July 1st, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
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.
Today’s real wedding bride, Niamh, says that her only theme for her and Pete’s city centre wedding in Liverpool was “things we like”.
All we can say here at Bride Up North is that it’s a theme that really works. Led by instinct, Niamh opted for a hint of 1920s decadence with her beaded bridesmaid dresses and a timeless clean-cut Pronovias gown with statement red lips.
Liverpool is a significant place for this gorgeous couple, and their photographs make it clear why – see how many stunning views, famous landmarks and cheeky references to this fabulous city you can spot.
With images by Starwinkle Photography.
niamh says: We got engaged in July 2013 in London. I‘d just turned 27 and Pete and I returned to London (where we used to live) for a night out with friends to celebrate. The following morning we set off for a day out in the glorious sunshine. We put together an amazing picnic and headed up to Primrose Hill, just the two of us. True to form, I fell asleep in the sunshine on the hill, and when I awoke we had to hotfoot it to Piccadilly for dinner – Pete had booked a table at Sketch, a fave restaurant, as a birthday treat.
En route, he suggested we take a detour to Green Park; another old haunt from our London days. It was a really warm evening and the park was beginning to empty out – there were just a few people left catching the last rays. We walked together under the trees; it was really beautiful, no one else around, and the light dappled through the trees. The next bit is all a blur…
Pete is one of the sweetest boys you will ever meet, not one for big ostentatious gestures. He’s incredibly thoughtful and charmingly clumsy and cries at X Factor. As he walked along he began to tell me how much he loved me – he dropped down onto two knees, asked me to marry him, fumbled with his backpack and then produced the most beautiful antique sapphire and diamond ring.
It was so surreal, I couldn’t believe what was happening. All I remember was dropping to the floor with him, both of us on two knees and saying “are you you really doing this?”, and both of us teary-eyed kneeling in the grass. Then Pete said, “you haven’t said yes or no,” and I shouted “yes!”
It was perfect. I had absolutely no idea and the element of surprise was the best thing. It was so simple, no big fancy holiday, just a summer day out with my favourite person.
We were married on Saturday 25th April 2015. We ‘d always talked about having a spring wedding. We decided to get married in Liverpool where we met at Uni in 2006, as it’s a city that means a lot to both of us and our families. So that was it – we went back to where it all began.
We both lived on Catharine Street at Uni in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter. Although we wanted a fun, different, quirky personalised wedding, it was also important to us to have all of our family and friends there and to say our vows in church. There’s a small church on Catharine St, St Phillip Neri. We explained to the priest that we loved Liverpool and it was where we’d met and he agreed to marry us!
My mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer two months after we got engaged so in the months leading up to the wedding there were ups and downs. Thankfully, she was there on the day and was in great spirits. For so many reasons, our wedding was just the most incredible celebration of life, love and happiness. She made it her goal to be there and she was, she was well and it was brilliant. Some of mine and many others’ lasting memories of her will be her having the time of her life at our wedding.
We chose Oh Me Oh My as the venue for the reception. From the moment we stepped foot inside we fell in love with it. The stunning high ceilings, natural light, quirky vintage furniture, fairy-lit balcony, incredible roof garden and beautiful views of Liverpool’s iconic Liver Building: it was just perfect. Cafe by day and events/exhibition venue by evening/weekend. Then we met Katie, who was so warm and friendly and her enthusiasm and passion for the venue was palpable. She listened to our ideas and suggested amazing ones of her own and made us feel as if anything was possible.
Our only theme was ‘things we like’. We both really like old things and bright colours, so there was a bit of that! We decorated the venue with brightly coloured pom poms and tassle garlands. I made a polaroid timeline with pictures of me and Pete which were punctuated by coloured paper doilies.
We hired a candyfloss and popcorn stand as the canapes with reception drinks. We also had pick and mix and personalised football accumulators bets as the favours.
We didn’t really have an ‘official’ colour scheme, either. The bridesmaids wore silvery grey, the boys wore navy and then venue was filled with bright coloured and gold paper decorations fairy and candle light. The reception venue was a big blank space, with high ceilings and beautiful natural light and carefully picked quirky pieces. We decided to embrace this and add more of our own.
We filled a glass cabinet with our parents and grandparents’ wedding photos. We decorated the balcony as a ‘games area’, including Subbuteo, a game called ‘Pucket’ and DIY photo booth. I made bunting out of Trivial pursuit cards to mark out the games area as Pete is a massive trivia/useless information fan!
I found wedding dress shopping so hard! I know it’s such a cliché, but I really surprised myself. I had visions of vintage lace, flower crowns and bare feet but when I tried on the style of dress I thought I wanted something just didn’t feel right. Having chosen the venue and a city centre wedding, I became more drawn to more classic, simple, clean-cut gowns. I eventually bought my Pronovias Atelier dress from a little Boutique in Hungerford, Berkshire. I ummed and arred for ages but ultimately I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I wasn’t sure about a veil and originally wanted a flower crown but once I tried on the blush veil I was sold. It didn’t feel too much as the dress was quite simple and it really helped complete the 1950s classic look.
I always wear red lipstick so I wanted something classic that I could get away with a statement lip with. I also wanted to wear red shoes; Pete’s a Liverpool fan and given the choice of any colour, for example, what colour to paint the front door, he’ll always respond ‘red for Liverpool’. I wrote this in gold pen on the soles of my Red Velvet Kurt Geiger bubble bow shoes. They were so ace and so comfy!
Pete wore a navy blue three-piece suit from Reiss, a navy tie and pocket square with white polka dots. He’s normally quite beardy and never really grooms – a handsome scruff! – so he and his friends went to the barbers the morning of the wedding and he had his beard trimmed. He looked dead handsome.
I bought the bridesmaid dresses before my dress. Having chosen the venue, I really liked the 1920s vibe and wanted the girls to look really glamorous. I saw the gowns in Coast at Bicester Outlet Village in the January sales and had to have them. They were silvery grey, floor length, beaded dresses with boat neck and a v-shaped back. The girls really liked them and they looked stunning on the day.
The boys wore their own suits, all navy blue. They wore plain navy ties and their anemone flower button holes.
Although the hotel (Hope Street Hotel) that we got ready at was less than a two-minute drive from the church on Catharine Street, we had contingency plan for the weather and, true to form, April showers arrived on the morning of the wedding. We hired a white 1970s Rolls Royce Silver Spur from Dallingers of Wallasey, complete with sheepskin rug. Our friends tied hand painted tin cans with things like ‘Niamh & Pete 4eva’ to the back of it and a flower wreath.
Our photographers on the day were Lucy Sharratt and Drew Petrou of Starwinkle Photography. Lucy and I have known each other since we were small – in fact, we were in the same tap class! I’d seen some of Lucy’s work and as soon as we started planning I contacted her to see if she was available; I really wanted the wedding to be relaxed and fun, and so the idea of having someone I knew with me to take the photos really appealed. Although we hadn’t always kept in touch, as soon as we met for a cup of tea I knew Lucy was the one! On the day, both Lucy and Drew were a dream to have around; they’re both so warm and accommodating and nothing was too much trouble. Lucy came with us to some of our favourite spots in the city including the Liver Building, The Old Mersey Tunnel Toll Booth and The Banksy Bi-Plane Heart graffiti to make sure we captured our favourite city in all its glory. In the evening, as the sun was setting, we managed to go up onto the terrace at Oh Me Oh My to Goodness Gracious (the rooftop) and they managed got some incredible sunset shots.
They also put together a short video for us comprising a montage of clips throughout the day to some of our favourite music. It’s just so amazing that we have our perfect day and all those moments captured so brilliantly, for keeps.
Our florist was Blossom & Dill, based in Mossley Hill. Sophie was absolutely great. I chose anemones, sweet peas, lavender, sage and antique white roses. The bridesmaids chose between corsages or fresh flower combs in their hair. For the church, we had little gypsophila posies at the pew ends and a big arrangement at the altar.
We had big gypsophila sprays in glass milk bottles and jam jars on the tables at the reception. We alternated these with large jam jams with big church candles decorated with gypsophila. We alternated round tables and long wooden tables so mixing up the flowers worked well.
We went for a mismatched eclectic theme with our table decorations. The top table had a sheer polka dot table runner that my mum had made, a candelabra and my late nan’s country roses dinner set – I wanted it to feel like a big family meal. We were in the middle of the room, surrounded by everyone we love.
We had two giant white balloons which looked great in the huge open space. Our paper and rainbow coloured pompoms were from Pomdepom and Paperpoms UK. We also had some paper decorations made by the awesome Strange Case, an amazing Liverpool based design company. We had two paper flower wreaths made with a gold sparkly ‘Mr and Mrs’. They also made us a bespoke cake topper, featuring our names and two sparkly Liver Birds!
Our cake was made by the delicious Laura’s Bakery. It was four tiers – chocolate orange, red velvet, lemon and Victoria sponge – and covered in delicious buttercream and simple fresh flowers. Everyone loved it!
We hired the candyfloss and popcorn cart from Sunshine Events. This was really fun and guests were able to spin their own candyfloss. Everyone had prosecco or beer on arrival and we had a big antique chest filled with bottles of beer.
All the food for the wedding breakfast was provided by Oh Me Oh My catering team. We had sharing boards to start – antipasti, mezze, breads and oils – followed by Moroccan tagine, cous cous and a chicken and chorizo stew with roasted potatoes. The desserts came on afternoon tea style cake stands: brownies, Eton mess, crème brulee and guests could pick and choose whatever they wanted. We also had midnight bacon sandwiches to help soak up the booze!
Entertainment-wise, Pete’s cousin plays the flute and is so talented; we were delighted that he also agreed to provide some entertainment on the day. He played another of our favourite songs as I walked down the aisle and some traditional Irish music as the guests entered the reception. We both have strong Irish roots.
After dinner we had live band The Viper Kings, who were incredible. They played a mixture of 60s rock and roll and soul. We also chose some of our good friends to DJ; we gave each of them a genre and they each created a playlist for us, so we danced all night.
Would we recommend our venue? 100%. It speaks for itself: a city centre space filled with natural light and with the most incredible views of our favourite city. We were so surprised to see the hire cost having looked at a range of different places around Cheshire and Liverpool: this was our favourite venue, and the best price too! The events co-ordinator was absolutely attentive, reliable and an utter pleasure to work with. The staff on the day were polite, friendly and professional.
Looking back I’d say one of my favourite parts of the day was when Pete and I snuck up to the DJ box on the mezzanine floor where we could look out across the whole of the venue and see all of our favourite people having a ball. I’m so glad we took that moment together to capture how special it was to have everyone in one room.
We went on a mini-moon to Glasgow the morning after the wedding. We took the train up and were waved off by our families. We love Glasgow – it’s such a cool city, so arty and filled with cafes, restaurants and pretty walks. We booked a spa too and it was just bliss.
Later in the year we booked a ‘megamoon’! In August, we flew to Vegas, then onto to LA where we picked up a car and began our road trip up the West coast, finishing up in San Francisco. It was amazing! We stopped in some beautiful places, taking in stunning coastlines, deserts and forests. We Airbnb’d, fancy hotelled and even camped in Big Sur! It was amazing.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – remember that making a wedding your own doesn’t have to cost the world. Small touches are often what people remember. Some of the nicest touches we had cost next to nothing.
It’s difficult not to get caught up in the stress of planning but try and remember that everyone who is coming loves you and are just so thrilled to see you make your promises to each other. Everything else is just a bonus.
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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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