August 23rd, 2017 | Julia Braime
As far as group efforts go, today’s real wedding is going to take some serious beating. Amazingly, with the help of their incredible family and friends, Hettie & Tabz, planned and pulled off a wedding for 450 guests! That’s right 4-5-0!
Marrying at Hettie’s home church, everyone packed in to see this super-popular couple tie the knot before moving onto an activity centre and marquees in Burrs County Park, for a fun reception with cool festival wedding vibes.
With everyone keen to offer their services, skills and talents, family and friends helped to take care of everything from the attire, transport, food and cake, right through to the evening entertainment. Now that’s how you call in a favour – or two, or three….
With images by Paul & Nanda
hettie says: We got engaged exactly eight months after we got together. I went on a treasure hunt type adventure with my mum to various places that were special to Tabz and I (including our first date location) where different friends were situated with the next clue. The final clue led us to a church building where many of my friends and family were. They were lined up outside and around the corridors that I followed until I reached the top of the staircase to see Tabz stood at the bottom. As I approached him, he got on one knee and asked me to marry him! I obviously said yes (why wouldn’t I? He’s wonderful!) and a band consisting of our friends began to play ‘our song’ (For Once In My Life) and we partied the night away with our friends and family. It was brilliant!
We set the date for 27th May 2017. Logic told us that a Bank Holiday before half-term school holidays would be easier for us and others, especially family who live further afield.
Our ceremony was at Life Church Lancashire in Burnley, which is my home church. The building is incredible, I have many great memories there, and I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. Also, with more than 450 people attending, it was the only church building big enough anyway!
The reception was at Burrs Country Park, in Bury. We used the Activity Centre and field to create a summer festival as there was plenty of space to do so. The venue was very different to traditional weddings, which meant we did everything ourselves, with much help from great friends and family.
Our theme was ‘Be a blessing’. Those who attended our wedding have been such a blessing to us individually and as a couple that we wanted to bless them as much as we could throughout the day. We also wanted this to reflect our faith and encourage others to bless one another too.
Our base colours were black, white and grey, with pops of yellow, light pink, bright pink, orange and green. We wanted our colours to reflect our personalities and the fun, festival party.
I struggled with the idea of going dress shopping and having a stranger help you decide such an important outfit (whilst you’re practically naked!). A friend suggested that I looked at the wedding dress that one of my bridesmaids, Sue, wore. She looked gorgeous and it seemed like the kind of dress that could suit me. I tried it on and loved it! Sue gave me the dress to do whatever I wanted with (I told you people are such a blessing to us) and it was an honour to wear the wedding dress of such an amazing lady.
In the end Tabz wore a suit that he already had because he loved it and it fitted with the theme. He got a tweed waistcoat to go under it, plus a really nice shirt, bow tie, colourful socks and new leather Converse. He looked very suave.
The groomsmen wore black pants and a white shirt with matching grey bow ties and braces. The bridesmaids wore black dresses (they all wore different ones that suited their body shape but worked well together), with colourful scarves and flowers to tie it all together.
We travelled in style on the wedding day! Some of Tabz’s friends have a pair of white model S Tesla’s that they blessed us with the use of. I was driven to the ceremony and Tabz drove one of them to the reception venue. He loved it!
Paul and Nanda were our photographers. They are incredible people who capture special moments and produce breath-taking photos. The beauty of having a married couple was that they spent the morning with us separately whilst we got ready, then took photos together for the rest of the day. We had loads of fun with them. They helped us to feel calm and relaxed and our post-ceremony photo shoot gave us a bit of peace in such a crazy day. We would definitely recommend them – the photos speak for themselves, but they are fantastic people who we enjoyed having with us.
The rest of the wedding wasn’t very traditional, so my bouquet wasn’t either. I had a customised sweet bouquet made by Claire and Julie at Oh So Sweet Candy Trees. They are a mother and daughter business who were so helpful in creating the perfect bouquets for us. They fitted perfectly with our wedding and were very tasty. I would highly recommend this, especially for the post ceremony hunger!
I have fantastic friends who basically sorted it all the venue styling for us. They took our colour scheme and made bunting and decorations for the marquees – even our straw bales were accessorised!
We had a sweetie cart that was made by my best friend’s dad. We filled it with bowls of sweets and bags for people to take home with them. It worked very well.
My friends Joyce and Abigail (mother and daughter), are very good at baking and making quality looking cakes. They blessed us with an incredible wedding cake, well cakes, that fitted with our colour scheme, looked great and tasted delicious!
Due to the large amounts of guests and family festival feel we were going for, we had a bring your own picnic. It was brilliant to see people sharing with each other and not feeling tied down to sitting in a particular seat. Guests also brought cakes to put in our cake tent that we all shared from. We know a lot of great bakers – one cake was even baked fresh from a caravan on site and it was yummy.
We also had Jonah’s Coffee, who brought everything they needed to make delicious coffee and other delights. They are a wonderful bunch who are great to work with.
In terms of music, my brother is a fantastic blues artist and front man of J Bear and The Giants, and so he entertained us all with an evening of live music and fun. This was them followed by a ‘jamming session’ that myself and my new husband joined in with. We laughed a lot and really enjoyed ourselves!
My nephews MC’d the speeches which we held at the church building straight after the ceremony (so that all could be there to hear them). This included arm wrestling and bad jokes – they did a great job!
As we are awful dancers, but good musicians, instead of a ‘first dance’, we had a ‘first song’. I sang and Tabz played keys to All My Life originally by K-Ci and JoJo.
As extra entertainment, Bounce A Lot Northwest provided us with a bouncy castle and foot pool, which was enjoyed by all ages!
I would recommend our choice of venue to couples looking to do everything themselves (it took a lot of effort by many people). It’s an activity centre with a field, pub close by, park and lovely areas to walk, so if you’re looking to do something like us, yes, it was great – and we even had some bunk space for guests.
If I had to pick a favourite moment of the day it would be whilst we were signing the register on the stage – we looked over to see hundreds of people in front of us. It was such a blessing to know that they were all there to support and celebrate us! Wow!
For our honeymoon, we had a couple of nights in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, followed by a few nights in a treehouse cabin in the North Lakes, which was lovely. We ended the week camping at The Big Church Day Out, which was full of quality live music and fun. We loved the variety of our week.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – chill out and don’t be a bridezilla! Work out what is so important to you that it has to be done a certain way, and then let others sort the rest. Friends and family are your greatest asset! Also, men do want to get involved in the planning of their wedding, let them!
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Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…
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