August 15th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
This celebration feels a bit like a fairytale: a wonderful extended stay at an ancient 14th century farmstead, photographs featuring chandeliers and roof beams, fur throws and flowers galore – and, of course, a picture-perfect princess in a bespoke gown.
Details really mattered for this discerning bride, and what beautiful details they were: a colour palette that echoed the springtime cherry blossom, flowers everywhere, a menu planned to perfection, a fun caravan photobooth and raspberry gin – mmm!
And as well as having a keen eye for elegant decor, Clare is a wise sage on the subject of wedding planning. She advises brides-to-be to make no apologies – “If it’s important to you, that’s all that matters.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!
Over to Clare to tell us more…
With photography by Hayley Baxter Photography
clare says: We got engaged during a surprise weekend away for Valentine’s Day in 2016 to Loch Lomond. After the long drive, Nick suggested that we go for a walk and find a pub for some lunch. As we were walking along the edge of the loch, Nick kept stopping to look at the view and trying to get me close to the water’s edge – but I was more concerned about the mud, utterly clueless as to what he was trying to do! Nick got down on one knee – I was so surprised! Of course, I said yes!
We booked our wedding for 29th April 2017 – it was the Bank Holiday weekend, so ideal with the extra day off work for our guests.
We got married at St John the Evangelist Church in Charlesworth, Derbyshire. I grew up in Charlesworth and my mum still lives in the village, so it was a perfect choice.
Our reception was at Upper House in Hayfield, about ten minutes away from Charlesworth. We fell in love with the venue the moment we first went to see it – the views over Kinder are incredible and the building itself is beautiful and full of history. The great thing about Upper House was that we had it for the whole weekend, so arrived on the Friday morning and left on the Monday morning – all our family and wedding party stayed with us for the three nights and it was so special to spend the whole weekend with family and friends in such a stunning location.
We didn’t have a theme as such; as the venue is so beautiful, it didn’t really need it. However, flowers played a large part, from our wedding stationery to the décor in the marquee.
We went for a spring colour palette of blush pinks, sage greens and golds. We chose it because I love cherry blossom and it was in bloom at that time of year.
I had a bespoke wedding dress. I didn’t initially set out thinking that I wanted to have my dress made for me – I was so excited about going to different shops to find ‘the one’. I made an appointment at Mariée Bridal Boutique in Nantwich, without even considering the bespoke service they offer, but then after trying a few things on the conversation started moving towards creating a design just for me. Kate drew up a sketch and I was sold! The whole process of having a dress created is wonderful: you see it evolve at each appointment and can tweak things right up to the last minute. Kate also made my mum’s outfit and my flower girl’s dress, and they both looked beautiful.
Nick and the other male members of the wedding party wore traditional morning suits from Moss Bros. The advice they provided in the first appointment was great and they all looked super-smart on the day.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were by Mori Lee, from Brides at Freedmans in Stockport. I fell in love with the colour as soon as I saw it and I loved that the lace jackets were removable, so the girls could take them off later in the evening if they wanted to.
The bridal party’s hair on the day of the wedding was done by Amy Lewis and makeup by Sarah Meredith. They were both great to have around and kept me calm, and I was so pleased with how my hair and makeup looked.
Our photographer was Hayley Baxter. In the early stages of planning, I saw a photoshoot on the Brides Up North website that took place at Upper House and loved the style of the photography. I got in touch with Hayley straight away and then realised that she had also taken photos at my friend’s wedding the year before!
Hayley was fantastic and we’re so pleased with the images. She’s also the nicest person to have around you and she made us feel completely at ease. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her.
Mike Sreenan of Moon River Films was our videographer and came recommended by a couple of friends who had also used him for their weddings. Mike was absolutely brilliant and we are so pleased with the footage – he captured the day beautifully.
Hayley’s Flower Studio in Wilmslow, created all the flowers for the day. My bridal bouquet was stunning, using a mix of ivory and blush roses and freesias with eucalyptus leaves and rosemary sprigs. It smelt amazing! The bridesmaids had smaller, handtied versions with pink hydrangeas, and my flower girl had a gorgeous circlet of roses and a wand!
Hayley created two beautiful arrangements for the front of the church, using the same flowers as the bouquets. She also decorated wicker hearts with ivy, which were then hung on the end of the pews. All these were then taken back to Upper House and put in the marquee for the reception.
The table centrepieces were a mixture of tall gold candelabras and glass storms vases, with the same ivory and blush theme. Hayley also added ivy and eucalyptus to the chandeliers, table plan and cake table in the marquee.
The final room Hayley decorated for us was the Great Hall, where the evening entertainment took place. There was an incredible wooden chandelier with dozens of candles on it, and Hayley dressed it with more of the same ivy and eucalyptus, as well as handing beautiful glass baubles with tea lights and rose heads inside. It looked breathtaking!
For our favours, we wanted to give something that people could eat there and then, or take home to enjoy afterwards. A friend of Nick’s mum made beautiful heart-shaped biscuits, iced with gold edging and a pink flower to tie in with the colour scheme.
Our cake was created by my mum’s best friend, Hilary Bennett, who was also a guest at the wedding. We had three tiers – chocolate, lemon and fruit. We wanted to keep the decoration simple and classic, so Hilary made a beautiful design with lace icing and sugar flowers. It was stunning!
Samuel James Events provided the catering – they were recommended by Upper House. We knew from the first meeting with Sam that we wanted him to run our day, as he listened to what we wanted and just knew what style of event we wanted to create. He was also a joy to have around on the day.
We started with a mixture of hot and cold canapés. The wedding breakfast was simply incredible – a starter of goat’s cheese tian, with prosciutto and Mediterranean vegetables; this was followed by rump of English lamb, dauphinoise potatoes and a red wine reduction; and we finished with ‘boys & girls desserts’ of sticky toffee pudding or raspberry and white chocolate delice.
Later in the evening, we had a huge selection of cheeses with biscuits, breads and lots of lovely things. It was a work of art!
All the food exceeded our expectations and our guests were so complimentary about it all. Sam ran the day perfectly.
The Northern String Quartet provided the entertainment during the drinks reception in Upper House’s beautiful courtyard. The selection of contemporary music they played was the perfect backdrop to our day.
Later that evening, The Warning Tones did an incredible job of entertaining our guests. They played our first dance beautifully and the dancefloor was full all night. The band were brilliant and so energetic. Many guests drew comparisons between the frontman Dave and Mick Jagger and Harry Styles!
We discovered Natty Bee’s Vintage Hire at a Brides Up North wedding fair and fell in love with Betty the Caravan instantly – a photo booth with a real difference. Betty the Caravan was set up by the courtyard in the evening and guests could have their photos taken using the array of fancy dress items and props. Natalie and her husband were delightful and we received all the photos just two days later.
We also had a ‘Pimp Your Prosecco’ table and a ‘Beer Barrow’ during the drinks reception – the Raspberry Gin went down very well with everyone!
As we had the venue for the whole weekend, we had lunch catered the following day by Laura Dronsfield, who we came across at (another!) Brides Up North wedding fair. The food was fantastic and the presentation was beautiful.
Upper House is so unique and we fell in love with it the moment we saw it. The fact that we had exclusive use of the venue for the whole weekend was perfect for us. The team are so helpful and made the planning process really straightforward, and gave us the flexibility to do different things. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Upper House – it will be a special place for us forever.
Looking back, our favourite part of the wedding day was looking around the marquee as we sat down for dinner and seeing all our guests enjoying themselves. It was great to see it all come together – we’d done it!
We went on honeymoon to Antigua for two weeks – it was bliss! We decided to go away straight after the wedding and we’re really pleased we did, as we were definitely ready for a rest. It was lovely to just relax after all the hard work!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – if you want to do something, go for it! People will tell you not to worry about the details, that no one will notice them – but if it’s important to you, that’s all that matters.
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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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