April 4th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
Today’s bride and groom, Erin and Matt got engaged in Kenya, but decided to tie the knot back in the UK, in the stunning Lake District, won over by the location’s rugged, rural landscape – perfect for such an outdoorsy couple, if we do say so ourselves!
They chose the adorable Knipe Hall for their reception – a period farmhouse which offered the versatility they very much craved, enabling them to really put a personal stamp on things – encompassing everything from the catering and décor to the entertainment.
Bamboo hearts, paper lanterns, a handmade cake stand, love themed books hidden in the crevasses of the barn wall, and a specially composed piece of music…we think you’ll be smitten with some of the couple’s creative ideas. As for the food, afternoon tea followed by a fish and chip van in the evening sounds like the perfect combination to us! We only wish we could have been there, too…
With images by Mr Sleeve.
erin says: We got engaged while living and working in Kenya, teaching in an international school, after we first met 18 months before at Heathrow, on the way out to Kenya to work in the same school. We were on holiday in Ethiopia during the Easter holidays in 2016 and were walking in the Simien Mountains when Matt proposed, sat on the edge of a very high cliff. We had no mobile or internet signal for a few days, so it was lovely knowing that it was only us who knew about the engagement for a while.
Our wedding took place on 12th August 2017. As teachers, we wanted a date in the holidays and were also hoping for some nice weather.
Our ceremony was held in The Parish Church of St. Peter’s, Martindale. As Matt is from Kent and I am from the Yorkshire Dales, we didn’t have a place in the UK that held shared memories for us both. We both love the wild and rugged fells of the Lake District and fell in love with this little church on a hill. The views of Lake Ullswater were amazing.
We chose Knipe Hall, Bampton Grange, for our reception as it has such a rustic and authentic location. We could choose whatever caterers, decor and style of wedding we wanted, but still have all the basics catered for, like clearing up, linens, cutlery etc. It was such a good compromise as we could be involved in all the exciting bits and leave the other parts to someone else. The flexibility and rurality of the location and the friendliness of the Knipe Hall team, as well as being great value for money, were real selling points to us.
It was also lovely to have our wedding in two places that have differing rural English landscapes; the steep volcanic mountains and beautiful lakes of the Lake District, as well as the more rolling and farming/estate land of the Lowther Estate.
Our theme was outdoor adventure and rustic vintage, with a creative twist. The outdoor adventure part was because we both love the outdoors and adventure. The vintage part came from the idea of an afternoon tea for our wedding breakfast, both for practical reasons and because everybody loves cake, right?! The rustic part was important because, when we looked at other ‘grander’ venues with wedding packages, we just felt it wasn’t really ‘us’. We wanted a venue that reflected our personalities and that we could put our stamp on, and this was certainly it, sheep and all! As for the creative part – this was based on the many parts of the wedding that were ‘created’ in some way by family and friends.
We didn’t have too much of a colour theme, but the bridesmaids were all in mint green. The green was echoed through the men’s ties and bunting too, but not much else.
The pastel colour of the flowers at the church were based around the Café au Lait dahlia, which is a beautiful flower. For the venue, the colours were very different, even between the different rooms! In the dairy, where we had the wedding breakfast, the centrepieces and large ceiling displays were very brightly coloured floral creations. We re-used all the church flowers at the venue, including the milk churn arrangements, which were really spectacular, and the pew ends which were hung on the fork tables (an invention by my father-in-law)!
When it came to my dress, I wasn’t keen on spending a huge amount just for one day. So, after trying on lots of dresses, I went to a wedding dress shop in Kent that sold second hand designer dresses, and found my dress there. The early research was important, as I had discovered the shape of dress that I wanted. This, I would say, is the essential first step. After that, choosing the detail you want on top is easy.
I chose a Justin Alexander fitted gown with a removable lace top and the lady who did my dress alterations made a draped veil that hung in a cowl below my hair, attached on both sides of my head. This is a really good style of veil if you do not want your hair covered over.
Matt, the groomsmen, the page boy and the fathers-of-the-bride and groom all hired blue suits from Moss Bros and wore green ties from TM Lewin. Matt made his suit slightly different with a green coloured tweed waistcoat. The groomsmen were asked to find or use their own brown shoes so that they felt comfortable on the day.
The bridesmaids wore mint green dresses from ASOS. My niece – the flower girl – wore the same ASOS dress, which was adapted by my talented mum into an appropriate size for a small child!
Because of the rurality of the area, transport hire was essential. We hired coaches and minibuses from Alba Travel, Cumbria who were brilliant and even arranged for guests to be shuttled up and down the last part of the journey to the church in mini buses, as it was too windy and narrow for a large coach. The guests had already been on quite an adventure before they reached the venue!
The bridal party were collected by Matt’s dad and uncle in their cars and taken to the church, meanwhile Matt and I travelled from the church to the venue in Matt’s parents’ Range Rover.
Our photographer was Steve Longbottom – Mr Sleeve and we would definitely recommend him. As well as making brilliant suggestions for photo locations, angles and natural poses, he also went with the flow of the day and was even happy to climb up a few crags with us, which allowed him to capture our personalities and the themes well. We were so impressed by the shots that Steve got on the day and really liked the relaxed style of many of them, which involved very little editing.
We had a videographer too, who is actually Matt’s cousin. Already an established photographer, Dave, of David Mitchell Photography, was fantastic at making us feel at ease and blending into the background. His short film clip was also great to give us a taster of the day.
In terms of flowers, I carried a beautiful bouquet of pastel and blush coloured blooms with a ‘wild’ feel. The Café au Lait dahlia was the inspiration for this and it was important for me to choose something that was in season. All the flowers for the day were provided by The Flower Bank in Hornby, who did an amazing job. Liz is naturally very creative, but also practical about what will work, which all helped to make my vision a reality!
The décor for the wedding reception was mostly handmade and hand sourced. We re-used some items from previous weddings as well. My mum made the bunting inside the dairy where we had the afternoon tea and where Matt’s band played.
We had a sewing theme as this linked to the artwork that I create using wet felting and free hand embroidery techniques using a machine, some examples of which were hung in embroidery hoops in the dairy, as well as a celebration of my mum’s sewing talent. This sewing theme continued with the ‘Jones’ vintage sewing machine on display (which is also our new married name) as well as my sewn table numbers in embroidery hoops, which stood on mini easels.
I also created name place holders from wooden thread spools and used a sewing machine stamp for the men’s favours. The name cards were all stamped individually onto pretty card.
We had a photo booth that was reused from my stepbrother’s wedding and was made by my stepdad. We placed relevant wedding and love themed books in holes in the walls in the barn. The barn was really quite beautiful in its natural state with all the exposed stone work, so we just added lights, more wooden spools with sprigs of gypsophila inside them, some bamboo hearts with flowers and some white paper lanterns strung from the beams. The vintage ladders we hired had vintage sewing magazines on them, as well as jars with candles inside. At the top of the ladder we placed our vintage birdcage for the cards.
Different coloured ribbon also came in handy to decorate the chairs for the bride and groom. The vintage china trios and the cake stands were all sourced, drilled and put together by Matt’s family. Fork tables for outside were made by Matt’s dad, as was the seating plan, created from a second hand vintage frame with the insert covered in hessian.
We used a number of suppliers too: Wild & Romantic Vintage Hire, Cumbria supplied our furniture, which really added to the venue. The vintage bicycle was particularly impressive and matched the theme well. SVL Hire also provided all the lighting in the barn where we held the ceilidh. Another supplier worth a mention is Bloomfield and Rolfe, who created the bespoke bookplate that we used for the stationery, including the order of service.
I’m passionate about conservation and wildlife, so for our favours we gave the ladies flower seeds in a brown Kraft envelope, not only to celebrate our wedding, but to also celebrate World Elephant Day! The proceeds from these went to an elephant conservation charity in India. For the men, we gave a charity donation to Cancer Research UK to support and honour family members and friends who had been affected by cancer. They received a card in a Kraft envelope informing them of the donation.
I chose not one, not two, but wedding three cakes; two naked cakes and one covered cake, which were placed on a hired vintage dressing table. I knew I wanted subtle coloured sponge for the naked cakes and that were three different heights. My mum made all three, as well as all the scones for the afternoon tea and the jam to go with them.
All of our wine and Prosecco was from Aldi, which was very good value for money, whist also being good quality wine.
As there were no cooking facilities at the venue and we were not too bothered about having a hot meal, we decided to go for an afternoon tea for our wedding breakfast so that people could eat at their leisure. This was preceded by canapés served on Lakeland slates, including soup shots and savory pastry spoons. All the canapés and afternoon tea items were very tasty and looked amazing, including the colourful pin wheel sandwiches! The Lakes Catering Company did a great job.
The Lake District Fish and Chip Company supplied a fish and chip van in the evening. This is by far one of my favourite foods and was an all-time favourite growing up. I am sure it was one of my grandma’s favourite meals, so it was a bit of a nod to her as well.
We also had a sweet table, which proved very popular with the guests, especially my young nephew who managed to hide many sweets under his hat!
Matt is naturally musical and didn’t want to spend the whole evening dancing, so I suggested he play in a band with some of his talented friends in the evening for part of the entertainment; this was a huge success. I couldn’t believe that the band had only had two rehearsals together, ever!
When we were signing the register, we also had some beautiful piano music and singing from my friend’s daughter. She sang Your Song and La Vie en Rose (in English). Both were amazing and really added to the emotions of the ceremony.
We would definitely recommend our choice of venue to other couples – the flexibility and good value for money really cannot be beaten if you are looking for a rustic and beautiful venue. Its location in the Lake District National Park felt very private and cost a lot less than some of the larger more central venues.
Looking back, I have three favourite parts to the day (aside from the actual getting married bit, of course!). My first favourite part was having time straight after the ceremony for just Matt and I (and the photographer) to roam around the fells together, climbing up rocks for photos, wandering through the woods that surrounded the church and just chatting away, before we drove back together, just the two of us, to the reception venue.
My second was Matt’s speech, which was just so amazing and got the balance between emotional and funny just right.
My third favourite part was the combination of musical creativity during the day, which began with a piece of music Matt composed and recorded for me to walk down the aisle to, then to our first dance; a song that Matt had written for me, and played on his guitar a few months after we met, which he had sang and recorded for our first dance. We also had a great ceilidh band called The Macaroon Ceilidh Band.
For our honeymoon we decided to go somewhere in Europe. We chose Santorini for a relaxing short break, then on to Italy where we hired a car and stayed in a remote restored Tuscan villa in the more mountainous part of northern Tuscany. We went walking, relaxed by the pool and visited Florence, before driving up to the lakes region and staying in the old part of Bergamo for a few nights.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be: choose a venue where you can make the most of the time you all have together. Included in our venue cost was a three-night stay in the attached cottage for 12 people and we also booked other accommodation nearby for the same time period so that family and friends could be involved as much or as little as they liked.
Secondly, plan wedding dress adjustments into your budget. These can be time consuming and expensive, particularly if you need a lot of alterations. Buying a dress that is the correct length will save you a lot of money.
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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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