Hardwick Hall Grand Wedding Exhibition
Charlotte Balbier

by the sea. sophia tolli for an autumnal wedding at newton hall – amanda & phil

December 9th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (57)

Today’s real wedding couple love nothing more than escaping to the beach with their daughter for some quality family time. It was little surprise then that when a wedding venue by the sea was suggested, they booked it straight away.

Taking inspiration from the season, Philip and Amanda’s wedding day featured elegant autumnal touches including some rather unusual white pumpkins that are apparently only available for a few days of the year. Shame, they would suit our office perfectly!

With images by Danny Birrell Photography.

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (62)

amanda says: We got engaged on 7th December 2013, during a weekend away to York where we met at university (we now live in Whitley Bay). We went for a nice lunch and a few glasses of wine, and got all wrapped up to go for a walk around York. We were in the York Minster Gardens when Phil got down on one knee and popped the question, just as the minster bells began to chime. Everyone around us cheered and it was all very romantic. After seven years together of course I said yes.

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (65)

We were married on Sunday 18th October 2015. We knew we wanted an autumnal wedding, in October, as that was the month we met nine years previously.

We went for a look around As You Like It in Jesmond, Newcastle, and had a chat with them about their venue. They mentioned a sister venue, Newton Hall in Northumberland, were having an open day soon after, so we went there for a look around, fell in love and reserved the date that day! Newton Hall had a formal, yet relaxed atmosphere that we just loved! All of the little eccentricities just added to the character of the venue, and when we walked into the garden suite, we just knew it was perfect. It was an added bonus it has its very own beach close by!

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magical mint. mori lee for a wedding in the tree tops at the alnwick garden – wendy & david

November 12th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (60)

This morning’s real wedding couple decided to make to plan a wedding that was pretty and personal rather than shaping it around one set theme.

The result is a very natural and romantic big day that’s brimming with beautiful elements; from the fairy tale style venue to the gorgeous blooms and delicate decor, this one has it all!

With images by Brides Up North favourite, Paul Liddement Wedding Stories.

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (43)

wendy says: We got engaged on the banks of Loch Lomond in February 2013. I’m from Helensburgh, near Loch Lomond and I love boats so Dave arranged for us to go on a boat tour for my birthday. After a beautiful, if slightly chilly, trip around the loch and a whisky to calm the nerves, Dave got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

A Magical Mint Wedding at The Alnwick Garden (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (57)

Our wedding date was Saturday 6th June 2015. As we were getting married outside we wanted to choose date where we might have slightly less chance of getting rain.

We got married and had our reception at The Treehouse in Alnwick Gardens. We looked at a number of venues in and around my hometown and felt they were far too formal. I then started looking online for unusual wedding venues and came across the Treehouse. As soon as we walked up its walkway we knew we had found the right place; it’s so naturally beautiful, the perfect size and adorned with fairy lights!

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chic-onomics. augusta Jones for an elegant wedding at lartington hall – jessica & chris

September 1st, 2015 | Rachel Parry

www.joestenson.co.uk

If you were too busy playing out this Bank Holiday to catch up on all  things Brides Up North, make sure you click here to catch up on yesterday’s news… the new season and Unveiled Magazine, Issue #04 has landed! No rest for us wicked ones though, we’re getting busy with the pretty right away today… today’s bride and groom don’t like things too over the top and so decided to keep their big day simple and elegant, with both modern and traditional touches.

Following a church ceremony Jessica, Chris and their guests carried on the proceedings at the stunning Lartington Hall, which (having visited ourselves) we can say is a splendid choice of venue.

We love how chic this wedding is. With pretty pastel blooms, classic wedding transport and a dreamy satin wedding gown (in which Jessica looks gorgeous) it might be simple, but it sure is stylish!

With images by Joe Stenson.

www.joestenson.co.uk

jessica says: Chris attempted to propose on two different occasions. The first time was a surprise trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately there was an issue with the ring he had chosen so he didn’t have one and choose not to propose (but we did get to see the lights!).

The second was a surprise weekend to Paris but it was the week in 2014 when we had terrible storms and we got stuck in Dover for nine hours as the port was closed so we ended up missing the restaurant booking and arrived at 1am! Again he chose not to propose.

Third time lucky was an impromptu picnic in the New Forrest (we live in Surrey although I’m from County Durham) with our little dog Frank. Chris was acting very strangely, pacing up and down and eventually got down on one knee and popped the question. It couldn’t have been more perfect – beautiful scenery, wellies on and dog by our side!

www.joestenson.co.uk

We set the date for 25th April 2015. We originally wanted a winter wedding but as Chris proposed in March, I was worried there wasn’t enough time to organise a wedding for that winter. I love spring so this was our next option.

We got married at St. Romald’s Church, Romaldkirk, Teesdale, but we had our wedding weekend, including the reception at Lartington Hall.

My family have connections to the area and St. Romald’s is a beautiful church. We also fell in love with Lartington Hall and the two are only a few miles apart so it worked really well when transporting our guests. We chose Lartington Hall because it was exactly what we had dreamed of for a reception venue. It has all the English countryside charm of a stately home, but is stylish and elegant with a modern twist but doesn’t lose its fabulous history and appeal. John and the team at Lartington Hall are also just fantastic and put us at ease that we had chosen the right venue on our first meeting.

www.joestenson.co.uk

Simple elegance was our theme. We aren’t a fussy couple, we don’t really like lots of bling or making a big statement so we wanted the day to reflect our personalities. It was all about having a traditional, English country wedding with everyone we love around us having a relaxed day and loads of fun.

www.joestenson.co.uk

I’d always wanted my bridesmaids to wear navy dresses, however when we decided on a spring wedding we were worried they might look a little wintery. Rather than change the colour of their dresses, we decided to lighten the colour palette by having beautiful spring flowers in shades of light pinks, purples and blues. The stationary, cake and groomsmen’s accessories all followed the lighter spring colour theme.

A Chic Wedding at Lartington Hall (c) Joe Stenson (1)

I wanted a simple, classic and elegant dress. After trying on loads, I finally found my one at Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique in Beaconsfield. My dress was Anna by Augusta Jones. It is a structured ball gown with a sweetheart neckline, waist defining sash, and a full skirt, made in cream coloured Satin de Chine. I chose an organza overlay skirt also by Augusta Jones which I wore for the church service with a satin edge cathedral veil. For the evening I changed my sash and wore an Austrian crystal sash called Virginia from Ivory & Co. to give me a different look. My shoes were by Emmy London and were customised with mother of pearl T-bar.

www.joestenson.co.uk

Chris and all of the groomsmen wore traditional navy tails from Moss Bros. Chris wore an ivory waistcoat and cravat, while the groomsmen wore silver waistcoats and Creswell pink cravats. Our nephews (aged seven and ten) had top hats to match their suits.

The bridesmaids wore Dessy dresses in ‘midnight’ which we purchased from Poppy Bridal in Darlington. They matched these with silver sandals and were each given a silver bracelet to wear on the day.

On the wedding day Sally Ward from La Belle Vous, did hair and makeup for me and my three bridesmaids. She did a fantastic job and was lovely to have around on what could have been a very stressful morning! Everyone looked gorgeous but most importantly felt really good after she had worked her magic.

www.joestenson.co.uk

We hired traditional cars from Brooklands Wedding Cars in Durham, to transport all of the wedding party. My mum and I travelled in a 1930s Beauford convertible in navy and cream. The bridesmaids travelled in a 1920s Regent Landaulette in navy and cream, and the groom and family travelled in a cream Daimler State Limousine.

As we met in Nottingham and moved to the south and with Chris’ family being from Hampshire, the vast majority of our guests had to travel to our wedding. Because of this we wanted to put on a coach transfer from the hotels they were staying to the wedding and back again. We organised this through Enterprise Travel, based in Darlington.

www.joestenson.co.uk

When it came to booking a photographer, we contacted Joe Stenson who was based in Leeds and he travelled to meet us for an initial chat. We instantly knew we had picked the right photographer. He is hugely talented with a very laidback approach and was an absolute pleasure to have as part of our big day. We can’t stop looking at our photos – they are just fantastic and really capture what a happy, fun day it was. We would highly recommend Joe, and his colleague George, who also photographed our day.

www.joestenson.co.uk

Kirsty and Katy from Darling & Green, created all of our flower arrangements for church and venue and our bouquets and button holes, Hydrangea were our main theme for the flowers and these were arranged along with a selection of ranunculus, tulips, astrantia, allium sphaerocephalon and hellebores, following our spring colour palette of light dusky pink, soft shades of pink and purple with touches of very light blue and soft foliage.

Darling & Green arranged all of the venue flowers as well in the same theme as above. We had hurricane vases with candles and flowers and tall goblet vases with flowers on alternate tables. We also had mantelpiece arrangements of flowers and candles in the main ball room as well as vintage bottles containing hydrangea heads dotted around the different rooms of Lartington Hall. At the church we had the archway into the church decorated with willow and our chosen flowers, pew ends of hydrangeas and pedestal arrangements containing flowers and candles.

www.joestenson.co.uk

Jill Ellis who owns Hope You Can Make It, in Middlesbrough, designed all of our stationary in shades of the pinks and purples of the hydrangeas so the theme was continued through to the table plan, table names, menus and place settings.

We created a table plan using an antique picture frame, antique keys and old luggage tags. Guests were invited to ‘find the key to their seat’ from the keys hung on the table plan and on each individuals key was the name of their table. We also purchased a drop top guest book where guests could write messages on wooden hearts and post them in the top of an oak frame to create a keepsake of the day.

A Chic Wedding at Lartington Hall (c) Joe Stenson (9)

On our recent trip to Paris we fell in love with traditional Parisian macaroons and so decided to give these as favours to our guests. Chris Burnett at Burnetts 4 Cakes, created traditional macaroons in blush pink and each guest had two macaroons presented in a gift bag at their place setting.

Chris also created our cake. We wanted a simple, elegant, statement cake with oversized tiers and squared edges. Chris took our ideas and created a stunning cake. Each tier was a different flavour: fruit, carrot, chocolate orange and red velvet. The tiers were very plain with ivory icing, except for the bottom tier which was covered in intricate blush pink iced frills. My only regret was I didn’t get any! But we have saved the fruit tier so there is still hope!

Following canapés served during the drinks reception, we had a wedding breakfast of Smoked Salmon to start, Roast Beef and Yorkshire puddings for mains and Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. In the evening we had hog roast sandwiches served on the dance floor in large baskets – not to interrupt proceedings!

www.joestenson.co.uk

To provide entertainment during the church service we booked Dr Robin Harrison, who is a fantastically talented organ player, and his choir The Bobby Dazzlers. They performed while we were signing the register and were very popular among the guests. We then hired Purple Supper Band for the entertainment back at Lartington Hall and they played jazz piano during our drinks reception, followed by two very lively sets by the band and the DJ finished the night off. The dance floor was full from start to finish!

www.joestenson.co.uk

To make the wedding all the more special, we invited our immediate wedding party to stay with us for the weekend at Lartington Hall, which has 12 beautiful bedrooms. We had a lovely rehearsal dinner on the Friday prior to the wedding and the Saturday preparations were very relaxed as everyone was in the same place.

We would absolutely recommend Lartintgon Hall to all. It is a truly stunning venue, but also the team are so friendly and accommodating – nothing is too much trouble. They make the weekend an extremely relaxing one so the wedding couple can concentrate on enjoying their special day. We could not have asked for more from them.

The wedding service was obviously very special to us, but I think our favourite part of the day was walking into the ball room at Lartington Hall to greet our guests for dinner and seeing everyone together for us – we also got a huge cheer which was fantastic!

www.joestenson.co.uk

Neither I nor Chris had been to Asia or the Far East so we wanted to visit this part of the world for our honeymoon. We chose Vietnam with a one-night stopover in Singapore on the way home. We were away for three weeks and had a fabulous time visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Halong Bay with a ten day stay on a private cove at the fabulous Six Senses Resort Nimh Van Bay. The best things we did were a Vietnamese cookery course, conducted in a tropical garden and a private dining experience in a cave for my birthday. Singapore was a fabulous end to the trip as it was a total contrast to the cities of Vietnam with its modern infrastructure, sky scraper buildings and super clean streets.

www.joestenson.co.uk

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – lists, lists and more lists! I make lists in my sleep so this was the way I organised myself during the planning stages. On the day itself, I would say make sure everything is done by the day before so you can really relax and enjoy every little second of the day – it is over so fast. Also, take a step back and observe just for a few seconds at different stages of the day. It is such a blur when it’s all over you will be pleased you took mental pictures of everything that is going on around you.

I can honestly say it was the best day of our lives!

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by the quayside. a city wedding with vintage touches in newcastle – katy-rose & chris

July 10th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (22)

Today’s couple tied the knot in an iconic part of Newcastle, down by the Millennium Bridge.

Mixing old with new Katy-Rose and Chris chose a modern setting for their Quayside wedding in the form of the Malmaison hotel and then mixed in subtle vintage touches through their transport and attire choices.

Though a small and intimate wedding it looks like a good party followed the ceremony with a blues band providing the evening entertainment.

With images by Barry Forshaw Photography.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (1)

katy-rose says: We got engaged in Barcelona in 2007. Chris was so emotional he couldn’t actually ask me to marry him so he just pushed the ring on my finger – thankfully it would have been a ‘yes’!

We chose to get married on 15th May 2015 as May is our favourite month of the year and we also liked how the date looked written down – 15.05.15.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (2)

We got married at Gateshead Registry office and then had the reception/evening do at Malmaison on the Quayside. We knew we wanted a very small wedding (18 during the day, 50 altogether on the night) so we thought Malmaison would be the perfect venue – and it was!

The wedding was loosely inspired by the 1920s. My dress had a vintage look about it as did the car we hired and the band we chose had a vintage feel too. During our meal we played music from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Etta James and Frank Sinatra to set the scene.

Other than the bouquet, button holes and my make-up there wasn’t really a colour scheme, we kept things quite relaxed in that respect.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (10)

I wore a gorgeous 1920s style beaded dress from YAP Bridal, based in Newcastle. It is a beautiful and simple dress with a sweet heart neckline, intricate beading and elegant train. YAP Bridal were fantastic from beginning to end, they really made me feel special! To complete my look Cheryl Watson from Washington styled my hair on the day which I was delighted with!

Chris wore a lovely slate grey suit from Debenhams with a purple and silver tie.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (17)

On the day I travelled in a vintage style 1920s Regents car which was provided by Brooklands Wedding Cars, based in Durham. The car was stunning and the driver was so lovely, he really eased my nerves!

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (20)

Barry of Barry Forshaw Photography was our photographer and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy! He has a lovely nature and put us at ease straight away. The photographs are beautiful and they capture my family and friends’ personalities really well! We couldn’t recommend him enough!

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (19)

I carried a beautiful bouquet which consisted of roses, lavender and ivy. Helen from Flower Fever provided the bouquet and button holes and we would highly recommend her to others!

In terms of décor, we kept the table really simplistic, so instead of flowers we used black slate and pillar candles to decorate.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (24)

As favours we gave our guests cute cupcakes. When it came to the main wedding cake – I made my own! It was a fruit cake soaked in a lot of brandy! I decorated it with the flowers my Nanna had made for our engagement cake.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (27)

To keep our guests entertained we hired a fantastic blues band called Monkey Junk who played on the wedding night. We love blues music and especially love the sound of slide guitar!

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (32)

We would most definitely recommend our wedding venue to other brides and grooms. Malmaison is a modern venue with great style and atmosphere. They made sure I didn’t have to worry about anything on the day and took care of every last detail. It was also very relaxed and they use their initiative if things are going ahead/behind schedule. Excellent venue!

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (37)

My favourite part of the day was the wedding breakfast, seeing all of my family and friends together, celebrating with a lovely meal.

An Intimate Wedding at Malmaison Quayside (c) Barry Forshaw Photography (40)

After the wedding we jetted off to New York for six days. We had been before in 2010 and knew immediately that it would be the perfect place for our honeymoon. Greenwich Village is our favourite place to hang out.

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be simply to take in and enjoy every moment because it does go very fast!

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beside the sea. a pretty pastel wedding at newton hall, northumberland – michelle & nikki

April 23rd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (49)

Today’s stunning couple had Northumberland’s first same sex marriage, and the stylish ladies certainly made sure it would be an event to remember.

Michelle and Nikki chose a gorgeous seaside location for their romantic celebration, complete with pretty floral decorations and vintage touches.

Nikki looked gorgeous in her lace Essense of Australia gown while Michelle rocked a sophisticated Marc Jacobs fitted suit during their summer ceremony.

Following the “I dos” there were cocktails, delicious food and a host of live entertainment, what more could you want from a wedding?

With images by Erika Tanith Photography.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (5)

nikki says: We went travelling around Australia together and got engaged just after midnight on 1st January 2010 on Sydney Harbour. We were enjoying celebrating the New Year out on a boat in the lightshow next to the Opera House when I asked Michelle to marry me.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (8)

We were married on 14th July 2014. We picked the date as it is in-between both our birthdays and we really wanted summer wedding.

We chose to marry at Newton Hall. As soon as we visited we knew we wouldn’t find anywhere else that compared. The hall and grounds were exclusive to us all day and night. The location was perfect with a beach nearby and we often visit Northumberland for day trips.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (16)

We didn’t have a particular theme as such but we quite liked the vintage look with a quirky twist to match the venue. We chose a pastel teal colour scheme as it would go nice with the venue, the season and complement the men’s’ light grey suits.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (17)

I chose a dress from Essense of Australia, it was a very light ivory dress with a lace dress over the top – I picked it to match the vintage theme. The dress was light and comfortable. When shopping for my dress I couldn’t believe how heavy most of the gowns were and being a summer wedding was relieved when I found my dress which was much lighter. Michelle wore a fitted black suit and blouse from Marc Jacobs.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (21)

The bridesmaids wore light teal dresses from Debenhams to match the theme while the men and children wore light grey suits from Next with black ties.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (27)

Our hair and makeup artist was a very talented lady called Maxine Ayre. She did a wonderful job of the hair and makeup for everyone in the bridal party. It is very rare that you find someone who can do both hair pinups and makeup to such a high standard. Would highly recommend – couldn’t have wished for a nicer person and who made us feel so relaxed on the morning too knowing we were in good hands.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (35)

Michelle and her family stayed at nearby Doxford Hall the night before so travelled in a VW Campervan which we hired from Brooklands Wedding Cars.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (38)

Erika Tanith was our photographer, we would certainly recommend her. The quality and creativity of her photos were stunning and she felt like part of the family on the day.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (47)

I carried memory lane and avalanche roses in my bouquet which was made by talented florists at Floral Quarter. Throughout the planning of the wedding we purchased various quirky items we thought the floral decorations would look good, from miniature teapots to jam jars and wooden boxes. Floral Quarter provided the flowers and arrangements within these and really pulled everything together beyond our expectations. Would highly recommend them.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (48)

As favours we gave ‘little bags of happiness’ which we made and put together ourselves.

The cake was three tiers, each with a different flavour, simply decorated with some falling roses. It was provided by Lilly Jack Cakes.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (50)

We attended a few wedding open days at Newton Hall where they give out free cocktails and showcased the evening food options. We were also treated to a complimentary menu taster session at the As You Like It restaurant to help us choose or favourite food and drink for the big day.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (53)

To entertain our guests while we were getting photographs taken down at the nearby beach we hired Magic Paul, a very talented magician. We also hired two sets of musical entertainment from AMV Music. Annabelle Pattinson played acoustic guitar and sang before and after the ceremony. For the evening entertainment we had a seven-piece band called Livewire. We did a lot of research on the entertainment as Michelle comes from a musical family (her mum was a singer in the North East) so it was going to be a big part of our day. Once we discovered them we knew immediately they were for us. Livewire were fantastic – they learnt our first dance song, let us choose their playlist and even allowed Michelle and her mum to sing a couple of songs!

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (9)

To add some special touches we hired ‘Love’ lights from Coco Luminaire to set the room off. Instead of a traditional guest book we had a fingerprint tree for our family and friends to stamp their finger prints. We now have this framed in our living room as a daily reminder or our special day. We also had photographs of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day and a candle to remember those that couldn’t be with us. We set up a large vintage picture frame hung by ropes from a tree which our guests loved getting their photos taken at.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (41)

We would definitely recommend our wedding venue o other couples. We were made to feel so special and the staff went above and beyond to make everything flow without us even noticing. They were amazing!

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (59)

We couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day – we loved all of it! Truly, from the moment Michelle arrived through to the ceremony, the photos, meal, toast and then the evening – it was just fantastic! After the ceremony it was great to go to the beach just the two of us with Erika and spend quality time together taking everything in.

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (6)

The day after our wedding we went on honeymoon to Punta Cana in the Dominican for two weeks. It was beautiful, just like you imagine the Caribbean to be – the staff treated us to champagne, wine and cakes for our occasion. It was very special – we also visited Saona Island where the bounty advert was filmed, total paradise!

a seaside same sex wedidng at Newton Hall (c) Erica Tanith Photography (58)

Our top tip to other Brides Up North is to enjoy every minute and don’t worry what may go wrong – it really won’t matter on the day! We just couldn’t believe how quickly the day went by after over a year of planning. Savour every moment!

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Blooming Beautiful! Lace & Wildflowers For A Colourful Real Wedding In Northumberland – Jo & Neil

September 25th, 2013 | Julia Braime

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Jo and Neil’s big day is bright, beautiful and full of brilliant little personal details.  Basically, a wedding blogger’s dream.  Here’s hoping that their bespoke celebration in Northumberland inspires the day of your dreams too. 

With images by Kate of Petals & Peonies.

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Jo says:  We got engaged on Friday 21st December 2012, our last day of work before Christmas. Neil had taken me out for a meal, at a local Italian restaurant in our village, and we’d walked home in the rain! When we got home, I changed out of my lovely dress into my old comfy pyjamas, and we decided to have a cup of coffee under the Christmas tree.

On top of my presents under the tree was a small box shaped like a snail, and when I opened its shell, there was a beautiful diamond ring inside. Neil was on one knee, and I just about managed to say ‘yes’ before I burst into tears!

The thing I remember most (apart from how happy I felt) is saying how I couldn’t believe I’d been proposed to in my old pyjamas that had shrunk in the wash, and with my hair scraped back in a bobble!

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We were married on Monday 12th August 2013 at St James’ Church, Riding Mill, Northumberland and the reception was at Wheelbirks Parlour, Stocksfield, Northumberland. 

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We love visiting the Riding Mill area, and the church is beautiful inside. We wanted to marry in a tucked-away area of Northumberland, and somewhere where we would love to visit years later. Despite not living in the village, the whole community were so welcoming and friendly, and several of the congregation came to the ceremony.

Wheelbirks Parlour was always the place we said we would hold our wedding reception. Way before we got engaged, we would visit on weekends for lunch and ice cream or just to relax out in the orchard. We love the atmosphere, the outdoor space and the friendly staff, and knew it would be a perfect venue.

Lucinda and Sarah were fantastic wedding planners! Sarah in particular met with us as often as we wanted (and was great at handling my last-minute 100 emails!) and made organising everything so easy!

On the day, it was wonderful to see our vision turn into reality, as the Wheelbirks staff had turned the parlour into exactly what we had imagined and more. It’s been lovely to visit since the big day and get little bursts of happiness when we remember the reception.

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We only knew we wanted the day to be really informal and relaxed. The only ‘theme’ that came through was our desire to do as much ‘handmade’ as possible, and use natural materials like the hessian table runners and recycled milk bottles for centrepieces.

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We purposefully wanted to avoid a specific ‘colour’, as we wanted a really relaxed, informal wedding, so instead we chose all colours! We asked our guests to dress as bright and summery as they could, and I made multi-coloured tissue paper pom-poms for pew ends in the church.

Our table centrepieces were all the colours of my bouquet, and we had multi-coloured bunting strung from the rafters in the parlour.

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I travelled with my Dad to the ceremony in a 1920’s-style Regent Landaulette, in navy and cream. It was fantastic travelling to the ceremony, with everyone watching us and waving, and even better after the ceremony when the driver pulled the hood down and Neil and I travelled to the reception in the summer sun!

We booked our car through Brooklands Wedding Cars in Lanchester, and the driver was so friendly and laid-back! He turned up super-early to collect me and was happy to wait as long as necessary throughout the whole day. At the end of the evening, when he took us to Slaley Hall, he drove around the car park until we found our car, and helped ferry all our bags back and forth!

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My dress was from Rosina Brown Bridal in Stocksfield, and was the first one I tried on! It was also the first thing I bought for the wedding, way before we’d even booked the church! I booked an appointment to have a look round, and went on my own one afternoon, thinking it would take me months to find the right dress. Rosina was great, and pulled out the perfect dress – a lace bodice with tiny pearls and beads sewn in and a long taffeta ruffle skirt with lace straps. I wore a veil with pearls sewn in and had gypsophila flowers woven through my hair on the day,

Neil wore a blue suit from Next with a turquoise tie, a white shirt with tiny blue dragonflies and claret bees and brown leather brogues. He looked so handsome, and different from all our other guests – we didn’t go down the traditional ‘groomsmen’ route, so everyone wore different colours and styles of outfit.

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My maid of honour wore a long emerald-colour gown from Hobbs and my younger bridesmaid wore a bright flowered dress from Monsoon. We didn’t want them to look too formal, or to match, because we wanted everything to be really bright! The most important thing was that they felt comfortable, and were happy with their outfits on the day.

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Our bus was booked through Dreadnought Coaches in Alnwick – we wanted our guests to be able to relax and not have to worry about travelling or parking on the day. I’m told the atmosphere on the bus was great, with everyone chatting and getting excited together, and it was lovely for Neil to arrive at the ceremony surrounded by all our family and friends.

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My brother designs and makes professional signs, and I asked him to make us some direction signs saying ‘Neil and Jo’s Wedding’ in the brown and white ‘heritage’ style you see on road signs. They made for some lovely photos and we have them hung around the house now!

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We chose Petals & Peonies photography for our wedding photos, and it’s one of the best decisions we made. Kate was so professional and relaxed – it was just like having a good friend through the whole process. She came up with lots of quirky ideas for photos, and made us feel so special on the day. The photos she’s captured are amazing too, and are such a lovely thing to keep and look through. Her style matched our vision for the day perfectly, and we’ve got some fantastic shots on tractors and hay bales!

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I chose Simone Whitehead for my bridal hair, and she was brilliant – she completely understood the sort of style I wanted, and on the day stayed with me right until I was ready to go. I was a little worried that my hair wouldn’t stay in, because it was all loose curls and plaits, but I needn’t have worried – Simone made sure it stayed put and even withstood a Wheelbirks cow having a chew on the gypsophila in my plaits!

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After the service, we had different flavours of Fentimans drinks on a table outside with striped paper straws which was great – everyone chatted in the sunshine before getting on the bus to the reception, and it meant we got some fantastic photos.

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The cake was one of our proudest achievements! I love to bake, and we really wanted to make the cake ourselves together. We designed a three-tiered round fruit cake, and baked it over a weekend (it got a tiny bit stressful when the oven broke half-way through baking the middle tier, but luckily that was the only hiccup!)

Neil took responsibility for ‘feeding’ the cake with brandy over the months as it matured – we baked it in February! – and a friend from work taught me how to make the sugar flowers for decoration. I made roses, chrysanthemums, poppies, peonies, daffodils, tulips and fantasy flowers for the spray on the top of the cake, and then scattered heaps of flowers around each tier and the board. I also spent hours making sugar daisies and blue forget-me-nots, and studded them everywhere too.

Finally, we commissioned a local felt-maker to create some felt birds to sit on the cake. The ‘female’ bird was white with little blush cheeks and the ‘male’ bird was the same blue as Neil’s wedding tie, was wearing glasses and carrying a little flower in its mouth.

The cake must have taken more than 30 hours in total to create, but it was worth every minute! I could have cried when it was finished – it was an exhausting task but an amazing achievement and a real talking point on the day, and it tasted DELICIOUS!

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One of the best features of Wheelbirks Parlour is their delicious homemade ice-cream, made on site with milk from their Jersey cows. We got to choose our own signature ice-cream to be served on the day, and went for ‘Prosecco and Peach’, calling it ‘Love is Peachy’.

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At the reception, we had our seating plan on vintage luggage tags hanging with ribbons from a huge contorted hazel branch cut from Wheelbirks Farm. The favours were homemade ginger heart-shaped biscuits with mini luggage tags, serving as place cards. Our centrepieces were glass milk bottles which we had decorated with buttons and twine, filled with the same flowers in the bouquet, on log centres cut from the nature reserve where I work.

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We painstakingly cut lengths of hessian for table runners, and had several metres of bunting made which was strung along the rafters.

We also had a fingerprint tree, which is now hanging on our living-room wall – guests used their fingerprints to make leaves on the tree in different coloured inks.

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When we were thinking about the flowers we wanted, we both decided we had no idea what we were talking about! We picked Vicky from Floral Quarter, Gosforth on a recommendation from a friend.

We went to meet her armed with a couple of photos of bouquets we liked, but decided we wanted Vicky to choose the flowers, colours and style. All we knew was that we wanted a ‘country garden’ style, very natural with lots of different colours.

I know it seems unusual to hand over entire control of such an important part of the day, but we trusted Vicky completely. On the morning of the wedding, when the flowers arrived, I was completely overwhelmed with how amazing they looked! My bouquet was full of beautiful garden flowers: dahlias, stocks, craspedia, tanacetum daisies, veronica, scabious, hydrangea, solidago and ammi. Even better, every buttonhole was completely different, so our guests got to choose the one they liked best.

The flowers were such a talking point during the day, and feature in so many of our wedding photos – I know when we look back over them years down the line, we’ll still love them. Better still, having Vicky ‘surprise’ us with the design of the flowers was a little wedding gift in itself!

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We’ve both been to weddings where we’ve been bored stiff, so we were adamant our guests would have lots to do. That’s part of the reason we love Wheelbirks so much – the orchard is great, with lots of space to run around, a fantastic swing, a tractor to climb on, and a playroom inside for our youngest guests. We put together some ‘goodie bags’ too (which ended up proving just as popular with the adults!), with packs of modelling clay, foam glider planes, old-fashioned games like marbles and tiddlywinks, and my Grandad wood-turned us some wooden spinning tops.

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Our friend Peter is a fantastic classical acoustic guitarist, and played some beautiful music whilst we were signing the register in church.

Our lovely friend Katy welcomed everyone to the reception playing the Northumbrian Pipes, and then after our meal we had Jamie from North East DJ playing our favourite songs, starting with our first dance, which was to ‘Rhythm of Love’ by the Plain White T’s.  He was really laid-back, and happy to let us have a huge playlist with all our favourite songs. On the evening he was great at getting everyone to lose their inhibitions and have a good boogie!

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It’s so difficult to pinpoint a specific ‘favourite’ part of the day – from start to finish we both felt so blissfully happy and emotional.

One of the most wonderful parts was walking down the aisle towards Neil. I barely noticed everyone in the pews, and I couldn’t wait to be stood next to him. When it came to saying our vows, Neil was so keen that he said ‘I will’ even before our vicar, Alison, had finished doing the ‘love her, comfort her…’ part. Everyone started laughing, and it really broke the tension and settled our nerves – I remember at that moment just looking at Neil and feeling so amazed that this person was about to become my husband.

Neil’s favourite part of the day was our first dance together as husband and wife. We chose one of our favourite songs, and it was so relaxed and special – we had a few ‘moves’ to liven it up a bit, and it was like we were the only two people there.

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After a night at Slaley Hall, we travelled to the Yorkshire Dales, staying a night at boutique hotel The Wensleydale Heifer (staying in the ‘Chocolate Room’, which was fab!), three nights in log cabin called the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ hobbit hut, and a final night in a bed & breakfast in Aysgarth.

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My top tips for Brides Up North is that it’s definitely worth planning all the little details in the wedding, and all the quirky extra touches you want to be there. Even though it all takes time and effort, they’re the bits people will remember and will be what really make your day special.

Even though it sounds so cliché, and it’s what everyone says, the day really does fly past! We wanted to take it all in and enjoy every minute, but it’s difficult to keep track of what’s happening when – the easiest thing to do is just let the day flow and don’t worry. It’s the one day that’s just about the two of you, and your guests won’t mind if you don’t get to have an hour-long chat, or don’t notice their new handbag!

Finally, keep a diary! My maid of honour bought us a lovely fabric-covered notebook when we started planning the wedding, and we used it to document everything over the months. Looking back over it now brings back all the emotion and build-up to the wedding; it’s packed full of ‘to-do lists’, prices for different things and extracts from the weeks leading up to the wedding day. It’s something we’ll keep and cherish forever – a sometimes rushed, sometimes silly but completely heartfelt account of our journey this year.

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Congratulations Jo & Neil!

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2013 Petals & Peonies

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