June 9th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
History runs deep for today’s newlyweds, Laura and Richard, who tied the knot earlier this spring. The couple met at Hampton Court Palace, where their romance and shared passion for books and the past, flourished over time.
So, it comes as no surprise that the pair looked to the National Trust when searching for their perfect wedding venue – instantly falling in love with the charming Quarry Bank, a working mill that dates back to the 1780s.
We think you’re going to be swept away by the personal touches to their big day, including their cute wooden peg cake toppers and second-hand-library-come-favours, which we think is an inspired idea!
With images by Kate Gosney Photography
laura says: We got engaged on 7th April 2016. It’s a tradition between us to have an Easter egg hunt each year, but we hadn’t managed one last Easter. I woke up to a cryptic text message leading me on a treasure hunt around our flat, and just presumed it was a belated egg hunt. When the final clue led to a ring rather than a Lindt bunny, my immediate reaction was one of complete bewilderment, followed by shock. It actually took me over a minute to say yes, during which time Richard worried that he’d seriously misjudged the direction of our five-year relationship. Eventually I calmed down and we proceeded to have a wonderful day, ending with a wonderful dinner up the Oxo Tower, overlooking the Thames.
We got married on 8th April 2017, a year and a day after getting engaged. We both really like spring and it suited both of our work schedules. The other option had been the 1st April, but we worried people might think it was just a joke and not bother turning up!
We got married at St John’s Church Lindow, near Wilmslow, which is the church my mum attends. The vicar has known me for 20 years, which made the service particularly special and personal. He even managed to find a picture of me aged eight to project onto a big screen, much to my embarrassment (and everyone else’s amusement).
The reception was held at Quarry Bank Mill, a few miles away in Styal. We’re both history geeks, so National Trust properties were an obvious place to start looking for a reception venue. Quarry was the first venue we visited and we fell in love with it. The gardens are beautiful, the building is majestic, and the sheer size of the two function rooms was really appealing. On top of that, it wasn’t too expensive.
We didn’t have a particular theme in mind, but as we started planning, it became clear that we wanted the day to have an informal, playful feel, through which we could show our personalities and things we enjoy together.
My engagement ring is a sapphire and by pure coincidence – Richard is a massive QPR fan, so blue was always going to feature in the colour scheme, and we liked the idea of a classic navy with fresh spring greens and pinks to brighten it up. We tried not to be too pedantic about getting the exact matches for colours, which gave us a bit more freedom and we were really pleased with the overall effect.
My amazing Justin Alexander dress was from 7th Heaven Bridal in Congleton, who were extremely helpful and patient. My mum had seen it on the shop’s website and had already decided it would be the dress for me before I had even tried it on. As is often the way with mums, she was absolutely right, and the dress was perfect. The amazing intricacy of the beading and pearl details gave it a timeless, vintage feel and it was totally unique. I didn’t know much about what sort of dress I would go for, but I knew I wanted an interesting back, so fell in love with the beaded butterfly effect and the rouleau buttons. My Charlotte Mills shoes lent a playful touch, with their cobalt blue heart and a sixpence in the sole.
My bridal make-up was courtesy of Beautiful of Wilmslow, and Lindsay had been working on my eyebrows for nine months leading up to the big day. She really understood what I was after and used Airbase make-up to give a really natural, but long lasting look. Vicky Kari did a gorgeous job with the bridesmaids’ hair, and styling the mother of the bride. After a bit of indecision, I felt that because my dress was so detailed, it would be good to keep things simple, so Vicky dried my hair straight and sleek with lots of volume.
Richard had a bespoke suit made by Hon Sartor in Godalming. Rather than hiring, he wanted to get married in something he would be able to wear again, so on the recommendation of a friend – whose own wedding suit had been made by the same shop – we made the trip down to Surrey for Richard to get measured. We hadn’t quite anticipated how many decisions there would be to make (lining, number of buttons on waistcoat, angle of pockets etc) but it looked brilliant – and he’s looking forward to wearing it again.
Similarly, rather than hiring, we really wanted the groomsmen to be able to wear their suits again (and, lazily, take out the hassle of having to return them), so we found a lovely indigo suit from M&S, and ordered one for them all, along with a similar mini suit for my nephew and (self-appointed) head usher.
After much discussion and deliberation, my sister wore a navy lace overlay maxi bridesmaid dress from Phase Eight, and my niece wore a pink dress from Monsoon, with dusky pink rosettes, to tie in with the colour scheme.
We live in London and so when it came to the wedding transport, we wanted to keep a bit of the city with us, so we hired some black cabs from Mantax. We liked the idea of something a little more fun and quirky than traditional wedding cars.
When it came to picking a photographer, we received a recommendation from a family friend for Kate Gosney Photography and she was absolutely wonderful. We clicked with her (no pun intended) from the moment we first met and she seemed genuinely interested in our plans and ‘vision’ for the day, from both a photography and a personal perspective. Her calmness and helpfulness were invaluable on the wedding morning, when she took some of my favourite shots of the whole day. She was absolutely brilliant with both of our families – especially my niece and nephew. Kate works alongside her husband Alex, who was also fantastic, meaning we got shots of the same moment from different perspectives. She’s captured moments we didn’t even realise had happened, and they bring back all the joy of the day.
Hayley’s Flower Studio provided the flowers for our day. Again, we were very lucky with Hayley, she was really fun to work with, and spent a lot of time with us to ensure she fully understood what we had in mind. My beautiful bouquet was a mix of thistles, roses, anemones and ranunculus, softened with grasses and foliage. Everyone else had similar flowers and the buttonholes were tied with twine for a more relaxed feel. My niece was particularly proud of her basket of flowers!
Hayley also supplied the reception flowers. We wanted an informal feel, so we opted for a mix of table flowers; half of the tables were decorated with big bouquets of the same flowers in terracotta pots, while the other half had a mix of different sized pots of fresh herbs. She also provided us with hessian table runners and scattered ivy trails and lavender across the tables.
Our shared love of history is how we met and we enjoy visiting heritage properties together. We decided to name the tables after some of our favourite properties, so our table plan featured a postcard-style photo of each, with a photo of us enjoying the place at the corresponding table.
Sometimes it’s not easy to break the ice if you’re sat at a table with guests you don’t know, so to help facilitate this (and because we love them) we wrote a pub quiz for the tables. As far as we know, no one got full marks. We also provided a selection of board games, which proved popular.
We knew what our favours would be before we’d even got engaged! Both of us are bookworms, and there’s always a stray book or two in our flat, so we decided that we’d like to create our own little second-hand library. In the months leading up to the wedding, any book that we’d enjoyed but knew we wouldn’t read again got placed in a pile, which we eventually took up north. These were supplemented by Richard’s mum, and by a couple of visits to the MS charity shop in Wilmslow. We stamped each book with ‘Richard and Laura 08.04.17,’ and set them up in wooden crates for our guests to help themselves during dinner. There was a real buzz around the table as people made their choice, and it was a nice thing for people to do between courses.
Inspired by (not plagiarised from!) friends’ weddings, we wanted our guests to take Polaroid pictures of themselves to form the guestbook. We purchased a large wooden frame, strung it, and asked our guests to peg up their signed photos, making a decoration of the guestbook itself.
Our wedding cake was from M&S – we had four tiers of Victoria and chocolate sponge, and a cutting bar of fruit cake. It was nice and simple, and Hayley decorated it with flowers. The finishing touch was our cake toppers, a surprise by me for Richard. We met working at Hampton Court Palace, which usually required us to wear Tudor costume. I got in touch with Little Brown Dog Workshop, who created our incredible wooden peg dolls from photos of us wearing costume – the details on the figures were stunning.
For the wedding breakfast, we chose an option of Cheshire pork belly or mushroom wellington for the main course, followed by sticky toffee pudding, and the team at Quarry were kind enough to create a bespoke starter of bruschetta with rocket (one of our favourites) for us.
Music is really important to us, so we wanted a live band as part of the wedding entertainment. After much Googling, we chose The Misfits, through Function Central. They offered a real mix of stuff, from swing to rock and roll, and the dancefloor was packed from start to finish. They were really helpful in the lead up to the day and even arranged a version of our first dance song, You’re the Top, in the style of the Easy Virtue soundtrack. It was exactly as we’d imagined.
Richard is a professional musician and having sung at several friends’ weddings in the past, he had a number of favours to call in, meaning we had a professional standard choir at the ceremony – the sound was spine tingling. During the signing of the register they performed an acapella version of Walking on Sunshine, which had been specially arranged for us, and Richard surprised me with an arrangement of Ever So Goosey, a song featured in Jeeves and Wooster, which has become an in-joke between us.
Following our wedding, we would absolutely recommend our venue – it was brilliant value for money and we felt very well looked after. The reception rooms were so light and bright, and never felt cramped, even when our evening guests arrived. The staff at Quarry were friendly and helpful, and made us feel special, which must be quite a skill for people in the wedding industry. We were extremely fortunate with the weather, and that just magnified the striking beauty of the mill. Quarry has a lovely mix of manicured gardens, rugged and informal rockery, and a stream running all the way through, crossed by rustic bridges. It was really touching that so many visitors stopped to congratulate us as we were having our photos taken.
The whole day was utterly joyous. One of my favourite parts was my dad’s surprisingly emotional reaction to seeing me in my dress. It was an unforgettable moment. After a really calm start to the day, things became rather frantic when nobody was dressed half an hour before the service was due to start; that moment made everyone pause, take a breath, and realise the excitement of what was about to take place was more important than running a few minutes late.
The personal nature of the service itself was extremely moving, and the actual moment of becoming married was very exciting. Sitting in the taxi immediately after the ceremony was wonderful, as it was the first moment in the day where we could be together just the two of us and appreciate that we were now husband and wife. The speeches were great too – Laurie (father of the bride), me, Richard and Jules (best man) all spoke, and there was a good mix of tears and laughter from the guests.
We stayed at the Didsbury House Hotel on the night of the wedding and when we walked into our suite, the staff had left us a card, chocolate-covered strawberries and Classic FM playing quietly on the radio. Finally, we could relax, admire our rings, and debrief surrounded by cards. The gorgeous weather all weekend was the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.
After the wedding we both had work commitments that meant we could only take a week off work so we decided to have a mini-moon in North Wales. It was so lovely not to have to rush off to an airport the day after the wedding and to take our time getting over to our luxury cottage where we just hunkered down and did very little for a few days – bliss! Having a staycation meant that we had time to ‘debrief’ with our families the day after the wedding and we actually had a second, more relaxed celebration at my parents. We’re planning to ‘maxi-moon’ in 2018 when our brains are ready to plan something again – we just need to decide (argue about) where!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, think about what is most/least important to you about the day and spend accordingly.
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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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