February 18th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson
“Pick a seat, not a side; we’re all family when the knot is tied,” declared a sign at the marriage ceremony of today’s real wedding couple, Kathryn and Michael. It’s perhaps all the more poignant given the couple hail from opposite sides of the pond, with Michael coming from New York.
As a nod to their different heritages, the couple incorporated some special touches into their day, such as a sweetie table laden with British and American sweets for the guests, and traditional British lawn games set up outside, along with beer pong and corn hole. Not to mention the odd socks worn by the groom and groomsmen – one sporting a Union Jack and the other an American flag, of course!
With images by Melissa Beattie Photography.
kathryn says: We got engaged in October 2015. Michael is American and was living in New York at the time and I was over visiting on holiday. One evening after we had finished eating, Michael told me he had to show me something before we got back on the subway home. We then started walking up Fifth Avenue and Michael kept refusing to tell me what it was, even though I kept pestering him as I was tired and wanted to go home! We eventually got to Central Park, where Michael took me to the side of the lake with the New York skyline in the background and got down on one knee and popped the question! There was just the two of us in a serene Central Park and it was perfect.
We got married on 3rd September 2016. We wanted to get married fairly quickly so Michael could move to the UK, as we had been living apart in separate countries for so long. Michael’s sister and cousins were also getting married over the summer, so we wanted to space the weddings out so everyone had their moment to shine.
We had our ceremony at St John’s Methodist Church in Whitley Bay. This was my family and childhood church and also where my parents got married. We are good friends with Carla, the minister at the church, so it felt really special to be married by someone so close to our family.
We had our reception at Healey Barn – it’s such a beautiful and relaxed place. There’s nothing not to love! We would definitely recommend the venue – everything about the day was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, and that was down to the slick operation that they run at Healey Barn. The barn is beautiful, the countryside surrounding the barn is breath-taking, and our guests couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the food was!
The theme for the wedding was rustic. The barn itself was so beautiful that it didn’t need a lot of decorations, so I wanted everything to be homemade and to complement the rustic barn setting.
Our colour scheme was sage green and dusky pink. I always wanted quite a soft, romantic colour palette that complemented the natural colours of the countryside. We also used a lot of burlap and lace to complement the rustic barn theme.
For my dress, I chose a close-fitting, all-over ivory lace gown with an antique pink lining by Allure Bridals. I got a matching jacket by Allure too, which I then had adjusted and custom-made by Diva Designs in Seaham. I got my dress from RK Bridal in New York – as soon as I got engaged, I couldn’t wait to try on dresses! When choosing the dress, I knew that Allure was one of my favourite designers as I loved the style of lace and detail that are on their gowns. I had also lost a lot of weight over the year leading up to my engagement, so I was delighted that I could get a close-fitting dress to complement my new figure. I walked into the bridal salon, immediately saw the dress and knew that it was going to be the one!
Michael wore a light grey suit and matching waistcoat from Reiss.
My bridesmaids wore sage green dresses by twobirds Bridesmaid and the groomsmen and ushers had matching ties by twobirds. The groomsmen were quite tricky to dress as they all lived in America in different states and weren’t coming over to the UK until a week before the wedding. All we could do was give them the brief to find matching light grey suits and put our trust in their hands! They ended up getting matching light grey suits by Calvin Klein and, luckily, they complemented the groom’s outfit (phew!).
In terms of transport, we hired a vintage routemaster bus from Henry Cooper Coaches to take us and our guests from the church to the reception.
Our photographer for the day was Melissa Beattie. She was the first person I booked after the venue as I fell in love with Melissa’s fine art photography style that captured natural moments of love and laughter on the day. The way she edits her photos is absolutely beautiful too. I didn’t want a lot of posed photographs, so Melissa seemed the perfect fit.
For my flowers, I had a hand-tied, wild trailing bouquet with green/dusky pink hydrangea, dusky pink lisianthus, dusky pink and deep red roses and pink/white wax flower with eucalyptus provided by Flowers Unlimited. The flowers in the church incorporated the same flowers and were arranged by some very talented ladies in the congregation.
The flowers at the reception complemented my bouquet and were all arranged by Flowers Unlimited. The stand-out creation was the dramatic arrangement on the mantelpiece in the main barn, arranged with lots of greenery, green with dusky pink hydrangea, poppy seed heads, eucalyptus, grey senecio, dusky pink lisianthus and wax flowers. My very talented bridesmaid, Sarah, made most of the decorations for the day, including hand-decorated jam jars, hand-painted table numbers, the table plan and signs.
As our favours, we did a sweet table. We had little British and American quirks in the wedding and the sweet table was one of them – we had a mix of classic British and American sweets for our guests to help themselves to. We thought we had way too many sweets but there wasn’t a sweet left in sight by the end of the night!
We wanted a naked wedding cake to complement the rustic barn theme and it was made by Cakes by Lottie McPhees in Whitley Bay. There were so many amazing flavours to choose from, so we ended up having four different flavoured cakes. The bottom tier was Victoria sponge cake, the second was lemon cake with lemon curd, the third tier was a vanilla cake with salted caramel buttercream and the top was a toffee and peanut butter cake. The cake was finished off with small floral arrangements by Flowers Unlimited.
Michael and I are big foodies and the menus and style of cooking were a big draw for us at Healey Barn. We are massive meat lovers so it’s no surprise our menu reflected that, with charcuterie boards to start and triple thickness planks of steak cooked on the barbecue. As our wedding was right at the beginning of September it was still the perfect time to have British strawberries, so we finished off the meal with strawberries, cream and homemade lemon shortbread. All the food for the wedding breakfast was served family style, which was perfect to create a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. For the evening meal we wanted to ensure that our evening guests got well fed, so we opted for Cumberland sausage hot dogs cooked on the barbecue, as well as a Northumberland cheese and meat buffet.
I have been a highland dancer all my life and made some of my best friends through dancing, so my highland dancing team choreographed a special wedding dance that they performed for us before our wedding breakfast, and one of the girls piped us into the wedding breakfast on the bagpipes. Keeping with the theme of traditional Scottish dance, we chose to have a ceilidh as our entertainment for the evening. They are so much fun and they get everyone up dancing and having a good time. I also wanted Michael’s friends and family to experience something uniquely British and the band Reel to Reel did a great job at guiding everyone through the dances.
I wanted to add little touches of British and American traditions or symbols throughout the day to signify our two families joining together. We had traditional British lawn games set up outside, along with beer pong and a corn hole set that my dad built and painted with the British and American flags. (Even though it was raining, our guests still managed to find shelter to give everything a go!) The groom and groomsmen also all wore one British flag sock and one American flag sock, which caused quite the amusement when the vicar spotted them all during the church ceremony!
Healey Barn currently doesn’t have any accommodation attached to it, so the wedding party stayed down the road at the Lord Crewe Arms. The staff there were so friendly and go out of their way to ensure your stay there is just as special as your wedding day.
When trying to decide which is my favourite part of the day, I honestly couldn’t pick out one part. But the most special part of the day for both of us was having both of our families together from different sides of the world to support us in committing ourselves to each other.
We decided to have our honeymoon a few months after our wedding, as a couple of weeks after the wedding we were heading to the USA to celebrate with all of Michael’s friends and family who couldn’t make it to the UK. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to get to wear your wedding dress again! We love travelling to big cities to experience different cultures and food and neither of us had experienced eastern culture, so we decided to go to one of the food and culture epicentres of the world – Tokyo! We spent most of our time in Tokyo exploring all the curiosities of izakayas, arcades and shrines. We then spent a week travelling around different parts of Japan on the bullet train, exploring the beauty of traditional Japan in Kyoto and not forgetting a ‘must do’ stop for Disney fanatic me at DisneySea!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is not to let the rain ruin your day! It rained all day on our wedding day but it didn’t matter in the slightest. I’m so happy we decided to embrace the rain and head into the woods for some photographs, as these ended up being some of my favourite photos of the day. The rain makes everything look so fresh and the colours look so beautiful in our photos.
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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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