March 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s real wedding is one classy do. Laura and Giles chose a traditional church wedding followed by a reception and the stately Hassop Hall.
Their big day is brimming with elegance, from the bride’s wedding attire to the beautiful blooms and transportation in the form of a horse-drawn carriage.
Though clearly a sophisticated couple, they didn’t take all elements too seriously as their wedding album features a rather unusual image. Their photographer Kate Cooper explains: “Giles and Laura requested a shot that I’ve seen online where a dinosaur is superimposed on a photo of a screaming bridal party – I joked that I could superimpose whatever I liked, cue the giant hamster artwork from the Beastie Boys Intergalactic single.”
Images by Kate Cooper Photography.
laura says: We were on a walk in the countryside near one of our favourite pubs when Giles suddenly asked me to marry him on the first warm day of spring 2013. Although I’d hoped he would propose sooner or later, it was a complete surprise and I was very touched that he’d secretly asked my father for my hand in marriage the day before.
We both really love the month of September, so thought it would be a good time to get married – we set the date for 20th September 2014.
We had our ceremony at St Giles Church in Great Longstone, Derbyshire, and the reception was held at Hassop Hall which is about 1.5 miles away. Although we live in London, we decided to get married in the Peak District which is where Giles grew up and where a lot of his family live. It was important to us to get married in a church. St Giles is the parish church in the village in which Giles’ mother lives. It is a beautiful medieval church and we also liked its name! Once we’d chosen the church, we started looking at reception venues. We were absolutely thrilled to have our reception at Hassop Hall which we cannot praise highly enough.
We didn’t have a theme as such, it was just a complete jumble of stuff that we liked. For the reception stationery we had a loose travel theme (a seating plan map, luggage tag name cards etc) but this theme wasn’t reflected in our save the dates or wedding invitations. We didn’t have a colour scheme as such either, although I was quite keen on the idea of having muted dusky shades in the girls’ dresses and the flowers because I thought they’d look nice together.
I wore a Maggie Sottero lace and tulle dress called Bronwyn which was customised by a local seamstress who removed the top of the keyhole back to make a low v back and altered the sleeves. I bought it from Allison Jayne in Clifton, Bristol, which is where one of my sisters lives. To be honest, in the run up to our wedding, the dress felt like a real compromise. I chose it because it was comfortable, in budget and I liked the warm ivory colour. In my heart I would have liked a Jenny Packham dress but we needed a new boiler so I was determined to be good! However, on our actual wedding day I loved my dress, especially when it was combined with all my lovely accessories.
I wore Rachel Simpson shoes, a veil that was custom made to match the dress by Ali Rouse at Unique Dress and pearl drop earrings that were a gift from Giles. In the evening, I wore art deco style earrings, headband and a matching belt. I also wore a faux fur stole which was borrowed from a friend.
One of my sisters lives in Sheffield so she was able to winkle out some fabulous contacts for us. She recommended Jenn Edwards and her team who did hair and makeup for me, the bridesmaids and my mother on the day of the wedding. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Jenn and her team. They were very funny, incredibly talented and we all felt like more beautiful versions of ourselves.
The bridesmaids wore mismatched dresses in dusky shades – blue, green and grey – cream cardigans and nude shoes. I wanted them to have a romantic country feel, but wear colours that they liked and styles that they might feasibly wear again. The mismatched dresses were much more difficult to find than I had envisaged. After many hours of trawling the internet and a thorough search of the high street we bought the dresses from Ariella (available at House of Fraser), Debenhams and Monsoon. The cardigans were from Boden and the girls wore their own shoes. The groomsmen wore their own suits and ties to tone in with the girls’ dresses.
My mother-in-law hired a horse drawn carriage for the travel to and from the church. I was initially a bit apprehensive as I was worried it might be a bit Big Fat Gypsy Wedding but it was a really thoughtful touch and one of my favourite parts of the day. It was wonderful travelling in the carriage with my father from the cottage that we had hired in Little Longstone to St Giles Church and hearing the wedding bells ring across the fields.
Kate Cooper was our photographer. She was recommended by one of my sisters who met her through friends. I would 100 per cent recommend Kate – she’s very good at catching little intimate moments and managed to take some lovely photos of two people who don’t really like having their photo taken. We felt very relaxed and laughed a lot when Kate was taking our photos and I think that shows in the end results.
My vintage style bouquet was made by Swallows & Damsons, based in Sheffield. It was made up of dusky pink roses, pepita spray roses, ivory waxflower, steel berries, astilbe, dusky pink astrantia and purple veronica and eucalyptus. I loved it so much but was still happy to throw my bouquet at the end of the evening!
We had lots of flowers from Swallows & Damsons at our reception too – similar to the flowers in my bouquet. The urns and small vases were at the church to begin with, as pedestals and pew ends, and were then transported to Hassop Hall for the reception. Before the wedding day I also spent hours writing names on luggage tags in straggling calligraphy then tying these on to rolled napkins with ribbons and lavender sprigs for the tables.
Instead of giving out favours we made a donation to the Disasters Emergency Commission.
My lovely sisters and mother made our wedding cake. Extra special thanks go to my sister Miranda who made hundreds of sugar flowers to match our wedding flowers which cascaded down the side of the cake. I’m not a huge fan of fruit cake, so we had a chocolate tier, an orange and almond tier and a coffee tier. It was delicious!
For our wedding meal we had a smoked chicken and bacon salad with a honey and orange dressing, followed by onion soup, then roast pork with all the trimmings and to finish, individual summer puddings. We went to Hassop Hall for Sunday lunch with our parents so we could taste different menu options. It was a difficult choice as they were all delicious but these were our favourite dishes.
Giles’ school friend Emlyn, was kind enough to arrange a pair of jazz musicians for us as a wedding present to provide entertainment. They played during the drinks reception. We also had a disco provided by Spirits High after dinner.
I can’t praise Hassop Hall enough. We live in London so weren’t able to visit the venue very often but Helen thought of every last detail and ensured that the day ran absolutely seamlessly. The service was excellent and the wedding breakfast was one of the best mass catered meals that I have ever eaten.
My favourite part of the wedding would be the horse and carriage ride with my new husband from the church to Hassop Hall, it was really lovely to be able to have ten minutes to take everything in together. I also enjoyed the impromptu midnight feast that Hassop Hall rustled up for a hungry bride at the end of the night.
For our honeymoon we went to Scotland for ten days, breaking our journey in the Lake District. We were blessed with good weather so enjoyed lots of wonderful walks together in the stunning scenery as well as some fabulous food. Our favourite places that we stayed were The Gilpin and Monarchyle Mhor.
My top tips for other Brides Up North would be to outsource where possible – the less you have to do in the days before the wedding, the better, as there will always be last minute issues. Spend some time working out the logistics of the wedding day and the days either side. We had a plan of who was doing what when and how things (flowers that were re-used, luggage etc) were moving from one venue to the other. We circulated this plan to the bridesmaids and groomsmen and think it really helped the day to go without a hitch.
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February 16th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
The winter might still be dragging on but get ready as we’re about to inject your Monday with a fabulous dose of sunshine and happiness.
Olivia and Nathan’s rustic wedding sets the style bar sky high with stunning attire and décor to match.
I adore the pale grey and vibrant yellow colour palette which shines through in the mens’ get up, lovely blooms and the bridesmaids’ cute dresses, designed by the bride herself no less!
So let’s head down to the farm to relive this gorgeous couple’s big day.
With images by Maryanne Scott Photography.
olivia says: We got engaged early April 2013. Nath picked me up from work as a surprise on a Friday afternoon and took me to Chester for the weekend. On the Saturday we went for a picnic on a river bank which he had prepared, he remembered everything, the blanket, basket and champagne! After eating lunch he proposed. It was absolutely freezing but very romantic.
We chose to tie the knot on August 9th 2014. We knew we wanted a summer wedding and we were restricted to school holidays, if we wanted a honeymoon, as Nath is a teacher.
We got married at All Saints RC Church in Hassop, where we had a Catholic ceremony with full mass, followed by a reception at Brosterfield Farm in Foolow. Having grown up in Sheffield I was always being brought out to the Peak District at the weekend for walks. It is such a beautiful part of the world and I wanted a beautiful setting for the wedding.
I very much wanted a rustic, DIY wedding and knew I wanted a field and marquee. The marquee allowed us to have enough space for 120 day guests and around 185 in the evening. This is what Brosterfield provided, a long open space for the marquee with beautiful scenery, enough space for us and our immediate families to stay and an excellent service. It was perfect!
The theme was DIY/rustic/handmade, which is very much the theme at home, so it was easy for me to adapt this to the wedding. There wasn’t a colour scheme as such. I decided I wanted grey dresses for the bridesmaids – I wanted something neutral and knew I didn’t want the pale pink ‘pretty’ look. Nath wanted a grey suit so we went for grey for the lads too. Nath saw a yellow tie he really liked, he wanted a bit of colour to stand out and it really suited his colouring. So we decided to use the yellow in my bouquet and his button hole too to make us stand out and tie us together.
My dress was a Blue by Enzoani Dakota fish tailed lace dress. It was the perfect shape for my figure as I have a very small frame at the top but hips and a bum so it showed everything off. As it was a Catholic ceremony I wanted to have my shoulders covered. I had a small top made with ¾ sleeves in the same lace as the dress with matching buttons down the back. I then took this off for the evening reception. I also had a long veil with very small diamantes on it. I bought my dress from Emily Bridal Wear in Sheffield. Emily and her staff were superb throughout the process.
I bought a vintage belt before I bought my dress, which I spotted at a vintage fair. I wanted to change my outfit a little for the evening so it was the perfect addition for the reception. I also wore a handmade forehead band in the evening made by Debbie Carlisle. She was incredible and replaced all the diamantes with pearls to match my jewellery and shoes. My shoes were pearl coated five-inch heels which I bought from Etsy from a Yorkshire-based seller called Project Elegance.
Nath wore a three-piece grey suit from Reiss. He bought a white shirt from the Saville Row Company with a white collar bar and had this personalised with McG on the cuffs (our surname is McGuinness). The knitted tie was from Ted Baker and we managed to find a matching pocket hankie in Reiss and socks in Urban Outfitters. I bought Nath a pair of silver cufflinks with a pearl detail which I had designed at the jewellers and had given to him the morning of the wedding. These were engraved with McG on one and the wedding date on the other.
I had the bridesmaids dresses made as I had designed the dresses and there was nothing similar on the high street or online. They were a grey sweetheart neckline with mesh top, a tutu bottom and a big bow on the back. They had pearl buttons down the back. The girls wore Kurt Geiger silver/grey heels and pearly flowered headbands. The younger bridesmaid and flower girl had very similar style dresses but made in ivory. They had fresh flowers in their hair.
The ushers and best men had three-piece suits from Next and the dads had very similar ones from M&S. They had grey ties made by the lady who made the girls’ dresses. They all had a different pocket square made from vintage scarves which I collected from vintage fairs and shops in the grey theme too. We also had two page boys; Charlie wore a mini version of the groomsmen’s suit from Next with a bow tie and braces with converse. George wore shorts with braces from Etsy with a bow tie.
I went to the church in a vintage VW Beetle called Jenny and the bridesmaids in a vintage VW Campervan called Harry. They were hired from Vintage Volksweddings. Nath and I then had the Beetle to the farm and we had lots of lovely photos with it at the end of the drive whilst our guests arrived. Richard from the company was absolutely superb – I would recommend him to anyone.
The photographer was Maryanne Scott and she was brilliant. Maryanne did a trial shoot with us before we booked her – we were both a bit nervous about being in front of the camera but she put us at ease straight away. We also had an engagement shoot before the wedding. On the day we couldn’t have asked any more of her. Maryanne was at my Mom’s house where I was getting ready early on, she took some fab getting ready shots and then set off into the countryside to get photos of all the lads and then the guests arriving. She takes natural, beautiful photographs, capturing the details of the day and special moments without you even knowing she is there. What an amazing photographer and a lovely person, she really was a joy to have photograph our big day!
I knew I didn’t want the standard pretty flowers for our wedding day. We used a lady called Catherine at Petalis in Sheffield. From our first visit Cat understood my vision. We had vintage tins as centre pieces and dotted around the marquee which Cat filled with beautiful flowers with pops of colour as well as using milk churns and watering cans with bright, wacky summer flowers as displays. Cat decorated the church with beautiful, more subtle flowers. She also created stunning button holes and bouquets using natural textures and grey foliage to fit our theme. Cat managed to deliver very high quality flowers to fit the rustic vision and colours, delivering to multiple venues. I was so pleased with them all!
The men were given vintage football programmes as their favours. As a massive Sheffield Wednesday fan and Nathan being a massive Manchester United fan we decided to purchase a programme from the 60s-80s depending on the person’s age for either SWFC or MUFC versus the team that person supported. The women meanwhile were all given vintage brooches which I had collected from charity shops, antique shops and car boot sales before the wedding. The children were all given a personalised colouring pack and crayons which I ordered off eBay. I also made 80 jars of strawberry jam as extra favours with special labels. I’ve had so many people asking me to make more jam since!
We had a three-tier cake made by Lindy Lou Cakes with a Victoria sponge tier, fruit tier and lemon drizzle tier. It was decorated very simply with ivory icing and pearl details all over with an icing bow. I then made the cake toppers to add some more colour. We also had chocolate cupcakes to match.
We hired The Butlers Pantry in Mickleover to do the food and they were absolutely fantastic! First we had prosecco and canapés, including mini Yorkshire puddings with beef, and cheese and sundried tomato tartlets. We then had sharing platters as our starter so there was something for everyone. For main we had Chicken filled with brie and basil wrapped with Serrano ham in a mushroom and tarragon sauce and then Eton Mess for pudding. We had a pizza van for our evening catering by Fabio’s Wood Fired Pizza Oven. They arrived and set up without disturbing us in the slightest and created a variety of amazing pizzas to suit everyone’s tastes!
For entertainment we had a band called ‘up4thedownstroke’ who came up all the way from Birmingham. They were just incredible and everyone commented on how amazing they were – not a typical wedding band but a professional set up with soul, RnB and some more generic songs to please everyone. Our friend Cookie DJ’d between the band’s sets and afterwards. We also provided games both inside and outside the marquee for the few children who were at the wedding and they went down really well too.
The special touches on the day were just all the little things I made, from bunting on each chair to the crocheted doily table runners. I also made signs to go around the venue, did photo displays and a ‘rules of the dance floor’ sign too.
Other suppliers from our wedding that I would recommend include Julie at Stephen Bywater Hair, who did mine, the bridesmaids’ and my Mom’s hair. Posh Frocks and Wellies marquee company were also very good. They provided the marquee, the hardwood flooring, the tables and chairs, linen and the toilets. I’d also highly recommend Brosterfield Farm if you are looking for somewhere to make your wedding your own. It gave us the freedom to use all different suppliers and contacts and make the day perfect for us.
I genuinely enjoyed every single minute of our wedding. I thoroughly enjoyed our vows – it was really important to us both to have a catholic ceremony and it was really special. I also loved our first dance where we had a slide show of photographs of us in the background and followed this with a dance with my Dad. The speeches were also brilliant, though I think it was just really special to have all our friends and family together.
We went to Bali on our honeymoon which was wonderful. We spent the first ten nights in Nusa Dua – a more touristy resort and the last two in the most amazing boutique hotel in the jungle in Ubud.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be make it your day, don’t let anyone put you off any of your ideas. This is your day, the most special day of your life, and it has to be perfect for you both. Incorporate details of both of you into the day and make memories to last a lifetime!
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January 14th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s couple wanted an informal big day with lots of pretty vintage touches and their fabulous wedding photos are proof they more than achieved it.
After a quaint church ceremony, Hollie and Matt, along with their guests, headed down to the farm for a good old knees-up, complete with village fete inspired games, afternoon tea, musical entertainment and an entire evening of dancing.
So grab a hay bale and take a pew as we relive their incredible Derbyshire wedding day.
With images by Shoot Lifestyle Wedding Photography.
hollie says: We got engaged in July 2012, the day before the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Matt took me for a meal at my favourite restaurant as I was going to Cape Town with work the following evening. He asked me to marry him looking out over the beautiful view. Of course I said yes!
We set the date for Saturday 9th August 2014. We are both teachers so the summer holidays were an obvious time, and as we wanted a marquee this is supposedly when we are guaranteed the most sunshine!
We got married in a small church in the tiny village of Scarcliffe in Derbyshire where I grew up. My parents and grandparents also got married at this church.
We wanted a day that was really relaxed and informal. We love all things quirky and vintage, so a marquee on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm seemed like the perfect opportunity to style it exactly how we liked. The marquee was decorated with lots of furniture and objects from our home! It was important to us to involve as many of our friends and family as possible in our wedding day. It was a small but really personal do.
Our colour scheme just emerged naturally. A lot of the china we already had, and flowers we liked were creams and soft pinks. Unfortunately, the soft pink didn’t suit the skin tone of any of my bridesmaids so we went with a contrasting colour of blue/green.
I found my dress on the first day of looking! I had previously seen it on a website and couldn’t wait to try it on. It was very delicate Sincerity dress with lots of lace. I knew straight away that it was, as they say, ‘the one’. It was from The Bridal Boutique in West Bridgford, Nottingham. My shoes were Rachel Simpson, my earrings were handmade by a friend and I had my gran’s engagement ring tried on my bouquet with ribbon. I wore flowers in my hair so didn’t have any other accessories.
Matt wore a grey checked suit from Slater Brothers and the groomsmen all wore their own suits. The bridesmaid dresses meanwhile came from a small local shop called All Things Bride and Beautiful.
Mine, my mum’s and all the bridesmaids’ hair and make-up was done by my brother’s partner and her company Mirror Mirror. Everyone looked truly stunning.
I travelled to the church in my step brother’s, cream, MK2 Jaguar and Matt arrived at the church in his brother’s VW campervan.
Simon and Jo at Shoot Lifestyle were our photographers. They were completely amazing! They made us feel at ease and were a massive hit amongst our guests. We have some fantastic pictures that we can treasure. We would most certainly recommend them!
All of our wedding stationery came from the super talented Sarah Wants. Her stationary is quirky and rustic, which fit in with our theme perfectly.
Our flowers came from Black Eyed Susan in Chesterfield. They were really great and knew exactly the look we were going for. The flowers looked stunning, we were really happy with the beautiful tomes they had chosen. They even ventured out in the monsoon weather to help us decorate the marquee!
Matt and I both have a very sweet tooth so we loved the idea of having a sweet table. So instead of favours we gave our guests small sweet jars that they could fill until their hearts’ content at the sweet table.
Our cake was made by my dad’s extremely talented partner – she did a fantastic job! It was a four-tiered ‘naked’ cake, decorated with summer fruits.
We wanted a relaxed and informal day, so we choose to have afternoon tea rather than a meal. The sandwiches came from M&S catering. All the hundreds of cakes and deserts were made by our fab friends and family! It really made the day feel personal. In the evening we had a hog roast from a family friend, Barlow’s Butchers.
To entertain guests during the day we had an acoustic guitarist called Phil Ashmore. He played during the ceremony then again during the drinks reception. This was really lovely as we could choose some of our favourite songs. We also had lots of games outside to keep the children (and adults) entertained. At night we had a band – The Smooth Criminals, followed by a DJ. They got everyone up and dancing on their feet even though it was cold and pouring with rain outside!
We were both really nervous about the service but surprisingly this turned out to be our favourite part of the day. It was beautiful. Surrounded by our closest friends and family, saying our vows was really special. An acoustic guitarist just added to the atmosphere. The evening was fantastic, dancing the night away to a great band with all our friends – we never sat down!
For our honeymoon we went to the beautiful city of Florence, in Italy. We hired a car and drove around the stunning Tuscan countryside. We then spent our final few days sightseeing in Rome.
Our top tip for other Brides Up North is don’t feel as though you have to follow tradition. It is your day, so do what makes you both happy. We spent hours looking at ideas deciding what we liked and what we didn’t. In the end our day felt very personal to us.
October 23rd, 2014 | Julia Braime
Sian and Stu’s outdoor wedding is full of individuality, meaningful touches, casually cool couture and fun. A bride who carries a textbook bouquet and plans a laboratory style bar for her guests is absolutely my kind of geek.
With images by Chelsea Shoesmith.
Sian says: We got engaged just before Christmas 2012 back where I grew up in Anglesey, and we were married on 23rd August 2014. We were lucky enough to be able to choose the summer bank holiday, with the intention of our families, who would be travelling, to be able to enjoy the long weekend.
We had the wedding ceremony at Heaton House Farm, and the reception in a nearby field owned by Fairborough’s Farm. We love the beautiful scenery in the Peak District and the Staffordshire Dales. We were very keen on having the Tipis for the reception, and centered our search on finding venues with outdoor spaces with great views, which we found in spades in Rushton Spencer. The Tipis were provided by Peak Tipis.
I was keen on keeping the decor and styling quite rustic and natural in order to keep in line with the look and feel of the Tipis. We also wanted to feature a bit of science and chemistry, as both of our careers are chemistry based. It was a fun little juxtaposition with all of the natural elements.
I picked the colour scheme – neutrals with blue accents – to inject a bit more colour into the decor of the Tipi without looking at odds with the the colour of the canvas.
I fell in love with infinity dresses while looking for a bridesmaid dress that would suit all three of my very different bridesmaids. I found Coralie Beatrix on Etsy who also makes bridal infinity dresses and loved the idea of being able to wear the dress in different ways as the day went on, and being able to choose complementing shades for my bridesmaids. My own dress was actually custom made for me by my mum, Linda, which is amazing to have something so personal.
For the boys, we chose Edinburgh Woollen Mill waistcoats, BHS trousers, Burton shirts and stag head lapel pins from River Island. We wanted something more relaxed and casual than the traditional suits, whist still looking put together.
My bouquet was made out of pages of an old chemistry textbook, glued together rather messily by me and my mum in the dead of night a few days before the wedding. I loved being able to make as much as I could for the wedding, but I did superglue my fingers together on several occasions on this particular project!
We met with a few photographers and found Chelsea Shoesmith who has worked at the venue may times before, which gave us a lot of confidence. Of the photographers we met, she had the perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness, and throughout the planning process and the wedding day put us at ease and got the best out of us. She was totally on board and enthusiastic about doing a ‘First Look’ photo shoot too. This allowed Stu and I to see each other just before the ceremony and calm our (his) nerves and get some portrait shots in, leaving us with more time after the ceremony to get the group shots done and get back to the day. I’d recommend this to any couple who aren’t fussed about only seeing each other coming down the aisle for the first time; we aren’t traditional in that sense. I’d recommend Chelsea to anyone, and already have!
Glass jars were collected for me by various people and we decorated them ourselves using various techniques, including authentic Trearddur Bay sand collected by my niece in the summer. I found so many amazing ideas on Pinterest but had to reign myself in and only use a few to keep things looking cohesive! The bunting and cutlery sleeves were made by Stu’s mum Lynn and were some of people’s favourite features (a lot went missing)! We have kept some bunting and plan on putting it up in our first nursery as a little reminder of the day.
The first concrete decision I made about the wedding was that instead of giving our guests favours, I wanted to make a donation to Cancer Research UK. Like all families, we have lost and won battles with cancer and I know that all of our guests would appreciate the gesture.
My sister Rachel’s chocolate orange cake has long been one of my favourites, and asking her to bake our wedding cake was a total no-brainer. We had four layers: chocolate orange, carrot cake, lemon drizzle and vanilla sponge. We also have an amazing log cake board cut and engraved by my uncle. I’m going to have to start baking in order to use it again!
We had a barbecue consisting of lamb, ribs and sausages, salads and breads supplied by Vanilla in All Seasons. I think the best testimony we can give was that one of my friends had to be sent back to the table as he was up for second helpings within minutes before everyone had even been fed! In the end I think there were some people going back for thirds… fourths… fifths…
We supplied the drinks ourselves, with a master plan of having a chemistry lab/bar set up. In the end it wasn’t as grand as we first set out, as it turns out some of the lab glassware was extremely fragile! We also had mini-kegs of beer from Stewart’s donated from our friends Charlotte and Jamie after being a big hit at their own Tipi wedding.
For the ceremony music we had string and instrumental versions of a couple of our favourite songs by Incubus and The Cure. I think there were only a few people who noticed!
We also asked our friends’ band to play, and they ended up doing an acoustic set with a few of their own songs and a few covers that they knew we’d like, then played a carefully selected playlist in the evening. It was tough to put together as there were people with very different music tastes, but I think we managed to pull it off pretty well. We actually shared the wedding playlist with our friends afterwards, too.
During the day we had a few outdoor toys, bubble machines etc for the kids (and big kids) to play with, which they loved.
I would recommend this venue to any couple, especially those who just doesn’t get excited by the ‘standard’ weddings they see, and want to shape their own day.
I realised the time half an hour before I knew we were supposed to finish and pack up, and I was desperate for it not to end; for it to carry on with us all singing and dancing. There were little details that hadn’t gone exactly to plan or that I hadn’t thought of, and I knew that none of them mattered at all because I’d just had so much fun all day with all the people that I love most around me, and I could see how much fun everyone else was having, too.
With the money generously gifted to us by our guests, we went on a last minute all-inclusive holiday to Cyprus, where we both got to put our feet up and plan absolutely nothing after the stress on planning the wedding!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that I’ve been assured that it’s normal to feel like you haven’t spent enough time with each guest – although I certainly tried!
September 8th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
I think I may have mentioned recently that I’m totally obsessed with wedding flowers. Well, Sam and Lisa’s fab big day features the most amazing blooms that I just can’t stop swooning over.
They formed a key part of the chosen theme, which put simply was all things pretty – including a gorgeous coral colour theme, antique lace and elegant glassware.
The crafty couple rolled up their sleeves to add lots of lovely special touches to their big day – and roped in their talented family and friends to help along the way.
This stunning wedding is quite literally bursting at the seams with inspiration so grab your planning scrapbook and prepare to take notes ladies.
With images by Kate Cooper Photography.
Lisa says: We got engaged on Friday November 4th 2011. I had absolutely no idea that Sam was even thinking of proposing. We’d been together for ten happy years having met at university. We’d lived together for a few years with various friends and finally after nine years of being together, we could afford to live on our own in our own home – something we’d wanted to do for so long. I’d just started my first job as a teacher and we were beginning to do up our house. Life as a ‘proper’ grown-up couple in our home was feeling great but I had no idea we were about to get engaged. The next thing I know, Sam was proposing! He proposed at home under a star lit lounge (he’d put fairy lights up round the room) and got down on one knee. It was simple, personal, private and lovely.
Our big day was on Thursday 1st August 2014. Being a teacher, I wanted to get married in the summer holiday. We also love summer weather so we chose an August wedding date. We had our wedding on a Thursday as it was cheaper to get married during the week at our venue.
We chose Stancliffe Hall in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, as our wedding venue. We’d looked endlessly for venues – both around the Sheffield area where we live and also down in Sussex where Sam is from. Nothing felt right and we were about to give up when we stumbled across Stancliffe Hall on a different Google search. As soon as we drove down the sweeping driveway lined with rhododendrons we knew we were somewhere special. The butterflies we had in our stomachs as we arrived continued as we looked at round the house. We were stunned at how beautifully the stately home had been renovated from a boarding school into a fabulous home and wedding venue. There is an amazing feel to the place – mixing complete luxury and boutique styling throughout the house, with traditional features too. There are so many beautiful touches around the house and there are lots of different rooms, balconies and nooks and crannies to explore. It’s surrounded by stunning scenery and is completely private. It also had its own beautiful wooden chapel that sits just outside the main house which meant we could get married on site too.
I had never been a girl who had dreamt up or imagined my wedding day so I didn’t really know where to start but I bought a couple of magazines and off I went! I knew I wanted a pretty, natural, floral theme and I was ridiculously excited at choosing the flowers. I started by thinking about the sort of blooms I wanted and one of my favourite flowers is the coral crush peony. My first and easiest decision was the colour scheme. Coral – a pretty, summery colour and one of my favourites! Grey – because Sam wanted to wear grey and it goes really nicely with coral. And yellow – because it complimented the rest! Next came the dress which was a lace gown which then became incorporated into the theme. My grandma gave me her cameo brooch as my something borrowed, and this then became something we incorporated into the theme. So the overall theme was a mix of – pretty, coral, lacey, cameo, homemade and vintage.
For my wedding dress I chose the Rita gown by San Patrick which was not an easy find – a bit of a mission in fact. I had looked at so many dresses online, in magazines, on wedding blogs and in shops. I wanted something pretty and feminine but with an edge to it. I stumbled across a dress online by San Patrick called Risco which made my heart skip a beat every time I looked at it. But it was so difficult to track it down and find somewhere that stocked it. I persisted and eventually I found a bridal shop called Xquisite Bridal in Leighton Buzzard that stocked it. Sabrina, the owner, had one left in stock and I think it had been discontinued – hoorah, I’d found my dress! I made an appointment to try on Risco in the boutique for the next month. By the time I had arrived, it had been sold to another bride! I was devastated. All that effort to find it and a three-hour trip to get there and it had been sold! Really kindly Sabrina let me try on the dress, but after all that excitement and anticipation, it didn’t even suite me! I had a backup dress to try on though – Rita. She was beautiful and my mum and sister both agreed that it was much better on me than Risco. Never someone to rush into a decision, I didn’t have the ‘it’s the one’ moment so I went away to think about it. In the meantime, I tried on some other dresses and confused myself even more. I was torn between Rita and a Benjamin Roberts gown. However, eventually after going back to Xquisite Bridal, I decided that Rita was the one for me. Not only was it a beautiful dress but she shared my late auntie’s name. I decided to have straps added and the skirt taken in at the knees to give it slightly more fishtailed look. I also bought a beautiful sash belt from Pearl and Co. who are based in the Manchester area who also made my garter using my grandma’s lace. I have to say, I did doubt my choice (I’m so bad at making decisions and sticking to them) but on my wedding day I absolutely loved every minute of wearing her!
Sam wore a bespoke tailored suit from King and Allen in Wilmslow. Sam got to choose the material – a lovely lightweight material which wouldn’t be too hot for our summer wedding. He decided on a classic fit so that he can continue to wear it through the years. We also had our names and wedding date embroidered into the jacket which added a really nice touch. His shoes were brown Barker brogues. As a little extra, I bought Sam some Edwardian cameo cufflinks that I found on Etsy to fit with our theme.
I’m so lucky to have such a talented mum who made the bridesmaid dresses and without really even following a pattern. I’d found a dress that I loved, but it didn’t come in coral. In fact, finding anything in coral was almost impossible at the time. So in the end I stumbled across some coral lace on a market stall and I nearly ripped the woman’s arm off for it. My mum is such a perfectionist and worked her magic using just a picture of the dress I liked for reference. After six months of work on them (she’s a retired teacher with time on her hands) they were perfect. The groomsmen all wore light grey suits, similar to Sam’s. The dads wore their own choice of grey suits.
Our photographer was the lovely and talented Kate Cooper. Sam works with her husband which is how we found Kate, and she was just the loveliest person to have around on the day. I couldn’t recommend her enough because she has such a good eye for detail. She really knows how to capture the ‘feel’ of an event and she’s so calm and sweet – she even helped me to get ready and she is so inconspicuous on the day. She just seemed to glide around without being imposing in any way and she made us feel completely at ease.
Flowers formed the main theme of our day so we really went to town on them. All the flowers were put together by Tracey Campbell of Campbell’s Flowers incorporating the colours we had picked along with the feel we were trying to create – vintage-inspired, natural and romantic.
My hand-tied bouquet was a posy-style design that was quite open and loose with lots of textural interest but still feminine and pretty. Flowers included were coral David Austin roses, succulents, craspedia, burnt orange leucospermum, brunia, rosemary, peach hypericum, eucalyptus cinerea and a little gypsophila. I also asked Tracey to include a tiny piece of holly from my dog’s grave which I gave to her.
The bridesmaids had vintage-inspired double wrist corsages which were put together on an ivory organza ribbon using two David Austin roses, a sprig of gypsophila and a cameo brooch. Meanwhile the button holes were based on a David Austin rose design using elements from my bouquet. They were constructed on their natural stem and bound and finished with a tie of lace. Coral ribbon was also added to Sam’s button hole.
For the chapel we had collections of random clear glass bottles at different heights and apothecary jars along the edge of the ceremony table which featured a random selection of our chosen blooms. To continue the vintage theme throughout the floral designs Tracey used cream enameled candlesticks topped with beautiful gypsophila topiary balls and finished with floating glass baubles filled with David Austin Juliet roses. Pretty glass baubles, again filled with delicate peach roses, were also hung from the walkway between the house and ceremony room.
When it came to dressing the room for the wedding breakfast, some of the flowers from the ceremony room were transferred and a few new arrangements in tiny cut glass heirloom vases were added. We had bought an antique French chest of drawers which we wanted to use at the venue because it is so beautiful. We used it outside the chapel to place the order of service and confetti cones on. We then transferred the drawers into the house for guests to place cards and gifts in. We had one drawer filled with flowers designed by Tracey to look as if they were tumbling out.
Other decorations we had included photo frames with old family wedding photos in, candles in storm lanterns, olive trees, hanging pearl hearts, homemade lace lanterns, a large free-standing metal heart that I decorated with lace as the table plan, a homemade wish tree with luggage tags for people to write on and hang from the tree and finally we had a floral ‘L’ and ‘S’ made by my mum. She bought cardboard letters for our initials, hollowed them out and painted them green and then filled the inside of them with oasis and flowers. It looked so pretty.
We had homemade jam and liquors as our favours. Glassware was another theme of the wedding which we used to present the flowers in and also for a sweetie table in the evening, so we carried the glassware theme through into the favours using pretty bottles and jars for the jams and liqueurs. The idea was to have translucent pastel colours from the preserves and liqueurs – peaches, yellows and greens to make the tables look lovely. Sam’s parents made the liqueurs for us – Limoncello, Pompelmocello (pink grapefruit Limoncello), and Rhubarbcello (rhubarb). I made the jams and curds: lemon curd, lime curd, pink grapefruit curd, gooseberry jelly and rhubarb jelly (the fruit coming from my grandma’s garden). I made salt dough hearts that I stamped in the same way as I stamped the stationary to give them a texture and colour. We tied them to the bottles and jars and my sister made lovely labels to go on them. We had some lace from the bridesmaid dresses left over so we used this to top the jars. My sister alos made beautiful cake pops for the children.
After getting a few ‘real’ quotes from some amazing cake makers, we decided that we didn’t want to take that amount of money out of the wedding fund, so we had to push the cake down the priority list.
We decided to go with a lady called Val Brown who makes cakes as a hobby and is really good at it. We designed the cake ourselves – taking elements of different cakes that we’d seen and liked. We drew a plan for Val to follow. She did a great job but when mum and her partner Norman picked up the cake it was absolutely enormous! Transporting the Eiffel Tower sized cake on the most humid day of the year, along the windiest road wasn’t exactly favourable. Disaster struck when we arrived at the wedding venue and opened the box. The whole thing was collapsing in front of our eyes. In the end we had to dismantle the cake and we were left with three separate tiers. Chocolate, lemon drizzle and fruit cake. But it wasn’t pretty and we wouldn’t have a cake to cut. To cut the rest of a very long story short, Val remade the top two tiers overnight using polystyrene. We salvaged enough of the pearl beading and icing details to remake the cake. Nobody knew it had happened by the time she had finished, and we were able to serve the cake that we’d saved from toppling off the cake.
We were really lucky with our food. Stancliffe Hall don’t have their own caterers but they had three outside caterers that we could choose from which meant we could be creative with the menu. We had a company called Coghlans do our catering and they were absolutely fantastic. Andrew (the boss) met with us and discussed our favourite foods and what we envisaged for our wedding food and then came up with a bespoke menu. First we had canapés which were an Italian Anti-Pasti theme. For starter we had ravioli of king prawn and scallop topped with a lobster cannelloni and a light caviar butter sauce. Main was fillet of pork wellington with apricots and sage, served with fondant potato and calvados jus lie. And dessert was iced raspberry parfait and raspberry shortbread rounds topped with gold leaf and chocolate disks.
Coghlans were also responsible for the drinks, which again, we were able to be creative with. We did a wine tasting before the wedding where we matched wine with the food. We had Mr and Mrs cocktails. My choice was the Aperol Spritz – the perfect colour and my favourite drink from a trip to Italy with my best friend a few years before. Sam’s was an old fashioned but made with Jacquin’s whiskey which has fruit in the bottle and gives it a peachy colour. We served these as our reception drinks and also in the evening too.
We had a rustic evening buffet with a whole serrano leg of ham that Sam’s parents had bought back from Spain. We served it with breads, olives, cheese, biscuits, pasties and my grandma’s fruit cake, served with the cheese.
We have lots of talented people in our family that do all kinds of things so the wedding ended up being a real family affair. Everyone, including myself and Sam, had a hand in creating things for the wedding to add lots of special touches.
Not only did my mum make the bridesmaid dresses and our beautiful L and S, but she also made our beautiful ring cushion out of little bits of lace that belonged to my grandma and great grandma (some of the lace was over 100 years old). My dad is a classical musician and he composed a song for uscalled The Presence of Love which was such a special thing to have. He had some members of his London choir travel to Derbyshire to sing it on the day as I walked down the aisle.
Sam’s mum spent a long time searching charity shops for glasswarethat we could use for the sweetie table. My uncle made my jewellery, except for my bracelet which was a gift from Sam’s parents. He designed my earrings and necklace to go with the bracelet. He also made my engagement and wedding ring. Lots of people made homemade sweets for the sweetie table including me, my mum and sister and Sam’s parents. We also made our own stationery, handmade confetti and doily cones, embroidered coral place napkins and we hand-dyed coral socks for the groomsmen.
We had a wedding blessing after the civil part of the ceremony as it felt like we were missing something by not having a vicar marry us. In between the ceremony and blessing we had a 15-minute mini concert where my dad’s choir sang some songs and he also played a couple of piano pieces. Our dads both did speeches on the day while our mums put their feelings down in words and presented us with letters.
For both of us the ceremony was our favourite part of the wedding. It is such an amazing experience to say our vows to each other and to have my dad’s choir sing his song for us. To be in such a beautiful place and to be married in front of our closest friends and family was just so special. It was really overwhelming and a bit like an out of body experience, but totally amazing.
Sri Lanka was our honeymoon destination. We spent three weeks there in total. We spent the first week at an incredible resort where we sunbathed on an amazing beech, had spa treatments and did morning yoga. After that we travelled around to lots of other destinations and packed loads in including doing safari, visiting tea plantations and Buddhist temples, rock climbing and eating lots of food.
Our advice to other wedding couples would be to do things that are important to you. If you like crafting, do crafting. If you like food – do foodie things. Some people thought I was mad doing as much ‘making’ as I did but it was one opportunity in my life where I could go to town doing things that I love. Organisation is key and giving yourself plenty of time to get everything done is so important. We had planned everything to be done and dusted with a week to spare so that we could relax in the run up to the wedding. Of course we were running round like headless chickens in the week before and if I could go back I would try to get more done beforehand so that we could have had a day or two to ourselves. I also wish I’d had a few minutes before going into the chapel to soak in what was about to happen. I wanted time with my mum and dad before they gave me away and time with my bridesmaids but my makeup artist messed up the timings so I was the last one to have my makeup done. My advice therefore is to make sure you know exactly what time you’ll have your hair and makeup done so you can plan in some ‘reflection’ time and just be in the moment and soak up the experience before you walk down the aisle.
My sister was a huge support throughout planning the wedding and on the day itself. She was like my personal assistant and did so much for us. If a bride can enrol the support of someone like a sister or a best friend to help with all things wedding, it makes the whole experience even better.
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