March 19th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
It might be Monday (and still bloomin’ freezing!) but how could we be feeling blue with a gorgeous real wedding such as this to kick off the week? Bride and groom, Melanie and Rory, were one of the first couples to book their wedding at Le Petit Chateau – a truly gorgeous French-inspired country manor hotel in the heart of beautiful Northumberland; instantly falling in love with its summer holiday feels.
After getting engaged in the Big Apple, it seemed only fitting that there would be a subtle nod to this special location; and this came in the form of their table names. Keeping things simple though, no other theme was needed. But this doesn’t mean the wedding was lacking in personality or special touches – far from it!
As well as writing their own vows, Rory’s mum aka ‘Crafty Crofty’ stepped in to create some truly wonderful favours, table centrepieces, invitations and decorations for the couple, re-imagining their ideas and bringing them to life. She even baked their elegant white cake. (We’re wondering if we can steal her away for our special occasions too?) We’ll let Melanie tell us more about this quirky DIY approach though – prepare to soak up those Mediterranean vibes!
With images by Kristos Kabiotis Photography.
melanie says: We got engaged on 12th February 2015, in New York. We were in an extremely cold Central Park and Rory was attempting to get me to walk out onto one of the lakes, which had frozen over – I flat out refused as I was scared we’d both end up cracking it and falling through into the freezing water! Instead, we went to see the Alice in Wonderland statue and it was just along from here – on a bank called Cedar Hill – that he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
I was completely taken by surprise and just to make the moment even more magical, it started to snow! He had managed to find possibly one of the few secluded spots in one of the busiest cities in the world where it felt like it was just the two of us. He later told me he wanted to propose on the frozen lake but I’d scuppered that plan!
We always wanted a summer wedding as we love going on holiday and our venue – Le Petit Chateau – definitely provided that Mediterranean vibe. We were one of the first couples to book the venue on its first open day, so were lucky enough to have our pick of the dates available. We ended up choosing a date almost a year from the day we booked!
I’d been interested in the venue since The Apartment Group announced the plans to build a new venue in Otterburn, and we fell in love with Le Petit Chateau the moment we saw its Belle Époque on the open day. We loved the idea of being in one venue for the entire day, so we wouldn’t have to travel between the ceremony and reception.
We had no specific theme for the day, but I loved the idea of naming the tables after places we’d visited on our trip to New York, where we got engaged. We used Central Park as the top table.
I knew I wanted to have a neutral/pastel colour scheme, which would contrast with the venue and its colourful gardens during the summer.
I searched for hours online looking at different wedding dress designers and visited around seven bridal shops trying on almost every style of dress, but nothing was exactly what I wanted. I eventually went to Wed2B at Gateshead, after it was recommended by a colleague and tried on even more dresses…until I found the one! It had everything I had envisioned, and I knew straight away that this was what I wanted to walk down the aisle in.
Rory didn’t want to go for something conventional and had his heart set on a dark tweed suit. We heard about Master Debonair in Boldon from a friend, so Rory and his dad (who was also his best man) went to try on some suits, along with my dad. The guys in the shop were great and allowed Rory, and both dads to try on several suits whilst enjoying a couple of beers (I arrived after work and was delighted to find a glass of prosecco on arrival). Rory eventually decided on a dark blue slim cut suit – he looked very dapper! Rory also selected a skeleton pocket watch and a champagne coloured tie and pocket square.
I think I looked at every bridesmaid dress on the internet over several months! I had my heart set on a floor-length dress in a nude/grey colour that was simple but with beautiful detailing. My sister and best friend were my two bridesmaids, and they both have very different styles, so I did have a struggle trying to select something that they would both feel comfortable in. Luckily, I found two gorgeous nude dresses on ASOS with a silk bow detail on the back and they both looked stunning in the gowns.
My bridesmaids and I, along with another close friend stayed in L’appartement at Le Petit Chateau the night before, which was perfect as it meant we got to have a girly night in and we didn’t have to travel to the venue on the morning. My friend Lyndsey Hedge is a hair stylist so it was lovely to have someone I knew helping us all to get ready the following morning.
I found Kristos Kabiotis Photography after someone I went to university with recommended him. I immediately loved the relaxed but personal style of his photos. We loved having Kristos photograph us on the day – there were no awkward forced poses, and he captured the setting and us in a very natural way.
Chris Davidson Films was our videographer; he did an amazing job and our wedding video was perfect. It’s one of the things we treasure most from the day, as it was lovely to see things from another perspective.
I chose Charlotte’s House of Flowers, in Barnes, Sunderland, to create my wedding bouquet, pinholes, bridesmaids’ bouquets and a flower garland to decorate the beautiful fireplace in the Belle Époque ceremony room. I had found a stunning bouquet on Pinterest which I showed Charlotte. I couldn’t believe it when I got the real thing on the day – she had replicated it perfectly. I was also planning on a flower head garland for myself at one stage and Charlotte made up two for me to try before the day. She was great to work with and kept up with my changing plans without complaint.
Rory’s mum is very creative and is always making things – there’s a reason her nickname is ‘Crafty Crofty’! It was amazing to tell her what we had in mind and watch her come up with dozens of prototypes for the favours, table centrepieces, invitations and decorations. We were so lucky to be able to have her create the most beautiful white wine bottles, embossed with photos of Rory and I in New York when we got engaged – these acted as the table names.
Rory’s mum also created our favours – beautiful silver boxes filled with pink heart shaped marshmallows.
It was Rory’s mum Carol to the rescue when it came to our wedding cake too – she is an excellent baker and is always making cakes, so when she offered to make our cake we were delighted. She made an impressive three-tier cake consisting of fruit, Victoria sponge and red velvet. It was topped with peonies tying in with the flowers we chose for my bridal bouquet and decorations.
Rory had already decided before we got the menu that he wanted his favourite sticky toffee pudding for dessert – it was his one condition! We ended up choosing our favourites from the tasting evening, so went for a Red Thai soup for starters and lamb with Yorkshire pudding for our main meal.
The Apartment Group were amazing in helping with entertainment – we went to a ‘Battle of the Bands’ night at As You Like It in Jesmond, where we got to see many bands and singers who were all great. Eventually we decided to go with a DJ and we hired local company, James Entertainments to provide both the DJ and a photobooth.
As a special touch to the day, we wrote our own vows that made the ceremony much more personal and it really meant a lot to us.
Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend Le Petit Chateau to other brides and grooms. Other than the fact the venue is stunning, I’d say having the wedding co-ordinator from The Apartment Group was great – she was on hand to answer our many questions. The Apartment Group also arranged a tasting evening at the venue, where were sampled almost all of the dishes available.
On reflection, it’s so hard to pick just one part of the day as my favourite moment, as I loved all of it – from getting ready in the morning to seeing Rory as I walked down the aisle. One highlight was having my sister and best friend do a hilarious speech which also included some words of wisdom from my granddad, who was married to my grandma for more than 60 years. Sadly, she passed away at the end of 2015 – my sister knew I was so disappointed she wouldn’t be there on my wedding day, so it was very special that she was included in the speech.
We didn’t book the honeymoon until after the wedding – I wanted something to plan after the wedding in case I had planning withdrawal symptoms! We’d had our heart set on going to the Indian Ocean as we wanted to go somewhere we’d never been before and that we wouldn’t normally consider. I loved the idea of a water villa on stilts so when I saw a honeymoon package to the Maldives we booked it straight away. It was the most beautiful place – we really didn’t want to leave! The sunset cruise was particularly incredible, when we saw a pod of dolphins swimming alongside our boat.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be: don’t get too hung up on the smaller things. We always had in mind what aspects of the wedding were truly important to us, so we prioritised those and that’s where the majority of our budget was spent.
In the run up to our wedding, I absolutely loved reading the real wedding posts on Brides Up North. As only one of my friend’s is married I didn’t have lots of recommendations, so it was very useful as a source of suppliers and ideas on everything from decorations to bridesmaid dresses.
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Originally from north of the border, Alexis has lived in the North East for the past 15 years and considers herself officially an adopted Geordie. A qualified journalist - Alexis took up the position of editor at the region’s longest running business publication in 2015 before moving into a marketing role for one of the UK’s largest independent arts and craft galleries. Alexis currently edits her own lifestyle blog, where you can find her latest musings on all things Newcastle-related, together with a smattering of her Instagram-worthy cocktail and foodie pics. Yet to find Mr Right herself, Alexis sees this as a mere formality when it comes to tying the knot, as she’s already picked out her dream wedding dress, theme and venue...
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