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country chic. a pretty marquee wedding at smallshaw farm – donna & dave

April 17th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (81)

If you’re considering a marquee style wedding, then we think today’s blog post might just sway you into having one! Donna and Dave’s fabulous day is the stuff of dreams – or in the bride’s case, the stuff of movies – as she managed to live out her very own ‘driving into the sunset in a classic car’ moment!

Bunting, paper lanterns, milk urns, hay and gorgeous wild florals came together for the most exquisite of country backdrops, dominated by an ever so pretty pastel pink palette. The couple even enjoyed exclusive use of their venue, Smallshaw Farm, together with its on-site cottages and spa facilities.

Other touches we just love include their homemade gins, a photobooth in place of the traditional guest book, and lovely hand decorated jars for their table centrepieces. The prettiness needs to be seen to be believed though – so scroll down for all the wonderful highlights.

With images by Stu Ganderton Photography.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (2)

donna says: We got engaged the weekend of the Tour de France finishing in Sheffield, and at the time we were moving into our first home together. Having originally planned to pop the question the night before but having gotten carried away moving and unpacking, Dave popped the question the following morning. He made me breakfast in bed and then got down on one knee and I said yes!

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (55)

We got married on the 8th July 2017, as it would follow a nice pattern with dates. We moved in to our house on 5th July and got engaged the next day, on 6th July (2014), this would leave 7th July 2017 as our last day before becoming Mr & Mrs on 8th July 2017.

Our wedding reception was held at Smallshaw Farm Cottages and Spa. We really wanted a venue that was exclusive, with only our family and friends there, plus we wanted something local that would capture the natural beauty the region has to offer. Smallshaw offered us this opportunity, with the whole site and all the cottages included, exclusively for us. The location is exquisite, set in the Peak District with amazing views all around. One of the key aspects for us was being able to have our close family with us for the whole weekend, allowing us to enjoy the barbecue hut and Jacuzzi on the Sunday.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (75)

We had our ceremony at St Nicholas Church, in High Bradfield. Neither of us are particularly religious, but Dave went to church regularly when he was younger so wanted a church wedding. We chose St Nicholas initially because it was close to our venue, but when we visited it, we were taken aback by the stunning view across the valley and the lovely people in the church. The rector was very welcoming and even allowed the rector from Dave’s home church to come and give the talk, which involved him drinking the local beer – much to everyone’s amusement!

We didn’t originally have a set theme, so we decided to go with styles we liked. We wanted something that was elegant and not over the top and glitzy. We didn’t have a set colour scheme either, although in the end pink did seem to become quite prominent throughout.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (62)

My dress was from New York Bride in Sheffield. It was a champagne coloured sweetheart trumpet style dress with a lace overlay and beaded detail on the bodice. The pictures do it more justice than I can in words!

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (18)

Dave and his ushers wore a French Connection slim fit grey suit from Moss Bros with a blush pink tie and pocket square. We didn’t want to go with the traditional wedding morning suit – instead we wanted something that was stylish, light weight as it was the summer (which worked well as it was a hot weekend) and comfortable for all the dancing.

The bridesmaids’ dresses were blush pink, sweetheart neckline, floor length dresses. We chose the blush pink as the bridesmaids are quite pale and other colours would have overpowered them.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (28)

In terms of transport, I always had an image of the classic 1950s black and white film where two lovers drove off in to the sunset in a Morgan and the sign on the back saying ‘happily ever after’. When we found a company (Classic Car Hire North and Yorkshire) where we could hire a Morgan from – we just had to book it. This was an amazing car and the hire was from the Friday to Sunday. We chose this as we wanted a unique experience, also it worked out significantly cheaper than having a chauffeur driven car, which was a bonus. To get my mum and me to the church, we used Dave’s dad’s car, a BMW 3 series GT.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (42)

Our photographer was Stu Ganderton – we would definitely recommend him. On our pre-wedding shoot and also on the day itself, he put us at ease in front of the camera. Stu is all about capturing the moment rather than loads of typical staged photos and we really loved this about his work. The pictures of just us, which were staged in the countryside and around our venue, are fantastic and he really does have a good eye for what will make a great picture. He got on with everyone there and people thought he was a family friend not just our photographer.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (61)

The flowers were supplied by Sam from Fantail Designer Florist. We went with a wild flowers theme to match our country venues.  The bouquets were made up of Memory Lane roses, Scabiosa, rosemary, pink astilbe, pink astrantia, pink Eustoma, pink freesia, green thistle, gypsophila and dill. The stems were wrapped in hessian with an overlay of lace then pinned with pearl-headed pins and my heart locket (which contained photos of loved ones who are no longer with us) on a blue ribbon.

The table flowers were also provided by Fantail Designer Florist and the flowers were put in jars that we (with the help of friends and family) had collected and hand decorated to go on the table as part of the centrepiece. They consisted of roses and wild flowers. We also had a ladder that we restored and painted ourselves with miniature roses purchased from M&S to act as our seating plan. The stationery for the seating plan was supplied by The Vow Wedding Stationers.

Decorations in the marquee and outside where supplied by Whimsical Events. They also provided our hanging lanterns, milk urns with flowers for outside the marquee and a number of hay bales and blankets to use as additional seating in the venue garden. Lighting in the marquee was provided by the marquee company.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (7)

Our favours were homemade flavoured gins. We really like our gin and wanted to try our hand at making sloe gin. When we couldn’t get hold of sloes as it wasn’t the season for them at time, we decided to try a different flavour. In the end we couldn’t settle on one flavour so produced three batches. We made strawberry, blackcurrant and apple, and raspberry. We did try a pink grapefruit but it wasn’t nice! We bought miniature bottles (50ml) and had our own labels made, and a friend wrote tags with each flavour on. These went down so well that we have given the recipe out to most of our friends. Fortunately, we made plenty of gin so we still have a couple of litres left over.

We had a raspberry and white chocolate wedding cake covered with white icing with lace detail and sugar roses. This was made by Jessica Jane Cakes.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (1)

For the wedding breakfast, we had a melon and raspberry coulee to start. For the main we had chicken, lamb and beef spit roast with a selection of salads and vegetables served as a family platter so everyone could dig in and help themselves. This was to encourage everyone to mingle. Our dessert was a big shareable Eton mess with chocolate brownies. This was provided by PJ Taste, who were fantastic and only use home grown local produce. In the evening, we had a pizza oven dishing up some amazing pizzas with a variety of toppings.

Drinks were provided by Smallshaw; arrival drinks where Bradfield Brewery beer (which is actually next to the church we got married in) and cranberry gin fizz. And for those who weren’t drinking we also had an elderflower cordial.

During the meal we had a selection of white and red wine, opting for a fruity red and a crisp white. Prosecco was served for the toasts but as I’m not a fan, Mary and Jim – the venue owners – came up with a cocktail especially for me made from my favourite gin (Pinkster Gin).

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (69)

We had our evening entertainment provided by Jukebox Band. We chose their eight-piece band as we wanted a great atmosphere, which they certainly provided! They were fantastic and in between their sets (they did three) they also DJ’d for us. We went for old school 90s dance and R&B genres for the DJ, with the live band playing a range of modern and old school music. They certainly got everyone dancing!

We didn’t really like the idea of a conventional guest book so we decided to hire a photobooth (supplied by Booth Revolution Ltd) so that we could get a photo book that all our guests could sign and they could also take away a photo of themselves. This did provide some hilarious pics, especially when Dave fell through the side whilst swapping props – probably due to too much gin!

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (91)

Our marquee was supplied by Yorkshire Yurts. They were fantastic and helped us choose our exact layout – the hire also included all the tables, chairs, lighting and heating (which wasn’t used but got just in case). As the venue doesn’t have additional toilets we hired a luxury porta-loo from Peagreen Toilets, which where fantastic, clean and in great condition.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (79)

We would definitely recommend our choice of venue to other couples. The owners, Mary and Jim, are fantastic and provided us with a list of suppliers they had worked with before. Running up to the day, they were more than happy to answer all of our questions and queries. On the day, they run the bar and are on hand to take care of all the little details.

Admittedly, it not the cheapest as you have to arrange everything yourself, but it only takes one visit to realise why Smallshaw is so perfectly suited to an exclusive event. Then there is all the fantastic cottages and the amazing spa, which we all made use of.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (85)

Dave enjoyed so many different aspects of the day, from greeting all our guests at the church to driving the Morgan to dancing the night away. But the best part, he says, was turning around to see me walking down the aisle. He says I looked stunning and it made him realise how lucky he was to be marrying his best friend!

For me, there were so many amazing parts of the day – from getting ready with the girls to the location – and how everything seemed to come together so well and having all our family and friends around us. It’s difficult to pick one favourite moment. But as with Dave the moment that truly stands out for me is when we joined each other at the end of aisle, held hands and looked each other in the eye for that brief moment before the ceremony began. This was the moment that the whole day was for, and a memory to cherish.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (96)

We have broken our honeymoon in to three parts. Initially we wanted to do one big trip but with work holidays that didn’t work out. Straight after our wedding we headed up to Aviemore in Scotland, where we stayed at Inshriach Shepherd’s Hut for our minimoon. This was fantastic, it didn’t have any gas or electricity, so we had to cook and boil water over an open fire. The site also had a sauna made from an old horse box located on the bank of the River Spey, fortunately it didn’t smell of horse! Staying here also allowed us to take our dog, Lexi, with us. We spent a day canoeing down the river, visiting a number of the local distilleries and walking with Lexi in the Highlands.

Our second part, honeymoon Part A, was to Dubai and the Seychelles. We had a week in Dubai where we stayed in the Metropolitan Hotel and spent time visiting the malls, beaches and attractions. The highlight there was going for afternoon tea at the Atmosphere restaurant on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, followed by sipping cocktails in the bar of the Armarni hotel. After Dubai we flew on to the Seychelles where we stayed at Carana Beach Hotel. We hired a car and spent our time exploring the island and visiting numerous beaches, this place is idyllic and somewhere we plan on returning too. Our final part of honeymoon, Part B, was to Thailand at the end of January, with a few days in Bangkok before travelling on to Phi Phi then Phuket.

A Pretty Marquee Wedding (c) Stu Ganderton (99)

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, plan the day for the both of you, it doesn’t matter what others may think or expect you to do. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding so do what is true to yourselves.

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about the author

Alexis Forsyth
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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