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 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime
The days might officially be getting shorter, but look on the bright side Brides Up North, that just means lots of beautiful summer celebrations to recap on these pretty pages.
This morning we’re starting the week off in beautiful Northumberland, and paying a visit to the Alnwick Treehouse and Alnwick Garden (where Brides Up North is very proud to be hosting our gorgeous Luxury & Vintage Wedding Exhibition on Sunday 5th October 2014, are you coming?).
Frankie and Chris’s colourful, natural, boho inspired wedding is bright and beautiful with authentic personal styling. Let the love grow indeed…
With images by Wildhearts and Wishes Photography, with second shooter Jacqui Grigg.
Frankie says: We got engaged on 3 February 2013. The short and romantic version is that, one Sunday night, we went for a walk and Chris proposed along the banks of Thames in the old Naval College in Greenwich, underneath a 19th century lamp post. The longer, more accurate and less romantic story is that Chris proposed one Sunday night whilst wearing sweat pants in the house in the middle of an argument… a quick change into some nicer clothes and a short walk to our favourite location and we made it official against a more romantic setting!
We got married on Saturday 21st June 2014 at St Paul’s RC Catholic Church, Alnwick. The drinks reception and wedding breakfast was then in Alnwick Treehouse, before moving across to Alnwick Gardens for the evening do.
In terms of deciding location we knew we wanted somewhere meaningful to us so we started looking in three locations. 1) Greenwich in London where we have been living for 2 ½ years and where we got engaged, 2). Newcastle where we started living together for the first time, 3). Northumberland where we had both grown up and met.
We only looked round a few venues in London to know that something was missing, and that something was the North East. When we looked round venues in Newcastle and Northumberland we knew straight away that that was where we should say our vows.
Having limited our choices to the North East, we were then still indecisive so greedily ended up choosing three venues instead of one! Having both been brought up Roman Catholic, we were always going to get married in a RC Church. We chose St Paul’s not only because of its location and its beautiful atheistic, but because we really gelled with the priest. He was so supportive and down to earth; he sealed the deal for us!
We specifically chose Alnwick Gardens and Treehouse, as not only were they wonderfully characterful and beautiful venues in their own right, but because they also afforded us with the freedom and scope to reflect some of ourselves in the day. Additionally, personalities played a part in helping us make our final venue choices, as the venue managers who showed us round both venues Arthur (at the Gardens) and David and Wendy (at the Treehouse) were both so friendly, accommodating and quirky that we knew they would understand the feel we were trying to create for the day.
We tried to ensure it was a feminist wedding – my Mum and Dad walked me down the aisle, but neither of them ‘gave me away’; my sister did a speech so that it was not an all male line up; and we changed some of the wording in the wedding ceremony to make it more ‘inclusive’.
Our themes/styles were quite broad; we wanted them to reflect our personalities and shared loves. In terms of style, we wanted to create a relaxed, free spirited (hence the no ties!) and environmentally conscious vibe (hence the tree planting, seed packet favour and recycled white-gold wedding ring).
Theme wise, it was primarily (a) music, to reflect our shared love of music; and (b) floral country garden to reflect our love of rural Northumberland and my love of big floral prints. So as long as it was bright, colourful and fun, it was in!
My dress was ‘Harper’ Rue De Seine. I fell in love with it because it fitted the feel of both venues as well as my personal tastes; it combined both the bohemian, ethereal feel of the Treehouse with its flowing, loose fitting shape, whilst also encompassing the elegance and beauty of the Gardens through the beautifully detailed 1920’s style embellishments on the capped sleeves and midriff.
Both my mum and the lovely ladies in Luella’s Boudoir in Wimbledon Village must take a lot of credit for helping me choose my dress and I will be forever grateful to them for doing so. My shoes I bought online from Etsy. They were embellished in an art deco design that matched the style of the dress.
The groom and groomsmen all wore grey, slim fit, limited edition suits from Marks and Spencer with white shirts. Both Chris and I met whilst working in Marker and Spencer 8 years ago so it seemed fitting that they should be part of day in some way, as without M&S our romance never would have happened! In keeping with Chris’ laid-back style and personality, the collars were all open necked.
The bridesmaids wore green and blue floral mix and match 1950’s swing style dresses. The dresses were bespoke; designed and made by a local seamstress in my hometown, Morpeth (The Sewing Box). The material was Liberty of London, Lawn Denise Eva that I found in a fabric shop in London ClothHouse.
We hired a 28 seater 1940’s gray and white former RAF bus from a local bus enthusiast in Northumberland. The owner of the bus does not run a business; he just does it for pleasure so we were really lucky to find him.
Our photographer was Paula Smart from Wildhearts and Wishes Photography.
We would absolutely recommend Paula. Her photos are beautifully natural, understated and artistic. We loved her laid-back, genuine style both in her photos and as a personality. She was so thorough, accommodating and on the day, fitted in entirely with us so that photos were built around the day rather than dictated the day.
Our florist was Christine from Lavenders Blue in Morpeth. I have been going to Christine’s shop since I was 3 years old (she even taught my mum floristry) so it was nice to have that personal and local link in the day.
My bouquet was a loose posy of wildflowers, including: blue delphiniums, pink freesia, gypsophlia, blue thistle, pink stock, clematis vine, ivory freesia and green bells, tied with ivory satin ribbon. In my hair I had a garland of flowers made with the vine of green bells with pink stock, pink freesia bud, blue delphinium and gypsophlia.
The bridesmaids had simple bouquets of gysophila to offset the patterns on their dresses.
Christine arranged our flowers for the church and for both venues. In the church we had 2 pedestals containing blue delphinium, hydrangea, lilac stock, green trailing amaranthus, viburnum opulus, thistle and astrantia. On the end of the pews, we had 16 jam jars – which we had hand decorated with craft and manuscript paper and flowers. These jam jars were then used on the tables at the treehouse.
In the Gardens we used an eclectic selection of containers (vases, tea cups, jugs etc) that belonged to ourselves or members of our families, including family heirlooms such as a jug that was a wedding present to my granny. These included the same selection of flowers as the jam jars. We also had vintage style buckets and watering cans filled with pink and blue hydrangeas dotted around all the venue which we provided ourselves.
Decorations wise, we had a mix of multicoloured pom poms, floral print lanterns and distressed white wooden lanterns with nightlights.
In the treehouse, our wedding favours were also our table settings. We had mini-jam jars filled with raspberry and plum jam that had been made by my Granny. Each jar had a hand stamped label attached to it with a guests name on one side and ‘Thank you from Frankie and Chris: Spread The Love’ on the other side’.
At the evening do we had seed packets for wedding favours. We planted a tree in the gardens, and had a washing line of string marking out the area, with seed packets on it. The speed packets were hand stamped with ‘Frankie and Chris: Grow the Love’.
We chose an ‘All You Need is Love’ Beatles themed cake as part of our music theme, as well as because we loved its vibrant, psychedelic feel. It was made by A Symphony in Sugar, a fantastic local couple based in Cramlington.
Chris is a musician so various combinations of his old band and a band that was born out of that provided the music on the day. And of course, Chris was playing too! The tunes were a combination acoustic soul in the first set and punk rock-fused crowd pleasers in the second set – it went down a treat! Dominic Murphy pulled it all together. He has fifteen years experience as a musician working all over the North East in original, covers and function bands. It was great to have our friends involved in the day like this – it produced a very personal connection.
The music theme started as early as in the church, so we walked in and out to two of our favourite songs: ‘Sweet Disposition’ by the Temper Trap on the way in and ‘You Make my Dreams Come True’ by Hall & Oats on the way out. This really made the service come to life and be very personal to us. Plus it really got the party started early when we walked out to Hall & Oats with the congregation waving wedding wands with bells on!
In the Treehouse, we had a little room called the Roost, which we renamed ‘the sound track to our story.’ In this room we had all the key songs that had formed part of our story growing up and then together as a couple. As this music was playing there was also a slide show of photos of both of us over the years chronicling our stories to the present day, which my mum had put together.
The handmade seating plan was also part of the music theme, with every table being named after one of out favourite songs. The table names were displayed on vinyl CDs that were hung from an old 1930’s suitcase that belonged to my Great Grandpa.
We used etsy quite a bit, particularly for thank you presents for the wedding party and wedding stationary. If you have an idea, however quirky, etsy will have it. There are some amazingly individual suppliers.
Wendy from Just Perfect in Cramlington was particularly helpful. She stocks a range of products from lots of local suppliers as well as hires accessories.
To tempt people out into the garden to begin with we planted a tree. As die hard romantics (and a historian) we loved the concept that however fleeting the day was; there would always be a part of our wedding in Alnwick Garden and that future generations of our family can visit our tree long after we are gone. We also felt that we were so lucky to be celebrating such a wonderful day with our friends and family that by planting a tree we were in some way putting something back into the environment.
My favourite moment was after the ceremony, Chris and I went to the beach for a few photographs. The beach was quite secluded and despite being a public place and us being quite conspicuously dressed it felt like it was just the two of us. It was a lovely personal time, in what was a brilliant but busy day, with a beautiful setting.
Also, I would have to say Chris’s fabulous speech was a highlight. As was seeing him coming alive by being reunited with his old band mates and seeing how much he enjoyed performing with them and how much people enjoyed his performance.
For our honeymoon we went to Montenegro. We wanted something that offered a bit of everything (history, culture, café culture, beaches and outdoor activities) and had been meaning to go Eastern Europe for a while. Montenegro offers so much variety within a fairly small area. Two days in Kotor with its café culture and beautiful, 15th century preserved surroundings, two days in Petrovac on the coast for some beach time and a week in rural and unspoiled Virpazar on an adventure holiday through Undiscovered Montenegro – hiking, kayaking, wine tasting and bike rides.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t be afraid to deviate from what is considered tradition and the standard wedding format. Make sure the day reflects you; don’t conform to something that doesn’t mean anything to you on the one day that is solely about you both. You get out what you put in!
September 26th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Hey, hey its only bloomin’ Friday! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a breather.
Lets get out in the fresh air and join Joanne and Brendan for their fresh and vibrant countryside wedding.
Just what the doctor ordered.
With images by Brides Up North Featured Supplier, James Tracey Photography.
Joanne says: We got engaged at The Abode Hotel, Chester on the 17th February 2012.
Brendan left for work early one morning as normal. I got up an hour later, walked to the bathroom and found an envelope taped to the door! In the envelope was a letter from Brendan explaining how I wasn’t going to work that day as he had booked it off for me (with the help of my friend at work). I was told to pack a bag for a night away and would be picked up at 11am. Brendan had even included the weather forecast for the mystery location so I could plan as well as a menu for a restaurant we were going to that night! Brendan picked me up as planned (he’d had to hang around in Tesco for four hours!) and we set off…I still didn’t know where we were going. Eventually it became clear we were heading for Chester.
We went for an amazing lunch at Piccolino’s, complete with Prosecco! We then made our way to The Abode Hotel by the racecourse, checking into an amazing luxury bedroom! I started unpacking my bag and could hear Brendan rustling through his and I thought “What is he doing?!” Next thing I hear is Brendan say, “Joanne”. I turned around and he was on one knee! “You know I don’t have a way with words…will you marry me?”
Brendan has since told me that he got a bit worried because it took a while for me to say yes between the tears!
We got married at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Chorley, Lancashire on Friday 20th June 2014. The church has always been special to me as my Grandma used to take me there when I young and her funeral was held there as well as our Niece’s Christening. The inside of the Church is absolutely gorgeous and Father Stanley is really down to earth and approachable.
We had our reception at Marsh Farm Hall in Great Eccleston. We went for this venue due to Brendan wanting to organise all of the catering at the wedding himself! Brendan has worked in the catering industry all of his life and has run so many weddings, so his had to be the best he’s ever done. Marsh Farm Hall allowed him to plan the whole food service from scratch!
We went for a vintage/shabby chic look to fit in with the style of our reception venue. The hall itself is a gorgeous bare-stone wall room, with a beautiful bar area. There is so much land surrounding the property, which made it an easy choice to go for natural colours. I made all of the wedding stationery myself with the help of my Sister, using Kraft card, cream lace and hessian string. I can change my mind with colours quite a lot so I didn’t want to go with a colour in case I went off it! We also thought a neutral theme would suit the venue.
My dress was Amanda Wyatt “Felicia”. I had no idea what style I wanted and went with a completely open mind. It worked though as it was the one and only shop I went to! The Felicia was the last dress I spotted on the way to the changing room and the first I tried on… none of the others compared to it (luckily my sister is very honest and would just laugh when a dress didn’t suit me)! I loved everything about it – the fit, the lace overlay and just enough sparkle!
I carried a simple ball of gypsophila (Baby’s Breath) bouquet, from Flowers in Thyme based at Heskin Hall in Chorley.
Brendan got his suit from Slaters in Preston. He went for a grey suit with tails, with a cream waistcoat. To keep it a bit more modern, he opted for a tie instead of cravat. He looked so handsome.
Our bridesmaids (both of Brendan’s sisters, with my sister as maid of honour) wore dresses from Monsoon. They were a cornflower blue. Our flower girl, Eva (our Niece) wore a gorgeous little dress with sewn on flowers with diamantes from Debenhams.
Both of our Dad’s and Brendan’s groomsmen, including our Nephew, Lennon who was pageboy, wore the same suit as Brendan’s but with grey waistcoats. All of their ties and pocket handkerchiefs were specially made to match the bridesmaid colours (it turned out to be a nightmare to try and match the colour).
James Tracey did our photographs. I found James on the internet about a year before the wedding and his photos stood out.
We could not praise or recommend him enough! For a couple who aren’t really comfortable in front of the camera, we chose James for his natural style of photographs, getting the shots without people realising it. He made us feel so relaxed on the day and even managed to get Eva to pose!
We used gypsophila wreaths inside the birdcages (from Dunelm) on the tables. We also had small vases of gypsophila along the top table. I bought the vases from Home Bargains (they definitely were bargains at 50p a vase!) and Flowers in Thyme dressed them for us.
The tables and chairs were dressed by Create and Cherish – Incorporating Cherish Wedding Services from Chorley. As I didn’t want to have a colour in the theme, I wanted to keep things neutral. Kirsten was so helpful in working out which fabrics would work. The room looked amazing! We had lace on the chairs with brooches on each one.
We became a bit stuck about what to get as favours, knowing we wouldn’t really find anything that would suit men and women, so instead we went for something that would look good on the tables and were a bit different! We went to Birkacre Garden Centre in Chorley and ordered a mixture of 60 herb plants. Our Mums then re-potted them into some terracotta pots we bought online. The Groomsmen then had the job to wrap them with cellophane the night before… speedily so they could watch the England match!
Five of our Grandparents are no longer with us, but we wanted them to a part of the day. We got some photos of them all and put them together with a message “We know you’d be here today if Heaven wasn’t so far away”. This was proudly displayed at the entrance door.
The food is where Brendan came into his own! I knew this was where I had to take a step back and completely trust his ideas. We both love our food so Brendan took a lot of time over choosing the perfect menu including Chicken Liver Parfait, Fillet of Beef (accompanied by a Herb Rosti, Glazed Parmentier Potatoes, Chantenay Carrots and Baby Asparagus with a Red Wine Jus) and Lemon Possett, washed down with a selection of cheeses, coffee and chocolates.
With the help from my Dad and his friend Ahmed, Brendan made mini “wine crates” for the starter to be served in. He ordered personalised stencils with “Quirke Dootson Est. 2004 Blackpool” (we met in 2004 in Blackpool). They were amazing! They also doubled up as another favour for guests to take away.
The meal absolutely blew everyone away! Paul (the chef) did us so proud and we could not have had a more perfect meal!
Our guests had red and white wine on the tables. The white was Quirky Bird Chenin Blanc Semillon Muscat – I spotted it in Tesco and loved the fact I was about to become a “Quirky Bird” (surname Quirke!) so had to have it! It turned out to be quite a nice wine too! Our red was the only wine I have managed to get Brendan to drink with me…Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva.
For the toast we had Blanc de Bleu sparkling wine. My dad and I are huge Manchester City fans, so this was my only way I was allowed to get blue into the wedding!
We bought a few outdoor games, including Twister for the kids (and bigger kids!) to play with to make the most of the nice weather!
We chose a DJ Brendan has worked with quite a lot, so knew how good he was, Paul Atkinson from Ice Entertainment. He was brilliant, even mingled with guests on the dance floor! He got a great mix of music which meant the dance floor was full most of the night!
We also had a photo booth in the evening, from Boothtube. Being a City fan… I sneaked Joe Hart and Yaya Toure masks into the accessories box!
We would definitely recommend Marsh Farm Hall – for any event!
Emma and her family were so helpful, letting Brendan get on with the set up and helping out when needed. We even had comments from family and friends about how nice Emma was and how she couldn’t do enough for everyone on the day.
They even got us a couple of presents – a newspaper from the day we got married and a bottle of wine with a personalised label.
We just need an excuse for another party there!
Our parents were an amazing help running up to the wedding… without them and all of their help the day would not have been as amazing as it was!
For our honeymoon, we had two weeks in Cala Llonga, Ibiza at the Fiesta Hotel Cala Llonga.
Brendan and I went on our first holiday together in Ibiza ten years earlier and fell in love with it! On that holiday, we went on a boat trip round to Cala Llonga one day – after booking the honeymoon we found a picture of Brendan in the sea, with our honeymoon hotel in the background.
As a treat for Brendan, I booked us tickets to watch Lily Allen at Ibiza Rocks. My sister and her partner then gave us some money as our wedding present, with strict instructions to get Tiny Tempah tickets too (my treat!)! We had such a great time on the VIP balcony!
My top tips for other Brides Up North would be to take in every minute! It’s scary how quickly it can all become a blur! Make sure your Groom doesn’t throw out his speech… I would love to be able to read Brendan’s again, and make sure you get plenty of photos (even selfies!) with all your loved ones.
September 23rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
I’m looking forward to joining my friend and Brides Up North Featured Supplier Cat Hepple to host a question and answer session at her Editorial Wedding Workshop this afternoon.
Nerves? Nah, I’m saving those for this.
Whilst I’m off on official duties, I thought I’d leave this especially sweetLeeds based DIY vintage travel themed wedding in my pace for you to enjoy. Jess and Sam styled their big day their way, to beautiful and individual effect. Super cool.
With images by Mark Dolby Photography.
Jess says: Sam proposed after an amazing evening out in Leeds. The story starts with an unfortunate incident of a pair of my tights getting stuck to chewing gum on a seat in a bar – they compensated us by gifting us a bottle of wine and we decided to make a night of it! We went for a few drinks and then some amazing tapas. When we left the restaurant Sam realised he had left his scarf in one of the earlier bars so on the way back we had to cross the Millennium Bridge in Leeds. He got out some photos of us at various places we’d been to since we got together and some pegs out of his pocket and suggested we count the bars on the bridge and peg photos to them. Once we ran out of photos we hit a bar with a padlock on it. The padlock had our initials on it and the lyrics from a Weezer song – “I think I’d be good for you, and you’d be good for me” when I turned to look at Sam he was down on one knee with a ring asking if I’d marry him.
We got married on 16th August 2014 at the iconic Town Hall and had our reception at the beautiful Leeds Club on Albion Place. We chose the Leeds Club because it’s a gorgeous building with amazing features. The Leeds Club also blew us away with their organisational skills. We wanted somewhere with an old soul but could throw a great party and I think we cracked it with the Leeds Club.
Our wedding had a travel theme to it. We chose travel as a theme as it is one of our shared passions in life. In the first 2 months of getting together we flew from Leeds to California to see Weezer play and that set the tone for the rest of our relationship.
All the flowers were made from old maps, this included table flowers, bouquet and buttonholes. The centrepieces were placed on squares made of material with maps on them. All the tables were named after cities we had visited and our table plan was on a map. Our invitations and programmes were designed like airline paper.
We didn’t have a particular colour scheme but because of our travel theme, the maps and the blue and red airline paper did play a part in dictating colours. I decided to use maps for the flowers because they would add pattern and colour to the bloom without being uniform or too prescribed.
My wedding dress was Sia by Coast. I tried on probably around 50 dresses and couldn’t find one that had the right balance of being bridal but practical. Then I found Coast! I was in love with the Sia dress but they didn’t have any more in my size across the country. The personal shopper called every store across England but it wasn’t in stock. But luckily someone was selling one on eBay in my size. With a few alterations to the length, it was perfect!
My shoes were from Irregular Choice. They are my favourite shoe brand and loved seeing them peep out from under my dress as we walked through town!
Sam’s suit was a favourite he has from Marks and Spencer. He bought the matching waistcoat and then chose a snappy shirt from Next. His shirt was a beautiful geometric pattern in red and white with a red tie. Sam had a tan belt and same colour shoes from Berwick’s.
Sam is really keen on ethical purchasing so he gave a lot of his choices a lot of thought and this included his underwear. In the end Sam chose items from ‘Pants To Poverty’. These became quite a talking point at the reception when I mentioned them in my speech!
As explained, I carried a bouquet that I had made from maps. I got designs from various craft blogs online and over a few nights perfected my flower crafting. My bouquet had about 50 flowers in it made from maps. I bought a shoebox of maps from eBay and used about 90% of the contents. The rest of the maps can be useful for our next adventure!
We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen but I did make buttonholes for all the family so they could have them in their hair (for the ladies) or in their suits (for the gents). Sam’s Dad also chose the same shirt and tie combo as Sam. That was a lovely touch.
I travelled from our home in Leeds to the Town Hall with my brother, sister and brother’s girlfriend in Mercedes town car that we booked. It was an E Class and very plush. Then between the Town Hall and the Leeds Club we walked between the venues. We had a few girl ushers (or Gushers, as I nicknamed them) to help guide guests as to the venue.
This was a lot of fun because another wedding had booked a Rolls Royce that was sat outside the Town Hall when we left and everyone expected us to get in. As we walked off everyone was very confused! Eventually as people started to cotton on that it wasn’t our car they then convinced us to go back for photos! So to the couple that paid for that car- if you see any photos of us by the side of your Rolls on your wedding day- I am so sorry!
It was great that we did walk though as luckily on that day Fosters were doing a promotion and giving out cans of beer right between our two venues! All our guests got a freebie on the walk between. People kept thanking us for arranging it!
Our photographer was Mark Dolby and he was incredible. He was so much a part of the day he was like a guest- but he was also doing all the work! He arrived hours before we had booked him so that he could be prepared and stayed much later than we agreed because we over ran! He made us feel so comfortable and happy. He captured loads of amazing natural and reportage style shots, which is exactly what we wanted. We had a few classic group shots but we were sold on his style of ‘in the moment’ photos and they were absolutely amazing. Thank you so much Mark!
He also had around 85 photos ready for us to look through by the meal time so that they could be on a slide show in the bar at the Leeds Club- the guests loved it and kept complementing us on what lovely photos. Plus they felt famous being on the big screen in a gorgeous bar!
I made a centrepiece for each of the tables, which included a table name on a luggage tag that was displayed in an empty bottle of beer. Sam is a beer connoisseur so he chose each beer bottle carefully! There were a lot of samples for that decoration!
Around each table name there were three bottles with my map flowers placed inside and candles. All of this was also placed on a square of map material. We also had maps cut into hearts sprinkled onto each table as table confetti. Each guest had their place name on a luggage tag that I had sewn with some map material.
For our cards and guest book table there were more flowers made of maps and a suitcase for cards. The suitcase came from my friend’s house when they moved in and must be over 50 years old. I also made the cards bunting sign from old maps.
Sam’s Mum gave me some decorations from his Grandmother’s wedding in 1947. They also were used in Sam’s parent’s wedding so I framed them so that they could have a special place in our wedding.
I made most the decorations myself but the Leeds Club put all of them out. They were so helpful! We delivered all the bits on Friday morning with set up instructions and they put them out perfectly!
We are in love with this bakery called That Old Chestnut in Leeds. It is a vegan bakery and they basically work in cake magic. The first time we tried their cake at a fair in Leeds we knew we would have them! The question was what flavour cake! In the end we couldn’t decide so we had 6!
Triple Chocolate, Stem Ginger, Lemon Drizzle, Carrot, Coffee and Walnut and Chocolate Torte.
We were a bit nervous we had gone overboard on the cake so we provided cake-away boxes in case anyone wanted to take some home and by the end of the night there was nothing but some crumbs (which I ate while we were saying “bye” to our last guests!).
We didn’t do favours but we did have a lot of cake and let people take any of the table flowers home with them. There wasn’t any table flowers by the end of the party and lots of guests had worked them into their hair. It was fantastic! That was exactly what we hoped!
We chose a hot fork buffet by the Leeds Club because we like the informal style of choosing from a buffet on the day but knew that a hot meal would be needed! The food was delicious; when we came for a menu tasting we were so excited!! We provided wines through Sam’s Mum and Dad. They introduced us to this brilliant Pinot Noir from Aldi and a Spanish White wine that Sam’s mum loves.
Our DJs were incredible. I know them from my work and they really did us a massive favour by DJing. The speeches over ran so they couldn’t get into the room to set up the equipment until an hour late, but they still started the party on time.
I first met one of the DJs when I hired him for a job in the bar I worked in when he was 18 and a few months old- he is now working on his PhD in Southampton and came back to Leeds just to DJ for us!
Sam and I went out for some last minute portraits before our first dance and when we came back the dance floor was packed- we had to clear a space for the first which was Diana Ross’ “Upside Down”.
After our first dance everyone was back on the floor and didn’t stop until the end. Even then there were chants for “one more tune!” A big thanks to Aarran Shaw and Sam Ryder for accommodating us!
We added lots of special touches to our day, but two stand out in particular.
I did a speech at our wedding. I think it is becoming more common for Bride’s to speak at their wedding and I can see why. It is so great to add your different perspective on the day and what you had thought in the run up. It was also great because I could mention some of the important people who couldn’t be there for various reasons – like our Grandmothers who I know would have loved to see the day.
We chose two readings at the Town Hall, which really helped personalise the ceremony. Our friends Lauren and Susy read an extract from Dr Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and our friend Dave did an acoustic cover of the Magnetic Fields “The Book of Love” – he put lots of energy in to the final chorus and took it up an octave. The crowd went wild!
The people at the Town Hall were absolutely incredible. The lady who prepared and signed the register with us – Nancy, was retiring after our wedding and it felt so special to be her last couple. As she explained the register to us as we signed our names she had a lump in her throat saying the words. It was an incredible moment.
We would strongly recommend the Leeds Club. It is a beautiful, historic location but also incredibly well placed. Very easy for guests to find but also easy for them to find their hotels! The team at the Leeds Club will also bend over backwards for you. They did so much to help us prepare for our big day- a big thank you especially to Karen Hiscoe, Ellie and Laura.
My favourite part of the day was when Sam and I met before we went to the Town Hall in the Leeds Central Library. It was a bit of a risk as they had previously told us we’d need permission for photos there. I was starting to get nervous when I arrived at the Library and fell up the stairs as I walked in (much hilarity ensued for my siblings!). But when Sam and I saw each other, all the nerves disappeared and we were just so happy.
We took some photos and walked across to the Town Hall. It felt so calm and natural to walk in together with all our friends and family there. The emotions came back as we walked down the aisle though. Truly amazing.
For our honeymoon, we went to one of our most favourite places in the world- Barcelona. Viva Espana! We hired a flat in Barceloneta with a view of the sea and spent the week drinking cava, relaxing on the beach and seeing art! Perfecto! Randomly two of our close friends were also in Barcelona at the time so we had them over for dinner at the flat one night and it was great to get their view on the wedding! Our photographer- Mark, had also been to Barcelona the week before so he gave us some great tips on some art to see.
We loved our wedding so much and had an absolute ball! I have probably a hundred top tips for other Brides Up North. Seeing your partner before you walk down the aisle is so special. Just go with the flow on the day. When we planned the day I was nervous about fitting all the bits in- they didn’t fit in, and it didn’t matter! We were late but that was ok!
Make sure you get plenty of water – it’s amazing how dehydrated you can feel from the nerves.
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.
September 18th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Rachel and James’s lovely wedding in the heart of the Northumberland works with the natural landscape around it to create a beautiful day that just fits. A setting that means something, allowed to shine. And a big dash of countryside glam.
It’s a breath of fresh air for a Thursday afternoon.
With images by Jamie Penfold Photography.
Rachel says: James and I met at a mutual friend wedding in Newcastle, but he lived in Bath and I lived in Northumberland. We spent hours on the phone and we quickly arranged a first date weekend in Bath. After collecting me from the early flight down, we went for breakfast at a cafe under Baths beautiful Pultney bridge, and knew at that point that we were both smitten. 8 years later, we both live in Bath and totally unexpectedly, James proposed under this bridge with a surprise audience of friends watching over and with a ring from a jewellers on Pultney bridge! It was an amazing moment.
We got married on June 27th 2014 in my family church in Northumberland, literally just over the hill from my family home. It’s beautiful countryside and a special place for both of us now so there was no question about it. My 94 year old grandfather drove us over the steep hill from church where we stopped for fizz and photos and we had a the reception back in the garden at the farm. It was my dream wedding.
The Northumberland countryside and my family garden already has so much character and natural beauty, I wanted a theme to work with that but I’m artistic at heart, so wanted to do tradition with a rustic/ vintage twist to compliment the old farm and house. The theme just evolved sticking to using props from the farm such as hessian sacks, old doors, an old Singer table, vintage mirrors… I got carried away with rustic vintage but loved the simple and yet effective finish.
The colour scheme was simple muted white and beige of the crisp white cloths and the beige of the hessian, combined with fresh green and white on the groomsmen and flowers. My bridesmaids were dresses in coral and white lace- which worked well with my dress and the soft flowers.
I love my dress! I chose it from Bella B in Berwick where I have shopped for years for other people’s outfits and where they had made bridesmaid dresses to fit me. Their Friday section is fantastic and I chose my dress easily and they made me a bespoke jacket to cover my shoulders and arms. Like a lot of brides, I had a thing about my arms and as a bit of a traditionalist wanted my shoulders covered in church. I had the best of both works to be able to remove the jacket at night. The dress has beautiful lace and diamond detail, a beautiful train and I matched it up with a few sparkles and a veil. The lace trimmed veil was the finishing touch that made me feel fabulously bridal (and hid a few happy tears going into the church!)
Our flowers were done by a friend but professional based in Northumberland, Sandra Dickenson. I wanted simple and light, so I swayed totally to baby’s breath… everything! Except for my bouquet where I included some peonies. Sandra is so talented and went the extra mile to accommodate my weird and wonderful requests.
James wore traditional tails for a traditional wedding. The button holes matched the hessian and baby’s breath of my bouquet and we had the ties made in a green and blue liberty pattern which was a soft but summery finish. He had a massive 10 ushers all dressed the same with a buff waistcoat to work with the hessian. With this amount of ushers it was far cheaper to make ties and to get enough for 10 and in a design to suit. I’d really recommend it.
Our photographer (Jamie Penfold Photography) was fantastic. Before the big day he came down to Bath to shoot us where we got engaged which was a great way to get to know him so that we were relaxed with him and the camera on the day. It also gave him the chance to get to know us as a couple and the type of photography we were hoping for. Not only did we do all this, but we also got some great shots of us in Bath which was an added bonus! We are so pleased with the shots of the big day, he has captured the whole feel of the day perfectly, our emotions, our guests reactions, the scenery and the wedding detail you are proud of. Most of our guests didn’t know we had a photographer- that’s a sign of a good one I think!
Instead of a traditional cake we went for cheese from The Northumberland Cheese Company. They were brilliant to work with: we tasted some amazing cheeses, it was hard to decide what to go for. The cake itself was assembled by the florist and the whole thing was demolished on the night! My theory is that people want savoury more than sweet after a few glasses of fizz and wine… and it appears they certainly did!
In the evening we had a band, Groove All Stars - they were brilliant! Offered a wide range of music playing as a duo for the reception and as a 7 piece in the evening. We pulled together our own dance to Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’. The band learned the music especially for the dance and were very happy about me getting behind the mic to start the song (which was planned I might add!)
They were a lovely bunch of people, very willing to bend over backwards to make you happy. That they definitely did – the dance floor was never empty!
I have two favourite moments from the day… walking into our beautiful little church on my proud dad’s arm and seeing James’s face at the end of the aisle – priceless and a lifelong memory of an amazing emotion.
Then, walking into the reception with my nephew leading us into a tunnel crowd of all our guests cheering. It was at that moment that it dawned on us- they are all here for us, all our most treasured friends and family are all around us and we’ve done it, we’re married and it feels amazing.
We set off tomorrow for Crete – I can’t wait. I’ll let you know on our return if we’d recommend it!
September 16th, 2014 | Julia Braime
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a distinct “Tuesday feeling” for much of this morning (the direct opposite of the Friday feeling, which is far nicer). I’m not sure if it’s a come down from the heady mix of industry and bridal events, high heels and glitter whirlwind that I’ve been spinning around in for the past week or so, but today’s huge to-do list of deathly dull admin left me feeling meh.
That’s until I started putting today’s real wedding feature together.
Stacey & Michael’s beautiful celebration at North East landmark venue Wynyard Hall reminded me exactly why I love this job and that however many VAT returns I have to chew through, I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
Get ready to pretty up your Tuesday and get lost in lace, blooms and birdcage veils…
With images by Foster & Foster Photography.
Stacey says: We got engaged in October 2012. I was meant to have some annual leave from work, but had been very busy at work and consequently had cancelled my holidays. Unknown to me, Michael had planned a couple of days away. I phoned him from a work to let him know and when I got home from work, I changed into my pyjamas and began to prepare dinner. He nipped upstairs and reappeared in our sitting room on one knee and proposed.
He said that he did it because now he was uncertain as to when we could go away he couldn’t wait!
We were married on 8 March 2014. We knew we did not want a long engagement and 16 to 18 months felt about right.
I didn’t want a typical summer wedding as I envisaged the bridesmaids wearing fur capes outside. We plumped for early March as it was likely to be past the worst bits of winter (heavy snow) but still chilly.
We chose Wynyard Hall, Teeside as our venue. We knew we wanted to get married in the North East as this is where most of our friends and family are. We also knew we wanted an old venue as this suits our taste. We visited lots of venues, but when we drove up to Wynyard we were blown away by the building and its grounds. When we went inside and seen the amazing stain glass ceiling with grand piano below, I was sold.
When shown around, we liked that we could use three different rooms through the various stages of the day and have our own bar area. The terrace on the right was exclusively ours and allowed our guests privacy. In addition Wynyard had amazing bedrooms to accommodate our immediate family and friends, whilst being near enough to other hotels for other guests. It is an incredible venue, with lots of places for amazing photographs as well as creating the perfect atmosphere.
The team at Wynyard were very helpful and friendly and we knew we’d be in good hands on the day. Chris, our master of ceremonies, kept everything on track and did an amazing job. Maggie our wedding coordinator was very attentive, answered all my queries well and efficiently and everything went smoothly on the day.
Given the venue, I chose lace and, in hindsight, a vintage theme. The boys’ ties were a soft sage green and the bridesmaids wore nude. The flowers then picked up on these colours with ivories and soft peach. I wanted to go for pale colours and tie everything into the lace that I had chosen for the tables.
I wore a fishtail lace Pronovias dress in an off white colour (Diago). I bought it from Mia Sposa in Newcastle. I knew that my preference was for a dress with straps/sleeves and no “bling”. When I tried this dress on, the way it moved made me feel amazing and the lace detail was spectacular. Every dress I tried on after it I kept comparing to this one.
What Katy Did Next made me an amazing bespoke birdcage veil. It had a large ivory flower with pearl centre and jewelled leaves on either side. The small veil was then detachable after the ceremony. Her expertise and skill was second to none, as was her service. She also made me some heart shaped shoe clips in ivory so that my shoes were unique!
Michael and the rest of the bridal party wore a mid grey three piece suit hired from Mia Sposa. We bought white shirts from TM Lewin and bought the ties with matching pocket squares from an online retailer.
I had the bridesmaid dresses made to measure by Eve and Adam in Newcastle. They were nude coloured, sleeveless maxi dresses made to my specification. I chose to do this as I had two adult bridesmaids and two children (13 and 9) so it was difficult to find an off the shelf style to suit all. I also wanted a dress they could easily use again.
I had a bouquet of white lilac, champagne, soft peach and ivory roses and ivory peonies.
Katherine’s Florists in Newcastle provided these and they were amazing. Helen at Katherine’s really understood my vision and worked with me to achieve the look I wanted. She understood that I wanted to use fresh flowers but peonies were out of season at this time so she sourced high quality silk ones which you would not have known were silk when in the arrangement.
The bridesmaids carried very similar bouquets, with more soft peach shades and slightly smaller.
All of the groomsmen had button holes of champagne roses, along with Michael’s grandparents and mum. My mum had a pearl wrist corsage with a champagne rose which was beautiful.
We cannot praise Sarah and Mark enough for the huge part they played in our wedding day. We were recommended to use Foster and Foster Photography by several friends and from the minute we contacted them for a quote the service we received was exceptional!
They met with us prior to the wedding to understand the approach we wanted for our photos, get a feel for our wedding and just get to know us in general. They guided us on the optimal way of getting the crucial group shots we wanted whilst also allowing us to spend time with our guests.
On the day they were very much in the background, but still managed to capture amazing images! They made us feel very relaxed throughout the day. Michael in particular was nervous about being put into staged shots and feeling uncomfortable, but Sarah and Mark really made us feel at ease. They were brilliant at taking the group shots we wanted without being intrusive into the natural flow of the day.
The finished product was beyond our expectations and the follow up service has been exceptional! They sent us a small sample of their shots the day after our wedding which was amazing as we were jetting off on honeymoon. They then quickly produced a slideshow to send to our friends. All of our friends and family adore the images and commented on how well executed the photography was on the day.
We also opted to have an album and they worked with us to include all of our favourite pictures. More importantly they used their expertise to produce a professional finish which flowed well and captured all elements of the day. They also helped us to get some extra shots printed for our family. Small things like arranging specific times to deliver our disk of photos and album (to ensure we would receive them quickly and in perfect condition) really added to the already exceptional service.
I would not think twice about recommending Sarah and Mark as any couple’s wedding photographer. The service was faultless and they are a lovely couple who work incredibly well together. We are very lucky to have such amazing pictures from our special day!
We did not want people to sit on certain sides in the ceremony so had a personalised framed picture made saying “Today two families become one, choose a seat not a side”. I reserved the first two rows of the ceremony room for immediate family, bridesmaids and groomsmen and had names badges made which I used as place names in the ceremony room.
Down the aisle we sprinkled petals and had white lanterns with big candles in them which looked amazing.
In the room where we were married we had to two tall slim vases with large ivory hydrangeas. These were moved to our wedding breakfast room after the ceremony. Each table had a centre piece with tall vases containing a combination of the bouquets flowers with some ivory hydrangeas.
The top table had several small vases and jars dotted along the table with one or two of the bouquet flowers picked out. There were then five circular vases into which my bouquet and the bridesmaids’ bouquets were dropped before the wedding breakfast. These were all supplied by Katherine’s Florists.
In addition, as part of our wedding package, Wynyard supplied a floral pedestal display and a floral spray for the registrar table in ivory colours.
I made some vintage style ladders for the table plan which were very unique and stood out next to the piano. We also had a table of family wedding photos next to the piano, which was brilliant as some people had passed away and it was a way to recognise them.
I also had made some extra frames with M&S in as well as some Mr and Mrs signs. One of my bridesmaid’s bought us a Mr and Mrs Hall sign for the top table which finished it off perfectly! She gave it to me the night before which made it an extra surprise!
I hired Posh Chair Covers and Bows to do the lace bows and hoods on the chairs as well as lace runners down the tables which fitted perfectly with the theme!
The cake was one of my favourite things! It was off-white to match my dress and covered in flowers in pale green, peach and ivory to match my colour theme. They cascaded down the cake and were more closely gathered near the bottom.
The bottom layer was fruit cake made by Michael’s brother (and the best man) who is a chef. There were then two layers of chocolate cake and one of vanilla. It was made by a family friend, Sue Hall. We also had a huge stack of cupcakes to match the main cake as cupcakes are a favourite of mine!
For the wedding ceremony and drinks reception we had a piano player Mark Deeks of Music Newcastle. We knew we wanted to use the grand piano in the main hallway where guests would be chatting. It was the perfect accompaniment to our ceremony and Mark provided an excellent bespoke service! He took requests on the day which our guests really enjoyed!
On the evening we had a local band, The Fontains. They were better than we could ever have hoped! They performed our first dance song “Read My Mind” by The Killers and the arrangement was fantastic! The atmosphere they created was beyond what we could have hoped for!
My favourite part was walking out of the wedding ceremony to the drinks reception because I was officially married to Michael, everything looked perfect and everyone seemed to be having a brilliant time.
I felt I could relax as everything had come together as planned!
For our honeymoon, we went to Barbados for two weeks. The first week we spent on the west coast near Holtown self catering and the second on the south east coast near St Lawrence Gap.
The weather was perfect for us as it was hot with a breeze. We explored the island in the first week, visiting various places by bus and foot. This included going on a catamaran cruise and Landrover off-road island tour.
The second week was absolute luxury in an all inclusive Sandals resort which was amazing and very relaxing after the hectic wedding build up!
One of the last things we booked was a wedding videographer, Ben at HNE Media. It was one of the best decisions we made as it allowed us to relive the day and listen to the speeches again. Ben was brilliant and the final product was perfect!
As my top tip for other Brides Up North I would definitely recommend splashing out on a videographer.
September 15th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
The unique venue for Ben and Amanda’s well-planned wedding is what made their big day really stand out to me. The couple and their guests partied through to the small hours in beautifully decorated tipis pitched next to the picturesque back-drop of Lake Coniston. Stunning, just stunning!
Better yet, they stretched their wedding celebrations across three days (hell yeah!) to take full advantage of the breathtaking location.
The couple’s rustic barn/tea party theme came together perfectly with wonderful décor, individual touches and a mouth-watering menu, which was rounded-off with one heck of a party.
So let’s dive straight into the magic with details of the couple’s engagement.
With images by James Stewart Photograpy.
Amanda says: We got engaged on June 26, 2012. Ben chose this date as it’s his birthday and says it’s the only day of the year that he gets to choose what we do! We were camping in Crantock, Cornwall (which is our favourite holiday location). In the days leading up to the engagement we had walked around the headland looking for a nice birthday picnic spot, little did I know that it would actually be the engagement spot. Ben’s insistence on me choosing the exact spot made sense afterwards! We went surfing in the morning then after a nice hot shower, we headed off with our cream tea inspired picnic, with the obligatory champagne and strawberries!
After setting out our picnic blanket Ben made me close my eyes for a ‘surprise’ and when I opened them, he was knelt down with the ring in his hand. Lots of nice words and champagne followed, and then the second surprise of the day was that he’d booked us into Watergate Bay Hotel for the night, so we could enjoy our engagement night in the a bed rather that a tent!
We set the date for June 28, 2014. We’re both in the RAF and have lots of friends in the RAF too, so we always have to plan very far in advance for everything. We wanted to give everyone at least a year’s notice, so drew-up a plot of availability of my bridesmaid being back from Afghanistan and then the big items we needed to hire: tipi, venue, toilets, transport etc, and just chose the date that would work the best.
When deciding on a venue for the wedding, we were always on the lookout for somewhere we could use exclusively, somewhere that was slightly different from the norm, but ultimately somewhere that we could have a relaxed and intimate wedding, which we could hopefully spread out over more than more day.
We’d seen tipis in a wedding magazine and knew straight away that they provided exactly what we wanted, so we then went on an internet hunt for an amazing location; that’s how we found Bank Ground Farm in the Lake District. It’s a working farm, with cottages, a guesthouse, dog kennels, a tea room, boats for hire and bikes for hire, so it had a lot of what we needed under one roof. We didn’t do the legal bits at Bank Ground but it is where the real celebrations happened. We had a civil ceremony at Belmount Hall first which we chose because of its beautifully rustic interior and its proximity to Bank Ground Farm. The farm offered us the intimacy we wanted, gave us the ability to accommodate a large number of our guests and had a very relaxed feel about it. There are lots of different elements to Bank Ground, from the beautifully manicured lawns at the front of the house, the terrace overlooking Old Man Coniston and the lounge areas and bar inside the guesthouse; we were fortunate to be able to utilise all of them over the course of our three-day celebrations.
We didn’t have a specific theme to begin with, but over the course of the planning, we naturally swayed towards a rustic barn type of style. There were exposed beams in the tipis which we covered in fairy lights, we scattered bales of hay around for seats and displays, we up-cycled bottles and jars for flowers and candles, and brought everything together by using lace and burlap throughout. Relaxation had been the driving factor with choices; we didn’t want anything formal or stuffy, we just wanted people to feel that they could kick off their shoes and swap them for flip-flops or even wellies (weather dependent). The tea party food theme came out of our love for cream tea and the link back to our engagement with the champagne, strawberries, scones and clotted cream.
We wanted to keep the colour theme soft and romantic to tie in with the burlap and lace so all colours used were pale pinks, creams and some light gold.
My wedding dress was couture, and pre-loved. I saw it hiding at the back of a rail and was instantly attracted to its big, floaty skirt. The ripples in the skirt made me think of water and the rough edges of the material was in keeping with the relaxed, vintage effect we were creating. I love my sparkles, so the Swarovski pearls and beads that covered the bodice kept it girly and romantic.
Ben wore a very striking navy tweed three-piece suit from Walker Slater, a bespoke tweed outfitter in Edinburgh, along with a white shirt, pink knitted tie, and tan brogues from Kurt Geiger. The groomsmen all wore different tweed waistcoats, all from Walker Slater, white shirts, pink ties (to match Ben’s) and navy chinos.
The bridesmaids and I have a passion for Irregular Choice shoes, so in keeping with the soft colour scheme, the girls wore beautiful champagne lace dresses, but brought a pop of colour to the outfits with some bright Irregular Choice shoes. We all wore the same style, but in a different colour.
We loved how everyone looked together; it was exactly how we’d imagined, just amazing!
My hairdresser was Vikki Nelson and I have to say she had the patience of a saint! The hair for myself, mum and bridesmaids was the one thing I got my knickers in a twist over, as I really wanted it to be perfect. And despite me changing my ideas slightly, and my handmade hairpiece not quite working out as I’d planned, Vikki remained calm and polite while I had a very minor melt down/moan! All of the hairstyles turned out better than planned, and stayed in place well into the early hours.
My make-up was done by my gorgeous and talented cousin Samantha Hill, who runs her own beauty salon Beau Chic Beauty in Latton, on the edge of the Cotswolds/Cirencester. Everyone commented on how flawless it was, and I didn’t even need to do one single touch-up throughout the whole day – just perfect!
On the big day, we travelled in a classic split screen VW camper. This had been one of our ‘must haves’ from the very beginning as we both love the classic VW’s and dream to actually own one someday! Paul Bradburn of Lake District Vintage Wedding Cars was just amazing. He was extremely friendly and very passionate about his VW – he even supplied us with a nice cold bottle of bubbles for the journey.
My favourite part of the day was stood at the stairs to the civil ceremony room, waiting for my entrance music to start, with my mum doing a little dance to make me laugh and hold back the tears, knowing that in less than a few minutes I’d be saying my vows and my life as I knew it would change forever. Knowing that my best friend was about to become my husband and that our next adventures together would soon begin was a wonderful feeling.
We have the bonus of having James Stewart as Ben’s cousin, so there was never any doubt that we would use him as our photographer. We’ve seen a lot of James’ work over the years, from his sporting shots to capturing many happy family events.
James has a very unobtrusive nature and manages to get the shots that you didn’t even notice. A week after the wedding he sent us a little taster of what was to come in the form of a slideshow set to music; shame he hadn’t prepared me to have the tissues at the ready! I’m not sure how he managed it, but his photos feel like they captured all of the emotions of the day magnificently. Quite a few people have commented on needing the tissues when they watched it. We truly couldn’t recommend him enough; thoroughly professional, amazingly talented and a pleasure to have had him as part of our day.
For our wedding flowers we used The Flower Basket in Coniston village. Anne was extremely helpful and totally understood the concept I was aiming for. We basically told her that we wanted it to be soft and relaxed, using mainly creams and pinks. I’d created a scrapbook of magazines pictures over the year, took it to show her and realised that the running theme in my scrapings were peonies, gypsophila and roses. So we gave her artistic licence to use anything else she thought would look good, and she did an absolutely amazing job and totally transformed the tipis and surrounding chill out areas. I really couldn’t have been happier with the end result and couldn’t recommend her enough. I didn’t carry a bouquet, instead choosing to have a wrist corsage, which had some large pink peonies and white roses.
I made a lot of the decorations myself; pom poms, up-cycled jars and bottles, table plan, and napkin cuffs. I also put Ben and his dad to good use with a chain saw, cutting up tree trunks for table centre, and stands for menus and notices. The final touches of vintage glamour came from suretosurpriseyou.co.uk.
We hired all of the vintage crockery, cake stands and other tableware essentials, but the real eye-catchers were all of the vintage items for decoration. My bridesmaid Amy also lent a hand with the table centre arrangements, using her eye for detail to incorporate my items with hers. She helped to make a unique table centre for each table, and helped create a central focal point out of bales of hay, blankets and vintage items.
For our favours I made individuals wine charms for all the guests, but also made boxes so that they could all add their charms to a box, take them home, and carry on using them for their own future parties.
My bridesmaid Amy is an absolute legend in the baking department, and so there was never any other option than to have her mouth-watering delights as our wedding cake. Sticking with the tea party theme, she made the most magnificent four-tier tea party inspired cake. There were edible teacups, real biscuits, edible bunting and a giant Belgium white chocolate teapot on top. Each layer was a different flavour; chocolate, Victoria sponge, carrot and lemon.
Bank Ground Farm made all of our food, using as many local ingredients as possible, even using produce from their own farm. We had a hog roast on the Friday night with lots of gorgeous breads and salads. We also had a barbecue fit for a king on the Sunday afternoon.
The Saturday wedding food started off with a large selection of canapés on the lawn while enjoying bubbles for the girls, and local ales for the boys. The wedding breakfast was simply ‘high tea’, which included Cumbrian honey roast ham sandwiches, local pink roast beef with horseradish, blue cheese and rocket sandwiches, local cheddar with homemade chutney on onion bread sandwiches, free range egg and watercress sandwiches, Cumberland sausage rolls with smoked bacon and mustard, mini vegetable wellingtons and stilton, bacon and spring onion potato skins. Dessert was homemade scones, homemade jam, local fresh strawberries and lashings of clotted cream. Wines and champagnes were served from the bar stock and we had kegs of Loweswater Gold and Esthwaite ales to keep the guys happy.
Ben is massively into his music, so this was one area that he was in charge of completely. We both believe that live music is the making of any event, so he spent hours trawling the internet, listening to bands, and reading reviews. He finally decided on The Rips, who are a five-piece band from Yorkshire. They play anything from The Beatles or Bryan Adams, to Kings of Leon and Maroon 5, so we knew we’d get a good range to keep all ages entertained. Ben’s research certainly paid off because the dance floor was bouncing all night long!
We would wholeheartedly recommend all of our suppliers to other couples. One thing we really loved about Bank Ground Farm is that it isn’t actually a wedding venue. Jonathon there believes that weddings need and deserve a lot of attention and time, therefore doesn’t allow more than a handful of weddings a year, allowing him to dedicate his time and attention to each one, and help to make it unique. This was a real bonus and Jonathon and his staff were like extensions of the family; unbelievably helpful, happy and eager to help things run smoothly.
Other suppliers we’d have to recommend are Special Event Tipis. Kate and Dave from there were fantastic to work with. They are a married couple, who used tipis for their own wedding, fell in love with them and decided to start their own business. You can really tell they have a passion for their job, as they were extremely enthusiastic, passionate and accommodating with everything. They also use very high quality items, which made my job of decorating much easier, as there was such a great starting point with their tipis and interiors.
A special touch to the wedding was certainly having our eight-month-old English Springer Spaniel, Murphy there to play a part in the weekend celebrations. He’s a huge part of our lives. He even had his own tweed collar and lead to match Ben’s outfit.
We went to Thailand on our honeymoon. We had a few nights in Bangkok where we sampled as many delights as possible; tuk tuk rides, street food, coconut water and street markets. We also had some cultural trips; temples, Bridge over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass and war memorials. We visited the Tiger Temple, which was a dream come true, especially bathing and feeding the baby tigers and we stayed in a glamping site called Hintock River Camp. After these three whirlwind days, we jumped on another flight to Koh Samui, where we checked into a pool villa at Six Senses Samui. This was ultimate luxury; just what we both needed after six months of wedding crafting and preparations. Over the course of the next week we relaxed (a lot), went sightseeing on boats and kayaks, went elephant riding, relaxed some more and ate a lot!
My top tip to other Brides Up North has to be this (even though we still failed to do it) – try, try, try to take ten minutes aside together in the middle of the evening to step back and watch all of your loved ones having a blast. The evening really does just disappear in a heartbeat, and is over before anyone wants it to be!
September 11th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
There’s something about being by the seaside that causes a welcome state of relaxation.
Nicola and Eamonn chose the pretty seaside town of Scarborough for their laid-back big day which they were proud to show-off to their guests via an open-top bus ride and fabulous sea-front reception venue.
What I love about this wedding is that the bride and groom didn’t get swept up in wedding planning mania, but instead really thought about what they wanted and then executed it to perfection.
This fab real wedding oozes style and sophistication and is topped-off with a good glug of fun.
With photos by Photography34.
Nicola says: We got engaged on Christmas Day 2012 after being together for 11 years. Eamonn surprised me by dropping to one knee in front of our two little girls. It was very romantic as he had written a poem which incorporated all of the favourite places we have travelled to together.
We got married on Saturday 27th July 2013. We chose the 27th as it was Eamonn’s mother Helen’s birthday – she sadly passed in 2010.
Our wedding ceremony was at St Peters RC Church in Scarborough, our girls were baptised here so it was a natural choice. It’s a very beautiful building. I chose for my brother to walk me down the aisle. We celebrated afterwards at the Ambassador Hotel and Spa, which we chose because it’s such a lovely boutique hotel with fab views of Scarborough. The venue was perfect for our requirements. We would have no hesitation in recommending it to future brides and grooms. Kieran there listened to our every request and suggestion and together we made it all work to create our perfect day.
The one thing Eamonn and I discussed at length though at the start of the planning process was how we wanted the day to play out. We wanted everyone who shared the day with us to be there from the beginning until the end – it did limit us to the number of guests for the day (120) but everyone agreed that the day had a great flow to it. From the moment we were married we all travelled together to the reception (the long way around the Marine Drive at Scarborough so we could take in the stunning views on the open-top bus) and while everyone had their Meze starters outside the venue we snuck away with our photographer Tony for a quick photo shoot. We’ve all been to weddings where there is a pause in the day for photos and then another while the evening guests arrive and we didn’t want that. We chose to have the wedding a little later in the afternoon at 3pm which did put us on a tighter timescale than most weddings but we wanted the day to be one continual celebration with a natural flow and relaxed feel. As a result of the thought and planning that we put into the scheduling of the day it all played out really well and all of the guests thought that it had happened by chance.
There was no particular colour theme from the start – it all kind of just pulled itself together. Once we found the taupe bridesmaid dresses it cemented the spectrum of colours we used, from the invitation to the cake and the flowers.
I was quite nervous about shopping for my wedding dress. I was completely out of my comfort zone but with the help of my trusty bridesmaids and the ladies at The Wedding Room in Scarborough we picked out about seven dresses in all sorts of cuts and styles to work out what I might like. The first dress I tried was beautiful – big, full and very princess like (I thought this might be the type I would go for) but when I stepped out in it and looked in the mirror I was overwhelmed with the size of it! I cried and wanted to turn and run. But the ladies at the Wedding Rooms had obviously seen this before and whipped me straight back into the changing rooms to get out of it and encouraged me to try on something not so huge. Gypsy bride it wasn’t, but it just didn’t feel right for me. I tried a couple more on and they were all beautiful but I couldn’t pick between them. Then I tried on the fourth dress – it was a very detailed fishtail dress with lace, sequins, pearls and bugle beads by Justin Alexander. The moment it went over my head and I looked in the mirror I knew it was the one. I just loved the way I felt in it and when I walked out to show my bridesmaids I cried again – this time with happiness – their faces confirmed what I was feeling. It was so disappointing to put on my own clothes after wearing such a fabulous dress.
Eamonn wore a tailored suit from Mullen and Mullen in York. He chose a dark navy blue colour suit with a waistcoat. The suit jacket had a taupe colour lining to complement the bridesmaid dresses and he got our initials and the wedding date 27.07.13 stitched into the lining which was a lovely touch. I always thought Eamonn wore a suit well but have to say seeing him in a tailored suit made him look particularly dashing!
My flowers came from the very talented Kirsty Berridge from Minnie Bee’s Floral Design. I didn’t have a clue about flowers but I used my wedding board on Pinterest to show Kirsty what type of flowers and colours I liked. She was fabulous and brought lots of pictures of previous bouquets she had done to show me. She came up with my fabulous hand-tied bouquet of gypsophila, soft vintage pink hydrangea, dahlias, peonies and English grown roses in soft pinks, peaches and cream. We had two fabulous pedestal arrangements in the church and the tables at the reception venue again featured the same flowers, although we went for a much brighter tone of colours and displayed them in jam jars all supplied by Minnie Bee’s.
The bridesmaids all carried hand-tied bouquets of gypsophila and the flower girls carried small pomander balls of gypsophila and the groomsmen had button holes made of the same. Kirsty also supplied gypsophila on bits of wire to add to the bridesmaids’ and flower girls’ hair.
I had five bridesmaids and two flower girls (my daughters Stella and Grace), plus my mum and my brother to get from the hotel to the church so Ozzy the camper van from Scarborough Kombi Van Hire was the perfect solution. We had a lot of guests from out of town and abroad who we wanted to see the beauty of Scarborough while they were here, plus parking can be quite tricky around the church, so hiring an open top bus from Shoreline Suncruisers to take us all to the reception made perfect sense – and it was great fun!
Our photographer was our good friend Tony Wilson from Photography34 who has documented a number of our special days over the last couple of years, our daughters’ baptism being one of the first. Tony does such a great job of translating the feel of the day into pictures. We will be forever grateful for the precious moments that Tony has captured for us – we will always have them to look back on. He was also a guest at our wedding so he can definitely multitask.
The cake was provided by Gemma Flood at Cotton House Cakes. It was a four-tier chocolate fudge cake topped with Italian meringue butter cream. The colour graduated from light to dark – another spot on Pinterest.
For our wedding meal we decided that we didn’t want something that was going to be too gastro, even though Eamonn is a bit of a foodie. We went for a bit of a Greek theme with the food as we enjoy holidaying there and love the food. We chose to have a Greek meze as an informal starter which was served on arrival. We had these instead a formal starter as we didn’t want to be sat inside for a lengthy three-course meal. The Ambassador did a great job of serving these in a way that were easy to eat with fingers and stood up while relaxing outside. We decided to have the speeches before the main meal once everyone was seated indoors – this just seemed like a natural break to fit in the best man’s and groom’s speeches. We continued with the Greek theme for the main meal opting for a choice of beef stifado or vegetable moussaka. We kept the wedding cake as a dessert and then had a selection of cheeses that were brought to each of the tables so everyone could nibble throughout the evening.
We wanted a relaxed theme so didn’t go heavy on the entertainment. We did want some music for when we arrived at The Ambassador in the open-top bus and while we had the drinks reception and starters. We had discussed various live acts but Eamonn saw a young jazz band busking in town and booked them for the wedding! The Jelly Jolly Jazz Band fronted by a young musician called Laurence Marshall were just great, they played some really uplifting jazz which set everyone off on the right tone for the day. For the evening we opted for Spectrum Discos, who were great! We had a few particulars we wanted playing but were pretty relaxed with the play list. Our first dance was a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel classic You’re All I Need to Get By, which was just perfect!
To keep our young guests entertained, I ordered some small cardboard suitcases and filled them with colouring books and quiet toys. I also asked The Ambassador to add a small pack-up so the children could tuck in as soon as we sat down. They could then run around the dance floor after the speeches had taken place while the adults enjoyed their stifado!
We chose to have circular tables for everyone, so no top table – just to avoid any issues with who might feel they should be sat on it! We had paper pom poms, added by Alex Anderson from Homebird House, hanging from the ceiling above our table just to make it a focal point. They were also hung above the table for wedding cards which we decorated ourselves with an old suitcase, a beach towel, ball, bucket and spade.
Eamonn and I had told all of our guests that we didn’t expect any gifts as many people were already travelling great distances to attend the wedding but any gifts of money we did receive would be used on what we were calling a ‘familymoon’.
We couldn’t choose a favourite part of our wedding – we loved the whole day! We really thought about what we wanted and what was important for us and we made it happen. All of our guests really got that the day was a reflection of us and enjoyed it as much as we did!
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be not to get sucked into everything that’s on offer. We had a very traditional church wedding but personally picked everything that went around that, including flipping around the proceedings of the day and for us that really worked. Everyone is different but it’s so easy to get pulled into ‘the perfect Pinterest wedding’ which can be daunting and crazy expensive. We decided that we wanted a simple wedding which was about Eamonn and I standing up in front of our loved ones and saying ‘this is us forever’ followed by great food and drink and a kick ass party!
September 8th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
I think I may have mentioned recently that I’m totally obsessed with wedding flowers. Well, Sam and Lisa’s fab big day features the most amazing blooms that I just can’t stop swooning over.
They formed a key part of the chosen theme, which put simply was all things pretty – including a gorgeous coral colour theme, antique lace and elegant glassware.
The crafty couple rolled up their sleeves to add lots of lovely special touches to their big day – and roped in their talented family and friends to help along the way.
This stunning wedding is quite literally bursting at the seams with inspiration so grab your planning scrapbook and prepare to take notes ladies.
With images by Kate Cooper Photography.
Lisa says: We got engaged on Friday November 4th 2011. I had absolutely no idea that Sam was even thinking of proposing. We’d been together for ten happy years having met at university. We’d lived together for a few years with various friends and finally after nine years of being together, we could afford to live on our own in our own home – something we’d wanted to do for so long. I’d just started my first job as a teacher and we were beginning to do up our house. Life as a ‘proper’ grown-up couple in our home was feeling great but I had no idea we were about to get engaged. The next thing I know, Sam was proposing! He proposed at home under a star lit lounge (he’d put fairy lights up round the room) and got down on one knee. It was simple, personal, private and lovely.
Our big day was on Thursday 1st August 2014. Being a teacher, I wanted to get married in the summer holiday. We also love summer weather so we chose an August wedding date. We had our wedding on a Thursday as it was cheaper to get married during the week at our venue.
We chose Stancliffe Hall in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, as our wedding venue. We’d looked endlessly for venues – both around the Sheffield area where we live and also down in Sussex where Sam is from. Nothing felt right and we were about to give up when we stumbled across Stancliffe Hall on a different Google search. As soon as we drove down the sweeping driveway lined with rhododendrons we knew we were somewhere special. The butterflies we had in our stomachs as we arrived continued as we looked at round the house. We were stunned at how beautifully the stately home had been renovated from a boarding school into a fabulous home and wedding venue. There is an amazing feel to the place – mixing complete luxury and boutique styling throughout the house, with traditional features too. There are so many beautiful touches around the house and there are lots of different rooms, balconies and nooks and crannies to explore. It’s surrounded by stunning scenery and is completely private. It also had its own beautiful wooden chapel that sits just outside the main house which meant we could get married on site too.
I had never been a girl who had dreamt up or imagined my wedding day so I didn’t really know where to start but I bought a couple of magazines and off I went! I knew I wanted a pretty, natural, floral theme and I was ridiculously excited at choosing the flowers. I started by thinking about the sort of blooms I wanted and one of my favourite flowers is the coral crush peony. My first and easiest decision was the colour scheme. Coral – a pretty, summery colour and one of my favourites! Grey – because Sam wanted to wear grey and it goes really nicely with coral. And yellow – because it complimented the rest! Next came the dress which was a lace gown which then became incorporated into the theme. My grandma gave me her cameo brooch as my something borrowed, and this then became something we incorporated into the theme. So the overall theme was a mix of – pretty, coral, lacey, cameo, homemade and vintage.
For my wedding dress I chose the Rita gown by San Patrick which was not an easy find – a bit of a mission in fact. I had looked at so many dresses online, in magazines, on wedding blogs and in shops. I wanted something pretty and feminine but with an edge to it. I stumbled across a dress online by San Patrick called Risco which made my heart skip a beat every time I looked at it. But it was so difficult to track it down and find somewhere that stocked it. I persisted and eventually I found a bridal shop called Xquisite Bridal in Leighton Buzzard that stocked it. Sabrina, the owner, had one left in stock and I think it had been discontinued – hoorah, I’d found my dress! I made an appointment to try on Risco in the boutique for the next month. By the time I had arrived, it had been sold to another bride! I was devastated. All that effort to find it and a three-hour trip to get there and it had been sold! Really kindly Sabrina let me try on the dress, but after all that excitement and anticipation, it didn’t even suite me! I had a backup dress to try on though – Rita. She was beautiful and my mum and sister both agreed that it was much better on me than Risco. Never someone to rush into a decision, I didn’t have the ‘it’s the one’ moment so I went away to think about it. In the meantime, I tried on some other dresses and confused myself even more. I was torn between Rita and a Benjamin Roberts gown. However, eventually after going back to Xquisite Bridal, I decided that Rita was the one for me. Not only was it a beautiful dress but she shared my late auntie’s name. I decided to have straps added and the skirt taken in at the knees to give it slightly more fishtailed look. I also bought a beautiful sash belt from Pearl and Co. who are based in the Manchester area who also made my garter using my grandma’s lace. I have to say, I did doubt my choice (I’m so bad at making decisions and sticking to them) but on my wedding day I absolutely loved every minute of wearing her!
Sam wore a bespoke tailored suit from King and Allen in Wilmslow. Sam got to choose the material – a lovely lightweight material which wouldn’t be too hot for our summer wedding. He decided on a classic fit so that he can continue to wear it through the years. We also had our names and wedding date embroidered into the jacket which added a really nice touch. His shoes were brown Barker brogues. As a little extra, I bought Sam some Edwardian cameo cufflinks that I found on Etsy to fit with our theme.
I’m so lucky to have such a talented mum who made the bridesmaid dresses and without really even following a pattern. I’d found a dress that I loved, but it didn’t come in coral. In fact, finding anything in coral was almost impossible at the time. So in the end I stumbled across some coral lace on a market stall and I nearly ripped the woman’s arm off for it. My mum is such a perfectionist and worked her magic using just a picture of the dress I liked for reference. After six months of work on them (she’s a retired teacher with time on her hands) they were perfect. The groomsmen all wore light grey suits, similar to Sam’s. The dads wore their own choice of grey suits.
Our photographer was the lovely and talented Kate Cooper. Sam works with her husband which is how we found Kate, and she was just the loveliest person to have around on the day. I couldn’t recommend her enough because she has such a good eye for detail. She really knows how to capture the ‘feel’ of an event and she’s so calm and sweet – she even helped me to get ready and she is so inconspicuous on the day. She just seemed to glide around without being imposing in any way and she made us feel completely at ease.
Flowers formed the main theme of our day so we really went to town on them. All the flowers were put together by Tracey Campbell of Campbell’s Flowers incorporating the colours we had picked along with the feel we were trying to create – vintage-inspired, natural and romantic.
My hand-tied bouquet was a posy-style design that was quite open and loose with lots of textural interest but still feminine and pretty. Flowers included were coral David Austin roses, succulents, craspedia, burnt orange leucospermum, brunia, rosemary, peach hypericum, eucalyptus cinerea and a little gypsophila. I also asked Tracey to include a tiny piece of holly from my dog’s grave which I gave to her.
The bridesmaids had vintage-inspired double wrist corsages which were put together on an ivory organza ribbon using two David Austin roses, a sprig of gypsophila and a cameo brooch. Meanwhile the button holes were based on a David Austin rose design using elements from my bouquet. They were constructed on their natural stem and bound and finished with a tie of lace. Coral ribbon was also added to Sam’s button hole.
For the chapel we had collections of random clear glass bottles at different heights and apothecary jars along the edge of the ceremony table which featured a random selection of our chosen blooms. To continue the vintage theme throughout the floral designs Tracey used cream enameled candlesticks topped with beautiful gypsophila topiary balls and finished with floating glass baubles filled with David Austin Juliet roses. Pretty glass baubles, again filled with delicate peach roses, were also hung from the walkway between the house and ceremony room.
When it came to dressing the room for the wedding breakfast, some of the flowers from the ceremony room were transferred and a few new arrangements in tiny cut glass heirloom vases were added. We had bought an antique French chest of drawers which we wanted to use at the venue because it is so beautiful. We used it outside the chapel to place the order of service and confetti cones on. We then transferred the drawers into the house for guests to place cards and gifts in. We had one drawer filled with flowers designed by Tracey to look as if they were tumbling out.
Other decorations we had included photo frames with old family wedding photos in, candles in storm lanterns, olive trees, hanging pearl hearts, homemade lace lanterns, a large free-standing metal heart that I decorated with lace as the table plan, a homemade wish tree with luggage tags for people to write on and hang from the tree and finally we had a floral ‘L’ and ‘S’ made by my mum. She bought cardboard letters for our initials, hollowed them out and painted them green and then filled the inside of them with oasis and flowers. It looked so pretty.
We had homemade jam and liquors as our favours. Glassware was another theme of the wedding which we used to present the flowers in and also for a sweetie table in the evening, so we carried the glassware theme through into the favours using pretty bottles and jars for the jams and liqueurs. The idea was to have translucent pastel colours from the preserves and liqueurs – peaches, yellows and greens to make the tables look lovely. Sam’s parents made the liqueurs for us – Limoncello, Pompelmocello (pink grapefruit Limoncello), and Rhubarbcello (rhubarb). I made the jams and curds: lemon curd, lime curd, pink grapefruit curd, gooseberry jelly and rhubarb jelly (the fruit coming from my grandma’s garden). I made salt dough hearts that I stamped in the same way as I stamped the stationary to give them a texture and colour. We tied them to the bottles and jars and my sister made lovely labels to go on them. We had some lace from the bridesmaid dresses left over so we used this to top the jars. My sister alos made beautiful cake pops for the children.
After getting a few ‘real’ quotes from some amazing cake makers, we decided that we didn’t want to take that amount of money out of the wedding fund, so we had to push the cake down the priority list.
We decided to go with a lady called Val Brown who makes cakes as a hobby and is really good at it. We designed the cake ourselves – taking elements of different cakes that we’d seen and liked. We drew a plan for Val to follow. She did a great job but when mum and her partner Norman picked up the cake it was absolutely enormous! Transporting the Eiffel Tower sized cake on the most humid day of the year, along the windiest road wasn’t exactly favourable. Disaster struck when we arrived at the wedding venue and opened the box. The whole thing was collapsing in front of our eyes. In the end we had to dismantle the cake and we were left with three separate tiers. Chocolate, lemon drizzle and fruit cake. But it wasn’t pretty and we wouldn’t have a cake to cut. To cut the rest of a very long story short, Val remade the top two tiers overnight using polystyrene. We salvaged enough of the pearl beading and icing details to remake the cake. Nobody knew it had happened by the time she had finished, and we were able to serve the cake that we’d saved from toppling off the cake.
We were really lucky with our food. Stancliffe Hall don’t have their own caterers but they had three outside caterers that we could choose from which meant we could be creative with the menu. We had a company called Coghlans do our catering and they were absolutely fantastic. Andrew (the boss) met with us and discussed our favourite foods and what we envisaged for our wedding food and then came up with a bespoke menu. First we had canapés which were an Italian Anti-Pasti theme. For starter we had ravioli of king prawn and scallop topped with a lobster cannelloni and a light caviar butter sauce. Main was fillet of pork wellington with apricots and sage, served with fondant potato and calvados jus lie. And dessert was iced raspberry parfait and raspberry shortbread rounds topped with gold leaf and chocolate disks.
Coghlans were also responsible for the drinks, which again, we were able to be creative with. We did a wine tasting before the wedding where we matched wine with the food. We had Mr and Mrs cocktails. My choice was the Aperol Spritz – the perfect colour and my favourite drink from a trip to Italy with my best friend a few years before. Sam’s was an old fashioned but made with Jacquin’s whiskey which has fruit in the bottle and gives it a peachy colour. We served these as our reception drinks and also in the evening too.
We had a rustic evening buffet with a whole serrano leg of ham that Sam’s parents had bought back from Spain. We served it with breads, olives, cheese, biscuits, pasties and my grandma’s fruit cake, served with the cheese.
We have lots of talented people in our family that do all kinds of things so the wedding ended up being a real family affair. Everyone, including myself and Sam, had a hand in creating things for the wedding to add lots of special touches.
Not only did my mum make the bridesmaid dresses and our beautiful L and S, but she also made our beautiful ring cushion out of little bits of lace that belonged to my grandma and great grandma (some of the lace was over 100 years old). My dad is a classical musician and he composed a song for uscalled The Presence of Love which was such a special thing to have. He had some members of his London choir travel to Derbyshire to sing it on the day as I walked down the aisle.
Sam’s mum spent a long time searching charity shops for glasswarethat we could use for the sweetie table. My uncle made my jewellery, except for my bracelet which was a gift from Sam’s parents. He designed my earrings and necklace to go with the bracelet. He also made my engagement and wedding ring. Lots of people made homemade sweets for the sweetie table including me, my mum and sister and Sam’s parents. We also made our own stationery, handmade confetti and doily cones, embroidered coral place napkins and we hand-dyed coral socks for the groomsmen.
We had a wedding blessing after the civil part of the ceremony as it felt like we were missing something by not having a vicar marry us. In between the ceremony and blessing we had a 15-minute mini concert where my dad’s choir sang some songs and he also played a couple of piano pieces. Our dads both did speeches on the day while our mums put their feelings down in words and presented us with letters.
For both of us the ceremony was our favourite part of the wedding. It is such an amazing experience to say our vows to each other and to have my dad’s choir sing his song for us. To be in such a beautiful place and to be married in front of our closest friends and family was just so special. It was really overwhelming and a bit like an out of body experience, but totally amazing.
Sri Lanka was our honeymoon destination. We spent three weeks there in total. We spent the first week at an incredible resort where we sunbathed on an amazing beech, had spa treatments and did morning yoga. After that we travelled around to lots of other destinations and packed loads in including doing safari, visiting tea plantations and Buddhist temples, rock climbing and eating lots of food.
Our advice to other wedding couples would be to do things that are important to you. If you like crafting, do crafting. If you like food – do foodie things. Some people thought I was mad doing as much ‘making’ as I did but it was one opportunity in my life where I could go to town doing things that I love. Organisation is key and giving yourself plenty of time to get everything done is so important. We had planned everything to be done and dusted with a week to spare so that we could relax in the run up to the wedding. Of course we were running round like headless chickens in the week before and if I could go back I would try to get more done beforehand so that we could have had a day or two to ourselves. I also wish I’d had a few minutes before going into the chapel to soak in what was about to happen. I wanted time with my mum and dad before they gave me away and time with my bridesmaids but my makeup artist messed up the timings so I was the last one to have my makeup done. My advice therefore is to make sure you know exactly what time you’ll have your hair and makeup done so you can plan in some ‘reflection’ time and just be in the moment and soak up the experience before you walk down the aisle.
My sister was a huge support throughout planning the wedding and on the day itself. She was like my personal assistant and did so much for us. If a bride can enrol the support of someone like a sister or a best friend to help with all things wedding, it makes the whole experience even better.