Charlotte Balbier

wild at heart. a shabby chic wedding at chester zoo – sam & dan

July 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (42)

Yes you read right, for today’s wedding we’re heading to Chester Zoo to relive Sam and Dan’s gorgeous big day.

Despite how it might sound there were no ‘I dos’ in the lion den or drinks reception in the elephant enclosure, for Chester Zoo has a stunning manor house in its grounds, which is available for ceremonies and receptions.

Not only is this wedding incredibly beautiful, thanks to Sam’s love of all things shabby chic, but it also looks incredibly fun, with guests smiling, laughing and generally having a fab time in the somewhat unusual setting.

But enough from us, we’ll let you see the wild and wonderful day for yourselves.

With images by Yana Photography.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (1)

sam says: We got engaged in January 2012, while we were in Madrid. Dan had the proposal planned for a while and I didn’t have a clue. I knew we were going to Madrid but thought it was just for a bit of sightseeing. Dan was trying to pop the question down a cute little street but I was too busy looking around so instead he asked me once we got back to the apartment, after a lovely meal out.

We decided to set the wedding date for 16th May 2015 as we thought it would be a good time of year weather wise.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (4)

We got married at Chester Zoo, in the Oakfield Manor House. Dan come across the zoo as a wedding venue on the internet and as we didn’t want a traditional wedding, we thought it would be perfect for us. Which it was. We live quite close to Chester so it was an ok distance to travel for us and our guests.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (6)

The theme and colour scheme for the wedding was ‘pastel shabby chic’. I love everything and anything vintage so the styling was always going to be along these lines and pastel colours work really well for a shabby chic wedding.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (7)

My dress was from First Lady Bridal in Wrexham. It was the second dress I tried on and fell in love with it straight away, it made me feel amazing. I always knew what kind of dress I wanted and it was just perfect. The dress was full length ivory, fitted, fishtail style, with a huge train. It was full lace with pretty beading detail. My veil, with full lace trim, was the best bargain of wedding – an eBay bargain! My shoes were a light pink/salmon colour from Kurt Geiger.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (25)

Dan wore a navy fitted suit from Matalan, waistcoat from Next, shoes from Zara and a navy and white floral printed tie that really worked with the theme, which was from Primark. All the groomsmen were in matching suits, again from Matalan.

I only had one bridesmaid, my 13-year-old sister. She wore a light blue maxi dress, with multi-coloured floral print all over, from ASOS. She had pastel pink shoes and belt to match.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (30)

My mum arranged the transport for me as a gift. I had a Jaguar to travel in, which was hired from RB Wedding Cars, Wrexham.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (33)

Our photographer was Yana Photography, who we would definitely recommend. Yana was really friendly and helpful with family and friends, and the pictures look amazing!

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (51)

Flowers were provided by Vivid Floral Design in Wrexham. My bouquet was made up of beautiful pinks, blues, pastel coloured peonies, roses, gypsophila, gerbera among other flowers. I went for a meadow look. My bridesmaid’s bouquet was a mini version of mine, we both had lace and hessian wrapped around to carry on the theme.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (50)

All venue decorations were either made by myself, friends or family. I had a very DIY approach to the wedding which fitted the shabby chic theme really well. Decoration wise I had hessian table runners, and chair bows, ditsy print napkins, engraved wooden table numbers made by a friend, bunting made by myself and a friend, jam jars dotted with hessian and lace trim filled with flowers, tea cups and jugs filled with flowers and our name places were little flags with different floral/ ditsy print, which were made by a friend.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (9)

Our favours were Tunnocks Tea cakes. They worked well with theme and looked really cute.

We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake to cut, but instead a dessert table for guests to help themselves. My friend (Button Bakes) is amazing at baking so I asked if she would make a lovely selection of cakes: classic Victoria sponge, chocolate cake with raspberries and lemon cupcakes.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (11)

To provide the evening entertainment, we hired a DJ called Steve Lewis Entertainments, from Chester. My friends, family and I absolutely love dancing so I wanted someone who was going to play amazing music all night for us to not stop dancing. And that’s exactly what happened – lots of dance offs!

For extra entertainment we had a sweet stall for guests and a dress up corner, which was lots of fun.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (53)

As a special touch on the day my brother played the guitar for when I walked down the aisle and after the ceremony. Also, our wedding rings were specially made using my mum and dad’s wedding rings. My dad passed away before I was born, so this was something my mum suggested. A really lovely idea and they mean so much to us.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (61)

We would absolutely recommend our wedding venue to other couples. The staff were amazing on day, everything went perfect. The venue is absolutely stunning inside and the guests have the zoo to keep themselves busy. No bored guests at all.

It’s so hard to pick a favourite part of the day but I would have to say the ceremony itself was amazing, a lot more emotional than I thought. I also loved the first dance, it was perfect – I felt so happy and in love. We keep playing the song in the car all the time, as I want to relive that moment over and over again.

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Following the wedding we had a short minimoon – a five day break in a log cabin in Keldy Forest, Yorkshire, which included a hot tub, prosecco and lots of food. We just wanted to completely chill out. We took our dog with us too, our little family getaway. Perfection.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (56)

My top tips to other Brides Up North would be to look around for bargains and do as much DIY as possible, it adds an extra touch and nobody else will have anything like it. But the main thing is, do what you both want. It’s your day so make it perfect for the both of you! It will be the best day ever so take it all in, as it will be over before you know it. I was crying at the end of our night because I didn’t want the night to end and our guests to leave.

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Our day was made perfect thanks to the amazing help we had from family and friends. All my girls chipped in and paid for us to stay in the Double Tree Hilton Chester for the wedding night and they had the room decorated for when we arrived. My two best friends made a video of how Dan and I got together, which we loved – it was so funny. My mum, sister, nan and family members did a surprise routine to Beyoncé for me. They’d been meeting up for months in secret and doing rehearsals – this was the best wedding gift ever! Finally, I had my grandad and step dad give me away.

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the roaring 20s. enzoani for a pretty wedding in chester – rachel & mike

July 22nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Wedding with Art Deco Touches (c) Ragdoll Photography (48)

With a clear eye for design, today’s bride Rachel, used her creative skills to put the all-important finishing touches to her wedding inspired by the roaring 1920s.

Her stunning Enzoani dress, with amazing back detail, helped to set the theme which Rachel then built upon by designing her own signage and stationery using silent movie and art deco influences.

A soft colour scheme of cornflower blue and yellow complements the men’s grey suits and helps to tie all elements together resulting in a well styled big day.

With images by Ragdoll Photography.

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rachel says: We got engaged on 13th June 2014 at Queen’s Bridge in Chester. Mike had booked a night in Chester for our anniversary (the date we officially got together) and I had no idea he had a ring with him. He carried it around all day inside his phone case (I wondered why he looked uneasy when I borrowed his phone to take pictures) waiting for the perfect moment to propose. It eventually happened after dinner, we went for a stroll over the bridge. Mike had said that he’d been looking for the perfect moment, but nothing had felt right, then suddenly we were on that bridge, it was just us, the sun was going down and it was as if someone had just gone “there you go, this is the time and place”.

We decided to set the wedding date for 11th June 2015 – five years to the day from when we first met at the Isle of Wight Festival.

A Pretty Wedding with Art Deco Touches (c) Ragdoll Photography (11)

The ceremony was at St Mary’s Church, Halkyn, North Wales, which is my parents’ local church in the village where I grew up, and the reception at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Chester. We’ve stayed at the hotel a couple of times on special occasions and love it, but what sold it to us was the Abbey Suite – we’d been looking at converted barns for our reception and this had both the lovely modern hotel with the converted stables attached, plus beautiful grounds.

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The theme was subtly based on 1920s. I love this era; the fashions, the crazy dancing, art deco styling etc. I think it oozes class and elegance. Luckily my favourite wedding dress was very 20s too so it followed on from there. From the 20s came the ‘silent movie’ idea – we used it in the design of our invitations and placemats/place settings and then carried it through in the chalkboard style table numbers and bunting.

Our colour scheme was cornflower blue and yellow. We wanted a summery, cheerful theme and it looked amazing against the blue sky and sunshine. Mike supports Everton too, which made it an easy choice for us both.

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My dress was an Enzoani number. I didn’t want anything big or OTT and this particular dress struck me as simple and elegant with a touch of glamour and sparkle. It is 1920s inspired which suited our theme well. I chose it for those reasons but also because it struck me as so different from all of the dresses I’d seen. I bought it from Cheshire Rose Bridal, Chester. My shoes were by Rachel Simpson, my necklace, bracelet and earrings from Debenhams and my headpiece was also from Cheshire Rose Bridal.

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Mike wore a light grey three piece suit from Reiss with a cornflower blue tie. He chose to buy a good suit over hiring tails as neither of us are huge fans of tails and he now has a very special suit to keep. Along with his suit he wore shoes by Jeffery West and a tie pin from The Little Homebird on Etsty, which was a gift from me. It was personalised with the coordinates of Queen’s Bridge where Mike proposed.

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Our adult bridesmaids wore a light blue Biba maxi dress from House of Fraser and the flower girl had an ivory dress with blue ribbon from a local occasion wear shop. The groomsmen all had a three piece suit from Next and blue ties.

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We used Grosvenor Classic Cars to transport us on the day of the wedding. Mike and I travelled in a blue and silver Beauford and the bridesmaids in a Daimler.

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Rosie of Ragdoll photography was our photographer and she was brilliant, we would definitely recommend her! She put everyone at ease on the day with her fun, down to earth nature which resulted in a fun, relaxed series of photographs. She captured us and our family and friends and the essence of the day beautifully. I would recommend Rosie to anyone who wants a natural, relaxed, fun feel to their wedding album. We couldn’t have wished for better.  We also used Gray Weddings to film our big day. They were also amazing and so discreet you wouldn’t have known they were there. I can’t wait to see the video when it arrives to find out what we missed! They were so accommodating and flexible in our pre wedding meeting and on the day itself.

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Fresh of Chester provided our flowers. The beautiful natural bouquets for the bridesmaids and I were made up of lovely blooms in yellow, blue and white.

The reception flowers by Fresh of Chester were placed in vintage vases, provided by Pollyanna Vintage who also provided vintage books and pearls for centre pieces and on the card table, along with a vintage suitcase for cards and a large picture frame with easel for the seating plan. Other knickknacks such as old cameras and photo frames I borrowed or bought from vintage and charity shops and my mum provided lots of candles! I’m a graphic designer and so made my own 1920s inspired signs for the guest book/photo booth instructions, cocktail menu, cake quote and ladies toilets perfume quote. I also designed our invites and save the dates, plus some unique placemats/place settings inspired by silent movie frames, through my company Racoon Graphic Design.

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As favours we gave sweets from the past provided by Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in personalised sweet bags.

Cake Chester provided our lovely wedding cake. It was a simple 1920s design, inspired by a combination of cakes I found in my search for the perfect cake! I made a feather brooch which they kindly added onto the front for me. The bottom tier was fruit cake and the top tier was Madeira sponge.

A Pretty Wedding with Art Deco Touches (c) Ragdoll Photography (34)

A Pretty Wedding with Art Deco Touches (c) Ragdoll Photography (33)

As entertainment we had a 1920s jazz band called 52 Skidoo who were great! They played upbeat jazz for a couple of hours and then the resident DJ played until 1am. He played all our favourite songs and finished with Hey Jude, which is really special to us as we met at The IOW Festival where Paul McCartney was the headline act. At the end we all linked arms in a big circle singing ‘Nah-nah-nah-nah…’ it was epic!

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One special touch of the day was our first dance. Dancing is really dear to me so I wanted to really go for it! We learnt the Argentine Tango and danced it to Coldplay’s, Magic. The song starts with a 1920s introduction so I started with a Charleston as Mike stood and looked perplexed (intentional). We loved it.

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We would definitely recommend The Doubletree as a venue to other couples, it’s an amazing setting. It has the best of both worlds – a lovely modern hotel and the gorgeous Abbey Suite (converted stables), perfect for photographs. The grounds are also beautiful. The staff on the day were brilliant, in particular the toast master. He couldn’t do enough for us. The venue was perfect for – smart and sophisticated but relaxed and not over the top.

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I couldn’t possibly choose one moment from the wedding as my favourite but there are some moments in my head that stand out: coming down the stairs to my dad who was waiting to see me in my dress for the first time and travelling in the car with him to the church. The ceremony, we both surprisingly enjoyed that part more than we expected to. We didn’t feel nervous, just elated and excited and the vicar put everyone at ease and cracked a couple of jokes! And the speeches, they were all brilliant, funny and heartfelt in their own way.

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We haven’t booked a honeymoon yet but we are hoping to go to New Zealand sometime in January next year with a stop off on the way.

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be don’t try to include everything you want on your wedding day. I had so many ideas, some I wasn’t able to make happen but they really didn’t matter on the day. Simplicity and personality are key. Think about who you are as a couple and how you would like your wedding to be remembered. Our guests all said what a ‘fun’ and ‘happy’ day it was and in hindsight we wouldn’t want it any other way. And, enjoy the day for what it is, a celebration of marriage with all of your favourite people.

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doing it for themselves. a vintage village hall DIY wedding near chester- alice & dan

April 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (28)

One of the biggest concerns for the majority of couples when planning a wedding is the budget, with hidden costs and little extras often taking brides and grooms way over their original limit. However today’s couple prove that with a savvy mind, a dash of enthusiasm and a sprinkling of imagination you can have your dream wedding without breaking the bank!

We love the pretty homemade bunting (well done mum), the retro board games and dance-happy guests that make this both a picturesque and enjoyable big day!

With images by Rachel Ryan Photography.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (2)

alice says: We got engaged 3rd August 2013. Dan had planned to do it at the open air cinema viewing of Amelie at the Roman Gardens in Chester, along with a picnic. However, with Dan not booking tickets in advance we were turned away and set off to eat our picnic elsewhere! After trekking over to the meadows to find a picnic spot I managed to step in the biggest cow pat – in sandals too! We then gave up, headed home and after a shower ended up having the picnic in the back garden! After the picnic Dan suggested we head up town for a drink and whilst walking over the suspension bridge played the old trick of ‘wait I need to tie my shoelace’ and there he was on one knee! It was a complete surprise, although we had been together for over three years I wasn’t expecting it!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (3)

Without my knowledge Dan had been to ask my dad’s permission too, which my dad really appreciated. Dan told me although he knew he had wanted to propose for a long time, he chose to do it then because he wanted our grandparents to experience it too. We are both very close to/admire our grandparents so this really touched me. Although my granddad unfortunately never made it to the wedding he was so excited/happy for us and so glad we got to share this experience in our lives with him.

We set the date for 7th February 2015. The time of year that we got married had never really bothered us that much, British weather is so unpredictable and as our wedding was going to be DIY budget we didn’t want to pay premium wedding prices for a summer wedding when it would probably rain anyway! We picked our wedding date a few months after getting engaged and after deciding a budget we worked out how long we would need to save up which resulted in February. Dan who is not really a fan of Valentine’s Day was adamant it couldn’t be on the 14th!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (12)

We got married at Eccleston Village Hall near Chester. Having lived close to Eccleston for most of my life, I had always been fond of the village, its church and the hall so for me it was an obvious choice. As soon as Dan came to look around he was taken with its charm too, and the price only costing a few hundred pounds to hire it for the weekend! This was the only venue we viewed as we knew immediately what we could do there!

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It was really important to me that our wedding was about everyone having a great time, spending quality time with friends and family and a celebration that wouldn’t break the bank for our guests too! Eccleston was a short taxi journey for most of our guests and there were B&Bs close by for those that weren’t! Having the wedding at the village hall also meant we could hire our own bar without the hefty prices that you find at hotels. We looked the big rustic beams in the hall and its cute charm. The hall had lovely views of the river and lots of greenery around too. It was a blank canvas for us to throw a wedding party that was personal to us for our friends and family!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (19)

I’ve always loved being a bit crafty and would much rather, if possible, do something myself as opposed to buying it. The general style I wanted to reflect was a vintage, quaint fete theme. Lots of bunting (my mum and her friends had bunting parties and made it all), vintage crockery and fabrics. I genuinely had the best time planning the wedding and thankfully, sometimes a little reluctantly, Dan left me to it (still being very supportive of course). A great tip one of my mum’s friends passed on to me was that sometimes you can spend hours stressing over tiny details that often people won’t notice and although personal touches lovely, don’t over complicate things decoration wise.

I didn’t really have a colour scheme, which was pleased about. In the hall, the stage curtains were a deep red so I collected lovely floral fabrics in similar/complementing tones to this as it was such a big feature in the room. These colours also stood out well against the white walls in the hall. I chose white/pastel pinks for my flowers as I love feminine, pastel colours which complemented the navy bridesmaid dresses too.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (21)

The only thing I knew before I started dress shopping was that I wanted something covered in lace that didn’t show much, if any cleavage! I love lace, I think it’s so pretty and feminine and thought it would complement the theme well. I chose a fitted lace dress with a gentle fishtail which had an embroidered lace voile at the top so to cover my chest. I was never quite sure I would ever put a dress on and immediately know that it was ‘the one’ but I was wrong! I felt great in it straight away and comfortable too. I got my dress from Cheshire Rose Bridal.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (22)

Dan wore a three piece grey suit from Marks & Spencer with a blush pink tie from Debenhams.

Dan works at M&S Bank so was lucky enough to buy suits for himself and all five ushers with his employee discount, saving us quite a good amount for such good quality suits!

The bridesmaids wore a navy maxi dress from ASOS for £65, it was a really flattering, feminine fit with little lace cap sleeves. It was a real struggle to find a dress that fitted and suited five adult bridesmaids who are all different shapes and one being 20 weeks pregnant too!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (29)

My dad sorted wedding cars through friends of his, we had a maroon Mercedes dressed with a traditional wedding bow.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (30)

Our photographer was Rachel Ryan Photography. I saw Rachel’s work on Facebook whilst browsing vintage crockery hire. After viewing a few photographers but not really engaging with their pictures I was immediately excited by Rachel’s photographs and the natural story she captures through her work! After meeting Rachel, her professional yet passionate personality impressed us and her genuine enthusiasm for our wedding made us so excited and we really connected with her. Rachel really listened to us and made great suggestions to help our day run smoothly yet make the most of it too! On the day we both felt completely at ease with Rachel.

Following the wedding we were overwhelmed by the amount of photographs we received from Rachel, every single one edited. It relayed the story of our day all over again to us, bringing back so many great memories! Rachel also has a blog on her website which she updated about a week or so after the wedding. This was such a lovely, personal touch and a great way to show friends/family some photos from the day! We were so pleased we chose Rachel to capture our day.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (31)

I carried a white/pastel pink bouquet made by Clare at Cocoa Flower in Chester. It included avalanche and spray roses. Cocoa Flower replicated this pastel theme through the floral arrangements in the church too. These were faux flower arrangements we hired from them and to save money the ushers carried them down to hall after the ceremony. They were so good nobody noticed they were fake! I bought the flowers on the top table/welcome table discounted from a supermarket the day before and rearranged them myself in jars.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (32)

The main decoration we used in the hall was bunting hung from the beams. My mum spent hours hand sewing 40 metres of bunting together with a little help from myself and also by holding a bunting party with a few friends (and some wine)! I wanted lots of atmospheric lighting in the hall so hung fairy lights round the beams and had bird cages with tea light in on the tables from Home Bargains! They have a great wedding section there with lots of decorations and bits and bob’s at fab prices.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (38)

We both really loved the idea of a photo booth but they were way out of our budget so we bought lots of props made of card off eBay for £5 and glued them onto kebab sticks and then left them on the tables in milk bottles for people to take photos with!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (45)

As favours we gave each of our guests a scrabble tile keyring in their initial. We both love scrabble so wanted to incorporate this in a small way! We ordered the wooden tiles and keyrings separately from eBay for only £27 for the whole lot and then Dan spent an evening putting them together, resulting in a few finger blisters! We also had chocolates for everyone, kindly bought by Dan’s mum.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (40)

We chose a three tier chocolate sponge cake with white fondant from Marks & Spencer. We decorated it simply with a Lego bride and groom off eBay – Dan is still a massive fan of Lego, even at 27!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (42)

For food we had a vintage afternoon tea with lots of finger sandwiches, scones and miniature cakes. This was served on vintage crockery on the tables. The tea ladies also served lots of different teas as well as their own blend! We served the afternoon tea with prosecco which we bought again with Dan’s M&S discount. The afternoon tea worked out well with having a mixture of guests who are meat eaters/veggies as there was lots of choice for everyone without any hassle. For the evening meal we had a big pan of chilli – which was amazing! The Caterers were Yours Truly Vintage Catering Company. They left us a tin of homemade blended tea for us to take home too!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (47)

To keep guests entertained throughout the day we had a big vintage suitcase filled with lots of childhood games for people to play. We basically ransacked my nana’s house for all these! We had Hungry Hippos, Connect Four, Snakes and Ladders and Dominoes, to name a few. For the evening we had a DJ as we wanted something that people would enjoy, a crowd pleaser! We asked guests to give a request for the DJ on our RSVPs and Adam was great in honouring them! The DJ was very good in reading what people wanted and we had a full dance floor all night!

When figuring out the itinerary for the day it was important to us that things went as smoothly as possible for our guests. We made sure we reserved seating at reception drinks for grandparents so they weren’t left standing and we made SOS baskets in the toilets filled with bits and bobs such as safety pins, hair grips, mints and toiletries for any small fashion disasters that might happen throughout the day. We also baked lots of gingerbread men a few days before and put them in a basket near where guests entered the marquee after the ceremony. We didn’t want anyone to be hungry throughout the day so made these for people to have with their reception drinks!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (46)

I would definitely recommended Eccleston Village Hall to other couples who are looking for a budget DIY wedding. Eccleston Village Hall only hold eight weddings a year and it’s quite popular due to the picturesque surroundings. It does book up quite quickly!

On the lawn connecting to the hall we had a small marquee supplied by Border Bars and Marquees and then the bar inside free-of-charge and the prices were really reasonable. They helped us out massively throughout the day, serving the prosecco we bought to go with the afternoon tea as well as nipping out mid evening do to grab another bottle of Jagermeister (which my uncle had ‘discovered’ that night). Nothing was too much trouble for them, they were great!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (50)

It’s so hard to choose a favourite part of the day – I think the evening celebration was just so much fun, having all our friends and family together having the best time. It was also great to see all the decorations and organising coming together, it makes any stress or worries all worth it. The morning of the big day was also special, spending time with my bridesmaids and all the excitement flowing around from everyone was amazing. As well as the obvious pampering as well!

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (62)

Dan’s parents very kindly booked us a surprise honeymoon to Majorca after the wedding. We didn’t have enough budget left for a honeymoon and so we were so grateful/excited! It was great to get away and reflect on the day by ourselves. The run up to the wedding was so exciting but very busy so we very much needed time to sit back and relax, which we were able to do.

a DIY village wedding (c) Rachel Ryan Photography (63)

My top tip to other Brides Up North is your budget doesn’t matter, there’s always a way to create your ideas with a bit of imagination – and help from family friends!

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Little Blue Boxes… A Real Wedding In The North West – Louise & Andy

February 3rd, 2013 |

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Every girl knows what a little blue box tied up with a white satin bow means, right?!  Brides Up North reader Louise got the full Tiffany’s treatment when fiancé Andy proposed on a Christmas trip to New York, and decided to carry the theme through into their pretty wintery wedding day.  With images by Vickerstaff Photography

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Louise says:  We got engaged on the 4th December 2011 in New York’s Central Park. We were on a carriage ride through the park and Andy surprised me by asking me to marry him just as we’d passed the iconic ‘Friends’ fountain!

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We said “I Do" on 8th December 2012 – almost a year to the day we got engaged – at our local church just a few minutes’ walk from our house. We held our reception at Rowton Hall Hotel, Chester.  As our wedding was in December we wanted a venue that would be warm and cosy inside if the weather was terrible outside.  Rowton Hall had both – a beautiful interior with gorgeous decorations and Christmas trees, but also lovely grounds. Tony, the manager, was really helpful and welcoming, so it was an easy decision.

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Our theme was Winter in New York. Obviously New York is a special place for us and Christmas has always been my favourite time of year so we tried to combine them both.  I love sparkling winter scenes so we went for a combination of sky blue, white and silver.

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Getting ready in the morning was a special time, as all my nerves seemed to disappear as soon as I was surrounded by my parents, bridesmaid and little flower girls. I really enjoyed seeing everyone get ready and I just remember my best friend and I giggling and laughing as she was clambering under my dress trying to find my feet so I could put my shoes on!

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My dress was Sophia Tolli’s ‘Francesca.’ I knew I wanted a traditional style wedding dress and after trying on several that felt very ‘samey’, Francesca really stood out due to the beautiful straps and detailing on the dress. It initially had a bustle at the back which I didn’t really want, so I had this taken down. I was left with a quite a long train which I was a bit nervous about at first as didn’t want to look too overdone. However, I soon settled down as if you can’t wear something ‘wow’ on your wedding day when can you?! I also chose a mid-length veil and an Ivory and co headdress called ‘Moonlight’. These were all supplied by Society Brides in Liverpool.

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My four adult bridesmaids wore dresses by Alexia Designs, style 2034 in turquoise. These were supplied by Always and Forever Bridal in St Helens, Merseyside. They had silver sparkly shoes and wore a snowflake hair clip by Starstruck Designs. The two flower girls wore dresses from John Lewis. The groomsmen wore morning suits from Moss Bros.

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We had two traditional classic cars for us and the bridesmaids from Caremore Cars in St Helens, Merseyside.

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I carried a bouquet of white roses from Cocoa Flower in Chester. Andy is from Yorkshire so we wanted the white rose to be our main wedding flower.

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I loved our ceremony.  It felt a very calm and peaceful part of the day and all that was important was us and the vows. It was lovely to hear my nephew and our good friend reading our chosen pieces – it was all very special.

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My Gran had passed away earlier that year so I dedicated a page to her in the Order of Service I made, which showed just what an important part of the day she would have been (and still was).

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Vickerstaff Photography provided us with photographic memories we can keep for the rest of our lives.

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In keeping with the theme, my chief bridesmaid and I made blue Tiffany boxes and filled them with American sweets such as Hersheys Kisses. Andy’s sister made us the most amazing New York themed table plan, and my sister made the cravats and fur wraps.  I was addicted to notonthehighstreet.com for lots of the little touches.

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We went to Barbados for our honeymoon – a bit of a change from our Winter theme!  We had an amazing time and came home a few days before Christmas.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to keep taking a step back. I got caught up in worrying about my dress for a while – “is the train too long – what will people think?” I stepped back and realised that with this particular decision, the only opinion that mattered was my own.  Just enjoy the occasion and the preparation and have confidence in the reason you chose things in the first place – it was because you loved it and that’s what matters.

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Congratulations Louise & Andy!

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Get in touch (and here’s how) to see your own Real Wedding featured on these pages.  I’d love to hear from you!

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  – Images © 2013 Vickerstaff Photography

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier 

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog

Classic English: A Real Wedding In The North West – Charlotte & Tez

December 13th, 2012 |

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Well, what can I say?  They came, they sparkled, they partied!

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I’ve only really just recovered from the Brides Up North Christmas Party this Tuesday night at the magnificent Thorp Perrow, North Yorkshire.  It’s a newly opened private family pile, perfect for an elegant and opulent wedding celebration, and on Tuesday over 150 of the region’s finest wedding industry suppliers and  Brides Up North readers came to enjoy an evening filled with bubbly, live music, fun, laughter and Christmas spirits!

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To enquire about weddings at Thorp Perrow you can contact CWC Malings, who were our outstanding hosts for the evening, keeping us all well fed and well oiled, but we’ll be throwing open her doors once again for a very special Brides Up North luxury wedding exhibition on Sunday 12th May 2013, so make sure the date is in your diary.  If you think this place is spectacular in December, just wait to see it in the May sunshine! (Exhibitor enquiries to julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk please!)

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I also have a few other thank you’s to do (and party pictures, both from our official event photographer Ruth Mitchell Photography and the fabulous Limelight Photobooth girls, will follow soon).  Huge love to the amazing Glen Roughead, who absolutely takes the crown as the North’s new King of Swing and the super cool Vintage78 Dj who kept us entertained all night following our wonderful pianist and her beautiful Christmas carols. To our media team of absolute superstars, Ruth Mitchell Photography, Forever Film and Limelight Photobooth Hire, as always a big thank you.  Last but not least a big shout to the amazing Joanna and her team at Twisted Willow Floristry who gave up their time and worked with me to create beautiful floral displays totally in keeping with the mood of the venue and evening but beyond the reaches of my own imagination. 

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Now, as much as I’d like to hibernate until Boxing Day, the show must go on here on these swirly silver pages, and what better way to resume our usual schedule than with a simple and classic Real Wedding in Chester from beautiful Brides Up North reader Charlotte?  With images by Craig George.   

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Charlotte says:  We got engaged on Christmas Day 2009 at our home town of Plymouth and were married on 22nd September 2012 at St Andrews Church, Tarvin and the reception at Willington Hall, Willington, Chester.  The church and Willington are local to my husband’s family who live in Tarvin. The Church holds some special memories and it is also the resting place of my husband’s Dad.

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We chose to have a classic English wedding with some vintage details and chose a simple colour scheme of ivory and black with some burgundy details. 

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My dress was a classic strapless fish tail gown from the Veromia Bridal Collection.  It was very simple but gave a fantastic shape.  I carried a hand tied bouquet of white lilies with bleached peacock feathers I had purchased on Etsy to make the bouquet look extra special.

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My bridesmaids wore black and ivory A line strapless dresses found online from JJ House and carried bouquets of ivory roses with black ribbon.  

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We travelled in a  Princess Vanden Plas  from Chester Rolls Cars. 

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The whole day was wonderful but just after the ceremony we had further photos taken just the two of us at the Church which was a really nice time to relax and enjoy one another before we hit our reception.

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The table dressing was laid out by my reception but I organised and purchased all the materials myself. I had found some beautiful ivory rose hangers for the doors into the reception hall and rose petals around floating candles for the tables. Each guest received two hand-made flapjacks made by a close friend. We used Rebecca at Elegance Venue Dressing for our chair covers and ties. 

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I love chocolate and so we ordered a chocolate fountain rather than a cake. This went down with everyone and was an extra element to the wedding reception.  In the evening we used a local DJ who was brilliant and played our play list which was great.

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We have a two year old son who was being looked after by my sister in law a few miles away and we wanted to be close by in case anything happened. So we stayed in the UK and hired a canal boat for three days. It was terrible weather but loads of fun and very cosy and romantic.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to try to get organised early, it will pay off nearer to the day itself and then enjoy the day. It goes so quick!

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Congratulations Charlotte & Tez!

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Get in touch to see your own Real Wedding featured on Brides Up North.  Here’s how

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  – Images © 2012 Craig George

This is not a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog