December 19th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Great news for outdoorsy types: in just the blink of an eye (and the click of a mouse), today’s beauty of a real wedding is going to transport you to a woodland wedding wonderland. We just adore the bride’s unstructured Tatiana-style dress, accessorized effortlessly with undone hair and glorious flower crown, plus to-die-for details, including a rich rose and amethyst colour scheme and homemade herbal teabag favours. No wellies or waterproofs required, readers; just a thirst for some serious pretty!
Although Beth and Chris placed a lot of emphasis on authenticity and honesty, we think their simple backdrop (think fairy lights, bunting and blooms) combined with rustic embellishments (pinecones, conkers and heather) adds up to a whole lot of #wedspo. They got the relaxed, fuss-free celebration they’d dreamed of, but they certainly didn’t compromise on the gorgeousness.
With images by Jess Yarwood Photography.
beth says: We got engaged in April 2016, at the top of Moel Famau. It’s Chris’ favourite mountain to run up and he really wanted to show me the views as I’d never been to the top before. I just thought we were going on a walk and had no idea he would pop the question at the top. Chris was taking loads of photos of me as we climbed but I still didn’t clock on. In fact, I complained a lot of the way up about how much I needed to pee! When we reached the tower at the top, Chris got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes! We then enjoyed a flask of nettle tea looking out over the views.
Our wedding date was 15th September 2017. We wanted an autumn wedding as it’s our favourite season. The 15th just felt right, plus it was a Friday, and we love Fridays!
We got married at Trafford Hall in Chester. We fell in love with it when we had a look around – it was just so quiet and relaxed. We’re both very chilled out people so we wanted a venue that wasn’t too fancy and fitted with our chilled-out theme.
The Hall has chalet accommodation with grass growing on the roofs as well as little gardens, a woodland area and an impressive allotment! It was very us. We‘re very outdoorsy people and we love nature, so we decided to have our ceremony in the woodland, followed by our reception in Trafford Hall’s ballroom.
Unsurprisingly then, our theme was woodland and nature. We regularly go on little adventures exploring the UK, love camping and grow more veggies than we know what to do with on our little allotment. A nature-inspired wedding was therefore a must, and the woodland theme reflected our woodland ceremony. In terms of a colour palette, the wedding was dominated by purples and pinks, inspired by the heather that grows all over Moel Famau. I looked at a lot of blogs (including Brides Up North, of course!) and especially at weddings with nature/boho themes to get inspiration for our day.
My dress was from Needle & Thread. I must have looked at thousands of wedding dresses but none of them were very me; I wanted something floaty, ethereal and relaxed. When I stumbled across Needle & Thread ‘s website I fell in love with every single gown! When I saw my dress I just knew it was the one; I loved all of the embellishments and the floaty sleeves.
Chris wore a brown tweed waistcoat from White Stuff, a thick cotton shirt from Next and jet black jeans from Primark! He wore a tweed bow tie from The Belfast Bow Tie Company – perfect, as Chris is originally from Belfast. He loved the idea of wearing a waistcoat, shirt and jeans – he wanted everyone to feel relaxed and really didn’t want bulky blazers.
I really liked the idea of mix n match bridesmaids, I didn’t want them to all look the same – they’re such different people and that’s exactly what I love about them, so I asked them to choose their own dress in shades of pink or purple. I was delighted with how it all came together on the day; they all looked so relaxed and happy in their choice of gown. It also saved me the hassle of choosing a dress – win, win! Alex Roberts did mine and the bridesmaids’ hair and she was completely fab. She’s been my hairdresser for a while so I was totally relaxed around her.
Chris and I stayed at Trafford Hall the night before the wedding – in the same bed! Everyone wondered why we weren’t being traditional but it was so lovely sharing that bit of quiet time together. Before we went to sleep we swapped presents; I gave Chris a Skagen leather watch and Chris gifted me an Alex Monroe silver bumblebee necklace to wear on the day and a Murray tartan scarf! We woke up in the morning, had a cup of tea together then I went to my bridal room to get ready.
Jess Yarwood was our photographer and she was absolutely fantastic; I can’t praise or recommend her highly enough. We had an engagement shoot with her beforehand and it was great to get to know her – she’s so friendly. I felt like I’d known her for years and we were so relaxed around her. On the day itself, she was a wonder woman. She captured our day exactly how we wanted it: relaxed, informal, nature-inspired and, most importantly, real. In fact, we plan to have family shoots with her once we have our own brood.
Frodsham Flowers provided my flowers. I must have stared at them for a good ten minutes before the wedding, I was so amazed at how beautiful they were. Clare perfectly captured the rustic, wild and delicate look I was going for. I had a bouquet and a flower crown with heathers and ferns, the bridesmaids had smaller bouquets and the groomsmen and fathers had buttonholes. Clare kindly incorporated a crow’s feather we’d provided into Chris’ buttonhole as finding a crow’s feather is a sign of a new beginning.
We did the rest of the flowers ourselves and all the decorations were handmade or collected by us. As it was a woodland theme, we collected pinecones, acorns and conkers to decorate as well as real antlers on the tables and wood slices with the tree table names painted on. We had pots of heathers and ferns and bottles of gypsophila and roses to add a feminine touch. I hand-painted our welcome sign and all the little signs around Trafford Hall. We even turned one of the bars into an Irish Bar as a nod to Chris’ family: we decked the walls in Irish flags, had Guinness bottles filled with flowers, large ‘lucky’ letters and loads of playing cards. I had so much fun planning and making all the decorations, including 98 metres of bunting!
Acer Florists did our chair covers. I’d been let down by a previous chair cover supplier a week before the wedding and when I contacted these ladies they filled me with confidence. They did a great job of covering the chairs.
We made teabags for our favours. We dried out various flowers and leaves from plants that we grew or foraged and put them in drawstring teabags. Our flavours were camomile, peppermint, strawberry leaf and mint, fennel and nettle. Each guest had three teabags in a little brown paper bag.
For our cake, we had five layers of cheese from The Chester Cheese Shop – we’re big cheese fans. We had a bit of everything: blue cheese, sheep milk cheese, cheddar, vine covered cheese and a red waxed covered heart-shaped cheese at the top. It was served with a buffet in the evening.
As we’re vegetarians, we decided on a completely vegetarian menu. We had a hot buffet, the portions were huge and there was enough for seconds for everybody. We didn’t hear one complain about the lack of meat!
We didn’t have a DJ – instead we Spotified! We made a huge playlist of all our favourite songs and the guests’ requests and just stuck it on shuffle.
As extra entertainment, we also played a game of Mr and Mrs in the evening. My maid of honour, Hannah, had organised it and gave out questions to the guests so they could shout them out. Chris and I had had a lot to drink by this stage so it was, of course, absolutely hilarious. Chris fell off his chair and we got a lot of questions wrong!
Our guest book was a self-portrait challenge. We used a sketchbook that I filled with ink drawn frames and provided crayons, pencils and pens. Guests had to draw their best self-portrait for our ‘gallery’! It was great looking back on all the drawings; everyone really seemed to enjoy the artistic endeavour.
I would recommend our choice of venue to anyone seeking a relaxed and chilled-out day. The staff were so friendly and Vicky, the manager, was brilliant. The day went so smoothly and ran perfectly on time. They really couldn’t have done more for us.
My favourite part of the day was the ceremony. I’ve never felt so happy in my life, walking down the aisle and seeing all my friends and family there – for us! Then saying my vows to the man I love surrounded by the birds chirping and leaves rustling in the open air. It was truly magical; the atmosphere was perfect.
For our honeymoon, we stayed at Walcott Hall, Shropshire in a converted Victorian tin chapel at in the middle of the woods. It was like our own little house out the way away from everything! We made soup and pies and got drunk and filled sketchbooks with drawings and paintings from around the woods. We only left the grounds once in the week! It was so peaceful.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – relax and don’t feel pressured to have all the typical wedding extras. At the end of the day, it’s about you and your husband-to-be. When you look back, you’ll remember the real bits, the look on your dad’s face when he saw you all dressed up, the first dance, exchanging rings, the smile on your grandma’s face and everyone being there, showering you with love.
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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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