October 31st, 2014 | Julia Braime
gorgeously gothic to celebrate the season.
As far from ghoulish as you can get.
October 31st, 2014 | Julia Braime
Is it just me, or did things suddenly get a little freaky around here?
I can’t resist a bit of Halloween mischief, especially when it’s executed as stylishly (and as eerily) as this gothic bridal shoot by Abi of Wooden Hill Images and her clever team.
Look out, she’s behind you…
Be honest, who checked?
Abi says: With a background in theatre and a passion for literature and transforming it into the visual, I wanted to be able to celebrate the change of season and create a Halloween ‘bride’.
My team researched the idea of a gothic bride and took influences from novels, listened to music and found a great location next to Lake Gormire at the bottom of Sutton Bank near Thirsk.
Brides and Belles supplied a wonderful dress from Victoria Kay Gowns which suited the brief and then we found the black velvet coat we wanted from gothic clothes supplier The Dark Angel.
We met on a day in October and our model Simona was transformed by Deborah from Love Hair and Beauty, who never fails but to understand what we ty to achieve and knows exactly how to create it.
Jane from Wedding and Events Floral Design had created wonderful bouquets and a head dress, collected fabrics and rabbit skulls, skilfully made a bustle for the back of the coat and finished off the detailing to the top hat.
It was a walk into the woods, with bags, boxes, a dog, wellies, umbrellas, smoke bombs and some cameras… and in a race against weather, we created!
It has to be noted that Bill the greyhound, despite shaking with nerves was a total professional.
October 30th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Earlier this week I introduced you to lovely Brides Up North Sponsor Rachel Joyce Photography, and couldn’t resist sharing a few sneak peek pics from Saoirse and William’s cute and quirky nuptials.
Today I’m back with the beautiful rose gold and ribbons celebration in all it’s gorgeous glory.
Brides Up North, if you’re wondering how you can work both pretty and original styling elements into your big day, here’s an absolute masterclass.
With images by Rachel Joyce Photography.
Saoirse says: Though we had discussed getting married, we had not made it public or official. So the proposal either occurred on Chinese New Year when I demanded of William: ‘Are you going to propose yet? I can’t spend every day waking up thinking is this the day I get engaged?’ or two days later, when we got engaged ‘officially’ in a coffee shop in London. The decision to look for a ring was mutual but after trying on a few and then almost deciding on one, we went to a coffee shop to decide. Then William said “Do you like that ring? Shall we buy it? Will you marry me?” I cried and we went to buy the ring.
We were married on 14th September 2014. Our ceremony was in the Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington. We didn’t want to get married in a church, or in an ‘all-in-one’ venue so we researched venues with wedding licences. The room was small, but it fitted our guest number perfectly.
Also, we were looking for somewhere where our money might do some good – Haworth Art Gallery is open to the public and I remember going when I was younger. Barley Village Hall was also a childhood destination of mine and is run and maintained by volunteers.
If there was a theme, it was ‘colour’. Everything was bright and that was intentional. It’s the north in September. We had no control over the weather but we wanted the day to be bright in any way it could.
In addition, a few of the motifs were ‘words & music’ due to my love of poetry and William’s of music. It was very DIY but it wasn’t intentionally meant to look that way, just that the day had our mark on it.
My wedding dress was from Vintage Lane Boutique in Bolton. I wanted a 50s/60s style dress with sleeves and luckily this was the first dress I tried on. I was only looking for ‘style’ but having tried it on and her friend, who is not a squealer, squealing, she was torn. One cream tea later, I went back to buy it.
It was perfect; a simple 1960s dress. Lace, long-sleeved but with a chiffon train.
My now mother-in-law made me a beautiful lace knit shawl in pale blue and my pink flat pointy shoes were from Russell & Bromley.
My hat was yellow, my flowers had multi-coloured ribbons and there were balloons! I chose a hat as a love them and it would be the only chance I really had to get one designed for me. The sister of a good friend is a miliner and I went and tried on a variety of styles. The one I chose was ‘the wild card’. Mary Franck – the miliner – then helped me changed the colour and shape. I love my hat and Mary was fabulous.
Our bridesmaids and groomsmen wore what they liked. We didn’t want matching outfits for anyone. Three ‘non-bridesmaids’ wore Miss Piggy rose wrist corsages, as did the mother-in-laws, whilst the men wore Miss Piggy buttonholes.
My bouquet was simply amnesia roses with rosemary from Garlands Florist in Oswaldtwistle. Rachel at Garlands listened carefully to my design and produced exactly what I had in my head, choosing a lovely mixture of colour and texture for the various lengthed ribbons.
I arrived at the Gallery in a Morris Minor Traveller named Buttercup from Regent Classics. We both travelled from the venue to the reception in the same car.
We used Rachel from Rachel Joyce Photography. As you can see her photos are incredible. Everyone we have shown them to have remarked on how good they look. We heartily recommend her to anyone and everyone in the Lancashire area. And she is the only person who can make William smile in a posed shot!
For the reception, we had a variety of balloons from Party Glitz in Padiham. Other than that, we did all the decorations ourselves, from flowers in teacups, to bunting in the hall, and streamers, doileys, coloured table cloths and flowers from supermarkets. The flowers were in glass vases we had been collecting all year. The teacups were my grandmother’s wedding set.
In fitting with the ‘Words & Music’ theme, we gave everyone a pencil with the words ‘In Good Hands’ on them (this was the title of our first reading at the service) and a 7” record, supplied by William’s father who buys and sells records.
We had a three tiered cake, each with a different filling; one red velvet, one lemon and one Victoria sponge. It was made by a friend of William’s mother’s.
The food was supplied by Cabin Catering in Barley. Paula was brilliant in doing everything we asked for and providing a tasting session for us a few months before.
William’s mother and father kindly supplied the wine which they bought in France. The white was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the Champagne was Paul Goerg and the red has all been drunk so we can’t remember what that was!
We had an additional poetry blessing before the meal, with five more poems. Also, as we allowed our friends to brng their children, we gave them each crayons, colouring books and the older ones got finger puppets of the bride and groom, kindly knitted by William’s mother.
One set was stolen by a friend of the bride as she loved them so much!
We would definitely recommend Barley Village Hall. The couple who run it (John and Audrey) not only gave us free run of the place all of the day before and until lunchtime the day after, they also helped us set up.
In the evening, we hired a PA system and then Djed ourselves. It ended up that one friend did most of the music from his iPod.
William: My favourite part of the day was when Saoirse and I were first at the front of the wedding room in Haworth. We were holding hands and smiling to each other. It was wonderful to think that the decision we had made to be with each other was about to be made in front of all our family and friends.
Saoirse: My best bit was walking down the aisle. I had already met Will and said hello to most people so I was relaxed and thoroughly excited. I was so full of joy that I was to marry Will and these glorious people I loved were in one place that I got the biggest fit of giggles! I couldn’t keep my joy in!
For our honeymoon we stayed in a cottage in Staithes in North Yorkshire. We spent the time pottering about in the village, walking on the beach and taking drives to Whitby and Scarborough. We are planning a grander honeymoon to Texas next year when we have a bit more money.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to put your own stamp on the day. As much as you think all wedding have to be the same or it is easier to let someone do the majority of the organising, putting the effort in will make your day even more special. We had a lot of people say how inventive our day was, but all we did was take control of the arrangements and not do anything that we didn’t want to do. It caused quite a bit of stress (and a few tears) but knowing now how the day turned out, we would go through it all again.
Think how you want your wedding to feel and work on that. We made a list of what we wanted it to feel like (fun, easy, small) and a list of everything we didn’t want and stuck to it.
Whilst hard at times, our day was so special. I won’t ever stop smiling when I think about it. It was truly, truly glorious.
October 23rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
Sian and Stu’s outdoor wedding is full of individuality, meaningful touches, casually cool couture and fun. A bride who carries a textbook bouquet and plans a laboratory style bar for her guests is absolutely my kind of geek.
With images by Chelsea Shoesmith.
Sian says: We got engaged just before Christmas 2012 back where I grew up in Anglesey, and we were married on 23rd August 2014. We were lucky enough to be able to choose the summer bank holiday, with the intention of our families, who would be travelling, to be able to enjoy the long weekend.
We had the wedding ceremony at Heaton House Farm, and the reception in a nearby field owned by Fairborough’s Farm. We love the beautiful scenery in the Peak District and the Staffordshire Dales. We were very keen on having the Tipis for the reception, and centered our search on finding venues with outdoor spaces with great views, which we found in spades in Rushton Spencer. The Tipis were provided by Peak Tipis.
I was keen on keeping the decor and styling quite rustic and natural in order to keep in line with the look and feel of the Tipis. We also wanted to feature a bit of science and chemistry, as both of our careers are chemistry based. It was a fun little juxtaposition with all of the natural elements.
I picked the colour scheme – neutrals with blue accents – to inject a bit more colour into the decor of the Tipi without looking at odds with the the colour of the canvas.
I fell in love with infinity dresses while looking for a bridesmaid dress that would suit all three of my very different bridesmaids. I found Coralie Beatrix on Etsy who also makes bridal infinity dresses and loved the idea of being able to wear the dress in different ways as the day went on, and being able to choose complementing shades for my bridesmaids. My own dress was actually custom made for me by my mum, Linda, which is amazing to have something so personal.
For the boys, we chose Edinburgh Woollen Mill waistcoats, BHS trousers, Burton shirts and stag head lapel pins from River Island. We wanted something more relaxed and casual than the traditional suits, whist still looking put together.
My bouquet was made out of pages of an old chemistry textbook, glued together rather messily by me and my mum in the dead of night a few days before the wedding. I loved being able to make as much as I could for the wedding, but I did superglue my fingers together on several occasions on this particular project!
We met with a few photographers and found Chelsea Shoesmith who has worked at the venue may times before, which gave us a lot of confidence. Of the photographers we met, she had the perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness, and throughout the planning process and the wedding day put us at ease and got the best out of us. She was totally on board and enthusiastic about doing a ‘First Look’ photo shoot too. This allowed Stu and I to see each other just before the ceremony and calm our (his) nerves and get some portrait shots in, leaving us with more time after the ceremony to get the group shots done and get back to the day. I’d recommend this to any couple who aren’t fussed about only seeing each other coming down the aisle for the first time; we aren’t traditional in that sense. I’d recommend Chelsea to anyone, and already have!
Glass jars were collected for me by various people and we decorated them ourselves using various techniques, including authentic Trearddur Bay sand collected by my niece in the summer. I found so many amazing ideas on Pinterest but had to reign myself in and only use a few to keep things looking cohesive! The bunting and cutlery sleeves were made by Stu’s mum Lynn and were some of people’s favourite features (a lot went missing)! We have kept some bunting and plan on putting it up in our first nursery as a little reminder of the day.
The first concrete decision I made about the wedding was that instead of giving our guests favours, I wanted to make a donation to Cancer Research UK. Like all families, we have lost and won battles with cancer and I know that all of our guests would appreciate the gesture.
My sister Rachel’s chocolate orange cake has long been one of my favourites, and asking her to bake our wedding cake was a total no-brainer. We had four layers: chocolate orange, carrot cake, lemon drizzle and vanilla sponge. We also have an amazing log cake board cut and engraved by my uncle. I’m going to have to start baking in order to use it again!
We had a barbecue consisting of lamb, ribs and sausages, salads and breads supplied by Vanilla in All Seasons. I think the best testimony we can give was that one of my friends had to be sent back to the table as he was up for second helpings within minutes before everyone had even been fed! In the end I think there were some people going back for thirds… fourths… fifths…
We supplied the drinks ourselves, with a master plan of having a chemistry lab/bar set up. In the end it wasn’t as grand as we first set out, as it turns out some of the lab glassware was extremely fragile! We also had mini-kegs of beer from Stewart’s donated from our friends Charlotte and Jamie after being a big hit at their own Tipi wedding.
For the ceremony music we had string and instrumental versions of a couple of our favourite songs by Incubus and The Cure. I think there were only a few people who noticed!
We also asked our friends’ band to play, and they ended up doing an acoustic set with a few of their own songs and a few covers that they knew we’d like, then played a carefully selected playlist in the evening. It was tough to put together as there were people with very different music tastes, but I think we managed to pull it off pretty well. We actually shared the wedding playlist with our friends afterwards, too.
During the day we had a few outdoor toys, bubble machines etc for the kids (and big kids) to play with, which they loved.
I would recommend this venue to any couple, especially those who just doesn’t get excited by the ‘standard’ weddings they see, and want to shape their own day.
I realised the time half an hour before I knew we were supposed to finish and pack up, and I was desperate for it not to end; for it to carry on with us all singing and dancing. There were little details that hadn’t gone exactly to plan or that I hadn’t thought of, and I knew that none of them mattered at all because I’d just had so much fun all day with all the people that I love most around me, and I could see how much fun everyone else was having, too.
With the money generously gifted to us by our guests, we went on a last minute all-inclusive holiday to Cyprus, where we both got to put our feet up and plan absolutely nothing after the stress on planning the wedding!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that I’ve been assured that it’s normal to feel like you haven’t spent enough time with each guest – although I certainly tried!
October 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime
If you’re thinking of flats, for the love of the fashion gods pick these ones.
Be a brogued bride with Dalston by Irregular Choice, £110.
October 10th, 2014 | Julia Braime
A literary choice for a truly original wedding day clutch.
September 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime
I don’t know about you, but I feel in the mood for a celebration!
We’re about half way through our Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Exhibition season and it really does feel like I get to throw a fabulous party (sometimes two!) every Sunday. I adore my job, and love sharing all that inspiration with my readers in real life. Add to that an exciting new industry venture and a host of awards ceremonies – we’ve been nominated for a couple of big blogging gongs this season – to sparkle at this month, and you’ve got one very excited wedding blogger, ready to let her hair down.
I absolutely think a wedding should be a celebration. A religious or civil union yes, but also a party to say thank you for love, family and friendship. And if there’s glitter and streamers thrown in, all the better.
This afternoon’s bride and groom, Abi and Rob, agree. Their Mexican themed fiesta wedding is full of bright colours, and you can almost hear the party pounding off these pages.
Pass me the tequila. I’m in.
With images by Joanne Ingle Photography.
Abi says: We got engaged in February 2014 on a weekend away in a forest cabin. Rob asked me in the hot tub under the stars. We got married on 23rd August as we didn’t want to wait very long to get married, at Utopia, Broughton Hall. We both loved the venue as soon as we saw it. It’s light, natural and surrounded by beautiful gardens and views over the surrounding hills.
We had a Mexican theme for our wedding as our relationship became serious whilst we were on a bike trip cycling from San Francisco to Mexico City.
The colour scheme was bright and bold to reflect the Mexican theme, we wanted it to be happy and unlike most other weddings.
I chose a very simple, elegant wedding dress that I had made by a wonderful seamstress Julia Worsnop. I wanted to accessorise with bright shoes and flowers in my hair. I also wanted to dance the night away so needed a dress I was comfortable in.
Rob had a bespoke suit made at Tailor Made London.
We ordered the flowers wholesale online, my mum made the bouquet and arranged the table flowers and a friend made the buttonholes.
The flowers were all very bright with lots of gerberas and carnations. We ordered lots of paper fans from Pipii. My mum, Rob, a couple of friends and I hand made 500 pompoms that mum strung together instead of bunting. They looked so cheerful and pretty festooned around the venue.
My dad made a wonderful wedding cake. It was a fruit cake, with homemade almond paste.
Everyone had a fake moustache at their table setting and we had inflatable guitars for the dance floor.
Joanne Ingle Photography was our photographer, I would highly recommend her, she was fantastic.
They were all fantastic and really made the day something special and different.
We would recommend Utopia to another couple in a heartbeat. It’s the kind of venue that would be great with very little decoration and in any weather. Our celebrant, Barbara stringer was also really wonderful and supportive.
We are really looking forward to our honeymoon and are off to New Zealand and Fiji in a couple of months!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to get all of the organising and stress out of the way early to make sure you enjoy the day. Realise that there are lots of things that are out of your control, your guests arrive happy and ready to enjoy themselves no matter what.
September 22nd, 2014 | Julia Braime
Let’s get the week of to a really fabulous start with this old Hollywood inspired – and super cool – cinema wedding in Manchester, sent to me by Brides Up North Sponsor Andrea of Fabulous Day wedding planning, and real bride Melanie.
Popcorn at the ready. Roll film.
With images by Miki Photography.
Melanie says: We got engaged in Wembley Stadium. We had spent the day at Wembley waiting to see my favourite artist Bruce Springsteen. When he played an acoustic version of Thunder Road to finish the set, Chris got down on one knee in the middle of the crowd and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes!
We were married on 7th June 2014. With a World Cup year and Glastonbury tickets booked we were limited to which dates we could pick, we would hate to miss an important football match! The 7th June was sports and festival free! Our engagement was just under one year which was the timeframe we wanted.
We chose Cornerhouse Cinema on Oxford Road in Manchester. We wanted somewhere that we had been before and had a connection with. We’re not church people and we felt that the town hall was a right of passage for Mancunians – which neither of us are! So when we realised the Cornerhouse was licensed to do weddings, it was an easy decision to make. We go there regularly and it’s somewhere we enjoy spending time.
The cinema venue seemed to naturally lend itself to influence the theme for the day which was 1920s Hollywood glamour.
Tying in with the theme, we tried to keep the colours classic with deep navy, burgundy and rosewater (bridesmaid dresses) the main colours. The groom and the best men were in navy and our flowers were a mix of nude, rosewater and burgundy.
Anyone who knows me will not that I’m not the girliest girl or someone who would be naturally drawn to a floor-length dress. I always thought I was too short to wear one. Originally I was looking for a tea-length dress. So I tried on many beautiful dresses but nothing seemed to click. Then the lady at The White Closet suggested ‘Eden’, immediately I said it wouldn’t suit me but she encouraged me to try it ‘even just to rule it out’, when I put it on I couldn’t believe how it looked and I knew straight away that this was the dress for such a special occasion.
Chris wore a tailor made suit which was made in Italy but measured and designed at Doherty Evans & Stott in Manchester. It wasn’t cheap but their service was perfect, not too stuffy but very informative in terms of etiquettes. Chris learned some valuable life lessons!
I carried an orchid bouquet, provided by a great little florist in the Northern Quarter called Frog Flowers.
I was chauffeured to the venue in a classic Jaguar. It was beautiful, really classy and fitted with our theme really nicely. It was provided by Platinum Wedding Cars who were great, particularly the driver who held the brolly at the photo shoot with aplomb!
Mick from Miki Photography was our photographer on the day and I would 100% recommend him to anyone. He was upbeat, organised and a total pro on the day, as well as being a great guy and easy to get along with.
Mick made us feel comfortable and relaxed and played a big part in bringing a relaxed atmosphere to the wedding.
We packaged up traditional cinema sweets to give out to the guests: popcorn for some and pick and mix for others.
We had a beer brewed for the occasion – a light, citrus IPA (my favourite) from local Manchester brewery Blackjack Beers.
We had a four-course menu of asparagus with pancetta, sea bass, steak and then chocolate brownie. The first two courses were paired with a white Gavi and the latter were paired with a red Nero D’avola. During the meal tasting we tried several wines and we felt like these were the best options to suit all tastes.
We wanted a four course menu to extend the length of the meal to really appreciate and enjoy it. We followed the meal with a special selection of Whisky, Port and Sherry chosen by my father.
We had a red velvet two-tiered cake with coconut buttercream icing piped in a floral pattern. The cake was made by Bakeorama (Charlotte) who provides the cakes for Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter.
My favourite part of the day was the drinks reception we had at the Cornerhouse immediately after the ceremony, and it was just a great chance to go and soak up everyone’s excitement and share that feeling with all our close friends and family.
We used props and uplighters from i Catching based in Hyde. The props were really cool, and they were really helpful and easy to deal with so would definitely recommend them as well.
In the evening, we had a photo booth with fancy-dress accessories which provided good fun for everyone.
We also had a local band, The Coolers, play two fantastic sets. Our good friend Roger Hughes works in the music industry organising session bands and wedding bands so we left the music in his more than capable hands, he even played keyboard on the night!
We were getting a lot of help from my Dad and Step-mum in organising the wedding, and since they were living abroad at the time they decided to get some help with a wedding planner, Andrea from Fabulous Day. At first we weren’t sure we needed it, but by the end of the day we knew the day wouldn’t have been the same without her. Absolutely everything was taken care of and we were all able to relax and totally enjoy the day. 100% recommend her services to anyone.
We went to Croatia two days after the wedding. We spent the first four nights in a private villa on Vis Island in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. It was lovely and peaceful where we could just relax in the aftermath of the wedding. We then had three nights in Split, just as the World Cup started, so we were able to catch some games on the big screens!
Everybody advised us to soak up every moment of the day and try to take it all in because it goes by in a flash. This was brilliant advice and I think we both tried to do it and really enjoy every minute of the day. There were some nerves at times, but we didn’t let it get the better of us and we just had enjoyed the day.
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September 4th, 2014 | Julia Braime
I’m feeling good Brides Up North! It’s nearly the weekend, it’s almost our event season (SO excited!) and today’s real wedding is all kinds of epic! Not only did bride Katy totally rock her 50s frock and bespoke headwear, but she and her bridesmaids also hitched a ride on the Metro to the ceremony, then finished things off with one massive street party.
I’m following Katy and Andrew’s lead… it’ll be fish and chips for tea tonight!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor Jamie Penfold Photography.
Katy says: Andrew proposed last summer when we were on holiday in New York.
Everyone had been nagging Andrew to propose for months and before we went he gave me ‘the New York talk’ several times – saying very seriously for me not to expect him to propose in New York and that he didn’t want me to ruin the holiday by being all miserable the whole time we were there because he hadn’t proposed.
After the flight to New York I was tired and a bit tetchy and we almost had a row at the airport but something at the back of my mind thinking ‘just be nice, we’re on holiday’. I was glad I was as when we got to our hotel room I spotted an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne and 2 glasses and a note in front. I went to investigate (in case it was a freebie) and on the note it read ‘Katy will you marry me’ – I turned round and Andrew was down on one knee.
I’m normally pretty chatty but I was so gobsmacked I wept for about 5 minutes – Andrew actually had to prompt me to say ‘yes’. I’d arranged the holiday and wouldn’t have even thought Andrew would have known where we were staying so was totally blown away that he’d organised such a wonderful surprise.
We were married on 19th June 2014. The ceremony was in the Council Chamber at Newcastle Civic Centre and the reception was in the back lane of the terrace my parents live on!
The reception was first – my parents still live in the house I grew up in. It’s a very social street and ever since a big party to celebrate the millennium they’ve held regular street dos and ‘back lane BBQs’ every summer. It was important to both of us that the whole wedding be as personal as possible, including the venue – so a back lane party was an obvious choice. All the neighbours were fab – when my folks approached them about using the lane not only did they say yes but everyone offered to help, and let us use their back gardens too.
For the ceremony we aren’t religious but still wanted a venue that meant something to us (and was big enough to host over 150 guests). My grandfather was an alderman and Councillor and sat in the (then very new) Council Chamber at the Civic Centre.
As a Geordie away from home I wanted Newcastle to be a big part of the wedding. Other than that it was just all about making it as personal as possible. Dresses, hair and make-up were 50s style.
We chose a teal colour scheme (inspired by the top of the Civic Centre and the Tyne Bridge!)
My shoes were from BHS and I customised them with peacock tail feathers, pearls and buttons.
I took my dress to be altered at a local dress maker as it needed taking in a bit. They totally let me down and after a series of mishaps (not doing the alterations when they said they would, not turning up at the shop when I was due to collect) I finally got my dress back only to discover, with just 10 days to go before the wedding, they’d taken it in way more than they were supposed to. I could just get into it but it was too tight to sit down/eat/breath!
Fortunately Honeypie had one readymade sample of a dress in a different design in my size which they posted straight out. The only downside being that it had a peach skirt which really wouldn’t have gone with all my peacock accessories.
I could get away with outfit number one for the ceremony and then would wear dress number two for the reception. I decided that if I was having to change dress I would brazen it out and go for a full outfit change. I sent Adrienne a photo of the new dress and my wedding hair and asked her to bring any head pieces she thought would go into her shop on the Saturday. When I got there, she said she hadn’t had anything the thought would be just right so had made me a new one from scratch. I loved my silver evening headpiece – she really pulled out all the stops and helped turn a crisis into a positive.
The bridesmaids had dresses with the inverse colour scheme to mine from Honeypie. I made peacock hair clips for them to tie in with my headpiece.
All the boys wore their own suits but had a variety of teal neckwear from Tom Sawyer.
I made button bouquets for me and the grownup bridesmaids (the younger two had button horseshoes). I did buy some buttons but friends, family and colleagues from work all dug out granny’s button boxes and I also wired in fabric flowers from my parents’ wedding cake, various trinkets and grand parents’ and great grandparents’ engagement rings. It was my old, new, borrowed and blue all in one. With my change of outfit for the evening I swapped the bouquet for a Kate Spade Mr&Mrs number plate clutch!
I got the metro to the ceremony – then we’d hired a vintage Routemaster to take the bridal party and groomsmen for photos and back to the reception.
My mum was really dubious about going on the metro but I was adamant about it. I’m so glad we did as it was so much fun and we got some fab photos. The looks on people’s faces as they pulled into Benton metro station and saw us on the platform were an absolute picture.
It was really important to make the wedding as personal as possible, using people we knew wherever possible. This meant there were quite a lot of special touches! But I think it’s important to remember not to let the special touches stress you out.
My godfather is an artist and so I asked him to do a painting for us to use on all of the stationery. It was turquoise to tie in with the colour theme and had a seahorse (to echo the top of the Civic Centre) and peacock (as I’d already decided peacock feathers were going to be part of my outfit).
I sewed 300m of bunting (assisted by mother in law, Andrew and best friend Lucy) and my mum made hundreds of tissue pompoms and fans. They had a pompom fluffing party the week before the wedding with all the neighbours.
We had fish and chips for dinner and so to tie in with the theme I made a newspaper with stories about us and used half pages of it as place mats. There were crosswords and word searches on the back which proved a good ice breaker at the tables.
As we were in the back lane and gardens I’d got some mini gnomes to use for table numbers. I had a feeling these would not make it unscathed through the wedding – by the end of the night we were all swigging port out of them!
It worked out as cheap to buy antique cutlery as it was to hire it so we spent months scouring antique and flea markets for sets. We’ve got some lovely ones to keep and will give the rest to the charity shop.
We’re the Meades and so my mum had some mini bottles of Lindesfarne Mead made up for with our names on the label on the back as a surprise.
As the back lane wasn’t a typical venue we did the table plan on a blown up plan of the street so people knew where everything else was as well as their table. We always play drinking games during the speeches at other people’s wedding so we also did a big sweepstake on the table plan.
The specialist touch of all was all of the neighbours. We hadn’t managed to set everything up on the Friday night so all the neighbours came out at 8am on the Saturday morning to help set out all the tables and chairs. It was a real team effort.
One of the neighbours is in a band and the street always head out en masse to support them when they play gigs locally so they were the obvious choice for music. They played in their garage and we had the dancing out in the lane. They were fab.
We had wedding cheese from The Cheese Board in Harrogate. Complete with knitted mice in miniature versions of our outfits that one of my colleagues made. I hand stitched some mini bunting too.
Our chip supper was by Clems Fish and Chips.
The whole day was amazing – better than I could have ever imagined.
But bar far the best bit – and certainly the most emotional for me was the ceremony itself. Closely followed by just about every other part of the day. Even the pouring rain we had coming out of the ceremony was fun.
For our honeymoon we did a road trip from Las Vegas to San Francisco via Death Valley, Yosemite and the Pacific Highway.
My top tip for Brides Up North is that the most important bit of the wedding is where the two of you stand at the front and do your ‘I do’s. All the rest is window dressing.
July 7th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
I’m all for making a wedding your own and that’s exactly what Keli and Pete did when they tied the knot (and their hands) at Windy Harbour Farm Hotel in the beautiful Peak District. The couple not only made their reception individual, but the ceremony itself too by having a secular service that reflected their journey to marriage as well as a handfasting with an elemental blessing.
The stunning outdoor setting gave way to carefree fun with the newlyweds and their guests enjoying garden games, afternoon tea and personalised beverages before burning up the dance floor in the evening.
One particular individual element that I adore about this wedding is that Pete had two best women! Breaking down yet another traditional wedding barrier, I think it’s fabulous that Pete asked those closest to him to fulfil the honourable role, regardless of their gender.
Keli said: We got engaged in the summer of 2011, the same summer we’d left our lives in London and gone travelling around England in a tent for three months. Pete and I had finally made it home, to my parents, where we would start to look for a new house and start building our new life up north.
We decided to take advantage of the last sunny day in September and go for a final walk in Castleton that included Mam Tor. Unfortunately our map reading skills were a little exhausted from the travelling all summer and we couldn’t seem to find the main path leading to the summit. So – fearful of never getting there – we turned off the beaten path and started up the side. Turns out we picked one of the steepest slopes to climb; we were exhausted and almost gave up halfway but Pete was persistent. When we got up there is was rather windy and rather crowded with people – which was not part of Pete’s plan – so we moved over the crest of the hill to sit out of the wind looking out over the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. After some lazy minutes Pete asked me to close my eyes, gave me a kiss and then produced the ring. I think my first response was “Are you sure?” And then lots of crying and laughing followed, and of course my answer, Yes!
Windy Harbour Farm Hotel was the first venue we visited and only because it was just up the road from our new home in Glossop, Derbyshire. However as soon as we walked in both of us were struck by how friendly and how right it felt. The size was perfect for the 50 to 80 guests we planned to invite and the garden area was beautifully kept, which was essential as we knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony with our mixture of pagan and secular traditions. Our country fair theme would need to include things like hay bales and garden games so we were lucky to find owners who were not only happy for us to do all this, but also happy to source things like the hay bales for us.
We both wanted a ceremony that was unique and individual to us, more so than a church or civil ceremony can be. Added to that, I’m a Pagan and was determined to get married outside, surrounded by the natural world. We found Kate Gee, a Humanist celebrant who was happy to incorporate elements of Pagan ritual into a secular service that reflected our lives and the journey that had led us to the moment of marriage. We still exchanged rings and used vows similar to those in the Common Book of Prayer. We also had a handfasting with an elemental blessing, undertaken by one of our maids of honour. Everyone commented on how poignant and moving the ceremony was and we couldn’t have been happier with the way we were able to seal our marriage.
As soon as we picked the date in May we knew we’d have a May Day themed wedding. We both love the May Day holiday and spent many years travelling to Hastings and various other places to celebrate it. So we knew we wanted lots of ribbons, greenery, games and folk music; as you would find at a May Day festival. We didn’t have a particular colour theme but we did end up using dark ivy green as the main contrasting colour. We also used a simple bright blue, yellow and red combination to accent it all – these mostly popped up as ribbons.
I wore ‘Fadella’ by Cymbeline which I found at The White Room in Sheffield. It was nothing like the dress I’d imagined myself wearing to be wed but it was the one dress that made me feel like a bride. Being light and not too bulky it made perfect sense for the venue and the outdoors, informal nature of the whole day. In the end the lace matched Pete’s country suit perfectly and the small train meant it was great to dance in.
Pete wanted something that was quite ‘countryside’ and immediately thought of a tweed jacket which he ended up getting from Next. He wore it with a grey waistcoat and brown trousers from Debenhams. His tie was also from Next. The two fathers wore the same jacket and tie as Pete but created their own combos so they didn’t all look the same.
Although untraditional Pete had best women – Zoe and Lyvia, two of our closest friends from university. The two of them and Pete were a very close trio throughout our time there and they both coached him through a lot of good times, bad times and rather mad times. They wore navy blue dresses from Next with matching taupe shoes.
I knew from the start that I didn’t want lots of bridesmaids as choosing from all my friends and family would mean all the female guests would have ended up in the wedding party. Instead I asked two of my closest friends to be maids of honour on the agreement they would be available to help out with all the wedding planning and stop me from succumbing to the dreaded Bridezilla too often in the run up to the wedding. Their dresses proved very difficult to find, especially as they both live quite far away and work a lot and we had to take into account the two best men, who were also wearing dresses. In the end we found two light summer dresses in Dorothy Perkins and they were the perfect complement to my lace dress and the best womens’ navy blue dresses.
Having good photos was vital to our day and we were keen to find a photographer who would fit in with the whole event and not feel like an outsider. We wanted mostly informal shots and pictures that took in the beautiful landscapes around us. Jon Rouston provided all that and more, giving us relaxed shots of our guests enjoying themselves as well as glimpses of the day we never would have seen otherwise. He also created some gorgeous portraits of us using a variety of local landscapes.
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