My god, Helen and Jamie’s wedding day looks like fun. This is one of those features – put together in the early hours of the morning (or the late hours of the night, whichever way you want to look at it) that makes me want to shut down the laptop, pick up those dancing shoes and a bottle of something cold and head off to party till dawn.
Bright, vibrant, individual and full of fun, I hope that this gorgeous Real Wedding spreads a little sunshine your way this Thursday. Just watch out for dragons…
With images by Mike at One Wedding.
Helen says: We got engaged in June 2011, in Hong Kong. We were living in a city called Zhuhai in mainland China at the time and Jamie whisked me away to Hong Kong as a surprise to celebrate 9 years since our 1st date. Despite a typhoon and last minute customs issues with the ring J’s plan came together!
We were married on 6th July 2013 in the gardens of Woodthorpe Hall in Derbyshire The ceremony took place in the cider press and the reception outside and in a marquee on the lawn.
We chose the venue because of it’s stunning location. We were showed round by the house owner Dick and he was so friendly and his wife Sue was brilliant. We had the freedom to choose anything we liked, bringing in our own suppliers and spend the week before customising the whole place.
Our theme was a hint of China! We lived in China for almost four years and got engaged in Hong Kong so there were a few nods to that part of our lives. We brought back all sorts of lanterns and flags for decorations and filled the fridges with Tsingtao beer (from the city where we lived). Our first dance was a Chinese pop song. Our colours were lucky Chinese red and white.
My dress came from a shop in Manchester, I was after something a bit different and once I saw it I knew I’d found the right one. It was a bit of an ordeal because I had sorted something from China that didn’t work out in the end so it was quite a last minute find but it was all ok in the end!
I had one bridesmaid; Jamie’s sister Em. She looked stunning in a red dress made for her in China. She sent us some pictures of the style she liked and we chose the material and had it made. My other best mates all wore something with a touch of red and we all carried red or white parasols. Jamie and the groomsmen wore the same suit they found on a shopping outing together. The teamed it up with waistcoats/ties to suit their own style.
We originally wanted red and white orchids in our bouquets but it was such a hot week that the florist, Jo Price, called and said they wouldn’t last the day so we added in roses.
The ceremony was in the same place as the reception so we didn’t have any transport between the two. I travelled in style with my Dad whose car my bro polished to perfection. We had a great moment with the top down and the music playing going down the country lanes.
A really special moment was when three friends sang a song during the ceremony. A school friend, uni friend and neighbour got together for the first time the morning of the wedding and by the afternoon were playing beautifully during the ceremony!
A highlight of the day was the arrival of the Sheffield Chinese Lion Dance Troupe just after the meal. Jamie and I had arranged for this to be a total surprise so everybody was shocked and excited. Brilliant!
Thanks to the help of friends and family we personalised the tables and marquee. We glued photos of us with friends and family onto red ribbon to make bunting and string it around the marquee. There were photos of every guest as well as friends who couldn’t make it everywhere.
We used beer bottles from around the world as table markers and a friend did calligraphy for names. The table centres were flower arrangements made by Jamie’s Mum and friends teamed up with some Chinese fans. We brought back some Chinese bracelets which we used as napkin rings for the guests to keep. Instead of favours we put a pound coin in a Chinese box and told guest to choose a pot labelled for three different charities. People added some extra coins and we raised over £300.
Dick and Sue at Woodthorpe Hall were fantastic. They were so hands on and helpful. The guests said they felt very well looked after. They only do a handful of weddings a year so it felt very personal.
We hired a Marquee from Ascot Marquees. ‘Marquee Mark’ helped us hang lanterns and red bunting (expertly made by my Mum!) and the place looked great. A friend from Totally Gazeboed contributed gazebos for the string quartet and a photo booth. We raided the attic for some props and got some hilarious shots.
We brought in our own booze and homemade canapés. Jamie used to live in Germany so the last time he went to visit his friends there he filled up the car with mini kegs of German beer which we placed around the garden for people to help themselves to. PJ Taste provided the main food. Wonderful! We had BBQ steak, swordfish and veg with lots of lovely salads. Highly recommended. Our friends from Cocoa Wonderland sorted us out with some yummy chocs.
My mum baked fruit cake for the three tiers and iced them white then the week before the wedding my friends came over to help decorate. Kat and Sarah made sugar paste flowers and James helped stack the tiers and add the ribbon. We also had friends bake cakes to bring along so we had lots to choose
For the evening dancing we played our favourite tunes and friends and brothers helped to DJ. We also had a fab impromptu ukulele song by Geoff who got everyone singing along.
I have so many favourite parts to the day! Standing there with Jamie at the ceremony. Seeing all our different friends and family all together having fun. The speeches. People’s reaction to the Lion Dance. Having a moment with Jamie taking it all in looking over the moors. The first dance and the dancing to Design for Life with my Dad and friends. Everything was so positive and lovely.
After the wedding we honeymooned at a music festival in Lisbon (including seeing Biffy Clyro whose music we used during our ceremony) and spent some time on the Portuguese coast.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to add lots of little things to make the day feel yours and don’t get too worried what other people do for their weddings. The day is very personal, there are a lot of extras that you don’t always need. Include things that reflect you!
Congratulations Helen & Jamie!
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