July 11th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
Imagine being the very first couple to tie the knot in a stunning new venue. That’s something today’s couple, Donna and Darren, can lay claim to – and we might just be a little bit jealous!
Marrying last summer at the spectacular Tanfield House on the banks of the River Ure in Ripon – the newlyweds created a rustic, laid-back garden party for their guests, complete with bunting, pom poms, chalkboards and origami heart place names. They quite literally put their heart and soul into their big day and this can be seen in every minute detail.
Asking their guests to bring along baked goodies as part of their bake-off competition, Donna and Darren also served up a Spanish feast and a dreamy four-tiered wedding cake. The epitome of vintage chic, this is the picture-perfect summer wedding we all secretly wish for…
With images by Hayley Baxter Photography.
donna says: We got engaged in July 2015, while on a weekend away in Barcelona. We had a ridiculously action-packed day which Darren had planned, including a Segway tour of Barcelona in the morning, a lovely tapas lunch followed by a visit to the Gaudi fountains in the park and then hiring a rowing boat on the lake.
After returning to the hotel room we quickly got ready and dashed out for a lovely meal and enjoyed a late-night walk along the beach. We stopped for cocktails before finally heading back to the hotel where he then wanted to go up to the rooftop bar, which was unfortunately closed. As I had pretty much been dragged around non-stop all day, I was absolutely shattered and just requested that we go to our room and go to bed. I pretty much passed out in bed, but Darren asked me to open my eyes and when I did, he had the open ring box in his hand and proposed. I was completely overwhelmed (mainly from exhaustion) but absolutely ecstatic. The ring was a beautiful vintage style diamond surrounded by cluster diamonds.
It turned out that the reason for the action-packed day was because he had been trying to find the right spot/moment to propose which never appeared. There had been a couple of occasions where he had pulled the ring out and then put it back in his pocket because I’d made some stupid joke or wandered off distracted. Even earlier in the evening when we were getting ready there had been a failed proposal attempt where he had written the proposal in steam on the shower wall whilst I was showering but I had been so intent on getting out for food I hadn’t even seen it! So it was quite funny and really lovely.
We got married on Friday 1st July 2016. We were really keen to get married the following year as I didn’t want to have a long drawn out engagement consumed with wedding planning. We were very limited with registrar slots and I had already decided on my photographer who had limited availability too. I liked the 1st July too as it was a nice easy date to remember!
We married at a new venue – Tanfield House in a village called West Tanfield near Ripon. I had my heart set on an outdoor rustic wedding in an intimate setting. I wanted the wedding to be very relaxed – like a chilled garden party – and having searched everywhere within a one hour radius, could not find anything which was suitable or was not already completely booked up. I had pretty much given up when luckily my search threw up Tanfield House, which was a brand-new venue. As soon as we looked around it and saw its stunning setting, and met Allanah the owner and wedding planner – we knew that it was absolutely perfect for us.
The venue sells itself on being a home-from-home where you dress the venue to your specifications and have the wedding exactly as you would like it, including having your own caterers, etc. Being their first booking and first large wedding in the diary, I knew that we would get a very personal service and it was exciting to be part of a new business venture and have a wedding that was completely original.
We chose a rustic relaxed theme. We both envisaged a really relaxed fun day celebrating with our closest friends and family. We are not religious, both very chilled and quite creative and good at crafting and wanted the wedding to reflect our personalities.
The rustic garden party wedding was ideal for us as it is exactly how I envisage a romantic summer wedding to be – full of garden blooms, chalkboards and vintage details. It enabled us to really personalise our wedding with decorating jars, homemade invites, flowers arranged by my friends and family from the local flower market, Darren’s self-crafted bar, cake table and light-up marquee letter initials from old wooden pallets, homemade chalkboards, a bake-off, origami heart place names, the list goes on…
We didn’t have a set wedding colour scheme. Given the theme, colours were just in keeping with summer blooms. Accessories were mainly cream, hessian and twine, and the flowers were just beautiful summer flowers from the markets in array of pinks, purples, creams and corals with lots of beautiful foliage.
I wore a vintage style lace mermaid Enzoani gown from The Little Pearl Bridal Boutique in Pickering. I had my heart set on a form fitting lace gown but had initially wanted one with a detailed back – however when trying them on, detailed backs came with high necks which just didn’t suit my petite frame. My dress shopping was actually done in quite a panic with appointments booked during my lunch hour as I started shopping after New Year so had left myself less than six months. On one of these lunch time appointments my good friend and photographer Hayley came with me and encouraged me to try the dress on which I initially did not like, as I thought the mermaid flare would be over the top – however upon trying it on the flare made my figure look amazing and the lace eyelash detail on the bodice and the scallop lace bottom was so romantic and beautiful – I knew it was the one!
Darren had a fantastic dark blue Reiss suit that he had bought the previous year in the sales. He had only worn it once before and felt great in it so he had it tailored to make it perfect and wore it with a Ted Baker waistcoat from Moss Bros.
The bridesmaids wore full-length heather pink gowns from ASOS, which had capped-sleeves and a lace and button down back detail. The groomsmen wore dark blue three-piece Ted Baker suits from Moss Bros with pink knitted ties from ASOS. Pocket squares were home made using vintage floral fabric bought for a couple of quid from a fabric shop. They all wore tan shoes. The page boys looked fantastic in matching three-piece dark blue suits from Roco Clothing, with tan trainers.
We all stayed at Tanfield House the night before as we were busy decorating the venue that day. The girls stayed in the bridal suite with me and the boys stayed in glamping tents in the grounds which had been set up for them to glamp the night of the wedding as well.
I booked Hayley Baxter as our photographer. As a friend of mine, I had seen her work and was blown away by how talented she is. Her photos have a lovely vintage feel about them and she has a real talent for capturing moments and expressions in a very flattering manner. On top of that, the thought of having her around me on the big day was wonderful as it would just add to the relaxed feeling, and I knew she would be fun yet professional.
Flower-wise, I carried a loose rustic bouquet bound with twine in peach, purple and cream tones. Blooms included coral Peonies, purple Delphiniums, Bombastic Spray Roses, Eucalyptus and Lisianthus supplied by the lovely girls at Leafy Couture.
For the venue décor, we went to the local flower market in Ripon the day before the wedding and bought a selection of seasonal flowers and foliage. My talented sister-in-law used these to fill all the homemade jars for the tables to give that rustic summer meadow look. I also had large pink blush Roses and Baby’s Breath in jars hanging from the chairs along the aisles. Pink, cream and peach paper pom poms decorated the top of the marquee and I used tea lights in pretty jars for the tables and hanging from a large tree in the garden. The tiered cake table housed the beautiful cakes and buns and we dressed the table with vintage cake stands and vintage china.
We had a four-tiered semi-naked cake made by one of our closest friends and extremely talented cake maker Keiron George. Keiron’s work is stunning and was unfortunately over our budget, however he kindly offered to make the cake as a wedding gift. Not only was his cake beautiful, he also specialises in highly original flavours and we chose a different one for each tier.
Darren and I are huge fans of Spain and love everything about it, the people, the culture and especially the food! To celebrate this we went for a wedding breakfast of mixed tapas starters and seafood paella for the main course, which was cooked in a large paella dish by the chef in front of the guests. The food was delicious and added to the relaxed feel of our wedding.
Instead of a dessert course we set up a ‘bake-off’. Guests opted to enter and brought along baked goodies. I pre-made little flags to label up the cakes and these were served as dessert on a sharing platter in the middle of each table. Each guest had a voting slip and voting boxes on the tables and votes were counted up, with the winner being announced at the end of the speeches. As a prize we had a personalised apron printed up which said “I won Daz and Yip’s bake-off and all I got was this lousy apron”. The bake-off went down a storm and we had lots of comments saying it was really fun and got everyone on the tables talking.
When it came to the entertainment, we were set on having live music but thought a band would overpower the intimate venue we had chosen. After scouring the internet we came across a fantastic duo called The Harrisons. They had a soulful laid-back acoustic vibe but could also ramp it up on the evening with soulful upbeat music. Anna’s voice was amazing. During the day their music just gave the drinks reception a chilled summery atmosphere and on the nighttime they had everyone up dancing. Anna and Jim even practiced our first dance song with a waltz tempo so that we could do our first dance to live music.
Darren and I had been taking ballroom and Latin dance lessons for a while and our teachers at the North Leeds Dance Academy put together a wonderful routine for our first dance. Nicola Cullen in particular is such a joy to have as a teacher and we had a fantastic time learning a beautiful waltz for our first dance.
I enjoyed every single minute of our wedding day! It really was the best day ever.
We would certainly recommend our choice of venue to other couples. We got so many positive comments about how beautiful the venue and the atmosphere was. It was just perfectly intimate and the setting is breathtakingly beautiful. As the venue are not restrictive on suppliers, we could personalise our wedding with our choice of food, wine, flowers and all the other details, as well as keeping to a very tight budget. The owners Allanah and Neil made us feel very welcome and worked hard to help where needed i.e. helping with flower arrangements or serving drinks.
For our honeymoon we decided to take a small break to Barcelona as we did not want to be away from our children for too long and it’s a place that offers a bit of everything – beach, great nightlife and amazing tapas and wine.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, if you are doing a DIY wedding – planning all the minute details in advance (although laborious) is really useful to ensure you can completely relax on the big day. There is an impossible amount to remember, things will be forgotten in the rush of the day before – and day of the wedding itself – so where possible assign specific tasks to people in advance and give specific instructions. Have checklists but, above all, if things don’t go exactly to plan on the big day – don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the day, it goes so quickly and no one will notice the little slip ups apart from you.
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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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