcohol and placed them on a cake stand with some lights to make a Christmassy tree design – sort of.
For our drinks, we went for hot chocolate and marshmallows or mulled wine for outside during the ceremony and then for the toast, prosecco. As you can probably tell by the shot cake, neither of us have a particularly refined palate.
For the food, we chose a hog roast as we felt it was a little more informal and perfect for the time of year.
As our entertainment we had a band, Electric Idols, who played an eclectic mix of songs and were happy to learn extras for our rather random choice of first dance I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness; an excellent magician, Greg Holroyd who kept the guests entertained; a photo booth (Just the Photo Booth) who were absolutely lovely people who went above and beyond and even provided face painting; and a string quartet (Endymion) who also played a range of modern songs on request and braved the cold to play during our ceremony.
Our venue and suppliers were all absolutely incredible and lovely people who helped make our day special; we would recommended them to anyone!
Looking back, I couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day – I loved…all of it (it was bit of a blur if I’m honest!)
After the wedding, we went back to the Lakes and spent a week in an amazing cottage for a minimoon. It was stunning. We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back. We’re also planning another honeymoon – abroad somewhere – at a later date.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – remember that the day should be what you want and not about what other people want. We stressed and worried so much that people would hate our quirky, informal theme but they all really enjoyed it and liked that it was different and reflected our personalities.
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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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