Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

hessian & lace: justin alexander for an emotional lakeside wedding – laura & tom

November 8th, 2017 | Aislinn Thompson

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (21)

The moment a father glimpses his baby girl in her wedding dress about to embark on the biggest day of her life is particularly special – perhaps it’s only at this moment that he realises his girl is a baby no longer. For Laura, today’s featured bride, this split-second was one of her most favourite moments of the day. Tears a-plenty. Forget the details and dress, sometimes it’s these freeze-framed flashes in time that produce the strongest memories to remind us what’s really important. Love is all you need, after all.

OK, so of course we’re not really going to forget the dress or details. What do you take us for? We can’t get enough of those special touches that make your weddings all about you, and Laura and Tom certainly didn’t disappoint with their endless metres of handmade hessian bunting – some featuring photographs of friends and family, homebrewed gin to tickle the guests’ taste buds, romantic quotes to inspire the guests during dinner, and a roulette table for those who like to take a gamble – and where else would you be invited to ‘pimp your prosecco’? Don’t mind if I do!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Bethany Clarke Wedding Photography.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (39)

laura says: The day we got engaged, Tom and I were moving into our new home. I was making Tom do the obligatory selfie outside the sold sign and, next thing I knew, he was down on one knee outside our dream home with the most perfect engagement ring asking me to marry him. Once I said “yes”, there were builders clapping and cheering from the other side of the estate!

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (66)

Our wedding date was 21st July 2017. We always wanted to get married in the summer in the hope the weather would be good. A friend of a friend raved about their wedding at The Coniston Hotel, in Skipton, and, when we compared it to three other venues, we both loved how “us” The Coniston was; it felt so relaxed and romantic and we loved how the wedding area felt very private from the rest of the hotel. The views over the lake are incredible, so we knew (whatever the weather!) that wedding pictures by the lake would be amazing.

The Coniston was everything we wanted in a venue; everything we asked Sophie and Sharon, the wedding co-ordinators, to do was never too much trouble; they really seemed to understand what type of wedding we wanted. Everything went perfectly on the day and that was largely down to Sophie co-ordinating every aspect. We were never without a drink in our hands and all our guests felt so very well looked after. We couldn’t recommend The Coniston enough.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (51)

We didn’t have a specific theme for the day – more of a vintage style. We love the look of lace and hessian together – we’d used these materials for our save the date and wedding invitations – and we included some pastel peach colours to complement the look. We also had an inordinate amount of hessian bunting! Tom’s mum is extremely crafty and wonderful at bringing ideas to life; she made a very impressive 180m of bunting: 120m of it were incorporated into the ceiling drapes in the wedding breakfast room and the rest were dotted around the venue with lovely hand-painted lettering. We also had quite a lot of wood involved, with wooden slices for the table decorations and wooden stands for scented candles throughout the venue.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (24)

For my dress, I visited Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden, and instantly knew I wanted to get my dress from there; it’s so beautiful inside the shop and all the girls working there are great. I tried on a Justin Alexander dress that I just knew was perfect: Bardot-style with beautiful beading, nipped in at the waist with a very floaty skirt and long train. It sounds really clichêd but I knew when I tried it on it was the dress I wanted to marry Tom in.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (15)

Tom decided to splash out on a tailored suit by James Michelsberg of Michelsberg Tailoring, based in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds. It was a three-piece suit in a light sandy coloured check pattern with some blue running through the check. We had a great morning at Michelsberg and really enjoyed looking at all the swatches of fabric together. Tom finished his suit with a light blue knitted tie and a pair of chestnut leather brogues from Cheaney, also in the Victoria Quarter. The finishing touch was a pocket watch gifted to Tom by his auntie and uncle when he was born. His mum and dad had been saving the watch for the ‘right time’ and gave it to him a month or two before the wedding.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (43)

I was lucky enough to have two bridesmaids and a ‘bridesman’. I wanted the girls in an outfit they felt comfortable in but also something they could wear again, so we decided on a gorgeous blush Pria drape skirt and a cream Bardot fitted top. The girls wore their own shoes, which complemented the outfit perfectly. My bridesman already had a gorgeous grey suit to wear and we got him a blush flowery pocket square, a blush knitted tie and some lovely brogues. The groomsmen wore their own suits, which complemented one another really well, and the best man wore the same knitted blue tie as Tom.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (16)

Our photographer was Bethany Clarke. I couldn’t rave about Beth enough! She was my brother’s wedding photographer and I loved their pictures. In the nicest way possible, I have very little recollection of seeing Beth at my brother’s wedding and, when I saw their pictures, I realised why. Beth manages to tuck herself away from the wedding party and captures the most beautiful, natural moments. Beth took us to the lake and captured the beautiful moody Yorkshire weather in pictures of just Tom and me. She was extremely professional, very friendly and I would highly recommend her.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (45)

Tom and I went to Berries Florist, Skipton, to order our wedding flowers. I’m a big fan of gypsophila – I love how simple and classic it looks – so my bridal bouquet was a hand-tied posy of apricot lisianthus and white gypsophila wrapped in natural brown hessian, overlaid with white lace and pinned into place with a pearl pin. My bridesmaids and bridesman had a hand-tied posy of gypsophila with the same hessian and lace tie with a pearl pin. Tom had a buttonhole with a head of the apricot lisianthus, some gypsophila and natural brown twine around the stem, while his groomsmen had gypsophila with the brown twine.

We also wanted small bunches of gypsophila and lavender in the centre of the tables at the wedding breakfast, which Berries provided. Ewa at Berries was great; she helped pick the lisianthus flower, as I wanted to incorporate the peach colour into the flowers to complement the bridesmaids’ outfits.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (56)

The wedding reception was split across two rooms. The Coniston has a conservatory where the reception drinks are provided after the ceremony and this was a great place for people to meet and greet us after the ceremony. Tom and I had made some photo bunting to hang across the conservatory ceiling with pictures of our family and friends on from many years ago to the present. Our guests loved looking at the pictures and trying to find the ones they were in! In this room, we also had a basket with ‘pimp your prosecco’ bunting on it. In the basket was a variety of fruit, Chambord and elderflower liqueur for guests to add to their fizz. We also had a post box for cards and a wish box for guests to write messages on small wooden hearts.

At the reception, in the centre of each of the seven tables there were large wooden slices topped with small jars wrapped in lace of gypsophila and lavender. The tables were also decorated with peach flower petals and handmade hessian flowers. Each table was named after a herb; the table names were printed by a brilliant company called Cerberus Printing. Each table also had a card with a romantic quote on it. The room had a fairy light backdrop, along with the ceiling drapes, and these were provided by Creative Events.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (60)

We had the most amazing favours! Tom and I are big fans of gin and wanted a way to buy our guests a drink. With that in mind, we provided 75ml glass bottles with a wooden cork in the top that were filled with home-brewed gin, infused with lavender and blueberry by Tom’s parents. They tasted amazing!

For our wedding breakfast starter, we chose a leek and brie tartlet. For the main, the guests had a choice of lamb or chicken and our pudding was a white chocolate crème brûlée with homemade shortbread – simply delicious.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (40)

For the cake, we’d been to a few wedding fairs and noticed a few cakes made from cheese. After some research, Tom found a cheese shop called The Churchmouse at Barbon. The cheese cake was made from five different cheeses and topped with a love-heart-shaped brie. It looked incredible! The company also provided crackers. We loved that we were able to eat the cheese and crackers during the evening reception.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (25)

In terms of entertainment, Tom and I really wanted a live band at the wedding so we booked Funk Conspiracy, who are based in the North East. They were absolutely amazing: the lead singer’s voice was faultless, and they played the songs we asked for. They had their own sound system and between sets they played the playlists we provided. We’d definitely recommend them.

For other special touches, we had a roulette table at the evening reception, which our guests seemed to love; it was busy for a lot of the night. We also had a photo booth from Limelight Hire – a brilliant way for guests to don some silly outfits and take hilarious snaps. Tom and I got a photo book of all the pictures taken on the night, which was brilliant; it also came with comments from the guests, which were hilarious for us to read the following day!

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (29)

One aspect of the day that was invaluable was having a videographer. Prior to the wedding, lots of other couples who were already married all said they wished they had a video to look at and we are so glad we have one! The two girls who came from Dave Spink Videography were brilliant and so friendly; they joined us down by the lake for our photos and filmed such great moments of the day. One really special moment was when all the evening guests arrived – the videographers played a three-minute video that captured moments from us getting ready, the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. It was amazing! Our evening reception guests loved it and Tom and I watch it regularly!

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (7)

When it comes to my favourite part of the day, I absolutely loved getting ready in the morning with my bridal party and going through all the different waves of emotion! We were up early and all so excited for the day ahead. One of my most treasured moments of the day was seeing my dad once I was ready. It was so perfect and I will never forget it; I loved that the moment was captured by the photographer and videographers. My most favourite part, however, was seeing Tom at the end of the aisle as I was walking down. It seems silly but it was only at that exact moment that I thought “wow, we are really doing this” and I couldn’t wait to marry him and say our vows in front of our closest family and friends.

When I asked Tom what his favourite part of the day was, he said, “without a doubt seeing you walking down the aisle. I will never forget that incredible moment! A close second favourite was at the very end of the night when we sat in our room opening all our cards and presents together and drinking prosecco. It was really nice to relax together at the end of the day and try to come down from the emotional high that we had been on all day!”

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (32)

For our honeymoon, we went for a ‘minimoon’ down to Cornwall for five nights after the wedding, full of pub lunches, walks on the beach and ice cream! We stayed in Bude at West Woolley Farm in a beautiful cottage. It was attached to a working farm and we loved the peace and quiet of the countryside. Then, as our main honeymoon, we’ve just booked to go to Jamaica for two weeks in December, which we cannot wait for. It will be our first time in the Caribbean and the first time we’ve been on a ‘winter sun’ holiday.

A Vintage Style Wedding at The Coniston Hotel (c) Bethany Clarke (34)

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to have an honest conversation about what you both want/expect from your wedding day. The day is about you two getting married, so focus on what you really want to do. It’s very easy to go down the road of trying to please everyone and make lots of adjustments but don’t do this at the expense of your own happiness. Finally, we would completely recommend a videographer for your big day. Watching the video back is really special and captures aspects of the day that sometimes photographs cannot. Tom loved seeing the video of me getting ready on the morning of our wedding day and the moment my dad first saw me in my dress.

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about the author

Aislinn Thompson
Aislinn has a background in journalism, having filled all manner of publishing roles from editor to copywriter to feature writer. She is a former wedding photographer who ran her own business with her husband Michael. Together, they have travelled as far as Australia to photograph a client’s wedding (and spent all their earnings on a campervan trip up the Aussie coast!). Aislinn left wedding photography behind to take on the biggest commitment of her life as mummy to her young son Tom. She has been a bride, bridesmaid and even best woman (she has the speech to prove it!), which is almost all angles covered!

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