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blossoming romance. sonsie for a rustic wedding in york – rachel & jonathan

May 9th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth

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The city of York provides the backdrop to today’s gorgeous rustic wedding, with Rachel and Jonathan’s big day perfectly reminding us that saying ‘I do’ in the autumn months can be a very pretty affair indeed.

After exchanging vows at the quaintest of churches, the newlyweds then celebrated with family and friends in the 14th Century Hospitium – a two-storey listed building situated within the stunning York Museum Gardens. This is such an idyllic setting – think stone walls, wooden beams and magical ruins – that paired beautifully with the couple’s vision for a rustic themed wedding dressed abundantly with flowers and plush greenery to create a dreamy enchanted forest vibe.

Hessian, gypsophila, ivy, hurricane lanterns and brown Kraft paper blend to create all the natural feels, with the bride getting crafty in the lead up to her big day, creating her own order of service, invitations, menu place cards and table plan. And if there’s ever a time to exploit the cake maker in the family then this would be it – and their stunning four-tiered creation (made with more than 2kg of chocolate ganache!) doesn’t disappoint! We’ll pass the blog over to Rachel to fill us in on all the exquisite details…

With images by Photogenick.

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rachel says: Having been together for five years and talked about our future, it felt like a proposal was imminent. When Jonathan surprised me with a romantic holiday to Rome I, as well as all my friends and family, thought ‘this is it’. However, the holiday, which was amazing, came to an end and there was no ring. Over the next year Jonathan kept surprising me with romantic trips away and meals out and each time I would think it would happen but, alas, I was still without a ring.

Then one Wednesday night, on 12th February 2015, I finished a long shift at work and came home very tired and cranky. I had bought Jonathan a magazine on my way home and said to him ‘oh, I’ve got you this’ and gave it to him. He then said ‘I’ve got you something too, close your eyes’, which I did and then when I opened them – he was there with the ring! I burst into tears and didn’t stop crying happy tears for the rest of the night. It was a complete surprise and so special. We celebrated with an Indian takeaway!

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We got married on 30th September 2017. I have close family in Australia, so it was very important that they could come to the wedding. That narrowed it down to the end of April or September. We decided on the latter as Museum Gardens, our chosen venue, begins to turn autumnal at this time and we loved the idea of all the autumnal colours of the trees and plants.

Jonathan and I both come from Christian backgrounds and it was important to both of us that we were married in a church. We are lucky as our Parish Church, St Olaves, is stunning. My granddad is a church minister and was able to play a big part in the service and it was so special to have him up there with us. And, unbeknown to us at the time, we had picked the same three hymns that my grandparents had at their wedding. They have just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary so hopefully we will follow in their footsteps.

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Our reception was at The Hospitium in York Museum Gardens. The first summer we got together, we would often meet there and sit in the gorgeous gardens in the sunshine getting to know each other. It was always a special place for us. When we were thinking about wedding venues it was the first place we both thought of. We both love York and its history, so to have a wedding in such a historical and meaningful place was a dream come true. We also loved the two different feels you get in the venue with the more rustic, barn feeling upstairs with the beams and wooden flooring, then the stone pillars and ruins of the downstairs.

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The theme was rustic elegance. We wanted lots of greenery, with flowers as the main decoration. In particular, lots of trailing ivy to create the feeling of being in an enchanted woodland. The Hospitium is so beautiful, we knew we wanted to work with the building using candles and greenery to enhance the setting. The stationery and finishings were in brown Kraft, with hessian and twine to pull together the rustic feel.

To tie in with the theme, we kept the colour palette for the wedding fairly neutral. The bridesmaids wore different shades of dusky pink and the men had dusky pink ties and pocket squares. This brought some warmth whilst maintaining the overall rustic theme.

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Being a plus size bride, I was worried I would struggle to find a dress, however I went to a dedicated plus size boutique in Sheffield called Curvaceous Bridal. Chrissy, who runs the shop, was absolutely brilliant and offers a range of dresses in different sizes so I was able to have a ‘normal’ dress shopping experience and try on a range of styles.

I wanted a very simple dress with a zip up back, straps and no detail. The dress I fell in love with, however, was strapless, with a corset back, lace detail and sparkle! The dress was by Sonsie and I paired it with a lace overlay that buttoned up at the back and also a chapel length veil. The detail on the dress was actually ivy leaves so it matched perfectly to the décor and vision for the day. I would advise any bride to go shopping with an open mind and try on as many different styles as possible as, like me, your dream dress could be the complete opposite of what you think you want.

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The gents all wore traditional black tails hired from Slaters. They all had personalised cufflinks too, which were gifts on the day, with Jonathan sporting a pair of batman cufflinks. My gift to Jonathan on the day was a pocket watch with a picture of his late granddad inside, so he could be with him on the day.

The bridesmaid dresses were from ASOS. They were long length with crochet lace overlay. The dresses all originally had long sleeves however each of the girls adjusted these to their preference, with one cutting the sleeves shorter only half-an-hour before the ceremony! The dresses were in different shades of blush pink. They were also an absolute bargain reduced to £15 each! They all paired them with their own choice of shoes and jewellery.

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My hair and makeup was by Alison Martin Hair and Makeup. Alison was a miracle worker. I have such sensitive skin that comes out in blotches really easily. I was amazed at how flawless my skin looked on the day. The bridesmaids and myself were all so happy with our hair and makeup – it lasted all day and night too! Alison was so lovely and a really calming influence to have around the morning of the wedding.

We hired a cottage to get ready in the morning of the wedding and it was across the road from the church. It was lovely as we could watch the guests arriving, but they had no idea we were there. We could also hear the bells ringing from the church. The bridesmaids walked over first with my mum, then my dad and I followed a few minutes later. The venue was then only a 50 metre walk from the church, so everyone could walk straight there through the beautiful museum gardens.

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Our photographers were an amazing husband and wife team, Nick and Nic, of Photogenic. We first saw them mentioned on the Brides Up North website as they had shot their own wedding. We looked at their photos on Facebook and absolutely loved the look of their images. We met them in their studio and immediately hit it off. They are both so fab, professional, down to earth and have a way of putting you at ease, something important to us as we hate having our photo taken. From the preparation to the day itself Nick and Nic were amazing and we have been bowled over by our photographs – they are more than we could have ever imagined.

Having been let down by our original videographer with only weeks to go until the wedding, Nick and Nic recommended Ben at Beed Studios to us. We contacted Ben immediately and luckily for us he was available. Again, Ben was absolutely brilliant on the day, and was so discreet. A lot of our guests hadn’t even realised we had a videographer. We absolutely love our video which is set to music we chose and includes a short highlights film and all the speeches and ceremony separately. Again, we would highly recommend Ben.

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When it came to our florist, we were lucky enough to find Mandy from Wedding Blossoms. She was literally amazing. The ideas for the flowers evolved as the wedding planning took shape, but we always knew that flowers would be a focal point. My brief for Mandy was green and white flowers only which I wanted to be big ‘messy and trail-y’ which she very eloquently corrected to informal and cascading!

The bouquets were large and informal, hand-tied with hessian. They gave the impression they had just been scooped up from the wild. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were smaller versions of my own, with white flowers including roses and hydrangeas and lots of greenery. Mandy also provided fresh gypsophila for the bridesmaids’ hair, all the buttonholes, plus the wrist corsages for the bridal party.

Mandy took the ideas we had and not only make them reality but far exceeded anything we thought possible. The flowers on the day were absolutely stunning.

For centrepieces, Mandy again used lots of greenery to create large informal blooms using hydrangeas and white roses. The focal point for the reception room being an arrangement across the length of the top table featuring lots of greenery, trailing ivy, white flowers, candles and fairy lights. There was also ivy on the staircase, around the pillars and candles, and ivy featured around the downstairs area. On the tables in the evening reception area, we had large hurricane lanterns filled with ivy and candles. After searching everywhere for hurricane lanterns we liked – we actually found them in Morrisons!

Our chair covers were simple white to match the tablecloths and had hessian sashes. They were provided by Chair Covers of Yorkshire who were absolutely brilliant and so helpful in the run up to the wedding.

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Our favours were small packets of Grasmere Gingerbread. Jonathan is originally from the Lake District so it was nice to be able to have favours which represented his home county. Plus, it’s super tasty – and traditionally gingerbread was given as a love token, known for its aphrodisiac properties!

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We handmade all our own stationery including orders of service, invitations, menu place cards and the table plan. It was nice to see it all come together on the day, making the evenings sat with hands covered in paper cuts all worthwhile! We also had gorgeous confetti in individual pouches from The Confetti Cone Company in blush pink which looked beautiful. Their service was second to none.

We are very lucky that Jonathan’s auntie is an incredibly talented cake maker who owns Bespoke Cake Creations in Kendal. Jonathan has an aversion to fruit cake so we knew we wanted a sponge cake with four tiers in different flavours. We are both lovers of chocolate, and apparently more than 2.5kg of chocolate ganache went into the cake! We had chocolate and salted caramel, red velvet and white chocolate, lemon and ginger, and Victoria sponge. The cake was simple in design decorated with fresh flowers. We did however want to bring some of our ‘personality’ into the cake so there was subtle Batman and Harry Potter decorations. The cake was absolutely beautiful and tasted amazing!

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The food for the wedding, supplied by Bradshaws, was divine; they are the dedicated caterers for The Hopsitium. After the menu tasting we knew we wanted to give our guests an option of food so we had a sit-down meal but gave a choice of three starters, main courses and desserts that everyone could choose from. As a lot of our guests were not from Yorkshire we chose some local dishes in our choices such as Yorkshire Puddings and Parkin.

Everyone raved about the food with the mini beef Yorkshire pudding canapes and the toffee apple crumble pudding being standout favourites. We served red and white wine with the meal, with elderflower presse for those who did not drink, and we also had a champagne toast. In the evening there were pulled pork and sausage sandwiches served with different salads.

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We had the most amazing band for our evening celebration called Undercovered. We knew we wanted a live music act, and with lots of musician family and friends the pressure was on to find someone good. Undercovered were superb. They played such a fantastic mix of songs that had everyone up dancing all night. They also played our first dance You Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story.

We had a Polaroid camera guest book that made great entertainment reading it back the next day. As part of our photography package we had an engagement shoot and Nick and Nic had mounted one of the pictures for us that guests could sign.

During his speech, my dad surprised us both by playing a slide show of photographs of us together now but also myself growing up. It took a moment for us to realise that he had also recorded the song I Loved Her First and was singing this as the video played. There was not a dry eye in the house and it was such a special gesture that we shall remember forever.

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After hosting our wedding at The Hospitium, we would not hesitate to recommend the venue to other couples. Not only is it a stunning building in beautiful surroundings, but Eve and the rest of the event staff were just wonderful. They stayed in touch all the way through the planning of the wedding without ever being pushy.

Looking back, our favourite moment was during the ceremony. We had turned around to face everyone as we were pronounced ‘husband and wife’. It was such a happy moment after the blur and nervous excitement of the ceremony that just to see everyone we loved looking at us and smiling and clapping was so special. In the photos of that moment we are both just beaming and I remember looking at Jonathan and feeling so happy.

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We went away to Kos for a week for our honeymoon. It was still warm there, so we were able to relax in some sunshine after the blur of the celebrations. We had been gifted some Euros by very generous friends and family so we were able to use these to go on a private vineyard tour and enjoy a traditional Greek cooking and dining experience. We came home very relaxed with Jonathan looking very brown and myself very freckled!

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, have the wedding you want, not the wedding you think people think you should have. Do not stress about the small stuff and, above all, soak in the day. It goes so quickly so make sure you enjoy every moment.

I also loved visiting the Brides Up North site when wedding planning, particularly the real weddings section for inspiration and seeing the personal touches people brought to the day. I still love reading through them now!

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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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