February 11th, 2014
I have loved every moment of putting together Vicky & Paul’s Real Wedding feature! You see, the bride and I go way back, as I used to go out with her lovely brother Neil at University. Although it didn’t work out for us (and Neil is now happily married himself to a gorgeous lady!) I’m glad to say that we still keep in touch, and that it did work out ever so well for Neil’s little sister Vicky and one of our Uni mates, Paul.
Knowing Vicky, I knew her wedding celebration was going to be big, colourful and offbeat… and couldn’t wait to see her submission. I was exactly right: Vicky and Paul’s wedding was a fabulous day full of feeling, personality, beauty and fun.
Bravo Mrs Hough!
With images by Andy Gaines.
Vicky says: Paul and I first met when I went to visit my brother Neil at University in 2003. We got together four years later in early 2007 after meeting up again and Paul plucked up the courage to ask my brother if he could go out with me!
Paul and I aren’t a very traditional couple and I suppose it follows that our engagement wasn’t either. One evening out of the blue and in the run up to our five year anniversary, Paul asked me to go online and pick out what my ideal engagement ring would look like. The task itself was easy as like many other girlfriends, I’d been looking at rings for months but this was the first time he’d ever uttered the ‘E’ word and I was beside myself with excitement. The fact, however, that it was a vintage ring not available to buy immediately online was something Paul was not prepared for. His solution was to take me to London to spend a day trying on diamond rings… it was tough, but I accepted the challenge! By a stroke of luck the exact ring I’d seen online was still there and after purchasing I was one happy bunny. However we still weren’t actually engaged yet so back it went into the box.
About a week later, we were getting ready to go out and I was running spectacularly late. Running downstairs with fluffy hair and makeup half on, I noticed that our song was playing, and as I turned the corner into the lounge, Paul was there on one knee. Paul has never been one for grand romantic gestures, and you know what, getting engaged in our little house, listening to our song, with just the two of us, was perfect
Our wedding day was the day of the deluge – 6th September 2013. After decorating the hall in temperatures pushing 30 degrees on the Thursday, my heart sunk when I woke to a total downpour and grey skies on our wedding day. However, once the day got into full flow, the rain added a comedy element (watching people running under the cover of umbrellas), a dramatic element (fabulously moody skies in our photos) and ultimately created a fantastic cosy, party atmosphere for the meal and evening dancing. Plus as my friend texted me ‘Better that 2 beautiful people get married in the rain, than 2 mingers get married in the sun’ – brilliant!
We chose to say “I do” at a beautifully refurbished old barn at East Riddlesden Hall, Yorkshire.
I’m a country lass, growing up in the wilds of Norfolk and I desperately wanted to get married in somewhere I felt had that element of the countryside. Now finding a barn in Norfolk would have pretty easy but our hearts were set on getting wed in the county we had met and begun our lives together. Despite its proximity to the Dales, there are few barns to choose from in reach of Leeds, so we weren’t sure what we’d find at East Riddlesden Hall. Our first trip there was a gloriously sunny day and the place combined a sense of rural beauty and aged grandeur. Emma, who is the wedding planner was so helpful and relaxed, taking on board all our ideas and answering our questions. It is pretty fair to say that we were smitten as soon as we entered the barn. Even undecorated, the place looks stunning; with exposed beams, flagstone floors and whitewashed walls dotted with tiny windows. As a keen crafty-type, the thought of such a beautiful blank canvas to work on was a dream come true. The venue is also run by the National Trust and the thought that we were investing in the future of such a beautiful place was the icing on the cake.
It must be said that the staff at ERH are brilliant and they have put so much work into making this a fantastic wedding venue. Particular thanks go to Emma and Sam who were on hand to chauffeur people and perform emergency cake decorating duties. The in-house bar run by ERH served a great selection of drinks, including locally brewed beers, much to my husband’s delight. Having such dedicated staff all working tirelessly, made a huge difference to the day.
I began by actively rebelling against having a theme as I am, by nature, unable to decide on any one thing (except for a husband of course). Our wedding motto was ‘good music, good food and good times’. I knew I didn’t want anything matchy-matchy (I always think that allowing things to be a little rough round the edges means you can be a bit more flexible!). Plus as we decided to get married in a beautiful old barn, anything too polished would have looked out of place. We just wanted ourselves and our guests to feel relaxed, included and have an awesome time.
As time went on and my Pinterest account bulged with pictures that had caught my eye, I realised that bright colours and handmade details kept appearing in my selections. I decided that whilst I wouldn’t outlaw any particular colours, I would focus on blues, purples, white and add touches of gold (if only to force me in making decisions on decorations). I have always been obsessed by peacock feathers so they played a big role in tying decorations together too.
The glamorous and very lovely Anna Stephenson was a joy to have doing my hair and makeup. We spent the entire trial run chatting and laughing and the final look was exactly as I wanted. Anna and Lucy turned up early and were so flexible with how we wanted to organise the morning, it put me at ease and I absolutely loved the whole getting ready part of the day. Despite a lot of dancing and a bit of limboing, both hair and makeup stayed put the entire day.
The dress! Such a big decision! And one I made in a single day! I spent hours, nay days, looking at dresses – shapes, lengths, decorations, straps – the choice is bewildering and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. Facing this uncertainty, I decided to leave my first wedding dress shop until my mum could accompany me. Now one of my mum’s best qualities is that she wears her heart on her sleeve. After 14 dresses, none of them were meeting with much excitement. That is until I tried on an ivory crinkle chiffon, one strap, corset dress with sweetheart neckline at Confetti and Lace in Stanningley. After looking in the mirror and deciding I really quite liked this one, I looked up at Mum who had tears rolling down her face. Either I looked bloody awful and she was in despair, or it was ‘the one’. Luckily after a few moments I established it was the latter and I bought it on the spot. The women at Confetti and Lace were fantastic and helped me alter the dress by removing all crystal detailing and the strap, so the individualist in me is quite proud to say my dress is a one off.
With such a clean cut dress, the detailing in my outfit came from a fascinator I made with blue, purple and white flowers decorated with pearls. My shoes were bright blue vintage style sling backs from Rocket Dog. For my jewellery, I decided to wear a gold chain with my grandmothers’ wedding rings hung on it, so I could feel like they were part of the day. As a wedding gift, Mum also gave me a gold heart locket that had belonged to my grandmother who had worn it almost every day. I felt a strange mix of sadness and pride, and the fact the Mum was giving it to me was very, very, special indeed.
Paul wore a gorgeous bright blue fitted 3-piece suit from Reiss with brown brogues from Hudson. I may be biased but I thought he looked pretty damn handsome.
I wanted my bridesmaids to feel comfortable and glamorous so opted for navy blue 1940s style dresses from Phase Eight. I then bought them some amazing chunky necklaces from Ashley at TheEnchantedOwl on Etsy, sent all the way from Georgia, USA. The bright purple looped in the colours from the decorations and the girls all looked beautiful!
The groomsmen all wore grey 3-piece suits hired from Slaters. They were accessorised with purple ties, Hawaiian-print pocket squares and my homemade peacock feather buttonholes tied with navy blue ribbon.
I carried a beautiful mix of flowers by the ever so lovely Lynne of Stems Design. Deep pink Celoxia, bright blue Nigella, light pink astilbe, Blue Veronica, Scabious, Blue Wax, Cornflower, various grasses, tiny succulents and of course, peacock feathers. Lynne was a joy to work with, so enthusiastic and full of ideas – the final result was stunning.
I was originally planning on going down in a taxi with my bridesmaids but my Dad took an uncharacteristic step in intervening. He said that he would arrange my transport but refused to reveal what it would be. I had nightmarish visions of going side-saddle on a horse or riding pillion on a quadbike. As it turns out, my Dad and Brother, Neil (who was also our best man) had spent the previous night decorating Neil’s car with white ribbons, stashing a bottle of champagne in the back seat and recording an eclectic pre-wedding message and playlist. Little did I imagine that the last song I would hear before I entered the world of marriage would be Gangnam Style!
It was a very special time to have with Dad, who drove us. He was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year and I am fiercely proud of how he dealt with it with humour and love, having a precious few minutes talking and laughing with just the two of us was very important to me.
Wedding readings were really hard to decide on – we wanted to strike a balance between celebratory, real and emotional but absolutely not smush. After much searching we opted for the lyrics from Noah and the Whale’s ‘Give a Little Love’ and an extract from ‘The Game’. There were many chins a quiver by the end – it really was a memorable moment.
Special thanks must go to Geoff, our fantastic registrar from Keighley Council. He completely put us at ease, conducted the ceremony with heart and humour.
Paul and I are super foodies, not in the foams and micro-herb type of way but in the yummy, fill-you-up type of way. With this in mind, the food at our wedding was pretty important and the fine fayre served up by the people at GFS Catering was exceptionally good. Goat’s cheese tarts for starters, Lamb shanks and mash for mains and chocolate profiteroles for pudding were all delicious crowd-pleasers. An evening buffet of sausage baps and halloumi pittas served to mop up some of the great selection of drinks also served up by GFS with the help of the brilliant Martinez Wines in Ilkley. Special thanks to Alex from GFS who was such a great help on the day, finding alternatives to unknown food allergies and making sure each course flowed into the next seamlessly.
Cake wasn’t high on our priorities so we used up some vouchers and opted for three layers of M&S loveliness. I then decorated with homemade flower crown and mini glitter bunting. All in all a pretty little cake which cost us less than £10! In the end I’m glad we didn’t spend loads on the cake, because by the time it came to try it, it had all gone!
Andy Gaines, our photographer, was the very first wedding-related enquiry I made, even before we had a date or a venue. His photographs are stunning. They have this gritty yet ethereal quality that I find fascinating. Plus Andy himself is a blooming lovely chap – so welcoming, unobtrusive and damn talented. Andy worked like a ninja-trooper on our wedding day, capturing shots whilst keeping out of the way and staying from morning ‘til way past everyone’s bedtimes in order to capture our day. Everyone has commented on how awesome the pictures are, with even my normally-bored-silly-by-photos Dad confessing and I quote, ‘Fantastic photos – absolutely brill. Can’t wait to see the rest!’. Andy’s gone from strength to strength in the two years we’ve known him and it’s not hard to see why.
We employed the fantastic talents of Rachel from Simply Vintage to help us decorate the huge space. Rachel strung a plethora of fairy lights, colourful pom poms with peacock feathers and white lace bunting across the beams. I then decided to make a lot of the decorations myself, including props for the tables, peacock name places and adding little splashes of our personalities across the barn, including photographs of my grandparents on their wedding days. I think however, the biggest and most complex decoration was our sequin LOVE sign. This beast was lovingly crafted out of gold sprayed MDF letters and sequins individually nailed on. It took a hell of a lot of work but looked pretty darn good strung up on the barn beams and glistening in the fairy lights.
Without a doubt the speeches was my favourite part of the day. 2013 was a tough year having had both my Dad and Paul’s Mum diagnosed with cancer within a couple of months of each other. Dad’s speech was emotional – not only because of what we were going through at the time but because it reaffirmed just how much I owe to my fantastic family. He laughed about my unrivalled ability to be untidy, spoke about the time I drew a picture of him stark naked much to the disapproval of my nursery teachers (but to the hilarity of my parents!) and how he was so proud of me despite having no idea what my job title actually means.
Paul’s speech talked of how he did the unthinkable and asked out his best friend’s sister, how darn well it had all worked out and even how despite his hatred of clichés, he thought we were made for each other!
Then it was the turn of my older brother Neil to give the best man’s speech. I wondered if he might take this opportunity for the ultimate teasing of his little sister but I needn’t have worried as he mostly concentrated on his best friend and long-time drinking partner, my husband! Superbly written and with touches of comic brilliance, it was the ultimate tribute to Paul and I being both deeply personal and evoking fantastic memories. I will always be thankful to him for the effort he put into the speech. Oh and not to forget our wedding present – a canvas featuring our Back to Future drinking game– rather nattily named by myself as ‘Flux Incapacitated’ – I thank you!
Music is big in our house, so we always knew it would feature a lot in the wedding. We employed the gorgeous sounds of the Northern String Quartet for the ceremony, playing a mixture of old and new for the waiting guests. I walked down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ which was just gorgeous. During the signing were the sublime ‘One Day like this’, God only knows’, and ‘All you need is Love’. Then I entered the world as Mrs Hough to sounds of ‘Hoppipolla’ which was such an uplifting way to end the ceremony.
For the evening, we had the brilliant City Lights who blew our socks off with a great mix of modern tunes and some classic floor fillers, kicking off the set with a stonking rendition of ‘Got my mind set on you’ by George Harrison.
The evening celebrations were added to by some unorthodox entertainment in the form of glow sticks. What was an off the cuff purchase reminiscent of my raving days, became the biggest success of the day. Never did I think I’d witness friends of my parents fighting over who would get the glow bunny ears! The glow stick limbo was a total stroke of genius and made for some memorable photos!
We decided to delay our honeymoon both because we had no money left and the weather in Thailand is much better at this time of the year. So in but a few weeks time, we’ll be heading off to Thai cities and shorelines.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to decide where you want to focus your efforts and your money – for us it was the look and feel of the venue, excellent food and awesome music. Wedding preparation is hard so don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do too much. I absolutely adored being engaged and putting my heart and soul into planning our wedding day and I’m so glad we had the time to enjoy it all.
Congratulations Vicky & Paul!
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