July 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s bride and groom are currently living outside of the UK due to spouse visa restrictions which have caused them and their families a lot of heartache. Their wedding was bittersweet as their friends realised that they had to leave the country because they were getting married, which made it all the more important that their celebration was extra special.
Hilary and Mike proved that your big day doesn’t have to cost the earth in order to have the time of your lives. Full of original styling touches, hand made elements and bursts of bright colour, Hilary & Mike’s perfectly personal quirky wedding day reflects their individuality beautifully.
Images by Eleanor Woodruff Photography.
hilary says: Our engagement story is absolutely hilarious and, according to our friends, no one could botch it quite like we did. We were on holiday in Cap Ferret, France in June 2013, and Mike had been secretly planning this for ages… he’d organised the barbecue, the beach, and even the sunset, but when it came to the critical moment he realised he’d forgotten to buy a ring or phrase the question! So looking rather ill (“food poisoning”), he steered the conversation towards “What the Bible says about marriage…”, much to my bewilderment. He finally managed to ask, “So… how ’bout it then?” To be fair, I didn’t get the answering part right either – I laughed and thought he was joking, then sobered up and said yes, then cried and said no, then walked down to the other end of the beach to think about it, and finally came back half an hour later with a definite yes.
We got married on Saturday 12th July 2014. We chose Left Bank Leeds for our venue, ultimately for the price and the DIY aspect of the space – which meant that we could rent the building for the day and move furniture around in between the ceremony and the reception, saving us paying for two venues and worrying about transport in between! We had an incredible team of friends resetting the hall for us while guests had drinks and photos taken outside. That Left Bank is a beautiful old church building which was another plus point for us as Christians.
We didn’t really have a theme, unless you count “a tight budget” as one! When planning the wedding we were a little daunted by the perfect, fairytale weddings we were seeing everywhere – we’re the least “bridal” couple we know, and as you might have guessed from our engagement story, far from perfect. In the end we just went with what reflected our personality best and made us feel most comfortable, which meant lots of origami flowers in recycled wine bottles, tea lights in jam jars we’d collected all year, and haphazard splashes of bright colour everywhere. This actually made it the perfect wedding for us because it represented our crazy and pragmatic sides so much better.
We used royal blue as a backdrop to hold all the splashes of brighter colour together, and also because everyone in the bridal party looked good in it – a bigger consideration than you might think in mixed race marriages!
My dress was from BHS and tailored to size by the lovely Sophie Davies Tailoring. Being 4’11” dress shopping is difficult at the best of times, and I’d got to the point where I was trying on First Communion dresses when I found this one, in the most unlikely of places! It was everything I wanted – a beautiful muted colour from the creamy lace material and champagne lining, not wider than I am tall and with straps to alleviate my fears of a wardrobe malfunction. Sophie did some magic and made the dress fit like a glove, also shortening it (by about a foot) from the waist to save the lace hem – something that a different tailor I had originally gone to wouldn’t do. She is incredibly talented and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.
My shoes were from New Look and specifically chosen to narrow the foot and a half in height difference between me and Mike! It meant that I had some difficulty walking downhill but it was a small price to pay.
Mike is 6’4″ and has different problems altogether when buying clothes. He swears by Marks and Spencer‘s suits, and would do no different for his wedding day. He wore a slim extra-long suit in charcoal grey, a blue-and-white dogtooth bowtie with matching pocket square and, to my chagrin, a pair of Arsenal cufflinks.
We were fortunate to find dresses for the bridesmaids in a style quite similar to my dress in New Look! I definitely wanted dresses that they could wear again, and this fit the bill perfectly, also surprisingly in a shape and colour that suits them all. The dresses originally came with brown belts but the girls swapped these out for white ribbons. They wore their own shoes and I loved how this added to all the colour on the day.
Mike had two best men – his brother Andrew and his best friend Mike. Andrew has an amazing waistcoat and bowtie with multi-coloured frogs on a hot pink background which we absolutely wanted him to wear, and we brightened Mike’s wardrobe up with a colourful polka-dotted bowtie. Our ushers (unfortunately not photographed as they were moving furniture) wore royal blue ties with elephants. The blokes that did make the photos were my “Ugly Bridesmaids”, my housemates without whom a lot of the wedding would not be possible. They could wear whatever they wanted.
We didn’t hire any transport, we were each driven to the venue by our friends/family. Mike’s driver made a detour for petrol on the way to the venue!
Our wedding was photographed by the amazing Eleanor Woodruff Photography. Ellie had photographed another wedding at which Mike was best man, and we were drawn by the amount of personality she captured in those photos and how genuine she made the day look. Ellie took the time to meet up before the big day to find out more about us, scout out the venue, and go over a list of family photos. Being far more experienced with weddings than we were she also had many handy organisational tips for the day! The photos of our day are full of character and absolutely perfect, we cannot thank her enough for what a great job she’s done.
My bridal bouquet was made by my friend Liv, whose origami skills know no bounds. She’d layered so many papers, textures, and beads – it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
We didn’t have any real flowers on the day because I was paranoid about hayfever and sneezing my way down the aisle (I opted to trip down it in my 6-inch heels instead). I had the idea to do origami flowers and folded some of them to begin with, but the vast majority of it was down to an amazing team of friends and family who folded away for several hours the day before the wedding. We also had plenty of balloons and colourful bunting for a fun touch, home-made confetti and fairy lights around the hall. The table settings were my favourite – each table had a white tablecloth, a royal blue runner, multi-coloured napkins, candles and a wine bottle-full of colourful origami flowers.
Mike’s Uncle Keith made the cake based on a picture that we’d shown him on Google. Everyone agreed that he needed a career change from train driving! The cake had three tiers covered in white icing, each made by a different family member and iced by Uncle Keith. He also stuck on individual pieces of edible confetti to form a cascading effect down the side and tied royal blue ribbons around each tier – if anything it looked better than the original that inspired us! The cake was topped by a champagne glass filled with more edible confetti, and engraved with our names and the date of our wedding.
Following our DIY-origami theme, we had DIY spring rolls for our first course, a great conversation starter for our guests who didn’t know each other! We also had bring-and-share salad and desserts, which turned out to be a great idea as there was an incredible variety of food to choose from. Our main was a hog roast provided by Boss Hog Yorkshire. There was SO MUCH food and everyone was well and truly stuffed.
Left Bank Leeds provided the drinks: beers and soft drinks from Samuel Smiths Brewery, a local company, and a selection of Fairtrade wines.
It made no sense to us to hire a band when several of our friends are musicians, so we organised an open mic for entertainment during the meal. Our friends absolutely did not disappoint and we had such a good evening, with everything from classical violin to 5-piece band. After the meal we pushed the tables aside for a ceilidh, with music from Ermine Street Band. Everyone loves a good ceilidh, and there was plenty of screaming, shouting and laughing.
Our vast height difference does not lend itself well to dancing, so we opted to do a “first duet” instead. We sang the song “Without You” by AJ Rafael, a song which I sang to Mike on Skype while we were long-distance, and made him cry. Mike was on guitar and I played piano.
For our honeymoon we went on a cooking holiday in the Loire Valley in France. This was a real treat for us as we’re nuts about French food. We were the only guests at the B&B as we went mid-week, and Lesley went out of her way to make things especially lovely for us! We enjoyed every moment of it and would totally recommend it to anyone else looking for a more hands-on holiday.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that a spectacular wedding doesn’t have to cost the earth – we managed to source most of our decorations from eBay and Amazon, or supermarkets and discount shops like Home Bargains. High street stores also turned up some pretty surprising and budget-friendly clothing finds for the wedding party! Putting a bit of elbow grease and creativity into the preparations also helped cut costs, and we’re grateful for all the incredible friends we had around to lend us a DIY-hand. Finally, don’t worry too much about having to put on a spectacular show to impress the guests – they turned up to celebrate “us” in all our quirkiness and loved how much the wedding reflected our wacky personalities!
June 29th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s real wedding couple show how a blank space can be transformed into an attractive setting for a personal big day.
After saying their ‘I dos’ at the local church, Colin, Vicki and their wedding party headed to Slaidburn Village Hall for a fabulous meal, emotional speeches and live entertainment.
To give it their own touch, the hall had been decorated with pretty bunting, table linen and chair covers, which complemented other village fete style touches, including their home made naked wedding cake, VW camper van and dainty floral decorations in lace bound jam jars.
With images by Mick Cookson Photography.
vicki says: We got engaged on the beach in Cornwall in April 2013 and set the wedding date for two years later on 4th April 2015, giving us time for all the planning.
Our ceremony was at St Andrew’s Church, Slaidburn, followed by a reception at Slaidburn Village Hall. We knew that we wanted a village hall wedding as it would allow us to do whatever we wanted – choose our own food, drinks etc. When we saw Slaidburn Village Hall we knew it was perfect for us – it was modern but still a blank canvas.
We wanted things to be quite neutral and didn’t want too much of a theme because then we could just add/change things when we saw something that we liked without being too restricted. Then towards the end, we just tied everything together.
We chose a neutral colour scheme but then added in pink as one of the main colours after choosing my sisters’ bridesmaid dresses, which were pale pink.
My dress was lace and satin design, with cap sleeves. I got it from Amelia Bridal in Clitheroe and they were amazing! My wedding makeup was done by Joanne at Hidden Beauty, Great Harwood. Joanne, was fantastic and made sure that everything was perfect.
We used lots of great suppliers to help pull the wedding together including Classique Venue Dressing in Chorley, to dress the venue, and caterers from Country Kitchen Cafe, in Waddington, to provide the food. Tim, the café owner was fabulous and helped with every detail. My mum made our wedding cake which was a delicious naked sponge design.
For our transport on the day we used Coach House Limousines in Blackburn, who provided a gorgeous VW camper van for my bridesmaids. We also hired a lovely Daimler from McGowans Classic Car Hire in Bamber Bridge, Preston.
My bouquet was a lovely mix of roses and gypsophila, put together by Le Rainflorist in Blackburn.
To keep guests entertained in the evening we hired a band calledThe Beat Collective. They were absolutely amazing and the dance floor was packed all night!
All of the wedding was captured by our fabulous photographer Mick Cookson. The pictures are so amazing, it is going to be so hard choosing some for our album!
It’s hard to pick a favourite part of the day as we loved all of it, though the ceremony and the meal stand out on our heads.
Following the wedding we went on a mini moon for a couple of days to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. We will be jetting off to America in August for 18 nights for our main honeymoon.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to try and get everything organised a few days before then you can relax. Unfortunately, I ended up rushing around on the last day!
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June 1st, 2015 | Julia Braime
When it comes to tying the knot it’s always great if you, or those close to you, have some fabulous skills you can use, not only to save yourself a few pennies, but also to make the day more personal and memorable.
Today’s bride Danielle is a baker, so not only did she bake her own wedding cake, but she also made her guests’ trio of desserts for the wedding breakfast (she admits she likes a challenge). Better still, Danielle’s Aunty is a florist so as well as lots of sweet treats, her wedding day was brimming with beautiful blooms all carefully arranged by her talented relative.
The day as a whole looks like an incredibly loved-up, emotional and fun-filled affair set against a well styled backdrop.
We must also congratulate the happy couple on the fantastic news that they are expecting their first baby in September. All together now…ahhhh!
With images by Alexandra Holt Photography.
danielle says: We got engaged at the place where we met! Jack took me back to London where we had met at a student ambassador event. He got down on one knee in a lovely snowy park and I had no idea. I cried. A lot! He had then arranged for all of my friends to be at the friend’s house we were staying a, and they had organised an engagement party to celebrate! Later we went for posh cocktails up a super high building in London. All in all, the perfect engagement.
Our wedding day was 23rd August 2014. We chose the date because we wanted a summer wedding and also because it was a bank holiday weekend.
We got married at St Olaves Church in York. We chose it because even though neither of us are from York originally, it was now our home and where we wanted to bring our family up. The church was suggested to us by a friend and we went along to meet the vicar and congregation and they were all lovely. Our reception venue was the beautiful Hornington Manor where we had a Papakata tepee.
We didn’t have a themeas such, we just went for a rustic/vintage feel. Coming from an arty background, we made a lot of the decorations ourselves and felt this made it extra special! We chose the style because neither of us really like anything matching, and it seemed to fit our creative personalities. We didn’t have a colour scheme either – just lots of it! Pastels mainly but some brights thrown in there too.
I chose my dress from a bridal shop called Elizabeth of York in York. It was probably only the second or third dress I tried on and it was perfect! Lace all over, a long (ish) train and quite fitted at the top.
We hired a vintage cream VW Beetle for myself and my dad to get to the church and the boys had a VW camper van in black. They were hired from LoveDubz Campers in York – the friendliest car company people ever! We also hired a vintage double decker bus for our guests. This was from Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company.
Our photographer was an old friend of mine called Alex Holt. She is the most amazing photographer and I couldn’t recommend her enough. She gets shots when you don’t even know she’s there and every single one was perfect! They took my breath away – I couldn’t believe it was our wedding!
Luckily, my Auntie is the best florist in the world, so she did my flowers for me. We had a lot of flowers! Mine and the bridesmaids’ bouquets were hand tied bouquets of wild flowers with lots of colours and variations of flowers. Beautiful.
My Auntie also did the reception flowers for me. I went along to the wholesalers and choose hundreds of flowers and then she worked her magic! We had lots of vases scattered over all of the tables, hanging bird cages filled with flowers and lanterns lining the pathway to our wedding reception filled with flowers too.
As a baker by trade I’m a lover of all things sweet so for favours I used small jars with lids and filled them with yummy gourmet popcorn then labelled each jar with the guest’s name.
I made my own wedding cake as it’s what I do every day! We had a simple three tiered stacked cake and covered it in ribbons and fresh flowers. I didn’t want to make life too complicated for myself!
Our wedding breakfast and evening food was provided by a company called The Hog and Apple. We had a delicious starter of ham hock terrine and a main of roast meats and posh veg! I made the trio of desserts myself (I like a challenge!) and we had mini cheesecakes, chocolate dipped strawberries and tiramisu heart stacks. The evening food was a hog roast which was divine!
When our guests arrived at our wedding reception we had a beautiful acoustic guitarist/singer called Jonny Woodhead who played to our guests whilst they had arrival drinks. We then had a band in the evening called The Hot Jazz Biscuitsand they were amazing! We had our own laptop and playlist for after the band had finished. Perfect!
As a special touch on the day my family had arranged to let a helium balloon off for my Mum who we lost when I was 18. It was a really nice surprise for me and made the day extra special.
Our wedding reception was held in the garden of a Manor House called Hornington Manor near York and it was held in a teepee. The teepee company Papakata were truly fantastic and I would highly recommend them!We would highly recommend both our wedding venue and reception venue to other couples as they were fantastic. Hornington Manor is a great huge house that you can hire out. There are around 16 self-catering rooms where all the family could stay and made the long bank holiday weekend an extra special one!
I think the ceremony was my favorite part of the day. Emotional, meaningful and perfectly suited.
We went to Cornwall on our honeymoon which was lovely. Jack had hired us a camper van for a few of the nights which was a nice surprise and I then surprised him with a trip to Monza, Italy, to see the Formula 1 (he is a huge fan!) as it was his 30th birthday whilst we were away.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to do as much as you can yourself without causing yourself too much stress! Don’t be scared to shop around either – there are things that you won’t want to skimp on but others that you might be able to get some good bargains on if you shop around!
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April 16th, 2015 | Julia Braime
You might want to slip on a pair of sunnies for this one as today’s wedding features all the colours of the rainbow.
Following a church ceremony, Andrew & Kristina threw a bright & breezy, colourful wedding reception in a field complete with marquee, barbecue, bus bar, games and camping.
The pair made the day their own with special touches and homemade décor including a DIY photo booth and bunting – lots of bunting!
With images by Ruth Mitchell Photography.
kristina says: We got engaged on the 10th August 2013 in the Alps. We had a two week holiday planned driving around France in our van, starting in Paris and ending in Alpe d’Huez. I had no idea this would be the time Andy would propose, we had been together seven years and just though it would never happen. Part of the trip was planned so when we arrived in the Alps we would go on a little adventure in the mountains so Andy could show me why he loves them so much. We packed our bags and set off on the cable car as far as it would take us then started our walk up. We later pitched our tent and got an early night as Andy informed me an alpine start is early, like 4am early. What a sight when I woke, all I could see were little lights moving across the rocks one after the other it was fab. Our bags were already packed so off we went. When we got to the glacier we had to put on our crampons and rope together so we could start our climb up the mountain. When we started to reach the top the sun was blinding, it was incredible. We carried along the flat of the top and over to some rocks for a rest and to take in the view. Andy asked if I wanted a brew but in all honesty all I wanted to do was get down as I felt a little strange. He then tells me he has a little present for me and gets a box out of his jacket pocket and out of the box comes a lovely little wooden ring and then his words, ‘will you marry me?’. I was in shock then looked up at Andy and said ‘yes’. Shortly followed by ‘can we go down now?’ When we got back to the campsite our friends had all travelled over to France and had a banner with congratulations on it and champagne ready, it was great. I also found out Andy had hand made my ring in our loft out of cherry wood. How sweet.
We were married on Saturday 9th August 2014. We had wanted to get married on the anniversary of our engagement but that would have been a Sunday so we chose the 9th.
We originally wanted to get married outside but with this not being legal in England we felt it would have been a hassle to get married then have a blessing outside so we chose a church wedding. We are not from Great Ayton and as we had already chosen our reception venue we thought a church close by would be the best option and we stumbled upon St Oswald’s at Newton under Roseberry. The vicar Paul Peverell is an amazing man, very down to earth and understanding. As soon as we met him we knew we had made the right decision. Our wedding reception was at Angrove Park in Great Ayton. We were looking for somewhere with a field for a marquee, camping for our guests and a fire pit, oh and loos. We stumbled upon Angrove Park online. This was the only venue we looked at and booked it straight away. It had everything we wanted, including camping pods and tent space, it was just perfect. The owners Louise and Alan are fantastic people they were there for us every step of the way and helped in so many ways – they were simply amazing.
We used Fletchers Marquees to provide the marquee who were great. The marquee was perfect and they were very reasonably priced and provided a really helpful service.
At first we didn’t have a theme, we were more interested in getting the colours right and making sure it was chilled out and fun. As the planning went on though I found myself making a lot of things in the shape of bunting, so I guess bunting was our theme.
We both love colour so would have found it hard to decide on one. Our home is colourful and we are both colourful outgoing people so decided to go with colours of the rainbow. We thought this was the best way to make it our own wedding and not a remake of someone else’s.
I’m not a dress kind of girl so for me this part was not too important. I went to BHS and bought the first dress I tried on and thought, great that will do. Around three months before the wedding I tried the dress on again and decided that actually I did not want to be in just any dress, I wanted to be in a dress I would feel comfortable in all day. So I gathered the troops (my mam, sister and best friend) and off we went in search of a new dress. We went to a place where you can buy off the peg and at good prices called Tonia Ann in Washington. I tried on a few and then I tried on ‘the one’. It was so comfortable and well, just me. I bought it there and then.
Andy wore a black suit from Next. We had looked at hiring suits but Next suits are such good quality at reasonable prices so it was an easy decision for us. His shirt was from Debenhams as this was the only place we could find a double cuff shirt which did not cost the earth. He wore a red bow tie, cufflinks, braces and handkerchief which were from eBay and he wore red Converse. The groomsmen wore the same but in their own colour (to match the rainbow). We also had a little page boy, our nephew Toby. He wore a little black suit and white shirt from Marks & Spencer. He had orange braces bow, tie handkerchief and shoes. Too cute.
The bridesmaid’s dresses were from Debenhams. We went shopping very early on for these as I wanted to make sure they both had dresses they felt comfortable in. We had such a fun day, some of the dresses they tried on were hilarious. They chose a lovely purple dress and we also got their shoes that day – orange sandals from BHS.
I walked to the church as I was staying at the Kings Head the night before which is at the top of the lane. I really enjoyed walking, it gave me time to soak in what was about to happen. We drove our van from the church to the reception as it fit in perfectly with our day. We have a very nice transporter T4, which Andy had popped some ribbons on.
Our photographer was Ruth Mitchell. Ruth was recommended to us from a friend and I’d seen her around at work so we arranged a meeting. We hit it off straight away and after seeing her work we paid a deposit to secure the date. Ruth was brilliant and took everything in her stride. Anything we needed Ruth was there. On our wedding day Ruth blended into our wedding like one of the guests while capturing perfect memories. Brilliant. We definitely made the right decision choosing Ruth and if anyone is looking for a professional yet relaxed photographer I would definitely recommend her.
I had what I thought was the most amazing bouquet. I had priced up a few bouquets and found them to be more than I wanted to pay so we decided to do them ourselves. I contacted Alex Lunn from Blossom and Blooms as he has a stall at Ripon Market and thought I could pick them up on the Thursday before our wedding. I explained that I wanted him to provide me with flowers so I could make them up myself. He was happy with this and very helpful. He emailed me a picture on that Thursday morning showing me some of the flowers he had got in stock just for me. I couldn’t believe it, they were great! I topped the flowers up from him with a few from Morrisons as I was missing blue and orange colours. My sister made my bouquet and tied it with string, it was lovely. It was so nice I asked her to make me another to throw as I did not want to the first one.
To decorate we had a jam jar of flowers on each of the 15 tables, a big bunch in the bar bus and lots of little jars all over the site. They were all made up by my sister and best friend. I enjoy crafting so decided to make everything myself for the venue including the name cards, table numbers and cake sign. I bought little windmills to add in with the flowers as they were bright and we had bunting everywhere! My mam made this for us and it was amazing. We also made paper pompoms to sit on the stage and had a homemade photo booth with a backdrop of paper birds. My sister and dad spent hours making a thousand of these so we could hang them up. It looked so cool. I also made a table plan with good old cutting and sticking.
Our wedding favours were fridge magnets. We had 15 different magnets printed with the wedding date on each and we slipped them into the name cards. We decided on magnets as every time someone looked at their fridge they would be reminded of our wedding.
We chose to have our cake made by a friend Alice as she makes amazing cakes. Between us we decided to go for a sponge cake with three tiers covered in white icing and a row of bunting on each tier, it was great. Alice also made us a cake topper which tied in with the theme and colour scheme. My mam loves fruit cake so I had Alice make a special fruit cake just for her.
We choose to have a barbecue for our wedding breakfast provided by a local butcher called Johnson’s of Thirsk, which was amazing. The choice was fantastic and the service second to none. We asked all of our guests to bring a homemade desert with them which worked really well. We also asked Johnsons to come back with an evening buffet.
For entertainment we chose a band called Facsimile. They rocked. We found this band on the internet completely by chance and what a find. A great bunch of lads who were so easy going and professional. We did not sit down all night!
Special touches on the day included giving gifts to our mams and dads and I gave the bridesmaids a box of goodies the night before – their favourite perfume, wine and bits and bobs and also gave them a piece of jewellery each on the day. We made a little craft table for the children to keep them occupied and also had a lot of garden games, which everyone had fun playing.
As something a little different our best man created a wedding video for us rather than doing a speech as he was not too keen on talking to crowds of people. It was fantastic and very touching. It was a slideshow of photos of us both from childhood up until present day, with some well-chosen music.
We would definitely recommend our venue. Louise and Alan who own Angrove Park are just amazing. We hired the venue from Thursday to Sunday so we could make the most of the weekend. Louise helped with ideas gave us pointers and was genuinely excited about our wedding. Louise and Alan also gave us use of their bus bar for our day, which was amazing.
We can honestly not pick one single moment from our wedding day as our favourite; we just had the best time ever.
We wanted our honeymoon to be an adventure so we started in Las Vegas and ended in St Lucia. We stayed at the MGM Grand for two nights then hired a car and drove to the Grand Canyon Lodges. We then drove to the Grand Canyon and onto Monument Valley. Our next stop was Zion National Park. This was our favourite part of the trip, we could have spent much longer there had we had the time. We stayed in the Zion Lodges just out of the main town – this hotel was great! Then on the drive back to Las Vegas to catch a flight to Miami then onto St Lucia we encountered a storm which delayed us by a day as the road we were travelling on was closed. We went to see the Virgin rep who sorted out new flights and the car hire. St Lucia is an amazing place and we would definitely return if we had the chance. The food was great the people were amazing and the temperature was hot.
Our biggest tip to other Brides Up North is make sure you do what you want to do. No matter how many people tell you it won’t work or that will be silly. Do it, remember it’s your day and you know your guests. Make yourself happy as you only get one wedding day!
April 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
One of the biggest concerns for the majority of couples when planning a wedding is the budget, with hidden costs and little extras often taking brides and grooms way over their original limit. However today’s couple prove that with a savvy mind, a dash of enthusiasm and a sprinkling of imagination you can have your dream wedding without breaking the bank!
We love the pretty homemade bunting (well done mum), the retro board games and dance-happy guests that make this both a picturesque and enjoyable big day!
With images by Rachel Ryan Photography.
alice says: We got engaged 3rd August 2013. Dan had planned to do it at the open air cinema viewing of Amelie at the Roman Gardens in Chester, along with a picnic. However, with Dan not booking tickets in advance we were turned away and set off to eat our picnic elsewhere! After trekking over to the meadows to find a picnic spot I managed to step in the biggest cow pat – in sandals too! We then gave up, headed home and after a shower ended up having the picnic in the back garden! After the picnic Dan suggested we head up town for a drink and whilst walking over the suspension bridge played the old trick of ‘wait I need to tie my shoelace’ and there he was on one knee! It was a complete surprise, although we had been together for over three years I wasn’t expecting it!
Without my knowledge Dan had been to ask my dad’s permission too, which my dad really appreciated. Dan told me although he knew he had wanted to propose for a long time, he chose to do it then because he wanted our grandparents to experience it too. We are both very close to/admire our grandparents so this really touched me. Although my granddad unfortunately never made it to the wedding he was so excited/happy for us and so glad we got to share this experience in our lives with him.
We set the date for 7th February 2015. The time of year that we got married had never really bothered us that much, British weather is so unpredictable and as our wedding was going to be DIY budget we didn’t want to pay premium wedding prices for a summer wedding when it would probably rain anyway! We picked our wedding date a few months after getting engaged and after deciding a budget we worked out how long we would need to save up which resulted in February. Dan who is not really a fan of Valentine’s Day was adamant it couldn’t be on the 14th!
We got married at Eccleston Village Hall near Chester. Having lived close to Eccleston for most of my life, I had always been fond of the village, its church and the hall so for me it was an obvious choice. As soon as Dan came to look around he was taken with its charm too, and the price only costing a few hundred pounds to hire it for the weekend! This was the only venue we viewed as we knew immediately what we could do there!
It was really important to me that our wedding was about everyone having a great time, spending quality time with friends and family and a celebration that wouldn’t break the bank for our guests too! Eccleston was a short taxi journey for most of our guests and there were B&Bs close by for those that weren’t! Having the wedding at the village hall also meant we could hire our own bar without the hefty prices that you find at hotels. We looked the big rustic beams in the hall and its cute charm. The hall had lovely views of the river and lots of greenery around too. It was a blank canvas for us to throw a wedding party that was personal to us for our friends and family!
I’ve always loved being a bit crafty and would much rather, if possible, do something myself as opposed to buying it. The general style I wanted to reflect was a vintage, quaint fete theme. Lots of bunting (my mum and her friends had bunting parties and made it all), vintage crockery and fabrics. I genuinely had the best time planning the wedding and thankfully, sometimes a little reluctantly, Dan left me to it (still being very supportive of course). A great tip one of my mum’s friends passed on to me was that sometimes you can spend hours stressing over tiny details that often people won’t notice and although personal touches lovely, don’t over complicate things decoration wise.
I didn’t really have a colour scheme, which was pleased about. In the hall, the stage curtains were a deep red so I collected lovely floral fabrics in similar/complementing tones to this as it was such a big feature in the room. These colours also stood out well against the white walls in the hall. I chose white/pastel pinks for my flowers as I love feminine, pastel colours which complemented the navy bridesmaid dresses too.
The only thing I knew before I started dress shopping was that I wanted something covered in lace that didn’t show much, if any cleavage! I love lace, I think it’s so pretty and feminine and thought it would complement the theme well. I chose a fitted lace dress with a gentle fishtail which had an embroidered lace voile at the top so to cover my chest. I was never quite sure I would ever put a dress on and immediately know that it was ‘the one’ but I was wrong! I felt great in it straight away and comfortable too. I got my dress from Cheshire Rose Bridal.
Dan works at M&S Bank so was lucky enough to buy suits for himself and all five ushers with his employee discount, saving us quite a good amount for such good quality suits!
The bridesmaids wore a navy maxi dress from ASOS for £65, it was a really flattering, feminine fit with little lace cap sleeves. It was a real struggle to find a dress that fitted and suited five adult bridesmaids who are all different shapes and one being 20 weeks pregnant too!
My dad sorted wedding cars through friends of his, we had a maroon Mercedes dressed with a traditional wedding bow.
Our photographer was Rachel Ryan Photography. I saw Rachel’s work on Facebook whilst browsing vintage crockery hire. After viewing a few photographers but not really engaging with their pictures I was immediately excited by Rachel’s photographs and the natural story she captures through her work! After meeting Rachel, her professional yet passionate personality impressed us and her genuine enthusiasm for our wedding made us so excited and we really connected with her. Rachel really listened to us and made great suggestions to help our day run smoothly yet make the most of it too! On the day we both felt completely at ease with Rachel.
Following the wedding we were overwhelmed by the amount of photographs we received from Rachel, every single one edited. It relayed the story of our day all over again to us, bringing back so many great memories! Rachel also has a blog on her website which she updated about a week or so after the wedding. This was such a lovely, personal touch and a great way to show friends/family some photos from the day! We were so pleased we chose Rachel to capture our day.
I carried a white/pastel pink bouquet made by Clare at Cocoa Flower in Chester. It included avalanche and spray roses. Cocoa Flower replicated this pastel theme through the floral arrangements in the church too. These were faux flower arrangements we hired from them and to save money the ushers carried them down to hall after the ceremony. They were so good nobody noticed they were fake! I bought the flowers on the top table/welcome table discounted from a supermarket the day before and rearranged them myself in jars.
The main decoration we used in the hall was bunting hung from the beams. My mum spent hours hand sewing 40 metres of bunting together with a little help from myself and also by holding a bunting party with a few friends (and some wine)! I wanted lots of atmospheric lighting in the hall so hung fairy lights round the beams and had bird cages with tea light in on the tables from Home Bargains! They have a great wedding section there with lots of decorations and bits and bob’s at fab prices.
We both really loved the idea of a photo booth but they were way out of our budget so we bought lots of props made of card off eBay for £5 and glued them onto kebab sticks and then left them on the tables in milk bottles for people to take photos with!
As favours we gave each of our guests a scrabble tile keyring in their initial. We both love scrabble so wanted to incorporate this in a small way! We ordered the wooden tiles and keyrings separately from eBay for only £27 for the whole lot and then Dan spent an evening putting them together, resulting in a few finger blisters! We also had chocolates for everyone, kindly bought by Dan’s mum.
We chose a three tier chocolate sponge cake with white fondant from Marks & Spencer. We decorated it simply with a Lego bride and groom off eBay – Dan is still a massive fan of Lego, even at 27!
For food we had a vintage afternoon tea with lots of finger sandwiches, scones and miniature cakes. This was served on vintage crockery on the tables. The tea ladies also served lots of different teas as well as their own blend! We served the afternoon tea with prosecco which we bought again with Dan’s M&S discount. The afternoon tea worked out well with having a mixture of guests who are meat eaters/veggies as there was lots of choice for everyone without any hassle. For the evening meal we had a big pan of chilli – which was amazing! The Caterers were Yours Truly Vintage Catering Company. They left us a tin of homemade blended tea for us to take home too!
To keep guests entertained throughout the day we had a big vintage suitcase filled with lots of childhood games for people to play. We basically ransacked my nana’s house for all these! We had Hungry Hippos, Connect Four, Snakes and Ladders and Dominoes, to name a few. For the evening we had a DJ as we wanted something that people would enjoy, a crowd pleaser! We asked guests to give a request for the DJ on our RSVPs and Adam was great in honouring them! The DJ was very good in reading what people wanted and we had a full dance floor all night!
When figuring out the itinerary for the day it was important to us that things went as smoothly as possible for our guests. We made sure we reserved seating at reception drinks for grandparents so they weren’t left standing and we made SOS baskets in the toilets filled with bits and bobs such as safety pins, hair grips, mints and toiletries for any small fashion disasters that might happen throughout the day. We also baked lots of gingerbread men a few days before and put them in a basket near where guests entered the marquee after the ceremony. We didn’t want anyone to be hungry throughout the day so made these for people to have with their reception drinks!
I would definitely recommended Eccleston Village Hall to other couples who are looking for a budget DIY wedding. Eccleston Village Hall only hold eight weddings a year and it’s quite popular due to the picturesque surroundings. It does book up quite quickly!
On the lawn connecting to the hall we had a small marquee supplied by Border Bars and Marquees and then the bar inside free-of-charge and the prices were really reasonable. They helped us out massively throughout the day, serving the prosecco we bought to go with the afternoon tea as well as nipping out mid evening do to grab another bottle of Jagermeister (which my uncle had ‘discovered’ that night). Nothing was too much trouble for them, they were great!
It’s so hard to choose a favourite part of the day – I think the evening celebration was just so much fun, having all our friends and family together having the best time. It was also great to see all the decorations and organising coming together, it makes any stress or worries all worth it. The morning of the big day was also special, spending time with my bridesmaids and all the excitement flowing around from everyone was amazing. As well as the obvious pampering as well!
Dan’s parents very kindly booked us a surprise honeymoon to Majorca after the wedding. We didn’t have enough budget left for a honeymoon and so we were so grateful/excited! It was great to get away and reflect on the day by ourselves. The run up to the wedding was so exciting but very busy so we very much needed time to sit back and relax, which we were able to do.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is your budget doesn’t matter, there’s always a way to create your ideas with a bit of imagination – and help from family friends!
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