August 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
There’s very little introduction required for the real wedding we’re featuring today, as these gorgeous photographs speak for themselves. There’s embellished Enzoani for the dress divas, pink peonies for the flower fans and stunningly intimate sunset kisses for the romance addicts – so that’ll be, err, everyone?? The theme of this particular County Durham wedding was ‘simply elegant’ and the details, from bespoke stationery to limoncello shots, are first-rate.
Oh, and speaking of details, have you thought about a wedding day gift for your beloved yet? We’ve seen it all here at Brides Up North – a vintage tie pin, a bottle of his favourite whiskey, a rare record to add to his collection. But today’s bride Charlotte sets the bar even higher, ladies – her wedding day gift to new husband Jonathan was a full-on dance troupe: her and her #bridesquad performing to Beyonce’s popwhopper Love on Top. No pressure, then…!
Over to Charlotte to tell us more…
With images by Duncan McCall Photography
charlotte says: We’d planned a trip to Edinburgh between Christmas and New Year to see some friends and Jonathan told me afterwards that he’d decided exactly when and where he was going to propose. However, that didn’t go to plan. On Saturday 21st December 2013, he says he woke up and just knew he had to do it. We live in County Durham, and one of our favourite places to visit is the Cathedral. With it being Christmas time, we were greeted by the beautiful sound of a choir singing carols as we walked in that day. He led me outside into the courtyard and sat me down, got down on one knee and popped the question. It really took me by surprise and, of course, I said yes!
Our wedding date was 1st July 2017. We’d always wanted a summer wedding and it just so happened that the first Saturday in July had a memorable date: 1/7/17.
We got married at St Brandon’s Church in Brancepeth, just outside of Durham. The church building was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1998 and the renovations are beautiful. It’s is very modern with individual chairs instead of pews, and features a beautiful stained-glass window and stone from the old building on the wall. We fell in love with St Brandon’s as soon as we stepped inside; plus, we love that every time we step outside our back door, we can see the church in the distance.
We held our wedding reception at Headlam Hall Hotel and Spa. We’d looked at so many different venues, but none of them felt right until we came across Headlam. We loved the beautiful gardens and terrace and could see just how lovely it would be to have our guests there and to enjoy the views. We also loved how the function suite was set aside from the hotel – it created a real sense of exclusivity. Headlam Hall’s function suite had recently been renovated and looked really elegant; we loved it so much, we booked two years in advance.
‘Simply elegant’ was the theme for our wedding, with a colour scheme of navy blue, blush pink, creams and golden colours. We also included peonies, which were incorporated into the bouquets, centrepieces and all stationery.
I chose a fishtail, embroidered Enzoani gown, to which I added a crystal belt, some delicate thin crystal straps and a cathedral-length veil with lace detailing, all purchased at the Blue Bow Bridal Company, based in Durham. The ladies there were truly amazing; as soon as we stepped in we were greeted by two lovely women who handed me a basket of pegs and told me to peg away onto any dresses I liked. I tried on some beautiful gowns, but I didn’t love any of them. At this point, Cheryl the assistant asked me to describe my dream dress and then picked out my beautiful Enzoani gown. I couldn’t wait to try it on and, once I saw myself in it, I definitely had the moment you dream about.
Jonathan, his best man Josh, the groomsmen and our fathers all wore navy blue suits from Suits Direct at Dalton Park. Jonathan wore an ivory tie and a pocket square whereas the other men all had blush pink. All suits were paired with brown shoes.
I had five bridesmaids and one flower girl. It was really important to me that all the bridesmaids were comfortable in the dresses and so I chose Dessy twist and wrap gowns in a blush pink colour. The dress had a layer of chiffon, and each of my bridesmaids had their dresses twisted in an individual way. I purchased the dresses at Pressed Prom and Bridal in Sherburn. Gemma, who owns the store and who I first met at a Brides Up North wedding fair, is amazing – she even came to my mam’s house on the morning of the wedding to twist everyone into their dresses. I don’t know what I would have done without her. Ivy, my flower girl, wore a pink lace dress from Monsoon and pink shoes from Next.
Emma and Chloe were our hair stylists on the day, they were from Lox of Love. They did a wonderful job styling everyone’s hair. Zoe Stephenson was our makeup artist. She did a beautiful job with everyone’s makeup and all the girls loved it.
Our photographer was Duncan McCall, and he was amazing. We met with Duncan a few times before the wedding and, as he hadn’t been to Headlam before, he took the time to meet us there and check out the venue. He was extremely professional and made everyone feel at ease on the day. He captured the most beautiful shots, created a slideshow with over 600 images and presented us with a USB in a delicate wooden box, both engraved with a wedding image. We’re so grateful for the work Duncan has done and we relive our wedding day every time we look at our beautiful images in our leather album – all created by Duncan.
For my flowers, I carried peonies in blush pink with a hint of white and my bridesmaids carried the same but with the colours reversed, so white with a hint of pink. They were hand-tied with ribbon, and Wright’s Stems in Spennymoore, attached pearl brooches onto each bouquet.
As Ivy, our flower girl, was only two, Wright’s Stems made her a small gypsophilia basket to carry. It was perfect. They also made beautiful arrangements for the church and the guest and top tables at the reception venue.
For our stationery, we approached Katie Wood who owns Katie Sue Design Co. Katie is professional, patient, approachable and extremely talented. She absolutely delivered and I can’t recommend her enough to anyone after bespoke wedding stationery.
At the venue, we placed a large candle alongside the table plan and a sign which read “This candle burns for those who are forever in our heart”. It was important for us to acknowledge those family members who would have been at our wedding, and it touched a lot of people.
For favours, our neighbour made limoncello shots. I bought 20ml glass bottles with cork tops and labels which read “We tied the knot, now take a shot.” For some of the older children, I filled bags with strawberry sweets and wedding colouring books for the little ones to keep them entertained.
Some family friends made our four-tier wedding cake (spice, chocolate, and lemon layers) and it was delicious. It was iced in cream, gold and pink with handmade peonies in icing down the side.
For the wedding breakfast, we had tomato and basil soup for our starter, followed by roasted chicken with truffle mashed potato, wild mushrooms, bacon and a tarragon sauce, then, for dessert, we chose Jonathan’s favourite: sticky toffee pudding with custard.
During the drinks reception, we had a saxophonist playing. We thought it would be a lovely touch to have some chilled music in the background while guests caught up with one another, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
We also had a family friend who did some magic during the drinks reception. We love magic – the surprise on people’s faces is just wonderful to see.
For our evening entertainment, we had a band called The Funk Collective. They were truly superb. Their small touches really made the night – they even initiated a dance war between Jonathan and myself! Jonathan isn’t the best dancer, so I thought I had it in the bag – but we really didn’t expect him to pull off the moves he did!
After the first dance, I did a dance for Jonathan with my bridesmaids and some of the girls from my hen do. We danced to Love On Top by Beyonce and it went down a treat. Jonathan was so surprised. I’d thought about doing a dance and tried to get people on board in Dublin airport on our way back home from the hen party, but the hangovers had kicked in and the girls were reluctant. But the night before the wedding I had all my bridesmaids over at my mam’s house and we learnt the dance there and then in a couple of hours.
Following our wedding, we’d definitely recommend Headlam Hall to another couple. The grounds and the venue are breath-taking and the staff are so professional and approachable. We couldn’t picture having our wedding anywhere else.
My favourite moments from the day were definitely walking into the church and seeing all our friends and family there and saying my vows. I always thought I would be a bit nervous in front of everyone but I can honestly say that I was focused solely on Jonathan. I felt like we were in our own little bubble.
We visited Dubai for our honeymoon – and what an experience it was. We did plenty of sightseeing, visited the Burj Khalif, the Atlantis waterpark and had brunch at the Observatory in the Marriott Harbour Hotel. My friend made us a reservation in the Sky Bar at the Burj Al Arab and my bridesmaid Hannah bought us a Desert Safari experience, which was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done – what a way to end a fabulous honeymoon!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – hire a videographer. There was so much I forgot about the day, including details of the speeches and all sorts of little things. We hired John Lunt of Top Table Films – he was superb and we can’t wait to see the finished film!
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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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