Charlotte Balbier

real wedding recap summer 2017: a magical bonfire night wedding at santo’s higham farm – bekki & thomas

June 29th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (21)

It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 3rd July 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from the first half of the year so far. 

Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.

This wonderful Bonfire Night wedding gives us all the fuzzy feels – think hearty food, toffee apples, sparklers and a striking orange colour scheme.

Brave bride Bekki got hands-on with her rustic theme, creating delicate paper roses and assembling glass jars, logs slices, candles and greenery, with a little help from friends and family.

With so much gorgeousness it seems wrong to highlight one feature – but please, do me a favour and check out that plait. So. Many. Hair. Goals. You can thank us later.

With photography by Brides Up North Sponsor, Sally Eaves.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (30)

bekki says: It was difficult for Thomas to organise a proposal without me getting suspicious as we’d recently had our first son, Robbie, and I didn’t ever want to leave him. So instead of organising something big, I came downstairs from putting Robbie to bed to find the room lit with candles and a big bunch of flowers. Thomas pulled me into his arms and asked me if I would marry him. The best part is, before he popped the question the only thought that ran through my head was, “Whatever this is, it better be worth him lighting my display candles!”

We were married on Saturday 5th November 2016. We only ever considered an autumn or winter wedding and we thought it would be nice to have it as close to the anniversary of us becoming a couple as we could. It just happened that the closest weekend our venue could manage was Bonfire Night. It’s one of our favourite nights of the year; we love fireworks and the atmosphere so it pretty much made up our mind!

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (19)

We had both our ceremony and reception at Santo’s Higham Farm, Derbyshire. It was the first ever hotel we’d stayed at together. We found the room online at the last minute for my 18th and as soon as we got there we both said it would make an amazing wedding venue. And so we returned some years later for a consultation and they couldn’t do enough for us.

We wanted a rustic, autumnal feel to our wedding to match the season and so we combined natural wood, logs and ivy with hints of sparkle and glitter to tie in with Bonfire Night and the fireworks. I got crafty and aimed to make as much as I could myself, with the help of friends and family. Thank goodness for Pinterest!

Orange and grey were our chosen colours. Think autumn leaves. They tied in perfectly with the date. We also knew very few couples choose orange as a wedding colour scheme and we liked how uncommon it was.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (31)

When I first went dress shopping I was adamant I wasn’t going to have a sweetheart neckline or a big dress but otherwise I had no real idea what I wanted. After trying on close to 50 dresses in various shops I visited a fourth shop – a spur of the moment trip to The Bridal Suite. I tried on every dress I liked but none of them were ‘the dress’ so the consultant picked one instead. I instantly screwed my nose up at it but agreed to try it on. I came out of the changing room to see my maid of honour crying! They added the veil and I knew it was the one – sweetheart neckline and all! Finally!

The ladies who helped pamper me for my wedding day were incredible, too. I had my nails done at DLR Beauty and Nails at the 3D Clinic in Pinxton and Paige White worked her magic on my makeup.

Laura from Shillitto’s Hair put up with the worst as she had to deal with me changing my mind on how I wanted mine and the bridesmaids’ hair the day before the wedding without the opportunity for another trial. Despite this, she did an amazing job on us all and we received compliments all round.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (42)

We wanted to incorporate tweed into Tom’s wedding outfit so teamed a tweed waistcoat with a sharkskin blue suit from Moss, finished off with light tan brogues and an orange tie.

Our bridesmaids wore Little Mistress grey maxi dresses with an embellished top while the groomsmen wore the same suit as Tom but with the matching waistcoat rather than tweed.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (7)

Sally Eaves was the most amazing photographer we could have asked for. I fell in love with her work and was over the moon when she said she was free for our date. I would recommend her to everyone – not only does she produce some of the most beautiful and natural photos I have ever seen but she is also one of the sweetest, most genuine and smiley people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She even put my camera-shy husband at ease in front of the lens. She worked professionally yet fitted in so comfortably with my family and friends. Not only have I got the most beautiful photos but I’ve also gained a lifelong friend!

I also owe Sally a huge thank you for recommending Jon Bird Weddings as a videographer. How this man managed to condense our whole day into one video so beautifully I’ll never know. He made our day look like an actual movie and I don’t even cringe at seeing myself on film! Tom didn’t want a videographer initially, but after watching our video he was in awe and has even admitted he’s so glad I made us have one.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (10)

I put a lot of trust into my florist (another Sally) from Phoenix Flowers. She set up a joint Pinterest board and we both threw some images together and then I left her to it with the instructions “orange and rustic”. It was hard not knowing exactly what to expect on the day but she turned up on the morning with a beautiful combination of orange calla lilies, spray roses, leucodendron, hypericum and eucalyptus. It was better than I could have imagined.

We had long rather than round tables so in the centre of each table we had an antique candelabra with orange candles sitting on top of a log slice. Along the table we had glass jars that we tinted orange and decorated with twine with tealights inside or sprigs matching my bouquet provided by my florist. Fake ivy ran the length to pull it all together and homemade paper roses appeared throughout. Our table numbers protruded out of wine bottles which we’d sprayed with glitter. At times our dining table looked like a production line, especially with the paper roses.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (1)

For a favour, each person had a wooden name from VMBespoke.com which they could take home. We also made little hot chocolate sachets for the adults and gave sweets and activity books to the children. We brought out a large box of bonfire toffee lollies and sparklers in the evening and encouraged everyone to help themselves.

We had a four-tier cake with two tiers of vanilla sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream filling and two of lemon sponge with curd filling. The whole thing was covered with a white chocolate ganache and decorated with ombre ruffles from orange up to ivory at the top. Our cake was from Alison’s Bakery; a home business in Hucknall. We’ve had several cakes from her and they’ve always tasted as amazing as they’ve looked.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (13)

As for the wedding breakfast, we had a seasonal vegetable soup to start, chicken with sausage stuffing, potatoes and vegetables for main followed by a trio of desserts including Baileys profiterole, sticky toffee pudding and praline ice cream in a brandy snap basket. We chose a meal that we hoped would suit everyone. The evening was a buffet: pie, vegetables, roast potatoes and minted mushy peas!

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (17)

Entertainment-wise, between the ceremony and wedding breakfast the venue provided a pianist to play the grand piano while everyone mingled. In the evening, we had Carl Starman who amazed us all with his magic.

We also had a photo booth from PictureBlast.com that was fun for everyone. It came with an attendant and book for people to write a message next to their photos and we laugh to the point of crying every time we look through them.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (35)

Part of me wouldn’t want to recommend my venue to anyone because I like thinking of it as just “our venue” and would feel odd going there for someone else’s big day. However, from our first consultation the owner, Santo, and his partner Roma oversaw every detail to ensure that our day ran smoothly and was everything we could want. With its wooden beams, log fires and glass roofed courtyard it’s impossible not to fall in love with its charm. We would recommend it to everyone who wants a personal and accommodating venue that can meet all their needs in one place. Its glass-roofed honeymoon suite was the perfect end to a perfect day, and we woke up the following morning to a beautiful, blue, autumn morning sky.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (22)

My favourite part? I loved the atmosphere in the morning, surrounded by my girls and my mum. My three-year-old son’s face when I came out of my room for a ‘big reveal’ was unforgettable. But the moment I stepped into the courtyard, arm in arm with my grandad, and saw Thomas at the end of the aisle was just indescribable. My heart felt like it was about to burst out my chest, I could hear whispers about how beautiful my dress looked but I couldn’t take my eyes off the incredible human being who I was about to marry. That short aisle can be so nerve-wracking, but the best advice I can give is take in every second.

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (38)

We went to an island off the East of Phuket, Thailand for our honeymoon. We spent a morning at the elephant sanctuary, washing and feeding them. Santhiya Koh Yao Yai is a beachside spa resort. The accommodation runs along the coast of the island so whatever room you have there is a sea view. We had a private villa with its own infinity pool and outdoor bath overlooking the ocean. You wouldn’t believe the views we woke up to every morning. After island-hopping excursions, sunset meals at the end of the private pier and full day honeymoon spa packages we didn’t want to leave!

A Pretty Bonfire Night Wedding (c) Sally Eaves (41)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – preparation and organisation is key. Try to keep the last week as free as possible – you don’t want to spend it rushing around doing jobs you’ve forgotten. Plan in one last unmarried date night. My mum and my maid of honour took me for a spa day two days before to help me relax.

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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