Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

true chemistry. a fairy-tale wedding in durham city – michelle & anthony

April 3rd, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

A Fairy Tale Wedding In Durham (c) Teardrop Photography (37)

Today, we’re escaping to beautiful Durham City for a vintage inspired wedding that celebrates all those wonderful bridal traditions we often find ourselves daydreaming about.

The couple – Michelle and Anthony – created a special day brimming with understated elegance – we’re talking an ivory and sage green palette, 1920s cars, beautifully decorated candelabras and exquisite floral arrangements. Just look at the bride’s pretty gown and we promise you’ll be swept away by their captivating fairy-tale theme.

With images by Teardrop Photography

A Fairy Tale Wedding In Durham (c) Teardrop Photography (26)

michelle says: After five years together, we got engaged on 15th July 2015, in Santa Ponsa, Spain. We went for a posh meal at a cliff-side restaurant followed by a stroll along the beach. The sun was just beginning to set and I remember thinking to myself how romantic it was – we stopped to admire the view and when I turned around Anthony was down on one knee asking me to marry him…and, of course, I said yes! Anthony had picked the most beautiful engagement ring with the help from the staff at ROX Newcastle.

Our special day was Saturday 27th August 2016. We wanted a summer wedding and it fell perfectly on the Bank Holiday weekend. We were very fortunate with the weather as the sun kept shining all day long!

We were married at St. Patrick’s RC Church, Langley Moor. I had always dreamt of being married in church and this church has a special meaning to Anthony as he went to the neighbouring catholic school. The church was breathtakingly beautiful without the need for accessories and decoration.

A Fairy Tale Wedding In Durham (c) Teardrop Photography (51)

Our wedding breakfast through to evening reception was at St. Mary’s College in the heart of Durham city. This venue is primarily used for Durham University students and we had to seek permission to hold our wedding at this prestigious building with its ornate great hall and lavish landscaped grounds. My grandad was a Professor of Chemistry at the University and his ongoing involvement enabled us to be granted approval.

Our wedding day embraced fairy-tale romantic elegance, which included many bridal traditions. Anthony and I had the wedding rehearsal a few days before the big day then did not see each other until my dad walked me down the aisle on our magical day to the traditional Bridal March played by our organist. I incorporated the “something old, something new…” tradition as I wore my mam’s blue garter (which she wore on her wedding day 27 years ago) along with wearing a matching earring and necklace set which I borrowed from my mother-in-law. We also greeted each and every guest by doing a “line up” which gave our reception a personal feel and took the time to welcome and thank all our loved ones for sharing our special day with us. Another tradition I embraced was that my cousin Emma, who was also one of my bridesmaids, wore my engagement ring until after our ceremony – and not forgetting Anthony carrying me over the threshold of our new home the following day!

A Fairy Tale Wedding In Durham (c) Teardrop Photography (28)

Our wedding colour scheme was a mixture of sage green with ivory, we opted for very natural colours which matched perfectly with the foliage and flowers we used to decorate most of the venue.

A Fairy Tale Wedding In Durham (c) Teardrop Photography (29)

When I first started looking at wedding dresses, I had a completely different style of what I would like in mind. I originally wanted lots of lace with sleeves – completely different to the wedding dress I chose in the end! As soon as I tried on my fairy-tale princess style gown, with my full-length veil and tiara, I fell in love with it and knew instantly it was ‘the one’. This was then confirmed as I walked out of the fitting room and my mum and mother-in-law were in tears! It was such an emotional experience and I think all brides will agree this is one of the most special moments of the whole wedding process.

I got my wedding dress from Alice Elizabeth, a local boutique bridal shop in Coxhoe. The owner and dress maker Heather, and bridal consultant, Anne-Marie were truly amazing from the moment I walked through the door to find my dress, even to the moment I was just about to walk down the aisle! Heather surprised me and was waiting outside the church on my special day to give me a good luck hug and ensured my dress and veil was looking incredible! I was blown away by this touching moment! I couldn’t recommend Alice Elizabeth enough – they transformed my dream dress into a reality and I will be forever grateful to them both.

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when in rome. a sumptuous wedding at swinton park – victoria & matthew

November 23rd, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth


For today’s real wedding, we’re getting swept away by the enchantment of Victoria and Matthew’s beautiful wedding set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Combining the tradition of a church ceremony with the decadence of a castle, hotel and stately home for their celebrations – this is a wedding with class and sophistication in spades, and we simply adore every little detail from their special day!

With images by Andy Sutcliffe Photography.


victoria says: Matthew proposed during a surprise break away to Rome, leaving me guessing right until check in at the airport as to where we were going. Little did I know that in the luggage that I’d been carting around, on and off trains and through the airport, there was an engagement ring.

The hotel in Rome had a balcony that overlooked the city and the view was incredible. Every day the hotel staff kept leaving bottles of champagne and strawberries in the room and I had no idea why. I just thought it was all part of their hospitality and even said that we should stay in this hotel more often, as I felt like a princess.

We visited many historical sights and enjoyed sightseeing around the city, including a visit to the Vatican. On the final evening, I was so exhausted from walking around that I suggested that we should stay at the hotel for a meal, but Matthew insisted that we should go out. When we arrived back at the hotel, the balcony had been lit up with candles and there was a large parcel wrapped up on the table with a bottle of champagne. I was very surprised and I thought Matthew was too. Matthew insisted I open the parcel. Initially I thought it was a gift from the hotel, because of all the surprises they kept sending to us each night. I carefully tore the paper and inside was a canvas with photographs of Matthew’s niece and nephews holding up signs reading, “Will you marry Uncle Matthew please?” At this point, Matthew got onto one knee and pulled a ring box from his pocket and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes!

A few days after we returned home, I received a postcard stamped from Vatican City. Matthew had sent me a postcard when we were in the Vatican City saying that by now he hopes that I am his fiancée and can’t wait to marry me. I didn’t even notice that he had done this and I was with him the whole time. This came as a great surprise. Just as well I said yes!


We got married on 3rd August 2015. The ceremony took place at St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Richmond, North Yorkshire. We chose this church as it was fairly local to our reception venue – Swinton Park in Masham, North Yorkshire. Our local priest, Father Butters was able to conduct the ceremony too, which made it even more special.

We had a Roman Catholic ceremony with two readings. The first was from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, read by the mother of the groom and then then a reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians read by my godmother. We also had bidding prayers that were read by our eight-year-old nephew Louis, and my cousin Michelle.

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a little blush. justin alexander for an elegant wedding at seaham hall – kirsty & ryan

November 8th, 2016 | Laura McDonagh


Today’s bride Kirsty, says that the perfect wedding dress took her by surprise by being everything she supposedly didn’t want. The dress in question – a romantic, swishy Justin Alexander creation – was a truly stunning choice from what we can see!

Kirsty also said she wanted her day to be defined by the words “classy” and “romantic”. Well, mission accomplished, just take a look at the stunning photographs!

Ready for some serious pretty? Let’s dive right in…

With images by Leighton Bainbridge Photography.


kirsty says: Ryan and I got engaged on 1st August 2014 while on holiday in Mexico. Ryan had organised a private, romantic meal on the pier, looking over the ocean where we could watch the sun set. We had a gorgeous meal with champagne. Once we’d finished our meal, Ryan got down on one knee and the waiter presented my ring on a silver plate. It was perfect and the waiter caught it all on camera so I will always be able to look back at that moment. I had no idea, which made it even more special.

We got married on 6th August 2016. We always wanted to get married in the summer and this date worked well around my work. I’m a teacher and wanted to have a few weeks off before the wedding as well as being able to go on our honeymoon before the new term started. Plus, we hoped that in August we’d have sunny weather – which we did!


We were married at our local church in Houghton-le-Spring and then went onto Seaham Hall in County Durham. I’d always wanted to have my wedding there. The hotel is so beautiful I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Plus, we loved the fact that we could have an exclusive wedding with the whole venue and facilities to ourselves. We booked all 20 of the hotel rooms, which meant our close family and friends could stay over. The hotel boasts a sports room with a pool table, which was ideal for the men, plus there was a quiet lounge for the ‘oldies’.

I’d always wanted a big wedding and Ryan just went along with it! The two words I wanted to define the day were “classy” and “romantic”. When we got engaged the rustic, vintage theme was very popular and I loved the idea of lots of little details. However, I still wanted the overall feel to be contemporary as Seaham Hall is quite modern.


Making a decision on the colour scheme wasn’t difficult. I’m a girly girl and knew I wanted pink. We decided on a very soft blush; we knew it would suit both bridesmaids as well as the groomsmen. The bridesmaids’ dresses were from Mia Sposa in Newcastle; I chose a full-length lace gown in blush pink. They chose their own shoes so that they were comfortable on the day.

The choice of my own dress took me by surprise. It was everything I supposedly didn’t want. I chose a Justin Alexander dress also from Mia Sposa in Newcastle (the girls there are fab!) It had a full skirt, long train and lace straps, creating a ‘v’ shape at the front and back. The lace detail went all the way down the fitted bodice and past my hips where it faded out and then also all around the hem of the skirt. I loved the buttons at the back as they too went all the way down the skirt. When I spun it swished around me; I really felt like a princess! I also wore a veil, which was the full length of my dress and decorated with small crystals.

Mel Hedley did the bridal party’s makeup for the wedding. She was fantastic! Francesca Hair Design in Pelton, then did the bridal party’s hair. We had such a laugh getting ready and they all went beyond the call of duty!


We hired Ryan’s suit from Just Perfect in Shotton Colliery. He wore a French navy suit with a tweed waistcoat. He had a blush pink tie and tan shoes. The combined effect was gorgeous. The groomsmen wore the same as the groom however their waistcoat was the same French navy as the suit, also from Just Perfect.

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roses are red. a styled shoot in the north east

October 16th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Portrait Shoot by Meagan Sarah Photography (9)

This morning on the blog we have a simple yet striking styled shoot that goes against the belief that ‘red and green should never be seen’.

Noticing how well the two colours complement each other in nature, Yorkshire based photographer Meagan Sarah, decided to set up a shoot that would showcase how the bold hues can actually work together well for brides in terms of their flower choices. In doing so Meagan also initiated somewhat of a friends reunion as she called upon pals of hers from when she was a teen (who also happened to have paved careers in the wedding industry) to help pull her vivid vision together.

The result is a beautiful natural shoot with a breezy boho edge captured in the hills of New Herrington and Penshaw in Sunderland.

To give you more of the details we will hand over to the lady herself, take it away Meagan…

With images by Meagan Sarah Photography.

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meagan says: My inspiration for the photoshoot came entirely through friendship. Really, I should probably have named the shoot just that, ‘Friendship’. Liz Rose Ridley (makeup artist), Nicola Bone (hair stylist) and Nicola Tatters (our model) are all my close friends from back where I grew up in Washington, Tyne & Wear. Never once did I imagine we would all head in a similar direction of the wedding industry as we all went our separate ways as teens.

Truth be told, I have wanted to do a styled shoot with Nicola Tatters since she got married as she looked so beautiful on her wedding day (she isn’t nor has ever been a professional model, hard to believe right!?). So I suppose I just bought some flowers, arranged a long overdue meeting with old friends, snapped away and these photos are the result.

A Pretty Portrait Shoot by Meagan Sarah Photography (14)

I chose to work with reds and greens as the idea of ‘red and green should never been seen’ is one that has always baffled me when it works so well in nature.

We had a fabulous backdrop of the fields of Penshaw and kept the shoot very light and basic, with one reflector in a field behind Nicola’s house. The weather was perfect, the location was ideal and the photos came out far better than any of us expected!

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A Pretty Portrait Shoot by Meagan Sarah Photography (33)

In terms of styling Nicola wore her own wedding dress, which was an Essence design that she originally purchased from Just Perfect in Durham. I then ordered a beautiful floral headdress and bouquet from The Great British Florist, to complete the red and green look we were going for. I chose to use this florist because they offer bridal bouquets to order directly online. You can give them your favourite and least favourite colours and from that they will select suitable flowers that are in season. They did a spot on job!

A Pretty Portrait Shoot by Meagan Sarah Photography (15)

I left the hair and makeup in the capable (and talented) hands of Liz Rose Ridley and Nicola Bone. After many years in the fashion industry working as a photographer, stylist and makeupartist, Liz has recently expanded her talents to bridal make-up, meanwhile Nicola is an award-winning stylist and salon owner specialising in wedding, prom and special occasion hair, so I knew the pair of them would be up for the challenge of a shoot.

A Pretty Portrait Shoot by Meagan Sarah Photography (11)

Overall my aim was simply to reunite talented friends, have a good laugh and see how we would work together. We were all over the moon with the results as nature blessed us that day with beautiful fields.

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true blue. justin alexander for an eclectic wedding at the crab & lobster – ann-marie & matthew

July 16th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (31)

Today’s real wedding took place at a quirky hotel and restaurant that has a sort of anything goes feel to it with its mismatched décor and furnishings. Rather than try and impose a set theme on such an individual venue, bride and groom Ann-Marie and Matthew cleverly blended styles they love into the setting for an elegant yet eclectic wedding day.

We love the 1950s influences in the bride and maid of honour’s dresses as well as the groom’s slightly unusual pale blue suit and patterned tie combo. Elsewhere there are pretty shabby chic touches in the décor and a country garden theme running through the flowers and cake designs.

Oh, and Ann-Marie didn’t just go for one ‘something blue’ but instead lots, with a colour palette made up of varying shades of the cool hue.

With images from Michael Cartwright Photography.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (2)

ann-marie says: We got engaged on 20th April 2013 at Drybeck Farm in Cumbria. It was our anniversary weekend and Matthew had booked a weekend to Drybeck Farm as a surprise. Drybeck was our first weekend away together when we first met so Matthew thought it would be romantic to rekindle the early days. Matthew had been working during the day and came back at lunch time to get ready and go. I jokingly asked him “Have you forgotten anything? Like a ring?” to which he replied “Seriously? You do know there isn’t a ring, don’t you?” That was enough to put me off the scent.

I’d made a lamb stew to take with us that we cooked over an open fire and we sat and drank red wine and ate stew and tiger bread under the stars, wrapped in blankets. Matthew finally popped the question down on one knee on the banks of the River Eden. I of course said a massive yes!

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (3)

We decided on 24th May 2015 as our wedding date and chose The Crab & Lobster near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, as our venue. We knew the hotel and restaurant because of its reputation in fine dining but we had never been to stay before. We went to a wedding open day and suddenly everything fell into place. The gardens are beautiful and the hotel is so wonderfully quirky that we instantly fell in love with it.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (10)

We wanted our wedding to be laid back but still beautiful. One of our major turn offs with all things wedding was the ‘fake grandeur’ that is automatically pushed on brides. We also didn’t like the idea of an outright theme. We preferred just to choose all the things we liked and try to link them together. If we had to try and shoehorn our wedding into any kind of theme I suppose it would be ‘50s shabby chic, English country garden glamour’ (if that can be a theme?).

This eclectic mix of styles matches our personalities and went perfectly with the venue, which is a mismatch of all sorts of memorabilia and oddities.

We chose blue for our colour scheme. We didn’t make any decision on one particular type of blue and decided to have a wonderful mix of shades and hues that all complemented each other. We used white and ivory with a touch of peach to complement the blues. On reason for choosing blue was because of its association with luck at weddings and we thought why stop at one ‘something blue’ when it can all be blue!

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (12)

My dress was a 50s style ball gown by Justin Alexander and bought from Just Perfect at Shotton Colliery. It had a boat neckline and pleated sash waist with a small detailing of crystals and pearls. The dress was plain ivory silk and had a train. On my feet I wore peacock blue peep toe shoes from Faith, which had a T-bar encrusted in diamantes and peals.

My headpiece was custom made by The Libertarian. It was an ivory silk flower with crystals and pearls in the centre and a short 50s style veil with a sprinkling of diamantes. The crystals on the flower were my ‘something old’ and had been taken from a necklace my Grandmother left to me. My earrings were custom made by Mobeus in Hartlepool which also used the crystals from my Grandmother’s old necklace. Finally, I wore a jersey pearl bracelet that I borrowed from our daughter (she was bought it as a christening present).

On the big day, Nicholas at Hobson and Holmes in Darlington, did my hair while Jo Leversuch of Makeup by Jo, did my makeup.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (8)

Matthew wore a pale blue suit from Psyche in Middlesbrough with a coordinating dark blue tweed waistcoat from Debenhams. His shirt was plain white from M&S and shoes were brown brogues from Just Perfect Menswear at Shotton Colliery. Matthew’s tie and pocket square were from an online retailer called Dancys.

Our maid of honour wore a royal blue 50s style dress by LouLou Bridal and our flower girl wore an ivory satin and tulle ballerina style dress both bought from Just Perfect at Shotton Colliery. Their head pieces were both custom made by The Libertarian and featured handmade and custom dyed silk flowers.

The groomsmen all wore a suit of their choice with white M&S shirts and ties from Dancys. Our page boys wore pale blue linen suites from Next with coordinating bow-ties from Dancys.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (24)

Michael of Michael Cartwright Photography took our photographs. Michael is an old school friend of mine so we knew that we would be hiring a photographer that could put us at ease and who knew our personalities and tastes. Michael did a fantastic job of capturing the day without lots of posed or staged photos that will age and go out of fashion. We have ended up with a wonderful pictorial story of our day that will stand the test of time. Michael was a true professional and was so great at taking candid photos. We hardly even knew he was there throughout the day but we still got more than 1,000 pictures to choose from.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (32)

I carried a bouquet of wild and garden flowers in a range of blue and lavender tones including forget-me-nots, scabious, cornflowers, roses, lisianthus. They were tied with a bow with long tendrils of multi-coloured ribbons in different widths and textures. The brief to the florist was that I wanted to look like I had walked through a beautiful meadow and country garden and collected my flowers on the way to the ceremony – they did not disappoint.

The flowers were from Flowerhouse in Hartburn, Stockton-on-Tees which until recently was my brother’s business which he and my mum started more than ten years ago. Ever since I was small I have grown up around flowers and flower shops as my mum has been an award winning florist for 50 years. I knew from being a little girl that the most special thing was for my mum to do my wedding flowers and with the help of the staff at Flowerhouse that wish came true and the flowers were spectacular!

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (54)

Our table decorations were lots of smaller bunches of flowers using the same flowers as my bouquet. These were in jam jars which I decorated with ribbons and lace. Again the flowers were from Flowerhouse. We also decorated the tables with smaller jars with tea lights in them and set the table settings with sprigs of lavender and corn from Shropshire Petals, who also supplied our confetti.

I made all the decorations for the day including a number of hand painted signs and more than 30 metres of bunting as well as burlap signs and ribbon wands for the little people to carry. Instead of a guestbook I also made a hand painted canvas which everyone could write their messages on which has given us a beautiful momentum of the day.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (47)

As favours, each guest was given a packet of forget-me-not seeds from Not on the High Street. Due to the huge number of flowers at the wedding, each couple also got to take home a jar of fresh flowers at the end of the night.

We chose a three tier cake with a different flavour for each tier – fruit, chocolate and vanilla. A friend of ours (Jenny) made the cakes and a friend of my mum’s iced them for us. It was decorated with fresh flowers from Flowerhouse and a bunting cake topper from Beautiful Greys, a shop on Facebook.

Additionally we had a cheese and pork pie wedding cake from Earls Cheese Wedding Cakes in Stockton, which doubled as our evening buffet. This was topped with bride and groom mice from Cotton Reel Crafts. We served the wedding cake on the evening as dessert.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (49)

To keep guests entertained we had a jazz duo welcoming everyone to the ceremony and then playing in the gardens afterward. They were the Crab and Lobster resident musicians, Muttonchops, and were a fantastic addition to our day. During the ceremony Matthew’s brother, Robbie, and my friend Angela gave a rendition of Songbird by Oasis which was very special to us. On the evening we decided to have a jukebox instead of a DJ. That way the dancefloor was always full because the music was chosen by the guests.

To make the day all the more special we added a few individual touches, including inviting our guests to take part in a competition at The Crab and Lobster’s one-hole golf course to win a bottle of bubbles. It was a fun little addition and everyone had a go at getting their ball closest to the flag.

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (70)

We would recommend all of our suppliers, they each provided exactly what we wished for and were full of professionalism. We would also definitely recommend our venue to other couples. It was so fantastic in every way. The staff were wonderfully attentive and understood our vision from the outset and ensured that everything went swimmingly. They were very willing for us to completely take over and decorate everything in sight and change things around as we saw fit. The wedding coordinator, John Lacey, was fantastic and couldn’t do enough for us – from helping me to change my shoes, to standing up ladders hanging bunting, carving up enormous pork pies and helping our daughter up and down the patio steps.

I don’t think we could pick a favourite part of the day as it was all absolutely amazing. That said, our highlights would include; seeing each other for the first time, spending an entire day with all the people we love and dancing the night away to a plethora of retro tunes!

An Eclectic Wedding at The Crab & Lobster (c) Michael Cartwright Photography (72)

For our honeymoon we had four nights at Peacock Pavilions just outside of Marrakech in Morocco. It was a wonderfully relaxing break full of delicious food and exploration. We were fully spoilt at Peacock Pavilions with private dining in a hand painted Berber tent, a private screening of Casablanca in an outdoor cinema with cocktails and a bridal henna party for me. No stone was unturned at this wonderful quirky little oasis. Pure bliss!

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to start early! If you are anything like us and want to do a lot of work yourself or are interested in the finer details you need as much time as possible. We spent two years planning and it was only just enough time. We had an amazing day and all of the extra effort, hard work and sometimes stress was worth it all for the perfect amazing day.continue reading

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let love grow. a boho beach wedding at the alnwick garden – frankie & chris

September 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (24)

The days might officially be getting shorter, but look on the bright side Brides Up North, that just means lots of beautiful summer celebrations to recap on these pretty pages.

This morning we’re starting the week off in beautiful Northumberland, and paying a visit to the Alnwick Treehouse and Alnwick Garden (where Brides Up North is very proud to be hosting our gorgeous Luxury & Vintage Wedding Exhibition on Sunday 5th October 2014, are you coming?).

Frankie and Chris’s colourful, natural, boho inspired wedding is bright and beautiful with authentic personal styling.  Let the love grow indeed…

With images by Wildhearts and Wishes Photography, with second shooter Jacqui Grigg.

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (1)
a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (19)

Frankie says: We got engaged on 3 February 2013. The short and romantic version is that, one Sunday night, we went for a walk and Chris proposed along the banks of Thames in the old Naval College in Greenwich, underneath a 19th century lamp post. The longer, more accurate and less romantic story is that Chris proposed one Sunday night whilst wearing sweat pants in the house in the middle of an argument… a quick change into some nicer clothes and a short walk to our favourite location and we made it official against a more romantic setting!

We got married on Saturday 21st June 2014 at St Paul’s RC Catholic Church, Alnwick. The drinks reception and wedding breakfast was then in Alnwick Treehouse, before moving across to Alnwick Gardens for the evening do.

In terms of deciding location we knew we wanted somewhere meaningful to us so we started looking in three locations.  1) Greenwich in London where we have been living for 2 ½ years and where we got engaged, 2). Newcastle where we started living together for the first time, 3). Northumberland where we had both grown up and met.

We only looked round a few venues in London to know that something was missing, and that something was the North East.  When we looked round venues in Newcastle and Northumberland we knew straight away that that was where we should say our vows.

Having limited our choices to the North East, we were then still indecisive so greedily ended up choosing three venues instead of one!  Having both been brought up Roman Catholic, we were always going to get married in a RC Church.  We chose St Paul’s not only because of its location and its beautiful atheistic, but because we really gelled with the priest.  He was so supportive and down to earth; he sealed the deal for us!

We specifically chose Alnwick Gardens and Treehouse, as not only were they wonderfully characterful and beautiful venues in their own right, but because they also afforded us with the freedom and scope to reflect some of ourselves in the day.  Additionally, personalities played a part in helping us make our final venue choices, as the venue managers who showed us round both venues Arthur (at the Gardens) and David and Wendy (at the Treehouse) were both so friendly, accommodating and quirky that we knew they would understand the feel we were trying to create for the day.

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (11)

We tried to ensure it was a feminist wedding – my Mum and Dad walked me down the aisle, but neither of them ‘gave me away’; my sister did a speech so that it was not an all male line up; and we changed some of the wording in the wedding ceremony to make it more ‘inclusive’.

Our themes/styles were quite broad; we wanted them to reflect our personalities and shared loves. In terms of style, we wanted to create a relaxed, free spirited (hence the no ties!) and environmentally conscious vibe (hence the tree planting, seed packet favour and recycled white-gold wedding ring).

Theme wise, it was primarily (a) music, to reflect our shared love of music; and (b) floral country garden to reflect our love of rural Northumberland and my love of big floral prints.  So as long as it was bright, colourful and fun, it was in!

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (22)

My dress was ‘Harper’ Rue De Seine.  I fell in love with it because it fitted the feel of both venues as well as my personal tastes; it combined both the bohemian, ethereal feel of the Treehouse with its flowing, loose fitting shape, whilst also encompassing the elegance and beauty of the Gardens through the beautifully detailed 1920’s style embellishments on the capped sleeves and midriff.

Both my mum and the lovely ladies in Luella’s Boudoir in Wimbledon Village must take a lot of credit for helping me choose my dress and I will be forever grateful to them for doing so. My shoes I bought online from Etsy.  They were embellished in an art deco design that matched the style of the dress.

The groom and groomsmen all wore grey, slim fit, limited edition suits from Marks and Spencer with white shirts.  Both Chris and I met whilst working in Marker and Spencer 8 years ago so it seemed fitting that they should be part of day in some way, as without M&S our romance never would have happened!  In keeping with Chris’ laid-back style and personality, the collars were all open necked.

The bridesmaids wore green and blue floral mix and match 1950’s swing style dresses. The dresses were bespoke; designed and made by a local seamstress in my hometown, Morpeth (The Sewing Box).  The material was Liberty of London, Lawn Denise Eva that I found in a fabric shop in London ClothHouse.

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (26)

We hired a 28 seater 1940’s gray and white former RAF bus from a local bus enthusiast in Northumberland.   The owner of the bus does not run a business; he just does it for pleasure so we were really lucky to find him.

a boho beach wedding (c) Wild Hearts & Wishes Photography (31)

Our photographer was Paula Smart from Wildhearts and Wishes Photography.

We would absolutely recommend Paula.  Her photos are beautifully natural, understated and artistic.  We loved her laid-back, genuine style both in her photos and as a personality.  She was so thorough, accommodating and on the day, fitted in entirely with us so that photos were built around the day rather than dictated the day.

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Our florist was Christine from Lavenders Blue in Morpeth.  I have been going to Christine’s shop since I was 3 years old (she even taught my mum floristry) so it was nice to have that personal and local link in the day.

My bouquet was a loose posy of wildflowers, including: blue delphiniums, pink freesia, gypsophlia, blue thistle, pink stock, clematis vine, ivory freesia and green bells, tied with ivory satin ribbon. In my hair I had a garland of flowers made with the vine of green bells with pink stock, pink freesia bud, blue delphinium and gypsophlia.

The bridesmaids had simple bouquets of gysophila to offset the patterns on their dresses.

Christine arranged our flowers for the church and for both venues. In the church we had 2 pedestals containing blue delphinium, hydrangea, lilac stock, green trailing amaranthus, viburnum opulus, thistle and astrantia. On the end of the pews, we had 16 jam jars – which we had hand decorated with craft and manuscript paper and flowers.  These jam jars were then used on the tables at the treehouse.

In the Gardens we used an eclectic selection of containers (vases, tea cups, jugs etc) that belonged to ourselves or members of our families, including family heirlooms such as a jug that was a wedding present to my granny.  These included the same selection of flowers as the jam jars. We also had vintage style buckets and watering cans filled with pink and blue hydrangeas dotted around all the venue which we provided ourselves.

Decorations wise, we had a mix of multicoloured pom poms, floral print lanterns and distressed white wooden lanterns with nightlights.

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In the treehouse, our wedding favours were also our table settings.  We had mini-jam jars filled with raspberry and plum jam that had been made by my Granny.  Each jar had a hand stamped label attached to it with a guests name on one side and ‘Thank you from Frankie and Chris: Spread The Love’ on the other side’.

At the evening do we had seed packets for wedding favours. We planted a tree in the gardens, and had a washing line of string marking out the area, with seed packets on it.  The speed packets were hand stamped with ‘Frankie and Chris: Grow the Love’.

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We chose an ‘All You Need is Love’ Beatles themed cake as part of our music theme, as well as because we loved its vibrant, psychedelic feel.  It was made by A Symphony in Sugar, a fantastic local couple based in Cramlington.

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Chris is a musician so various combinations of his old band and a band that was born out of that provided the music on the day. And of course, Chris was playing too!  The tunes were a combination acoustic soul in the first set and punk rock-fused crowd pleasers in the second set – it went down a treat! Dominic Murphy pulled it all together.  He has fifteen years experience as a musician working all over the North East in original, covers and function bands. It was great to have our friends involved in the day like this – it produced a very personal connection.

The music theme started as early as in the church, so we walked in and out to two of our favourite songs: ‘Sweet Disposition’ by the Temper Trap on the way in and ‘You Make my Dreams Come True’ by Hall & Oats on the way out.  This really made the service come to life and be very personal to us.  Plus it really got the party started early when we walked out to Hall & Oats with the congregation waving wedding wands with bells on!

In the Treehouse, we had a little room called the Roost, which we renamed ‘the sound track to our story.’  In this room we had all the key songs that had formed part of our story growing up and then together as a couple.  As this music was playing there was also a slide show of photos of both of us over the years chronicling our stories to the present day, which my mum had put together.

The handmade seating plan was also part of the music theme, with every table being named after one of out favourite songs.  The table names were displayed on vinyl CDs that were hung from an old 1930’s suitcase that belonged to my Great Grandpa.

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We used etsy quite a bit, particularly for thank you presents for the wedding party and wedding stationary.  If you have an idea, however quirky, etsy will have it.  There are some amazingly individual suppliers.

Wendy from Just Perfect in Cramlington was particularly helpful.  She stocks a range of products from lots of local suppliers as well as hires accessories.

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To tempt people out into the garden to begin with we planted a tree.  As die hard romantics (and a historian) we loved the concept that however fleeting the day was; there would always be a part of our wedding in Alnwick Garden and that future generations of our family can visit our tree long after we are gone.  We also felt that we were so lucky to be celebrating such a wonderful day with our friends and family that by planting a tree we were in some way putting something back into the environment.

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My favourite moment was after the ceremony, Chris and I went to the beach for a few photographs.  The beach was quite secluded and despite being a public place and us being quite conspicuously dressed it felt like it was just the two of us.  It was a lovely personal time, in what was a brilliant but busy day, with a beautiful setting.

Also, I would have to say Chris’s fabulous speech was a highlight.  As was seeing him coming alive by being reunited with his old band mates and seeing how much he enjoyed performing with them and how much people enjoyed his performance.

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For our honeymoon we went to Montenegro.  We wanted something that offered a bit of everything (history, culture, café culture, beaches and outdoor activities) and had been meaning to go Eastern Europe for a while. Montenegro offers so much variety within a fairly small area. Two days in Kotor with its café culture and beautiful, 15th century preserved surroundings, two days in Petrovac on the coast for some beach time and a week in rural and unspoiled Virpazar on an adventure holiday through Undiscovered Montenegro – hiking, kayaking, wine tasting and bike rides.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t be afraid to deviate from what is considered tradition and the standard wedding format.  Make sure the day reflects you; don’t conform to something that doesn’t mean anything to you on the one day that is solely about you both. You get out what you put in!

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