August 20th, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson
When your parents have a garden as stunning as today’s real wedding bride Katy’s, what ya gonna do? Throw the most gorgeous country-themed wedding reception that is tailored perfectly to your tastes of course! After one or two nightmares during the planning stages – think putting your coffee on the roof of your car while you search for your keys and driving off with it still in situ and then multiply this by around a hundred! – Katy and Greg totally pulled off a dreamy wedding day to be proud of, with a little help from their family and friends.
We’re loving all the super pretty country garden style touches; from gorgeous seasonal blooms to the delicate pompoms and cute bunting suspended from the marquee ceiling. Katy and Greg went to town with the personalisation, too – including shot glasses as favours, beer mat save the dates and a customised cake topper – there’s no mistaking who the happy couple are!
And we can’t hand the floor over to Katy without a mention of her amazing Jenny Packham gown – so elegant and snapped up in a sample sale for a fraction of the price. Serious dress goals! Over to you, Katy…
With images by Suzy Wimbourne Photography.
katy says: We bought our first house last July in West Didsbury, and Greg proposed moments after we stepped through the door when we got the keys – I was caught completely off guard! The engagement ring was his grandma’s, which made it even more special.
We got married on 9th June 2018, at Chester Town Hall. I’d never been inside Chester Town Hall but knew it was a lovely historic building from the outside. When we saw the ceremony room, it had so much detail that we knew it was perfect for what we needed. We would highly recommend it. For such a beautiful building, it was surprisingly cheap to get married there. Our registrar, Honora Crisp, was also really lovely.
We had the reception in a marquee at my parents’ house in Manley, near Chester. My parents have a beautiful garden, but I’d never thought of having our wedding there until I bumped into someone I used to work with who told me she had just had her wedding in her parents’ garden, which gave me the idea. We knew from the start we wanted our wedding to be really relaxed and there were a few non-negotiables to make this happen, such as a free bar and sharing plates of food on the tables!
In terms of a theme, I guess I would describe the style as ‘country’. I did watercolour flowers and hand-drawn writing for the invitations and signage on the day. We have also been told that our wedding theme was ‘alcohol’ (!) as our save the dates were beer mats, we had a free bar, vodka bottles on the tables, and we all drank Greg’s sugar-free prosecco (he runs a sugar-free prosecco business on the side). I also used corks for the name holders and menu holders, and Mr & Mrs corks for the cake decoration!
For the colour scheme, pink and purple are my favourite colours, so I knew it was going to be one of those for my bridesmaids’ dresses. With the wedding being in June, we were going to have peonies as our flowers and I thought a dusty pink would look lovely with them. As navy complements pink really well and Greg tends to wear a lot of navy anyway, that was an easy decision for the suits! We had lots of other pastel colours, with blues, purples and yellows on our signage and decorations, such as the bunting.
For my dress, I’d done tonnes of research on Pinterest and narrowed down shops in the North West that would fit my budget. I was on a mission to get something lace and A-line. We live around the corner from The White Closet in West Didsbury, but I’d initially dismissed them as they were out of my price range. I saw a post on Facebook on the Friday night saying they’d had a cancellation for their sample sale that weekend and I managed to get that slot! As it was so last minute, my mum and bridesmaids couldn’t make it but fortunately my friend Claire was able to come along. I remember walking in and thinking none of the dresses would suit me. Claire took a dress of the rails that was quite sparkly that I’d normally dismiss but I tried one on and absolutely fell in love with it. I can’t believe I had that ‘dress moment’ when Claire and I both cried! I think I was in shock that it was the opposite of what I’d had in mind, but it made me feel amazing. The dress was Carrie (with ivory beads) by Jenny Packham and I managed to get it for a fraction of the price in the sample sale, so it was still within my budget!
When it came to the groom’s suit, the original plan was for Greg to wear a tailored navy Ted Baker two-piece suit with a flowery tie from Slaters to match the bridesmaid dresses. However, the day before the wedding was incredibly stressful; things hadn’t arrived that should have, there were still a million things to do and we didn’t end up leaving our house to go to my parents until the evening. We filled our little mini to the brim and, whilst on the drive, realised we’d forgotten one of the groomsmen’s ties. We pulled over at the service station to check the car, at which point we thought ‘where are the suits?’! We knew we’d definitely taken them out of the house to the car. What then sunk in was the realisation that, with all the stress, we’d accidentally put the suits on the roof of the car and driven off! It was 7pm by this point and our neighbours couldn’t find them in the house or on the streets nearby, so we knew we’d lost them. A few tears and arguments later, my mum helped us come up with a plan to go to Marks & Spencer at Cheshire Oaks, which was open until 9pm. So off we went to get some more suits! We’re lucky it’s such a big store so we were able to get similar navy two-piece suits and a different flowery tie.
I got my bridesmaid dresses from Marks & Spencer. I loved the colour and I thought the quality was miles better than other high-street shops I’d looked at, plus they were reasonably priced. They had flexible straps so the girls could wear them how they wanted.
When it came to the hair styling, I have another fun story from along the way! I had two hairdressers cancel on me for the wedding – such bad luck! I put a desperate plea out for help on Facebook and someone recommended their friend Charlotte Dobson, who’s a hairdresser and also does makeup. She’s really fair, like me, and I loved how she did her own makeup, so she was perfect for creating the natural look I was going for.
For transport, we didn’t want fancy wedding cars and we’d arranged a double decker bus for our guests (a novelty for the international guests, as they don’t have double deckers in other countries!). Our bus was hired from Catch22 Buses and they were really good to work with (the first place we’d booked with cancelled on us!). We also found a black cab company that provided a wedding service called Wedding Cabs, which we used.
Our photographer was Suzy Wimbourne Photography. Suzy and Alex are our friends from Lancaster University and we’ve always loved their photography, so it was a given that they had to be our wedding photographers; we even chose our wedding date based on their availability! I already knew that they were top-end photographers but seeing them in their element on the day, they were absolutely brilliant. They made it so easy for us, especially keeping us calm in the morning when we were getting ready. Their shots were fun and creative, and they managed to whizz through the formal photos with our families, etc. which meant more time for us to have fun. We got the photo highlights (100+) the next day and were blown away. We’ve had so many compliments on the photos from our guests and the other suppliers, saying they are the best photographs they’ve seen. We would highly recommend Suzy Wimbourne Photography to other couples.
Our flowers were from Delamere Flower Farm – another supplier we can’t stop raving about! Alice from there is incredibly talented – she picked the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen for my bouquet. I was almost in tears when I saw them! The style of country garden flowers and colours were perfect to go with our scheme. We had lovely scented flowers to go on the tables and Alice even came over to the marquee in advance to see what would work best! Alice only started her business a couple of years ago, so we’re keen to help get her name out after our wonderful wedding flowers from her.
For the favours, as Greg’s family is originally from Poland, we knew we had to honour their tradition of bottles of vodka on the tables, so the obvious choice for favours was personalised wedding shot glasses to complement this (plus it saved us hiring more glasses from the catering company!). We got them from confetti.co.uk.
Our cake was made by my grandma, who is the queen of making fruit cakes, so we kept it traditional and had a three-tiered fruit cake with marzipan and icing. She decorated it with some pink icing flowers and I found a Greg & Katy sign for the top and made Mr & Mrs corks to go on the cake, too.
When it came to the wine, as my parents are really into wine we trusted their judgement on this one. They chose a shortlist of wines from The Wine Society and had a really fun evening doing blind tasting to choose the red and the white. In the end, we had a Salice Salentino Riserva 2013 and Esporao Reserva 2016 – both delicious!
For the food, we had canapés and prosecco when the guests arrived, which I’d recommend for anyone else having a 12 noon ceremony as people were starving by the time we arrived at the reception venue! We knew we wanted sharing plates for our main wedding food as part of the relaxed vibe. For starters, we had antipasti and cured meats, all cold, which meant they could all go on the tables ready for when the guests sat down. For the main course, we had a mix of dishes, so people could take what they liked – tarragon chicken, Armenian lamb, roasted ham, vegetarian quiche, cous cous, new potatoes, salad, etc. For dessert, we had another selection and put this out for people to help themselves, which they did!
In the evening we had pulled pork baps, veggie option cheese and pickle baps and some Polish food with pickles, pretzel sticks and Polish salad.
For the entertainment, we knew from the start we wanted a live band in the evening. We chose Kings of the Dancefloor through Warble Entertainment because we liked their sound from their promo video, their set list and the good reviews they had. The band was excellent! They knew how to get the crowd going and the dancefloor was packed all night. We had loads of feedback on how great they were. There was even one moment when the power cut out, but the drummer did a solo and I improvised a dance to keep everyone entertained! Greg plays guitar and really wanted to play at the wedding, so he did a blues jam with the band that everyone loved.
For other special touches, Greg is Polish/Spanish but born and raised in Norway, so it was really important we brought in some international touches to the day. This was mainly done with the vodka bottles on the tables and Polish food in the evening, but we also had Norwegian music for the ceremony and a reading in Spanish.
Looking back, it’s so hard to choose a favourite moment from the day – I have so many. I think it would have to be walking down the aisle with my dad though. It was to one of mine and Greg’s favourite songs, Heart is a Drum by Beck. I was strangely calm but, as soon as I saw Greg’s face standing there at the end of the aisle, I was holding back the tears. It’s so overwhelming seeing everyone you love and care about in the same room looking back at you and smiling. I wish I could bottle up that moment!
For our honeymoon we just had to go back to Malaysia, as this is where we met seven years ago on a university exchange trip. Most of the honeymoon was in Borneo, where we saw loads of wildlife in the jungle and got to relax on the beach. At the end of the trip we went back to the university in Kuala Lumpur to walk down memory lane and saw our friends there – it was perfect!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – get people to help you, don’t try to do everything yourself! People helped us with all sorts – the wedding playlist, teaching us to dance, making the cake – you name it! Not only does it take some of the stress away, but everyone feels a part of your wedding, which makes it even more special. We got a group of us together to make the decorations about six weeks before the wedding. It was a great way to power through making them all and we had a lovely day spending time together getting excited for the big day.
Also, if you’re going on your honeymoon straight afterwards, make sure you have the first few days to just relax, recover and enjoy being newlyweds. We love packing loads into our trips but boy did we need a few days to just veg out on the beach after it all. It’s more emotionally exhausting than you realise!
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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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