August 7th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
The weekend may have come to an end but we’re going to do our very best to distract you from those Monday blues with this all-natural affair, courtesy of outdoors-loving couple Christina and Nick. There’s British-grown blooms, undone hair and a strawberry flower crown against the beautiful backdrop of East Riddlesden Hall and Barn. They describe their theme as ‘Fairy Potting Shed’ and they’ve got it bang on – the everyday beauty of an English country garden with just a touch of magic dust.
This pair are true romantics, and made every decision for their big day together – Christina even called Nick to check out her Cabotine dress and he shed a few tears along with her mum when she stepped out of the dressing room. And after hearing about his dreamy proposal – a night-time drive, a teal moonlit sky, a cup of tea and a glass of Champagne – we’ve gotta hand it to him: this guy gets romance.
With photography by Brides Up North Sponsor, Bethany Lloyd-Clarke Photography.
christina says: Nick finally asked the special question on Friday 22nd May 2015. We’d been together for 11 years but we hadn’t been in a position where we could afford a wedding! He had the perfect ring, and the perfect girl (his words!), but finding the perfect location to get on one knee proved more difficult. In the end, he waited for a clear night, when the twilight turned the sky a stunning shade of teal and asked me if I fancied a drive. He then drove us to the top of a tall hill near our place to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. Under the moon and stars we stood in a field and he dropped to one knee and asked the question. I said yes and we hugged in the moonlight, before hurrying home to warm up with a cup of tea and a glass of bubbly. It wasn’t grand, it wasn’t extravagant but it was very ‘us’, and every time the sky turns the same colour on a clear evening, it reminds us both of that special moment!
We were married on Sunday, May 14th 2017. We’d had our hearts set on a spring wedding for a long time: we’re both nature lovers and we had noticed that May in Yorkshire had been sunny and fairly warm for the past few years. Ultimately, we chose a Sunday because we were trying to stick to a budget and, as luck would have it, our venue had a lower rate for Sunday weddings.
We had a civil ceremony and our reception at the barn at East Riddlesden Hall. There’s something magical about the place; the very first time we visited East Ridds with some friends a few years ago we glanced inside the barn and something clicked with both of us. We looked at quite a few wedding venues after Nick proposed, but found ourselves comparing them to the barn each time – and the barn always won! The wedding barn is such a beautiful building; the perfect complement to the country springtime wedding we envisaged. The National Trust wedding team were always friendly and helpful and answered all of our (many) questions when we were trying to make the decision.
Our theme was loosely based around springtime flowers, country meadows, and wildlife/nature. We decided to call it the ‘Fairy Potting Shed’ theme! Ultimately, we wanted our wedding to make the most of and celebrate spring. It’s such an exciting and invigorating time of year; nature is coming alive, bees are buzzing around and the natural colour palette in woodlands and meadows becomes diverse and beautiful. We both liked the idea of celebrating nature and all things which grow.
We didn’t really have a set colour scheme; we were so pleased with the natural rustic beauty of the venue that we didn’t feel the need to overdress it. We were very pleased that our seasonal floral displays complemented the venue so beautifully.
I found wedding dress shopping very difficult – I thought that what I wanted didn’t exist. Most of the dress shops I visited reinforced my fears or were way beyond my budget. But with a stroke of luck, I eventually found my wedding dress at the Yorkshire Wedding Emporium in Halifax.
I was originally looking for an A-line wedding dress with a very flowy skirt to complement my hourglass figure. I wanted it to be as simple and timeless as possible, without any beadwork or embellishment. I found this to be a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated!
I happened upon the Yorkshire Wedding Emporium by accident. At the time, me and my mum were searching for a ‘mother of the bride’ outfit. While my mum was trying on outfits I took a wander into the wedding dress section. I had a look at the one-off dresses and discovered a stunning and unique dress by Cabotine. I was a bit lost at this stage – having seen so many dresses I felt quite dazed, but there was something about this dress that just seemed right. It might shock some of your readers (I know our families were a bit stunned!), but I called Nick to come along to see what he thought. I don’t regret this decision at all; we ended up having a lovely moment. Nick saw me in the dress, and shed a few tears, as did my mum…and I knew that this was the dress for me! Leanne who owns the Yorkshire Wedding Emporium was wonderful from start to finish. She gave me the space to make the decision, and expelled all of my anxieties and fears with her expert knowledge and a dose of humanity and humour which I felt was missing from many of my other dress shopping experiences. She arranged alterations by an independent seamstress, and on the day the dress was a perfect fit.
I was quite anxious about bridal hair and makeup. I didn’t really know where to begin, other than knowing that I didn’t want to look dolled-up. A friend from work recommended local mobile beauty therapist Helen Whitwham, who really understood my vision and put me at ease. To quote my husband: “You looked like the Christina I know, with an added touch of something special.”
The same friend also recommended a hair stylist: Lizzie from Ophiuchus Hair in Bingley. We had multiple consultations and she spent time looking through mood boards with me. I wanted to find a natural look which complemented my long hair and a way to incorporate a flower crown. Lizzie instantly understood what I was going for and I was so impressed that she‘s now become my regular hairdresser.
Nick wore a dark blue tweed jacket with a matching waistcoat, a simple white shirt, some red wine coloured jeans all from Jacamo, dark blue suede shoes from Debenhams, and a red wine bow tie from Mrs Bow Tie.
We had a maid of honour and best man and we decided to let them wear whatever they felt comfortable in. They both looked incredible on the day, though!
I travelled from my accommodation to East Riddlesden in a beautiful White VW Beatle named ‘Rosie’ from Volkswagen Weddings. They were absolutely brilliant and the car was very cute.
Our photographer was Bethany Lloyd-Clarke. We chose Bethany as our photographer because of her photographic style. Her background in photojournalism lends itself to wedding photography wonderfully, and from looking at her portfolio website we were immediately attracted by her ability to capture the moment and to capture emotion. We didn’t want our wedding photos to feel overly posed or forced, and we were both absolutely over the moon when we saw our photographs after the wedding. In short, Bethany was superb; her attention to detail is faultless and her artistic skill behind the lens has captured our wedding beautifully!
For my wedding flowers, I carried a beautiful and natural bouquet composed of wildflowers and aromatic herbs, created by Rachel Slater of Owl House Flowers. Rachel provided all of our flowers, including buttonholes for the men and corsages for the women. She did an incredible job and she absolutely achieved our vision for the day. Most impressively of all is the fact that Rachel only uses flowers grown or sourced in Britain – never grown abroad and imported. For the purpose of our wedding, we wanted naturally occurring flowers, foliage and herbs, some of which might be considered including weeds traditionally (forget-me-nots, buttercups and clovers) but with a few more decorative flourishes thrown in via some wild primrose and bluebell. I even wore a headpiece composed of rosemary and strawberry flowers. Rachel had a giggle with us about our ‘Fairy Potting Shed’ theme and we thoroughly enjoyed building the grand picture together. She provided inspirational ideas such as scattering potted herbs and lavender around the venue, and using a big watering can as a flower container. We brought all kinds of bric-a-brac to Rachel from our house including various shaped jugs and glass vases and a box full of baked bean tins which we upcycled with a stripe of white paint. The glass jars were filled with candles and Rachel brought some big metal lanterns containing large candles to line the aisle. One of the final touches was a subtle decoration of wild ferns clipped above us and suspended with fairy lights. It made the room feel like a forest glade.
I used my calligraphy and design skills to create all of our stationery and wedding signage.
It took a while to decide on favours and we initially looked at a lot of traditional ideas. Since we’d decided to break tradition with so many other decisions though, we decided to keep it interesting and unorthodox and hand out favours, which were designed to give something back to nature and so put a Pollinator Beebom ‘Seedbom’ at every table setting. If you haven’t seen them before, they’re small recycled paper containers which hold seeds and compost and are designed for spreading organic flowers that specifically attract bees. We bought a big box of them from Kabloom. We also did something extra for the kiddies: some cute white chocolate jammy dodgers by Choc on Choc – none were left by the end of the night, so it looks like they were nommed with glee!
Cake? Schmake! We decided to go for a big stack of cheese instead. We ordered a cheese wedding cake from The Courtyard Dairy in Settle, who provided a wonderful service. East Riddlesden Hall have a small number of approved caterers and we decided to pick James Brown of Nomad Catering. We had set in our minds that we wanted to have a hog roast/informal buffet-type of meal; something fun to get our guests chatting and mingling. And it worked a treat! James and his team were absolutely brilliant from our initial conversations to the tasting evening he put on for us and everything on the big day. James’ team made sure there was plenty of prosecco to go around for the guests, and a bottle of red and white wine for each table during the meal – they were very attentive but never in the way. We’d definitely recommend them to everyone!
We wanted our evening to be an informal blast of fun for all of our guests, but we wanted to try and make sure that nobody felt excluded at any moment. We’ve been to a few weddings together in the past where the DJ clears the dancefloor with a couple of bad choices (or stick to one genre) but we imagined that a band would be able to adapt to everyone’s tastes. And so Phil Lyons New Vintage Swing Band provided the evening entertainment and they were an absolute hit with everyone!
Nick built an interactive guestbook by hammering together two wooden picture frames and getting guests to take selfies with a polaroid camera, then pin them to string hanging from the frames. We provided a marker pen and our guests left us little messages on the polaroid shots. We’ve got a lovely little stack of pictures and messages now and our guests didn’t realise the camera had a memory card in it, so we’ve also got the ‘outtakes’! We also managed to recycle some hay bales which had been used for a wedding from the day before. This turned out to be a great idea, the weather was on our side, it was a beautiful day and many of our guests made the most of the hay bale circle to socialise whilst eating their fish and chips in the evening.
Following our big day, we’d definitely recommend East Ridds, especially if you are the kind of couple who wants to have a lot of input on what your wedding day looks like. The team allow you that freedom, but they also put on incredible open day events where you can see examples of what can be done with the barn. Add to this the fact that the grounds are stunning, and the staff are friendly and you’ve got the perfect venue for a country wedding.
Nick says his favourite moment of the day was seeing me at the beginning of the ceremony. When he heard the entrance music and saw me stepping through the curtains at the back of the barn, he lit up and tried to calm me down with a goofy smile. I was very, very nervous. I don’t like being the centre of attention so I’d been terrified at the idea of walking down the aisle for days. The whole ceremony was so emotional and very personal, and so I tried to focus on Nick alone and had a sort of tunnel vision – I couldn’t even see our guests! It was only when we had walked back down the aisle and stepped through the curtains together that I felt relaxed enough to feel the full joy of the moment.
We haven’t actually been on honeymoon yet. We’re planning a three-week tour of New Zealand this November. We’ve been planning (and saving for) this trip for years; it’s a place we’ve always wanted to go. We’re both massive fans of The Lord of the Rings so it’ll be incredible to see those rolling hills and snow-covered mountains with our own eyes.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to do the planning together. Nick and I made every decision together, because wanted the wedding to reflect ‘us’ as much as possible. We even broke a few traditions here and there: Nick helped me to pick my dress, and I helped with his suit. As a result, though, there were no nasty surprises ahead of us and we both felt so proud at the end of the night.
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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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