June 25th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Having found their perfect wedding venue in Crab Manor, North Yorkshire, today’s couple decided against a set theme and instead added bits and pieces that they liked to the manor’s unusual décor or an individual big day.
Individuality continued throughout the wedding in the bride’s vintage-esque attire, the groom’s tweed getup and the beautiful floral bridesmaid dresses.
There are many elements of this big day that we absolutely love, though one in particular has to be Gemma’s wild bouquet – just stunning!
We think you will all agree, this one is a real beauty!
With images by Brides Up North featured supplier, Helen Russell Photography.
gemma says: We got engaged on 2nd December 2013. Darren took me for lunch at Browns in Newcastle. After our starters Darren started to fidget in his pocket then he pulled the ring out and proposed, I said yes immediately. I can remember thinking though I wished he had waited until after our meal as I couldn’t eat anything else as I was so excited to get back home and tell everyone!
We set the date for 13th February 2015. We decided on that date as the 13th February is the anniversary of when we officially started dating.
Our chosen venue was Crab Manor in Thirsk, we fell in love with how cool and quirky the place was and also the uniqueness of the venue. We always knew a big stately house/hotel wasn’t for us and wanted somewhere everyone would feel comfortable on the big day.
We didn’t wanted to have a theme as such but I have a love for vintage clothing/items so that did play a part in the day, but ultimately we chose to buy whatever we liked. Similarly, we chose not to have a colour scheme as we didn’t want to be limited in what we could buy, we wanted free rein and hoped everything would come together in the end.
My dress was from Amore Brides in Sunderland. I always knew what kind of dress I didn’t want more than what I did want. I met June the owner and pulled out three dresses to try on, as soon as I put the first dress on I knew it was the one. It was the most beautiful lace backless Maggie Sottero dress and it was just me. I felt 100% comfortable so I bought it there and then. I still look at it now and I’m still in love with it.
Darren bought his suit from Leaf in Newcastle. He wanted a tweed suit and fell in love with the first one he saw. His tweed tie was bought online from a shop in Scotland to go with his Dolce and Gabbana shirt. His Jeffrey West shoes were a gift from me for his birthday the year before. Unfortunately Darren’s gran passed away before our wedding. With some of the money he was left he bought a gold pocket watch, so in a sense his gran could be with us on our special day.
Our bridesmaids wore dresses from ASOS. They were for me the perfect dresses and I really liked them straight away. Isabelle my flower girl (niece) wore a beautiful dress from Monsoon with some glitter pumps from John Lewis.
Helen Russell was our photographer on the day. Helen has photographed a few friends’ weddings and I totally love her style and how she captures the perfect moments. I’m not a great fan of posed photos and I knew Helen’s images were mostly natural shots and this was ideal for us.
My flowers were a bit of a gamble as I didn’t really know what I was getting until the morning of the big day. My maid of honour, who flew back from Australia for the wedding, is good friends with Kirsty who co owns Darling and Green, we met up once last summer and I saw some of her work and knew she was the one who I wanted to do my flowers. I was quite laid back about what I wanted and Kirsty totally got my style and I knew she would deliver on the day.
We had a selection of different shaped and sized glass bottles filled with wild flowers for our table decorations from Darling and Green, along with glass bottles I filled with pearls, which we used for our table numbers. I bought a flowery storage box and some mini ‘Mr & Mrs’ bunting and made a box for our cards. The venue is full of bits and bobs so we didn’t need a lot of decorations.
Our wedding favours were retro mix ups in personalized brown paper bags, we put in all of our favourite sweets from our childhood. The children got goody bags full with activities such as colouring in books, puzzles, pens and also disposable cameras, which went down a treat.
We weren’t really fussed on having a wedding cake so we decided on cupcakes made by Lynn, a family friend. They were a huge success and tasted amazing!
We choose a menu that would please everyone; leek and potato soup, beef and vegetables then sticky toffee pudding followed by coffee and the famous Crab Manor chocolate truffles.
For entertainment, we hired a juke box from Crab Manor. As we only had a small wedding of 30 people we didn’t need anything else. Everyone loved dancing away to their favourite tunes. For decoration we also hired a love heart from Coco Luminaire with our names and date of the big day on.
If you are after something different to your normal wedding then choose Crab Manor as the venue is without doubt one of the best places we have stayed in. It offers something different and the staff are amazing, especially John, one of the wedding co-ordinators. The venue is cool and quirky and just has an amazing overall feel. We highly recommend!
My favourite part of the day was the ceremony; being with everyone who we love and care for and being able to share our special day with them.
For our honeymoon we went to Jamaica. We literally went to chill after a busy few months arranging the wedding. The surprises kept on coming though as on our second week we found out I was expecting our first child, due in October!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – try to relax and enjoy the experience, as it’s very easy to turn into a bridezilla!
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June 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Here at Brides Up North we just love a glam wedding and today’s has it all – a striking gown, opulent colour scheme and men in uniform!
Kathryn and Kelechi chose the grand Allerton Castle as the setting for their dream wedding, which was then styled in keeping with the historic venue’s décor and to suit the couple’s personal taste.
Posh transport, sparkling stationery and lavish centrepieces all help to create a wedding day as alluring as the bride and groom’s attire. Glam to a tee.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Laura Calderwood Photography.
kathryn says: We got engaged in Sydney, Australia, my hometown at the time. After meeting three years prior, Kelechi came over on a two-week holiday from the US Navy. Palm Beach is a favourite spot of mine so on day one of the trip we decided to go there and climb to the lighthouse, little did we know it wasn’t a pleasant stroll up but a hike! At the top and covered in sweat, I looked around and said “just think, this may be the last time we come here” – then turned back to Kelechi who said “we better make sure we remember it then” – he was down on one knee!
Our wedding date was 18th April 2015. We chose this date mainly due to Kelechi’s work schedule. Spring in the UK is a beautiful time, so that helped too!
We got married at Allerton Castle, which we chose due to the grandness of the building, its Great Hall and the beautiful countryside location. As a lot of our guests were coming from overseas, we needed the wow factor!
We didn’t really have a theme but kept everything very glamorous. We used a lot of candles, fairy lights and crystals. I picked this style due to the castle’s decor and so that it would be in keeping with what Kelechi and I like.
Black and Gold was the colour scheme. We choose this combination to match with Kelechi’s military uniform – dinner dress blues. Although the tux is actually black!
I chose a dress that was the complete opposite of what I thought I’d choose! The dress was called Amalfi by Ian Stuart, which I bought from Limelight Occasions in Huddersfield. I was drawn to the dress due to its uniqueness. It was two colours and had beautiful detailing. It was like nothing I’d seen anyone wear before. As soon as I put the dress on, I knew I had to have it!
Kelechi wore his military US Dinner Dress Blues uniform and the groomsmen who weren’t in uniform also wore black tuxedos.
My bridesmaids wore black maxi dresses with gold detailing around the top half of the dress, from Quiz. They were very flattering on all shapes and the girls looked fabulous whilst feeling comfortable at the same time. My ‘Mate of Honour’ wore a black tuxedo, hired from Greenwoods. He also invested in some gold shoes which looked amazing!
As I was getting ready at the castle, I decided to drive my little white Fiat 500 there in the morning with some of my bridesmaids. I decorated the car and we had a great laugh on the way! I organised an Aston Martin as a surprise wedding present for Kelechi. The car picked him up in York and took him and his best man to the castle. We then organised a vintage double decker bus to bring our guests to the venue from York.
Laura Calderwood was our photographer. She’s an absolute gem and was very patient with some of our more demanding guests. Nothing was too much trouble and the pictures taken speak for themselves and how great Laura’s work really is.
Joanna at Twisted Willow provided all our flowers, centrepieces and dressed the Great Hall for our ceremony – it looked magical.
My flowers were a mixed white bouquet with crystal detailing. For the wedding reception we had tall candelabras on each table surrounded by candles and draped in crystals. I had a vase on our sweetheart table for my flowers to be shown off in.
Another great supplier was Katie from Tigerlily Creations. Katie made all our stationery for our day from the invitations to the wishing well. Everyone commented on the quality and luxury feel she gave to our day.
Our wedding cake was wheels of cheese and therefore our favours were jars of chutneys with the words ‘Spread the Love’ on. We also gave little red double decker bus key rings to all our guests as a lot of them were visiting from abroad.
We had a dessert included in our menu, which is why we chose a cake made of cheese. It was something different for a lot of people and we loved it! Matt at The Cheese & Chutney Co couldn’t have been nicer either.
I wanted a fun cake topper so searched online and found Feats of Clay. Sarah is amazing and made both myself and Kelechi out of clay. A great talking point for guests and a great souvenir for us to keep.
We used the Dine for the food, who are provided through the Castle. They were fabulous!
We had champagne and canapés of mini Yorkshire puddings, chicken skewers and goats cheese tarts, during the drinks reception. For the wedding breakfast we had fishcakes to start, followed by a sirloin of beef, rounded off with a glorious sticky toffee pudding. Everyone commented on the quality of the food. We organised cheeseburger and chips for the evening reception – it made our guests’ night!
Entertainment wise, we had a string quartet playing for the guests’ arrival and during the drinks reception. It made for an elegant start to our day. For the evening entertainment we used Alive Network and booked the band Munch. Kelechi and I love live music so a band was a must. They played a whole host of music and catered for all ages.
During the band’s break we surprised our guests with a five-minute firework display. At first I was reluctant to do this but Kelechi pushed for it – I’m now so glad we did, it was magical and the guests loved it.
My favourite part of the day was the build-up and then finally seeing Kelechi as I stood at the top of the stairs before walking down the aisle. They are two moments that will stay with me forever. The dancing during the evening was pretty great too! Kelechi literally burnt the stitching off the bottom of his shoes!
For our honeymoon we went to a Sandals resort in St Lucia. It was fantastic, they couldn’t do enough for us and helped make the week very romantic and assisted Kelechi is organising lots of little surprises along the way. One thing to note though – everyone there is on their honeymoon so bear that in mind.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is a tip that everyone gave me – make sure you take a step back, look around and enjoy the day so you can remember it. I made a conscious effort to do this and I’m glad I did. Kelechi and I also chose to have a sweetheart top table to make sure we got some time to just sit down with each other and take it all in – a great decision.
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June 18th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Following a romantic proposal in Central Park, New York, today’s couple Kate and Colin set their hearts on a classic wedding by the sea. The Clifton Arms Hotel in Lancashire provided the perfect setting with views of the stunning seafront in Lytham.
To complete their vision, Kate and Colin called upon talented family and friends to help with the cake, flowers and décor, resulting in a very beautiful and personal big day.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Amanda Balmain.
kate says: Colin proposed three years ago during a trip to New York which was to celebrate his birthday. I had no idea he would propose as we had planned a full week of sightseeing. Colin says he carried my engagement ring everywhere during the five days whilst waiting for the perfect moment. Apparently he was planning to propose at the top of the Empire State building but he couldn’t make me stand still for long enough as it was freezing cold in November and I kept doing laps at the top to try and keep warm!
On the third day we decided to go for a walk around central park as this was our favourite place in the city. During this we passed a couple who had just got engaged and were asked to take pictures for them, little did I know Colin was gutted as he says he was about to propose before we bumped into them. Colin later proposed during a very romantic horse and carriage ride around Central Park, this was incredible and so special, it felt like we were in a Hollywood film. Best proposal ever!
Our wedding day was on 11th October 2014. We chose October as we love autumn and all the different colours – it reminded us of walking around central park in New York.
We live very close to the sea which we love and wanted our venue to be by the seaside. We researched local venues and fell in love with the Clifton Arms Hotel, Lancashire. The hotel is situated overlooking the seafront in Lytham. The area has a classic seaside feel with lots of character, a very friendly atmosphere and picturesque coastline which we wanted to have as part of our wedding day.
Classic and traditional was the theme for the day. We wanted our wedding to be a stylish celebration with our all of our close family and friends. The Clifton Arms Hotel radiates a traditional elegance which we wanted to reflect with our wedding theme.
Our colour scheme for the wedding included dusky pinks, slate grey, ivory and silver. With our classic theme we wanted to keep the colour scheme natural.
Finding my dress is one of my favourite memories of planning our wedding. I wore a Sophia Tolli A-line gown called Jillian which had layers of misty tulle and lace. I chose my dress from Bridal Boutique in Bispham where I was able to try on many different styles. I went in thinking I would choose a fitted plain straight dress as I’m quite tall and I didn’t feel a big dress would suit me. As soon as I tried the Sophia Tolli gown on I knew it was the one. I loved the uncomplicated skirt and the chapel length train as well as the lace bodice, which I felt flattered my figure. I added a chapel length ivory veil also from Bridal Boutique and a sparkly hair clip from Debenhams.
Colin wore a Jeff Banks slate grey three-piece suit from Debenhams accompanied with an ivory tie to match my dress. He also wore a very smart pair of Jeff Banks shoes which he says were very comfy and helped him throw some great dance moves during the evening reception! Craig, who was our best man, also wore a three-piece Jeff Banks Suit from Debenhams and a grey tie to match.
We had six bridesmaids which were both our sisters Laura and Katy and my best friends Jenny, Hayley, Pippa and Aisling, who wore black floor length dresses by Mark Lesley from Bridal Boutique in Bispham. Our beautiful flower girl Harriet wore an ivory sparkly dress from Monsoon.
Ian and Paula of Allure Rococo in Poulton-le fylde, Lancashire, did mine and my bridesmaids’ hair on the day which we loved.
Amanda Balmain was our amazing photographer on our wedding day. A friend had attended a specialist photography course a few years ago with Amanda and she had followed some of her photography work online. When we mentioned to our friend that we were looking for a photographer she was able to recommend Amanda straight away. As soon as we met her we knew she was great. We organised an engagement shoot on a beach on the Wirral where she made us feel very relaxed and was able to get very natural, romantic shots.
Amanda managed to capture our wedding day in a very special way, we love our wedding pictures and we can’t stop looking at our wedding album! She is very talented and such a lovely person I have recommended her to all of my friends and family for their weddings.
My Aunty Lisa, who is an independent florist in Norfolk, created all of our flowers. The flowers were purchased from the wholesale Dutch Flower Auction. My bouquet included dusky pink amnesia roses, ivory roses, thistles, wax flowers, eucalyptus, gypsophila, snow berries, astible and some green foliage. Lisa did an amazing job – she took my imagination and made it happen.
My mum Helen and Aunty Lisa created our amazing centrepieces – we had tall candles in hurricane lamps surrounded by the same flowers which were in my bouquet. They also created the top table flower display which included roses, ivy and green foliage as well candles which looked fantastic.
The Wedding Place in Blackpool supplied our white chair covers and lace white sashes – they did a fantastic job and we would highly recommend them!
As a special touch, a family friend created a handmade post box with our names and wedding details on the front, which was used by our guests to post their cards into at the reception.
For favours we gave chocolate miniature hearts and wrapped sweets placed in silver drawstring bags.
Our three-tier wedding cake was a family creation. My Granddad, who is a baker, made the fruit cake. The cake was then decorated by my talented and creative Mum and Gran. It featured layers of Victoria sponge and fruit cake. My mum spent many hours incorporating wedding details such as the ivory colour scheme which matched my dress and handmade sugar crafted flowers which mirrored my bouquet.
Daniel Sings provided our musical entertainment. Daniel provided amazing live vocals, played acoustic and electric guitars and wonderful saxophone. He performed a huge range of songs which had everyone singing along during our wedding breakfast and did not stop all evening. He made our perfect day even better and all of our guests often comment on how brilliant he was.
For the children we provided colouring books and quizzes, which many mums and dads appreciated during the wedding breakfast.
We would highly recommend The Clifton Arms Hotel as a wedding venue to other couples – the food was fantastic and the staff were very helpful which made our day run very smoothly. The hotel is situated in a fantastic position overlooking Lytham Green and the coastline. After our ceremony we were able to walk outside and have our pictures taken on the green, there is also a little wooden jetty by a windmill very close to the hotel which our photographer used to get some stunning photographs. It is a very classy and traditional venue – we would not change a thing about it as it made our day very special!
After our wedding ceremony we were able to go and have some private pictures taken by the sea, which was one of our favourite parts of the day. It was such a glorious sunny day, the water was very calm and it was silent on the wooden jetty. We were able to have a few minutes to reflect that we had just got married and before we walked the short distance back to the hotel for the evening reception – it was lovely to have a few moments to ourselves. We could hear our guests singing in the distance as Daniel performed on his guitar. We had the biggest smiles on our faces and we can both definitely say it was the most fantastic and best day of our lives.
For our honeymoon we spent ten days in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Our top tips for other Brides Up North would be to look for ways to incorporate family and friends into your day, this made ours extra special to us as we have a very close family around us. Also, be sure to steal a few minutes away together during the height of wedding celebration to talk, look at each other and take it all in. We would also advise other brides and grooms to book time with their photographer. Our pre-wedding shoot with our photographer was brilliant as we got to know each other and she then knew what we wanted and was able to give us good advice with shots and family group photos.
June 16th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Well what can we say about today’s wedding – it’s just so pretty! From the idyllic Lake District setting to the romantic styling and gorgeous wedding attire, we love it all!
Debra’s choice of a soft pastel palette for the décor, flowers and bridesmaid dresses works perfectly with the spring season and surrounding countryside, making for an incredibly elegant and romantic big day.
Here at Brides Up North we just love to see couples having fun with their wedding photography and so adore the mix of documentary and staged shots from Richard and Debra’s special day (particularly the ones of the maids with the giant balloons – how fabulous are they!)
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Helen Russell Photography.
debra says: We got engaged at Gleneagles on 22nd April 2012. Richard had booked a surprise weekend away. I had no idea! The day we arrived we used the spa and had a bite to eat. Later, we got dressed ready for dinner and took a walk in the grounds. Richard proposed to me by the fountain, and I said yes! It was lovely. When we went back inside we were taken to a reserved table where Richard had arranged for a special bottle of champagne to be waiting for us, then we ate dinner in the restaurant and celebrated with some cocktails afterwards. We enjoyed a very special time at Gleneagles. For me, it was one of the most memorable and happy weekends of my life!
We got married on 25th May 2015. We both liked the idea of getting married in Bowness in The Lake District as it’s a place that we have frequently visited since we started dating almost eight years ago. As we both love spring time we decided on a date in May. Timing it on a bank holiday also allowed our family and friends more time to travel to The Lake District and we thought it would be more relaxing for everyone.
Our chosen wedding venue was Linthwaite House in Bowness-on-Windermere. We chose our venue as it’s located in the area we have been visiting regularly since we met. Linthwaite House is in a truly beautiful setting with stunning views over Lake Windermere and we were fortunate to be able to take over the hotel and exclusively use it for our wedding. Linthwaite House offered everything we were looking for and we felt it was the idyllic, intimate wedding venue for us to enjoy with all of our guests.
We didn’t have a particular theme, although I’d say our wedding style was romantic and elegant. My flowers were made up with a range of different roses in soft pastel shades and featured David Austin roses. Other little details such as the vintage postcards, signage and table plan I made myself with the help of my mam and sister added to the feel of the day. To introduce a bit of sparkle I wore a diamante headpiece and cuff. The bridesmaids’ dresses and shoes also had a hint of sparkle and they each wore diamante slides, earrings and bracelets.
Our colour scheme was made up of soft pastel colours, mainly soft spring greens and pale pinks, purely because I wanted it to look clean, fresh and romantic.
My dress was by Justin Alexander and I purchased it from Mia Sposa in Newcastle. I chose the dress because it was elegant and I loved how the fabric felt. It was a fitted ivory duchess satin dress which tailed out slightly at the bottom. I loved that it was plain and featured some subtle diamante details on the shoulders and a scoop back with buttons all the way down the chapel length train. I also wore a plain chapel length veil which I loved. My shoes were by Rainbow and were very plain mid-heeled ivory court shoes. It all felt lovely on and I was very comfortable.
Richard wore a stylish three-piece suit, tie, socks and shoes from Reiss which we purchased in Leeds.
We booked the transport for me to get from Linthwaite House to the church and back through Lakeland Wedding Cars. I ordered an ivory coloured 1947 silver wraith.
Our photographer was the amazing Helen Russell! Richard already knew Helen and she was the first person we contacted regarding photography. We didn’t consider anyone else and I could not recommend Helen highly enough. She is friendly, professional and has a great eye. Helen is without a doubt an excellent photographer and I would assure any couple getting married that she is brilliant at what she does. I had 100 per cent confidence that Helen would capture our wedding day perfectly in the images she’d create, and she did just that.
Kerry at The Floristry in Kendal provided all of the flowers at our wedding and she was great! My four bridesmaids and I carried bouquets. These were made up of soft country pastel peonies, hydrangea and David Austin roses. My flower girl carried a pomander made up of similar flowers. Richard wore a button hole made up of peony, hydrangea plus greenery and the groomsmen wore smaller versions with foliage. The mum’s wore corsages in the same flowers and colours.
Kerry provided eight table arrangements at our wedding reception which were made up with the same type of flowers that I carried in my bouquet. The table arrangements were displayed in glass stands with some flowers overflowing. Kerry also provided a fresh floral display for the newel post in Linthwite House, fresh flowers for the top of our wedding cake and ribbons trails for the church gate. The church florist meanwhile provided soft clean pale coloured fresh flowers inside the church, which were mainly ivory roses.
The decorations at our wedding included wicker hearts which were placed in the entrance to the church and on the pew ends. We had paper pom poms in the trees and floral vintage bunting placed in and around the outside of the venue. I did a little DIY and made the confetti cones, the table plan, the table name cards, tags for the favours and other decorative signage.
The ladies favour was ‘a love nest’ – a set of miniature ceramic love bird salt and pepper shakers presented in a box. The men each had a miniature bottle of spirit and the junior guests had a Cadbury’s Freddo sweet tree and colouring books.
A friend made our delicious three-tier wedding cake which I designed myself using the same lace and ribbon which I used to create our ‘message in a bottle’ vintage themed wedding invitations. We chose three flavours, fruit for the bottom tier, lemon sponge in the middle and chocolate on the top. Delicious!
Canapes were served upon our arrival at the Linthwaite House with celebratory drinks of prosecco. For our wedding breakfast we had pea and smoked Cumbrian ham risotto topped with a crispy hens egg to start, roast sirloin of beef, fondant potato, mushroom duxelle, onion puree in a red wine jus for main and baked lemon tart with raspberries and raspberry sorbet for dessert. To finish the meal we had coffee and petit fours, which included salted caramel, peppermint cream, dark chocolate and pecan nut fudge. On the evening we had hot bacon and sausage baps and the wedding cake was also served during this time.
To provide entertainment we chose a local North East band called The Rattlers, who travelled from Sunderland to play at our wedding. We then had local a DJ in the evening named DJ Travis who was recommended to us by Linthwaite House. We also had a wedding wishing tree and small sweet buffet during the evening reception.
Others suppliers we used that we would recommend are Imelda Lantern, who provided our tea lights for the tables, and Balloons in the Lakes, who supplied some large ivory balloons to be used as photo props. These were excellent!
The entire day was perfect but leaving the church as Mr and Mrs was definitely our favourite part. We thoroughly enjoyed the photography too as it allowed us to spend some precious time on our own and reflect on our special day together.
For our honeymoon we went to California. It was amazing! We travelled to San Francisco and on the first day cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was fantastic. We then hired a car there and drove onto Pebble Beach where Richard played golf. I walked around the course with him as the scenery was so incredibly beautiful. Our next destination was Los Angeles, which is where I found out that we were expecting a baby (Freddie was born on 8th February 2015 weighing 8lb 0.5oz and is just perfect – we are completely besotted with him). After a few days we drove onto San Diego and finished up in Las Vegas. All excellent places and well worth a visit. A very memorable holiday to top off our wedding. It was all a truly magical experience.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to enjoy the lead up to your wedding as it is all part and parcel of your special day. Take your time when making your choices and decisions and most of all trust your own judgement. It’s amazing to see everything come together. On the day, relax and take it all in. It’s the most wonderful day of your lives.
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June 15th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s couple had their heart set on their chosen wedding venue from the moment they viewed its website – and looking at the images below we can see why.
Meols Hall provided a wonderful rustic setting for Ben and Jen’s romantic big day with its exposed brick walls and large wooden beams tying in perfectly with the couple’s moss-green colour scheme.
To complete the desired look they added natural flower displays and a gorgeous naked wedding cake – rustic romance at its best!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
jen says: We got engaged in May 2012. It was a while back but we’ve never been a couple to rush things: we got together in 2004! Ben arranged a long weekend break to Paris for my 28th birthday. It was not the most original choice, but Ben was going for the double-bluff!
We had a wonderful time seeing the sights, but it wasn’t until the last day when Ben proposed. We went to Sacre Coeur on top of Montmatre (the telescope scene from Amelie, with a sweeping view of Paris). Despite us having been partners for more than seven years, Ben was shaking with nerves, and it ended up being a very emotional moment for both of us. He gave me a platted string ring that turned out to be impossible to put on! Ben knew that I would appreciate a say in the choice of ring so he was waiting until we could go ring shopping together.
We set the date for 28th March 2015. I’m a primary school teacher, so it coincided with the start of the Easter Holidays. We had a hearts set on the venue, and it was one of the very few dates left for 2015 that worked well for me.
Our chosen wedding venue was Meols Hall in Churchtown, Southport. Not far from Wigan, where my family live. We fell in love with it as soon as we saw their website. It is a wonderfully tasteful barn conversion that is more rustic than ostentatious. After we’d seen it, my parents went to visit it, and we were thrilled to hear that it was as beautiful in real life as it was in the website’s pictures.
We had a relatively informal feel to the day. We didn’t want things to be straight-laced and serious. It really helped us – we were as relaxed as we could have been throughout the day.
Our order of service matched the style of our invites. They were both designed by a close friend of ours and featured a collage of fonts and black and white photos of Ben and I. As we both now live in London we also had a London Underground theme on the day. We wanted to bring a bit of the south up north! Our table names were stations in London that have meaning to both of us. The table plan was presented with an old London Underground map. We wrote funny(ish) short blurbs of why we had chosen the stations on the flip side of the table signs, to help break the ice on the tables.
We went with a moss green colour scheme, to complement the rustic venue, but to also go well with my hair.
I wore a beautiful Justin Alexander dress which I bought from Angelica Bridal in London. It was simple, elegant and covered in lace. I absolutely loved it! I added a moss green belt with a lace applique to fit in with the theme which I’m really glad about because I think it made the dress come alive.
On the wedding day Samantha Marshall did my makeup. It was fantastic and made me look glamourous yet natural! I would highly recommend her. Meanwhile, one of my oldest friends, and now professional hair stylist, Nicola Farrell, made my hair look wonderful! She plaited gypsum into the back which fit beautifully with the tasteful flower arrangements at the venue.
Ben didn’t want to hire a morning suit because he wanted something he could be proud of wearing over and over again. He found a tailored-fit three piece dark grey suit from T M Lewin that fit like a glove. He wore a luxury wide-collared plain white dress shirt from M&S and a well-matching moss green tie from Debenhams. The grooms and my dad wore the same suits as Ben.
My bridesmaids wore a moss green dress from Monsoon. They were a bargain and looked amazing!
We hired a London cab to take us to the venue on the wedding day. We didn’t have any money left in the budget to hire a posh car, plus it fitted in with the London theme perfectly!
James Tracey was our wedding photographer. His ethos mirrored our intentions for the day perfectly. The photos on his website were of a very high quality, but what set him apart was the imaginative, playful and natural feel that they had. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough. He was unobtrusive and a lot of fun to be with throughout the wedding day, and we now have a gallery-worthy selection of photos of our special day to cherish for the rest of our lives.
I had a beautiful and simple bouquet of callow lily, white rose and gypsum. It was provided by a florist that Meols Hall deal exclusively with, called Mary Ambrose who provided flowers for the whole day.
Flowers were all white and mirrored the bouquet: callow lily, rose and gypsum. We were given a wonderful degree of choice for all aspects of the flower decorations, and Mary gave us exactly what we asked for. She was fantastic.
We didn’t give favours out on the day and instead are donating a sum to the National Brain Appeal. This was in appreciation of the work they and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery did for a close friend of ours, who sadly passed away two years ago after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
For our wedding cake, we chose a slightly asymmetric naked Victoria sponge. It was based on a photo we had seen on the internet and was baked by All About Cakes in Southport. They recreated it perfectly and it tasted delicious!
Carringtons Catering deal with Meols Hall exclusively, so we chose a hot buffet with them for our wedding meal. We also chose a vegan stew to cater for Ben and a few other vegetarians. Before the meal we had canapés, and being a Wiganer, we had to have pies and peas for the evening celebrations!
When it came to choosing entertainment, we listened to a lot of bands online before stumbling across Toni James. She sounded head and shoulders better than anything else we had heard, so chose her instantly. Although Toni provided us with the option of having a bigger band accompanying her, a pesky sound limiter at the venue meant that we couldn’t really have more than a four-piece. We were anxious about what sound they would be able to make, but they absolutely rocked! They normally play a lot of pop music, but Ben is a big fan of funk and soul. They had enough in their repertoire to make him very happy, and even learnt Erma Franklin’s Piece of My Heart for the evening.
In addition, a friend of mine, Zoe Baldwin, is an opera singer, and she very kindly agreed to sing three arias during the signing of the register. Our guests – and the registrars – all appeared spellbound! It made the ceremony very special indeed.
As extra entertainment, we had little fun activities after the ceremony. There was a Polaroid camera and some old-fashioned fair games, like hoopla and a sweet stall, all made possible by our wonderful friends who created and operated everything.
We would absolutely recommend our venue to other couples! It was a stunning back-drop, with the whole day based in the one location. There was enough space to make it suitable for all weather possibilities. Also, the staff at Meols Hall were friendly, relaxed and professional, and helped the day progress seamlessly.
It is hard to choose to favourite part of the day as we had a few; saying our vows which we wrote ourselves, listening to Zoe sing, and dancing the night away whilst eating a pie! Heaven!
For our honeymoon we went to Marrakech for five days. It was incredible. We stayed in a beautiful, scented and tranquil Riad just a few minutes’ walk of the main market. We took in the sights and sounds, bartered in the souks, ate like kings, pampered ourselves in one of the best spas the city had to offer and caught up on some much needed sleep! Although it flies by, no-one tells you how tiring your wedding day will be.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to relax and enjoy yourself. As our photographer said, you get to be a rock star for the day – make the most of it! Also, use your friends and their talents. It made it really special, personal and unique.
We are hugely grateful to everyone who helped make our wedding the magical day that it was. In particular, my parents who gave so much of themselves on the day and the months leading up to it.
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