October 30th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
For some couples a wedding is about getting away from day to day life and escaping to a far-off venue for vows and celebrations. Other couples, however, like to make their big day all about their local surroundings, sharing the place they call home with their family and friends. The latter is certainly true of today’s featured couple, who chose to tie the knot in their home city of Manchester.
By combining personal touches and pretty décor, Sarah and Ben’s wedding is as cool as it is classy – and we flippin’ love it!
There’s pretty pink flowers, glittering sequins and twinkling fairylights but also an urban backdrop, smoke bombs and tattoos.
What this couple easily deliver is a lesson in how to truly make your wedding your own…
With images by Katie Dervin.
sarah says: We got engaged at my parents’ house in Cheshire, on Christmas Day 2014. It had started as an unfortunate day as Ben was currently living in London and all I wanted was to see him and spend some quality time together but I woke up to an awful 24-hour bug and was bed ridden for most of the day. So, after a quick change of plan he said he was going to come to mine and spend the day with me being ill and not very in the mood for Christmas. My parents had gone around to my brother’s so there was just the two of us in the flat. He went downstairs to make me a tea and next thing he shouted up to me to come downstairs to open my presents, which I wasn’t happy about at all as I could barely stand up. As I got to the top of the stairs I heard playing faintly our song, which is How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding and I immediately burst into tears. I walked down the stairs to see him in my living room standing in the middle of a rose petal heart and candles everywhere. He then went down on one knee and asked me. I was hysterical. I wasn’t expecting it at all as we had only been together for 13 months. It was perfect. No big show, no embarrassing displays of public affection. Just me and him.
Our wedding date was Saturday 8th July 2017.
We got married at the Renaissance Manchester hotel on Blackfriars Street in the city centre. We have lived in Manchester for nearly two years now and having looked at numerous venues in Cheshire, where we are both originally from, we realised that they weren’t for us and we are now officially city people and wanted our friends and family to see where our lives are now. The venue wasn’t actually our first choice. Our original venue cancelled on us six months before the wedding due to renovations and we then essentially had to start again. But Ben managed to find The Renaissance, who turned out to be our saviours and we had the amazing day we had always wanted.
We didn’t have a theme per say. We just wanted to have a great day that everyone would enjoy and remember for all the right reasons. It was once described to me as an ‘urban fairy-tale wedding’ with a little rock and roll. We are a non-traditional couple with traditional values so we tried to have the best of both worlds.
The colour scheme was pinks and gold. I didn’t just want to have a specific shade of pink, mainly because I couldn’t decide but also I felt it’s a colour which can have all different shades in one place and still look right.
My dress was from Wed2B in Bolton. It was the first thing we purchased after we had set the date. In my head, I had always wanted a typical princess fairy-tale style dress and I remember walking in and saying “take me to the tulle”. I tried on my first dress and hated it as this was all I had wanted and it looked awful. The lovely assistant persuaded me to try a different, more fitted style. I still wasn’t convinced until the straps fell down off my shoulders due to it being a little too big and I fell in love. I loved the style and fit and making the straps more of a Bardot on the shoulders gave it a more vintage style.
My bridesmaid wore a dress from Coast, which had watercolour style flowers on the skirt. My flowergirl had a dusty pink sequin dress from TU at Sainsburys. After searching the internet and high street for the perfect little dress my mum had bought the dress just to see what I thought and it matched in with the different shades of the bridesmaid dress perfectly.
The groomsmen all had matching suits from Slaters in a navy blue shade with Ted Baker pink paisley ties. We wanted one of the traditional aspects to be the groom and groomsmen matching but we wanted them all to feel comfortable.
Our photographer was Katie Dervin, who is based in Manchester. She was one of the best choices we made for the day. She is lovely and went along with our ideas as crazy as some of them sounded.
We also had our day filmed by Storyboard Weddings from Nantwich, Cheshire. I knew these videographers from school and loved the videos they had made of other people’s weddings. They really capture emotions and feelings on the day and you feel like you’re actually there when watching their videos. Plus, it was nice to have someone I knew amongst all the chaos of the day as a calming factor.
Flowers were always going to be a big part of the day as my grandma was a lover of flowers and had done flowers for my local church back home in Cheshire for most of her life, so they had to be perfect.
Our flowers were provided by Caroline Ewart from Fresh Floral Design in Hartford. I always knew I wanted just pale pink peonies for my bouquet and that’s exactly what I got.
My bridesmaid’s bouquet was all white with a small amount of greenery. Her bouquet and the ceremony table arrangement were made up hydrangeas, lisianthus, dill, delphiniums, dahlias, astilbe, bouvardia, alstroemeria, roses and many more.
The groomsmen’s buttonholes were a single white rose with some greenery and a thistle as Ben’s father was Scottish. Ben’s buttonhole was exactly the same apart from he had a pink rose instead of white.
We also had flowers in different style vases down the aisle and also in the foyer of the hotel. Our table centrepieces were also an array of different jars and vases with stems of different flowers in them.
To style our venue we had an amazing venue dresser called Tracy Torres, who I had met at a wedding fair and instantly after seeing her work I knew I wanted her. She helped to create the vision I had in my head.
We then had lighting by Sterling Event Group, who supplied lights to cover the two pillars in the ceremony room.
Our wedding cake was made by a family friend. We had a three-tier sponge cake covered with fondant icing and inside the layers were pink ombre. The tiers were made up of traditional sponge, lemon and cherry almond flavour. It went down a treat. We had left overs for days!
We incorporated some extra special touches into our day as we wanted people to be able to tell that it was our wedding and have little aspects of us dotted around. We had personalised transfer tattoos made from FlashTattoosCustom in Texas, who I found on Etsy and pink and white rock lollipops from eBay with personalised stickers from Vistaprint on the wrapping as wedding favours. Ben is originally from Blackpool which is why we had the rock and we both have a love for tattoo’s which is why we picked the transfers.
Our wedding transport choice was personal too – we decided to have a white cab as we lived in London together for seven months so this seemed a perfect fit. It was my mum who found the company – I Do Taxis – and they were great. Inside the cab it was carpeted with a goodies hamper and our driver was lovely!
We named our tables after the songs from the day. I didn’t want to have the tables numbered but we couldn’t decide on names as we haven’t travelled a lot or were not huge film buffs. After seeing something that Tracy, the venue dresser, had done previously I printed out the song sheets to each song and put them in gold frames for each table.
We also had a memory table which was up during the ceremony and evening reception as both Ben’s dad and my grandma had passed and this was our way of knowing that they were there with us on the day.
In terms of entertainment, we decided on a good old-fashioned disco. When I think of northern weddings this is what I picture. Cheesy music, a DJ you can’t understand and everyone on the dancefloor having the time of their life. We hired our DJ, Jordan, from Ice Entertainment and he was great. He rang me the week before to get an idea of the songs we wanted and we worked our way through the night starting with cheesy classics, onto a bit of electro and northern soul and finishing with 80’s rock.
In the evening we had song request cards on all of the tables and a well wishes box, for helpful pieces of advice for married life.
We were originally going to hire a photobooth but decided against it and did our own instead. We bought a frame from MyPrinted off Etsy and a ton of wigs and props from the local fancy dress shop.
Looking back on the day I have so many great memories that it’s hard to choose a ‘best bit’. I loved seeing both families come together and have a great day. Also, seeing my niece as flowergirl and how exited she was. But I think if I had to pick one part it was when me and Ben went off around the Northern Quarter in Manchester for our photos. To us this is Manchester and our lives here. This is where we spend our days off together and where we go to socialise with friends. The attention from people in the street or sat outside the pub was nice too, we felt like celebrities. This perfectly summed us up as a couple and the wedding we wanted. We were there in our traditional wedding attire jumping out of a taxi to go walking down alleys and side streets looking for graffiti and smoking out a kitchen with our smoke bombs. As a couple we aren’t overly romantic, neither do we give displays of public affection. We had even expressed this to Katie in our first meeting, however we couldn’t stop kissing each other!
For our honeymoon, we went to the Greek island of Kefalonia for ten days. Ben has been to Greece before and I’m not a great flyer, so it seemed like a good choice. We had been recommended Kefalonia and we kept ourselves busy with day trips, snorkelling and scuba diving, we hired a boat for a day, we went jet skiing and sea canoeing and much more. The island is beautiful and we hope to visit again. We met some great new friends out there too.
My top tip for of Brides Up North is simple – enjoy it! So many people had said to me the day will just pass you by and they are so right. Don’t worry if not everything goes to plan. It probably won’t, but you have to just let what will be, be. The only people who are going to know that something hasn’t gone to plan will be you two. Also, the day is about you two. Weddings can be difficult sometimes trying to please everyone but remember this is your day to show everyone there and each other how much you love one another and that’s all that matters.
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Rachel joined the Brides Up North editorial team as Features Editor in February 2015. Rachel draws on her news reporting background, experience in features, bridal & lifestyle editing for previous regional titles and time spent working for Yorkshire’s most successful PR agencies. Yet to tie the knot herself, Rachel's own wedding looks set to be very, very pretty...
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