August 1st, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Real bride Gabrielle said that she and beau Dan didn’t really have a theme in mind for their summer wedding at Singleton Lodge: “We just wanted a romantic country-style wedding with beautiful flowers and lots of special touches,” she says. The result is a day that’s effortlessly beautiful, with romance pouring from every stunning image. Bravo, guys!
This gorgeous day captivated us from the Rockerfeller Christmas Tree proposal, had us green with envy at the silver Jimmy Choos and the special touches almost had us on our knees – as an official ‘dog person’, the mention of Spencer the Labrador’s photograph in the order of service along a ‘My Humans Are Getting Married’ message brought me closer to tears than I’d like to admit. All. The. Cuteness.
With images by Jessica Lang Photography.
gabrielle says: We got engaged on the 12th December 2014 in New York. I love Christmas and had always wanted to go to NYC in December and see the Rockerfeller Christmas Tree. On the second day of our trip we went on a 12-hour tour seeing all the sites, including the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. Afterwards, we went to an amazing restaurant and to a sky bar overlooking the Empire State Building. Dan said we should do something Christmassy before heading back to the hotel, so we went to see the legendary Rockerfeller Christmas tree – which is where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! We also bought a replica of the Swarovski star which was the perfect memento of the most amazing day.
We were married on Friday 1st July 2016. We wanted a summer wedding on a Friday and, luckily, it was the last Friday that our venue had available.
Our ceremony was held at St Nicholas’ Church in Wrea Green, Lancashire, which is in the village where we live. It’s a beautiful church right in the centre of the village and it’s lovely that we walk past it every day with our dog. Our wedding date was the day before the village field day and so there was bunting everywhere which was lovely!
The reception was held at Singleton Lodge Country House. We knew we wanted to get married in a country house style venue with beautiful surroundings and Singleton Lodge was absolutely perfect. From the first glimpse of the driveway, we knew it was going to be the right venue for us. We had exclusive use of the whole lodge, the decor was beautiful and it has a lovely welcoming feel – there’s even a field of alpacas within the grounds, which we absolutely loved!
Theme-wise, we didn’t really want anything too elaborate. We just wanted a romantic country-style wedding with beautiful flowers and lots of special touches. We also went for blush pink accents as they suited the romantic theme.
My dress was by Justin Alexander and I bought it from The White Gallery in Ramsbottom. It was strapless with a long train and lots of beautiful embellishment. I wore it with a thin diamante belt around the waist, a chapel length veil with lace detailing and silver Jimmy Choo shoes. I absolutely loved my dress from the moment I tried it on – I just wish I could wear it again!
Dan wore a navy suit from Swarbricks with pale grey check waist coat with pale blue running through it. He teamed it with a pale blue tie, matching pocket square and a pocket watch, which I had engraved with the words “Forever & Always, 1st July 2016”. The groomsmen wore matching three-piece navy suits with blush pink ties and pocket squares.
The bridesmaids wore floor-length blush pink dresses from House of Fraser. They had a scoop back and diamante detail at the waist.
My parent’s house is only across the road from the church but I wanted the special moment in the car with my dad before arriving at the ceremony. We therefore hired a vintage Bentley from Broughton Wedding Cars to drive us around the village green before arriving at the church. Dan and I then had the same car to take us to the reception after the ceremony.
Our photographer was Jessica Lang Photography and our second shooter was Rachel Victoria Photography. They were both amazing! We wanted our photographs to be natural and to capture all the little details of the day and this is exactly what Jess did. We had an engagement shoot before the wedding to get used to having our photographs taken and Jess made us feel really comfortable both then and on the day. We would definitely recommend both Jess and Rachel; they were so friendly, utterly professional and we have some lovely photographs that we can treasure forever.
My bouquet included ivory and blush pink peonies, blush and nude roses, lily of the valley, freesias, blue forget me nots, blue Love in the Mist and eucalyptus. They were created by Flower Design Events and looked (and smelt!) amazing. I‘ve since had them preserved by Precious Petals.
At the ceremony we had a floral heart on the gate of the church made up of roses, peonies, hydrangeas, freesia and gypsophila. We also had two bay trees dressed with peonies which framed the door. Inside the church, we had posies of fresh flowers to dress the pew ends lining the aisle. There were also two baroque candelabras which framed the ceremony space.
For the reception, Flower Design moved the flowers to Singleton Lodge. The floral heart was then hung on the front door, the baroque candelabras became centrepieces and the posies of flowers were placed in pretty glass jars to decorate the tables. For the top table, we had a beautiful design of fresh roses, peonies and hydrangeas.
Other decorations we used for the ceremony included a “This Way To The I Dos” sign, and a bespoke “Welcome to our Beginning” rustic sign.
For the reception venue we had a rustic sign pointing the way at the gate, blush pink pom poms hanging from the pagoda in the grounds and vases with peonies on the tables outside. We also had the swing in the grounds decorated with swagging and gypsophila and hung bunting on the fences framing the driveway.
Inside we had handmade hessian and lace napkin holders with dried lavender. We also had a selection of pretty glass jars decorated with hessian and lace. Throughout the bar area we had bunting and “Mr and Mrs” signs and our dancefloor was set up with an LED “love” sign.
As a designer with my own stationery company, Gabrielle Kate Designs, I made all the stationery for the day as well as the save the dates and invitations. Our order of service had a thank you page with a message to all our guests. It also featured a picture of our Labrador, Spencer, with a heart and the message “My humans are getting married” – we couldn’t bring him on the day so we wanted to make sure we snuck him in somewhere. I also made the stationery for the wedding breakfast: table plan, place names, table names and menu cards. We also included some A4 signs on mini easels: one for the ‘Pimp your Prosecco’ stand, a “Love is Sweet” sign for the sweet cart and instructions for our DIY photobooth with polaroid camera.
Our favours were wooden hearts which read “Thank you for sharing our special day. Gabrielle & Dan, 01.07.16”. We tied individual blush pink bows to each to tie in with our colour scheme. Later on in the night, we also had sparklers for the guests with tags that read “Let love sparkle, Gabrielle & Dan, 01.07.16”.
Our cake was made by Thornton Cake Company. It was four tiers with blush pink and white iced flowers. The tiers were all different flavours – vanilla, lemon, chocolate and a traditional fruit cake.
For the meal, we had a tasting session prior to the wedding to help us to decide on the menu. Our final menu was a starter of Scottish salmon, red pepper and spring onion dressing, roast loin of pork for the main and lemon tart for dessert.
Entertainment-wise, we decided to have a choir at the ceremony and went for The Kirkham Singers. They sang the hymns and Happy Day during the signing of the register. They also sang All You Need is Love as Dan and I left the church – a move inspired by my favourite film, Love Actually. They were brilliant and it made the ceremony feel really upbeat.
At the night-time we had The Coustics playing; we’d heard them playing locally beforehand and thought they were great. They play a brilliant mix of songs and get everyone up dancing.
Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our venue to other couples. We’ve never been to another place like it: it has a lovely welcoming country feel and offers exclusive use without it seeming too big or grand. The staff were brilliant, too!
If I had to pick a top moment from the day, I think saying our vows would be it; we just smiled at each other the whole way through! It was also amazing to see everything come together after so long planning the day. We loved walking into our reception room for a sneak peek before the meal; it really did take our breath away. It was even better that we had pictured in our heads.
For our honeymoon, we had three nights at the Atlantis in Dubai and then flew to Mauritius for 11 nights at the Long Beach Spa Resort. It was absolutely amazing; we loved splitting the honeymoon between two resorts as it felt like we had two separate holidays.
In Dubai, we spent time at the beach, aquarium and water park and had the most wonderful meal at the underwater restaurant. Then in Mauritius we enjoyed the beautiful beaches as well as exploring the island – we had a wedding blessing at a Hindu temple, saw wild monkeys and giant tortoises and visited the most beautiful viewpoints we’ve ever seen.
Cliche alert! Everyone always says to enjoy every minute of your wedding day as it goes so quickly – but it really does! Therefore, my top tip to other Brides Up North would simply be to try to take it all in. I think that’s why it’s so important to have a brilliant photographer and videographer as it’s the perfect way to look back on all of the wonderful memories.
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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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