April 6th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
Who says you have to play by the rules on your wedding day? Well, today’s couple are breaking with convention – and they’re doing it by the bucket-load! Favours, bridesmaids, best men, a wedding breakfast, top table…all nowhere to be seen. But Fi and Kev’s day is all the more special for it.
And, something we’re sure will turn a few heads – hubby Kev helped his bride-to-be shop for her wedding dress, and they even woke up together on the morning of their nuptials. Could this couple be any more unique, daring to be different and putting a big personal stamp on their big day?
Tying the knot in the stunning Lake District, the couple’s intimate wedding had so many wonderful touches – from their guests jingling a line of bells in unison following the ceremony, to their fabulous cheese cake and veggie spread, and the most eye-wateringly beautiful picture of the couple looking up at the twinkly night sky. We’re in love with this unconventional but truly inspiring wedding, and we think you’re going to be head over heels about it, too!
With images by Jo Greenfield Photography.
fi says: We got engaged on Christmas Day 2016. We have a couple of traditions, one being that we love to send each other cards or write little notes to each other and leave them in random places; the other is that we like to return to a particular park bench, where we first held hands, on the 25th of each month. On Christmas Day 2016 I was excited to give Kev a card, telling him how wonderful 2016 had been and how much love and happiness he had brought to my world. He had also written a card for me which had an extra little note inside saying ‘will you marry me?’. Kev had planned to give me his card at the park bench but because I was so excited to give him mine on Christmas morning, he gave me his while we were standing in the kitchen at home. That’s where he proposed, with his little note, standing in the very spot where he had asked me to move in with him. Perhaps not as romantic as being in the park sitting on our bench, but simple and just perfect.
We got married on 30th September 2017. We didn’t want a long engagement – why wait?! Neither of us particularly had any attachment to the Midlands, where we live, but we both love the Lake District so decided to tie the knot there. We hoped the September date might offer us better weather conditions and colours in the mountains at that time of the year.
We got married and held our reception at the Haweswater Hotel in the Lake District. Kev and I are both uncomplicated people and the thought of having a massive wedding just didn’t appeal – we do not like being centre of attention so keeping our wedding small and intimate was really important.
We found the Haweswater Hotel purely by chance. We had gone to visit a different location and had been recommended by the owner of this other venue that we could stay at the Haweswater Hotel on the night of our wedding. So, we thought we’d take a look. We parked up outside and were mesmerised by the location and how beautifully isolated it was. The reception staff offered to show us round and we left that afternoon knowing we wanted to get married there.
We didn’t have a theme. We just wanted a simple and uncomplicated day. No unnecessary extras, no over-the-top flamboyance, just simple, relaxed and informal, a gathering of our friends and family.
We knew what colours we liked and a scheme evolved from that. I knew I wanted to wear ivory and Kev knew he wanted a deep blue herringbone tweed suit. Kev had been on holiday to India just as we met and whilst he was there he met the Dalai Lama who had given him a knotted red string bracelet. We decided to use this red band as inspiration for a vibrant accent colour, with pops of deep red in our flowers and Kev’s button hole and tie. So, in the end, we had a mix of ivory, dark blue, pops of deep red, dusky pinks and creams.
Right from the first day we met, Kev and I have always shared everything, and I couldn’t comprehend dress shopping without him. We wanted all our wedding decisions to be made together, so Kev was involved in the dress process with me.
I’d hoped it would be really exciting to walk into wedding dress shops and pick up lots of beautiful dresses to try on; this was never the case. I did some internet browsing to find a shop that stocked some dresses I did like, and Kev came with me for my appointment. However, I was even more demoralised when everything I tried on was a size 8. Being a size 12/14 I never thought I was that big, but this experience soon made me feel self-conscious about my size, something that had never really worried me before.
All this really got me down and I thought I’d never find ‘the’ dress, but the one thing I was able to take from the experience was what did and didn’t suit me. I decided to have my dress made so that I could incorporate all the ideas that I had really liked from the dresses I had tried on. In the end a family friend made my dress. Kev and I designed it together and were involved in the whole process.
Finding a suit for Kev proved equally as difficult. Kev had a fairly specific idea of what he wanted to wear but we just couldn’t find it on the high street. A family friend recommended House of Fraser in Birmingham. When we were there, a shop assistant said their store in Wolverhampton had a bespoke tailor service. That’s where we met Dave Bhusal from Alexandre – Made to Measure. We quickly discovered that Kev could have a suit made to measure at a very reasonable cost. We chose a dark blue herringbone tweed-style fabric with a gold and blue fabric for the lining. Dave also had our wedding date and initials stitched into the jacket pocket. It took eight weeks for the suit to be made and Dave did a final fitting to ensure it fitted to Kev’s style and taste; Kev looked fabulous in it!
It was important to us that we had a simple and uncomplicated day, so we only had one flower girl – no grown up bridesmaids and no best man… I can hear gasps as you read this, but it was just perfect for our day…no unnecessary extras, nothing complicated. My flower girl wore a beautiful dusky pink dress from Debenhams, with pink shoes and cardigan from H&M. She really suited the part and was a beautiful flower girl on the day.
Our photographer was Jo Greenfield. We found her purely by chance and how utterly awesome she turned out to be! Kev is walking the 214 Wainwright mountains in the Lake District and is part of a 214 Facebook group. We wanted a photographer who understood the Lake District landscape but who could also do weddings, so Kev put a message out on the Facebook page asking if anyone knew a photographer and we were inundated with suggestions. Jo caught our eye by saying, “pick me!”. Her work really stood out, as it captured real moments rather than specific staged photos and this really appealed to us both.
Jo captured the day just as we remember it: beautiful, simple and intimate. She disappeared into the background when needed to but arranged perfect photo moments as and when they popped up. At the end of our wedding day Jo took a long exposure photo of us looking up at the sky and she was able to get a picture with us and the stars. This is just incredible!
My bouquet was made by Jane at Vine and Roses, consisting of garden style roses with eucalyptus and sprigs of heather that Jane had picked from the mountains the week before. She spent a whole day collecting shrubbery for our flowers so that we had a ‘scooped up from the garden/fell side’ look. I had some beautiful David Austin Purity roses and some Quicksand roses too. I also had one David Austin Darcy rose in my bouquet with a few chocolate cosmos that tied in with Kev’s button-hole.
For the décor, Jane filled jam-jars with the same flowers as my bouquet. The jam-jars were Bonne Maman jars as we love the shape (and the jam!) and she tied some of the lace from my dress round the jars. We had three large vases made up in the same way for the bar, the reception desk and the ladies loo (it needed to look pretty too!) but we didn’t go over the top – the setting provided the scenery and our little flower jars just finished it off.
We didn’t want to hand out any traditional favours; we’ve both been to enough weddings where pointless bottles of bubbles or chocolates are given out that just feel like filler, because it’s what everyone does.
We didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, so we had a cheese cake instead from The Cheese Shed. We love cheese! They have a ‘cake building tool’ on their website that allows you to work out what cheeses you want and how many people it would cater for. After we ‘cut’ the cake the hotel portioned it out and it then doubled up as evening nibbles for our guests.
For the main wedding meal, we wanted a vegetarian buffet-style feast. I’m a veggie and Kev, by default, eats a lot of veggie food (but he still loves meat!) so we wanted to focus on how amazing veggie food can be. The hotel was absolutely amazing with creating bespoke salads, delicious veggie pies and tarts, too. The food was exceptional, and all our guests were amazed at how truly scrumptious it was.
To continue with our uncomplicated day we decided not to have place settings for our guests. We asked the hotel to set the room up with two long trestle tables, with no top table and invited our guests to just find a seat and spend some time talking to the people who they sat next to. This also meant that we got to sit with people who we may not have had the opportunity to sit with.
Our wedding ceremony was later in the day, at 3.30pm so by the time we had the ceremony, taken photos and eaten dinner it was going to be quite late. We decided to make a carefully curated playlist of our favourite songs to play, rather than put on any entertainment. The hotel had cleared the dining room for us and we all danced and sang for a little while.
As we wanted to share all our wedding experiences together, we weren’t planning on spending our wedding eve apart. There were two Wainwright mountains that Kev hadn’t walked behind the Haweswater Hotel. So, we drove up to the Lake District together the day before the wedding and I dropped Kev off in the Longsleddale valley and continued on to the hotel. Kev made a final pilgrimage over these two mountains to me. When I arrived at the hotel it was raining and quite dreary (although it looked pretty epic too as any weather in the Lakes can!). I waited at the hotel for Kev to join me. This was a really beautiful and significant experience for both of us.
It rained for the rest of the day before our wedding and when we woke up on the morning of our wedding day (together, of course) we couldn’t see the mountains outside due to the fog and rain. But just before our ceremony was due to start the rain stopped and we had blue sky and sunshine for the rest of the day; it was like it was meant to be as we had chosen to walk out of the ceremony to ELO’s Mr Bluesky. Everyone couldn’t believe our luck with the weather.
As a special touch to the day, we invited our guests to ring bells in celebration of us becoming husband and wife. The idea came from a friend’s wedding, which we watched on video. They got married at a spiritual retreat in Portugal and at the end of the ceremony their family and friends rang bells in celebration. We thought this was a lovely idea, a really beautiful way to begin married life together. We tied bells to pieces of blue ribbon for people to jingle as we left the ceremony (we made enough for each of our 54 guests). It was a fabulous moment to hear our friends and family applauding and ringing bells in celebration. We explained they could take the bells home with them, and to our surprise there were none left behind!
As there were a few family and friends that couldn’t be there on the day of the wedding, we asked them to send us a photo of them, which we displayed in the ceremony room. Even though these people weren’t there physically, they were very much there in spirit.
Following our wedding, we would absolutely recommend The Haweswater Hotel to anyone looking to get married in the Lake District. The location is superb: not another building around to be seen, with the mountains and lake right outside the door; all the hotel staff were amazing; the décor of the hotel was perfect for us, so we didn’t need to spend lots of money dressing it.
It’s really hard to pinpoint a specific moment of the day as a highlight as it was all wonderful; it was everything we had hoped it would be – from milling about in the morning, saying hello to guests as they arrived, the ceremony itself hanging around on the hotel terrace in the sunshine, through to the dinner, everything was really special.
Just before the ceremony, Kev and I had a few minutes together with no one else around. This was a beautiful moment of stillness and a special few minutes to share before we were to become husband and wife. We took a selfie, which has become one of our favourite photos from the day.
Kev and I had originally considered going to Greece for our honeymoon, but after a chance visit to a travel agents, we picked up a brochure for Indonesia. I happened to mention to Kev that when I was a teenager I saw a picture of Bali and said to myself ‘If I ever get married I’d like to go to Bali on my honeymoon’. This had always been a little dream of mine and after deliberating about whether we could manage to go or not we decided to just book it. I was elated! We booked a week’s holiday with a travel company called If Only, staying at two resorts on the island. It was the best holiday of our lives, so much so we talk about going back every day.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to follow your heart. Don’t follow expectations if it’s not what you want – we didn’t and couldn’t have been happier with our day.
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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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