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city centre elopement: a secret wedding in manchester – grainne & justin

May 10th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (38)

Grainne and Justin chose to rip up the rulebook when it came to their big day and, together with just two witnesses and one photographer, enjoyed a ‘home elopement’ with a festive feel.

We love the fact that, after exchanging vows at Manchester’s Town Hall, they strolled the festive Christmas markets, enjoying Glühwein and gathering well wishes from cheery passers-by as they soaked up the warm and twinkling atmosphere. They even picked up a keepsake at one of the stalls to display on their Christmas tree year after year to remind them of the romantic day they became husband and wife.

With cocktails and nibbles – plus a six-course tasting menu at swanky The French – to follow, Grainne and Justin ensured their elopement had all the right ingredients. Tell us more Grainne…

With images by Maddie Farris Photography.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (32)

grainne says: We got engaged in Edinburgh in September 2016. We wanted to take in the city views from the top of Arthur’s Seat, but little did I know Justin also had other plans when we reached the top. After finding a quiet spot, he got down on one knee and popped the question. He had come prepared for a ‘yes’ with champagne in his rucksack and, after a toast to celebrate, we made our way down to explore the city and enjoy afternoon tea at the Signet Library. The following day, to escape the hustle and bustle, we headed for the shores of Loch Lomond.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (28)

We got married on 14th December 2017 at Manchester Town Hall in the Ante Room, followed by a Glühwein at the Christmas markets, cocktails and nibbles at Mr Cooper’s House & Garden and a six-course tasting menu at The French.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (43)

My dress was from Ivy & Oak, my belt was from Monsoon and my jacket was from Ted Baker.

I didn’t want a full-length traditional wedding dress. I wanted to feel comfortable following the service and be able to enjoy the celebrations we had planned. As it was a city centre elopement, I was aiming for more of a subtle bridal look that was practical for the setting, celebrations and the season but which still had a hint of romance. I felt the mid-length skirt combined with the lace offered this and the belt added some sparkle for Christmas. My jacket was a surprise gift from my mum; she wanted to make sure I stayed warm on the day and I think she got it just right.

In the morning I had my hair done at Ash Heaton Moor and Sophia Georgiou did my makeup. Justin went to Cutthroat Jacks in Stockport.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (40)

Justin wore a navy wool suit from Next, with a burgundy tie, decorative pocket square and double cuffed shirt from TM Lewin. His trusty brown brogue boots finished the look.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (1)

We had custom-made wedding bands from Crystal Link Jewellery in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. Justin had been making secret visits to Crystal Link to get my engagement ring made and we were so impressed with their craftsmanship that we returned for our wedding bands too.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (3)

We used Lynx Executive Cars to travel on the wedding day. We were picked up at our home in Heaton Moor and travelled together to Manchester Town Hall.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (7)

Our photographer was Maddie Farris Photography. Maddie was absolutely fantastic and played such an important part in our day. She made us feel so relaxed and at ease. We adore the photos and moments she captured of our day. Maddie had planned out the perfect little route for us around the Town Hall and nearby area, which then lead us through the Christmas Markets to capture some really special shots. We cannot thank her enough and would highly recommend her to anyone wanting to capture their special day.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (10)

Our flowers were provided by Blue Door Flowers and Beautiful Things in Heaton Moor. In my bouquet I had sweet avalanche roses, snowflake spray roses, astrantia, bupleurum, white hypericum, eryngium, eucalyptus nicholii and asparagus fern tied with a blush pink silk ribbon.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (19)

The entertainment was just us and good friends chatting and laughing and having great craic. While on route around the Christmas markets we picked up a beautiful porcelain Mr & Mrs Christmas bauble. We will look forward to getting it out to hang on our tree again next year and every other year to come.

It’s a cliché but we loved everything about our day. It was stress free, everything went to plan and it was really good fun. We loved being out and about around Manchester and had so many well wishes from people passing by. The Christmas Markets made for a beautiful romantic backdrop and everyone was in high spirits and full of Christmas cheer.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (34)

For our honeymoon, we escaped to the Lake District for a few days following our wedding, staying at the Daffodil Spa Hotel. As our wedding was a bit of a secret and no family attended, we spent the Christmas period catching up with everyone. We are shortly heading off on a mini tour of Portugal, starting in Lisbon, travelling to Porto and taking in the Douro Valley wine region.

A Secret Wedding In Manchester (c) Maddie Farris Photography (47)

My top tip for other Brides Up North is – there is no right or wrong when it comes to planning a wedding celebration, so do what works for you. Apart from the legalities, there are no rules; your day can be anything you want it to be. What I did find, however, is that there is very little advice out there for couples wanting to have a home elopement like we did.

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about the author

Aislinn Thompson
Aislinn has a background in journalism, having filled all manner of publishing roles from editor to copywriter to feature writer. She is a former wedding photographer who ran her own business with her husband Michael. Together, they have travelled as far as Australia to photograph a client’s wedding (and spent all their earnings on a campervan trip up the Aussie coast!). Aislinn left wedding photography behind to take on the biggest commitment of her life as mummy to her young son Tom. She has been a bride, bridesmaid and even best woman (she has the speech to prove it!), which is almost all angles covered!

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