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fairytales & feathers. essense of australia for a lavish winter wedding at carlton towers – chloe & lee

March 12th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

A Winter Wedding at Carlton Towers (c) Valentina Weddings (30)

Opulence is the hallmark of this stunning real wedding, which took place in the magnificent Gothic surroundings of Carlton Towers in North Yorkshire. Chloe and Lee were craving drama and decadence, and – with their Gatsby theme, gold and silver accents, pearls, candelabras, feathers and troupe of dancing girls – we think they just about pulled it off.

Chloe confesses to dreaming of a winter wedding since she was a little girl, and the Christmas season gave her plenty of opportunities to create the fairytale day she’d always wanted. Her bridesmaids wore floor-length gold sequin dresses, she treated herself to a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos and her own gown was an absolute showstopper. We’re unashamedly in love with its epic train and lace detailing, and her feathered cape and scarlet lips are the perfect partners for a celebration of such ultra-glam proportions.

Get ready for some fireworks, literal and metaphorical!

With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Valentina Weddings.

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chloe says: We got engaged on 12th October 2015, at Daytona Beach in Florida. We were on holiday in Orlando and had decided to take a road trip over to the coast for the night. We’d booked into the Hilton and when we arrived at our room I thought we’d been upgraded – little did I know that Lee had told the hotel of his plans to propose! We had the penthouse suite with a wraparound balcony overlooking the ocean all the way to the city. As we were checking everywhere out, I ran out onto the balcony to find Lee down on one knee. I couldn’t believe it was true and neither of us remember exactly what was said, other than Lee’s “Will you marry me?” Of course I said yes, and the rest is history!

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We got married on 15th December 2017. I’d wanted a winter wedding since I was a little girl and this particular date just happened to fall well. We chose Carlton Towers for our full day of celebrations from the night before, to the ceremony and the day and evening receptions. We only looked at a couple of venues and fell in love with Carlton Towers’ Gothic and opulent charm. As well as offering us exclusive use, we knew it was a place people wouldn’t ordinarily go to and probably wouldn’t ever go again, making it that extra bit special.

Our wedding had a loose Great Gatsby theme. We incorporated lots of gold sequins, white feathers and our stationery was in a 1920s style, too. Our colour palette was blush pink, silver and gold – they’re my favourite colours and we felt that they went with the opulent and elegant theme we wanted to convey.

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My wedding dress was Aurora from Essense of Australia. I tried on lots of different styles of wedding dresses; I wanted to make the most of the experience, plus you never know what you’ll love until you’re wearing it. I fell in love with my dress; it showed off my figure in such a beautiful way, as well as having a stunningly long train which I was desperate for. I bought my dress from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden, who were amazing and made my whole experience a dream.

For accessories I picked out a couple of pieces from the bridal shop, as well as Jimmy Choo sparkly shoes and a Swarovski necklace and bracelet.

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Lee wore a slate blue tail suit from Joshua Adams in Cleckheaton. He and his best man wore a grey fleece waistcoat, while the other groomsmen wore a blue dogtooth print waistcoat. They all finished off their outfits with matching tan shoes and blush pink cravats and handkerchiefs. Lee also gave the men a hare pin to wear on their jackets and matching socks with their role, e.g. best man, usher etc. Lee also accessorised with a new Hugo Boss watch in a deep blue colour from a limited-edition range.

Our four adult bridesmaids wore gold sequin Sorella Vita dresses from Limelight Occasions in Lepton. We picked two different styles to suit everyone’s figures and style. Our junior bridesmaid and flower girl wore matching blush pink dresses from Monsoon. They also wore white fluffy capes and sparkly rose gold shoes. I bought all of the girls their jewellery as gifts.

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Our photographers on the day were Mark and Katie from Valentina Weddings. They were with us from our preparations in the morning all the way up until 11pm. They were a magical duo, capturing all the important moments and more. We wanted informal documentary-style photography that meant people weren’t hanging around for hours having staged group photos taken. They delivered: the final images are just perfect and capture the feel of the day so well. We knew as soon as we met Mark that he would be a great fit for us as he was just so friendly yet professional and we’d recommend Valentina Weddings to everyone!

Our videographer was Barney from Shortman Productions. After chatting to people about our wedding the one bit of advice that kept coming up over and over again was to get a videographer. We knew Barney had worked at Carlton and with our photographer before and his videos have a great emphasis on the ‘feel’ of the day. We didn’t even know Barney and his team were there most of the time; they were too busy capturing all those little moments that we can’t wait to relive again and again.

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All Occasions in Howden provided my bouquet, which was made up with avalanche and quicksand roses, cream hypericum, gold eryngium, spray roses, asparagus fern and eucalyptus.

All Occasions also provided our centrepieces of gold candelabras containing arrangements made up from the same flowers used in the bouquets. They also provided a cream aisle runner with petals, large pillar candles for all the fireplaces, floral urns with gold twigs and feather filled baubles and mistletoe hung at the end of the aisle.

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Laura from Ambience Venue Styling in York, also helped us decorate the venue. They provided blush pink ruffle chair hoods for the chairs which they tied with pearl brooches, glass beaded charger plates for each person’s setting, a gold sequin and blush chiffon layered runner for the top table and assorted mercury candle holders for the tables.

Amanda Jane Weddings and Events supplied our place cards and table plan inserts. They were so good at sorting out some last-minute alterations which needed to be made and their service was brilliant. They created just what I’d imagined.

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My mum and I put together all of the favours. We gave everyone a Christmas bauble and a Ferrero Rocher. The baubles were assorted colours tying in with our colour scheme and were presented in Art Deco style gold and white boxes. We wrapped the Ferrero Rochers in blush tulle and gathered them together with ribbon before adding a personalised sticker.

We asked Cynthia from Pretty Gorgeous Cake Co to make our main wedding cake. It was six tiers, with three different flavours: lemon cake with a lemon curd filling, Oreo cake with vanilla frosting and red velvet with a cream cheese filling. We also had a cake of cheese from West Country Cheese. Oh, and we supplied our own macaron tower with macarons from Iceland!

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For arrival drinks our guests enjoyed prosecco and mulled wine – I love both and they were a fitting choice for the time of year. We had a four-course wedding breakfast where guests had a couple of choices per course. We had a sorbet course which went down a treat, with guests choosing either mango sorbet with a passion fruit coulis or champagne sorbet with minted strawberries. In the evening we had mini pulled pork sliders and mini cheeseburgers; Lee and I both love these and they remind us of our many trips to the USA.

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Entertainment-wise, we hired a harpist to perform after the ceremony and during the wedding breakfast. We wanted our daytime to feel very elegant and this definitely did the trick.

In the evening, we had a DJ and a saxophonist provided by Jonny Ross. This proved an exciting twist to the usual standalone DJ while still enabling everyone to dance to all the hits they love!

We had The Gatsby Girls from Event Dancers UK, who performed wearing showgirl feathers to welcome guests to our evening reception. They then changed into Charleston flapper dresses to perform a ten-minute dance and followed it up by giving us a 20-minute Charleston dance lesson. This was a major hit; we wanted to get everyone on their feet and dancing and we accomplished it!

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We also arranged to have a snow machine and fireworks at night. Everyone gathered outside on the steps to have snow from Snow Business falling over them while they watched a fabulous firework display set to music by The Fireworkers. Having been to Disney World, we wanted to recreate our own fireworks extravaganza!

We also had a mirror photobooth from Pictureblast Events – doesn’t everyone like taking funny photos with props?!

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We would definitely recommend Carlton Towers to other couples getting married. It’s such a unique and grand place, a million miles away from ‘just another wedding venue’. If you’re looking for something a little bit different and on a grand scale, then check it out. It’s very much yours for the day and nothing was too much trouble for the team. Carlton allowed us to completely personalise our wedding plans and so we were able to have things exactly as we wanted, with no compromises.

We both agree that the ceremony was the most magical part of our day – how could you beat actually getting married? After all, that’s what we set out to achieve!

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For our honeymoon, we went to Centara Ras Fushi in The Maldives. It was a bucket list travel place for us, and what better time to go? We chose a premium deluxe spa over water villa with a sunset view. Being over the ocean is so relaxing and we can walk straight out of bed and into the lagoon. We enjoyed snorkelling with turtles and reef sharks as well as so many different species of fish, enjoying the sunshine, lots of cocktails and several trips for massages at the spa. Pure bliss!

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My advice for other Brides Up North is – make your day exactly what you want. Everyone has a different idea of what you should wear and what you should do, but when it comes down to it on the day those people’s opinions will drift away with their enjoyment of celebrating your special day. Do what’s right for you!

And Lee’s advice for the groom would be – as much as the budget dictates, allow the bride to live out her ideas. After all, she’s been thinking about this wedding a lot longer than you have! However, when the bride does come to you needing a decision, make it. She’s come to you with two or maybe three suggestions that she already likes. Don’t ask her opinion; she wants yours.

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about the author

Laura McDonagh
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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