Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

valley of love. eliza jane howell for a scenic wedding in northumberland – sophie & mark

October 23rd, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (30)

We’re easing you into the week with a pretty dose of real wedding inspiration.

Today’s couple tied the knot in spring of this year in the most picturesque of locations, up in Northumberland – a place that holds a lot of special family connections to the beautiful bride, Sophie.

Refreshingly, there’s no overarching theme or colour scheme for their big day – proof that a wedding really is what you make it, and you don’t need to be overly prescriptive with your ideas. Sometimes, everything just falls into place!

There are so many gorgeous details to swoon over – pretty lighting, wild blooms and the couple’s very own brew of sloe gin! Oh, and their own hashtag for the day, too. One of our highlights has got to be their alternative to traditional confetti – opting instead for wooden wands with bells attached. Want to know more? Then read on for all the country wedding inspo you could need…

With images by Anna Joy Photography.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (21)

sophie says: We got engaged in October 2015, up in the College Valley, which is hidden away in the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. I have family have connections there – my great grandfather built Hethpool – a house at the end of the valley – and in the 1960s my grandfather (on the other side of the family!) bought an old scouts’ hut with his best friend. The hut has been used for decades as a place to stay after long walks in the hills, a way to escape reality and for amazing parties!

Mike proposed in the hut with a beautiful video he had made of him producing reams and reams of messages written on card to the rhythm of one of my favourite songs.

We got married on 29th April 2017. For practical reasons, we wanted a bit of time to get everything ready. Most of our guests were travelling far, so we wanted to give them the chance to explore Northumberland over a Bank Holiday weekend.

Mike’s first trip to the College Valley was on a beautiful day in April 2014, when the gorse was in full bloom, lambs were running around and it was baking hot (relatively, for Northumberland), so we figured it was as good a date as any! Weather in the Borders is rarely great so we figured we may as well go with a month where weather had been good in the past and the scenery was looking so beautiful.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (34)

We got married at the Cuddystone Hall in the College Valley because…where else? It is the most beautiful place and means so much to us both and my family. The reception took place in both an adjacent marquee and the Hall.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (40)

We didn’t have a theme per se (I can find them a bit cringe!), but we kept the wedding very rustic and relaxed in keeping with the location.

Again, there wasn’t a colour scheme as such, because the valley is so wild and there are so many beautiful shades and colours of countryside all around the Cuddystone. We wanted to mirror that, so flowers and bridesmaid outfits were a mixture of different muted pastel colours.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (26)

I chose an Eliza Jane Howell dress, which was very delicately beaded and sequinned. I wore a flower crown and cathedral veil, too.

Mike wore tweed on top and chinos on bottom, with a jacket and waistcoat tailor-made in London (and generously provided by his brother-in-law). He had a green tie and a McCreath clan tartan pocket square in recognition of my mother’s family, which greatly pleased my granny Midge McCreath!

The groomsmen wore tweed waistcoats of mixed colours (all muted and earthy) with varying shades of beige chinos.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (12)

We stayed in a house in the valley the night before the wedding and, as transport, my dad decorated his car with flowers and got a very special number plate saying ‘taterwedding’ (an amalgamation of our surnames – and the wedding hashtag!).

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (13)

Anna Hamill of Anna Joy Photography, was our photographer and was exceptional. She took the most beautiful, natural photos and was very discreet. We couldn’t recommend her enough!

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (15)

I love flowers, so we had as many as our budget would allow! They were prepared by the fabulous Wildflower Ouseburn. I wore a floral crown and, together with the bridesmaids, carried a bouquet. The groomsmen, father-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom/bride also had buttonholes/corsages.

Wildflower Ouseburn made the most incredible displays for the venue, together with the support of Festoon Lighting. We had decorations in the Hall and in the tent – just look at the photos as no explanation will do the structures justice! Festoon Lighting transformed our venue into something completely magical, with the utmost professionalism and style.

We didn’t want to drop confetti outside the venue because it was lambing season, so we made little wooden wands with bells and different coloured ribbons attached.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (19)

For our favours, my dad produced bottles of sloe gin for everyone. He picked the sloes in September 2016, ready to brew and bottle for the wedding.

One of my bridesmaids is a very talented chef. Margie (of Made by Margie) made the most beautiful carrot cake for us. In keeping with the wedding, it was very natural and rustic looking and, of course, absolutely delicious!

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (20)

We went with The Orde Food Company for the catering, who did a fabulous job of sharing platters and a cheese selection. We had antipasto, ham, red cabbage and dauphinoise served family style, rounded off with sticky toffee pudding and a cheeseboard for later.

Orde also provided all the alcohol, as well as Rigg and Furrow, who are family friends of mine, and provided us with personalised Sophie and Mike ale for the day!

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (22)

Entertainment-wise, we chose North East Soiree for a string quartet, ceilidh and disco. They were fantastic.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (28)

Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our choice of venue to other brides and grooms – it is Northumberland at its very best!

Looking back, I’d say heading down to the College Burn to have photos taken with Anna was one of my personal highlights of the day, as was the hilarious speeches and the ceremony.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (32)

After the wedding, we went on a minimoon to Skye to try and see some otters (my first love), but our main honeymoon is to Madagascar in 2018, which our guests so kindly contributed towards.

A Pretty Wedding in Northumberland (c) Anna Joy Photography (46)

My top tip for other Brides Up North is to just enjoy the planning process – we loved it! The actual day itself goes so fast and it’s a strange feeling when it’s over, so make sure you piece together as many of your guests’ stories as possible, so you have as full a picture as you can of your day. We loved hearing about all the hilarious things our guests had been up to after a wine or two!

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about the author

Alexis Forsyth
Originally from north of the border, Alexis has lived in the North East for the past 15 years and considers herself officially an adopted Geordie. A qualified journalist - Alexis took up the position of editor at the region’s longest running business publication in 2015 before moving into a marketing role for one of the UK’s largest independent arts and craft galleries. Alexis currently edits her own lifestyle blog, where you can find her latest musings on all things Newcastle-related, together with a smattering of her Instagram-worthy cocktail and foodie pics. Yet to find Mr Right herself, Alexis sees this as a mere formality when it comes to tying the knot, as she’s already picked out her dream wedding dress, theme and venue...

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