May 7th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
There’s a gorgeous, soft, uber-romantic quality to these sublime photos from Aaron and Harriette’s wedding at East Riddlesden Hall – everything feels a bit dreamy, like we’re seeing their day through their misty, love-tainted eyes. Maybe it’s the delicate pastel shades of their colour-scheme, or perhaps it’s down to the abundance of British blooms and natural foliage that filled their stunning venue. Whatever it is, we feel like we’re under a spell!
This wedding is brimming with accessible inspiration, from fairylights and bunting galore to rustic pallets and a relaxed sharing-plates menu. And we’re agog at the news that Aaron and Harriette pulled off the ultimate feat – securing their dream teaching jobs in Dubai, their honeymoon destination! “We went on honeymoon and never came back!” says Harriette. If they weren’t such a blatantly lovely couple we’d be green with envy…
With photography by Emily Olivia.
harriette says: We got engaged at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire on the 6th December 2015. Chatsworth is my favourite country house; we’ve visited it several times with family and friends. It was a cold, wintry day and Aaron revealed afterwards that he’d planned to ask me to marry him next to the Emperor fountain with a view of the house and the grounds as a backdrop. Unfortunately though, he’d forgotten to bring a box for the ring! Luckily, there was a jewellery counter in the gift shop and the assistant had a spare box – she wished him good luck, apparently! When we arrived at the fountain Aaron turned to me and smiled. We hugged and I put my hands into his coat pocket, feeling the ring box! He promptly got down on one knee and popped the question!
Our wedding date was 29th July 2017. There was no particular reason why we chose this date; although saying that, we’re both teachers and wanted a summer wedding with as many friends and family members there as possible, so the end of July seemed like the perfect fit.
We got married at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Pudsey, Leeds. This happened to be the church linked to my primary school, and the priest who married us was also the Chaplin at my secondary school. The reception took place at East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley. We both wanted a barn wedding but found it really difficult to find something close by – most seemed to be down South or in North Yorkshire. Then one day, we came across East Riddlesden Hall and it was perfect! It had everything we wanted and the staff were amazing.
We had lots of ideas when we were planning the wedding. In the end, we decided we wanted something rustic and Italian with lots of flowers and botanicals. When we first started dating, we went on holiday to the Italian lakes and loved it. We wanted to create something with the same feel: a large, relaxed, family and friends gathering with amazing food to reflect our personalities.
To fit in with our loose theme we wanted lots of flowers and foliage, so we decided on pastel colours: greens, pinks, blues and copper. We also really liked the idea of ‘literary’ invites so we chose Feel Good Invites’ vintage Penguin invitations. Ged was brilliant – quick to respond, really helpful with our designs and we couldn’t recommend him enough!
My dress was from Lace and Co., Wakefield. I really wanted a bohemian, flowing dress and Charlotte Balbier’s designs just matched perfectly. The dresses were beautiful and they really suit the individual. The dress I chose was called Lily May and it was simple with a lovely bohemian feel. My Aunty Ann made my veil using a 17th century lace pattern and we’re going to keep it in the hope that it becomes a family heirloom. I wore my grandma’s engagement ring as well as a vintage cameo which we added to the bouquet as something old and borrowed.
Aaron wore a three-piece Ted Baker suit from Masding’s Menswear in Newark-upon-Trent. He wasn’t at all sure what type of suit he wanted and his dad suggested that he try the menswear shop where he was brought up. The staff were really helpful and he managed to find the perfect suit and accessories to go with it.
My bridesmaids’ dresses were all ordered from ASOS. I went for mismatched gowns as I wanted something different and I also wanted to make sure the dress suited the bridesmaid. Three were a simple grey blue and the other three were peach with a flowery pattern. My sister, our flower girl, wore a dress that we found on Not On The High Street.
The groomsmen wore quite a relaxed outfit to reflect the overall laidback style of the wedding. They wore blue chinos, a white shirt and a tweed waistcoat as a nod to Scotland (where we first met studying at the University of Edinburgh). The groomsmen’s outfits were also purchased from Masding’s Menswear, Newark-upon-Trent.
I was originally going to travel to the church and then onto the reception in my mum’s Volvo 4×4. There was talk of a big bow and a driver! However, when I stepped out of our house I was greeted by a vintage Rolls Royce – a complete surprise! My mum and dad had organised it as a last minute present to me and Aaron. Aaron managed to keep it together during the ceremony but when he stepped outside and saw the car he finally broke and had a little cry! He had no idea either!
Our photographer was Emily Olivia and we would highly recommend her. We had a pre-wedding photo shoot at Temple Newsam where she put our minds at ease. She really understood us and made me feel so comfortable. She didn’t feel like a photographer but rather part of the whole wedding process – plus, her experience was invaluable, and we felt like we were in very capable hands. It was also important to us to catch photos of my younger brother Jack, who is autistic. Emily did this brilliantly. Her experience as a children’s photographer really helped catch some lovely moments with Jack and us and she also took some individual ones of him which we hadn’t noticed her doing. He’s notoriously difficult to photograph but now my mum has some lovely pictures of him. In short, she was amazing and really helped make our day extra special.
I adore flowers and knew this would be one of my favourite and important parts of the wedding, so we were very lucky to find Stems Design. Lynne was great at giving us further inspiration and advice. I had Juliet Austin Romantica English roses with blousey white roses mixed with olive leaves, ferns and white thistles. We used white thistles in the bouquet and the groom’s buttonhole as a nod to where we met – Edinburgh University.
Our venue flowers were also provided by Stems Design. Just like Emily, Stems really understood us and the style we wanted to achieve. She also gave us some really useful tips for where we could get some of the decorations ourselves.
We got engaged in December 2015 and the wedding wasn’t until July 2017 so this gave us plenty of time to prepare lots of the decorations ourselves. We visited a local arts and crafts wholesalers called Country Baskets. Here we picked lots of foliage, fairy lights and little bits that really finished off our wedding. We decorated two pallets to show the order of the day and the guest book. Our guest ‘book’ was made up from vintage Penguin book cover postcards on which guests could write messages and then peg to the pallet. We also used a large picture frame with vintage book covers for the seating plan.
Stem Designs supplied us with copper pots and mini olive tree plants to help with our centrepieces and decorations outside the barn. We used a lot of candles and fairy lights as well. The bunting was handmade by one of my bridesmaids, her aunty and mum – it really finished off the barn and its outdoor rustic feel.
Our favours were homemade love heart shortbread biscuits (another nod to Scotland) and a Yorkshire Tea bag (a nod to God’s own country) in a hessian bag. Each guest also received a personalized shot glass which we used as a place name (we had a bottle of Limoncello on each table which we used during the speeches to further fit in with the Italian theme).
My aunty has been making cakes for as long as I can remember so when Aaron and I got engaged she immediately offered to make our wedding cake. It was incredible. It had three tiers: almond, chocolate and madeira, and matched our color scheme perfectly. We placed it on top a lovely vintage dresser supplied by East Riddlesden and decorated it with olive foliage and fairy lights.
We chose our food to match our rustic outdoor Italian theme. We wanted something that everyone could enjoy and was quite relaxed and informal. We started with an Italian antipasti board full of meats, cheeses and salads, followed by a barbecue with steak, sausages and marinated chicken that we shared at the table. Dessert was a nod back to England with scones, brownies and delicious cakes. All the food was provided by James Brown Catering who we would definitely recommend.
Our entertainment for the day was a band called The Cities. The lead singer was recommended by my brother and also happened to be son of my manager at school. We absolutely loved the band – they were very professional yet relaxed. Our favourite bit about them was that they were happy to learn songs for us, including hymns which they hadn’t played before. In the evening, we had a DJ from the company Hi-Life. The DJ had an online platform where we could list the type of music that we liked and choose a list of songs that we wanted to be played. We also used Typical Type for our lights; they were very friendly and quick to respond and we wish we could have used all their lights!
As a little extra we hired the East Riddlesden Hall golf buggy which took guests the 20 metres to the washrooms. It was a bit of fun and everyone loved it! Why walk when you can get a golf buggy? Plus it really helped when it started to rain the evening.
East Riddlesden Hall is an amazing venue and we’d certainly recommend it to other brides and grooms. There’s everything you could possibly imagine: the 17th Century Manor House beautiful Yorkshire stone barn, a duck pond, gardens to explore, a children’s woodland walk – it really was great! Also, the staff, in particular Chloe, were fantastic. They really understood us and what we wanted. The day ran like clockwork and we couldn’t ask for more.
Our favourite part of the day was when we got to see the barn for the first time. We’d arrived at East Riddlesden Hall, said hello to everyone (again) and had lots of photos. We needed a moment to just pause so our amazing photographer sent us off and we went to see what the barn looked like. It was incredible. It was everything we could have wanted. Plus, as we walked in one of Aaron’s favourite songs – You Are So Beautiful by Joe Crocker – was playing and it just hit us how special a moment it was!
In January 2017, we were fortunate enough to both be offered jobs teaching in Dubai, which we’d booked four months earlier as our honeymoon destination! We wanted to go somewhere hot and luxurious and Dubai was the perfect fit. We stayed at the One and Only Royal Mirage which was incredible. So we went to Dubai on our honeymoon and never came back!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – follow your heart and do what you want to do.
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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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