Charlotte Balbier

twinkle twinkle. a romantic winter wedding at the belle epoque – rachael & james

August 20th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (73)

Today’s bride and groom were faced with organising their wedding from overseas as they now live in Melbourne but returned Rachael’s family roots for their big day. The distance didn’t appear to cause too many problems though as their winter wedding at Cheshire’s Belle Epoque came together beautifully.

Letting the venue speak for itself, Rachael added a few extra sparkling touches, including glitter and candles, for the twinkling, cosy winter wedding she desired.

Another touch of sparkle was added at the end of the wedding with a sparkler arch in the street, which attracted the attention of local pub goers and the even the police, who were all keen to pass on their congratulations to the happy couple.

Images by Adam Riley Photography.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (6)

rachael says: We got engaged on the top of Kilimanjaro in December 2013.  It was the start of a three month trip overland from Nairobi to Cape Town. I was really sick from altitude sickness and it took a whole lot of willpower to get to the summit.  When we did get to the top, James got down on one knee and asked me to marry him – it was the first smile in 36 hours of non-stop vomiting up the last 1,000m of mountain!  He had planned on waiting until Cape Town where we were meeting my parents and asking dad’s permission, but he was so impressed with me getting to the top of the mountain he did it there instead.  The other story his three brothers like to tell is that he capitalised on my lack of oxygen to the brain!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (10)

Our wedding date was 10th January 2015.  We chose it because I was re-training to be a teacher during 2014 and was busy studying full time so didn’t want a UK summer wedding. We were planning on coming back to the UK (we live near Melbourne) for Christmas so we thought it seemed like a good time to get married. Plus James has a very big family – including nine nieces and nephews – so we knew that if there was any chance of them making a UK wedding it would be during Australian summer school holidays. Rather than wait for 18 months so we could have a UK summer wedding I thought I would embrace a twinkly, cosy winter wedding instead.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (14)

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (12)

The wedding was at my mum and dad’s local church in Cotebrook near Tarporley, and the reception was held at the Belle Epoque in Knutsford. We chose Belle Epoque for several reasons, firstly a lot of the more traditional wedding venues we felt were a bit too over the top and grand for what we wanted, but we wanted something that had character and a heritage feel to it.  Secondly we felt that Belle Epoque was ideal for a winter wedding as all the guests were in a relatively small area which made it easier for us to spend time with everyone. Obviously the food was also a big reason to have it there!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (18)

Eventually we did have a theme that came about, but it wasn’t something that I struck upon from day dot! I used to cringe when asked what theme we were having! We had a theme in as much as the table names were named after the mountain huts and summit points on Kilimanjaro and we ended up having the most fabulous Kilimanjaro wedding cake (my husband’s genius idea!), plus our first dance was Wimoweh!

Again, the colour scheme just happened, it wasn’t at all planned. My sister Lorna (who has a stationery company called Toots Designs) designed our beautiful wedding stationery and took her cue for colours from the Belle Epoque period so they were a sort of hyacinth blue/purple and silver combination. I chose bridesmaid dresses from House of Fraser that I loved that were a very dark navy blue, and we had hyacinths in our bouquets. Then there was a lot of silver sparkle on the tables.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (22)

I had planned on picking my dress in the UK while I was back for three weeks last July so that I could have my mum and sister there with me. That didn’t happen quite as planned! I went to check out some bridesmaid dresses in Melbourne that my sister had found but had to wait for an appointment to view them. In the meantime I headed into a few of the other bridal shops and found my dress. I didn’t love it on the rack but once it was on I really loved the way it looked and the detail on the back of it.  The wedding dress shop were really difficult about taking photos of it to send to my mum and sister, so I ended up skyping them both a week or so later while trying it on!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (29)

James wore a really nice suit from Austin Reed, a grey silk suit and his waistcoat and tie were navy blue with small white squares on. The best man and ushers wore grey suits with a navy blue tie.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (34)

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (36)

Our wedding transport for the day was a beautiful Jaguar hired from Decadence Wedding Carriages.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (38)

Adam Riley was our photographer. My mum and dad had met him at a wedding fair in January 2014 and picked up his brochure.  I picked him out straight away and mum and dad said he was their choice too but hadn’t wanted to sway me! I followed Adam’s page on Facebook before we got married and was so excited to see how our photos would turn out. I had such high expectations which can be a bit dangerous…but Adam exceeded them with what he captured. All of our guests commented how well the photos captured the fun and atmosphere of the day. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Adam to anyone. On the day I don’t know how he got the shots he did as you barely noticed he was there!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (43)

My wedding flowers were a mix of thistles and roses (I’m half Scottish), with some eucalyptus as a nod to the Australian part! The bridesmaids had hyacinths in their bouquets too, which are my favourite smelling flowers. Charlotte at the Little Potting Shed worked wonders on the day too decorating the church. I have no idea how she did it, but she managed to get into the church after our service, untie all of the pew ends and take them across to Belle Epoque and place them around the venue there!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (45)

One of the reasons I liked Belle Epoque was that they have quite ornate decorations around the venue anyway and it didn’t need too much decorating. As I was out of the country I wanted to make the wedding venue decorating part as easy as possible. The extra decorations were very simple – I ordered different silver candle holders from Amazon along with table sparkly bits and kept each table quite simple. My sister did all the place cards, table plan and table names and menus which looked fantastic.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (55)

Gemma McGrillis at Baked in Bunbury made us the most amazing cake. She spent about half an hour taking a brief on what my dress was like, the colour of the flowers etc and then produced mocked up images of some potential designs. They were all beautiful and we were spoilt for choice. But then James had the idea of having a Kilimanjaro cake, and what Gemma produced was a masterpiece – and delicious too.

I also put together a photobook to go on the cake table of our pictures from the Kilimanjaro climb, lots of people wouldn’t have seen them and many commented how nice it was to look through them.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (65)

As entertainment we had a ceilidh provided by Triple Scotch as my dad’s Scottish. All of the weddings I have been to with my Scottish family have had ceilidhs and are great fun. Everyone takes part and joins in which makes it lots of fun. We also had a disco.

Our first dance was Wimoweh (the original ‘In the Jungle’ song) as this was our silly song we played while we were planning our trip to Africa, and kind of became the theme song for the trip. I knew I was going to be quitting my job to go so we jokingly code named the trip project wimbaway in any emails to family and friends just in case my bosses were reading emails! My sister and mum thought we should have it as our first dance as we don’t have a particular song we are both attached to, but I thought it was a bit too silly and was a bit worried about what people might think! But the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea, then we had a few dancing lessons to put a routine together for it – although we messed it up on the day because we were laughing too much!

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (56)

Instead of a guestbook my sister designed the most fabulous poster to sign which is now framed at home.  It is a heart shape made out of half British icons and half Australian icons with our names and the date on it.  Most of our guests signed this and it’s lovely to be able to display it. My sister is one talented girl and what she did for our stationery I know other people would have paid a lot for, I can’t thank her enough for all of her help and brilliant work.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (53)

There were so many brilliant moments during the wedding, but the sparkler arch at the end of the day was amazing. I had seen the idea and thought it was a nice way to end the evening and had it all cleared with the venue that we would do it on the roof terrace. While I was putting my nanna in a taxi to take her home I got chatting to the security man on the door who was lovely – turned out he had climbed Kilimanjaro too and his parents were from Uganda. I told him the plans for the sparkler arch and he said to leave it with him and he would get the road shut off to traffic while we did it! He did just that and we had a sparkler arch down King Street in Knutsford! People from the Rose and Crown came out to watch and I got hugs and congratulations from total strangers. However, the best part was the fact that the first car that had been stopped in the traffic was a police car.  He put on his flashing lights and put on his PA system to congratulate us both. It was something that couldn’t have been organised but was such a special and unique way to end a fantastic day.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (62)

The best tip I got given that I would pass on to other Brides Up North is to take time together to enjoy the day. It goes so quickly (everyone told me that but I didn’t realise how quickly), so make sure you take the time just to sit back and watch what is happening. Our car ride to the venue after our service was a really nice chance to do that.

A Sparkling Winter Wedding at The Belle Epoque (c) Adam Riley Photography (74)

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the big debate: autumn/ winter vs. spring/summer

June 19th, 2015 | Julia Braime

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This morning on the wedding blog we tackle that age old wedding planning conundrum – when is the best time of year to tie the knot? A spring/summer soirée or autumn/winter shindig?

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rachel says: autumn/winter

While we can’t guarantee sunshine during the spring/summer season in Britain, one thing we can be sure of is cold weather come autumn/winter. So instantly, if for nothing else but to avoid weather woes, I’m drawn to the chillier months of the year in which to tie the knot.

But there’s more to it than that. Weddings out of peak season can often come at a cheaper price, saving you a buck or two, and a celebrations at this time of year gives guests something exciting to look forward to when their summer holidays are long gone, the days are darker and the temperatures cooler. It also gives brides and grooms the opportunity to piggyback on festive occasions such as Christmas and New Year when people are in full-on party mode.

Personally I find wintry weddings can be incredibly atmospheric. As the days are shorter in terms of light couples tend to look to cosier settings with open fires and candle light to provide a sensational seasonal backdrop to their celebrations. And thanks to the introduction of Scandinavian style tepees, complete with festoon lighting, faux fur throws and fire pits, a winter wedding doesn’t have to take place within four walls.

In terms of décor the cooler months lend themselves to a wide variety of colour palettes, including warm, welcoming hues such as burnt orange as well as pale icy pastels, sparkling metallics and deep elegant shades of emerald green and sapphire blue. Twinkling decorations such as fairy lights, tea light holders and lanterns add to the atmosphere and blooms become more edgy with the addition of berries, thistles and holly.

Then there’s the food. Seriously pass me a bowl of hearty sausage and mash any day over a light salad. As a foodie I find menu choices at weddings one of the most important elements and think couples can have much more fun with comforting winter dishes and tipples, such as steak pie, sticky toffee pudding, mulled wine and prosecco with a dash of crème de cassis, compared more obvious summer options. I’m rather tempted to leave the Eggnog in the 70s though.

Found on, photography by Jennifer Eileen

image source, photography by Jennifer Eileen

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 julia says: spring/summer

Two words: peonies and Pimms.

For me, the dream English wedding scenario involves these two P’s; hazy sunshine in a cloudless blue sky; wide, green lawns dotted with daisies; a heaving bower of blooms atop a church gate; tiny bridesmaids dressed as fairies; a dazzling marquee and long, summer nights.

A spring or summer wedding will always be a winner.  Why?  Because everyone so badly wants it to work. Your guests are ready to mingle after a seemingly endless winter, the ladies are aching to don their summer brights and the boys are keen for some competitive garden games.  If it’s a bit of a damp squib on the day, no one really cares – there’s always fake tan and a free bar to keep everyone happy.  And if you luck out and the sun has got his hat on, well, hip hip hip hooray indeed!

Spring/ summer just fits with weddings.  Traditionally ‘wedding season’ for a reason, it’s a time for new beginnings and fresh starts.  The best flowers are in season, picking a honeymoon destination isn’t a game of weather roulette and you can wear a sleeveless wedding gown without worrying about goose bumps.

All that said, I actually got married in October.

Why? Because for me, my dream May wedding day would have had to involve another P – Piriton. I can generally just about cope with the red rimmed eyes and fuzzy head that my annual bout of hayfever brings – but not on my wedding day. So I shelved my flower plans and opted for an autumn celebration instead, sticking to a classic colour palette of blush pink and charcoal grey to offset and complement the colours of the season.

Just so happened, summer 2010 was nothing to write home about, but October of that year?  A scorcher. So I got my blue skies after all.

Who am I kidding – you can’t plan for the English weather… so get hitched whenever you ruddy well feel like it!  I hope the sun shines for you, whatever month you choose to say ‘I do’.

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 what you said on facebook:

Carla: “We chose to have a summer wedding and have our fingers crossed for sunshine!”

Jane: “Our February wedding will all be indoors anyway, so it doesn’t matter what time of year it is.  Anyway, I think a winter wedding is cosier and more romantic.”

Rachael: “We are incorporating decorations from the venue into our Christmas wedding, so we have a ready made theme that isn’t costing anything.”

Peta: “I love the idea of a traditional English summer wedding – with bunting and croquet!”

Found on, photography by Tessa Barton Photography

image source, photography by Tessa Barton Photography

What’s your opinion – we’d love to hear your thoughts?

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winter opulence. ian stuart for a romantic wedding in the lake district – emma & andy

June 8th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (34)

When planning their wedding, today’s couple say they very much wanted the occasion to revolve around the most important things in their lives – family, friends and love.

Taking just one look at the images below, it’s clear to see that they achieved their aim perfectly, making the day both loving and personable.

We adore Emma’s classic Ian Stuart gown and her maids’ pretty sparkling dresses, all of which tie beautifully with the elegant décor and dreamy hotel setting.

Regardless of what the weather is doing outside today, this wonderful winter wedding is guaranteed to make you feel all warm inside.

With images by Steven Taylor Photography and video by Silver Sixpence Films.

Andy and Emma from Silver Sixpence Films on Vimeo.

emma says: Andy proposed to me at home. It was the 20th October 2012 and I was getting ready to go out on one of our ‘date nights’. As I walked into a candle-lit living room with champagne filled glasses out on the table, my heart started racing. Andy got down on knee and then went on to tell me why he wanted to marry me before popping the question. As you can imagine, I was a blubbering wreck by the end, and of course I blurted out ‘yes’!

We booked our wedding for Saturday 31st January as we both wanted a romantic winter wedding and we thought it was the perfect time of year to hold it. Funnily enough, it was only afterwards that we realised it was exactly four years to the day that we actually met. It was obviously fate and we were meant to book that date.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (16)

We held our wedding at the stunning Merewood Country House Hotel in the Lake District. We both love the lakes and have spent a lot of time there so it seemed only natural – being one of the most romantic places in England, we knew it was the place for us to get married. We chose the Merewood as we really wanted our family and friends to feel like they were coming to somewhere homely, rather than a hotel, which was helped with us having exclusivity of the venue. As soon as you walk in it has such a cosy and warm feel to it with the open fires greeting you in the reception. It’s grand but still intimate at the same time.

I asked my two best friends and my sister to be bridesmaids and my beautiful little niece and they were all just amazing. I also asked four of my closest friends to walk down the aisle in front of me as sadly my beloved Dad passed away from cancer in September 2012. It was lovely to have all my closest girlfriends there with me right before I walked down as they have all been a great support to me over the years and it was definitely the right choice as I felt secure in the fact that if I did have a wobble, they were there. Luckily I walked in and saw everyone’s beaming faces and then I caught my future husband’s eye and he just gave me a reassuring look that he wasn’t far away – I just took a deep breath and I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked towards him.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (18)

We didn’t have a theme as such, but there were parts of the day that hinted at our styles and influences. For example my late Granddad, my Dad’s father, was a film buff and the manager of a cinema when it was all on film. I just loved to watch all of the old movies with him so Andy and I did our wedding invites like an old Hollywood cinema ticket (which our guests tore off and then sent back as an rsvp).

There is something so romantic about a winter wedding, so for my colour scheme I wanted to keep it very simple, classic and beautiful with elegance to it. I just adore whites, creams, greys and soft colours together, and it was fabulous that all the bridal party coordinated their outfits around that palette too. I wanted it to look magical, with a touch of glamour and sparkle!

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (27)

The dress I chose was an Ian Stuart couture gown from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden, Yorkshire. I knew I had found the one, as it not only exuded glamour with an edge to it, but it was also timeless and feminine. I found inspiration from Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress that she wore when she married JFK in 1953. I just adored the neckline and I found something similar with my gown which gave it that Hollywood Glamour feel to it and I just fell in love instantly.

Andy wore a slim fit dark blue three-piece suit that he bought from Slaters in Leeds with a white shirt and a white tie and he also wore Kurt Geiger tanned brogues. He had tried on Paul Smith, Hugo Boss and viewed many other suits, but Slater’s had a huge variety and the fits were perfect – not to mention the price!

For my beautiful bridesmaids I chose dresses from a website called Virgos Lounge. I loved that they were a bit different and very glamorous and with it being winter the soft light grey and the iridescent leaf shaped embellishment on the dresses looked stunning.

The best man, usher and the father of the groom all wore suits also bought from Slaters in Leeds. We went for something slightly different from Andy’s suit, so we picked out a very similar one for the men but in a dark grey with light blue/grey spotted white ties, which really complemented all the girls’ dresses. The boys also all wore Kurt Geiger tanned brogues.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (28)

When it came to the wedding photos we sought advice from our wedding co-ordinator and chose a local award-winning photographer known very well by the venue. Steven Taylor was superb from our first meeting to the end of our wedding day. He listened to our thoughts and did the most amazing job on the day with his son Josh and after receiving the proofs back recently, we understand why they are award-winning – they captured the whole day perfectly. We also had Silver Sixpence Films to capture the day on video for us.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (40)

On the day I carried a beautiful, opulent massed posy bouquet of ivory roses, lisianthus and gypsophila bound with ivory satin ribbon. They were provided by Kevin from Brackens of Bowness.

With us deciding on a romantic ivory and cream wedding, we opted to have tall vases for the reception centrepieces, filled with acorns with tall willow branches and hanging glass tea-light holders. On the other tables we had round shallow glass bowls filled with acorns and twisted ivory willow with a cluster of candles in the centre. Down the staircase we had willow and foliage wound down the banister with fairy lights intertwined. Kevin from Brackens of Bowness again supplied these stunning arrangements. He was amazing and listened to everything that I wanted to achieve. With Kevin’s talent and creativity he helped make the venue look like the fairy-tale wedding I had always dreamed of.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (37)

We didn’t do favours at the wedding breakfast. Instead we had personalised chocolate bars created for our family and friends who were staying at the hotel and placed them in their rooms for their arrival.

We opted for a four-course wedding breakfast. It took us a little while to decide on the menu as all of the food is so delicious and it is also locally sourced. In the evening, we had mini fish and chips served in traditional newspaper cones. It was all absolutely delicious!

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (39)

We both enjoy music, so it featured heavily throughout the day. The thinking was to have very much beautiful and relaxing music, building as the day went on so we had a string quartet to entertain people before and after the ceremony. Andy recorded a live DJ mix for the wedding breakfast containing music from our favourite films interlaced with famous quotes from cinema.

To get the evening started, Andy had also prepared some warm up before a fantastic rock band called Blue Star Tattoo from West Yorkshire performed on the night with classics by AC/DC, ZZ Top and The Who, through to more current hits by The Killers, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys. We chose this band as a nod to my Dad Geoff (and Andy’s Dad John) who both love rock and roll.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (46)

In the library we displayed family photos of our nearest and dearest to give a homely feel and also in remembrance to special people who could not be there with us that weekend. With candles lit and love quotes added around the fireplaces, it added to the romantic and relaxing ambience of the venue.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (48)

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (47)

We used Purple Swan for the hire of our chair covers, which were white with crystal vintage brooches on ivory lace sashes and bows. The company were fabulous and made everything so easy and stress free by dressing the room the night before and they were so professional. I bought the lanterns and candles from the shop The Range in Leeds to add a touch of romance down the aisle as well.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (49)

We would most definitely recommend our venue to others. Everything about it is fabulous, from the views to the food, and the first class service. The venue has so much character, it still has many of the original features, which include magnificent fireplaces and gorgeous stained glass windows. We felt at home as soon as we walked in. No matter how many times you visit, when it’s time to go home, you just don’t want to leave.

My favourite part of the day was sitting down to eat the amazing food at the wedding breakfast next to my new husband and looking around at all of our favourite people in the world, all sat together and there just for us was simply the best feeling in the whole world.

A romantic winter wedding in The Lake District (c) Steven Taylor Photography (58)

We are planning to go on honeymoon to Santorini this summer to catch some sun and some amazing scenery, and as Andy is obsessed with sunsets (apparently they have some of the best in the world), we couldn’t think of anywhere more romantic to go.

My top tip to other Brides Up North is to make sure you enjoy the lead up to your wedding day, enjoy being engaged. The day itself goes so fast, I know it sounds cliché but it does so take time out with your new groom/bride for a few moments during the day and evening as you are both in demand and so busy. It’s lovely to have a few moments now and again to both look around and think – ‘This is our wedding day, how amazing is this?’

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home for christmas. a twinkling winter wedding in the north west – kylie & graeme

June 3rd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (43)

Here at Brides Up North HQ, it’s just dawned on us that there’s only 6 months till Christmas!  Since we haven’t really seen a sniff of summer yet, that still feels like a pretty long time away to us, but if you’re planning a winter wedding, we bet time is just racing by.

Today’s real wedding couple followed up their festive engagement with a vintage Christmas themed wedding at a luxury Cheshire hotel, so we hope their lovely celebration leaves you feeling inspired and looking ahead!

Keeping things classic yet classy Kylie and Graeme ditched a traditional red or white winter wedding colour scheme in favour of an elegant navy and pink theme, complete with hints of sparkle. Subtle Christmas touches were then blended with pretty vintage décor for a stylish setting.

We love Kylie’s lace fishtail dress (that was clearly meant to be) as well as the bridesmaids’ elegant bespoke dresses and the guys looked very handsome in their fitted suits too!

With images by Emma Hillier Photography.

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (1)

kylie says: I was studying my first degree in Liverpool and Gray (Graeme) use to visit all the time. We had been together three years when he proposed. It was Christmas Eve and I returned to find tea lights and rose petals everywhere. I opened my gifts and in the last present was a box with a diamond in it. Gray then got down on one knee and proposed. Looking back I am so glad there was no massive ‘out in public’ proposal, the way Gray proposed was so intimate and perfect. Just us.

We decided to tie the knot on 23rd December 2014. Gray is a massive Christmas fan! We both are actually, particularly because between 2010 and 2014 I studied my second degree and I was away from our home a lot, and Christmas was the only time we really got to spend quality time together.

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (2)

Our wedding was not only a celebration of our love but it was a way of remembering all our lovely Christmas times together and celebrating that I was finally home for good.

We got married at the Grosvenor Pulford in Cheshire. We absolutely adore this venue. On our first visit the wedding co-ordinator was really attentive and nothing was too much trouble, even with all our ideas! The venue also looks so lovely at Christmas time, the in-house decorations are stunning. The venue is big enough to invite everyone you want but small enough so you don’t feel lost in the venue.  I loved that we were the only wedding that day too.

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (4)

It was a vintage Christmas wedding. I wanted lots of subtle winter touches but without it feeling like your typical Christmas wedding. We also wanted a vintage feel, so we had birdcages decorating the venue and a vintage style wedding cake with lots of sparkle thrown in!

The colour scheme was navy and pink. The bridesmaids were in navy and there were subtle hints of pink dotted around. Navy looks fantastic during winter and I’m a sucker for pink!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (8)

My wedding dress was a lace fishtail dress – I adored it! I saw the dress on a wedding blog and I just loved it as soon as I saw it so I rang round lots of bridal shops in the area to see if they stocked this particular dress and none of them did. It looked like I was going to have to pay to have it shipped to a bridal shop to try it on, which I was reluctant to do in case I didn’t like it. Then a week later, one of the bridal shops I called had received the sample dress on error in my size, they were going to send it back that day to the designer so they said if I wanted to try it on I needed to come right away. I raced to the bridal shop and I was so glad I did, as soon as I tried it on I loved it!

Gray bought a suit from Reiss. He originally was going to wear a navy suit and grey tie like the groomsmen but we went into Reiss to get some suit inspiration and Gray took a liking to his suit straight away. So on the day Gray wore a grey suit and navy knitted tie and the groomsmen wore navy wool suits from Burton with grey ties from Topman.

I had the bridesmaid dresses designed and made by the fabulous fashion designer Klue by KellyAnn. I cannot tell you how much I love the bridesmaid dresses. I loved that each one was made to measure and my bridesmaids could tweak any aspect of the dress that they wanted to. Some of my bridesmaids had midi pencil dresses and one of my bridesmaids was able to a have a dress that she could spin around all day in at her hearts content!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (11)

Emma Hillier Photography was our chosen photographer. Emma is the most amazing photographer I have ever met. I may be biased but that’s not only because I have the most amazing wedding photographs but we have some amazing engagement shoot pictures and boudoir pictures too. Emma is such a lovely person, she puts me completely at ease and my wedding day would not have been the same if she wasn’t there. She was so calming on my wedding morning and my family loved her.

The first time I saw her pictures from another wedding Gray and I both knew she was going to be our wedding photographer. She captured the wedding day so perfectly and nothing was too much trouble for her or no idea was too wacky! We love you Emma!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (16)

Vivid Floral Design provided our flowers – this was a very important aspect to me. I explained to Mandy at Vivid Floral Design exactly what I wanted and she delivered my vision perfectly. I loved my bouquet with the added glitter and sparkle and the bridesmaids’ bouquets were exactly what I envisioned in my mind. I also picked the groom’s and groomsmen’s button holes and asked Mandy to add the twine to them last minute as a surprise to my future husband.  He loved it!

Vivid floral design also supplied our table arrangements which were fantastic with the roses and dangling tea lights. Our table plan was created by Deannamic Designs.

As favours we gave our guests ‘Grylie’ (a combination of Graeme and Kylie) strawberry jam which was made by both of us over a weekend. It was something fun for us both to do together and our guests loved it with many since asking for a second batch!

We chose a three tier sponge wedding cake. Each tier was a different flavour: Victoria sponge, lemon and coconut. We didn’t want royal icing on the outside and asked for buttercream instead. It was amazing!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (20)

We had Rock Revolution as our evening band and one of the members of the band also played the piano during the wedding breakfast. The band were amazing and everyone said how much fun they had dancing away to them. They even got me and my bridesmaids up to help with the backing vocals of one song!

Special moments on the day included my brother walking me down the aisle as my dad is no longer with us, which was a really emotional moment for us both. Two of the bridesmaids also did readings, which were really touching.  One was heartfelt and the other more humorous. It was nice to get a mixture of emotions during the ceremony and made the ceremony personal to us.

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (25)

Other suppliers that we used on the day that we would recommend are Love Umbrellas who provided our umbrellas, The Glass Slipper Company where I got my shoes from, Crown and Glory which is where we got the bridesmaids’ hair pieces from and Nicola Joyce who did hair and makeup. Also, our invitations and stationary were done by Artwork by Angie. We had completely bespoke stationery made and the outcome was more than I expected. Angie is so amazing to work with!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (50)

My favourite parts of the day included getting ready with all my favourite girls. It was nice having that time with them. I also loved seeing Gray’s face as I walked down the aisle. It was just amazing having all our nearest and dearest under one roof and sharing the day with them.

Gray says the best part of the day for him was seeing me walking down the aisle, he says I looked absolutely stunning. Gray is usually quite a calm person, he didn’t get flustered about doing his speech or saying his vows in front of people but recalls the anticipation just before I arrived and the emotion he felt when he saw me… feelings he says he’s never felt before!

A Christmas Wedding with Vintage Touches (c) Emma Hillier Photography (44)

We went on a minimoon over New Year in Scotland. It was a secluded lodge with a hot tub called ‘the hideaway experience’ and was simply amazing. Each night we would be in the hot tub and we would chat and just admire the stars. We will be having a honeymoon this summer and plan to visit Halkidiki in Greece.

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be do what makes you happy, listen to advice from friends and family but ultimately do what you want to do. Also, pick your battles; don’t waste energy getting stressed on the lead up to the big day. You want to look back on the build-up in a positive way.

Finally, don’t worry about people not turning up to the evening; people might not be able to attend even if they had the best intentions to. The friends and family that are there will still make sure you have an amazing day!

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snow in love. ronald joyce for a radiant winter wedding at the maynard – rachel & gareth

May 20th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (48)

We may be supposed to be heading into high summer right now (although as I’m writing this there is hail beating on the window outside) but here at Brides Up North HQ just the very sight of a winter wedding makes us dream of mulled wine and mince pies, getting us excited about the chillier months to come.

If you’re in the middle of planning your Christmas wedding, Rachel and Gareth’s seasonal celebration has it all – stunning wreaths complete with red berries and mistletoe, warm comforting food and a classic red colour scheme.

So forget about the (lack of) sunshine – an easy ask for us northerners – wrap up warm and let’s head to the stunning Peak District to relive this gorgeous couple’s big day.

With images by Richmond Pictures.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (13)

rachel says: We got engaged in London. We had given a voucher for a meal for two in the Apex Hotel at Tower Bridge as a Christmas present. We booked the meal for 8th February 2014 and decided to make a night of it by booking a room there too. Gareth proposed in the hotel room as we were getting ready to go down to dinner. It was a bit of a shock but I couldn’t have been happier!

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (22)

We got married on 13th December 2014. We both really wanted a winter wedding, there’s something romantic about that time of the year and the run up to Christmas. The crisp, frosty days and (hopefully) blue skies outside while we cosy up inside, perfect!

We got married at Fulwood Old Chapel in Sheffield. We picked this as we wanted to get married somewhere close to where I was brought up. The chapel is small and intimate so it was perfect for our numbers and we felt it would be nice to have our family and friends fill the whole place and really feel like a part of the ceremony.

Our reception was held at The Maynard in Grindleford, Derbyshire. We went to a wedding fair there and knew straight away it was the perfect venue for us. There are stunning views from the rooms looking out across the Peak District.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (38)

As it was coming up to Christmas we played a little on that and had a snowflake theme. We had snowflake Christmas tree decorations as wedding favours, the cake was decorated with snowflakes and our stationery and table confetti was snowflake themed too.

We picked red and silver for our colours. Again because of the time of the year. The bridesmaids had red dresses which looked stunning and vibrant in the winter light.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (41)

I chose a dress by Ronald Joyce from Brides by Losners in Stamford Hill, London. I picked this one because my mum and my bridesmaid cried when I put it on – so I was pretty sure this was the dress for me! It was the complete opposite of what I’d imagined for myself as it was quite fitted, but I loved it from the first time I tried it on.

On the wedding day my makeup was done by Lisa Kirby in Sheffield and my hair was styled by Kirstine Allott of Kutz in Dore, Sheffield, both of whom I would recommend.

Gareth hired a navy blue three piece lounge suit with red tie from Young’s suit hire. The groomsmen wore the same. The bridesmaids wore gowns from twobirds in claret.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (42)

I travelled from my parents’ house with my dad in a vintage Jaguar while my bridesmaids travelled to the chapel in another vintage jaguar. These were provided by a family friend.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (46)

Karina and Tom Lax of Richmond Pictures were our photographers. We would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a wedding photographer. They were so professional but also fun and friendly and made us feel totally at ease throughout the whole day. Karina and Tom really did their homework before our big day and found an amazing place for us to have some pictures taken after the ceremony; it was like something out of Wuthering Heights! We are absolutely over the moon with our photos, a perfect reminder of our special day for us to look back on.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (47)

Our flowers were provided by Vikki Baxter at Jo Price Flowers in Sheffield. I had a bouquet of red roses, mistletoe, red berries and Christmas tree twigs.

Vikki also provided the flowers for the chapel and reception. We had a heart shaped wreath above the door at the Chapel and arrangements around the inside with the same flowers and foliage as the bridal bouquet and also cinnamon sticks, orange slices and nuts to make it really Christmassy. We also had Christmas wreath style table centre pieces around hurricane lamps, lots of tea lights and a twinkle curtain as a back drop behind the top table, which were provided by Weddings by Dragonfly.

My mum, my bridesmaid and I made snowflake Christmas tree decorations as wedding favours using snowflake wire form beads and ribbon. These also doubled as place names as we threaded name tags on the ribbon with our guests’ names on one side and our names and the date on the reverse.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (55)

We chose a three tiered cake iced in white and decorated with snowflakes. Each layer was different flavour – vanilla sponge, chocolate sponge and a fruit cake. The fruit cake was made by my mum and the rest by a family friend.

For our wedding menu we picked winter warming food – chicken with bubble and squeak and a sticky toffee pudding dessert. We had champagne for our toasts so we could celebrate in style!

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (60)

We really wanted our guests to have a great time and leave thinking ‘wow’ so we hired a magician for the drinks reception and a photo booth for the evening reception, provided by Rhythm of Your Choice.  My parents also booked some singing waiters who performed during the meal. This was a complete to surprise to the both of us and also to all our guests. One of the waitresses dropped a whole tray of cutlery which got everyone’s attention, and then started singing ‘Let it go’ from Frozen as she got up from the floor! It was such a shock but soon everyone was joining in, dancing and waving napkins in the air!  We had a band in the evening called Banzai and a DJ provided by Rhythm of Your Choice.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (66)

We would recommend both the chapel and The Maynard to other couples. Janet and Peter at the chapel were so friendly and helpful from the minute we booked our ceremony with them.  It’s perfect for smaller weddings. I would recommend The Maynard for its setting. There are so many beautiful places for photos and stunning views from the venue. The food, drink and service on the day were all excellent.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (68)

The ceremony itself was our favourite part of the day. Having all our family and friends in one place at the same time who were all there to support us and celebrate with us was so touching.

A classic Christmas wedding at The Maynard (c) Richmond Pictures (75)

We went to Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives for our two week honeymoon. We had a month between our wedding and honeymoon so we could enjoy Christmas at home with our families. The resort was fantastic and just what we wanted. White sandy beaches, beautiful blue seas, excellent food and drink, and stunning sea life on the house reef where we went snorkelling every day.

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – try to relax and enjoy the day! Look around and see all your friends and family who are there for you.

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