August 8th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson
The gorgeously vivid flowers that feature in today’s real wedding between Sophie and Rob add some real pizzazz to this lovely summer celebration; in pinks and oranges, purples and yellows, they pop spectacularly against the neutral marquee and white paper lanterns and balloons. Achieving a ‘grown-up boho’ vibe for their big day, Sophie and Rob opted for some lovely homemade details, such as the chalkboard running order of the day and table plan.
Sophie went with a lesser known designer for her delicate boho-inspired dress; the Inbal Raviv creation is stunning with its lace and bead embellishments and unusual tassel straps. Completing her ensemble with a headdress of vibrant flowers and a simple pair of earrings, Sophie’s look is elegant and oh-so chic with a playful twist.
Sophie and Rob had all the right connections to make their wedding extra special. Working in PR meant Sophie had access to plenty of fantastic suppliers and being the son of the Bishop of Warrington meant Rob could secure a pretty high-profile figure to conduct the ceremony – not many people can say they’ve been married by their own father!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
sophie says: We got engaged during a weekend away that Rob booked “as he had some points on his credit card” to spend, which saw us staying in a hotel in Richmond for the weekend – one of my favourite places in London. I should have thought it was all too good to be true (we were in a huge suite) but was, of course, completely oblivious. After we’d had lunch and been to the spa, he caught me off guard in the room with the ring and I was completely shocked. We then headed for a meal by the river and a few too many drinks to celebrate! The next day he’d planned a surprise Sunday lunch with friends, too: safe to say I had a very sore head on Monday at work.
We got married on 12th August 2017 and had our reception at the amazing Priory Cottages in Wetherby, which I cannot rate highly enough. We looked at loads of places online (we live in London but wanted to get married in the north as Rob is from Sheffield and I’m a Leeds girl) and wanted somewhere we could celebrate for the weekend and that felt informal and fun. The cottages meant we could have the whole wedding party stay the night before and the night of, and it had a beautiful marquee and gardens, of which we could have free reign. Serena at The Priory was amazing and answered so many of our questions, putting us at ease and making everything super easy – we would 100% recommend it. The Priory is a stunning setting (so many people said so) and the people who manage it (shout out to the lovely Serena and Phoebe) are so helpful and down to earth and honestly made the experience so hassle free and easy. I asked so many questions and they always had an answer and can suggest great suppliers to work with, as well as tips for the big day.
We had our ceremony in a gorgeous village church up the road from The Priory, called Wighill Church. Rob’s dad is part of the church (at the time, the Bishop of Warrington) and so he married us, which was one of the most amazing parts of the day. He got everyone laughing and really matched the service to our personalities and became a bit of a celebrity at the reception afterwards.
For transport, we splashed out and hired a little red sports car – an AC Cobra for anyone who knows anything about cars – from Classic Car Hire North, which actually became one of our favourite bits about the day – it looked so good in pictures! My dad drove him and I to the church and then Rob and I drove back with the top down (the hair wasn’t loving it, but it was worth it) down all the pretty country roads.
There was no theme as such but we’re both quite non-traditional in our style and wanted something laid back to match the countryside setting. If forced to say so, I would describe it as ‘grown-up boho’, which probably started with my dress and came through in everything else. We just tried to pick things that felt like our personality. We had such a great backdrop to begin with, with The Priory, which really brought everything together.
In terms of a colour scheme, I scoured Pinterest and became obsessed with big, bright bouquets and flowers, which is the opposite to my usual style as I’m often dressed head to toe in black or one simple colour, but I loved the pictures and so decided that, to make it more ‘us’, we’d create a really simple white blank canvas, with white lanterns and balloons, and then have bright flowers popping throughout.
When it came to the dress, I knew right from the start I didn’t want a traditional style. I visited four shops in total, starting with quite structured dresses that my mum loved (but felt a bit too formal) and then decided I wanted to go for a relaxed boho style. I ended up finding my dream dress online, by a designer called Inbal Raviv, which was exclusively stocked at Luella’s Bridal in Wimbledon, London. Her dresses were like nothing I’d ever seen, so I booked an appointment, tried on the whole range and, with the help of my bridesmaids, picked the Shiraz. I loved it and still do! It was so comfortable and had such amazing details, such as the tassel straps, which were to die for. My shoes were from Harriet Wilde and my earrings were from Dinny Hall. Despite getting married in a church, I didn’t want a veil as it didn’t feel right; I loved the flowers in my hair instead.
Rob went for a tailored suit, which he had made by a family friend. He chose a three-piece in a light grey colour that felt like a really nice shade for summer and was pretty lightweight, in case we got a scorcher (it did turn out pretty sunny in the end). He wore this with a simple white shirt and silver/grey tie, quite similar to the colour of my bridesmaids’ dresses.
For the bridesmaids, we chose some gorgeous, light blue dresses from ASOS. They had them in long and short, so I let the girls pick which one they wanted to mix it up a bit and not make it so ‘matchy matchy’. They looked incredible; if anything, I was a bit jealous!
Our makeup was done by Louise Lunn and she was just amazing: the loveliest person and so talented. I wanted a very natural look and she honestly made me look better than I thought I ever could. She gave me some great skincare advice on the lead-up to the day and suggested some great make-up products to try. She is fab – book her!
Our hair was styled by Emily Hawkes, who is the most talented hair stylist. I was obsessed with what she did. I really don’t like ‘done up-do bridesmaids’ hair and wanted a very relaxed and contemporary look. Every style was different but just so amazing. She was a dream – book her too! Louise and Emily often work together, so I’d advise getting them as a duo.
Our photographer was Manchester-based James Tracey. I came across his website and loved the images he’d captured, so we set-up a Skype call and he just seemed very easy to work with and fit our style. We wanted natural reportage/documentary-style shots as opposed to anything too posed and he was great at capturing just that. We love the pictures! The Priory has so many great places to act as backdrops, from the fields to the dramatic red walls of the barn and the beautiful cottages.
When it came to a wedding video, Rob’s sister Emma offered to create one, which was so generous and made everyone feel so comfortable. The finished video is perfect and, while I didn’t initially plan for a video, I’m now so glad we have it as it brought everything back when we watched it a few months later.
The flowers were everything. I was blown away by what Lynne and her team at Stems Design created – they were stunning and so many people commented on them. I had met Lynne around eight months before the wedding with Rob and showed her some of my ideas on Pinterest and never thought she’d achieve what she did – it’s like she knew exactly what I was thinking and more. From the bouquets to the buttonholes and table decorations, the flowers were perfect and were the key decoration. We even used them to decorate the stems of our balloons and the table plan.
When it came to other decorations, I work in PR and plan a lot of events, so I put my work hat on and started sourcing things from suppliers. I got hold of tons of white lanterns that we attached to the marquee roof (they took a long time to put up and everyone was roped in to help!) and lots of empty gin bottles to hold flowers that were dotted around the drinks reception areas. I also worked with an illustrator to create a logo and look and feel for the wedding; she not only did the save the dates and invites but also the menus and order of service. We also relied on the talents of some of our friends – our friend Laura is really into arts and crafts and so she created our amazing table plan and chalk boards with the running order of the day and a welcome sign. I also managed to borrow some things from work, such as the star lights that looked great in the bar area.
For the favours, we went for booze – anyone who knows me and Rob probably wasn’t surprised! Rob is half Danish and so, to make it feel personal, we created small labelled bottles filled with Danish schnapps. These were then laid on the tables ready for drinking – although they sent some people for an early bedtime!
Cake-wise, I’m not very into cake but my mum was insistent we had one and, as she was paying for this bit, she won that argument. I decided on a simple, rustic cake with soft white icing and three tiers (lemon and vanilla flavour). Stems Design decorated it with our colourful flowers for a bit of pizazz.
For the food, as Rob and I are big foodies (and we love our wine too), this part was really important to us. Rob came into his own when the subject of food and drink came up. We went for a tasting with one of The Priory’s preferred suppliers Taste Cuisine and we were bowled over by the food. We chose two different sharing boards to start – one Yorkshire-themed, with pork pie, paté, ham terrine and breads, and one of Italian antipasti. For the main we served beef sirloin with beef brisket wrapped in savoy cabbage, potato fondant and red wine jus. We finished it off with a Yorkshire mess (our version of an Eton mess). Keeping the Yorkshire theme going, we opted for fish and chips for the evening – what better way to soak up the booze!
Entertainment was pretty high up there, as we really wanted our wedding to be a big celebration with all of our friends and family. We used Jonny Ross Music, who were great to deal with. We had acoustic versions of our favourite songs for the drinks reception played by Michael Bird and, for the evening, we had a DJ to kick things off and then a saxophonist joined in as everyone hit the dancefloor. We threw in a retro hour with all of our favourite songs from when we first started going out clubbing, which got everyone up on the dancefloor. There’s a tradition in Denmark (little did I know) that the guests cut off the groom’s socks once he’s married – we’ve got some pretty great pictures of that happening on the dancefloor!
Looking back, I can’t name just one favourite part of the day. It was just the best day (which I know is what everyone says, but it’s true). We both have such amazing memories. One thing I did love was the speeches – my dad did an amazing job and, alongside Rob and his best man Ben, had the guests in absolute stitches. Weddings should be about fun and laughter and you couldn’t have got any more of that at ours. Having all of your friends and family in one place is so special and you just have to take in every second. I also loved having the night before at The Priory, where we had a big barbecue with all of the wedding party and it gave us some real quality time with everyone.
For our honeymoon, we went to Bali, with a stop-off in Singapore for three days to see our friends who had moved out there a couple of years before and who couldn’t make the wedding. Bali was a great honeymoon destination – a good balance of sun and sea and also lots of things to see and do, should drinking cocktails by the pool get boring. We stayed in Ubud, a very traditional Balinese village inland, and then on the coast in Seminyak – both were brilliant in their own ways.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is to take it all in. The day goes past in a second and you want to do it all again! Make sure you at least say hello and get a picture with everyone – you’ll really thank yourself for it later. Rob and I got up during our meal and went and chatted with each table, which was so lovely. Also, don’t sweat the small stuff – at the end of the day only you are going to notice that ‘extra special’ decoration or prop that at the time of planning feels like a deal breaker but on the day no one even notices. Choose stuff that makes the experience and makes you happy! Also, give yourself lots of time the few days before to get things sorted – there were lots of last-minute bits we were running around doing and I was pretty organised, so it’s always worth having the time as a contingency.
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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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