September 1st, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Hold onto your hats, guys and get ready for a slice of complete and utter gorgeousness: Jenna and Ollie’s big day at the stunningly quirky Bellle Epoque in Knutsford has everything you need to get through to the weekend. There are flowers galore, a sublime earthy palette of woodland green and rich amethyst and the most beautiful lace dress courtesy of Louise Selbey – the sweetest combination of classic and edgy cool. All the superlatives and all the italics.
As if I couldn’t be more envious, Jenna and Ollie met in a LIBRARY (be still my beating heart) and love to travel, travel, travel, so there’s no surprise that books, maps and beautiful calligraphy feature heavily. If you’re a details gal, you’re in for a treat.
The couple say they fell in love with Knutsford’s charm and The Belle Epoque’s character as soon as they walked in, and sampling their sumptuous menu sealed the deal. We can totally see what they mean – these natural shots from Ginger and Lime Photography of the couple hiding in doorways, the bride posing in her sunnies and the party spilling out onto the street have got our hearts pumping, too.
With images by: Ginger and Lime Photography.
jenna says: Ollie and I got engaged on Boxing Day in December 2015 outside my Mum’s house in Selsey, West Sussex. He’d planned to pop the question down by the beach after a walk, but I’d insisted on going the shorter way back though the village. It was perfect anyway!
We got married on July 8th 2017. We knew we wanted a summer wedding as we really wanted some outside space and I’m much more of a fair weather person!
We had our ceremony and reception at The Belle Epoque. We fell in love with Knutsford, the building’s character and its outside terrace. Food was a big part of it, too: The Belle Epoque’s menu was right up our street, plus it offered the flexibility that we wanted.
In terms of a theme, books and travel featured heavily in our wedding. Books because Ollie and I met in the library, and travel because for three years we were back and forth most weekends between Chester and Surrey. We also have some amazing memories from our holidays and liked the idea of featuring those.
Our colours were green and purple because they complimented The Belle Epoque’s quirky interior and it allowed us to work with the foliage and flowers that we liked best.
My wedding dress was by Louise Selby based in Kew. One of my best friends from school, Sophie Heaven, is a talented embroiderer who made us a really special hand-embroidered ‘Cards’ sign for our card basket. She’d previously worked with Louise and told me about her sample sale. I was astonished that my Mum and I actually agreed on my choice! It was such a gorgeous mix of classic and modern, is made from the most beautiful lace and I just felt super comfortable in it.
The groomsmen wore matching blue trousers and blue waistcoats from Moss Bros. My bridesmaids wore amazing twist and wrap dresses from Isabella Bridal. We can’t recommend them enough: they’re so comfortable and flattering, great quality and they come in one size which was perfect as my bridesmaids were travelling from all over including, err, Indonesia!
I stayed at the Rose and Crown next door to The Belle Epoque the night before so I travelled to the ceremony on foot. The new owners couldn’t do enough for me and it was the perfect place to get ready and relax. Pamela at Cartman and Masons hairdressers in Knutsford was fantastic, too; all she needed was a little description of what I’d like and she created it!
Our photographer was Ginger and Lime Photography by Sylvia Csoma. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sylvia. She put us – a horribly camera-shy pair! – totally at ease. The guests absolutely loved her and our photos are everything we hoped for.
I carried a mix of rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, veronica, wax flower, lisianthus and a few other flowers chosen by our florists Diddibox Flowers. They took my vision and created something even better! They’re so good at what they do and I’m so glad I put my trust in them.
Some of the decorations were The Belle Epoque’s own; it really is a venue where you don’t have to do much to it if you don’t want to. My mum put a lot of effort and love into some personal decorations, even creating vases wrapped in book style paper that told the story of mine and Ollie’s relationship, which was such a special touch. My bridesmaid Astrid from Indonesia also spent a few late nights working her magic on the table plan and ceremony place cards; thank goodness for her calligraphy skills!
Our favours were personalised engraved pencils and favour bags by Pink Biscuits via notonthehighstreet.com. They contained chocolates and paper to write messages for us. Guests posted the messages in a bottle for us to open on one of three chosen anniversary years.
One of my bridesmaids, Rosa Johnson, who runs Whoop Tea Do in St Albans, made our cake. It was simply divine! We had three fruit, Jamaican Ginger and Death by Chocolate layers with sugar mice on top (I love mice!) as well as sugar roses and books cascading down the side. She’s so talented! She also created a bespoke quiz that we put on the tables. It featured questions about elements of the day, from naming the artists whose songs played in the wedding ceremony to general knowledge on the countries that we’ve visited. It was great fun seeing our guests get so into it.
We had Pimm’s and canapes at the drinks reception followed by beef and a glazed lemon tart at the wedding breakfast and a BBQ in the evening. A description can’t really do the food justice – frankly, you have to try it to believe it. The Belle Epoque make even the most everyday food a discovery.
Michael Mulholland did a live set throughout the drinks reception as guests entered in the evening; he sang the song for our first dance (I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz) and then DJd in the evening. We chose Michael as he was the complete package and was perfect for the relaxed vibe that we wanted. He’s an absolute environment enhancer and a real professional.
I gave my friends that did readings a personalised bookmark, my bridesmaids little gifts with a letter that said why they are so special to me, my mum and mother-in-law corsages and Ollie a little book filled with reasons why I love him. It was important for Ollie and I to express to our guests how much we appreciated them being there for us and we hope that we managed to do that.
We absolutely loved our custom paper buttonholes by RachelEmmaStudio on Etsy. We went for dried lavender and green paper leaves with Harry Potter book pages as the rose. It’s such a lovely keepsake of the day.
I’ve already recommended The Belle Epoque to anybody who’ll listen! So many of our guests said how brilliant the staff were; they catered for our every need and more. The little touches, like holding back some canapes for us on the top table as they knew we’d be too busy greeting our guests to enjoy them, were wonderful. Faultless and inspiring!
My favourite memory from the day? That’s such a hard question! When I was younger I never thought I wanted to get married and I certainly didn’t really believe it would be the best day of my life – but it genuinely was. To have so many of our friends and family there was phenomenal. Seeing Ollie waiting at the end of that aisle is a feeling I’ll never forget.
We shared our honeymoon with eighteen of Ollie’s family members at Bristowe Hill in the Lakes. They gave us the honeymoon suite and arranged a hot tub for the patio with stunning views of Cat Bells – a fell that defeated me in my teens when I was more afraid of heights. We climbed it on the trip which was a great accomplishment!
In our planning, it really helped having two words to recall and guide us, ours being ‘relaxed’ and ‘romantic’. Nearer the time I kept telling myself that the only thing that really mattered was that we ended up married – if anything went ‘wrong’, it would just be a story to tell. It couldn’t have gone more smoothly, though; even the weather was kind!
I’d also suggest checking out Brides Up North’s Real Weddings, particularly in the early stages. Having not thought too much about weddings until Ollie proposed, I found it all a bit daunting at first, but it’s to helpful to get an idea of how others do things in order to work out what’s really important to you.
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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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